Meet Crystal from Castle View Academy in Family, Fun & Homeschooling

Welcome back to Family, Fun & Homeschooling!

F,F & H finchnwren.com

Today, I have a new friend from the Schoolhouse Review Crew to introduce you to!  Crystal from Castle View Academy.  She is an expat living on the Emerald Isle (wouldn’t you love to be able to say that?), and she is an experienced homeschooler.  Not only that, I really enjoy her sense of humor.  You’ll love meeting Crystal…and here she is!

Tell us about your blog. What was the spark of the idea that enabled you to create your blog?
My blog began as an advertisement for childminding, but grew from there to the homeschooling blog that we now are.

Crystal McClean button

Do you have a favorite blogging topic that you return to again and again?
Culture and crafts are always favourites of ours, and it’s even better if we can combine the two!

Crystal McClean familyTell us about your family. How did you and your spouse meet? And what would you like to share about your children?
Phil and I met over the photocopier at work. I was making plans to leave the country (I’m a Canadian in Northern Ireland) and find new adventures when we met. Little did I know then that I would be here for this long!

Tristan was born 11 weeks premature, just 8.5 months after our mountain-top Canadian wedding. It threw me into a tail-spin, and it wasn’t until after Kallista’s birth 2 years later that I started to feel ‘normal’ again.

Doing things together as a family is very important to us, as we know that life is precious.

What made you decide to homeschool?
The mandatory school starting age here is 4, and nursery (kindergarten equivalent) starts from 2 years and 10 months. It’s the youngest starting age in the world. I was still getting to know Tristan and didn’t want to send him off every day so young when he didn’t even know himself yet. Add the pressures and exams from a young age as well, and I started to consider home education as a viable option. Home education isn’t common here, but my husband has always been supportive right from the moment I first mentioned it to him. We haven’t looked back since.

What does a day in your homeschool look like?
Our days vary so much depending on any appointments or Phil’s rotating days off, as well as our energy and moods. But a ‘typical’ day could be like this:
The children have breakfast with Phil before he leaves for work at 7am. Then they cuddle up with me for some reading, and sometimes a little extra sleep.

Tristan will work on 15 minutes of English while Kallista gets herself ready for the day or dances around the house.

Next the children will have a little play time and a snack, which always a highlight in their day!

Some math or English on the internet or trying out a program or curriculum that we’re reviewing is usually next on our agenda.

If we’re going to the library, this is usually the time we’ll head out and walk down there. Some days we just go for the books, and other days we take some work with us to do there for a change of scenery. If the weather is lovely we’ll go for a walk by the sea and appreciate nature.

We have a late lunch and then the children play while I do the dishes and tidy up.

In the afternoon the children will finish up anything that still needs to be completed. Some afternoons we all have a little quiet time and relax for an hour or so. Silent reading or playing with Lego are Tristan’s top choices. Kallista enjoys making meals in her play kitchen or doing puzzles. I read a book or scroll Facebook…and sometimes actually nap.

Phil arrives home at 7pm and we have supper together before the children get ready for bed, have a bedtime story, and get tucked in for the night.

Phil then works on creating 3D images on his pc. This is the time I do most of my blogging. Five times a month I head out to meetings at the camera club and the RSPB.

Crystal McClean campingDo you have a favorite “date night” you love to do?
We’re pretty rural and frugal, so our weekly date night is to have a meal together after the kids go to sleep (frozen pizza, curry, lasagna or nachos are always popular treats and a departure from our usual homemade meals). Then we either watch a movie or catch up on a TV program.

What are some of your favorite mama-child activities?
My children love to craft as much as I do so time spent together doing this is always special. We also like to read to each other before getting out of bed and facing the day on the mornings that Phil goes to work.

Crystal’s bio:

Crystal McClean is a Canadian who is homeschooling her young family in Northern Ireland. She is a Mom, wife, homeschooler, virtual assistant, frugalista, and much more. If you’re looking for fun activities, educational ideas, recipes, multiculturalism, reviews, freebies, and giveaways, you’ll find it all with a little dose of inspiration thrown in for good measure. You can learn more about their adventures at Castle View Academy or follow along via Facebook, Twitter, G+, or Pinterest.


I love hearing about how homeschooling works in other countries.  Wasn’t it fun meeting Crystal?  Do visit her on her blog or social media hangouts; I especially enjoyed reading her recent blog post Everyday Bento.  Just perfect for moms looking for cool ways to present lunch!

Join us next week for another cool homeschooling blogger at Family, Fun & Homeschooling!

Enjoy!  –Wren

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