One of the best parts of homeschooling is the fact that your child can have a tailor-made learning experience that can be altogether lacking in a public school setting. Whether a child needs to be better challenged, would benefit from a non-traditional setting, or finds classwork or the daily routine to be a struggle, homeschooling provides a flexible answer for families hoping to take control of their child’s education.
With a program like Oak Meadow, parents can find the guidance and confidence they crave to ensure that they’re meeting all their child’s educational needs while maintaining the comfortable flexibility of out-of-the-box, open-ended learning opportunities that homeschooling allows families.
Our editor has been homeschooling her boys with Oak Meadow’s resources for the past four years. She says she’s found the best of both worlds by using both Oak Meadow’s curriculum on their own and by enrolling their oldest son in their distance learning school for one-to-one teacher support.
While homeschooling can work for all ages, this is particularly true for elementary-aged children. In elementary school, students can learn “the basics” in creative and personalized ways, while allowing their passions to develop and blossom. These passions can then be further explored without the constraints of a traditional daily schedule (or an education that doesn’t allow much time for extra pursuits beyond the concrete lesson plans).
Families are also able to explore the experience of learning and growing together, nurturing and placing value on not just the individual child’s needs but the family unit as a whole, as well. The home is a safe haven and can come to represent the importance of learning for homeschooling families.
Our staff writer, Megan McCoy Dellecese, recently had the chance to catch up with such a family. Sarah Andersen homeschools her daughters, Kiera and Klowi Kluver, along with some help from her retired schoolteacher mother, in Nebraska. They are enrolled in Oak Meadow’s distance learning school.
Tell our readers about your family.
We live in Dakota City, Nebraska on an acreage a few miles from the farm I grew up on. My great grandfather started the farm that we still farm to this day. The farm is comprised of corn and soybeans. My husband’s family was originally from here but then moved to Oregon for a period of time during his childhood and then came back here when he was in Junior High.
We have two amazing daughters, Kiera (10) and Klowi (7). They love our summers filled with cousins, friends, swimming, camping, and playing outdoors. They love winters here for snowmen, snow angels, and sledding. We have a dog, two cats, two guinea pigs, and chickens.
Wow, that sounds like a great place for kids to grow up! What led your family to homeschooling?
We had taken Klowi to three different preschools and she couldn’t adjust to the classroom situation. Kiera was in public school through 2nd grade but everyday was a struggle to get her there. She was very nervous and anxious due to how other kids treated her so she asked to be homeschooled like her sister. I was able to homeschool while still helping out with bookwork for the farm, so I thought, “why not give it a shot?”
The last two years have maybe been the most trying two years but also the most rewarding two years of our lives. I can only imagine that each year will get easier and easier as we find our rhythm and what works best for the girls.
What have been the most positive aspects of homeschooling for your family so far?
Homeschooling has been positive for the girls for many reasons. They feel safe in their environment which makes learning much easier. Homeschooling has allowed me to to have a more positive influence on my children at a young age without the social pressures of the traditional classroom. They get one on one attention.
My mom was a school teacher and is now helping me homeschool. It has been very beneficial for the girls to learn from not only me but also their grandma. The girls have the freedom to learn in their own individual ways and to learn anywhere we are. Another benefit would be traveling or taking field trips whenever we want. I love that our lives are more open and not so constricted.
What attracted you to the Oak Meadow learning resources?
We looked at many different distance learning schools and thought Oak Meadow would be the right school for us. We definitely chose the right one! All of the lessons are so hands-on and educational. The lack of the use of worksheet after worksheet is replaced by blank main lesson book pages that the girls have to create on their own or with our help.
This is much more beneficial to their creative learning. We are so pleased by the comments from their teacher, Linda Kosiba, about the work we have submitted for the last two years.
What is your family’s favorite thing about the Oak Meadow program?
There are many reasons why I was attracted to the Oak Meadows learning resources. They provide a curriculum that is very hands-on and creative and not just a series of worksheets (which I believe can be very monotonous to a student).
They believe in movement and activities to help a child retain information more easily. Klowi and I toss a beanbag to do her skip counting. Kiera might do gymnastics moves some days to practice her spelling words.
In the early years, Oak Meadow doesn’t push reading, site words, etc. Instead, they want the child to get a good grasp on just the letters and their sounds and then the reading will come more easily. It’s all about experiencing a childhood without competition and stress, and being able to learn in an environment where children feel safe and loved. Oak Meadow is making this possible for our family.
What do you do to ensure that your children get a well-rounded experience (e.g. extra-curricular activities, outings, a homeschooling co-op, or alternative learning opportunities, etc)?
I believe the girls get a well-rounded experience by outings with our homeschooling group on Fridays. They were also in the choir that consisted of the children in our local homeschooling group. We take field trips to museums, zoos, parks, nature preserves, both in our area and when we travel. We make a trip to Colorado in the winter to ski and also in the summer to hike. The girls are both involved with gymnastics.
How wonderful! How do you think homeschooling benefits your family, particularly at your daughters’ younger ages?
The girls have two completely different personalities, but the way they learn seems to be a lot alike. They both love to show us how to solve problems or show us how to explain something through a drawing.
They also love to have us explain how to come to the answer if they are stumped. Sometimes we may have to get up and do a movement exercise so they’re able to concentrate again. I feel like each day, subject, and lesson can bring on a new way to approach the situation.
I love that you have tailored homeschooling to fit your girls’ learning styles and needs. What have your children’s favorite lessons or subjects been thus far?
Kiera’s favorite subjects have been math and science. She still has me beat at Roman numerals. Klowi’s favorite subjects are language arts and social studies. She is just beginning to read but shows a true love for it. Kiera’s favorite lessons are Roman numerals, writing poems and drawing. Klowi’s favorite lessons are coming up with silly sentences for language arts, completing math problems with her gems, and arts and crafts projects.
Where do you find inspiration for out-of-the-box learning opportunities?
I feel like every walk outside or trip to town can serve as a learning experience. Trips that we take can also turn into lessons. Outside they can observe and relate to nature leading to science lessons. Trips to the store, as well as a meal in the kitchen, can be turned into math lessons.
Encountering people from different ethnicities can serve as a social studies lesson. With homeschooling, I know exactly what they are learning and can turn any experience into a learning experience.
What advice would you give to a family just consider or starting their homeschool journey?
My advice to a new homeschooling family would be to enjoy the journey. One of the things that I enjoy most is that I get to be a huge part of my child’s education and life in their early years when they are most impressionable.
I get to experience life and learning with them. No matter how big the struggle may be some days, the reward of your child’s progress will outweigh any conflicts. Once you find your rhythm and what works best for your family, homeschooling becomes most enjoyable.
*This interview is part of a collaboration with our partner, Oak Meadow. If you’d like to learn more about the variety of homeschooling resources they offer, you can visit their website at OakMeadow.com or call one of their experienced educational counselors at 802.251.7250 (Mon-Friday 9-5 EST).