The Angelicscalliwag Homeschool: Introduction

Hello and welcome to my very brief series about how we home school.  This series was born out of necessity, to answer emails I receive each week asking me how I do things.  I found myself answering each email fairly similarly and decided if I did a few posts I maybe wouldn’t have to keep writing the same stuff over and over!  I am not very good at these types of posts so please bear with me.

This 5 day series will hopefully answer the most common questions I am asked via email and also attempt to answer those questions  I was asked last week.  If you’re not really interested, I quite understand and I’ll see you back next week when I will resume my normal postings!

I thought I would first give you all a history of who we all are and where it all started.

From the time T11 was in my tummy I knew I wanted to home school.   Many pleasant nights were spent dreaming about the kind of home school I wanted.  It was going to be child led, fun and full to the brim of learning experiences.  I had three babies in 9 months and was almost overwhelmed by the responsibility of bringing up these precious children.  I was a young 27-year-old, and didn’t really feel old enough to have a boy friend, let alone a husband and three children.  Somehow, my dreams for our little home school became lost in fear.  Fear that I had to get it right as it wouldn’t be one life I would ruin but three!  So I looked else where for the home school material.  I was drawn to ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) because it worked well for a friend of mine and it literally told me what I had to do every day, down to telling me the words I had to say to the children (scripted lessons).  This was so far from the dreams I had but it was safe.  If someone else was telling me what to do and say I couldn’t possibly ruin my children.  Home school, for a while, stopped feeling like a social experiment.  My friend, for whom ACE was so successful was organised, thoughtful and innately sensible; characteristics I was missing in spades.  In contrast, I was and am scatty, disorganised and vastly imaginative and have a mind that was completely stifled by this scripted curriculum.

Everyday it was a battle to have the children fill in their work books.  Every day I wondered if this home school malarkey was for me.  So I started to add bits and pieces.  ACE took only an hour or so a day at their young ages and the rest of the time we did a stack of activities.  I started a very casual book club and had activity afternoons with friends children.  We had a Mr Men book study, Thomas the Tank, Beatrix Potter.  We invited the neighbourhood children around and made butter, jam and bread in one afternoon and then devoured it in about 5 seconds flat.  I could see the light coming back in my children’s eyes.  We started Before Five in a Row, again casually, alongside ACE.  By the time we moved back to England (from Ireland) I knew it was now or never.  So I threw out ACE and begun to follow that dream of long ago.

In the early days I tried out a stack of curriculum and wasted a lot of money doing so.  You see I was still fearful and a school driven by fear is a school that tries to cram in everything so that all the ‘academic and learning experiences’ boxes could be ticked.  It killed our budget and very nearly was the end of me!  I was exhausted trying to fit it all in.  But, and this was a big but, I was having the time of my life.  I discovered the joy that comes from following a dream.  There is nothing like it.  The freedom to explore (which is what I did that first year), the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them and ultimately the freedom to realise the dream that had been there in the back ground for seemingly forever.

Very gradually I broke away.  I begun to understand that either I could do a grammar lesson or I could concentrate on ensuring the children spoke grammatically correct English and read books of the highest standard I could find.  The same with vocabulary.  I could teach it systematically or I could be purposeful in my choice of read aloud books, always choosing books way above their reading level.  Vocab would, I believed, trickle steadily in with a diet of good literature, how could it not?  And for this girl who was by nature chaotic and full to the brim of ideas and energy, choosing to go our own way suited me very well.  The children thoroughly enjoyed learning without copious sheets of paper and I enjoyed spending our home school budget on books rather than work books and curriculum.  This was fun…

….and so the Angelicscalliwag school was born.

For Part Two: Why History?

For Part Three: Era, Person, Dress Up, Geography, Explorer study

For Part Four: Reading and Literature Studies

  Homegrown LearnersHomeschooling the Middle & High School Years


  1. I’m sure your story resonates with many homeschoolers, Claire. Most of us started out trying to emulate school, because that’s what we knew best from our own schooling experiences. I’m glad you decided to listen to your own heart and follow your original vision of your homeschool. Looking forward to reading the rest of your posts. This one has been a very good introduction! 🙂 Oh, and I love the first photo of T11 and the twins as toddlers. So wonderfully cute!

    1. They are cute aren’t they? Those years go too fast. It feels like yesterday I took that photo (they were all two) and yet many years have passed. I feel so blessed to have spent almost 24 hours a day with them in the interim and so pleased I haven’t missed out on any important mile stones.

  2. I’m looking forward to this series. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it, I really appreciate it!
    PS Will you be mentioning your younger one’s school?

  3. You could write for national magazines or newspapers, Claire! This is so good. I completely relate to what you say about teaching grammar and vocabulary by surrounding your children with high quality books and conversation. I know it’s the ONLY way that works round here.
    I love the photos of your older 3 when they were young. T11 looks so much like his youngest sister!

    1. LOL at the national newspaper! You are very, very kind Lucinda! (Thank you- you know I hate writing these types of posts!!)
      T does look like his sister but they have very different temperaments. I’m thinking of dying B’s hair black and seeing if it makes any difference to her temper!!

  4. Your kids are so adorable – those photographs are great! I agree with everyone, you don’t give yourself enough credit as to how well you write “these types of posts” and how much others can relate to you. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

  5. This is WONDERFUL! I like to read your post (when I am around!) because it is NOT just school stuff -It is LIFE stuff too, and it is very inspiring to see homeschool families having lots of love, learning and fun! Keep It Up Lady!

  6. The early photos are really fun to see! Thanks for sharing.

    We started out with a detailed, heavily scheduled curriculum and had the same problems…..I just couldn’t keep it on track and then I experienced horrible guilt. The more creative side suits us better, too.

  7. ooh I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of this series. I think my biggest obstacle is letting go of some of the bad habits my teacher training gave me while still utilising the good. I can get a bit school ma’am if I’m not careful 😉 and that’s not what I’m aiming for with Nibsy!

      1. Claire – I was a nurse too and really struggle with letting go of the schedule! I was also struggling with not living the dream, but not really knowing where I’d lost my way and how to find it again. But then I discovered an awesome blog called Angelicscalliwags and 6 months down the track my boys and I have well and truly found ourselves!! Thank-you so much for all you do and thank-you for opening yourself up to help us all be better homeschoolers and better mums. 🙂

      2. Jo, Thank you so much! What a lovely comment and I’m so pleased you have found a way you love to home school. When it works, a homeschool life is one of the best lives to live!

  8. Thanks for sharing what works for you. I find your story similar to ours. After teaching for so many years, I tried the school method and found it just doesn’t work for us. Love seeing the pictures of the children when they were younger. I am looking forward to the rest of the week. Blessings to you!

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