Our Path to Homeschooling, by Emma

 

When our oldest was born, we swore we would never homeschool him (or have a homebirth, or let him sleep with us, et cetera.). Homeschooling was fine, for other people. It just wasn’t for us. I didn’t know ANYONE who homeschooled, growing up. My husband knew one child who was homeschooled.

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Fast forward a couple of years, and many new friendships later, and a whole new world started opening up to us. After our son was born, we found ourselves re-evaluating most of our previous beliefs. Almost everything we had said we would never do, we now were seriously considering. Including homeschooling. My husband was still sort of on the fence. I was quickly warming up to the idea. We decided to put our two-year-old in preschool for a year and see how it went. Well, it was…fine. Not good, not bad, it just was. The teachers asked if he spoke much at home because he was so quiet at school. That shocked us because at home? He never stopped talking! So we questioned if it was the best environment for him. I started researching homeschooling, talking to other moms and trying to figure out exactly what homeschooling would look like. As our baby became a preschooler and then turned five, we decided to give it one year. One year to see whether it worked for our family. It only took a few months before we were convinced this was the right path for us.

Homeschooling has allowed our children the freedom to be kids. To play, to use their imagination, to be free to live outside the box. In our home, a school uniform can range from pajamas and a funny hat for our son, to a princess costume or a bathing suit for our daughter. Homeschooling has allowed us to spend more time together as a family. My husband works odd hours, so homeschooling gives them time to spend together when he is home. It has given us the freedom to travel as needed or desired. It’s been a blessing during times of family difficulties.

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I don’t know if we will homeschool through high school. We still take it year by year. Given how well it suits our children, though, I’d be surprised if we didn’t just continue down this path. I always said I wouldn’t be a life-long homeschooler, but I was wrong about everything else, so why not this?

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Emmemmaa–Emma has been married for seven years, and is mom of two, plus one once-crazy dog. She’s been homeschooling for three years now in NC. In addition to being a wife, mom and educator, she is also a Graphic Designer.

 

 

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Why I Homeschool, by Cheryl

 

My husband and his siblings were homeschooled, while I went to public and private school. I always wanted kids, but I also always planned to send my kids to school because that is what I did. I knew nothing about homeschooling. A few months after we were married we made friends with a family at our church; they homeschooled their three children. They were our best friends, and I spent a great deal of time with their family, even living with them for a week when a giant ice storm knocked out our power! It was watching this family that helped me gain the initial confidence that I could actually homeschool.

If we had stayed in Missouri, we were going to homeschool to allow flexibility to visit family in Oklahoma. When we moved home to Oklahoma, we researched districts and schools and bought a house in a highly ranked district with a great neighborhood elementary school! Then I called to enroll our oldest in kindergarten.

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Why we started:

Aidan had learned to read very easily at four years old. He loved to sit and do workbook pages. He could sit for an hour at a time and do thirty or more pages in a sitting. I let him. He learned addition and subtraction. He could do two-digit problems in his head, quickly. He could count to 100. His handwriting was better than most adults’ writing. He was more than ready for kindergarten; in fact, in most subjects, he tested at a second grade level.

We missed the cut-off date for kindergarten by three weeks, so he would have been in preschool where he would be “taught” his letters and numbers. There are no exceptions, no testing, just preschool. I checked with public and private school. I called the district office and talked to a woman who said, “We would hope that his teacher could keep him busy with work on his level.” Hope! Hope that a teacher with a class full of students could keep one kid busy with harder work. We decided that preschool was not the place for our son.

One private school said that if we homeschooled kindergarten, they could test him for first grade the next year but he did need one year of school before they could test him. (It is a blended school: two days at school and three at home.) That became our plan. Homeschool kindergarten, test into first grade at the private school; or if I really messed up kindergarten, enroll him in kindergarten at the public school and call our year at home a very rigorous preschool year. 

Kindergarten went very well. We loved every minute of our “school time,” and our son excelled. By the end of kindergarten, it was obvious that a brick and mortar school would not serve his needs. I don’t know if he is gifted, as we haven’t tested him, but he is smart and he is quick. He needed to move at his own pace.

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Once we moved on to first grade we discovered that homeschooling just worked better for our family for a variety of reasons.

Why we continue:

1. We keep a crazy schedule with our performing arts academy. If the kids were in school, most days I would only see them an hour, if that.

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2. When we have musicals, we are at the theatre until all hours of the night. I can let them sleep in during those weeks. We can even take the week off from school if we want.

3. We love the extra family time we get. Being a fully self-employed family, we are together more than we are apart. My kids don’t know how blessed they are to have as much time with their dad as they get.

4. All that togetherness means that my kids are each other’s best friends. Do they fight? Yes. But they get along really well most of the time.

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5. I can pick what they learn and when they learn it. I can tailor our school plans to my children’s needs and interests. We have had fun making up our own science this year. I have also thrown in some extra history when I have books and videos that line up with our curriculum. I also know everything they are learning. I am even learning many things with them.

6. My kids are still young. In three hours we are done with school. We can go to the zoo, the pool, the park, the science museum. We can do a puzzle, have creative play time, or just be lazy and watch TV. My kids get a lot of free-play time.

The longer we homeschool, the more I realize that this is what I am supposed to be doing. I cannot imagine my life if my kids were at school all day. My house might be cleaner and I would have fewer books (but who says that is a good thing!), but I would be bored. My kids keep me entertained and on my toes. I have not questioned for even one day whether we made the right decision for our kids and our family.

 

Chercherylyl–Cheryl is a singing, dancing, baking, homeschooling mom of three. She has danced her whole life and taught ballet and theatre for most of her adult life. Her favorite pastime has always been cooking and baking, and as a Pampered Chef Independent Consultant she gets to share that love with others. Home educating her three children has been and continues to be one of her greatest learning experiences! It is an adventure she is ready to continue.

 

Understood Betsy and Me: Why I Homeschool, by Caitilin Fiona

 

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Understood Betsy is one of those books. Those books are the ones that help to form and inform your life in some serious way. In my case, Betsy has informed both my parenting and my homeschooling, which is a bit odd, now that I think about it: there’re no parents and definitely no homeschooling in it at all! What is central to the book, though, is self-knowledge and strength: that is, the strength of character that self-knowledge brings with it. It is a very dated novel, to be sure; it is highly moralizing, and the author constantly intrudes upon the story, just to be completely sure you’re not missing the point she’s making. But in spite of these flaws, or perhaps, strangely, even because of them, it has been for me an effective philosophical treatise on the goals of child-rearing.

The first and central truth Betsy teaches is the vital place of unconditional love in the soul of a child. Betsy is first loved unconditionally by her Putney cousins, for though Aunt Frances, her first primary caregiver, loves her, it is as an extension of herself, not as the separate and whole person that is Betsy. It is from the deep, strong, solid but unspoken love of Ann, Abigail, and Henry that Betsy draws her strength. This is the parental love I’ve striven to give to my own children, and to share with my students. I believe in them, and as I do, they’ve not disappointed me.

My believing in my children and in my students is manifested in the fact that I see them and, consequently, treat them as real people. By this I mean that I try not to talk down to them, and that I try to engage them as much as I can on an equal footing, just as Abigail and Henry do when they teach Betsy how to make butter. They teach her by showing her how it is done, and then by letting her do it herself, because they believe that she is capable of it. I never assume that something is beyond them, and they, like Betsy, rise to meet the challenge.

In contrast to Abigail and Henry’s sensible and loving attitude, Aunt Frances has always tried to prevent Betsy from doing anything for herself, preferring instead to cultivate in her the permanent feeling of fearful helplessness which mirrors Frances’ own experience of the world. She is the ultimate in helicopter parenting: nothing, from food to dreams, from school to music, is Betsy allowed to experience unmediated. In Frances we are shown what Betsy herself would have become if she had never met her Putney cousins and the freedom they share with her.

Betsy is able to receive this freedom from her new family because they get out of the way, out of the way of her learning and experiencing the world on its, and her, own terms. This is something for which I reach in my parenting and in my homeschooling. When I get out of the way, I give my five year-old the space to investigate how shadows work by lying in the sun, moving a Playmobil figure into different attitudes; I give my teenagers the space to explore and develop their relationship with God and toward faith. Home education is at least as much about what is not said as what is.

The deepest lesson I’ve learned from Understood Betsy, though, has to do with self-reliance. From Cousin Ann, Betsy has learned the great lesson of how to face trouble straight on. She saved Molly from the Wolf Pit, because she was able to think critically, and rely on her own judgment. She was able to get herself and Molly home from the fair when they’d been left behind because she used what modern educators like to call problem solving skills and creativity, and relied on herself. Finally, she has learned to rely on herself in that most complex and hard-to-navigate strait–human relationships–when she saves herself and Aunt Frances from the struggle that would have been their reunited lives, and she does so with kindness and love. This development and use of one’s own good judgment is what I pray for and work toward with my own children. It is the final and most important lesson that Betsy shares with us.

In my view, self-reliance is what makes us homeschoolers, and good ones. Homeschooling is being “in no grade at all!” all the time, but as we travel down our paths toward the goal of well-educated children, we, like Betsy, come to see that the names of grades, levels, styles, and curricula don’t matter. What does matter is the progress we have made and continue to make toward the goal, relying on our children, ourselves, and their and our own good sense. We can–in fact, we should, we must!–learn from our foremothers, and from our fellow travelers. But in the end, we all must “walk that lonesome valley…nobody else can walk it for [us], [we] got to walk it [for ourselves].” For though the valley can sometimes be lonesome, it is ours, and we should walk through it smiling and confident.

Why I Chose Homeschooling, by Nancy Gauvreau

 

I’m not a religious fanatic. I’m not a rebel. I’m not “one of those parents.” I just wanted more for my children.

My daughter started out in public school. I sent her off to kindergarten in a little dress, with a lunchbox, and a bow in her hair, and I hoped that she’d love kindergarten as much as I had.

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Her experience was nothing like mine. Every day, my five-year-old sat at a little desk most of the day and did worksheets and tried not to wiggle too much. Every day, she tried to sit quietly and not talk too much. And every day she sat through a “silent lunch” period before losing some or all of her 15-minute daily recess as a punishment for being too talkative in class.

Still, I sent her off to first grade when the time came. That was just what people did. The same thing happened. One day she even came home with a “demerit” for talking too much. She sobbed as she said, “I got a demerit today, Mommy, and I don’t know what that is, but it’s bad!”

And then she got an F in math. “I’m bad at math,” she told me forlornly. When I called to find out what the issue was, as I’d never been notified that she’d been struggling with math, I was told she understood the math just fine. The problem was she had missed a few assignments due to illness or vacation and the teacher didn’t find time to allow her to make them up, and wouldn’t send them home as she had to make sure my daughter was the one doing the assignment. Otherwise I might do it for her.

Furthermore, the kids were told to draw pictures illustrating how they had arrived at their solutions. My creative, artistic daughter would take her time, drawing elaborate pictures, and then she wouldn’t have time to do the other side of her worksheet, resulting in a “0.”

When she got home at nearly 4 PM, she had energy to burn. She wanted to play and do her own thing. But there was an hour’s worth of homework to be done, and we needed to have dinner, and it was a school night.

By the time she reached third grade, she had stress stomachaches nearly every day from feeling pressured about standardized testing. Whatever was to be on the test was all the class focused on.

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Where was the love of learning? Where was the well-rounded education? Where was the chance to be a kid and play and create and imagine and to be an individual? I could literally see the spark going out of her, and I was just done. There had to be something more, something better.

I researched homeschooling day and night until I gathered enough confidence to take the plunge. And once I took it, I never looked back.

Today, my daughter is a 13-year-old seventh grader. She complains about math, but she enjoys social studies and science. She loves to write, and has a talent for it. She sings really well and takes voice and guitar lessons. She’s a green belt in judo, volunteers whenever the opportunity arises, and reads tons of books. She still loves art. I like to think her education is well-rounded.

And she’s got her spark back.

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Nancy Gauvreau

 

Nanancyncy Gauvreau is a mom of four. She pulled her teenaged daughter out of school toward the end of third grade in March of 2009 and never looked back. Her youngest two have never been to school. She homeschools secularly in Pennsylvania and has never donned a denim jumper in her life, although she will admit to driving a minivan.

Why I Chose Homeschooling: A Librarian's Story, by Jane-Emily

 

I always check far more books out of the library than I can actually read. It’s a hazard of the job. If something looks interesting, I will take it home and give it a go. Somewhere around the fall of 2002, when I had a toddler and a baby on the way, a book titled Real Life Homeschooling: The Stories of 21 Families Who Teach Their Children at Home was on the table of new non-fiction. I took it home with me. I had heard very little about homeschooling, and I’m always up for learning about people and educational methods, so I thought I would find out what these strange people were all about. I had never, ever considered homeschooling myself; this was more like anthropology than self-help.

It was an interesting book and many of the families recommended their favorite homeschooling titles, so I got those out of the library, too (mostly through InterLibrary Loan; my own library didn’t have too many homeschooling titles). The majority of the books talked about homeschooling as an endeavor belonging solely to conservative Protestants, which I am not, and while I was interested in them in order to learn about this thing called homeschooling, I was not at all attracted by the lifestyle myself. The books were also more inspirational and encouraging than they were about exactly how to teach children at home; more for people who were already in the middle of it than for prospective homeschoolers.

Then I checked out The Well-Trained Mind, by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. This was a very different book. It was almost entirely about how to do homeschooling. And it laid out an education that seemed to be very near my own ideal. I didn’t know I had an ideal education in my mind, but there it was, in this book, except for all that stuff about Latin. (Who does Latin?  More on that later.) I was looking at a book that described the education I wished I’d had.

I am a fairly ordinary product of fairly ordinary California public schools. I was expected to learn grammar and writing by osmosis; I studied American history several times but hardly ever got past World War I; I knew little about anywhere else except ancient Greece; on the whole, my education through high school was kind of dismal. I was not well prepared for the excellent public university I attended, and only figured out later how much I had missed simply because I didn’t know how ignorant I was. The idea that this was not inevitable for my own children–that there were other possibilities–struck me all of a heap.

I wanted this for my daughter. But I had never before entertained the idea of homeschooling, and it was a daunting one. Could I do it? Dared I do it? I had always assumed that I would go back to work part-time once my (as-yet-unborn) youngest went into school, and homeschooling would derail those plans. And how on earth could I do this? I decided it was lucky I had plenty of time, and that I could take a while to think about it and pray and see what happened.

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I waffled for a full year. I could not let go of the idea for more than a day at a time. As I took my little girl for walks and to the park, I wondered what I should do. I talked about homeschooling, but I didn’t know anyone who did it, and no one seemed to be very interested. My husband was in favor of the idea, but didn’t want to pressure me into it, and so refrained from comment. I didn’t seem to be able to get an answer to my prayers about it. It took me some time to figure out that if I couldn’t even go two days without thinking about homeschooling classically…well, that might be my answer right there.

So, I came to homeschooling through my desire for a classical education for my children. All the other benefits were things I figured out later on; I was all about the academics at first!  I found other homeschoolers in town, too, and made friends.

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First day of school

We are now in our ninth year of homeschooling, which seems completely impossible when I say it! I have read many, many books about homeschooling and even attended a couple of conferences. I’ve read most about classical education, and so far my vision has never wavered; that vision has been refined and improved, but the principles that so impressed me eleven years ago are still the center of my homeschooling philosophy. That doesn’t mean I live up to them, but I try!

The benefits to our family are probably impossible to quantify completely. I am so grateful to have been able to be with my children for so long. I’ve been able to give them so much rich literature, history, and science. One of my major goals was to avoid some of the math-phobia that so many of us have, and I think I have done well there. We were able to deal with my younger daughter’s vision issues with so much less difficulty than she might otherwise have had. Of course, it hasn’t been a smooth road (none of us get that!), but I have never regretted our decision to homeschool with classical principles.

 

Jane-Emily–Jane-Emily is a classically homeschooling LDS mom of two girls, and a librarian jane-emilyat the local community college, very part-time. She loves to read and will pick up almost anything. She also loves to sew and mostly does quilting, heirloom sewing, and smocking. And she’s a Bollywood addict.

Why Homeschool: We Order Our Lives to Love What is Beautiful, by Briana

by Briana Elizabeth

I never, ever thought I’d be a homeschooler. Ever. My mother home schooled my brother for a while to catch him up when he had a rough year, but my kids were fine! They didn’t need any catching up, everything was idyllic. They were enrolled in a quaint grammar school where everyone knew everyone and there was no administrative or regulatory nonsense going on, so as I saw it, everything was perfect.

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My oldest son who had ADHD was doing well on his medications, and had some wonderful years, along with some skin of his teeth years. But the school was working with him, and he was making his way through with support and a lot of hand holding. And then everything came to a screeching halt. He had had a bad year, and when I had asked about his IEP’s, the teacher was astounded, she never knew he had one. And, remarkably, they had not known about his 504 for years. Which was also my fault, because I trusted the school to do its job. Regardless, now he was failing to the point of no return. Meaning, that if in the last marking period he earned all As, he still would not pass 7th grade. Our family was working with a wonderful psychiatrist at that point, and he drew a line in the sand for my son. “If you let him fail, he will never ever be able to move beyond that failure. You cannot let him fail.”

He was 3/4 of the way through the school year, and with that statement from our very trusted doctor, what was I supposed to do? The only thing I could do: homeschool.

Now, I don’t know about you, but for me, I need to be pushed really hard into some things in life. Homeschooling was one of them. And that, in the case of my son, was a horrible fault on my part, and not my only one. Beginning on the day I took him home to school him, the truth of what the schooling experience had done to him started to come out. It was a slow leak. I guess because the pressure was off, he felt safe to share what he had been going through. Even thinking about it now almost brings me to tears, how I didn’t see how his soul was being maligned, and his spirit was being crushed. I was one of those parents, you see, the ones that thought that school was good, and teachers were right, and medications were what good parents did. I was one of those parents who just never questioned what the professionals told me. I thought I was teaching him to persevere and work hard. I thought he was learning diligence. I was very, very wrong.

Being propelled more by fear, I also began to classically homeschool him–or what I, at the time, thought classical homeschooling was. It seemed like the best thing to do because of the high quality of the education, and because when people asked, it sounded awfully spectacular. As if I were giving him a private school education at home. It did appeal to my pride, I’ll be honest.

And then we crashed and burned again. Of course we did, I was schooling from a place of pride. My not even giving him a break and then throwing him into Logic and Latin were just about the worst things I could have done. I took the pressure from school and now gave him no safe place to decompress. Out of my fear that I would ruin him, I piled every subject on him, with all of the work that the books told me to. And, to top it off, I was frantic about what I had now learned he had missed all those years he was in public school so we had to do double-time and make up for what his education was lacking.

img_0737After the first year of homeschooling, even though it was horrible, we decided to take my 4th grade daughter out of the public school system. You see, even though I had so horribly messed up homeschooling at that point, and the shine had worn off the penny, the beauty of the classical ideal started to come through. And I had learned the hard way that the public schools were not in any way able to teach to those ideals. The final straw came when my daughter was not only being bullied and physically hurt at that sweet idyllic grammar school, but when she started crying over her homework. Long division was the culprit. And as I tried to help her do her homework, all I got was, “Mom, you can’t help me, I have to do it the way the teacher taught me.” Of course I called the teacher and asked what the problem was only to be told again, “Please don’t help your daughter, we’re teaching them a new way to do division and you’ll only confuse her.” My daughter continued to cry over her work, and then began to think she was stupid. This from the star pupil, teacher’s pet, and most popular girl in her class. You could just see the light leave her eyes a little more each day.

She was too smart to end up thinking she was stupid over long division. She was starting to truly believe that about herself, and I was having none of it. We pulled her out at the end of the 4th grade.

So with a baby on the way, I now had two children homeschooling. In this case, ignorance was bliss. I had no choice but to do it, and so I did. I let up on my son some, and now I knew to ease my daughter in. I started to teach myself along side them, because what I learned most of all was that my own education was so lacking that I needed remedial work right along with them. Why I stuck with classical homeschooling was that through my own learning, and theirs, I came to understand the historical precedence of a classical education, the wisdom of it, and, lastly, the sheer beauty of it. It gave me peace to know that no matter what my children did with their lives, they would have a base of knowledge that they could build upon for the rest of their lives. That they would be given the tools to learn more, to understand, and to become fully human.

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I’ve been homeschooling for 11 years now, and I have 5 children who have never known what it is to sit within the walls of a public school. To be honest, they are my my most amazing students. They are the ones that learned Aesop’s fables on my lap, who started Latin in third grade, who gained the benefit of my learning that depth is better than breadth, and that more work doesn’t make a better student. But all of them, even though I so profoundly wronged my oldest son, understand the rightness of why we order our lives to love what is beautiful. And that, in the end, is the goal of a classical education.

 Briana Elizabeth has been at this homeschool gig since her 23 year old son was in 7th grade, and his psychiatrist told her that he had to be homeschooled. Her son never went back to public school that year, and the following year, she pulled her 4th grade daughter out of public school. Her five other children have all been homeschooled entirely. It was baptism by fire, but she wouldn’t trade it for the world. Through the years, she has in the end, not only educated her children, but herself, and homeschooling has brought about a whole paradigm change of living for her family. The education that had seemed only possible for the elite was possible through classically homeschooling.

"That Is It! They Are Coming Home," by Kristen C

 

I never, ever, ever wanted to homeschool.

I thought all homeschoolers were weird, or at least pretty socially impaired. The nice, clever, well-adjusted homeschoolers that I knew were clearly the exceptions to that rule. I had had a decent education from both public and private schools, my husband had had a great private school education, and we both anticipated our children would follow along similar foot steps.

We were so wrong.

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Our daughter’s first day of preschool in 2007

Our first child was nothing like what we expected. She was fast-moving, smart as a whip, and never, ever slowed down. She wanted to explore and to learn and to see and to touch and take apart everything. After we had our second child shortly thereafter, I was exhausted. Our son didn’t sleep well and didn’t ever want to be away from me. We decided to put our daughter into a preschool  program a couple days a week to give me a bit of a break and to get her ready for Kindergarten in a couple of years. It didn’t go very well. Our daughter didn’t want to sit when it was time to sit. She didn’t want to walk in a line, and she certainly didn’t want to take a nap when all her friends were so close! Usually a very happy child, she left each day frustrated and I left each day beat down from hearing all the things she had done that day that had exhausted her teachers and that weren’t in line with their expectations. The final straw came the following semester after she had been placed in a room with new teachers. She had once again refused to nap and to sit silently on her mat, and she was brought to the director’s office. Yes, our barely three-year-old had been taken to the director’s office because she wouldn’t lay still for 45 minutes. The day I talked to the Director was it for my husband and me. There is a place for rule following and for doing things you don’t want to do, and every child needs to learn to obey. However, there is also a place for appropriate expectations and this wasn’t appropriate for my kid. So we pulled her out the following day and I started to Google “How Do I Homeschool?”

As this all was happening, I had slowly begun to meet more and more homeschool families that had happy and well-adjusted kids. I started to think that maybe these kids were the rule, and maybe the weird ones were just like the weird kids in public schools. I began to be aware that not all homeschool families were the same and that they all had their own reasons for homeschooling and none of those reasons were as abnormal as I had thought.  Maybe homeschooling wasn’t as fringe as I thought it was? Then my husband started to notice, too. He whispered to me at church one morning, “See those kids? They are homeschooled and they aren’t weird at all, huh? I think that family over there homeschools, and they aren’t weird, either.” So when we pulled our daughter out of preschool it was my husband who suggested that we try homeschooling to see if that was an option. After all, we could still put her in Kindergarten if it was an epic fail.

After we made the decision to give it a go, I went into full research mode. I checked out every book on homeschooling the library had. I asked every homeschooling person I knew what they liked and what they hated. I looked at the internet for hours upon hours upon hours. And at some point in that rabbit hole, I came across The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise, and my life completely changed. Here was what I had been looking for, here was my blue print, here was the proof that I could actually do this and do it well. The idea of a Classical Education appealed to the History major in me, and to the disciplined nature of my husband. We knew that if we kept this structure around our school, we could let our kids march down the lines of it at their own speed. The best of both worlds.

So we trucked on, following our Classical Education ideals, for a few more years and a few more babies, loving every minute of homeschooling. I loved being able to pick my battles and let my daughter grow at her own pace. I loved our slow days and our time together, and our kids were learning awesome things. I did NOT envy my friends with their early morning drop offs. At least, not until a few months after our fourth baby was born. Our fourth baby was an easygoing baby but still a baby. He needed to be nursed and held and cuddled. At the same time, I found that our third child was in dire need of attention, and I wasn’t giving it to her. I was trying to teach the big kids and mother a newborn, our house was a wreck, and our little toddler girl was getting lost in the shuffle. At my wit’s end, I decided to put our older two into public school right away.  I didn’t know if it was for good or if it was for a break, but I knew I wasn’t giving anyone what they needed.

For a few months, everything went okay. Our little kids got the attention they needed, our big kids received consistent schooling, and our laundry was always done. Our school was lovely, our teachers were nothing short of God-given, and our kids were making friends.  What they weren’t doing, though, was learning much. Both kids were marking time academically, and forgetting a lot of those wonderful Classical Education foundations we had worked on while they were at home. They were getting embroiled in a lot of school-kid drama and bringing home awful attitudes towards each other, and worse, towards schoolwork. Their teachers worked with us, but as I came out of my exhaustion I knew that this wasn’t working. One evening after the kids had gone to bed, as my husband and I went over the newest thing our daughters teacher had called us about, I mentioned that she had somehow forgotten how to carry while subtracting, something that she knew cold while homeschooling. My husband lost it. “You mean they are acting like little jerks AND getting dumber?? That is IT. They are COMING HOME.” And that was that.

Since then, I’ve adjusted the expectations I have for myself and my home. I’ve worked on making time for the little kids a priority and we’ve dug back into our Classical Education plans, and things have been moving along quite well. Our days aren’t perfect. We’ve had a diagnosis of ADHD for my oldest son, a looming one of ADD for my daughter, some food allergy issues, and all of the regular teaching issues that pop up. Our days aren’t perfect at all, but they are Good Days. I can do attitude adjustments as the need arises and I am able to take the time to explain why we have to do things — why it’s important that we follow most rules and why some rules need to be broken. I can walk my son through his math as slow as a snail, knowing that he is actually learning the material and not being pushed further than his ability. I have taught three kids to read and have another one hot on their heels. Homeschooling has allowed my children to play to their strengths and to work on their weaknesses off-stage. There is no one staring them down as they struggle. Choosing to homeschool has been one of the best decisions my husband and I have ever made, and from here on out, we plan to stick with it for the long haul.

Kristen C13021867383_2cf4e968cb_q. is a homeschooling mom of four, living deep in the heart of Texas. She loves history, running, and camping, and drinks more coffee than is prudent. Kristen blogs about her daily adventures trying to classically homeschool kids who would always rather be up a tree than writing anything, ever, at www.unsinkablekristen.blogspot.com