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How to home-school your children: 3 families share their insight from years of experience

Drew Carney caught up with three home-schooling families to hear what they have learned after doing it for years.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Most students in Oregon and Southwest Washington will be distance learning to start the school year this fall. But for families that home-school, many of the day-to-day activities will remain the same. 

Drew Carney caught up with three local home-schooling families who have been doing it for years. He learned more about the daily curriculum and why it works for them.

He spoke with Gail Budde, Calyn Hauck and Carrie Dahlin, all of whom have years of experience home-schooling their children. 

How do you get started?

"I usually tell people, if you had to write it on a post-it note, of what's most important about your child's education, what would you put on that? I think that having that shortlist is the most helpful because the world of home-schooling is incredibly overwhelming," said Calyn Hauck.

What are the benefits of home-schooling? 

All three home-schoolers said that the method of education allows them more flexibility, especially when it comes to customizing lessons to fit their kids' individual interests.

"If you have a subject that they need to know and you want to teach them, it doesn't have to be how they would do it in public school, you can do more hands on. We can learn about the life cycle of plants by growing a garden," said Carrie Dahlin. 

For Gail Budde, the opportunity to personalize the curriculum made her children more excited about learning. She said her son began to understand fractions when they were presented through the context of sports, whereas her daughter better understood them through reading music. 

Were there any mistakes you made at the beginning? 

"I wanted to show them so many things and I crammed way too much in a year. So you definitely have to re-evaluate, talk to your spouse, talk to your kids, see what's working and what's not working," said Carrie Dahlin. 

"My first couple years of home-schooling I scheduled my day. I had an excel spreadsheet. I had it down to 15-minute increments for all my kids...I would never again try and schedule my day in little blocks of time. You just feel like a failure by 2 p.m. We have a rhythm of the day, we have a list of things we get through and there are certain things that take a certain amount of time but I'm much more relaxed about that flow of the day," said Calyn Hauck.

What are there social opportunities for home-schoolers? 

One of the biggest concerns for parents who are considering home-schooling is that their children won't have the same opportunity to socialize with other kids. The home-schoolers we talked to said there are a lot of community resources that connect families through educational activities. 

"There's OMSI classes and home-school swim team, enrichment classes, lessons, playgroups, and co-ops. We actually had to be mindful of not filling up our time too much with those because there's just so many good things to choose from," said Gail Budde.

"You have to be really intentional to build in the people and the relationships around your family and your kids. It's just not as easy as showing up with the same birth year as other kids and sitting in the same room as them. If you value diversity in your household and in your relationships, if you value inclusion of different people, you have to seek that out because it's not just handed to you as a home-schooler," said Calyn Hauck.

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