And Then I Realized I Was Doing It All Wrong… {Lessons in Homeschooling}

Last spring, as I prepared to take on this crazy adventure called homeschooling, I read countless books and articles and websites, most of them helpful, a few of them scary, but almost all containing phrases like this:

Every homeschool family is unique. 

You’ll start out doing one thing and end up someplace completely different. 

You won’t know what works until you start. 

What works for other families won’t necessarily work for you.

Or something to that effect.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

It wasn’t that I didn’t believe the books or even that I thought I had it all figured out.  But after reading extensively about all the different methods of homeschool I felt certain that I was, at the very least, committed to the idea of a Classical Education for my kids.

It just seemed to fit everything I believed in, and besides, nearly all the homeschool moms I knew were taking a Classical approach.  I had been stalking reading Edie’s homeschool posts for years and was always so inspired by everything she had to say, by the amazing education she was giving to her girls.

So I dutifully read The Well Trained Mind about 47 times, highlighting and re-reading and shouting “YES!,” and then eagerly ordered most of the recommended books for first grade.  I was excited to start and we jumped in with both feet, and for the first couple of months, it was okay.  I spent a lot of time preparing for our lessons and could inject my own creativity and passion into the curriculum even though I often found it somewhat dry and repetitive.

But then in the fall, as work obligations piled up and then I took on our 31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero project, I suddenly found myself stretched a little thin.  It was all I could do just to squeeze school into our day at all, much less make it fun.  It started to become a chore.  It was so boring!  And if I was bored, I knew my kids were bored too.

I hated that I was boring them, hated that it was a chore.  I hated that I couldn’t seem to figure out how to teach 2 different ages at the same time, and that we spent more time fighting then learning.  I hated that everyone else was getting the best of me and all my kids got was this crazy stressed out Task Master.

But I didn’t know what to do or how to change.  I had spent all this money on all these books and I felt stuck and scared.  And honestly, I felt like a failure.  Why couldn’t I be more like Edie?  Was I not cut out for this?

One evening, desperate and in tears, I picked up my Kindle and did a search for homeschooling books.  I don’t know what I was looking for, exactly, I think mostly I just wanted to find some hope.  I stumbled across a helpful-sounding book called Homeschooling for the Rest of Us and one click later (gotta love that Kindle instant gratification), as I read words of comfort and validation that I so needed to hear, I was soon crying tears of joy.

And then the very next day Edie wrote this post about why she almost gave up homeschooling and suddenly, after realizing things weren’t all sunshine and roses for her either, I had an Epiphany:  I was doing it ALL WRONG.  I was trying to juggle all these different balls called “school” and “home” and “work” and “mom,” not realizing that they are in fact the same ball.  I work from home.  I school from home.  This is where we live.  This is what we do.  This is our life now.  School is who we are.

My most important job–especially at this stage of their life–is to be my kids’ mom first and everything else second.  To raise them to be confident and loving and inquisitive and passionate and spiritual, to have good manners and to build strong relationships.  And, to quote my dear wise friend, “The curriculum is there to inspire ME so that I can inspire them.”

I read that line and realized I wasn’t inspired, I was bored.  The fact is that I prefer the practical to the cerebral.  I would rather read a book about organizing than one about The Odyssey.   I also realized was that the reason Edie inspires me so much is because she is truly passionate about what she does.  It works for her.  Because she would most definitely pick the Odyssey.  And that is okay.  I can be inspired by her without being her.

Isn’t that true of so much in life?

Judge me if you must, but I revolted.

The girls and I abandoned our rigorous and systematic approach, we eased off our hectic schedule, I stopped trying to teach them separately, and we simply began enjoying our time together.

I focused on sharing with them the things I was passionate about.  Rather than trying to separate our “school time” from my “home time,” I just started including them in whatever I was doing, whether it was cooking or cleaning or crafting.  And then, after lunch each day, we retreated to their cozy bed where we would cuddle up together reading aloud favorite books from my own childhood like Charlotte’s Web and The Hundred Dresses and Ramona and the Little House series.

I’m not sure what that approach could even be called.  The Slacker Mom’s Guide to Homeschooling I suppose, although in my defense I did create a printable daily planner to help me at least feel like we were accomplishing something.   And while there will probably always be a small part of me that feels a twinge of doubt–what would parenting be without a little self doubt after all–I realize now that the best thing I can do for my kids’ education is to give them ALL of me.

That is no small feat. All is a LOT, which means in order for that to be sustainable for any length of time, I have to be passionate and enthusiastic and excited about what we are learning.  I have to WANT to do it every day–not only in theory, but in practice–or I will burn out.  They will burn out.  We will fail.

With that in mind, I was ready this month, after a few months of our free-for-all homeschooling approach, to try something slightly more structured.  But only slightly.  Knowing better what works (and doesn’t work) for our personalities, I began re-researching the different homeschool methods and curriculums.

I ultimately settled on a Unit Study approach, and although in the future we will quite possibly be using a curriculum called KONOS, for the forseeable future–probably at least the next 6 months to a year–we are using a unit study called The Prairie Primer to delve headfirst into the pioneer world of the Little House series, which has already captivated us.

The Prairie Primer–which was recommended to me by another homeschool mom and which has incredible reviews–looks amazing so far.  It is very clearly laid out, which I love, and incorporates all the different subjects (except math) into the study.  We have just been getting started this week, but we will be doing many of the activities we read about, like making butter and corn cob dolls and learning to sew and embroider, as well as studying various animals and things like how to grow crops and how maple syrup is made.  It is really interesting, and it is fun!  Not just for them, but for me!

To stay organized and keep better track of what we are doing, I expanded my daily homeschool planner to include student goals, a quarterly outline, and a weekly game plan.  I made it myself because I couldn’t find a homeschool planner that also included LIFE, and if you are looking for a way to plan your homeschool days, you are welcome to try it–just keep in mind that all homeschool families are unique and what works for me might not necessarily work for you! :-)

Eight months in, we are still just beginning our homeschool adventure.  And who knows, eight months from now I may have a whole new perspective about it all.  For now all I can do is take each day as it comes and simply pray for the grace and wisdom to give my kids the best education–and life–that I can.

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{ 60 comments… add one }

  • Laurie January 11,

    Oh, how I loved this! We are on our fifth year of homeschooling yet we are still “figuring it out”. :) Every time someone in interested in beginning homeschooling my first advice is, “Find what works for YOU!”

    Reply
    • Ruth January 11,

      Thanks Laurie! And AMEN! :-)

      Reply
  • Emily January 11,

    This was so helpful! My oldest daughter will be starting Kindergarten next year and I have been agonizing over whether or not to homeschool. I’m curious what ultimately made you decide to do it. I have a 2 year old as well and I am so nervous about trying to teach them both at once.

    Reply
    • Ruth January 11,

      I had always wanted to homeschool but last year I was so busy running multiple websites that we decided to put our oldest daughter in public school. It is a really good school but we just didn’t have a very good experience–I wrote more about it here:

      http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2012/08/13/tender-spirits-why-we-homeschool/

      Figuring out how to juggle 2 kids at once is definitely something I am still learning! I often wonder how those moms with 6 or 8 kids manage it all!

      Reply
  • Cassie @ The Thrifty Couple January 11,

    Ruth,

    What a great post! We too homeschool and we have homeschooled for the last 6 years. We now have 4 school age children and one infant and life is crazy between this, being a wife, a mother, running businesses, blogging, and trying to be frugal (which we all know takes time and organization). I loved reading this. I was homeschooled as well all the way through highschool. I have realized that the most important part of homeschooling is focusing on my kids, their strengths, their weaknesses and their character. When we first started, I was quite ambitious and thought we too had to have such a strict schedule and plan. We had each child in their grade level doing each subject and then by the time we added #3 in the mix and each child was studying different sciences, different history topics, etc. I found it impossible to teach a dozen different lessons in one day and wasn’t sure how others do it. I still don’t know, but after talking to Alex to help me figure it out, this is what we do. We have two different homeschooling times during the day – group school where all 4 kids from ages 4-9 participate in Bible, history, science, geography and art. We rotate through those subjects doing Bible everyday and then the others 1 – 2 times per week and everyone studies the same topic and so I teach one lesson. Then the activity is age-based. The older ones might get additional self-directed reading with a report and the youngest might just color a picture and everything in between. The second part is where the older three are given their workbook assignments for math, phonics, spelling, handwriting and English. They can all read and their workbooks are self-explanatory with Alex or I needing to do quick one-on-one lesson when needed (we also simplified this by sticking with one company’s workbooks at each grade level, so all of the kids are doing the same type of workbooks, just in their grade). Then during that time, the 4-year old needs someone to sit with her and teach her while she does her workbooks. We actually accomplish so much in a small amount of time now! We don’t really have a schedule, it is just time allotments and whatever we can get done in that time. Surprisingly, we are moving at a much quicker pace, much happier mom and that means much happier kids! Now I can’t say it is perfect as I have to get up at 5:30 am, be very strict and precise about my blogging, cleaning, couponing and more as school is our top priority, even amongst those extras we have. It is humbling, but very rewarding experience. Thanks for sharing Ruth and God Bless!! Cassie

    Reply
    • Ruth January 11,

      Wow Cassie, I am always so amazed by moms who homeschool more than 2 kids! I get up really early too–I’ve found that that is the only way to have time to work and write without distractions. I also just enjoy the peace and quiet of the morning time!

      Reply
  • Donna Marie Johnson January 11,

    I think we’re “right there”. I totally feel you, Ruth. Thank you for sharing. I needed this encouragement.
    I ended our stint in a virtual public school about a year ago and have had a much more relaxed approach to homeschooling; but when I first started I “thought” I needed to give my kids a more rigorous learning experience to more closely model how I was educated.
    However, I know longer feel that way. They’re having so much more fun and so am I with our “do what works well for us” approach to homeschooling. I am glad to know I’m not the only mom entrepreneur who has experienced this type of transition.

    Reply
    • Ruth January 11,

      Thanks Donna!

      Reply
  • Rachel @ finding joy January 11,

    I love this post. I’ve been homeschooling for eleven years and every single year I think “this is the way” to do it and then I quickly revert to life as our homeschooling. We burn out otherwise and I can’t incorporate all the kids together and we lose the love of learning.
    I’ve found it to be a balance and it all ebbs and flows depending upon the season of life we’re in.
    Wonderful words. You will bless many.

    Rachel

    Reply
    • Ruth January 11,

      Thank you Rachel. It is so good to know I’m not the only one! :-)

      Reply
  • Eddie - The Usual Mayhem January 11,

    LOVE this post! And welcome to the Prairie Primer clan – there is an excellent and active Facebook group, including the PP’s author, if you didn’t already know. We changed our approach this year as we added in another student, and it’s been a great year so far.

    Reply
    • Ruth January 11,

      Oh my goodness, I had no idea there was a Facebook group! Could you send me the link? Thanks Eddie!

      Reply
  • Jennifer January 11,

    Oh this spoke volumes to me!

    My favorite quote “I can be inspired by her without being her.”

    Thank you! I am going to go forth in my life and find ways to be inspired BY others with out trying to BE the people that inspire me.

    Reply
  • Aadel January 11,

    What an awesome post! We started out with traditional curriculum, a school room, and scheduled subjects. That lasted about 2 years. Then we evolved into what we are now – which is Charlotte Mason-esque unschoolers. But really – it is life. We live and learn! <3

    Reply
    • Ruth January 11,

      So true! Thanks Aadel!

      Reply
  • Cindi January 11,

    Great post! As a fellow homeschooler, we do have some bookwork and a whole lot of life learning. With all the retired people down here, we have a massive wealth of information available. We can make learning fun and instill that love to learn in our children. Kids, as well as adults, learn at their own pace, not as a mass group. Just because a child may learn something at a later age than a different child doesn’t make them stupid or dumb or slow. That is my biggest peeve with large classrooms. Putting kids in the “slow learners” classes destroys their ability and desire to learn because it’s a negative experience. Standardized tests do not reveal an accurate picture of what any child knows. Living life, learning how to think critically, and reading, reading, reading will do so much. May I also recommend Lucy Maud Montgomery with her Story Girl series as well as Anne of Green Gables, Louisa May Alcott with the Little Women series, and Frances Hodgson Burnett with A Little Prince, The Lost Prince, and The Secret Garden (which is what we’ve just started now.)

    Read everything in which they express an interest. My elder daughter, who is 11, keeps talking about being a paleontologist. I didn’t even know what that was at 11!

    You’re doing great, and remember that all homeschoolers have down days, just like “regular” schoolers and teachers do. We’re not perfect. No one is. But you love your kids more than anyone else, and you can instill a massive love of lifelong learning better than anyone else can as you show them how enthusiastic you are about constantly learning regardless of what the subject matter is. You can do it!

    Reply
  • Kayla Arrowood January 11,

    I loved your post. I’m glad that for this season you have found something that fits. With homeschooling its kinda beautiful that way – Seasons come and go – Books and curriculum will change. Homeschooling is trial and error because every child is different. Keep trying and you can totally do it perfect for your family!! Hugs & Kisses fellow homeschooler!!!

    Reply
  • Jessy at Our Side of the Mountain January 11,

    Sounds like the normal progression of a homeschooler! ::wink:: This is Year 9 for us…and every year…sometimes every few months…I have to tweak something that just isn’t quite working. Different kids, different stages, changes! Right now we’re a little “afloat” with Science, searching for a new curriculum or interest area for us. We’ll get there! Enjoy the rest of your year!

    Reply
  • Michelle Williams January 11,

    So glad you are figuring out what works for you! That is one of the hardest things about homeschooling-not doing what everyone else does, but customizing to fit your kiddos, their interests, abilities and personalities. Love the Little House books! When you get to the maple syrup making stuff, there is this fabulous picture book about making maple syrup called Sugar on Snow by Nan Parson Rossiter. I would loan you my copy, but I am afraid you are too far away! :) Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  • Inspiration Station January 11,

    I found your blog through weekly wrap-up. I loved reading through your homeschool posts today and hearing about your first year journey. You’re not alone with finding out through trial and error what’s best. That is the beauty of teaching in the home, finding what works for your individual family.

    Reply
  • Leah Courtney January 11,

    I loved reading your story. I started out homeschooling with a very structured approach when we began nine years ago, but I , too, was quickly burned out. I’ve come round and round lots of times through the years but finally have decided that not only is each family different, but sometimes each year is different. And the great thing about homeschooling is that we can adapt, and adapt, and adapt… :-)

    Reply
  • Rosie January 12,

    Something in me still can’t seem to take homeschooling off the table for my little one. Here in England they start at 4 years (full time) and I worry that they are just so little! Wish we had the sort of programmes you guys do to follow!

    Reply
  • Stephanie January 12,

    I have been homeschooling since last January and the main thing that I felt was seriously out-of-control of it all. Ya know?? It’s definitely gotten better, I have learned that co-op is not for us. My kids love it but I feel “crazy” trying to keep up with all of the assignments from the different classes. Maybe next year we will just do one. Home school though has gotten soooo much better. I just now feel like I have a handle on what the kids need to know and how to get that information into their little brains. thank you for posting this though…home schooling is such a great community that we all can share and gain from. thanks again.

    Reply
  • Angie D. January 12,

    As usual, I really love your insightfulness. I don’t even have kids, but I enjoy hearing about your journey with your girls. When I was little, we lived out in the country, and daycare didn’t really exist (well, it existed, but not where we lived). When my mom went back to work, I had the pleasure of spending several years with my grandparents “babysitting” me each day. They had a farm. Grandma would read to me, and include me in her daily activities (like canning, sewing, cooking). I didn’t even realize I was learning, because it was so much fun to have her undivided attention. Grandpa would come in for lunch, and sometimes he’d take me out with him to feed the hogs or to plant potatoes. Life was good!

    When I started school, I cried all the time, because I didn’t want to be there. I wanted to be back with grandma. Homeschooling wasn’t something you did back in the late 70′s, so I had to suffer through it. “It’ll get better,” my mom would tell me. But you know what? It never did. My spirit was crushed over and over by mean kids, mean teachers, etc. I found it traumatic to be surrounded by all those other smelly little strangers.

    So, protect their tender little spirits! When you include them in your daily activities, like canning, crafting, etc., you’re not only teaching them, but you’re also giving them a really good foundation of love and security that will help them in the future.

    Reply
  • Alyssa Van Den Elzen January 12,

    I used the Prairie Primer for my 3 oldest– it took us about 2.5 years instead one one! Then check out Further up and Further In (Narnia in a similar approach for a little older kids) In High school we did a huge study through Lord of the Rings (Literary lessons from Lord of the Rings it’s called) — I love our cozy morning together, lots of reading and following our passions. Now we’ve adopted an 8 year old and starting again on this journey– finding what works for him and how I can work that with the teenagers. I love how you expressed this, though. Classical would never have worked for me either. I call our style eclectic, relaxed and real life!

    Reply
  • Teresa January 12,

    What a great post! It took me a lot longer to figure out what was best for my kids. We are more eclectic… we keep what works and pitch what does not work.

    Reply
  • Laura Lyons January 14,

    Ruth, I found your website looking for coupon info and fell in love with your blog. I call myself the accidental homeschooler and after 5 years we learn something new every year. We are very eclectic . We have loved KONOS unit studies the most. This year is more of a challenge as I battle stage 3 breast cancer. (I was touched by your post about your sister in law who was ill ). I am never more thankful for the gift of homeschooling when I reflect on our memories. I have never been a strict curriculum mom but my husband was at the beginning and I tease and say I am a closet unschooler but he keeps me on track . It is always my goal to keep it simple. We are in co-op this year for science and math because my son is in high school and support for me with my illness. God has blessed beyond measure with support and inspiration on this journey. I have tested my children because of self doubt and always been surprised and amazed. Keeping our home a learning environment limiting TV and games helps. My older 4 children were in public school so I have many years to compare . It is such a relief and joy to have the choice to homeschool . When I remember the stress and anxiety sending them to school I thank God everyday. The worst day homeschooling isn’t even close to the best day not knowing what they were learning or facing. My youngest is 9 and the only one who has been homeschooled from the start. We are reading the Little house series and unit study. We have visited the Mansfield Wilder home last year. She is an American Girl fan and I loved your post on the bed and wardrobe and your honesty . (Thankful I didn’t find them ) I found a chest wardrobe at Hobby Lobby and used a coupon to keep it simple. I could go on on other ways you inspire but that is enough for now. Keep writing and blessing with your words.

    Reply
  • Mary @ A Productive Endeavor February 8,

    After homeschooling for just over 5 months, I am in this place. Your post really encourages me today. Thank you!!!

    Reply
  • Onika February 9,

    Thank you so much for this article. I am in my second year of homeschooling and I can totally relate. I am currently using My Father’s World but we sometime interject other things in when I need a change of pace. I also work from home and can relate to the challenges of trying to do it all. This is my first time on your site and I am thankful I found you.

    Reply
  • MamaE February 12,

    Ruth – Thank you for your amazing post about Home Schooling your girls. :-)

    Our son is only 2yrs old and we have a #2 due later this year, but we’ve already discussed and are determined to home school them as well. I personally am the oldest of four myself and my parents (with the God’s help) managed to home school all four of us for about the first 8yrs (at least for me it was 1st – 8th grades). They too had to figure our curriculum that could work for all of us. Even though us first three kids were each about 5 years apart, all girls, my parents found that “Far Above Rubies” was a great one that she could teach on different levels to us. For my brother (the youngest), it was a lot more “out doors” and math/ science focused. But that’s him and shortly after he started we all wound up in public school because of a family matter that did not allow my parents to continue to home school. Which was fine, but a real culture shock. We also found that because our parents had home schooled us for so long, we were all “smarter than the average student” or “gifted” to put it nicely. One of the reasons my husband and I very much want to home school. Coming from families who have always pushed us to achieve the highest we can can, we want to do something where we can control what our children are being taught and take a relaxed but more advanced approach for teaching. I have no idea how this will work out, but we’re still praying about it, he he.

    Reply
  • jennifer kindle March 3,

    i searched for konos on pinterest and found your blog….just wanted to say thanks for this post!!!! lifeschooling for us is indeed a journey!!!

    Reply
  • julie April 17,

    We r in our 2nd yr of homeschool of our two (11 & 9 yr olds) & our youngest who is 2. I know right. CRAZY……but it clicked one day after I witnesses my father dying of stage 4 colon cancer on christmas day. This is our life. You get one chance at raising your children & if I could give my beautiful children anything from my life & they could be there for me when it is my time to leave this earth then I had succeeded as a Great parent asy father had done for me. Is it easy no!!!!! Are there those days that I am pulling my hair out & re thinking about my efforts in homeschooling of course……..BUT I WOULDN’T TRADE IT FOR THE WORLD BECAUSE WHEN THOSE EYES LIGHT UP WHEN THEY HAVE FIGURED IT OUT. NOTHING BUT PRICELESS & I was apart of that learning process. ……I don’t even know how I found this link. But I love YOUR HONESTY; why is that not taught more honesty. Thank you for doing this blog.

    Reply
  • Cindy April 24,

    My family has been homeschooling classically for six years now, and I have to say I HATE Well-Trained Mind. Mostly I hate that so many homeschoolers think that is what classical education has to look like. I am a Type A perfectionist and I knew 15 minutes into the book that her approach would drive me and my children crazy. We got involved with Classical Conversations instead and it is perfect for us. It is just the right combination of rigorous and flexible. We’re now in 7th and 8th grades and can really see the fruit of doing classical education without the stress of WTM.

    I am so glad that you found an approach that nourishes your girls, and that also nourishes you and your relationship with them. The stress of doing homeschooling the wrong way is so detrimental to that relationship, but the strength of that relationship will be crucial when they hit puberty :-)

    I’ve enjoyed getting to know you through your blog. Blessings to your family!

    Reply
  • Alyse Groves May 7,

    You are a goddess! My husband and I have been talking about curriculum and unit studies and what works and my college schedule with the little one. I was beginning to think I had this all wrong and what was I thinking! Your post is exactly what I needed to read at this very moment! I am coming to a point where I have a planning break from my school and homeschool. I have been worried I am doing it all wrong and now a little one in the mix! After reading this, I am not doing it wrong. I am simply still trying to figure out what works for us and right now what doesn’t work is me compartmentalizing it all! THANK YOU!

    Reply
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  • Andrea Dillingham May 28,

    Ruth,

    I enjoyed your article! I think it’s great that you’ve found your own way in homeschooling. I was homeschooled K-12. My mom took a very similar approach. Our “school” time was everywhere and everything! We were doing chores, crafts, going to the library, playing outside, and it was all part of our education. We’d be talking in the car about something… say… how a camera works, or the American Revolution. My mom would “lecture” though we didn’t know it. She’d encourage us to go look up answers to questions, or definitions of words we didn’t know. Later, she’d ask us to write (an age appropriate) paper on the subject. And then I would realized we had learned all about *insert subject here* and I didn’t even know it! The point is we were ALWAYS learning! But the most valuable thing I learned was HOW to learn. How to teach myself things. How to be an independent researcher and study things that interest me.

    In my later years of education (particularly in high school), I would sometimes wonder if I was getting an equal education to my peers in public or private school. I was happy with my freedom and lifestyle, but it was also a question in the back of my mind. Because I couldn’t be 100% sure that I wouldn’t get to college and realize I had “missed” some really major thing. How would I know? When I was 16, a junior in high school, I decided to take concurrent classes at my local university. My mom turned in my transcript which reflected a 4.0 GPA. And still, I wondered if maybe she was being a little biased. I went on to maintain a 4.0 all through college! I found that I was OVER prepared, and that I didn’t struggle (even when some classes required more strict methods of study or testing), because my mom had given me the gift of teaching me to be a self-learner, a self-starter, and to use my imagination and mind in everything I did. I believe it was her method of incorporating school and learning into everything we did, and encouraging creativity in every aspect of life. Just as you mentioned… home time, mom time, school time… it’s all one in the same!

    Good luck to you and your kids! I believe it’s completely worth it, and a wonderful, fulfilling way of LIFE. I am married now and have a 6-month old son and I can’t wait to start homeschooling! :)

    Reply
  • Kim May 29,

    Loved reading your post…as a “graduated” home educating momma of two girls it brought back many memories. My girls are now almost 19 and 21 and I do not regret any of our home education journey. ENJOY every minute, structured or not. :)

    Reply
  • Nikki May 29,

    I’m in my 6th year (really?) homeschooling. Three kiddos, and this year my youngest join us as an official kindergartener. Fitting it all in has been an adjustment! And I’ve been there with the WTM. I take what I can from it and try not to get overwhelmed. We found a good fit with Five in a Row in the early years, then found My Father’s World. It’s so good you have found a fit for your family early on. Thank you for sharing; it’s encouraging.

    Reply
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  • Sara July 8,

    It was Edie who originally introduced me to Thomas Jefferson Education. You’d love TJEd! It reflects this blog post perfectly. Inspire, not require. Teaching what you love, while not using kill and drill textbooks. It’s classical, but not Greek classical, Hebrew classical. It’s developmental and personalized education. If you haven’t read the book yet, you’d love the freedom it gives you to be the expert on your own children. Jamie Martin @ simplehomeschool.net is also a Christian TJEd homeschooling mom and an inspiring blogger like you and Edie.

    Reply
  • Anonymous July 13,

    This line really spoke to me: “I school from home. This is where we live. This is what we do. This is our life now. School is who we are.” <<— That is it, exactly. Thanks for breaking it down for us.

    I was scrambling my first year trying to figure out why it wasn't all rainbows and sunshine…with a happy child thanking me for teaching her sooo much. :) And WHY couldn't I keep the house clean?!? Then I realized…we are here all the time…we are LIVING in this house constantly…and I was trying to cram too much into a day: old life plus homeschooling. I'm still figuring out how to streamline more and go with the flow…but it makes more sense now that I've accepted we have a new life and we're all in this together.

    Reply
  • Suzie H August 8,

    I am so glad I found you through Pinterest! I have really been struggling with homeschooling. I’ve been teaching my stepson for a few years and last year my middle son started Kindergarten. I also saw it as a chore, something we just had to battle through. And let me tell you, it’s been a battle. Reading this post really encouraged me. I hope that this year, with a new perspective, we can have a truly enjoyable year of learning.

    Reply
  • Rebekah Harris September 2,

    thank you for sharing!! i needed to hear this.. i am trying to figure out what works best for us also and feel like i am just getting frustrated and frustrating my children.. thanks for the encouragement!!

    Reply
  • Karen September 9,

    We used the Prairie Primer twice! Once when my oldest children were 3rd and 4th grade and then again when my younger ones were about that age. It worked even for my older girls the second time because they could relate to the stories and activities on a different level. I love the Prairie Primer, even after 20+ years of homeschooling.

    Reply
  • Sarah Lentz September 11,

    Oh, boy, did I need to read this today! We’re in our second week with K12 on-line “school at home”–schooling three kids with a tw0-year-old getting into everything whenever I’m trying to help one of his older siblings with schoolwork. I’m seriously questioning the idea that alcohol is strictly a luxury item, but, honestly, life shouldn’t be like this! We’re spending most of the day doing school just to get through all the assigned busywork, and I’m ready to kick it all to the curb and go back to homeschooling on my own. I signed up because my husband and I both recognized my limitations when it comes to record-keeping (consistently) and time-management. My kind of homeschooling doesn’t look like school at home; it’s just living and spending time with our kids and learning together as we go. I’m not one of those moms who make homeschooling look good. I tried the Classical approach, too. Total face-plant.
    Another day has gone by, and I’m still wondering when I can sneak in a shower and get more of the housework done.
    I’ll say it again: life shouldn’t be like this. It doesn’t have to be THIS hard.

    Reply
    • Anonymous October 16,

      Exactly how I feel right now!!!

      Reply
  • Honney September 18,

    Thank you so much for this encouraging post! This is exactly what I needed at this point. Thank you for your honesty. We’re just on our 1st quarter of homeschooling and the task is quite overwhelming!!! Like you, I want our homeschooling to be fun and spontaneous.
    I will try my best to be better on the second quarter. :)

    Reply
  • megan September 18,

    Look at the ABEKA program. It truly is the slacked moms version of homeschooling. LOL

    It is a video of an actual class at Pensacola Christian Academy and so long as you have 2 tv’s in your house totally solves the issue of 2 grade levels! Plus it allows you to have some more time to think up awesome projects to do with your girls. I’m sure what you are doing with them is going great, this program will just allow you to have time for yourself as well…seriously you don’t even have to do the grading!!!!!

    Reply
  • Journey00 December 3,

    I soooooo needed this today! On my 3rd year of homeschooling 3 kiddos ages 14, 9, and 8. For the first time, my oldest is enrolled with a long distance Catholic Classical School…..we are NOT having fun at all. I was just like you, I wanted my kids to read Beowulf, The Odyssey, sound cerebral…lol. I, also, rather read a book about organization. :) Yeah, we are hating classical education because it really is not us. Praying for the Holy Spirit to guide me in how He wants me to educate my kiddos. I’m going to read the book you read on your Kindle. Thanks for this post. God bless.

    Reply
  • iherb coupons at youtube.com January 29,

    Howdy! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay.
    I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

    Reply
  • Regina March 16,

    Oh how I know exactly how you felt. You just have to do what works for you and your family. I been there.

    Reply
  • ryoko March 19,

    Enjoyed Your Post.
    We Homeschooled For 13 1/2 Years.
    We Called It A Lifestyle Of Learning Approach. Turning Everyday Doing Into Opportunities For Learning. Journaling, Unit Studies Time Lines. I Required More From The Older Ones Longer Or More Detailed Responses. Lots Of Doing Including Grocery Shopping With Them In Charge Of Planning, buying With A Budget For Lunc Extra.
    Our JoB Is To Equip Them For Life, As Godly Stewards And Life long learners Using Their Gifts And Talents And Yours.
    It Is An Adventure Worth The Tough Spots- Enjoy!
    You Are Off To A Wonderful Start. (I Have No Idea why My Blog Responses Automatically Change To Title Case? Guess As A Lifelong Learner I Need To Find Out ;-) )

    Reply
  • Anjolee April 26,

    Thank you! I really needed to read this right now. It was so encouraging to me. I had never heard of the Prairie Primer, but I cannot wait to check it out! We are Little House fans for sure! Thank you so much!

    Reply
  • Mary July 18,

    I started in February of this year homeschooling my three daughters ages 10,7,and 5,i had taken them out of public and just jumped blindly into homeschooling, they finished 4th,1st,and kindergarten and started 5th,2nd,and 1st with me with the addition of their brother who is 4 in preschool. I thought i could do classical because i love to read, but months later realized i was eceletric homeschooler. You are right what works for one family doesn’t necessarily work for mine, took a long time to figure that out. I found your blog on Pinterest, i think you are doing a wonderful job.

    Reply
  • Sarah Span July 24,

    Oh my goodness! I am so RELIEVED AND HAPPY that I have found your blog. This post is so encouraging, I can’t be more thankful that I came across it. I wan initially researching organizers, bc like yourself, I could not find one that fit “life”. To be honest, I was also nervous about diving into our second year bc last year started well, but boy did we hate the end of the school year. It did become so boring and a struggle. I can’t wait to read more of your blog! Thank you!

    Reply
  • lose weight fast workout July 24,

    Wonderful post! We are linking to this particularly great post on our website.

    Keep up the good writing.

    Reply
  • Kelly October 16,

    Hi!
    As a mom just starting to homeschool my 8 and 10 year old this year, is what I needed to read!!! I also work from home! So I have been a bit overwhelmed at juggling it all and trying to separate school, work, and home! I have been feeling like my kids are getting a much more grumpier me!! I’ve been thinking I need to just change it up!!! Reading about your experience has me feeling like maybe I can step back and breath a little!!! And give my kids their happy mom back!

    Reply
  • Bethany October 16,

    I just wanted you to know how thankful I am for this post. I have no idea how I found it (probably through Pinterest) but it changed the way we do things and I love homeschooling now!!! I have two boys currently doing school, ages 4 and 6. We LOVE the unit study approach and have really enjoyed taking our time learning and incorporating other subjects as well. Thank you!!!

    Reply
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