I could never spend all day with my kids. How do you not go crazy? I am totally not smart enough to teach my kids!

Those are just a few of the many responses I receive when I tell people that we homeschool our six children who range in age from preschool to highschool.

What most people don’t realize is that they probably already have experienced homeschooling their children at one point or another!

Most people have a preconceived definition of homeschool families: The children are all sitting quietly at the dining room table while mom rotates around with flash cards and a red marking pen.

The reality, however, is that there are as many types of homeschool philosophies as there are homeschool families.

Our family is a great example. Sure, we started out as a stereotypical home, but the more children we added, the more flexible our style became.

Our goal is to make self-taught students. Our teenagers are the best example of this. Their lesson plans are laid out for them each week, and they have the freedom to get through each assignment on their own.

With our younger ones, we do a lot of group learning. We read and learn our history and science lessons together and then each child does extra activities according to their grade level. For reading and math, I sit with them individually to introduce each lesson and then I let them work alone, leaving myself free to answer questions as needed.

So why do I think you may have some of this experience already? Well, have you ever read your child a book at bedtime and then discussed it afterward? That is exactly what we do during our literature time. To take it up a notch, you could start reading some of the classic books such as the Narnia series, the Little House series, and for older kids, the Lord of the Rings series. After reading you could do projects like making costumes, making dioramas out of recyclables, or illustrating their favorite scenes.

What about cooking with your kids in the kitchen? Have you ever had them help with measuring, timing, or temperature? Those are all math skills that you’ve just taught in a hands-on fashion. To add some challenge, you could have your child help plan the menu, including working within a budget and grocery shopping. Doubling or splitting recipes is also a great way to work on fractions!

Have you ever taken your kiddoes on a hike and talked about the things you saw along the way? That’s nature science at its best! Next time you go out, you could bring with any number of nature field guides and try to identify the flora and fauna you find along the trail. Take along a camera and take pictures of all the varieties you find to put together your own nature guide.

We are all our children’s first teachers, no matter how you look at it. And whether you choose to keep your child home during the school year or send them to a brick-and-mortar school, you are still a large part of their education. The most important thing is to make learning fun and a part of their everyday lives.