I recently came across Casa Chitalpa and realized I’d also been liking her Instagram page. Carol Chastain shares FREE printables on her blog each month that are useful and the twins have liked. As part of our How We Homeschool series, I reached out to ask her to share more about how she homeschooled, the highs and lows.
She graciously gave VKZ a rundown of her day-to-day as a homeschooling mom. Chastain homeschools three of her younger children, ages 9, 7, and 4. A prolific blogger and busines owner, she shared with VKZ what curriculum she and her kids love most and advice to parents who are looking into homechooling…and those who may need some inspiration.
What curriculum do you use?
I am the type of teacher that loves to have loads of resources on hand (including access to the library). I would say our style of learning is Charlotte Mason based with a splash of many other learning types added in. I love to use Ambleside Online and Beautiful Feet Books for reading recommendations. I use several things for math- specifically Math U See (Demme) and Math Lessons For a Living Education (Master Books) for everyday worksheets.
We love doing nature studies and use Exploring Nature with Children, created by Lynn Seddon of Raising Little Shoots: this is a weekly guide focused on a particular theme- Moon, Pond Study, Birds, etc. I love to use science resources from Answers in Genesis: “God’s Design for Life” to add in as well. For History we have been doing Early American History from Beautiful Feet Books. Our current focus is on Buffalo Bill. I add in notebooks for narration (this incorporates handwriting as well.)
“Keep track of your progress- not lack of perfection. There will be areas that flourish naturally and others that seem to inch their way along.”
What curriculum do you recommend for those starting out?
This is a loaded question…Today there is so much out there in terms of reviews, videos, and it is easy to become overwhelmed. I think the best way to go about choosing a curriculum is to evaluate your personal needs as a teacher, for your students, and your family lifestyle. Trial and error will help you to hone in on this and grow your confidence. There is no “one way” to homeschool, and this generation is very blessed to have access to all the ways!
“…allowing them to express educational interests and pursue them at a deeper level than someone who is in a traditional school setting.”
Why did you decide to homeschool?
I would say first and foremost, our faith. Having the opportunity to shape and mold the minds of our children and teach them freely was the biggest draw. The second reason would be, to have them actually be with us, spending time as a family while they are little. Thirdly, it would be allowing them to express educational interests and pursue them at a deeper level than someone who is in a traditional school setting.
What has inspired you in your homeschooling?
The first thing that comes to my mind is my husband’s encouragement in the day to day; to keep pressing forward, even when and especially when it is hard. We both value education and continue to find reassurance in this choice.
What does the typical day look like?
We generally start with breakfast, I will sip my coffee and start off our “Morning Meeting” while the children eat. This includes our Bible, read-alouds, geography, poetry, and memory work. The meeting adjourns and everyone does a bit of tidying and chores. We pick back up at our school table with other subjects and I rotate which kid I am helping. We do this while simultaneously making sure the toddler hasn’t grabbed the toilet bowl brush or started creating a crayon masterpiece on the tile floors.
I don’t have “time restrictions” but more of a “flow” and general “block schedule” for these things getting done. We naturally break around 9:30 or 10 a.m. We go on a walk-to enjoy and explore nature, sometimes we even end up at a park. When we come back we all do a bit of nature journaling and then it is lunch time. From 12:30-2:30 we will pick up where we left off and do our group studies.
What tips can you offer parents who are considering homeschooling?
To keep track of your progress- not lack of perfection. There will be areas that flourish naturally and others that seem to inch their way along. To allow and plan for “interruptions.” They will happen. Schedule breaks. This was something I had to grow in and unfortunately, I learned this lesson by failing to take a break.
I became extremely weary, questioning everything we were doing, frustrated by what I really had no control over. Taking a break was the one thing that allowed me to regain focus and find my way back to the initial reasons we started homeschooling.