As our resident Book Nerd, Suzanne will be introducing you to must-read new books, classics you might have forgotten about, and enough reading material to ensure that you will never, ever run out of titles for your reading list. (In fact, if we're running behind deadline this first issue, it's totally her fault for recommending Drood.)
Me in 100-ish words: I'm a nerdy forty-something ex-software-engineer homeschooling mother of four (ages 15, 13, 11, and 8). I live in north metro Atlanta with my husband, all those kids, two cats, and a dog. I also do some baby-sitting for friends, so on any given day there's an assortment of toddlers and preschoolers wandering around and getting underfoot. I'm terrible at housework (the rest of the family isn't much better), so we undergo periodic shortages of things like clean laundry and groceries, but there is always fresh reading material in the house. We recently sent the oldest kid off to the local public high school (he was homeschooled exclusively through 8th grade), which has me thinking about the next chapter in my life—though I do have a few years to go as a stay-at-home mom and most days what I hope comes next is a nap.
How I started homeschooling: When my oldest child was 3, I went to the library and checked out every book I could find on homeschooling, then put them all on my to-read stack next to the bed. About halfway through the stack, I turned to my husband and said, "I think we could do this." A couple of books further down I found The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, and I turned to my husband and said, "This is how we're going to do it." I ordered a box of curriculum from Rainbow Resource and off we went!
My homeschool style: We started off as secular classical homeschoolers, but have grown away from that a little bit over the years as we've discovered what works best for our family. We have a fairly structured day, mostly because I'm not sure how else to fit everything in.
What a typical day looks like in my homeschool life: Make sure the kids are up around 7 a.m., so we can start with a read-aloud (snuggled in Mom's bed) at 8. Then we go downstairs to the dining room table for math and language arts (handwriting, spelling, grammar, lit, and composition). After lunch there is more reading aloud, followed by history and science, which we take in turns (one kid per day). Everyone who isn't doing history and science has independent work or reading to do. We try to finish up around 2:30 or 3 p.m. Friday is our day off for errands or just goofing around.
Favorite readaloud: I couldn't possibly pick just one! I adore Diana Wynne Jones—right now we're reading Charmed Life (vol. 1 of the Chronicles of Chrestomanci). Howl's Moving Castle is another good book to start with, if you'd like to give her a try. Also see: Eva Ibbotson, Understood Betsy, M.T. Anderson's Pals in Peril series, 101 Dalmatians (the original novel), the Narnia series, Harry Potter (of course), and I could keep going but I should probably stop...
Things I like: Doctor Who, musicals, Georgia Tech (go Jackets!), screwball comedies, Agent Dana Scully, chocolate mousse, Jane Austen, cross-stitching, Disneyworld, road trips, and checking out so many library books that I have to make two trips to the car.
Guilty pleasure: Daytime court shows. I want to be Judge Marilyn Milian when I grow up.
What I love about homeschool life: The freedom to set my own daily, weekly, and yearly schedules, so that my kids and I can spend a rainy day reading together in our pajamas, or plan a road-trip to visit Grandpa in the fall without worrying about the school calendar.
What I love about home/school/life magazine: The sense of community that I get from connecting with other homeschool parents, near and far, as we walk this path together.