Our Homeschool Page 


Kate with the "Chicka Chicka" book we read the summer of 08.  Kate sorting using "Busy Bugs" from Discovery Toys. (click name for website) (2006) and Dom pretending his "Human Body" light up book is a computer. (2007) The kids being silly, 2008.

Updated: June 2008, Sept. 2008, Jan. 2009, working on it-Feb.2010


Welcome to the Homeschool page of Kate, Dominic and Grant (Baby Finn doesn't count yet...:)). 

We are a military family that traveled as our Daddy was Air Force, and now travels as Daddy is a GS Government Civilian, working for the U.S. military. We have lived, and learned, in:

* Azores Islands, Portugal; Mountain Home, Idaho; Alconbury, England; near the U.S. Naval Base in Naples, Italy, and we are now living near the USAG Stuttgart U.S. Army Base in Germany

Mommy is a teacher, and chooses to stay home and teach us!  As of the 2009-10 school year- Kate is in 2nd grade, Dominic is in 1st grade, Grant does PreK work, and Baby Finn-he just watches...:) Enjoy the site!


Extra Links about our School

Photos:    www.thefamilypost.com/decareauxfamily

(password needed-email me for it! shartrum@hotmail.com)

Or: if you are a facebook friend, they are on there, as well.

Class page:

Scholastic "Classroom" Page   (Type in username: Decareaux and password: homeschool)

Homeschool journal (blog) - newsletters, journal, discussion, ideas. (From 2008-09 school year)

 Click here for homeschool reading list! (to come)

For now, just scroll down for some of our favorite book series'.

Archives - past homeschooling years


Intro and Our Story:

On our Homeschool page, we will keep everyone up on what we are studying and our progress, field trips we take, and books we read.  We will include fun and interesting facts, and projects themes we study.  Eventually, Kate, Dominic and Grant will start making entries of their own on this site.  Of course we will include pictures; and look for lots of links to fun sites and homeschool resource sites.  Scroll down for guidelines to getting started in homeschooling, popular methods to homeschooling and to read the methods I use in homeschooling.


Starting Fall 2006, Kate and I started homeschooling on the days she was not in British Preschool, on and off. I called it our "trial weeks". 

Starting in January 2007, we started officially, full time homeschooling.  We started a semester before she would have actually started Kindergarten, to get a head start. 

 As of Jan.-May 2007, in England, we taught Kate Kindergarten.

 In 2008-09 in Italy, and then upon our move to Grmany, we did 1st grade with Kate, and Dom did Kindergarten.

Now, for the 2009-10 school year, we live in Germany, Kate does 2nd grade, Dom, 1st and Grant Pre K.

Some of the kids' favorite magazines:

Kate subscribes to - "American Girls" http://www.americangirl.com/

Dominic subscribes to - "Legos Club" http://club.lego.com/en-US/default.aspx


Grant subscribes to - "Zootles" and "Your Big Backyard" (animals)





Some of MY favorites:


"...Homeschooling Ideas...", "Homeschooling the Early Years", "So You're Thinking About Homeschooling", 'What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know", "What Your First Grader Needs to Know", "Help for the Harried Homeschooler"

(Click on the books above to go to Christianbook.com.  Once at Christian book, just type the name of the book in the search window.)

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is one of my favorite homeschool resources. I read this for ideas, curriculum reviews, experiences of other homeschool families, and just for leisure reading.  Very neat magazine.  Click on the magazine to go to their website.


Great Kids' Magazine:

Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. are mags put out by Focus on the Family.  They are fun magazines with activities for kids and also teach and anchor Christian values with each game or article.


And-God's World News-Early Edition

Favorite Websites right now:






Google-Verb Attack and Noun Dunk



Page Contents:

Photos link

(Password needed-email me for it! shartrum@hotmail.com)

Scholastic page link

(Type in username: Decareaux and password: homeschool)

Homeschool Journal (blog) - Newsletters (old 2008-09 School Year info)

Our Reading Lists

Archives 2007-08, 2008-09


*My resources, kids' resources

*My Format

*Favorite Book/Book Series List: (below...keep scrolling...) 

*My thoughts (below...keep scrolling...) To include:

`Teachable Moments


`Why we do what we do

`Impromptu lessons

`We focus on...

`Getting Started in Homeschooling (and how I got started)

`Popular Methods in Homeschooling

*Methods I use and My Materials (using this year)


`Read Alouds


`Field Trips

`Kid Activities

(AWANA, Scouting, CoOp, etc.)

*Record Keeping

Current Read Aloud:

*2010 Read Alouds coming soon! (Sonlight Curriculum Read Aloud suggestions...)

*Spring 2009-"James and the Giant Peach"

*Winter 2008-"Heidi"

*Fall 2008-"Meet Felicity" an American Girls series book.  Felicity stories take place in the 1700's Colonial times.

*Summer 2008- "Meet Molly" an American Girls series book.   Molly stories take place in the 1940's WWII times.


Current Projects: Coming Soon! See "Archives" for past year's formats.

Field Trips:

*To be updated 2010.

*Late '08 - Currently, Early '09: Our lives are a fieldtrip!

*Nov.-Dec. 2008-German Christmas Markets, Stuttgart, Germany; Strasbourge, France; Wissembourg, France

*May-Oct. 2008, we have gone to: Pompeii, Amalfi Coast and Rome (Colosseum).  We haven't planned what's next!

Italy- We have gone to the pool, the playgrounds, the movies, Church, Kids' Church, AWANA, and ballet, as well.

Kid Activities:

*To be updated with current activities 2010. See "Archives" for past activities.

Spring '09: -The kids continue the Homeschool CoOp, in which Kate takes Native American History and Art; Dom and Grant are in the themed room and so far have studied: winter, weather, seasons, hearts and the body.  They all three do P.E. I help out in the Chemistry room.

-Kate: ~Girl Scouts (Thinking Day was awesome! Troops got together and basically had a Geography fair. Kate's troop represented Japan).

~Ballet ~ All three in Awana ~About to start Soccer ~About to start Irish step dance ~On the piano lesson waiting list

-Dominic: ~All three in Awana ~About to start Coach Pitch Baseball ~ On the piano lesson waiting list

-Grant: ~All three in Awana ~About to start T Ball

*Homeschool Group News: Science Fair is coming up in March! Kate is studying Bird feeding habits and Dom is doing a survey on Nutrition habits in people.


My Format and Record Keeping:

Coming Soon! See "Archives" for past formats from 2007-08 school year and 2008-09 School year.

(P.S. Also see "blog" link for 2008-09 format and happenings.)






My thoughts...

Teachable Moments:  (Written Winter 2006-'07)  We are excited that the children get to learn in everyday situations, doing everyday things.  We plan to make the most of all the teachable moments that come up during a day.  For example: Now during the Christmas season, Kate helped fill out the cards for her classmates in Preschool.  She signed her own name to all and copied her friends' names from my example.  Each time Kate and Dominic help me bake (specifically this Christmas season making Christmas cookies) they get to help me measure (Math), gather ingredients (sorting skills) mix and ice them. 

Furthermore, many, if not all  of you reading this already homeschool to an extent without even realizing it.  For example: Kate helps me do laundry.  She sorts out all her clothes  (sorting, following directions and responsibility).  How many of you enlist your children to help with chores, read aloud to them, count their buttons as you button their coat, ask them the colors as they  color a picture? You are homeschooling!

Think about what your children do in a day in the traditional school setting: they do reading, writing, math, some social studies and science, learn social skills, responsibility, character development, life skills, etc.  We find that easy to replicate in our home classroom.  I really enjoy when the children learn by immersion: Kate and I filled out her Christmas cards.  Instead of traditional methods for teaching counting and number recognition, Kate and Dominic helped me count the number of cups of sugar I added as we baked cookies.  Before bed, the children are read a daily Bible devotional.  Furthermore, on the nights I am not too tired :), we do a read aloud (a few pages a night).  Right now, we are reading "Little House" book #2: "Little House on the Prairie".  When the children attend AWANA Club, they are developing their character and learning social interaction skills with their peers.  As my children interact with just each other on a daily basis, they are developing patience, sharing, empathy, etc.  Family daytrips become social studies lessons as we visit a national monument or castles here in England.  A trip to the London Natural History Museum became a science lesson as the kids discovered what fossils were and saw dinosaur skeletons. We are so excited that we will have a structured directed learning time in the mornings; however, our school day is not over after that. 

We plan to have a traditional directed instruction time in the mornings.  We do work with flashcards, computer games, workbooks, trade books, hands on manipulatives, etc. to teach reading, writing, and math.   But, it is the  moments after that directed teaching and learning that we are excited about the most: the teachable moments.

  • Socialization: The BIG question on some minds: How will the children be exposed to other children?  Socialization is quickly becoming a non issue in homeschool circles.  Homeschooling is not about keeping your child/children from other kids, it's about your influence being the first they encounter.  We want to give our children a firm, Godly foundation to start them off in life.  They will still be exposed to all the other kids face, but with our home as a safe place to come back to when it gets too much.  With that in mind, back to socialization:

  •  Kate has already taken dance; both Kate and Dom are in AWANA club; which is a weekly Bible group through church where they learn Bible verses and principles ands earn badges.  etc.  As soon as the children are old enough they will have ample opportunity to interact with their peers: Girl/Boy Scouts, sports, swim lessons, gymnastics, martial arts, etc.

  • The beauty of homeschooling is this: we count some of these activities as physical ed. and do them during the school day, after lessons.  Therefore, we free up our evenings to spend as a family.

  • Homeschooling groups are becoming very popular; homeschool children get together for social get togethers, fields trips, science fairs, spelling bees, etc.

  • Furthermore, many places are opening their doors to homeschoolers: Science Centers have homeschool days, Zoos are doing the same, art museums, libraries, etc. are all joining  in.



Why we do what we do:  Our reasons for homeschooling are many.  First, let me say that everyone is going to do what they feel is right and/or necessary for their home situation.  We feel it is right for our family to homeschool.  First and foremost, we feel this is what God wants us to do.  As Christians, we try to stay in tune to what God is saying to us through the Holy Spirit in our hearts.  Some people think of this intuition or their conscious.  We knew from the time the kids were babies (Kate was 18 months) that this is ultimately what we wanted to do.  Although, I did waver from time to time (there were times I said I would absolutely not be homeschooling! :))  God provides us with a peace about our decision, and that is why we feel it is what is meant for us and our family. 

Second, we are excited about the freedom homeschooling affords our family.  We are free to learn how and when we want.  I can go at whatever  pace is appropriate for my children.  We have the freedom to study themes of our choice.  Family vacations are field trips and learning experiences.  We have the opportunity for hands on learning, life applicable learning, and practical application everyday in our home classroom. 

Third, we feel it important to be able to include God in our children's school experience.  At our home classroom, we are allowed to hang the Ten Commandments on the wall, we are allowed to pray before our lessons, before our lunch.  Our children learn moral principles along with all the other academic lessons in their school week in our home classroom.  This is an essential part of our lives.  We do not want it left out of our children's lives 8 hours of the day, 5 days a week.  Part of our homeschool curriculum is to include: Bible Studies, Mission Focus, Scripture Memorization, etc. 

Fourth, I feel blessed to have this opportunity to teach my kids! Not that we don't have our days that are really tough! I just feel blessed to have this option and feel capable to do this; because I really like having my kids around.  It is really important to Dave and I to keep our family a team.  We want to keep our family unit strong and close.  Dave would like to teach Science to the kids. So, our schedule is very non traditional, in that, I teach all the other subjects during the morning.  Then when Dave comes home from work, he would like to teach the Science lesson for the day. 

To answer some that may be asking this question out there: Am I going to miss having a career? Well, I do have a Bachelor's degree in Education. I am a certified teacher. I did teach in the public school system for a short time.  However, I am now 5 classes into my Master's in Religion degree with a Church Ministry focus.  I really do  not know where God is going to lead me with that; I just really was interested in the classes in this degree program.  I want to work in a missions/service capacity.  So, this opens the door for me to work part time as the kids get older.  I do not wish to have a full time 9-5 career.  So, no, I do not miss having a career. Will I someday? Maybe I'll get the itch, that is why I am grateful that God is leading me in a direction where I will be able to work part time, if the desire arises.



Getting Started in Homeschooling:

Guidelines from, “So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling”, by: Lisa Whelchel - and my story and what I did, added to the guidelines.

  1. Research the subject: internet (google, homeschool) (talked to Dave and prayed – Kate was 18 months), books (buy, borrow, rent), magazines (subscribe – “Old Schoolhouse” for me)
  2. Talk to people: When we were close to starting, I talked to and observed ladies in action
  3. Support Group: (When we started, we had no support group; we did informal outings with homeschool families.  A friend and I started a Homeschool group for Alconbury – game days, park days, etc.) (Support group came later; but now is something I research each time we plan to move anywhere.) (Would like to do Co-Op in future) (About to join the Naples Christian Homeschool Group)
  4. Checked in to the laws regarding homeschool (google - homeschool laws; vary from State to State)
  5. Planned my curriculum:

`Sorted and organized supplies and materials,

`set up room,

`bought needed inventory,

`looked through some curriculums and decided on eclectic approach (my own materials and teaching method with various curric. thrown in : Horizon for Math and Reading, Sonlight and “Five in a Row” for some Lit., from – “What Your Kindergartner/First Grader Needs to Know”, using ideas from “Mailbox” and “Instructor” magazines, internet and website ideas, etc.) (Started with real structured approach; have since decided to learn more informally – have also since decided to teach to learning styles of the children)

`Plugged in themes and specials for month to month and week to week (holidays, birthdays, etc.)

`Decided what subjects I wanted covered and items within those subjects (created kids’ folders and notebook projects-nature notebooks, journals, spelling notebooks, Bible verse notebooks, thankfulness journal)

`Considered socialization (Awana, dance, softball, library reading, etc.) volunteerism and field trips

      `Decided to keep portfolios as record keeping *see newsletters at the "blog" link

      `For fun, decided to keep website; also to send newsletters and updates to friends and family

      `Keep a planbook

     `Read books on the subject for my entertainment and benefit

  1. Organized my home; lay down some discipline
  2. Curriculum fair and conventions (have not done either yet) (Except for the Homeschool workshop I went to at Worship and Study with PWOC in Fall ’06)








Popular Methods in Homeschooling:

Unschool – No structured teaching and learning; let the child learn by immersion in everyday life (farming, planting, cooking, field trips, housework, lessons they request, reading, reading and more reading.)

Unit Studies (me-“Five in a Row”, "Teacher Created", "Evan Moor, "Download and Go" lapbooks) – Learning a theme and the theme covers several subject areas – Example: Oceans – read books on oceans for reading, learn spelling words about oceans for spelling, write a journal entry about a trip or a dream trip to the ocean for language, locate the oceans on a map for geography, study famous explorers that crossed the oceans in social studies and study the life in oceans for science.

Literature Based (me-“Sonlight”) – Learn by reading tons of “living” or trade books, as opposed to textbooks.  Example: Learning about England, we read “Alice in Wonderland”, “Velveteen Rabbit”, “Winnie the Pooh” (British author), several fairy tales, etc.  We located areas on the map, listed lifestyle differences between then and now based on what we read in the book, etc.

Traditional Textbooks (me-“Horizons” for Phonics and Math) – Using traditional textbooks and workbooks to teach guided subject matter: phonics, math, etc.

Video Learning – Buy videos that have qualified teachers teaching subject matter via video. 

Independent Learning – Popular for lifelong homeschooled teenagers and highschoolers – They direct their own learning – Example: Read a classical work of literature and write a report on it.

On-line Academy/Local Academy – Qualified teachers teach on line.

Co-Op – “Cooperative Learning” – Many homeschool groups also have co-ops where parents get together and share teaching responsibility a couple days a week; they teach a subject matter they are experts on: gardening, dance, music, American History, famous artists, etc.

Homeschool on the run (office, RV, etc.) – Some families travel extensively for the husband (or wife’s) job, so the whole family goes along and homeschools along the way.  Some single parents homeschool as the child comes to work with them!

Extended family teach – Some families have Grandma or Grandpa tech while the parents work outside the home. 

Principle Method – Teaching from a perspective of teaching character and principles (primarily Christian in nature) in everything taught.  Teaching from a Christian worldview.  Example – Science teaching creationism, Social Studies and History teaching Biblical history, etc.

Classical Method – ways children were taught in ancient Greece and Rome, “trivium” or three roads: grammer stage (what), dialectic stage (why and how), rhetoric stage (analytical)

Charlotte Mason– learn from life and “living books” (trade books as opposed to textbooks)

-copywork, dictation, journaling, picture studies, map reading, nature walks, spelling notebooks, narration

Learning Styles (Us!!)- tactile/kinesthetic (using hands and body movements to learn), visual learner (learns by watching), auditory learner (learns by listening)





Methods I Use:

*Eclectic/Hodge Podge Approach– I teach using a variety of the methods:

-   I unschool as the children learn math as they help me cook, p.e. as they play outside, science as we visit Pompeii and I explain the way the volcanic ash buried the bodies, history as we visit London, Stonehenge, castles, etc.

- I intersperse unit studies in to my weekly plan book on occasion.  If we go to the aquarium, we may do a unit study on oceans the next week; or if I feel like reading fairy tales to the kids, we may do a whole unit study on them, etc.  I especially do unit studies around holidays: Halloween, we do unit studies including scary insects in science, crafts in art, themed books in reading, journaling and spelling, etc.  I have used a unit study curriculum called, “Five in a Row” before.  For example, we read a book called, “Ping” that took place in China; we then did a whole week unit study with everything China and Chinese: reading, spelling, geography, social studies, etc.

*I LOVE Evan Moor History and Literature pockets!

*I LOVE "Teacher Created" unit and theme studies!

*I LOVE "Download and Go" Lapbooks!! (Units and themes-collect the work, glue on an opened file folder.-Just a fun way to categorize your work-visual for kids)

-I use Literature based teaching and learning a lot.  We read trade books on subjects; we do not use textbooks, a LOT of the time.  For example, when learning about pioneer days, we read the “Little House” book series.  I have used a curriculum called, “Sonlight”, a Christian based company that suggests books to read to learn certain subjects through literature.

-Some textbooks we use are: The Apologia Science series (days of creation determine the aspect of science studied-Example-We are doing Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day-studying Aquatics and Aquatic Life). Also, "Story of the World" History. We are doing Ancient History now-Nomads through Romans.  I have used workbooks to teach phonics and math.  I use the “Horizons” workbook series.

-I use the principle approach, in that, some of the themes we study in Science, I have Christian bent books and workbooks we do work from.  For example, when learning about body systems, I have a workbook called, “God Made My Body”, etc.  Not only does it teach about the body, it has corresponding Scripture references about God creating our bodies. 

-I use learning style method all the time.  It is just an integrated part of what I do with the kids.  Dom is a tactile learner.  He learns best by using his hands.  So, we may trace his name letters with his finger in whip cream, or learn to sort colors by sorting M&M’s into color groups, etc.  Kate is a visual learner, she learns by watching.  She is also an auditory learner, so she learns by listening.  We go on the computer, and listen to certain books being read aloud, often.

My materials:

-Bible Study:

`Devotions- We choose from: "Right Choices"- A devotion book for young children that teaches a moral lesson (sharing, not arguing, obeying parents, etc.), "Five Minute Devotions"-A devotion book for young children in which a scientific principle is taught along with a Biblical lesson, "Princess letters"-letters "from" Jesus to little girls, "Preschool Devotions", "Hermie" Bible.

`Bible Themes-Come straight from the Bible. I also have some Elementary age appropriate books I use with them: Phonics Bible, etc.

`Missions-"Families on Mission"-a book that gives basic mission principles and projects to reinforce the principle for families of young children. (love, giving, sharing, etc.)

`Mission Focus-"Kids Praying for Kids"-a book by Franklin Graham which focuses on children from other countries; a new country each month, and gives prayer requests for that particular culture or country.

-Basic Skills: Horizons Math and Phonics *see menu above for other items we use in Basic Skills

-Other Materials: I use a lot of "Teacher Created Materials" Unit studies, I get a lot of worksheets from edhelper.com, "Time" for kids and dltk website has awesome Bible lessons and other things-customized journal writing paper, etc.; I order trade books for our themes from Christian Book and Amazonn.  I subscribe to a teachers' magazine-"Mailbox" and use pintables from there.

I also have the kids work on starfall.com with phonics skills, reading, etc.







In conclusion, I just go through my various books and belongings and make lessons from there. The exceptions to this are the Horizons workbooks I use for Math and Phonics.  I make sure the kids are on target or exceeding their grade level by checking our lesson plans against public school curriculum ( I look up online) and by looking at the standards in books: "What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know" and "What Your First Grader Needs to Know".




Favorite Book Series:

Below, you will find our favorite book series as of the 2008-09 school year. Kate's tastes have changed a bit, as she has grown this last year. She is a very strong reader and LOVES chapter books. Here are some of her fav series':

*Junie B.

*Cam Jansen

*Magic Treehouse

*Babysitter's Club Little Sister

*American Girl (and the American Girl Mysteries collection)

*Little House

*Magic Schoolbus Chapter Books

*A-Z Mysteries

"My First Little House” Is a series of books that are the original “Little House” by Laura Ingles we all know and love, but written for a 3-8 year old to easily understand and even read.

*We have all but two books, I think.  So, about 12 books.


“Let’s Read and Find Out” Is a series of books that explore from a scientific perspective.  They come in levels 1 and 2, with the level 2 books aimed at 5-9 year olds. Each book has an activity or activities at the back of the book to try in the same subject area.  For example: "Why Do Leaves Change Color?", we made leaf rubbings.  After reading, "How Do Apples Grow?", we cut open an apple and counted the seeds.


  Level 1 (ages 3-6)  ·           Level 2 (ages 5-9)

*We have: “Corn Is Maize”, “How Do Apples Grow?”, “ Why Do Leaves Change Color?”, “From Seed to Pumpkin”


“The Night Before…”  Is a series of books in which holidays and special days are put to the rhyme of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas…” Very Cute.


*We have: “The Night before Halloween”, “The Night Before Thanksgiving”

 *Sample: “’Twas the night before Thanksgiving and all through the nation, families got ready for the big celebration.  That night we were nestled all snug in our beds, while visions of turkey legs danced in our heads.”


“If You…” Is a series of books that explore history.  It tells the food, clothing, games, daily life, etc. of a certain time period or people. For example: Sioux Indians or Colonial children.


*We have: “If You Lived with the Sioux Indians”, “If You Lived in Colonial Times”, “If You Lived with the Iroquois”, and “If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620"