• Jaime Hilton

Hi Diddle Dee Dee, An Actor's Life Means Homeschool for Me

All the World a Stage is a blog about how faith and theatre collide in my life. It’s not really about homeschool. But homeschool is a part of my life and, if I’m really honest, it’s a big part of our identity as a theatre family. We homeschool because it offers us the flexibility to wholeheartedly and creatively pursue theatre and our faith.

Quick disclaimer: homeschool is not for everyone. When it comes to education, the soap box I’m shouting from is that you have the freedom to choose so consider your options! Parents are responsible for their children’s education (not teachers or the school district!) and that means utilizing whatever resources they have available. This

including the public or private school options). The most important thing is figuring out what best serves your family. For us, that’s homeschool. I have written a number of posts about this at my old blog Classic Hiltons.


Some Context

As I write this post I have three school age children in 8th, 3rd, and 2nd grade with a 1 year old waiting in the wings. I’ve always had high hopes of schooling them together, at least on some subjects, but alas, it doesn’t seem to be working out that way. Personalities, learning styles, and skill levels are just too different. But that’s what I love about our school. We have the freedom to choose and change and do what works for us.


I've been homeschooling them full time for four years. Before that we did one year of cyber school, two years with a university model in Atlanta, Georgia, and one year of public school, also in Atlanta. Our school looks a little bit different every year. Some years we've had a school room, others, it's been stacks of books on the table. Some years (the pre-k years!) it was all hands on crafts. Right now I'm really into worksheets and reading. I like the challenge of designing my own curriculum, pulling a little bit from lots of different styles. I love planning and dreaming but very frequently get lost on the road to execution so I'm constantly reminding myself to keep it simple! After many dollars spent on curriculum we "MIGHT" use, I can finally answer with a degree of honesty born of self-awareness that no, we're probably not.

What does it look like?

We school year round (July 1 – June 30) with plenty of breaks sprinkled in as needed (and boy do we need them!). The state requires us to log 180 days which is super easy to do. I plan our year based on a six weeks on/one week off model, but we rarely follow it exactly because of show schedules. Our official school days are Tuesday – Saturday, again, because of show schedules.

  • 8am – breakfast and start the day. Morning chores including getting dressed, brushing teeth, emptying the diswasher, and starting laundry. This is also the time, if I’m on the ball, when we do family devotions and Bible study.

  • 10am – start with a group subject like History, Science, or Reading. The 8th grader works independently, usually in her room. If the stars align, this is when the baby goes down for his morning nap, but it’s hit or miss. We have a great semi-finished basement set up with lots of toys and books to keep anyone not working with me entertained.

  • 10:30 – the 3rd grader reads independently for 20-30 minutes, then plays puzzles or legos while I work with the 2nd grader. We do calendar, language arts (phonics, spelling, grammar, composition, reading), and Math.

  • 11:30 – switch things up and work with the 3rd grader on language arts and math;

  • break for lunch

  • After lunch – touch base with the 8th grader.

  • Rest time: F.O.B. H.O.P. It stands for Feet on Bed, Head on Pillow. It’s nap time for older kids! I change it up based on other things we’re doing that day/week/season. Sometimes it’s a strict FOBHOP, which usually means I want them to fall asleep because we have late rehearsals or something. Other times it’s a “watch” FOB which just means I need them to be still and quiet for half a second. I try to time this with the baby’s second nap, but again, it’s hit or miss.

This is very much the IDEAL, but it does happen this way. I like nothing more than an easy going day, but my kids do better with more structure, so I try to keep things consistent. I also put a lot of work up front in the preparation so that the hour or two we spend on a subject is productive. I've adapted a lot of House Cleaning tips from my favorite house cleaning book, The House that Cleans Itself. I’ll go into detail on that in another post.


You Can

The most important things I want other mom’s to know when they look at our school is that they have the freedom to choose what school looks like. Because you have that freedom, if there is any part of you that is dissatisfied with your school options, you can make changes. You can customize your school day. You should spend some time thinking through your family culture and figure out which school option will best meet your needs. You will not be sorry that you did!


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