By Robin Yezzi
Editors Note: This guest article is written by an experienced hybrid homeschool mother of three. The Yezzi children have attended St. John the Baptist Hybrid School since our first year of opening.
This is my third year as a hybrid homeschooling mom. My son, Giovanni, is in third grade and my daughter, Violetta, is in first grade this year. We started in August 2019, when Giovanni started 1st grade with Mrs. Gonzalez. Before deciding to enroll at SJBH, we toured many schools in our area and looked at many different options. However, SJBH seemed to be the best fit for our family because we discerned that our children could enjoy all of the educational and social benefits of a small Catholic school environment while at the same time we could be personally involved in their education and have more flexibility with our family’s schedule. We are very happy that we choose SJBH. My children look forward to their school days each week and love their classes. It has also given us more time for activities that they enjoy such as piano lessons, gymnastics, and Tae Kwon Do. The first year of homeschooling was definitely the most challenging for us. Giovanni had attended a local Montessori school for three years prior to starting at SJBH and it was difficult to transition to a focus on learning with workbooks and flashcards rather than the Montessori manipulatives that he had grown accustomed to. However, I found that I could easily incorporate aspects of the Montessori method into our homeschooling curriculum. I supplemented our math lessons with hands-on materials such as MathLink cubes, a Base Ten set, a Judy clock with gears, and fraction towers which really helped him learn the concepts. I have also found the Singapore Math Dimensions program to be very useful to help with problem solving skills. It is a very engaging program that presents the material in an interesting way that also focuses on learning the concepts in depth. All of the history curricula that we have used at SJBH have included activity books with an assortment of projects and ideas that really help bring the lessons to life. Giovanni did struggle with the history lessons in first grade, so I had him draw pictures for the main ideas in each chapter to help him learn the material.
For science, I found that the lab day experiments are really helpful to help learn concepts. We also love the Smithsonian Maker Lab books which filled with lots of fun Science activities for children. Giovanni started writing in a journal daily during his kindergarten year and that has really developed his love of writing and drawing. He has written a ton of short stories and little books over the past three years with elaborate drawings. What I love is that the simple start of daily journaling ignited a joy of writing and now he is self-motivated to write on his own. Although the materials and projects that you offer your kids to supplement their learning will certainly vary by grade level and interests, I think that they can be helpful spark interest and intrinsic motivation to learn. One great advantage of hybrid homeschooling is that you can customize your homeschool program based on your child’s learning-style and abilities and there is free time to further explore areas of interest. Giovanni developed a keen interest in flags after he was given a flag sticker book for his birthday. He decided that he wanted to draw his own flag for every country in the world and create a little book of flags. This interest of his developed into him memorizing all of the flags on his own and learning the names of all of the countries. In our basement, we actually have all of the flags of the world pinned to the walls. My daughter, Violetta, really loves to cook and preparing meals together is often a part of our homeschool day. She also is starting to develop a love of writing with her brother’s help and encouragement. One of the big challenges of homeschooling is the extended amount of time at home does lead to a lot more messes and clutter in the home. It is definitely a constant battle to keep clutter at bay with young kids at home. We recently decided to divide up the play area so they each have their own space and take ownership of keeping it clean themselves– it has definitely helped. The kids actually do work well together on chores like folding clothes, clearing the table, and guinea pig care. I also have them often pack their own school lunches and keeping their school shoes clean. In the homeschool room, they each have their own bin to save all of their projects and papers that they want to keep. The toddler years are often when children are most eager and motivated to help around the house, so I definitely try to give age appropriate work for my 3-year-old daughter, Chiara, to help with like folding napkins, wiping off the table, and clearing the dishes from the table. I definitely don’t have a magic solution for keeping the house clean; but the more that we work together and collaborate as a family to keep things clean, the easier it has been. Back in early 2019 when we first began our school search, I never imagined that we would be homeschooling our children with a hybrid program. However, I am so glad that we made the decision to join SJBH. We love the family-centered approach of homeschooling with benefits of the educational and social support of the school. It has been a great choice for our family.