Check here for the questions homeschoolers and prospective homeschoolers ask and some responses from Stephanie.

QUESTION:  This is an awesome website and Stephie is an awesome lady to deal with.  (P.S. the diaries are fantastic.)
I have a question now. I was thinking about maybe using the FIAR programme but have discovered that this programme is no longer being printed and I didn’t want to rely on Harvest etc.
Then I discovered LLATL.  I quite like this concept of teaching my boys (as I’m struggling how to do this and what to do – apart from going from page to page in say the NZ Start right books)
I’m finding the LLATL programme quite pricey in NZ.
Do you know of any other programme that is along these lines of teaching/learning?
My boys are 6 and nearly 10 yrs old – so my older one will just about be able to do these programmes with a little help (and encouragement) from myself.
Do you know of any other programme that might be suitable for us?

STEPHANIE REPLIES: You asked a good question here.  FIAR (Five In A Row) is good, but as you say, it’s not available in NZ.  LLATL (Learning Language Arts Through Literature) is not the same as FIAR.  FIAR is a unit study programme, and LLATL is an ‘Literacy’ programme.  For something like FIAR you might like to look at my e-booklets; Old Blue would work well for both boys, The Load of Unicorn would be fabulous for your older boy, and Dogger would suit your younger son.  You can see some links to free e-booklets here: http://www.HomeschoolFamilyLife.com/free/

QUESTION:  Hi Stephanie, I am investigating home education and I am wondering, if I take my kids out of school, am I walking away from potentially helping other children at school?  I am currently on the board of Trustees at my school, and help out at school when I can. Any thoughts on still being a contributing member of society, and involving children in that, would be helpful.
Thank you.

STEPHANIE REPLIES:    Homeschooling parents have so much opportunity to contribute to society in so many ways.  Homeschool support groups and co-ops are always looking for people to help out, teaching little groups, organising trips and sharing their skills.

Another way that homeschooling families work is that the whole family is involved in volunteer work.  This happens at their local church, or with NGOs and local charities.

A third way with teenagers is through things like the Duke of Edinburgh Award, where volunteer work is part of the award process.  You might find (or even set up) a Duke of Edinburgh Award support group for teens in your area. We had a group which met every Wednesday afternoon to do volunteer work from clearing rubbish, baking, entertaining people in a rest home, helping with Operation Christmas Box, gardening chopping wood, and many other activities.

The opportunities are absolutely endless, and your warm willing heart would be welcomed with open arms by homeschoolers.



QUESTION: Stephanie, I am wondering what your thoughts are about the value of using a high school curriculum that achieves a qualification recognised by the NZQA? We are using such a programme with our 14 yr old but are finding it quite pressured.

I will just tell you my own experience with teaching teenagers. We did go the exam route with our two oldest children, but we found that once we started on the ‘exam road’ it was almost impossible to escape it.  The children then went through their teen years being governed by exams, and this continued through into university.  It was a long time of having family life governed by the exam timetable, and the focus being on passing exams and getting qualifications, rather than on learning.

With the younger children, we chose to concentrate on continuing to give our children an education, rather than getting qualifications.  This has proved to be much more rewarding for all involved, and less stressful for the whole family.  The three younger children have managed to be very successful without having a school-leaving qualification. 


QUESTION:  Hi Stephanie, Can you give some strategies to continue homeschooling when there doesn’t seem time in the day to fit in?

STEPHANIE REPLIES:  One good way to do things is to have a timetable which is flexible enough to allow for ‘life’ to happen.  My experience is that there is always going to be some sort of problem or other in life, and we need to work out a system that fits in with us and what we are doing.

Put your basics into your timetable and allow for flexibility.  If you have used my homeschool diary and student organiser you will know that this is something I emphasise in the ‘User Guides’, and you can also refer back to your ‘How to Have a Successful Homeschool Year’ book which was complimentary for all diary and organiser purchasers.  Also, the first lesson of the Charlotte Mason Made Easy course is devoted to teaching parents how to make a workable timetable.



QUESTION: Stephanie, Do you think that sending children to school for a month or two could help (or not) if it is becoming busy and stressful at home?

I don’t think sending children to school for a month or two would help.  Life is always going to have problems, and it’s better to work around those problems with the children.  Also, when children go to school, that causes different problems and complicates things.

Things to bear in mind are:

  • It takes time to actually organise the school enrolment.
  • It takes considerable time to take children to school each day, collect them, organise their lunches, help them with homework, and get them special kits, clothes, shoes, bags, equipment, books, whatever.
  • Sending the child to school won’t solve the problem of homeschooling, it will just delay sorting out the problem and it will create new and different problems.
  • If homeschooling isn’t going well, then school won’t solve that issue.
  • The school curriculum may not be the same curriculum you are using at home.
  • It can be confusing and unsettling for the children themselves.

I think it would be better to deal with the problem creatively at home.  For example, If it’s a new baby in the family, then let the children learn about give and take, kindness, life with a new baby, household chore sharing, etc.    If it’s an illness, then the children may be able to help each other, read, play creatively, help around the home.  These things are themselves, learning experiences.

Try to see home learning as more than the mathematics book or the pages filled with writing.  Remember that learning can take place in so many different ways and different times.

Finally, remind yourself of why you started to homeschool, keep focused on that truth and vision, and work steadily.  And remember to fit in a peaceful rest time for yourself each day.



QUESTION:  Stephanie, I’m homeschooling two boys who are opposite in their interests and development, and this constantly thwarts me when I plan things to do.  Have you got any ideas on how I could teach both my boys at once?

STEPHANIE REPLIES:   Read Rachel’s article on the website about how she got her three sons enthusiastic about learning.  Go to: www.HomeschoolFamilyLife.com/guest-writers/no-more-bored-boys-at-our-house/




QUESTION: Stephanie, I’d value your opinion on this: I am trying to decide whether to teach straight/manuscript or pre-cursive writing.  Do you have an opinion and what did you do?

STEPHANIE REPLIES: Children have long been taught first to print, and then cursive or joined up handwriting is taught two or three years later.  The reasoning behind this is that the printed letters which look more like typeset letters in books, are easier to read and so easier for the children to write.   Studies show that learning to print creates ease and allows the child to produce better writing.   I taught my own children to print first and then do joined up handwriting later and this worked well for us.  So my preference is for the simple print first.

Have you got a question about homeschooling which has not been answered on this website?  Drop a note to FAQs@HomeschoolFamilyLife.com and I will add your question (you will be unidentified) and my answer to this page.