Question from a "19 Kids and Counting" fan: Why did you choose homeschooling for your kids and how did you get started with it?
We first heard about homeschooling when Josh, our oldest, was about eight months old.
I went to public school all my life, and graduated from public school. Jim Bob went to public school for six years and then transferred over to a Christian school. Homeschooling was new for both of us.
We knew some families that had older children that were homeschooled. We were so impressed with their families. First off, their children seemed so mature and
well-rounded. They were very intelligent, really smart. But besides the academics, they had such a family unity. There was just such a closeness between the parents and the children – a real, genuine love and respect for one another. Jim Bob and I thought, “That’s what we want. That is the fruit we want to see in our children and that oneness in our family.”
So we began to research homeschooling; I had a friend that was a homeschool mother and I really picked her brain about how to get started. I asked her “How did you get started? I don’t even remember how I learned to read. How in the world can I teach my children to do that?”
She made it so simple. She said “Michelle, I’ve done this for a number of years and I’m just going tell you right off the bat, don’t go out and spend a lot of money on a lot of books and curriculum. When your children are young, the first thing you want to do is get a simple phonics reading program.”
There is no exact age to start them learning phonics; some of them may be ready earlier than others. Josh was four. I was so excited to get started by that point. I was chomping at the bit! I’d sit him down at the counter with me and I’d get out his phonics curriculum. We started by spending 15 minutes at a time. Sometimes we would go for 30 minutes, and then even 45 minutes. He was very able to sit and pay attention. And so I just really went overboard with him!
Josh was reading by the time he was five. I think if I had only known back then what I know now, I would’ve been a little more relaxed and not taken so long with him. But he was absorbing it and he did great.
My friend told me that once they are reading well, you just cannot keep them from learning. And she was right, because that’s what I’ve seen with every one of mine. I focused on phonics first and nothing else. I can’t say enough about reading. That phonics program was the key, and once I really drilled that through to them and they caught it, you couldn’t stop them from learning more and more.