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Everest Academy is a ministry of Everest Family Church in Hayden. We offer freedom along with quality resources, information, activities and support to those homeschooling in Alabama. We believe that the parent has the best interests of their children at heart. We believe that the parent is the first and only teacher that a child needs. In keeping with this philosophy, we wish to be a very hands-off church "cover" school and allow the parent to lead and guide their children in the direction and at the pace they feel is best suited to their children. We ask only for what the law requires while offering support along with quality resources to aid families in their efforts.

Structured vs. Interest Led

Hey Homeschoolers! I am working on making a resource for new homeschoolers where they ask the questions and veteran homeschoolers give the answers. My goal is to provide advice, resources, and most of all to show that there is more than one way of doing things. 

Please contact me with your answer to the following question. I have already included answers that folks sent me on Facebook. Please let me know if you do not want me to include your name in the posting. Please give as much info as possible including links, details, explanations, etc... I will add your answers to this page so that new homeschoolers will have a resource to refer back to again and again.

You can contact me at everestacademy1@gmail.com with your answer or questions.  Please put "Blog Challenge" in the subject line.  

Deb Spradlin
Everest Academy Administrator

Question:  Are you a structured homeschooler or interest led? Why?

We are pretty structured. We buy a full, out of the box, curriculum. My son likes the structure of knowing where he is in meeting a particular goal or number of lessons. Also, the structure allows me to have confidence I am covering everything I need and want to. If my son has a particular interest, we do "go down the rabbit hole" to pursue it outside of "the box."

We use a mix of both. We have our core curriculum in the AM that is more structured just in case they decide to go back to public school (plus reading and math skills are just essential life skills), the afternoon and evening( and sometimes random full days ;) are dedicated to interests and exploring new things.

We have structure, but we have been known to go off on rabbit trails if the kids have an interest in something. We are not full blown interest led because my kids prefer the structure really.

Structured - because I would think it would be easy to let subjects 'slide' if not following a schedule. I like to check boxes! However, I do get the kids input and will tailor classes for their interest and I definitely allow them to select extra-curricular classes. I get their input on core classes as to what would help them learn best. (For example, not taking math would not be an option, but I do show them different curriculum options and ask which they think would help them learn the best.)

I am semi-structured. We designate the hours of 7:00-10:00 am, 1:00-3:00PM, and 7:00-8:00 PM for school work. At this point in our lives, we school when my toddler is napping. In the past, I have purchased whole curriculums but have decided against that for this year. We enjoy unit studies and seem to learn more when we focus on a small amount of material, but study it thoroughly. I do have one specific book for math, but the let the kids choose what science and period in history they wish to study.

A little of both, I try to be structured, but Preston has ASD & some days we just have to go with how he can manage.

We are relaxed, interest-led homeschoolers who incorporate a daily rhythm to give our days a pleasant flow. We are very flexible so I would not say we are structured by most people's standards. We don't "do school" at home.

Both. We do not have a set schedule we follow. Some days are laid back and we don't do a lot of book work, but other days we have a set amount of work we do and try to get a lot done. I do not use a specific curriculum.  We pretty much follow our own way.

I am a little of both. I love organizing our studies. I talk to them to see what their interests are. I look at what we have, then come up with a plan of what to do and when. On Monday mornings, I give them an assignment sheet for the whole week. They are to get everything done by Friday. They come to me when they have questions or need me to teach them something new. They do the dreaded subjects when THEY are ready instead of when Mom is ready. This saves a lot of frustration for them and me.

I started out as a structured homeschooler because I honestly didn't know what I was doing. As the years go by, I realize that I'm drawn to a more 'interest led' atmosphere, but I confess that I'm not really confident about how to do that. My hope is to offer some structure in the areas that are tested on the A.C.T. and gravitate towards a more 'interest led' approach in all other areas.

We are relaxed homeschoolers. Mostly we are interest led, but I bring things to the attention of the children. We tried being structured, but it did not work in our home. We realized that there is no reason to recreate school at home. We are homeschoolers and have the freedom to learn in hundreds of different ways. Being structured in schooling takes some of that freedom away.

I have a 6th grader and a 2nd grader.  They both use computer based programs that we love! I have found it is easier to teach them individually than together. It makes for a longer day for me, but it seems to work better then doing both at the same time. I try to have a few minutes set aside 3 days a week where we come together and have some kind of lesson whether it is reading, art or Bible as a family. I just feel like it makes us closer to have that time to interact as a 'class'.

We use Switched on Schoolhouse which is computer based. Right up my sons alley. Last year we were very structured, and he had to work until he completed assignments for the day, but this year we will have a schedule. Work steady from 8-12 and then done for the day. If we have somewhere to go then either the computer goes with us or that work will wait until another day. Also planning more field trips. Last year we were so concerned with him learning what he needed for that "school year" and have come to realize after SAT's that we are so far ahead of the curve that now learning is going to be fun. Letting go of my "brick and mortar" public school mentality. :)

I call my method Individualization. One child takes half his high school classes online and uses textbooks and a strict structure for the rest of his classes. Another child is also in high school but works with unit studies and lapbooks in her classes. Still another child gets most of his middle school education through documentaries and books on tape. The youngest uses a mix of texts and workbooks, documentaries and computer based classes for his elementary school needs. Each child is different, therefore each education is different.

Unschooling perhaps you could call it.... you name it we use a little of everything. Some days are kind of rigid and others are at the creek doing science. We do not use many texts ... A lot of reading .

We homeschool M-Th utilizing F for weekly exams, play dates, and field trips. We homeschool from 9-3 with a 45 minute lunch break and a few 10 minute breaks. We are eclectic. We utilize "A Well Trained Mind" as a foundation but add and take away to meet our needs. We complete 7 subjects a year utilizing various curriculums, the library, and computer programs. We incorporate creativity and her personal interests.

This will be our 3rd year. The first year was a combination online curriculum and 2 classes were not. We used the library, books and videos and some TV documentaries for lessons. The second year all classes were online except 1 which was for her foreign language. This year all classes are online. But we still use workbooks the library, videos, etc for fun and also for extra information that may not be in the online curriculum to give more background to subjects, or for practice. We also are involved with 2 support groups. One is a home school group through our church and the other is through our cover school. So the kids can get together to do things like field trips and parties. My daughter is a Senior this year and didn't want to go to public school for high school.

We are eclectic Charlotte Masoners! We go to a co-op T & Th. We school at home M 9-1:30, T 9-12, W 9-1:30. We leave Friday for fun or if they don't finish their work. We use the bible & misc books for history, Apologia for science, Mastering Essential Math Skills, WriteShop, Apologia for bible study, footwork for handwriting, and a few other things. You can check out my blog for our complete list. www.sincerelyhome.blogspot.com

We use different methods for 2 kids. My 7th grader uses Switched on Schoolhouse which is computer based. My 4th grader uses Abeka curriculum. Doesn't like computer based learning. We school m-w with Thursday as co-op day. We also do school on Fri. We school 3 wks on and 1 week off. So far it is working out.

Right now we are interest lead. In our past, we were structured. In a nut shell, I saw that my kids were largely unhappy in the more structured lifestyle. We spent too much time trying to learn things that were not important to them. They wouldn't retain the information for very long. It was so very difficult. Lot's of time spent "making" various things happen. We were all unhappy. I followed someone else's idea on what and when my children ought to learn without every vastly understanding the implications of those various ideologies and agendas, nor my own. I just knew this was something I (we) were supposed to do and it it sounded rather reasonable. There were lots of promises made to my fears and insecurities through these ideologies and agenda. So I followed those things. Then the hard and deeper realization that they weren't my pawns either. This was their own life. Then I asked the life changing question, "why?" I found no good answers. Only more questions. I found that I had tried to force these young people into an agenda, or an idea without ever deeply realizing that they are already whole people to the degree that I would allow that idea to be lived out and "let" them live their life as so. This was their life, not mine. It was the only life they would ever get. I didn't want to live my life as a pawn. Why should I expect them to want to live for others agendas? This fascinating journey has been extremely rewarding for us. Once I put my fears aside for a time and observed them, I saw there were immense amounts of deep learning in many categories. I thought only "other" kids learned that way. It turns out, it is an innate human quality to learn. You can't not learn. And it happens all the time, even in the mostly unlikely places. I see my children with a good understanding of themselves, taking responsibility for themselves. And we are happy people. It works for us.

We started out mainly structured, but we now do a lot of interest led studies. I research many different curriculums, free web sites, etc. then I show them to Ellesha and allow her to choose the ones she thinks are more appropriate to her manner of learning. We don't write anything in stone if we do choose one that doesn't seem to be working for her. We simply give it a chance then change to another one. We mainly work a little more structured on her core subjects and then do more of a variety on the others. We also use a variety of methods, for instance, we may have a textbook we use, but we also add field trips, web searches, library books, etc. If we had not started homeschooling in 9th grade I would have used more of an unschooling approach. I would also advise though whose children have been in the public school system first to give homeschooling a real chance. It's hard on the students to change from that mindset and it's hard for parents/teachers to allow their children time to unlearn these methods and enjoy learning. Too many times parents get frustrated and think they HAVE to teach like the public schools and they think themselves failures if their children don't automatically become A & B students with little effort. Give your children and yourself time to adjust and explore. Try unstructured first and allow them to search the internet, read books of their choosing (within limits of course), and gradually see how they learn best. Should you read and discuss subjects, do they learn better by reading things for themselves, do they need to see things written down or in pictures or can they "see" things in their mind. Most importantly ask your child for their input.
Have Fun!!!