How We Began Homeschooling

How We Began Homeschooling
I had not heard much about home schooling during my own school years. My college roommate, though, was a homeschool graduate. She, like the few other homeschoolers I had met, seemed perfectly normal (!!), with above average intelligence and a well-rounded resume. So I never really understood the concern about the "stereotypical" homeschooled child.

During my student teaching semester, winter of 1997, I lived off campus with a homeschooling family. Even though I was gone during the hours Laurie, the mom, was actually doing school work with her children, I truly owe much of my foundational commitment to homeschooling to her and her family. Laurie was an example to me of what a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom might look like. I had never really put much thought into it previously, but at this point I was newly engaged, and thoughts of marriage and family occupied my mind as never before. 

So my time with Laurie and her family was probably the single most influential aspect in what I have come to view as my calling as a homeschool mother. Meanwhile, my husband Ted was attending Bible studies while at the Air Force Academy, being mentored by a captain who was a father of four children, all homeschooled. Our letters (yes, old-fashioned, handwritten letters!!!) discussed our ideas about homeschooling, so the idea was germinating.

Fast forward to early 2004. We began "homeschooling" Charis, our firstborn, when she was about 3 1/2. I thought I would try a pre-school workbook from Sam's Club, and as it turned out, she loved doing her pages and begged for them every day. We continued doing easy, fun workbooks and reading tons of books from the library. During this time we had a military move from Ohio to Maryland, and I planned to spend our one-year assignment there digging into this homeschool thing and learning all I could. I joined a Christian homeschool group and became friends with several ladies who graciously mentored me during that year, answering the bazillion questions I kept throwing at them.

Before we knew it another military move loomed, this time from Maryland to Nevada. By the time we got settled into our new home in August 2005, I knew what I'd be ordering from the Sonlight and Math-U-See catalogs. We joined a new homeschool support group, and before we knew it, were were officially a HOMESCHOOLING FAMILY! 

Are you a homeschooling mama? How and when did you begin this journey?

Pic: Arden (2), Charis (5), and Tobin (3 1/2) play with the Math-U-See blocks at our kitchen table.
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Before Summer...Let's Rest & Reflect

Before Summer...Let's Rest & Reflect
You're invited to a 3-day challenge! And it will be the easiest one you've ever accepted. 😁 This homeschool mom has been ready for summer since...well, maybe Groundhog's Day, lol! At the same time, I know it's important to be intentional about summer schedules and activities.

This 3-day challenge (which will run next week, June 7-9) will direct our thoughts to intentional REST as well as meaningful REFLECTION on the past school year. You don't have to do much to participate. But if you're not already in the Homeschooling for the Long Haul support group, where the action will take place, you'll need to join. You can do that here

If you want to be sure to intentionally connect, put it on your calendar and maybe invite a friend who needs encouragement and community in this Mom Journey! 

What does "rest & reflect" bring up for you today? 

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Let Us Not Become Weary

Let Us Not Become Weary
Is there an area in which you are feeling "weary of doing good?" Over the years this verse has become my mothering and homeschooling mantra! Eugene Peterson writes about a long obedience in the same direction [affiliate link], and though I haven't read his book, that phrase has been floating around in my brain ever since I first heard it some years back. It perfectly describes many aspects of the Christian life, but I especially apply it to motherhood and homeschooling.

It's easy to become weary in doing good...for me as a homeschool mom, I get weary of training and correcting children, herding them in the right direction (physically and spiritually!), wondering if anything I am saying is even "sticking." But daily faithfulness (not perfection) adds up: we truly WILL reap a harvest. Now that I'm blessed to have roughly 2 decades of mothering and homeschooling under my belt, I'm delighted to report the harvest DOES COME! I love my teenagers and young adult children, and I love the sweet relationship I have with each of them individually. Reflecting on how far we've come, I am more patient for the next round of harvest, as I persevere in homeschooling our younger children.

How do you need encouragement to persevere today?

By the way...if you'd like to join some like-minded homeschooling mamas, hop into my new group where we're building a community of Christian moms committed to homeschooling their children for the long haul!

This support group is set up to help you...
✔️ avoid burnout
✔️ manage the overwhelm
✔️ sustain your homeschooling long-term
✔️ persevere in spiritually training your children
and...perhaps most important...
✔️ know and apply God’s truth in the daily activities of educating your children.

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Grammar Guides

Grammar Guides
"Please don't make me take [that writing class] again this year!"

Such was my daughter's plea after doing a year-long writing class with our homeschool co-op last year. (My apologies to her teacher if she is reading this!)

The class actually was a good experience, and despite my daughter's complaining, she admits she really did learn a lot. But she couldn't get excited about another year with the same curriculum, and I had to agree--not because of the class itself, but because I know my daughter's weakness: grammar and mechanics.

Although she is a fantastic and voracious reader, for some reason the nuances of writing protocols seem to have escaped her notice, and being an English teacher by training, this exasperates me more than I'd like to admit. The truth is, I haven't had the chance (before now) to give as thorough of an education in this area as I would have liked...although, to be honest, that may have actually worked in my older children's favor, as I may well have been an overbearing teacher, using the same draconian techniques that were drilled into my own head as I wrote and rewrote rules I already understood and applied as a young student myself.

Back to the story. My daughter agreed that she would do whatever I put before her this year, acknowledging her weakness and desiring to improve in this area. And so the Grammar Guides were born!

This project has morphed into an entire course for our local homeschool co-op, and seeing the need, I have made all the lessons and even teaching videos accessible to other folks as well. If you think this would be helpful for yourself or someone you know, take a peek and see! The introductory price is L-O-W, and it's going up very soon!
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Getting Schooled

Getting Schooled
We are finishing our 15th "official" year of homeschooling! It's hard to believe, and yet, as my daughter hangs up her freshly steamed wedding gown in the room next to me, I realize that it's true...I'm actually one of those seasoned homeschool moms who has been doing this so long it's "easy." 

HAHAHA!! Who am I kidding?! I remember, when I was a mama of three kiddos three and under, looking at moms in their second or even third decade of homeschooling and being in AWE of how they seemed to have everything all together. Their homes ran like clockwork; they had systems in place; their children were well-mannered and looked adults in the eye while having an intelligent conversation with them. These moms had a patient, gentle spirit and wise words for any question I threw at them. 

I couldn't wait to someday "have it all together" the way these moms obviously did.

Let's just pause a moment, shall we, and have a good laugh together?!

Because now...I know better! NO ONE "has it all together." (My apologies to the moms I put on a pedestal all those years ago, but I think they'd be the first to agree.) I believe years of experience allow us as parents to recognize what is truly important, to focus on the eternal rather than the daily check list. We have the opportunity to play to our children's strengths as well as to slow down and take time to work on their weaknesses. And I'm talking about spiritual formation and character development, not just academics and life skills. 

Oh...that spiritual formation and character development? I should clarify...

I'm talking about me! 

OK, maybe my kids, too. But this homeschooling journey isn't easy, and as many families have realized during these last few months of COVID-19 lockdown, it's not for everyone. (I do believe it's for more people than may want to admit it, though!)

I'm so thankful for the opportunity to be "schooled" by my kids, who are unwitting vessels of God's grace, clearly used by the Lord to teach me my own daily lessons! Praise Him! 

(Picture notes: The above photo is from 2013. We were living in Naples, Italy, and I was pregnant with our 7th child. The kids loved piling on our bed for our read-aloud time in the evenings, often done after the little ones were tucked in bed. The photos below show our oldest daughter from early in her homeschool journey to her graduation celebration two years ago.)

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