A Rocky Start to Homeschooling, Then I Found the Path

Makita has posted her current edition of her Friday Freebie. When and how did you start homeschooling?

Here is my entry:
As much as I would like to say that I always felt convicted to homeschool and that my children never went to public school, it would not be the truth. Thinking back to almost 18 years ago when my oldest child was starting kindergarten, I looked into homeschooling but at that time there just wasn’t the supportive community that there is now. I knew we would feel isolated and in those years *before* the internet, homeschooling sounded sort of like pioneering. I really did not have the guts to start.

So off to kindergarten at a private Montessori school she went and she stayed there until second grade. The transition to public school in third grade was horrible. Her teacher did not have control of the class and my daughter sat and read the Little House on the Prairie books for most of the year…….there just was not a lick of challenge for her. By this time I had my second child in the same school in first grade and his teacher pulled me aside and said that I needed to get him out of the school and do something else with him because he was bored out of his mind. The principal had forbidden his teacher from offering any sort of reading to him until after Christmas…..which was months away. (He was a fluent reader in K.) We decided to pull him and put him in private school because I was very pregnant with our third at this point.

Long story short, we muddled through the next two years and then when I had given birth to our fourth child, I announced that enough was enough and I was going to teach them all at home, no matter how hard it was. I was tired of seeing my children wither in public schoolrooms. I was tired of dealing with teachers. I was tired of fund raisers. I longed for some passion in their learning. I craved time with my children and I think they were longing for something that was missing in their lives too. I have shared before on this blog that I was raised to be a career girl so for me to admit that I had a heart filled with desire to be at home, with all four children, and take their education on as a responsibility was a full circle from where I started out.

This was my challenge when I started homeschooling….they were 10, 8, 2, and less than a year old. I had no idea how it was going to go once we started. I just knew it was what had to be done. I prayed a lot for strength and guidance.

Our community had evolved a little as far as homeschooling at this point and we found a charter home study group that offered elective classes as well as a library of books and materials. It was enough to satisfy me that I would be able to homeschool the older two with a little help. I was grateful for the charter at that point since it gave me confidence to homeschool and know that I was not going to “mess up”.

After the first year, I was hooked up to the internet and had ordered a bunch of homeschooling catalogs. This was the major turning point for us. I had my eyes opened to the possibilities and it was a homeschooling wonderland of ideas, resources, and online support. I was now on my way and I had wings.

Eventually I had three homeschooling at one time…eighth grade, sixth grade, and kindergarten and one of preschool age. It was soooooo crazy but wonderful at the same time. I look back at those years fondly and it was sort of like running a one room schoolhouse. Everyone was busy and even the youngest wanted to “do school”.

My oldest opted to go to public high school to fulfill her dream of marching in the marching band…playing the flute. I was reluctant but willing to give it a try. She is an excellent student and I told her when she started ninth grade that if I saw any behavior issues or slacking in academics that she would be pulled back home. She thrived at school and had a very good experience. (I feel like I am betraying the homeschooling community by admitting that but it is the truth, it was the best for this particular child. Some things I can not offer at home.)

My oldest son wanted to try high school too but he didn’t like it so much and he endured two years and then begged to come home. I was so very happy to have him home again and we had some good times during those last two years of high school.

My middle son went to two months of kindergarten. He begged and begged to go on the schoolbus and for some reason we said okay. It was a disaster. He was home before Thanksgiving and has never looked back. He is my “busy” child and he was being squashed in public school by the system. I was ecstatic when he came home again….he is now in tenth grade and we have a fantastic relationship.

My youngest never stepped foot in public school. He is my artistic, musical child and now he is becoming a fantastic writer. All of these things wouldn’t be happening if he were in public school. He can spend hours drawing, playing his violin, and writing stories each day and we can call it school. He reads and breathes….like me.

Relationships. It is all about relationships. This is not the reason we started homeschooling but it is now the reason we keep going. We are a part of their lives. They are still happy to be a part of ours. All four children have fantastic relationships and spend oodles of time together both at home and out with their various friends.

We travel far and wide and spend time on family projects. We dream together and scheme together and it has been so worth every trial and heartache. I had a wise friend say that she sometimes cries at night because of the sheer responsibility of homeschooling but those tears are dry in the morning and when the sun rises it is a new day.

I remember those words on a bad day. The sun always rises the next day and all the fears fall away. I have the added luxury of seeing the fruits before I am finished.

As my years of homeschooling draw to a close, I wonder what the next chapter will be in my life. I pray about that a lot. I know that I never planned to homeschool or there was never any single event or reason for starting but the list of reasons why is getting longer as time goes by. I actually typed up a list for a friend who was contemplating homeschooling and asked me why I decided to homeschool….five pages long it was. Shesh! Aren’t you glad I didn’t share that list!

I would have never found my passions if it had not been for homeschooling. I can almost guarantee that if you homeschool long enough you will become a self-educator. You will rekindle your interest in learning new things and learn alongside your children. I don’t often tell others that as a reason for becoming a homeschooling family but it is a huge part of why we are still doing it after all these years. We are able to indulge our children’s passions and teach them to be self-educated too.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Artists With Style: Picture Study and Charlotte Mason

Painting like Jackson Pollock

“But this is to be aimed at for the young people; let them study occasionally the works of a single great master until they have received some of his teaching, and know his style.”
Charlotte Mason volume 5, page 235

One of the greatest joys as a parent is to see how your influence effects your children in the long-term. One area that I notice this in is with artist study. Following Charlotte Mason’s advice, our family has taken one artist at a time and viewed several of his paintings over a period of weeks. Carefully viewing them and observing what makes those paintings different from others that we have studied, we have learned a little about what makes each artist unique and how they fit into a particular school of art.

Another way to help your child really get to know an artist is to have the child study a group of the artist’s paintings and then have him paint his own picture in the style of that artist. I try to let them decide what to paint and many times it is a copy of the original but they also will at times paint their own picture but use that artist’s style.

For example:
Picasso (done with oil pastels)
picasso oil pastel
How about Vermeer? (watercolor)
Girl with a Pearl Earring
Or Matisse? (oil pastels again)
Matisse oil pastel
Here is something in the style of Seaurat. (oil paints)
I think you get the idea.

It is always fun for the kids to point out paintings as we go through our everyday life and have them recognize either the artist or the style. They enjoy seeing paintings as “friends”. Sometimes they enjoy the style and sometimes they do not….that is okay with me.

Picture study has helped us in this area and it is so easy to do.

Homeschooling without Feeling Overwhelmed Part Three

This is an old post from my other blog that I wanted to share on this blog. Please read Parts One and Two for the complete series. I will be putting these on my sidebar for future reference.

Here is the final installment in my article on How to Homeschool Without Feeling Overwhelmed series.

5. Take care of yourself.

If you need a break, take it. Don’t be afraid to occasionally pop in an educational video or assign extra free reading time. If the day is going poorly, take a few hours off and bake cookies with the kids or take a long walk. Do something to break the mood and the bad feeling. No one is benefiting when you are stressed out or they are in a mood for not learning. I have days like that and it is hard to remember but you are allowed a day off here and there. When we homeschool, we give our children so much individual time that it won’t hurt to take a day off every now and then. I tend to not take a day off but just to flip the schedule around and maybe have outside play first or art and music first and that lifts everyone’s spirits. I also try to remember that when I worked in an office all day before I started homeschooling, I had some really bad days too. It’s just a part of life. These bad days pass and you wonder what all your fussing was about.

6. Listen to your gut.

If your gut is telling you something isn’t right, listen to it. Sit down and really examine what that little voice is saying to you.

  • Are you pushing yourself too hard?
  • Are you pushing the kids too hard?
  • Are you feeling inadequate to teach something and do you need to find some help….like a tutor or a group activity?
  • Do you need your husband to step in and be the “principal” and help with bad behavior?
  • Are you using the wrong curriculum? (that’s a hard one especially if you invested some money in it and you don’t want to change)
  • Do you need to make up a schedule that you can stick to? Do you need more free time than you are getting?
  • Do the kids need some sort of activity outside the home?
  • Are you praying for God’s help enough?
  • Are you allowing the children time each day to exercise?
  • Do you have a good attitude towards school?
  • Are your expectations clear to the kids?

There are so many things that can be nagging at you and I know for myself, I tend to want to look at the boys’ bad behavior and think that it is a reflection of me and it’s really not. I look at how they can be lazy sometimes and I get upset but that’s part of their growing and maturing. They are getting better each year and I find when I stop beating myself up over what a bad job I’m doing and really analyze things, it’s not so bad. They are learning something and they are exceeding my standards for the most part, just taking a little different road than I set out for them. I just need time to listen to my gut and know that even though none of us is perfect, we are really trying.

7. Find someone to partner with.

I can’t tell you how much this has helped me over the years. It is so nice to have someone to share with and to talk to when you are in a down mood. I have had several people that have partnered with me over the years and it’s great.

(Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their hard work. 10 For if one of them should fall, the other one can raise his partner up. But how will it be with just the one who falls when there is not another to raise him up?

Isn’t that scripture great?

So that’s it. I told you it was really long. If you have read the whole series, I commend you for sticking with it. Hope I have helped someone out there to get over that overwhelmed feeling that all homeschoolers get from time to time.

Leave a comment to let me know what you think…..


Harmony Art Mom

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