Category Archives: Guest Posts

Jada’s Guest Post.

Today’s guest post is from a friend I have known through church for the past 5 years. She will be beginning her homeschool journey soon. Here is her baby girl Micah. Thanks for posting Jada! Make sure to check out her lovely blog at Color My Skye.

Honestly, I have typed out this blog probably a dozen times and deleted it, started over, delete again and so on… I feel there’s not much really for me to contribute besides our story and how we got here.
Hopefully, somebody can walk away feeling encouraged or not alone as we all dive in!!

Almost 12 years ago, husband and I had the conversation about kids and schooling.  I claim the word”homeschool” never came up and he says it did:))  The one thing we have always agreed on though  was that we wanted our kids to receive a solid Christ-based education. The picture in my head was me dropping our 3 kids off at this really quaint little Christian school and me just doing mom stuff until it was time to go pick them up and listen to the day’s events!!!. :)  Now, as the season approaches I realize “me dropping our 3 kids off at this really quaint little Christian school” just isn’t reality right now in more ways than one:)))   I have never thought of me capable of homeschooling our child, but God has placed me in a family that is experienced, have alot of resources, and full of love, patience and grace. I know I don’t have to do it by myself which has always been a fear with schooling my child.

The word “homeschool” has always intimidated me,, the thought that my child’s education lies in my hands seriously makes me stop breathing for a minute. Here are a few examples why….
1. I really believed Chicago was a state up until about 10 years ago:)
2. I recently misled my daughter in what a baby horse was called.
3. This past Sunday, I was sounding out the letter “F” for my daughter and husband had to correct me:)
4. and ust now while typing this blog, Ryan was reading it and telling me where to put my commas and correcting my grammar!!!!!!!!!
So, I am always constantly dramatically saying “see that’s why I should’nt be homeschooling!!!!!!”:))
I’m not really that patient and have never had the desire to teach, especially children. Just being for real–I have no problem doing anything non strutured, like playin in the hose or painting or play doh,,, but to teach.. huh!!!!! I’d rather do something else:) I have’nt even started homeschool yet and while I’m very very excited about my little girl starting school,  feeling selfish is already a HUGE challenge and I’m feeling inadequate and overwhelmed thinking are’nt there any other options????????????,  I have always been reluctant to cast myself in the role of a “homeschool mom.”
So, I’m pretty thankful for my sister in law Danette opening up her schoolroom for Micah.  We don’t have all the details ironed out just yet, but I do know that Micah and I will go to Danette’s for school where we will join her cousins, Lydia, Abigail, Calvin, and Lincoln. Lincoln and Micah will be doing preschool together as well as another little friend, Kaia. Micah is ecstatic, she adores her aunt Nette Nette.  Some days, my other sister in law Misty
http://findingmyway9598.blogspot.com/ and rest of the cousins will probably join us. Between myself and my sister in laws, we all have strengths where the other may lack skill or interest, so I have a feeling the kids probably will not be the only ones to learn something this next school year! :)
I know the days ahead will bring challenges, Micah’s sunday school teacher just reminded me of that yesterday at church. :) sigh:)))))  I wanted to be a Mom years before God finally brought Micah to us so I’ve had alot of time to imagine and daydream about the firsts of the school years. Here is just a few.. these are sooo not in order:))))
1. 1st day of school eve:)-I think I’ll be more excited than Micah…. and again, I know we are just traveling to Aunt nette nette’s house, but that’s like Disneyland to Micah.:)
2. Hearing Micah repeat the Pledge to the American Flag, Christian Flag and the Bible after me. I have no idea how I’ll get through that without sobbing.
3. Singing all the silly songs with Micah to help us learn our letter sounds.
4. Watching her sit still with her cousins as she just soaks it all up………. I know.. the sitting still part needs to be worked on…
5. the excitement of learning something new and completing it and being proud of herself and hearing over and over “Mommy I did it!!!!!!!!!!”

Parenting is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges for most of us, I think :) at least for me it is. I constantly worry, am I doing it right, is she going to remember everything she has been taught and apply  it,, is she going to always pursue God, is homeschooling the right thing for her,, is she missing out and it going to affect her in a negative way, is what I’m doing going to JACK her up?????????????
Seriously, I constantly have to give her up to God. I have been reading a book called Revolutionary Parenting and I looooooove it. This next paragraph is from that book, and while the book has nothing to do with homeschool-I find it reassuring that God has it all in His hands.

God tells us that if we have surrendred our lives to Him and are listening for His guidance, then we may give Him and our children the best effort we can muster and confidently leave the results to Him. The Scriptures remind us that while we have free will, we do not possess control over reality.
Nothing drives that point home harder than our experience raising children. Our job is not to succeed but to be obedient to God’s calling and principles and allow Him to produce the outcomes according to His perfect will. With that in mind, perhaps we can take a deep breath and relax. As much as you love your children, God loves them more. As deeply as you desire to do what is best for your children, God wants it even more urgently. As we rely upon Him rather than our own ideas and wisdom, we can be assured that our young ones will experience the best that God has to offer, through us and others.

xox
Jada

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Leah’s Guest Post.

I have just two more guest posts to share with you guys before we are done! This one is from Leah. She is currently a home school student. Thanks Leah for taking the time to share with us!

I am a senior in homeschool and I want to get into childcare or children’s ministry after completing my GED.  I have completed various schooling routes and some have worked better than others. A lot of people say that homeschool is not the best option for everyone. I agree. I loved some parts about the various options I have done. Some just did not work because it did not leave any time for my friends. I could not focus right in the way my elementary school was setup. So, after the struggle with public school, my mom
 decided to homeschool me. My mom has homeschooled most of us kids for years and I have done a lot of the options together with my other siblings. What I love most about being homeschooled is I can do it without being on a tight schedule or staying up late with homework. I have time for other things that I want to do, like volunteering at a local 
pregnancy center. I have loved some of the various homeschool
 curriculum we have used, but I also love the fact that sometimes 
regular books such as American girl can qualify as learning too. 
I did a report once on the great depression using facts from my 
grandmas, but mostly from Kit’s world book which has information more
about her historic year. For us there is no typical school day. It varies 
depending on what we are doing that day or if we have a event with our 
homeschool group. Homeschooling has taught
 me alot about who I can become and more about life.  I 
hope I can homeschool my future kids one day if God has it in my plan.
The best thing about a homeschool parent is to know you don’t have to know 
everything or have a teaching degree to homeschool! Its all up to you 
what you decide and how you plan your days!
 The most common question that you get from curious minded people is 
what about their social life? Well I can tell you that homeschoolers
 have FRIENDS and there are lots of different groups for homeschoolers to 
meet other homeschool kids & teens too. I have met several of my 
friends that do homeschool and they are my bestest friends ever!
I am still learning new things about my homeschool journey but I know
 that God will help me with my future path and the way I should go.

Leah

Check out my blog about my life, God, friends, family, crafting,
hobbies, and my journey as a senior.

My Great Adventure

Thanks again Leah!

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Day 112. Dawn Guest Post.

I have just a couple more guest posts to share with you. I sure have enjoyed reading all these different stories and experiences. Whatever stage of life you are in, it always helps when you can identify with someone else.

Today’s post comes from Dawn. I met Dawn about 3 years ago and she is one of the kookiest and most fantastic ladies ever. Enjoy her post…

Hockey Stick Homeschool Method

Home makes me think of a warm fire and gooey cookies with milk. School brings to mind the smell offresh erasers, new backpacks and sharpened pencils. So, homeschool must be something warm, yummy and crispy clean, right? But, compound words are tricky – a butter-fly is not an oily ingot of dairy floating through the air on wings – it is something totally estranged from its original root words and yet beautiful in it’s own.  Homeschooling came to be known to me as something new, wonderful, frustrating and totally miserable over the course of a 3 year journey..

Through a strong conviction, our family started homeschooling our eldest son in the 4th grade. The first year was rough, but we definitely learned a lot about each other, the 2nd year was good and we had some great learning experiences, the 3rd year was not good and the beginning of the 4th year was downright miserable.  By the beginning of 7th grade, our mother-son relationship was deteriorating at a rapid pace, my husband did not want to come home at the end of his long work day, our youngest boys were lost in the chaos, and I found myself sitting on the floor in the bathroom with my head in my hands and tears pouring down my face. Our homeschooling experience had become H-E-double hockey sticks.

It was about this time that I read a story from a mom who had been having similar problems homeschooling her son. He was a junior in high school and they had come to a point in their educating journey where they fought all the time and very little education was happening. She made a bold decision to pull him out of school for a year and spend time with him in an effort to repair and salvage their relationship. They mended their differences and really got to know each other, and then he died.  It was then that I realized God values relationships above accomplishments and I needed to reevaluate my homeschooling goals.  So, against my own logic, we put our son back into public school in the 7th grade, in a rough neighborhood, taking a city bus… but it was the best decision for our family. Our son is a junior in high school now and to the best of my knowledge, is drug free, sex free and still talks to us about things going on in his life (not everything, but a lot of things).


So, I would offer up the following advice that I didn’t take myself…

~God gave you this child because there is something about you that He wants passed onto them.~

~Check in each year to make sure you are supposed to continue homeschooling.~

~Forgive yourself for bad days and ask for forgiveness from your kids (totally humbling, but necessary).~

~Anyone can teach your kids the 3R’s, only you can give them the freedom to be themselves.~

I think that if you can use some of my story in your own, it may go a long way in helping you avoid using “The Hockey Stick Homeschool Method.”

Thanks Dawn!

Now there is just 58 school days left until summer.

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Day 107. Laura’s Guest Post. Pt. 2.

This is part two of Laura’s guest post. If you missed Part one make sure and check it out. I love Laura’s honesty and writing style. I also love that she is a fellow night owl. Thanks Laura!

Biggest lesson learned?

Never assume! Learning styles are not as easy as I thought to identify! My son is an awesome artist, so I always figured he must be dominantly a visual learner like me. Turns out, after taking a test, he is very hands on. I remember this now when I look for activities and curriculum for him.

Check your child’s work asap….I learn this lesson over and over again. As a child I cheated on Math by correcting my own work and just jotting down answers instead of doing it myself. My son is 8 and will be lazy about reading directions, or doing proper punctuation, whatever it may be. My goal each day is to correct as we go and immediately go over mistakes so he remembers them and can stop making them! Some lessons he picks up on faster than others, but as long as I’m holding him accountable he is challenged and learns (eventually).

Specific product or curriculum you love the most?

I love our history curriculum! It’s called “Story of the World” by Susan Wise Bauer. I found it when I was privately homeschooling Judah in 1st grade, and when the option to do a charter presented itself for his 2nd grade year, I wasn’t sold until I knew I could use this curriculum. It is a text and an activity book that includes lists of questions, suggested library books, activities, map worksheets, puzzles and coloring sheets for each lesson.

I also love Apologia Elementary Science books…they are an amazing series of beautifully illustrated textbooks written from a Christian perspective.

Both of these use products fit the Charlotte Mason approach to learning and have built in lesson plans, so all I have to do is pick and choose what we will do for each lesson and have any supplemental library books, supplies, and online videos picked out on time.

For more information on Charlotte Mason’s approach to teaching I highly recommend the book “For the Children’s Sake” by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.

One last plug…I love ordering from “Love to Learn”. You can find them online or order a catalog. They are a wonderful resource for finding all kinds of curriculum with a helpful description for each and low prices. I love being inspired by what I find in their catalogs!

A typical day?

I am one of those weirdo’s that gets bored with routine. However, I have observed that my son thrives on it for the most part. He likes to know what to expect and when (little control freak) so I try and keep some consistency to what we do. Below is the routine we are currently following, although I expect that I’ll change it up soon to keep my sanity!

I lesson plan in spurts, usually at night. I’ll get out my lists and books and see what we need to use, and try and put together a plan. I love this part, so it’s really not a chore, but I do have to feel inspired to do it.

I’m a hardcore night owl, but I have to wake up early because I babysit. The morning is not my friend, so we usually veg out all morning until about 9ish. Since it’s winter, the kids have been sleeping in a little more.  We eat breakfast, then around 10 we get started.

Judah has a list prepared each day of what he is expected to do alone in the mornings (mostly worksheets, warm-ups, and reading). When Josh (the 2 year old child we baby-sit) goes down for nap mid-day Judah and I do Singapore Math using manipulatives. Next is the “subject of the day” (Science on Mon and Tues, Writing on Wednesday, and History on Thurs and Fri). I used to do all the subjects each day, but I’m experimenting by splitting it up and it really seems to be working out well so far.

During dinner time the kids watch an educational video that supplements our “lesson of the day” using Discovery Online Streaming.

At bedtime we read one or two library books that compliment our History or Science lessons.

Jade is 5, and isn’t enrolled with our charter yet so she informally practices writing and reading short words and numbers when she gets the urge (usually 2-3 x a week at night or during nap). She loves to do science with us and reading library books curled up on the couch or one of their beds just before sleeping.

What to do on the days that you are ready to throw in the towel?

There are some days I just don’t want to do it all, or we have an appointment somewhere (dentist, doctor, or classes when Judah is enrolled in one). On these days we do the bare minimum. I found we can NOT skip math, so we will do Math, the Subject of the Day and maybe some writing worksheets. This only takes an hour or two with not too much energy required, and makes the day less overwhelming. Kids don’t learn as well when they are over stimulated for some strange reason….at least mine don’t!

I have never felt the urge to quit….I love homeschooling. It is truly my passion and I have been super stubborn about sticking with it regardless of the sacrifices. But I also am sort of laid back and while I strive to always improve and make sure my children are moving forward, I don’t beat myself up or compare myself and my family to anyone else. It is one of the only places that I feel I am fulfilling a purpose using all my God-given talents and passions. To top it off, I get to help my children discover and develop their talents and passions to use in this crazy world of ours!

Thank you again, Laura!

Now there are just 63 school days left until summer.

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Day 105. Laura’s Guest Post. Pt. 1.

This post is from super mama, Laura. I met Laura through our church. Her post is awesome! Super honest, super informative, and super practical. Get a cup of coffee, sit down, and have a read!!!

Why homeschool?

Our decision to homeschool is based on too many things to list here, but in the beginning the biggest motivator was our firstborn son’s shy temperament.  Judah is a bit of a cautious, sensitive, shy type who really doesn’t let loose in unfamiliar company. However, he was (is) also very smart. As a toddler he had learned all the typical preschool stuff, but he refused to talk around unfamiliar company. Perhaps our worries were exaggerated by the fact that my husband has social anxiety and was physically ill at school for years.

We worried about Judah not participating, not making friends and allowing his social fears to overwhelm him. I worried more when I compared the local public school’s stats with the stats of the school I went to as a child. The numbers weren’t good.

When Judah reached Kindergarten age, we decided to privately homeschool using a pre-packaged curriculum. We plugged him into some social gatherings we felt he could handle to build up and maintain his social skills. My goal was not to raise an agoraphobic hermit, but to let him develop social skills at HIS pace so he would associate gatherings as fun rather than frightening.

I am happy to say he now speaks in Sunday school to his teacher and other kids, reads aloud and answers questions, even acts in skits! His self-confidence makes my heart swell because there were days I thought he would always be insecure around others. Within the last two years Judah has been onstage singing in a large group for I-kids, participating in Vacation Bible School, swim school, gymnastics and art class. He will always be a little shy and quiet, but he is far from being a social outcast.
What I loved most about being home schooled…

I was briefly homeschooled from grade 3 until grade 6. My mom used a charter school, and we lived on 5 acres out in Rescue, CA. I learned at a “normal” pace but I mostly remember field trips to cool museums, and running around on our property. School didn’t have me on lock-down all day long, it was something to complete so I could run around and play the rest of the day.

What eventually made me want to return to school was I felt I was missing out on friendships. We had neighbors and my parents even had me on a soccer team for awhile, but I also had family in public school that regularly told me what I was missing out on. This experience makes me extra cautious with my kids. I’m forever trying to make sure they can socialize and tend to feel guilty when they go without for too long.
What’s the BEST tip you have on any area of homeschooling?

You are unique, your children are unique, and your family as a whole is unique. There is no “right” way to homeschool, no cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all way to do things. I love to compare and see how others do things, but if it’s not for me I don’t worry about it.

The other piece of advice is not to feel intimidated, especially when you first get started. There is lots of information out there, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. I started my first year with pre-packaged curriculum that included a lesson plan written by someone experienced (My Father’s World). As time went on I tossed what I didn’t like, and added stuff I did like. The next year I just ordered what I wanted separately and did my own lesson plan because I had gained skills and confidence through experience.

Piggybacking on the uniqueness of each child: children learn different things at different paces. My brother didn’t learn to read until he was in 2nd grade. Don’t worry, he’s fine now. He is about to graduate with his AA and move on to complete an engineering degree at Sac State. I might also mention he is a math wiz, and was way ahead of his classmates when he returned to public school in 3rd grade. The idea that all children should learn such-and-such by age such-and-such is simply a guideline, and obsessing about those “deadlines” can be as much of a waste of energy as worrying about your child walking at 18 months instead of 8 months. Just look for progress….if your child is moving forward you will be OK. I’m sure there are expectations to this rule, but generally the kid will turn out fine J.

I must confess I do tend to have my perfectionist spurts, and I have a book for such moments called “Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum form Preschool through High School” by Rebecca Rupp. Every time I worry I get the book out and cross off goals we’ve met. Sometimes we meet these goals a year later than suggested, but I take the book as a guideline and help for planning, not a scolding book that will shame me for my lack of progress!

Stay tuned for part two on Monday….

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Day 103. Gina’s Guest Post.

Gina and I met just a couple of  years ago, when I was an event director at my church. I heard rumors of this “Gina” girl and how I needed her somewhere in my ministry because she was amazing. She had been very involved previously, but had taken some time off. I wasted no time in finding her. It was at a playgroup Christmas party that she appeared. I wasted no time in walking straight up to her and said, “I hear you’re fantastic and I need you…” Lol. That was the beginning of an amazing friendship. Here we are now, years later, both embarking on this homeschooling adventure together, despite very different paths that led us here. Read her post below and make sure and check out her new blog at Beyond the Planner. We have spent countless hours confusing ourselves with endless homeschool options. We may be Dumb and Dumber, but I’m so glad we are figuring it out together…Here is Gina’s story accompanied by her lovely girlies cuteness (photographed by K. Walker photography…)

Garage Schooling……………

(Sockman U) – (not our official name but kinda fun)

First off I must say this is my vantage point – but from the time I was pregnant with Ella, Tod has wanted to homeschool.  Being a police officer – his 1st instinct is to protect his wife and children in any means possible, including homeschooling.  However, God gave him a vagabond of a wife; who loves to move about and loves change.  Tod gives me room to be me and trusts my research and motives, we have made this decision together, but this is my side of the story:

I love the familiar….I love lists…….I love bullet pointing ………..So for me to decide to homeschool was a decision that weighed very heavily on me and truthfully ignored for 3 or 4 months.  It is not the way I had planned it out, it was not on my list or in my familiar safe zone.  Before I was married I would day-dream about picking up my children from elementary school and coming home for a snack and homework on and on and on……I was not ready to give up on that dream, until I realized that time was slipping away from me so fast, starting at kindergarten.  Hurry… get up – get ready – get to school – then pick up – have lunch – do homework – do – do – do – do……….it was all going so fast and I was falling behind on learning about Ella and teaching her things I wanted her to know. I want to see her, know her and teach her.  Now please know that I love Ella’s kindergarten teacher, she is everything you would want in an educator of your child. If I could wrap her up and put her on my shelf in our Garage School I would.  But she has refused that offer.

Now God has placed it in my heart to move forward and educate the 2 most precious beings that I could have wished for. I will respond with love (some fear and confusion on most days) but mostly love and excitement!

I still do not have this all figured out, for a while there I was wrapped-up in curriculum,  the type – the methods –  the schoolroom – the lighting – the schedule – my work – Ella’s work – Joie’s work – God’s work. I was becoming overwhelmed and obsessed.

I was anxious – I want all the answers.  (My disorders are showing.) But prayer and trust helps me turn from those feelings and know that I will be given the information at the right time, on the right day, in the right way.

I want this. On days when I am sick or it rains I want it even more.  I want Ella & Joie to grow together and be a part of each other’s lives.  To have confidence in themselves when they are grown, and to run a home, work, life, ministry anything they choose by what they have seen, learned and prayed for; but most of all, I want them to know what do with what God has entrusted to them.

I have been here before, only the situation has changed.  I know the lesson God is teaching me; I am a slow learner. But we will get it and we all will be better if I listen intently and if I am diligent in working His plan.

So for today I pray, research, bullet point, list-make, discuss and plan our next baby steps towards Garage Schooling (our version of Homeschooling in our classy-dainty garage) ……thanks for having me Darc……xoxo …..gina!

Thanks Gina! xoxo.

Now there are just 67 school days left until summer.

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Day 97. Sandi’s Guest Post.

These guest posts have been so encouraging and they just keep on coming. We were high school classmates who reconnected on Facebook…..both beginning a homeschool journey at the same time! I love how God works like that. What an encouragement we have been able to be to each other. I am not alone for sure! You rock Sandi, oh and check out her blog Never Say Never, and btw I LOVE that title, don’t you?

My journey into homeschooling…

My name is Sandi, and I homeschool. That statement sounds like I need help, and trust me I DO! I’m new at it only about 8 weeks into the making as I write this. I am a wife, mother of 4, and office manager of our construction company.

It pretty much occurred to me one night at 9pm while sitting at the kitchen counter. After 3 hours of working on homework with my 8th grader it struck me that I really would rather be doing this in the a.m. hours! Said 8th grader has always had struggles in school. I won’t go into it all, but let’s just say anxiety and lack of confidence gets him “stuck” in so many ways. This in turn has manifested into slowly maturing emotionally, being academically challenged, and all out frustrated. (Wait…maybe the frustrated one is me.) Anyway, I’ve gone from the mom who makes the comment, “Oh, I could NEVER homeschool”, to one that realized at this time of his life I have no greater choice, but to.

Our schooling is centered on “catching up”. Our focus is on reading, writing, & arithmetic. Because my son is behind in some areas, and only struggles a bit in others, I have had to pull together my own worksheets, books, & curricula to meet his needs. I for one would LOVE to just have one program that says do this on this day and check that box off! But, it doesn’t work that way for him so I must improvise.

I struggle all of the time with the thought that I’m not doing enough. He should be spending more time. I should have more books, worksheets, plans…you get the picture. Constantly being reminded that we are doing all we can right now. I know it’s a process that will continue to change and have different look to it all of the time, sometimes day-to-day.

A few things I’ve come to learn:

  • Be willing to continually research and learn, but don’t overwhelm yourself.
  • Talk to other homeschool families even if you never meet them face to face.
  • It’s O.K. to use DVD’s and online streaming for teaching certain subjects. If you child learns from it then it is working
  • MAKE A PLAN. One mistake I make continuously is not having the week at least sketched out.
  • Give yourself (and your student) a break on days that are just not going smoothly! i.e. take a time out!
  • Look into community classes. My son goes to an incredible science lab for an hour and a half once a week with other homeschool kids. It’s hands on and he loves it!
  • Know when to hover and when to back off. For moms this is a delicate balance at times!
  • You don’t need a special room or a bunch of “stuff” to homeschool. We sit at the kitchen table, use a white board and one portable file box. I love storage things, and setting up spaces, but our house does not lend me that option and I had to come to terms with that and move on.
  • Ask your student what their expectations are for homeschooling if appropriate. Let them have a voice.
  • ENJOY YOUR STUDENT!

It was important to my son that he stay connected to school. So we compromised a bit and he attends school for the last period of the day and takes an elective. Win-Win I say! He goes to school at 1:50 and rides the bus home every day which gives me just about an hour and 15 minutes to myself in the afternoon.

My 3 other kids attend public school. This makes it difficult at times when I’ve done school in the morning, driven my student to school in the afternoon just to have the others come home and need help with their homework. Can you say CRAZY? Some days one of them will say, “I want to be homeschooled!” because they’ve heard about something fun we’ve done that day. I do feel guilty sometimes, but when it comes right down to it I’m not ready to take on anymore, and they would probably find out they don’t want to be with me that much! Although, I do see there may be a possibility that my 4th grade son could benefit from homeschooling in the future as well…we’ll address that at another time!

My ultimate goal is to homeschool for the duration of 8th grade to raise my son’s confidence level and at least master some of the basics in math. As the freshman year approaches we’ll see what transpires. I can’t imagine having him home for the next 4 years because I want him to have a high school experience, but I realize that may not be what is best for him.

This journey has just begun!

Love it Sandi! Thank you so much…

Now there are just 73 school days left until summer.

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Day 93. Ashley’s Guest Post.

I had the joy of meeting Ashley, three~ish years ago when her family came to our church to lead our youth department. Her husband Josh is our youth pastor. Their family is just good! You know those kind of people? Just good hearted, hard working, fun loving, loving Jesus kinds? Ash is one of my dearest friends and now mom who homeschools as well. Make sure and stop by her blog, Life According To the Christians and look around. You will be glad you did….

Oh what to write that has not been written 40 times before!  I admit I have writers block, or perhaps guest posting stage fright as I’ve only been “that homeschooling mom” for all of 2 months.  I suppose there’s not much to say besides our own story, how we ended up here, and hope that there is encouragement and refreshment to be found in retelling what God has done.

Since my boy was a little peanut in my belly I juggled these balls at regular intervals.  Should he go to public school?  I turned out fine after all, and it’s free, but what if he follows his friends down the wide path to his ultimate demise?  Oh I would really love to send him to private school, could I sell my non-vital organs on the black market to fund it?  And what about homeschooling, could I survive it intact, would his personality scream “I’m awkward!”?  Yes it’s true, all varieties of education have their strengths and pitfalls, as do all families.  The trick is choosing what works for you, and for us, that involved first finding what didn’t work.

That little peanut turned 5 and it was time to decide.  Turns out selling my organs was illegal, thus narrowing our choices to public or home school.  I was good with either; Darling Husband was good with public school, so off he went last September to Elitha Donner Elm.  It was all rosy at first, then came the non-stop stories of playground “incidents.”  Soon after the boy’s stuttering kicked into super high gear.  He would struggle 15+ times to get out a word.  Christmas break came and magically so did great relief to his stuttering difficulties.  And just as soon, it came back on his reentry to school.

Our public school majorly stressed my kid out, and frankly I don’t blame him.  When we heard in January that hundreds of teachers were being laid off next year and class sizes would jump from 20 to 30, and of course next year being first grade he’d have to stay all day, really there was no question.  With great delight from all interested parties we now homeschool!  I don’t regret the past year at all though.  Because 1, my husband and I played on the same team, you can’t put a price tag on that, and 2, we really know why this is the only fruit in season right now.

So we’re doing this homeschooling thing now, I’m still finding my way.  Homeschooling a kindergartener while wrangling a preschooler and a toddler and still allowing refreshment for myself has been the most insane balancing act.  I’m getting there, slowly, by trial and error.  I have learned that I cannot play superwoman and skip out on my time with God and be even remotely functional.

And I leave you with final thought on socialization from a woman who’s spent a whole lot of time the past 10 years with teenagers of all varieties.  Unless they’re being raised by wolves, EVERY child is being socialized!  The question is to what?  If you think your child will turn out great specifically because of the type of schooling or path you’ve chosen for them you are almost setting yourself up for failure.  It is not the path, but the parents, and their reflection of God, that most greatly impacts kids.

Ashley

THANKS ASHLEY SMASHLEY….now there are just 77 school days left until summer!

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Day 90. Edie @ Life In Grace Guest Post.

One of the first blogs that I ran across ever, was over at Life in Grace. Her exquisite style, humor, and love for her family make her on one of my absolute fav’s, (along with a jillion other people). Today, she brings a post that I know you will enjoy….Make sure and go check out her blog. Oh and while there, make sure and find her craft room. If it wasn’t so stalkerish, well and downright illegal, I would would probably go move into it and sleep on her aqua glider. I heart it.

Classical Homeschooling: Staying the Course

I find myself at a bit of crossroads in my homeschooling journey. For the sake of those who are new to this blog, I’m in my second year of homeschooling my two littlest children—7 and 9, both doing 3rd grade*ish work—after quitting my job 3 years ago as a family practice physician. I have loved being a stay-at-home mom, I have loved homeschooling, and I am completely enamoured with the classical model for teaching children. I follow a blend of Charlotte Mason/ The Thomas Jefferson Education/ The Well Trained Mind. I have only had one episode of locking myself in my bathroom for two hours and sobbing uncontrollably. All in all, it’s been a wonderful journey: spending oodles of time with my children, shepherding their hearts and learning alongside them.

The classical model of learning is demanding for parents.

It requires that you and your children read the great classic works of literature, math and science and then discuss these works together. It assumes that when children are inspired by parents or teachers or mentors, they will want to learn and will do the work necessary to gain the knowledge they seek. The end result is a student who is a self-learner, who is motivated by the love of knowledge itself—not for some secondary gain of grades, treats or approval. And it is a delicate balance that seems difficult to attain. If you spend 40-50% of your days reading books, there’s not a lot of tangible evidence that you are acquiring or mastering anything. Worksheets are much easier to hold up as proof of your efforts. It’s not so easy to appreciate and evaluate a head full of adventures and stories and imagination. And it’s sometimes easier to say, “You go do these 7 pages and I’ll see you in an hour.” It can be harder to say, “Let’s go read Shakespeare together and then let’s read Pilgrim’s Progress together and then you read The Magician’s Nephew aloud to me and then let’s talk about it all.”

But a series of worksheets and tests—especially in the home setting, at an early age—- tends to snuff out the fire, the burning desire in all of us to know something, just for the sake of knowing it. For example, I used the Veritas program last year to teach Bible—full of worksheet after worksheet to evaluate comprehension—and none of us liked it. It made the wonderful, harrowing stories of the Old Testament seem dull and dry. This year, we’ve just been reading about the life of Jesus—from the actual Bible— and comparing the differences found in the various gospels. Just the Bible and its’ stories, without an interfering ‘textbook’ , without any way to ‘test’ what they’ve read, and their comprehension is impeccable. They find differences that I miss. They read the parables and stories aloud for themselves and it is simple, but powerful. Charlotte Mason makes the point in her writing that we put too many obstacles between the child and the material and now I see what she means. Introduce children to the characters of classical literature and they will be smitten.
elea

The classical model is also the ultimate in delayed gratification.

For days, weeks, and months, there seems to be very little to ‘show’ for all your labor. You’ve read all kinds of books, you’ve fallen in love with stories, authors and characters. The books you’ve read have changed you; the stories have become part of the fabric of who you are, you dream of the characters, you call them to mind in certain situations and you feel like you know them . You are becoming part of the ‘great conversation’. You are starting to realize how you ‘fit’ into this big wonderful world and its’ story.

But that rich inner life that is developing cannot be measured or tested. It’s like a fire that needs careful feeding, lest it be quenched. And that fire is what will motivate students to educate themselves—to be lifelong learners. Learning is hard work and if you push too hard and demand ‘work’ for the sake of work—they learn to do the least amount that’s necessary to avoid conflict. But if you inspire, nourish– ‘feed’ the fire, if you will—they will be driven by something strong and unquenchable inside themselves and there are no limits to what they will do to learn. I wish there were an easier way; but this form of teaching succeeds most assuredly when you lead by example. Which sometimes leaves me face to face with my own inadequacies and deficits. And when I get stressed, I start demanding results, which leads to fire-quenching. You see the vicious cycle.

So, here is my dilemma. I know I’m at a critical point with my girls. So far, I don’t think I’ve quenched the fire. But my human nature wants something tangible. I want a report card that says my student made all A’s and here are the worksheets and tests to prove it. I want cold hard facts and all I’ve got is a stack of books with tattered, worn pages. To make matters worse, I faced every homeschooling mothers’ worst fear last month: the soul-shaking, “No offense Mom, but I think I want to go to ‘real’ school next year”. The pleas to go to ‘real’ school have only surfaced when there is conflict between us and I know in my heart that I need more time with them. The fire is started but it’s not blazing yet. Perhaps I need a good pep talk from Charlotte Mason; her books will give you every reason to stay the course. Maybe it’s time to schedule a field trip to a play or a museum. It could be time to watch youtube and learn how to salsa dance. More than likely, it’s just the January blues that all homeschoolers experience. We all grow restless for something bigger and better.

I need a full measure of patience: to stay the course, to snuggle by the fire and read—fighting the pressure to produce something more tangible for the world to see, to mentor my girls by continuing to educate myself and to continue to inspire them by my own love for learning.


The one measurable thing we do frequently is memorization. We’re currently working on Psalm 40, the states and capitals, a poem, and the small catechism. We memorized a poem this fall that the girls recited in the front of the camera today called, ” Rebecca, Who Slammed Doors for fun and Perished Miserably”. There’s something comforting, substantial and verifiable about oral recitation. I guess it’s our form of grades.

Take it away girls! I give you an A+! Then, we’ll resume our post by the fire.

{Update coming soon on how our specific subjects are progressing}

THANKS SO MUCH EDIE!

Now there are just 80 school days left until summer.

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Day 89. Janet’s Guest Post.

Today’s Guest Post is from Janet over @ the Well Rounded Mama. She is on my list of must reads!!! Thank you Janet for your time and your wonderful blog!

Getting Over the Guilt

As a first year homeschooling mother, I have come to realize that one of the biggest battles I will face in home education is guilt.  Constant feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, and inconsistency have been my companions.  In my efforts to learn more about the life choice we have made, I would read about what other families were doing, what other families were learning, and what other families find most important. Each and every time, thoughts of self-doubt and guilt-ridden fears of me ruining my kids would leave me wondering if we had indeed made the right decision.

And then one day I realized something that revolutionized my thinking:  I came to understand the simple truth that I know my kids best and therefore I am the best one to teach them.  I know their likes, their dislikes, their strong subjects, and their struggle areas.  I know when they need to take a break (or when I need to take a break!), when they can be pushed, when they just need to have fun, and when they are excited and ready to buckle down. I know what puts a spark in their eyes and I know what subjects they would love to see disappear altogether.  I know my kids.

With my new-found realization I started conquering the feelings of guilt. I had to come to accept that we are not just like every family.  We may have the same ultimate goals, but the paths we take to get there are different. I needed to stop the comparisons and to stop letting myself feel inadequate just because what gets me (and my kids) excited is different than it is for others.  I have had to learn to accept the way we learn best and the dynamics that play into our day.  Looking at other homeschooling families — while at times inspiring and informative — easily leads to thoughts of, “Oh, I could never be like her!” or “Wow, their kids are getting so much more.” Those thoughts are neither true nor beneficial and I have had to work hard at setting them aside.

In order to do that, I have reminded myself of a few simple things:

1. I know my kids best and therefore I am best qualified to meet their educational needs at this time.

2. The most important thing for my kids right now is that they view learning as something fun and exciting, not something to be checked off a to-do list.

3. Home education takes place all day, every day. If I define learning within the confines of “school time” then I am discounting all the amazing educational experiences that happen throughout the day.

4. If a subject doesn’t appeal to me or to my kids, it can’t be the basis for our entire curriculum. Instead, choosing subjects that do intrigue us can be an amazing springboard for all sorts of learning.

5. Just because “so and so” appears to be doing everything right, it doesn’t meant that she is or that I am not.

6. God chose me to raise these kids and He chose me to educate them.  That counts for something…no, that counts for everything.

As I continue along this path I long to trust God with the amazing privilege I have of educating my kids.  I refuse to let the comparisons with other families or my own defeating self-talk prevent me from trusting my instincts and those of my children.  I encourage you to look into your own life and ask yourself if guilt and comparison is keeping you from being the best mom and home educator you can be.  If we want our children to believe in us then we need to start believing in ourselves.

Thanks Janet! Very encouraging….hope you guys enjoy today!

Now there are just 81 school days left until summer!

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