The Homeschooling Post (Volume 1)

by Stefani on 1-September-2009

Well hey there!

It's been a while huh? 

I hadn't exactly planned to disappear last week, but it just felt right to unplug and enjoy some down time with Granny. We had a great visit with her, made lots of memories, and were so sad to see her go back home. We're already thinking about when we can get up to the woods to see her again. 

Anyhow, I'm glad to be back here with you! I hope your week was a good one. I know many of you have just started back to school. I hope that you and your kiddos are all slipping easily into the new routine, and that it is a year full of fun learning adventures.  

This past month has brought some new changes to our homeschooling too, and I promised to share that with you here, so I'm going to give it a go. It's bound to be a bit of a rambling tale, as it's been a bit of a rambling journey. It's going to take me a few posts to get through it.  I hope I don't bore you all to tears! 

First, let me say that I always hesitate a bit to talk in too detailed a way about our schooling.  I've had experiences on a number of occasions where folks have felt like our schooling choices were somehow an indictment of their own. So I always feel a need to preface any discussion of our educational choices with a disclaimer… We are doing what works best for our family. What we do may not be best for your family, and that's just fine with me. Listen, right here in the blogosphere there are so many mothers whom I admire so much.  Some of those mamas are very rigorously planned classical educators, others are SO good at following the passions and interests of their young unschoolers, still others fall somewhere in between, but one thing is clear… they are all dedicated to their children. 

MANY of the mothers that I most admire are not homeschoolers at all. Take my sweet sister in law, her three boys attend public school and you could not ask for three more bright, sweet, funny, creative, well-loved kids or a more involved and caring mom. So, you know, when I start blathering on about our homeschooling path, please know that it's just that… OUR homeschooling path, and not some sort of doctrine that I'm preaching at you. Okay? Okay. 

On to the show… 

A Little Light Reading

I get emails from time to time asking for specifics about how we homeschool. The next few posts will be my long and drawn out answer. 

People often want to know what books we use or how our day works or whether or not I have to lock the youngest in the basement to get anything done. I never know quite what to say because a) we have no basement and b) what we do for "school" has, up to now, changed  from week to week.  I did make an attempt at answering some of those questions when I wrote a little bit about how we came to homeschooling, and what it looks like for us, a while back. You can see that here

For the past several years, the sort of eclectic approach to homeschooling that I talked about there fit our family so well.  Still, toward the end of last year I began to feel a little bit of a pull in a new direction. I wanted to retain  the easy going, laid back, pursue-your-passions freedom that we had, but I felt like we needed to somehow work in a little more structure around the edges – some scaffolding. 

My kids are getting older. Their ideas and abilities are growing by leaps and bounds. They are developing this incredible capacity for deeper understanding and their questions… dear Lord, their questions are growing ever more complex. I am so thrilled to be on this learning journey with them, but I will confess that it can seem so overwhelming sometimes. 

How does one make sure that her children are well equipped for their future, that they have mastered all the essential skills that they will need, and yet at the same time ensure that all that acquiring of skills doesn't squash the love of learning right out of them?

I began to look at our forays into learning as a sort of ginormous garage packed to the gills with every imaginable wonderful thing, a treasure trove, but one in need of a little organizing. 

And so I thought a whole lot about what exactly it is that I'm aiming for, what I want and need, and what THEY want and need out of this school experience. What resulted was  a sort of statement of educational beliefs for me, and  an essential first step in making some changes in how we school. I will share that with you tomorrow. 

After that will come "the plan" – the dirty low down on the curriculum we chose, how we've modified it to fit our style and our needs, and how it's working for us. 

Then I'll wrap it all up by talking a little bit about what a school day looks like for us. 

So, sharpen those number two pencils, and grab your milk money, it's back to school time!

Mad Woman September 2, 2009 at 1:49 am

That was a fantastic post. It’s kind of sad that you had to put the disclaimer, but I totally get it. My younger sister was homeschooled from 9 til 17, when she chose to return to school for her last year. Whenever my mother spoke to anyone about the homeschooling, often they got defensive like she was trying to convert them. You are not alone in your disclaimer.

It was great to get a quick glimpse into your schooling lives…thank you!! Can’t wait to read more 🙂

I’m still considering home schooling my…bring on the rest.

Eren September 2, 2009 at 3:51 am

Oh friend…I could just kiss you. We’re all just mamas trying to our best to do right by our littles. I am proud of you…much love…E.

Marcia September 2, 2009 at 4:59 am

As a momma finding my way to homeschooling my youngest, and what our days will / should look like…can’t wait to read the rest of your posts!

mommycoddle September 2, 2009 at 5:18 am

I’m on pins and needles. I can’t wait for more.

I’ve been through quite a lot of homeschooling introspection this summer. We tip-toed down several roads and have found ourselves back home again. Yet, it kind of feels like a different place.

I’m really looking forward to the rest of your thoughts…


Sherry September 2, 2009 at 6:38 am

Can’t wait to

Annika September 2, 2009 at 6:42 am

I can’t wait for the rest! My guy is just three, so we are only beginning to field questions about school. I know how personally some people are going to take our choices, and I find myself looking to other homeschoolers more than ever as I try to figure out what the heck to tell people. (Not to mention that I just love hearing how other families homeschool.)

Brittany September 2, 2009 at 7:04 am

I’m so excited you are doing this! I am still undecided about what we will do next year as my oldest enters Kindergarten. I am so drawn to homeschooling and am getting closer and closer to believing it may be right for our family. I can’t wait to hear more about your family’s experience!

Cassandra September 2, 2009 at 7:18 am

I’m on the edge of my seat!

Pam September 2, 2009 at 7:29 am

I am eager to read the rest of this series. At the start of each of our homeschool years I always fret about mixing “what they should learn” with the joys of just learning. It’s a balance I’ve been struggling with for four years.

Thank you for sharing what works best for your family.

robin(rsislandcrafts) September 2, 2009 at 7:52 am

Homeschooling is such a sensitive subject for many people. When we started hs 10 years ago it was hard. In our area people are becoming more understanding and excepting. We have more families trying to hs their kids now.

I still run into people wanting to know exactly how to hs their kids. When people first start out they don’t seem to realize that each family and each child is different.. HS is like raising kids sometimes…they each need to be raised/taught differently.

I’m interested to hear your take on hs and you you handle it in your home.

Sarah Jackson September 2, 2009 at 8:42 am

As I was reading this, Gunnar was outside communing with the birds with one of the bird whistles you sent. 🙂 Did I tell you that he’s homeschooling now too? We’re in the middle of building that scaffolding, since having him home is so new. Looking forward to reading the rest!

Catherine September 2, 2009 at 9:09 am

I wish we would all face the decisions mothers make in the same way – most are trying to do the best thing that works for their specific family. Keep doing what you are doing!!!!

Bonnie September 2, 2009 at 9:09 am

Thank you so much for doing this series! As someone who is considering homeschooling myself I am very interested in how other parents homeschool thier children. I can’t wait to read on!

Amber September 2, 2009 at 10:22 am

I am really interested to read this series.

I don’t plan on homeschooling, but I also believe that I am still ‘teaching’ my children all the time. So I am very interested in the approach that others take to these activities. I think we can all understand that we are doing what works best for our families, and still seize the opportunity to learn from each other.

Heather September 2, 2009 at 10:35 am

thank you so much for sharing this!! I love what you are doing

Christina September 2, 2009 at 10:58 am

So exciting! I can’t wait to hear part two! I’m always amazed at the things you and your little men (and say!) and its encouraging to read about your experiences.

We just started our first year of “official” planned learning opportunities (a.k.a. homeschooling) for my 2 year old (and his 1 yr old sister!:) and its going great! People are baffled as to why we don’t want to put him into a conventional, public preschool! Oh, I can’t wait until he’s 5 and have to answer to the world as to why he won’t be going to “real school”!

Melanie September 2, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Okay, Stefani, I have to admit I’ve been checking your blog like every five minutes…waiting for your wonderful words on homeschooling!:) You know that we’re just starting out on our adventure in homeschooling and I really appreciate your words of wisdom! You’re the best, mama, and it is quite the adventure indeed!

Tammy September 2, 2009 at 1:00 pm

We’ve been homeschooling for years… and, I totally get what you are talking about. We have friends that feel the need to justify their decision to public school every single time we are with them… Let’s all just do what works for us, right?!

I am looking forward to the posts… counting the days actually. Keep ’em coming…

Cassandra September 2, 2009 at 1:39 pm

P.S. Caterpillar/butterfly/moth post up at our place today. Can your young man identify any of those for us? 😉

Kate September 2, 2009 at 6:45 pm

What works for us. Yes, indeed. We homeschool, and I always tell people that for our family, the rhythm is right. Plain and simple as that. I think most every mama is keeping the best for their wee ones in mind, and as long as we honor that truth, hopefully we come out building community– because after all, everyone that feels supported is better for it, right?

I also totally get the “treasure trove in need of organizing.” Now that Noah is 10, we’ve had to do quite a bit of that ourselves (especially with a soon to be five year-old and 18 month-old behind him). I used to shudder at the thought of such planned schooling, but funny enough, I take comfort in it now…guess we just keep circling back to the “what works for us” mantra:)

Over on my blog, I just added a whole homeschool component to give people a glimpse into our world when we start back up next week…maybe we can compare notes;)

Lia September 2, 2009 at 8:15 pm

I have to say that I am often jealous of all of you homeschooling mamas out there. Which is pretty funny, being that I am a public school teacher. And I love my job and I’m good at it and I love that my kids are at my school- my very wonderful school.

But what you get to do with your children EVERY day is so very different and personal and individualized. The worst for me is that, when the work day is over, I get very little time with my own two children. I will miss out on so much of the learning and the questions and the “lightbulb moments” with my children. I’ll see it happen with other people’s children, but not my own.

And I think that probably most of those people who get defensive about homeschooling, get that way because they feel guilty. Not necessarily because they should, but because deep down they wish that they could do what you’re doing.

The Lazy Dazy September 2, 2009 at 10:14 pm

Thank you, so much, for sharing your rambling journey. We are beginning our 11th year of homeschooling and I am in similar place. I’ve been re-evaluating and have become overwhelmed at times this summer, with trying to figure out which direction we need to take. I look forward to hearing more about your journey. It’s encouraging to hear how other’s have found their way.

Nellie September 3, 2009 at 6:23 am

Thank you, thank you! We’re homeschoolers to be. Ours are only three right now, but I’m finding that “homeschooling” is already taking place as we live our everyday lives. I can see how that might evolve into it’s own curriculum.

I really appreciate the peek into a homeschooling family’s life. I love reading about how other families manage their time and what kinds of things their kiddos are doing. It’s inspiring and encouraging.

I especially love your incredible enthusiasm as a parent teaching her children how to love learning through exploration and discovery. Very cool.

Looking forward to your future posts!!


Heidi @ Mt Hope September 4, 2009 at 10:09 am

Homeschooling really is a sensitive subject, partly because we mothers (and fathers) are so passionate about our children! When someone makes a different choice in raising their children, it is very hard not to feel that they think the choice(s) we’ve made is not the right one. And, again, there are a million different routes and choices to take and make within the decision to homeschool.

You share your family life with such a positive spirit, I love coming here for inspiration and encouragement. I’m eagerly awaiting your homeschooling posts!

Danielle September 17, 2009 at 2:22 pm

I totally relate to your sentiments at the beginning where you hesitate to talk about your schooling. I feel like sometimes people are too sensitive about their choices in life and in parenting. Just because I, or my family, make one choice or another doesn’t mean that a different path is wrong, it simply means that it wasn’t the choice we made as a family. We are all different, and that’s OK!

Thanks for putting yourself out there and sharing the way your family does things.

Grace October 23, 2009 at 11:41 am

Dear Stefani, I just read all these homeschooling posts and all I can say is “yes” and YES!! You have such a warm, clear way of articulating so much of what I’ve been thinking. Gracias, girl.

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