a homeschool life conversation with heather robison
Hello Friends. We are the Robisons. My name is Heather, and the incredible man I'm married to is Jordan. We have 5 crazy, energetic, and happy kids. Brayden is 10, Corbyn is 8, Gabryella is 7, Jordy is 5, and Quinton is 2 1/5. Our life consists of lots of laughter, wild adventures, learning at home, service to others, a bit of craziness, and lots of love. My husband and I were both raised in the Salt Lake Valley area. After being married for about 2 years, we moved to a super small town named Roosevelt. We lived there for 7 years and moved to an even smaller town named Bluebell. Incredibly charming in an amazing community with loving people. We have been living in this town for almost 3 years. We are in love with having lots of space to explore and having farm animals.
We often refer to ourselves as 'Team Robison'. Our family motto is "Work Hard. Play Hard. Live Through Christ." We always work first, then play, and in everything we do, we live through Christ. And as we are working in the garden, or stacking wood, the kids will call out 'Team Robison!' It seems to lighten the work load as we work together. Everything we do, we do together.
My husband owns two businesses, so his schedule is never set. It is different everyday. His office is in our home, so we actually have the privilege of seeing him a lot more than most kids get to see their dad. His schedule is also super flexible, as is our school schedule, which makes for huge blessings. We can travel when we want. We can take a day and do a field trip as a family. We can take a day and do service as a family. I do not know how we ever got so blessed, but we truly are blessed with the family time that we have.
Why do you homeschool?
Whenever someone asks me this question, I simply answer "The pros outweigh the cons to homeschooling". I mean, I honestly could list 100+ reasons why I love homeschooling and why we do homeschool. And the list continues to grow. It started out like this. My oldest son went to all day kindergarten. He woke up at 6:00 a.m., I rush him to the bus where he would sit for over an hour, then was at school for 6 hours and rode the bus home which took another hour. By the time he got home, he was exhausted. And we only had 4 1/2 hours with him before bedtime. I was no longer the main one raising my child. I mean I got him for 4-5 hours every evening, but he was also involved in sports. So really, he was at school, being influenced by other kids (which most of them come from different backgrounds) and then he had sports after school. And I had to try to fit in time to teach him the important things I feel he needs to know. So I decided to help in his class once a week. I saw a lot of what they did. He had a great teacher. I really loved her. But there were 30 kids in his class. She had to divide that time between all those kids. I came to the conclusion that there is so much 'fluff' time in public schools. But there has to be with that many kids. My child also learned things from other kids, that I had to backup and try to explain in a mature manner. I want to be the one to teach him of these things--not some other kid who doesn't fully understand it himself.
Toward the end of his kindergarten year, my husband and I sort of jokingly spoke about homeschooling him. Then, we decided for 1st grade we would give it a try. And here we are continuing our homeschool journey. This is our 5th year homeschooling. After the first year of homeschooling, I noticed the relationships with my oldest and his siblings. And with myself. It has grown. Every year it grows. I know that our family relationships we have are so much stronger than they would have been if my kids would be going to the public school.
Now I have to note that I am not against the public school. Our school here in our small town is absolutely amazing. I know almost every single adult that works there. I know they love the children they teach and I know they are dedicated in helping children. I don't love the government so involved, and other portions of the basic school system. But teachers really are incredible.
One thing that has made it to the top of my list is the opportunity to teach my children more about Christ. And have Christ as the center of our school. Not a separate topic, but the main focus. As we keep Him the focus of our school, I know my kids learn better. And we feel closer to each other, and closer to the Lord.
What does your morning routine look like?
An average morning looks like this: I wake up at 5:00 a.m. to get in my 'me' time before kids wake. At this time I start with a prayer. Because lets be honest, God is in charge of our days, so if we start it out right, it could be a much better day, amiright? Then I get my scriptures out. I love this time I have in the early mornings when all is quiet, peaceful, and calm, to really connect with the spirit. Reading and studying the scriptures really do that for me. If I have time, I get out my current read. I really don't like to read any books by myself that aren't the scriptures, unless they are uplifting. I have a huge stack of incredibly amazing and uplifting books I need to get to. My very favorite is "Teaching From Rest" by Sarah Mackenzie. I love her words and she completely uplifts my spirit through this journey of homeschooling. She talks about how God is in charge. He places things in our day that we would find as obstacles, but really are teaching moments.
I then need the next hour to get my workout in. I find that when I workout, I am much happier and have more energy to get me through the day. I mean really, we mamas need all the energy we can get! I love this time I get to workout, because I get to do this with my best friend, my husband. I didn't mention this before, but he also gets up with me early to do personal reading then workouts with me. Ah, I love the time I get with him. We push and encourage each other. He is my better half, so having him by my side these mornings is perfect.
By this time, the kids are waking. We have them wake up by 7:00. I make protein shakes for the hubs and myself, and get breakfast going for the kids. Some mornings, my two oldest boys get the eggs out and make scrambled eegs with toast for everyone. Other mornings, we do protein pancakes, fruit, and the hubs favorite, bacon from a pig we raised. And yes, some mornings consist of cold cereal, oatmeal, or cream of wheat. But the thing I love about our mornings, is that my kids are always happy to help. I love when my boys, and sometimes my daughter, want to make breakfast. I'm all about them learning life skills! It is something I wish I was taught more of when I grew up, so I do try to have them help out with food prep a lot.
After breakfast clean up, they all know what they need to do.. Make bed, brush teeth, get changed, do hair, and come to the school room. We start our school day with a prayer, pledge allegiance, and some spiritual learning. Whether it's some articles of faith memorizing, or a few stories from the Friend. Then we do table time. This time we have set for them to do some of their school work that is self-learning. Math, Grammar, Language, Writing, Planner, and Spelling. Also, during this time they each take 30 min and practice piano. I am back and forth helping each of them when help is needed, and I try to do a few of my mommy chores during this time as well. My 5 year old has an incredible program he does on the computer during this time for 20 min. Then he has his own preschool book he works on. My 2 yr old goes back and forth between block building, me reading books to him, iPad learning apps, and needing to be held.
After they have all completed their morning routine of school work, they have their time to do personal reading. I have them read between 45min-1hr. Reading time has become a favorite, I believe.
Now, this is an average morning. It doesn't always go exactly according to this plan. I am gaining a greater understanding that God IS in charge of my days. And if things get thrown in our schedule, I need to take it as a learning moment. And not be a stress case about it. God places things in our life to help us, not to discourage us. I am still learning this and have to remind myself this when my 2 year old is having an off day or one of my kids is not wanting to focus. God is in charge, and God is good.
How do you do meals on a typical homeschool day?
Honestly, lunch for the most part is an easy task. My oldest kids can make their own sandwiches and get fruit out, get leftovers out, or make quesadillas. Sometimes they make sandwiches for their younger siblings, and sometimes I make them all something fun and different. It depends on the day. For dinner, my sweet daughter is always willing and wanting to help. She gets out our matching aprons and is ready to get her hands in there and make dinner. Oh I love her help, but you know how it is, sometimes it's just easier to do it yourself. But, I need to let her help me. And she is learning! My boys will pitch in to help too. Their favorite at dinner is when they get all the dishes and silverware out and set the table up all nice.
I use the crockpot a lot! It is so easy for busy mamas. Some evenings the older boys are in charge of helping me with dinner. They have their favorite dinner meals that like want for their nights.
I try to teach them healthy eating habits, because that too is something I wasn't really taught growing up. And it's so much harding to make those things become habits when you're older.
What does your school planning involve?
Before the school year starts, I will always fast and pray to make sure homeschooling is still the best thing for our family to do. Then I will evaluate what we did the last year and things I want to change for the coming year. I changed quite a bit for this year, but I have gone back to one thing we did last year. It's always a learning process when it comes to the best curriculum for each family. And there are so many amazing curriculums out there!
One curriculum we use is called Latter Day Learning. It is LDS based. Academic and Religion in one! I love this curriculum. This is our second year using it. We do one lesson a day after lunch, and switch between these subjects: HIStory, Geography, Science, Literature, Art, and Music. We usually do one subject a day. And switch our fridays between Art and Music. In the mornings while the kids are doing their table time, I will go over the lesson for that day. Last year I was more on top of it and would do them by weeks. Sunday evening I would prepare for the whole week for the lessons. This year has been a bit more chaotic, so I do them day by day. And hopefully here soon, I'll be back to preparing week by week. Life gets crazy being a homeschool mom!
How do you teach different ages/different needs?
The table time in our mornings, are designed for them to read their instructions and teach themselves. When they need help, I am always there to help. A few of their subjects, I introduce the lesson and they continue to do the work. The younger children need more one on one time and help with reading and writing.
The Latter Day Learning curriculum we use is designed to teach as a family unit. The family will learn the lesson together as it is presented with an attention activity, a few stories to read, then at the end of the lesson, each child will have their own assignment for their specific age/ level. But they are always directed back to the lesson. I truly love the way this curriculum is designed. Perfect for Christ-centered families.
How do you handle kids acting out, complaining, or not wanting to do schoolwork?
Oh man, isn't this a battle more than we'd like to admit!? Some days are even hard for me! I have to remind myself that everyone has bad days. I have bad days, My kids have bad days. It's ok. My children often remind me when I am having a bad day that I should pray. So that is one thing we do. It really truly does help those tough days.
Some times we also just need to get out! Have a break and go explore. Get outside. And sometimes we just need to stop what we are doing to snuggle while reading a book together, or change our focus and do another learning activity or game. My kids love to do art. They have their art books and we (myself included) will sit and look at nature books and draw about the beautiful nature in there.
What is the general schedule of your day?
I already gave you the run down of our mornings, so I'll let you in on the rest of our days.
- On Wednesdays, our piano teacher comes at 7:30am and teaches piano for the three oldest children, and my husband. Yes, my husband is learning piano and I am so proud of him!!
- On Thursday mornings, I go to the LDS temple. My husband stays home and gets the kids started on school. I get back home by 10:30am. Then on Fridays, he goes. Someday we will be able to go together in the mornings, but for now, this is what works for us.
- After lunch, I put our baby down for a nap. We get out our current read aloud book and I will read aloud to them. This has become my FAVORITE time of day. I love bonding with my kids as we read stories of Little House on the Prairie, Roald Dahl books, or our audible favorite, Lemony Snickett. It was never an important thing to do if we couldn't squeeze it in. But, this last year, I have seen leaps and bounds with my children and myself as we have made it a main focus. I love, love, love this time.
- After read aloud, we do our Latter Day Learning Lesson. Another favorite. I love everything about the LDL. We learn so much together as we do these lessons.
- Then, we are done with school. We usually have football, wrestling, ballet, tumbling, or some sort of activity. I really love that they have these outlets for social, learning skills, developing talents and hobbies, and being active. I love that they have friends, but they aren't their 'best friends'. Their siblings are.
How do you keep your house clean/laundry done?
My children help. A lot! They all have multiple chores. I have to have them help, or things never get done. I know my house isn't always in perfect shape, but they are learning life skills and working as a family to keep our home clean and tidy.
I will add that one of the businesses my husbands owns has maid cleaning. I do have them come to my house once a month. I know most people don't get this, and I am so grateful that I do! It seriously helps this homeschool mama of 5 out a ton! Because I know that at least I get a deep clean once a month. :)
What are your daily essentials (must-do daily things)?
I have to get my morning time. I have to be able to be spiritually prepared for the day. I also really need my workout in the morning. Or I get grumpy. :)
In our school days, we have to have our read aloud, our LDL lesson, and math. On days we do field trips, or days we have a sick one, this is about what we accomplish in the school room.
In the evenings as a family, we have to read scriptures together. When we aren't reading every night, I feel like I am failing. It is super important to me to do this as a family. We talk about the things we read and how it applies to our lives.
I also really really need my night time with my husband. By the end of the day, I am ready for the kids to be put to bed and for me to relax and hangout with my main man. We love to watch netflix in the theatre. Our favorite is "When Calls The Heart". Super sweet and super clean. We also love to sit in the hot tub and just talk about our days. Talk about our goals or things we are struggling with. I cherish and value these times with my best friend and I need this time by myself with no little ones around.
What helps you on a hard day?
Prayer. Really. That is the number one thing that helps me. Like I've stated before, I know God is in charge of my day. He knows when I am having a hard day, and He knows how to help me and make things better.
Also, my husband. He is so supportive in this journey of homeschooling and is always there to put things into perspective for me. He is always there to listen to my stresses and complaints. He is my rock.
Caffeine and chocolate. I know, I know. Bad. And I am trying to get off it. But, if I'm in the pantry it doesn't count, amiright?? Really though, as a mother of five, caffeine gets me throughout the days. And a little bite of my fav treat.
What makes a really great day?
Those Ah-HA moments with my kids. I love to watch them learn and when something clicks, I get to witness it! Oh it's so amazing and such a blessing to watch then learn and grow. My kids are my greatest blessings. They really make my days great. Yes, sometimes it's super stressful and hard, but they make everything worth it. If they didn't, I wouldn't be doing this.
Also, when we go exploring and go on adventures as a family makes my whole world go round. Or when they show kindness and service towards others. Especially their siblings (because always being nice to the ones you love is the hardest, right?). A really great day is a day conquered. A day where we have had peace in our home and we have overcome all the obstacles life has to bring us.
What do you do to rejuvenate yourself?
I love to be inspired! I love Homeschool Retreats and Time Out For Women. I love and NEED them. I feel like I am a better mother when I get a break and I am uplifted. I also love to go to the temple every week. Another favorite thing that rejuvenates me is being able to connect with other homeschool mamas. Us mama's have so much in common! And knowing that I am not alone or crazy in this adventure, brings peace to my soul. I have met some amazing and the most inspirational mamas through Instagram. So grateful for technology.
What are your long-term educational goals for your family?
As of right now, I would love to homeschool my children through high school. We do take it year by year. As they get older, they will probably go to the High School for some electives, but I would love to continue through the High School years.
After high school, I would love for them to go to a Christian College or University.
What do you love most about home schooling?
The very most, I love my relationships with my kids. I love their relationships with each other. I love so many things about homeschooling. Everything about homeschooling. I love that I can teach them the things of the world, before the world teaches them. I love that we have so much family time. I love that we can learn together about Christ and that He is our main focus. I love that I get to watch them learn. I love the moments I have with them each day, every day.
Anything else that you think would be helpful.
I used to be (and still am at times) a check of my list type of girl. I like to try to keep my schedule perfect and not let things interfere with our school. And I would stress if things don't go according to plan. I have learned that the most important learning a child can receive is through love. As long as I love them and we do our best, what more matters?
Heather's most treasured moments are the moments with her 5 kids and husband. She loves traveling, decorating her home, taking pictures of her kids, keeping Christ as her centerpiece, meeting new people, cheesecake, and she loves to laugh. You can connect with Heather on Instagram @Robison_Tribe