Monday 20 February 2012

Time Line of my Homeschool Journey

Yesterday as part of the Aussie Not Back to School Blog Hop I shared my Sonlight / Eclectic approach to homeschooling.  This post has inspired me to write a Time line of my journey.  A word of warning this post is LONG!!!

Its been a busy fourteen years of discovery and learning. Learning all the time.  I have become an Eclectic Homeschooler more as the years go by.

My Journey in Detail

The very first book I read concerning Homeschooling was For The Children's Sake by Susan Schaefer Macaulay. I am so grateful that I did.  This book challenged me and encouraged me to really enjoy my children and to see each thing that I do as purposefully training them.  It challenged my core values and grew me as a person in ways I never expected from a book.

I was then given a Sonlight Catalog. My saving grace.  I read it from cover to cover and was hooked.  I liked the idea of an Instructor guide.  I had no idea what to do and some guidance sounded like a good thing.  And books good living books really appealed to me.  Our first year we used Sonlight K.
 This catalog has become my living book resource and I eagerly anticipate its annual arrival in the mail.

When my box arrived from Sonlight they had given my a gift worth its weight in gold: The Three R's by Dr Ruth Beechick.  This is a treasure trove for new homeschoolers of primary aged students. Ruth empowers you with the jargon and know how to put you at ease when teaching Reading Writing and Arithmetic. Excellent.  It is available from: The Book Depository, Amazon, Fishpond, Sonlight.
One of the very first Homeschool seminaars I attended was a video one hosted at my good friend Jenny's house.   The Homeschool Seminaar presented by Greg Harris (Father of Joshua Harris known for I kissed Dating Goodbye)  Greg has written a book on Homeschooling called: The Christian Homeschool.  In Homeschool circles he was also known for The 21 Rules of This House. Gregg's passion is Delight-Directed Study which has been their family's approach to home schooling for over thirty years.  Priceless Treasure: Why I Choose to Home School was published in Talk Magazine in 1999. I found an excellent article summarising what happened to the Harris family since then.
The thing I remember from this seminar was Greg encouraging us as homeschoolers to look around and try something.  Use the curriculum for more than a week before putting it aside. Use it for at least three months.  If it's still not working then put it aside / sell it and use the wisdom from the experience to purchase your next choice. Write up what you liked / did not like and do research till you find what works for your family.

  • I hooked in to two Home School groups: South Island Home Educators and Christian Home Educating Families. (Christian Home Educating Families (CHEF)   Dot was an inspirational mentor.  We would meet once a month at her place and fellowship with home educating moms who would share treasures they had unearthed.  This is where I discovered a Charlotte Mason Companion.

I have three favourite homeschool books and this one is by far my favourite. It is written by Karen Andreola. This book fed my heart, and encouraged me. It contains Karens journey of homeschooling her children using the Charlotte Mason Method. I love the practicality of this book. The line drawings ....  If you don't own this book you need to get it for yourself you will not regret it. It does not matter if you are new to homeschooling or a veteran of 15+ years there is something in this book for you. A thorough chapter-by-chapter overview of the inspiring teaching principles of Christian educator Charlotte Mason, this book reveals the practical day by day method of how to teach "the Charlotte Mason way". The author offers friendly advice, and humor, along with the joys and struggles of real homeschool life
It is available from: The Book Depository, Amazon, Fishpond. Karen now has a blog you can follow: Moments with Mother Culture.

The year 2000 introduced me to the wonderful Waring Family who were touring New Zealand sharing Beyond Survival with us.  Oh I am so glad I attended this home school seminar.  Diana is an enthusiastic encourager and her family were an inspiration and encouragement to keep schooling through the high school years. Diana's passion and Bills gentle encouragement recharged my batteries.

It was Diana who inspired me to get Beyond Survival in my homeschooling and enjoy the abundance the lifestyle has to offer.  At this conference I learned about learning and teaching styles and the impact this has on our school at home how it causes a lot of frustration both for the teacher and student and it did not have to.  Arm yourself with this treasure from Diana and discover some excellent tools for your homeschool today. This book is available from: The Book Depository and Amazon.

It was through this conference that I first me the wonderful Smith Family.  Craig and Barbara were and are pivotal to the Home School Movement.  They started the Home Education Foundation and if you needed anything all you had to do was pick up the phone to access their wealth of information.  If you are in need of some excellent encouragement and information I recommend their quarterly Keystone Magazine . Our family had the privilege of being the feature family in 2010.
Before Craig passed on into glory last year he recorded a few encouraging YouTube clips. There are 146 clips for you to choose from.  Make a cuppa and take some time to have some of your questions answerd by this godly man who was a pioneer and leader in the homeschool movement for over thirty years.

Enter the Well Trained Mind.  This book took the homeschooling community by storm in 2000/2001.  I was hooked.  I loved the idea of teaching history chronologically. At this stage Sonlight did not have a chronological history programme. The do now (Core G & Core H & Core 300 ).  I could not wait to start using her recommended books.  We used Sonlights catalog to find twaddle free read alouds.  We sourced them from all sorts of places. (Amazon and Childrens Books in particular).  We ambled along this journey for a few years.   
This book is available from: The Book Depository, Amazon, Fishpond.

In 2003 I was introduced to Teaching Writing Structure and Style.  I had been wrestling with how to teaching essay writing and preparing my students to be excellent writters.  I needed tools and this course equipped me. If you are wanting to know what excellent composition writing is this is the program for your homeschool. It is an easy step by step system.  I recommend your co-op purchase this programme for the moms to do.  If you are confident you can teach all that is required and have your students ready and well equipped for university by year 12 (or earlier if you have a confident writer).   IF you would rather have Andrew teach your students you can buy the Student Intesnsives  from Linda at Adnil press in Australia.There are three levels A, B & C these levels are identical in their content, the level is in reference to the age of your student.  If you come unstuck Linda is Australia's Certified Instructor.  The program is designed to be taught over the lifetime of your student not in one week !

When first looking at homeschooling I liked the idea of homeschooling all my subjects from a christian point of view. We had looked at Advanced Training Institute Wisdom Books  when I first looked at homeschooling and thought that would be great to do for high school.  A good friend of mine was switching over and I realised high school years were upon us. So we joined IBLP and started using Wisdom Books and Lap packs for our learning. You can download a sample Wisdom Booklet #4 from IBLP
ATI is available world wide. (Australia, New Zealand, USA)

Bill and Diana returned to New Zealand in 2004 to encourage and support the homeschool community.  We were once again privileged to attend a seminar by Diana.  It was here that I was blessed with this treasure.  This too is on my favourite homeschool resource pile.  Things We Wish We had Known. it's a compilation of letters by 50 veteran homeschoolers all sharing what the one thing is they wish they had known when they started home educating. Q: Who do parents turn to with questions about homeschooling, whether they're novices, long-timers, or just testing the waters? A: Experienced homeschoolers. Who better to answer the questions arising from any serious endeavor than those who have been there, done that, and found a better way? The one thing I remember most from this conference is Diana warning us to avoid a snap shot mentality with our children. This book is available from: The Book Depository, Amazon, Fishpond.

2006 arrived and we moved to Australia.  It was at this time that I felt ATI was no longer a good fit for our family and in my heart I knew I needed to return to Sonlight.  So we embarked on Eastern Hemisphere Explorer.  I was in heaven surrounded by good books and an IG.  What more could a homeschool mom want ??

2009 I heard Diana would be in Melbourne so we attended her conference.  What a blessing that was. Diana encouraged us as moms.  What is the one indispensable ingredient needed for homeschooling ? YOU are that ingredient.  Diana encourages us to use the Bible as our plum line (The Well Kept Secret of a Biblical Education).  She encouraged us to Actively ENGAGE learning as well as to enjoy teaching History via the Scenic Route. You can purchase some of her workshops on CD.
Diana has written an excellent chronological history curriculum (History Revealed) from a biblical perspective (Ancient Civilizations, Romans, Reformers and Revolutionaries, & World Empires, World Missions, World Wars) her History Audio products are excellent and children of ALL ages will enjoy their journey through history with Diana.  Dianas books have encouraged and inspired me on my journey.

2009 I really wanted some specific geography curriculum and discovered: Trail Guide to World Geography.  If you’d like a geography course that includes mapping activities, atlas usage, research, notebooking and culture with very little teacher preparation, look no further. The Trail Guide to World Geography is a “week one, day one” kind of teacher’s manual with daily geography drills (answers included) and numerous weekly assignment choices. Multi-level geography course for 36 week school year for elementary through high school. This program comes in three levels: Primary, Intermediate & Secondary. It is value for money and available in book form or digital download. In the space of three years your student will do a comprehensive walk through earths geography. I will be using this with Sir N when he is 8, 12 and 16.  

In 2011 I embarked on this blog and discovered just how much curriculum is available on line to us as homeschoolers. I was feeling a little burned out and tired and on my blog hop adventures I discovered Erica over at Confessions of a Homeschooler. This year she shared The Worlds Greatest Artists study. The best part is it's FREE! I am so glad that I did. The source books are excellent and Sir N is enjoying this project !

Well that my friends is a tiny glimpse in to some of the things that have influenced my journey so far. If you are looking for homeschool supplies please check out my Links page for some of the companies I have used in the past.

May your week and year ahead be filled with His abundant blessings.


** There are NO affiliate links in this post **


  1. Hi Chareen, thank u for sharing your journey. Its a huge inspiration to me (a homeschooling mum of only 3 years) to see that homeschooling can be achieved and there isn't any one way to go about it. I love that you've shared your best and favourite books. There are some that sound fabulous and I can't wait to read them.
    Warm regards, Chi

  2. A gorgeous account of your journey. Thank you for taking the time. Hearing from people who have made it all he way in homeschooling is encouraging and inspiring.

  3. Chareen
    Love the timeline layout, made it so easy to read. Wow we have travelled a lot of similar roads! and read most of the same books!
    Thank you for sharing:)

  4. This is impressive, Chareen!

    For the Children's Sake was one of the first homeschooling books that I read, too, and I think we probably discovered Charlotte Mason at around the same time.

    It's satisfying and encouraging to look back like this, don't you think?

    God bless:)

  5. We have lots of things in common. :)
    Can I ask, have you continued to use the Instructor's Guides with your Sonlight curriculum?

    1. Mostly yes. I did not use them as much under the old format but have started to with the new updated format for this year

    2. I haven't looked at the new format. I'll have to take a look at the samples online. I've personally found them too arduous on the past, too many schedules to flick through - Victoria. :)


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