Homeschooling Q&A


As I was preparing to go to Created for Care this year, I went through some notes from last year and found some of the questions the ladies there asked about homeschooling. I can’t remember how many of these Meghan and I actually answered during our session, but I thought it might be useful to answer them here in case other moms have the same questions.

What curriculum do you use?

We’ve tried a lot of different things over the years– that’s one of the good things about homeschooling. But here’s what’s working for us right now:


How much do you check/correct your kids’ school work?

It can definitely be very time consuming to check kids’ work, especially when you’re homeschooling multiple kids. But I’ve learned and relearned over the years that unless I inspect, I just can’t expect quality work.

To make math checking less tedious, I did switch everyone over to Teaching Textbooks math.  It is taught AND graded by the computer, and I love that.  Even with that, however, I go into the grade book every day, look at kids’ scores, and then have them redo every problem until they get them all right.  My younger girls get their writing checked each day, and everyone reads to me until they each become fluent on their own.

My teens do much of their daily work on their own, but once every couple weeks we do a chemistry test, and also go over the review problems for each chapter with them.  They also write one essay every month.  They do the various steps of essay-writing on their own, but near the end of each month I go over each essay with each teen and talk through any needed edits.  Usually I have to read over an essay at least three times before it passes inspection.


How do you encourage reluctant readers?

You need to start by giving kids a good basis in phonics, as well as teaching word attack skills, such as how to break a word into chunks as you’re sounding it out.  I also try to read with kids every day until they get better at reading.  These days only my 3rd grader reads to me, but I had some of my ESL kids read to me well into their teens.  Of course it helps to find books for kids on topics that they truly find interesting. The Shadow Children books intrigued some of my mid-elementary reluctant readers.  But the final (and perhaps most important) thing to remember about learning to read is that kids get competent at wildly different ages.  My first bio son didn’t enjoy reading until he was nearly 10.  My second bio son was a good reader at age 4.  Same environment, same parents.  They were just ready at different times.


What are some of your tips for homeschooling a child with ADD?

One of the reasons I think my one son was nearly 10 before he became a good reader is that he was a very active kid, and didn’t have much patience for sitting still.  I  think that if he’d been in a public school environment, he might have been labeled ADHD in his early elementary years.  But because we were able to homeschool, I was able to give him activity breaks when he needed them, or let him move from the table to the couch and then to the floor to continue working.  Often if I notice a kid seems to be struggling with focus, I will send him or her out to walk the dog, assign three laps around the house, or 5 minutes on the mini-trampoline.  Very active kids often can memorize very well while jumping on a trampoline.

Here are some other posts I’ve written about homeschooling over the years:

Teaching multiple children at once

Homeschooling with preschoolers

Homeschooling older adoptees that first year home

Homeschooling kids for whom English is a second language

(This post contains affiliate links.)


  1. The spanish curriculum that you use…do you know how comparable that would be to Rosetta Stone? Also, I have heard great things about teaching textbooks. The CDs…do they include lectures? And what if my child doesn’t understand what to do? What do you do next? I switched my high schooler to our virtual school only for math because the closer she got to algebra the harder it was for me to teach her. And now I have another headed to middle school next year. Thanks, Allison

    • It does quite a bit of explaining in English, instead of making you just guess things like Rosetta Stone does. It’s not easy, but it seems pretty thorough– much better than Rosetta Stone. We’ve done both, but won’t be doing Rosetta Stone now that we have this.

      And as far as the math, if I can’t explain something and don’t have an older sibling around to rescue me, I google youtube videos of that topic. Youtube has been a great place for science videos too.

  2. Thanks for the book recommendation. I am continually searching for the series that will catch my reluctant reader’s imagination enough to push him over the edge into reading for enjoyment. I’m bound to find it someday, right?


  3. awhile back, there was a 60 MINUTES section about Khan Academy (logged in with Google address), which gives lessons online. Then I read that Bill Gates sends his own children to learn at the site. Then I saw on Facebook a photo at Humans of New York where the guy had been an immigrant at age 20 or so, then he studied lessons at Khan Academy to learn a better education and get a job in the city. and Lastly, I asked my son with a Master’s Degree a question about Math, so he sent me a link to Khan Academy for a lesson/ explanation, which he says would be more patient than he might have been. These are some fairly strong recommendations.

    • Dang it, there are links to 2 separate places in the highlighted text– 60 MINUTES and Khan Acacemy. My clicks and code might not have been adequately spaced. What I get for trying to type with a cat on my lap