TLC: There are a lot of people who are really interested in home schooling. Is there a curriculum you can recommend as well as any tips?
Michelle: Well, nowadays there is so much available for homeschoolers. Back when we were starting 18, 20 years ago, it was a much more difficult task. But we have a lot of great links on our Web site to homeschool curriculum and resources where you can find out more about homeschooling.
Of course, our goal has been to do a Christian-based curriculum. One in which there’s a lot of character emphasis, character building like responsibility, honesty, self control. All those kind of things are woven into the stuff that we use. I find that there are so many things out there that you could look forever and probably not exhaust the opportunities for what you want to do.
I spoke to a veteran home school mom before I started home schooling, and her kids were quite a bit older, and she wisely told me because — because I had Josh, who was four at the time and then I had a set of twins. And I was so excited about starting this venture of home schooling, and she could tell my excitement — and she told me, “I just want you to know for right now don't go overboard. Don't go and just buy up all this stuff for your library because nine times out of 10 you won’t use it.” [Laughter] She was wise to tell me that because I was chomping at the bit to get started with them.
I would’ve gotten all these resources, and, honestly, we wouldn’t have used them because what she said was [at that age] you get a simple phonics program, and you get a simple math workbook, not something that has these huge teachers' manuals and all this kind of stuff. And she said for the first year that you're working with them, just have fun. Their attention span is limited, and they’ll do a 15-minute chunk of time here and then go back later and do another 15-minute chunk of time. But once they grasp the letters, the sounds, the phonics rules and then begin on the concept of math, they'll be farther along than most at their age.
And I was amazed. That’s exactly what I did with Josh, and we didn’t spend a huge amount of money that first year with him. But by the end of that year he was reading — by the time he was five, he was reading. We’d play phonics games and we’d play Go Fish and learn the names of these letters and the sounds. So I just think back and I laugh because I thought I probably overloaded him, but he didn’t know any better and neither did I.
Once they grasp the ability to read, it’s like the whole world opens up to them, and I will put them in a certain curriculum and just move through it. And it’s a self-paced curriculum that we use so they can just move right along. I can use the A.C.E. curriculum. And once they complete those paces, they're done. And some of the kids can complete them rather quickly. And, of course, the kids that are excellent in math will just whiz through their math lessons and then they're still working all their English and their spelling and all those other things later on.
But I think it’s fun. It’s just amazing watching them as they learn and take it all in. It’s just a lot of fun.