Christa Kachurak remembers the moment she and her husband Drew decided to homeschool their children.
After 8-year-old Max was forced to learn at home due to school closures, Christa and Drew knew they had to start planning.
“At that point, my husband and I sat down and we drew our lines in the sand as far as what it would look like if he were to return to public school, and our number one thing was we were not going to cover his face,” Christa told Yudi Sherman of America’s Frontline News. “We were not going to put a mask on him.”
So, while children in Nevada’s public schools were forced to cover their faces throughout the school day, Max and 5-year-old Goldie started homeschooling.
“It’s been incredible,” Christa says two years later.
She had tried homeschooling years before, when Max was in kindergarten, but she had unrealistic expectations.
“It’s taken a few years to kind of fine-tune our schedule,” she says. “For us, schooling four days a week is about the max that we can do, because we really enjoy our weekends and we really enjoy the freedom of that.”
Now, Christa schools Monday through Thursday. Like other homeschoolers, Max and Goldie start their day at about 9:30 AM and finish before lunch, after which they spend the rest of the day outside.
Christa typically gets Goldie started while Max, who is in third grade, independently works on his handwriting, reading and math practice, among other subjects. Then, she switches her focus to Max, and back and forth.
After they finish their work, Max sometimes goes to his golf or lacrosse lessons while Goldie takes ballet.
“We really just try to focus on their interests, number one, to keep them engaged and keep them excited,” Christa says. “I had placed school in such a strange emphasis in their life that I was kind of forgetting about their childhood.”
That results in a bit less classroom learning and a bit more fort building, because nothing beats practicing science experiments in a cool new fort.
As far as curriculum is concerned, Christa says she uses the “Open and Go” approach, where she uses the textbook as a guide.
“We’re busy, we’ve got a lot going on,” says the former teacher. “So I can’t sit up for five hours a night and prepare for the next day.”
But what Christa finds especially valuable about homeschooling her children is that she knows their backstories and how they think.
"I know how [Max] learned addition and subtraction. So when I’m going to teach multiplication and division, I can say, ‘Hey, remember how we used to do it like this? Use that, but let’s adjust it for multiplication.’ I can anticipate a struggle before it even happens,” she says.
As one homeschooling parent told her, “No one knows your child better than you do.”
When asked how she thinks Max would measure up against his peers in public school, Christa says he’s far more advanced – maybe too advanced.
“We wouldn’t even be able to put him back in fourth grade. He would be so far beyond that,” she says. “I laugh with my husband now, I’m like ‘we’re in too deep’.”
Another big selling point of homeschool is the time.
“His ability to understand complex things is truly only because we have the time to do it. We don’t rush through subjects. If there’s something he’s truly interested in, we’ll stay on it for weeks and weeks. We’ll do research on it."
This is the first of two parts on Homeschooling with the Kachuraks.