Whole Parenting Family

How We Wannabe Homeschool & Organize Our Books

whole parenting

When SuperBoy was 3, and we had 3 kids under four, I remember saying to my husband, “Oh, why would I ever send him away to school? I will homeschool him forever.” I also wanted to buy every book about Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Classical education, and Waldorf. Just to cover all my bases.

Fast-forward to having read a ton, and experienced the real live experience of having a kindergarten aged boy who loves to learn and loves to sass and loves to explore. I’ve adjusted my expectations to survive and read and math and a little of this & that and we’re good. He also gets to play at a local nature center a few afternoons a week–so the outdoorsy thing (not my cuppa tea) is covered. We spend about one hour a day doing a reading lesson, a chapter or two of math, and some handwriting. The other subjects flow during the week and when the little kids are sleeping.

Our “curriculum” or what we’ve been doing the last year.

1) For reading we’ve done How to Read in 100 Lessons (which is fine but doesn’t teach phonics so we’ll do this one as we’re almost done with it).

2) For math Life of Fred & Bedtime Math  (and lots of math games!).

3) For science, every natural science book I can muster up and lots of outdoor exploring and zoo trips. Love this Fun with Nature book series and this The Animal Book.

4) For art, trips to the Minneapolis Institute of Art and calligraphy (new passion!–this set has been great).

5) For religion, this Children’s Bible & Tell Me About My Catholic Faith, praying as a family, talking about lives of saints, etc.

6) For music, Sunday 10am at Saint Agnes and classes at MacPhail.

7) For handwriting, we copy out sentences or do dictation on this paper.

He’s a bright and eager learner, so he’d lock himself in a room with workbooks and Jim Weiss audiobooks for hours and never need or want any interference (if I let him). Somedays we do more, somedays we do nothing. It depends on L I F E, right? But . . .

Key to my sanity has been keeping somewhat of a grip on our books!

We have this big ole house and so many bookcases. It took me about 4 chai tea lattes last year to get through all our books and allocated spots for them. The kids books are in the upstairs hallway across from their bedrooms.

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Some are in the kitchen where we can curl up on “Cosy Couch” to read. A handful are in the newly furbished basement playroom (also laundry room! Let me tell you how awesome it is to do laundry and they can’t kill themselves whilst I do!).

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ahem. after I did a book rotation.

whole parenting

But my pride & joy is this little tiny spot in our kitchen. SuperBoy finally has all his books that we reach for daily to school in one spot.

whole parenting

whole parenting

My sweet girlfriend Blythe just wrote about her transitioning from homeschool to conventional school. I loved hearing her insights. It helped me assuage my nickel-sized amount of guilt that we plan on sending SuperBoy to 1st grade at a wonderful local Catholic school.

Yes, with us at home, he would continue to grow and learn and I’d LOVE to keep him home forever. But I’m stretching to keep up with him while still tending the younger two. Pluses and minuses to everything, right? Also on the horizon is that we’d love to add to our family at some point and I have to factor in 9 months of vomit in pregnancy. Workbooks & audio stories can only get you so far in life when mama is severely incapacitated and dada works long hours.

There’s the synopsis of our wannabe homeschooling life? Because you were sooooooo dying to know. Or not.


  1. Kelly on November 17, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Thanks for all the great info! Just thought I would share that we helped start a home school hybrid for our daughter. Really cool model where she goes to school two days per week with a teacher, is home schooled two days a week (I receive lesson plans from the teacher), and then we get together for enrichment activities on Fridays with all of the families (siblings included) that want to participate. It’s based on the University Model: http://www.naums.net

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 18, 2015 at 12:25 pm

      So cool!

  2. Lindsay on November 17, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    Life should really be 1,000 apprenticeships. The world is so big and beautiful. Our goal is to show them so much beauty and the ugly seems so UGLY.

    • Lindsay on November 17, 2015 at 10:24 pm

      *that the ugly seems really UGLY.

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 18, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      Such a great idea!

  3. Becca R on November 18, 2015 at 8:17 am

    Thank you for this post. We are also homeschooling K and haven’t decided on 1st but I love reading posts from those mamas who are honest about their situation. I believe that each family is different and it’s nice to know that there are other options and that all parents can do for their child’s education is take it year by year. Also I love your book cases. Swoon!

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 18, 2015 at 12:25 pm

      It’s so personal and there’s no wrong way to go!

  4. Laura @ Mothering Spirit on November 18, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Love hearing about your evolving journey! We don’t homeschool “officially” but honestly we do many of the same things at home as school enrichment. “Bedtime Math” is a fav here, too! Kids are such sponges – why would we not fill them up? And since our kids don’t do screen time, organized learning helps give a good rhythm to our days (in between lots of free play – I mean uncontrolled chaos while mom blogs, right?)

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 18, 2015 at 12:25 pm

      Hahaha totally!!

  5. Michele on November 21, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Can I just say that I LOVE that you measure time by chai tea lattes?!

  6. Christina on November 21, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    This is great! Love hearing about the ways that other people “do” school! And if I was going to get the book situation under control around here, I’d need more than 4 lattes! :/

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 22, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      hahaha love it

  7. Rebecca on April 4, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    Hey Nell! We’re deciding if we’re going to homeschool for kindergarten in the fall. I love your approach! How was your experience working with 100 Easy Lessons and Phonics Pathways? I was glancing through 100 Lessons and thought it did teach phonics. It doesn’t? How did the two compare? Thanks so much!