Three Little Birds

by Stefani on 21-February-2008

Most of the time, as a homeschooler, I feel as though I’m swimming along, doing a little doggie paddle, soaking in the glow of minds at work, enjoying the ebb and flow of our full days, taking the odd wave of doubt in stride, but then, there are moments when I look up, survey the enormity of the task at hand, the OCEAN in which I swim, and I have myself a good old fashioned panic attack.

I mean really, suppose one day my kids are grown and they can’t get decent jobs, so their wives run off with some guy in a Ferrari and their kids wind up cursing the name of their grandma, who with all her wacky homeschooling notions, doomed them to a life of motherless poverty? Then what?

Deep breath, sister. Repeat after me, “ every little thing’s gonna be alright.”

It’s just that, when you love someone, THREE someones, so much that it pulls the rug right out from under you, who you are, and what you hold, just never adds up to all that you’d like to give. I worry that I’m not enough to do them justice.

When those days come, I have to remind myself that my children’s future does not rest solely in my hands. I believe that they are in hands that are bigger than mine, and I believe that they are made of stuff that will shine in spite of my failings.

Not that I don’t think parents and teachers have integral roles to play, it’s just that I’m fairly certain that they will rise to their own occasions.

I know this because I see it everyday.

Take this most recent example. We’ve been practicing our observational drawing.

Here’s yesterday’s drawing subject:

The Subject

Here’s 5 year old James’ rendering of said birdie:

The Rendering

I may be biased, but I think it’s pretty fantastic.

Lori mentioned though, that a good way to get kids to think about the lines that make up their intended subject is to have them trace it in the air with their finger. As an experiment in that direction, I bought cheap (less that $3) frames so that they could hold it (or tape it down) in front of their subject and then do their tracing with a dry erase marker. It worked pretty well!

Observational Drawing

They didn’t stop there though.

Experimenting With Light

My middle son soon discovered that his drawing on the plexiglass, would create a “colored shadow” if he positioned it in front of a piece of white paper.

Colored Shadow

Then, they figured out that they could color one glass yellow, and another blue, hold them side by side, and the “colored shadow” would be green. They experimented with other colors. They layered drawings to make them more complex.

They took this one little idea that I had and RAN with it.

This, friends, is how I know that whatever ideas I could muster about their life, would just PALE in comparison to what they will create on their own.

They are smart little cookies, and Bob Marley is too. Every little thing really is gonna be alright.

Irene February 21, 2008 at 9:16 pm

I don’t know why you choose to home school. It’s something that’s not done here in the Netherlands, so I have no experience with it, not even indirectly. I assume you are smart enough to know what your children need to learn and that you are disciplined enough to see that it gets done. Will you do this through high school?

I am not going to ask you all the obvious questions, because I am sure you have been asked them a hundred times. You must know what is best for your boys. I would have liked a private tutor for my children, but then I would have needed more money than I had, but I think, especially for my son, it would have been a good thing.

Stefani February 21, 2008 at 9:53 pm

I’m glad you asked, Irene!
Schooling is a REALLY personal choice, and one that we made based on LOTS of different factors, from the schools available to us, to my husband’s job (and the ability it affords him to be at home, and for us to travel), along with a whole host of other reasons.

It’s not for everyone, but it’s right for us, for now. You can read more about our choice here;

Just Pure Lovely February 21, 2008 at 10:24 pm

Loved your post this evening. I know that panicky feeling, too, the one that makes me catch my breath for a moment.

What you said is so very true, that they are in much bigger – more able – hands than our own.

Still, I love being reminded of that. So, thanks.

p.s. My favorite reason for homeschooling is because I just love to be with these kids! They are absolutely fascinating.

Irene February 22, 2008 at 3:13 am

Hi Stefani, thank you for kindly responding to my comment. It was nice of you to take time out from your, no doubt, busy schedule. I hope for you that the year in Japan works out. It sounds like a big adventure. Would you move to a big city or go to a smaller one in the countryside? You probably want to be somewhere where some English is spoken, huh? It’s always good when kids get exposed to other cultures, but you have to do it at an age when they can appreciate that.


Sally February 22, 2008 at 4:01 am

This is one beautiful entry. There is indeed something quite remarkable about guiding your child and letting them discover things themselves.

I had a similar moment this week when my three year old discovered that we all had a beating heart (we have been talking about bones and skin for the last few weeks).

Just curious about how old your boys are?

DanaB February 22, 2008 at 4:16 am

Spectacular post!

As homeschoolers ourselves, I so understand where you’re coming from. Our hooligans are now 14 and 12…my how time flies. I wouldn’t change a thing about our homeschooling/life living journey, oh the things we have all learned and are learning every day!

What a fantastic seed you planted with the frames and art stuff–I imagine watching your kidlets run with it was completely amazing! Priceless, even!


Tara February 22, 2008 at 4:48 am

Outstanding idea with the frames and the drawing exercises! That, in and of itself shows what a creative and intuitive teacher you are!!

I’m convinced it is the little projects and the slower, more child driven delights that fill Owen’s days, that will ultimately form the foundation of his success as an adult.

Tara February 22, 2008 at 5:12 am

I’m so thankful for reading this post this morning! My son is only 6 months old, and still a few years away from “officially” being of school age, but it IS our intention to homeschool and I frequently have panic attacks interspersed with those feelings that it will be wonderful.

Diane February 22, 2008 at 5:21 am

Ha! Talk about taking an idea an running with it — the future wives running off with guys in Ferraris! ; ) Good to know we’re all bobbing in the same ocean singing Bob Marley tunes to keep us afloat!

amy February 22, 2008 at 5:32 am

yr fabulous! I adore yr smart ideas!

Amy February 22, 2008 at 6:34 am

I could have written this post… from the panic attacks to the three little birds to the faith to the wonder at my boy’s ability to learn and grow. Wonderful.

Tracy February 22, 2008 at 6:34 am

Every time you talk about something new they have discovered, or created, or changed, or done, I am awed. I think kids in general have a fresh, unflawed by fear and failure, perspective on alot of things, but yours. Yours really are smart little cookies. You are the catalyst. They are the engineers. It’s inspiring to hear about it.

Christa February 22, 2008 at 6:35 am

As another homeschooling mom I can completely relate to your panic attack. It seems just when I am most worried, though, something like your drawing session happens and my calm returns. I think I’ll try the great frame idea. I love the shadow discovery!

jessica February 22, 2008 at 7:31 am

Amen sister!!

Isn’t this why we homeschool? Because we have faith in the innate creativity and potential of our children and we don’t want to contaminate that with bells and artificial schedules and false social classes and all that stuff that comes with going to school? We KNOW that miracles of discovery WILL happen.

It is so exciting to watch the miracles unfold!

(even with the intermittent panic attacks)

molly February 22, 2008 at 8:13 am

this is such a good post! (do i start every comment that way, stefani?!!) I’ve been having homeschooling panic attacks lately, but then I look out the window and see my daughter with a notebook and pencil sketching tracks she sees in the snow, I think this. is. good.

If it weren’t for their unending curiosity and creativity, I’d be lost. They drive it all. And my faith supports it all.

molly February 22, 2008 at 8:14 am

oh! and don’t you just LOVE night mantra?

natasha s February 22, 2008 at 8:22 am

This post is fantastic.I think every mother feels this to some extent,homeschooling or not.We worry about the choices that we make for our children.We can be so sure of ourselves but yet there is always that nagging in the back of our minds.
From waht I have read (and since finding your blog I haven’t managed to get through all of the archives!!) it seems obvious that you are doing a BRILLIANT job.
You and Bob are right:0)
I love that bird,did you make it??
The plexiglass idea is superb .I will be taking that and putting it into motion very soon,
take care:0)

erin February 22, 2008 at 9:24 am

i have those panic attacks and i don’t even homeschool!

i agree that there are bigger hands playing a role in all of this. i just try to do my best and know that my girls can do the rest on their own. i can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

Mandy February 22, 2008 at 9:24 am

What a great post. A trick I learned in art school is to look at your object and follow the lines with your eyes while drawing on your paper. The trick is to keep your eyes on the object and not the paper or what you are drawing. You may be surprised at how well it helps. Just an idea!

Annika February 22, 2008 at 9:27 am

I love James’s drawing. Thank you for sharing your boys’ creativity with us!

Heather February 22, 2008 at 9:55 am

beautiful, and so true, I feel the same way often, this is inspiring.

joetta maue February 22, 2008 at 10:21 am

your writing and observations on being a mother are truly inspirational.

tania February 22, 2008 at 11:06 am

my dear husband Owen was homeschooled his whole life, unschooled to be exact, other than math…now he is married to me, mother of 4 formerly homeschooled children and he is an amazing, logical, intelligent, deep thinking, emotionally well man…our story is unique with the age thing and the mix of families and all…i believe his and my childrens and my philosophies as to what is truly important in life, something learned through life, not school, are what make our family what it is…okay, can’t punctuate or write well this morning…hopefully you get the gist of what i am trying to say…you are doing good by your boys Stefani!!!

Visty February 22, 2008 at 12:30 pm

I am always amazed at what my children can do without me hovering. All they need is time, and that they do not get in public school. Sounds like you’re doing a perfect job so far. I fully believe a happy home is the absolute first and most important step, and everything else is icing on top.

Kate February 22, 2008 at 12:46 pm

This is such a wonderful post. Your ability to gracefully articulate the biggest reason that I am still unable to fully commit to the idea of homeschooling my oldest next year is dead on. It feels like such an awesome responsibilty, am I up to the task? You need to know that you are such an inspiring example of what successful homeschooling looks like. If I could be sure that I could be half as amazing, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment.
Thanks for the perspective and the inspiration!!
Have a great weekend 🙂

Sarah Jackson February 22, 2008 at 1:41 pm

It really is. See, this is why I want to homeschool – those moments of discovery are amazing. It’s a huge responsibility, but also such a gift. Thanks for showing me that all the time!

kristin February 22, 2008 at 3:22 pm

oh, you are inspiring….once again.

nancy February 22, 2008 at 4:46 pm

All I can say is right on! I’m going to save this post and look back at it when I’m in panic mode. After reading this post earlier today I realized I had some plexi glass in an old frame and I popped it out and used it right away with the boys. Thanks for the idea and for the link to Camp Creek Press, love it!

Lori February 22, 2008 at 6:39 pm

i agree – that bird is fantastic! :^D)

isn’t it amazing how they can take an idea just go? i love that.

i don’t think you have a thing to worry about. ;^)

AMBER February 23, 2008 at 1:44 pm

I know exactly what you mean and I only homeschooled one year!! I hold that year close to my heart. We learned things about each other and the world that we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. Like you, most of the time I felt fine about it, but then somedays, I’d start to panic, wondering if I was doing my children wrong. That wasn’t the reason why we decided to move them into the local school. At that time, we lived in a very isolated area without any homeschooling groups nearby and my kids felt very lonely.

At the moment, my kids are going to a public school that is a little more like homeschooling (in that students are expected to be more responsible for their own educations through creativity and exploration. They could also choose to be lazy).

I have found that no matter where my children are going to school, I still have my moments of worrying… I just breathe through it and hope for the best.

AC February 23, 2008 at 5:26 pm

Hey, as a homeschooled child myself I just wanted to let you know that both my elder siblings (homeschooled since 1st grade) are going to college at WSU. I was homeschooled until I did Runningstart at a community college, am now going to a fairly high-ranked, small college on scholarship.

So, homeschooling is a fine choice!

suz February 24, 2008 at 6:59 am

i have stumbled across you blog sometime ago and really enjoy it. but felt the urge to comment today. i teach art (public school) and applaud you for what you are doing with your kiddos! there is so much children can gain from the arts – thank you for being one who sees, understands and supports that! 🙂 all the best. and it looks as if you have some budding talent in your family!

Anne February 24, 2008 at 11:37 am

You are doing a perfect job. I’m always amazed at how creative you are in providing opportunities for your boys to learn. You should write a book, really; A Year of Homeschooling Activities.

Kaili February 25, 2008 at 12:04 am

Hi, friendly de-lurker here. I’m Kaili. Hi nice to meet you. 🙂

I just wanted to say that I was homeschooled and I love reading homeschooled families blogs. And I LOVE that glass art idea. Really cool!
Your children will be GRAND because of one thing, you LOVE them!

Molly February 25, 2008 at 10:10 am

So much of education is up to the educatee… that’s not a word, but we’re going to pretend like it is. If there is passion, there will be learning. As proved here.

Molly February 25, 2008 at 10:11 am

So much of education is up to the educatee… that’s not a word, but we’re going to pretend like it is. If there is passion, there will be learning. As proved here.

Julie @ Letter9 March 2, 2008 at 6:20 am

Parenting is definitely the most “one day at a time” thing I’ve ever done. In fact, some days, I can only think of the next two hours and I just have to have faith that the two hours after that will be OK.

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