Category Archives: pre-school

When it Goes Wrong

We have all felt moments When it Goes Right.  Deep in our hearts things click- satisfaction, calm, rest, joy, peace all come together in a satisfying sigh of right-ness.  It is attainable.  It is what keeps us seeking the ideal by bettering ourselves and our children/families one day at a time through teaching at home, practicing what we learn, and mastering what we practice.  It is what causes people to comment on our children.  If you are like us, you get tired of hearing how ‘lucky’ you are and one day become bold enough to reply, “This is not luck, it is bloody hard work in action.”  With a sweet smile, of course!

What about the other moments, those that might dominate our days- When it Goes Wrong.  As homeschoolers we bravely and daily place ourselves to be confronted with the reality of our shortcomings.  Our need for growth.  One of my favorite realizations was that we are so eager to enter Heaven that we choose go through the fires of sanctification daily rather than baby step our way there during weekends/holiday (growth) moments scattering fire to get us through to a peace filled, quiet house Monday.  Who does this?!  Really!  If given the choice, using your brain rather than your soul, everyone would choose quiet days, clean homes, adult conversation.  But you did not- we do not….

…..and things go wrong constantly.  Well, not before the sweet little feet hit the floor each morning.  As I type I struggle with myself over waking the children or taking (stealing) another 30 minutes of quiet time to get my heart-thoughts on to paper.  In releasing myself from carrying guilt all day, I must simply make a clear and concrete decision rather than ‘just a few minutes more.’  They will remain in blessed Dream Land for 30 more minutes!  My timer is set.  My resolve is made.  My guilt laid down.  That, at least, is one thing that will not Go Wrong today.

Other things will go wrong- certainly.  I don’t expect them, prepare for them, nor look for them, but I am not surprised when they pop into our lives.  They have become just another welcomed moment in my day.   One that shows me where I can self improve as a wife, mother, teacher, friend.  Knowing that my days can Go Right places the times when it Goes Wrong in just the right light.  His Light that assures me that I can do better.  I can change.  I can try again to model the actions I desire to impart to my family/children through this journey of home education.  Things that Go Wrong are simply signs that we, ourselves, need to re-direct our thoughts, energies, and efforts.  The children will, most assuredly, eventually, follow.

The One Thing

There is not time each day for more than One Thing.  I know, we homeschooling mamas thrive on our super powers of accomplishing above and beyond.  That is not what I am talking about.  The One Thing is your most important objective for the day.  It is done well, completed well, and brings soul satisfaction.

There are many side jobs and yay-I-finally-got-to-that jobs and those that shove their way into our days, but the One Thing must be your focus from the moment you put your feet on the floor and, if you live life fully and freely, should be rather constant yet ever changing.  Organized chaos, if you will.

That sounds like something you would not wish to touch with a long stick, but if we honestly observe living fully in any manner the bookends are rigidity and bedlam.  Organized chaos is allowing life to flow while setting ‘shipping channel’ that guide you safely toward your destination while allowing the freedom of movement, shifting, living a full yet relaxed life.  Let me note that by ‘relaxed’ I do not mean that you will have time to sit around eating bon bons; simply that you will allow yourself to lay down your stress of being perfect.

Back to The One Thing.  It takes dedicated focus to discern and decide what that will be each day.  As homeschoolers most of us immediately conclude that it must be lessons.  What if it were not?  What if lessons were sometimes The One Thing and sometimes not?

Catch your breath.  I am not advocating anything less than the ideal home education that fits your family.  What I am suggesting is that lessons not reign supreme at the cost of all else.  Sometimes they can be the side job that is completed but not the one that you made certain was fully attended to and completed to full satisfaction.  Lessons were simply accomplished while you focused on a friend in need, a birthday girl, chores, a dedicated job, neighbors, adventure.

Remember the Bible story of Mary and Martha?  Who made the better choice?  It was so counter-intuitive.  So counter-cultural.  And yet, it was the proper One Thing for that moment.  Accomplishment, worksheet worship, textbook consumption often overshadow and rob our joys that proffer themselves along the way.  They gently nudge our hearts.  Do you trust that in choosing a non-traditional day of learning has value?   All of life should be learning.  All of learning has value.  Trust that your wisdom to discern between a wasted day and a different day when your One Thing does not leave that mentally satisfying paper trail and allow the joy of releasing your plan of what must be each day to what might be each day.

For our family, we homeschool year ’round which allows us to ebb and flow with our days.  Three days a week our One Thing is lessons leaving two days each week to shift our One Thing out of my controlling hands.  Boy, I do love controlling my universe, but it is not always good for marriage, children, family, personal stress, rest, joy, learning, etc.

  • Be open to adventure and opportunity as they knock.  Our children will learn so much about being flexible, laying down anxiety, embracing life in all it’s colors and glory.
  • Be open to not knowing or planning all of your days.  Begin talking about possible adventures with your spouse, children, friends and see what comes forth–and go with it.
  • Know that what needs to get done will get done.  You will no more allow your child’s education to fall by the wayside than you would allow them to swim in the deep end of a pool without knowing how to swim or being at their side.  It’s not the homeschool way- it would be that far side of the curve–bedlam.  Nobody signs on for that.
  • Be open to change from within.  End each day with praise and start each day with possibility releasing your day into His hands for His glory.
  • Rest and know that you are enough with no need to move mountains in a day.  They will move one shovel full at a time as you take pleasure in your days with focus on embracing fully that One Thing.

Curriculum is a Tool, Not a Goal

As we excitedly plan out our learning and lessons for next year it strikes me how the butterfly-joy welling up from within is based on the journey rather than thoughts of the completion of another year.  It feels like running into a dear friend who has been out of town for a while.

In the beginning, I thought it was about getting through a long list of requirements year by year.  The concept of being able to fall into a lesson of intrigue and remain there for as long as we wished is foreign- feeling somehow that it must be wrong, illegal, something.

After years of following my heart instinct, experiences have confirmed, in multiple ways due to various and sundry children’s testing, attending school, going to college, etc. that this method works.  But, it still feels confusing to educate in such a non-traditional manner.

We use books- many books but rarely follow one all the way through as we don’t believe that gives a worldview from which to platform discussions.  We learn how to learn traditionally because that is the world we live in.  However, day to day lessons are fluid, aimed at my children’s future selves, built toward their interests and gifts.  Rarely are two days alike.

There is rhythm to each day, there is sequence to our lessons, there is beauty as well as tears, and there is trepidation that I’m missing something, I’m doing it wrong, I’m fooling myself.  God is giggling right now as He whispers in my hear, “Katie, my beloved, that is faith.  Trust.”

Considering Homeschooling- education vs. being educated

Homeschool is about creating a culture of education, daily devotion to curiosity, and practice of diligence toward discipline.  It is more about character and less about the completion of, or in some situations, the ‘experience’ of, material.  Homeschoolers use books to grow our children in the areas of faith and diligence.  An incredible academic education is almost a lovely side effect of teaching at home.

Consider the fact that one must be educated in order to truly understand, practice, and defend their faith.  To be diligent and kind one must understand the parameters and purposes of such acts; why they ought to be grown from within; why they desperately need to be practiced each day.  These acts are caught rather than taught.  Following goals of completing a book simply for the sake of checking off a subject in order to progress to the next book will be hard pressed to lead a child to faith and character.  Reverse that order and it is such a lovely and common sense approach for a person to use books, any books, to grow our children in stature AND education.

“The goal of education should not be the completion of a book, but, rather, the lighting of a fire.”  Some famous sage made this statement ages ago.  Wish I could remember their name for you, but I think those brain cells shrunk with baby #4 or was it #5?

When we school at home we have the time to model for our children.  We have daily pressure to walk what we talk rather than the need to preach into the void of time between school, practice, homework, and sleep.  We unlimited opportunities to socialize and learn alongside other children/parents with the same end goals rather than a wave in a carpool line and a hope that your child is no longer hanging out with (insert nemesis name here).  There is no need to undo 8+ hours of gunk build up in order to get back to an open and teachable attitude.  Instead, we must work on ourselves in order to know when to lead, guide, encourage, respect/love, chastise, or challenge.

Homeschooling mamas have such a desire to get to Heaven that we daily open ourselves up to sanctification through educating our children.    When we school at home, we have the time to educate our child in a lasting manner that considers and encompasses their whole life rather than simply preparing them for college.  Education should be a lifelong quest.  Modern education stops between the ages of 18 and 24 with nary a book to be opened again.  Once they head out your door, the time for imparting faith, character, and kindness is over.  However, if they have been encouraged to find joy in learning, satisfaction in doing hard things, respect/love in following their curiosity, they are well prepared to learn anything they would like in college and beyond.

God can redeem all things,  Please do not read into this that I am discounting His power.  I rely on His power as mine falls so far short- and I seek this homeschool quest daily with a couple of decades of experience.

I can think of nothing more worthy of my weekdays than practicing and speaking consistent love into the hearts and minds of my girl-women, and practicing and speaking consistent respect into the hearts and mind of my boy-men– using books as one of my main mediums.  Our whole house becomes a part of our Culture of Education, lessons are taught and caught all day long no matter the location, the book, or the time.  It is who we are- people who are curious- people who learn- people who master- people who share with others.

Our whole house becomes a part of our Culture of Education, lessons are taught and caught all day long no matter the location, the book, or the time.  It is who we are- curious people, learners, masters, givers, etc.  As if there could be nothing better:  We share this gifted journey with a community of like- minded people who we can truly get to know during hours of socialization while we guide our children toward the common goal of educating the whole child.   Those who understand the difference between an education as something to worship vs. being educated in order to live fully as God intends for each and every one of us.

My prayer for this blippy blog is that you might haver a better understanding of the difference between an education as your end goal vs. education as a lifelong pursuit to live fully in communion with others- as God intends for each and every one of us- loving our neighbors as ourselves.

A day in the life of …. homeschooling with preschoolers!

…a Homeschool Family with Pre-schoolers

No two school days are exactly alike in our house. With a 7 year old in first grade, a 5 year old in K4 and 3 and 18 month olds underfoot, we adapt each day as needed to get in what we need to while having ample fun and play time. We love field trips and hands-on activities, like trips to the zoo or museum and lots of crafts and art projects, but we also make sure we cover the basics – reading, writing, math, science, history, Bible, Latin. We participate in group educational experiences in programs like Classical Conversations and Monday’s Artists. We take dance, violin and piano lessons. And we do school year-round which means the summer months (when classes are out) look very different from the “school year” months.

On a day where we have no classes outside of the home (a true “home school” day), we get started around 6 AM with morning wake-up snuggles and breakfast. The children play and watch a couple of their favorite shows while everyone is getting going (and mommy is having her coffee). By 9 AM we head down to the classroom and start the little ones playing while my 7 year old starts her workbooks (Explode the Code for language arts and Singapore Math). I help my 5 year old with his reading lessons and answer any questions my 7 year old has afterward, while my 5 year old reads his Bob books to his younger siblings (who are still playing in the floor).

Once my oldest has finished her workbooks, we move onto our Bible story time which I read aloud and we discuss as a group. The younger two often play more than pay attention but that is OK. We work on our Bible memory work – books of the Bible and some verses – before we break for snack time around 10 AM. While the younger 3 children finish their snack and play, my oldest child works on a writing assignment – copy work and writing a friendly letter to a girlfriend which we will mail later. Then as a group we go over our history sentence memory work and timeline cards and I read aloud a story to them that goes along with the lesson. The youngest one usually is still playing. We break for some outside playtime while I make lunch.

After lunch we’ll play a little more and then around 1 PM the little one goes down for her nap. My 3 year old colors or plays quietly while I do science – a lesson and possibly experiment – with the older two and finish up anything we missed in the morning (math for the little one, Latin maybe) but we don’t do every subject everyday either. Then we do an art or craft project where all 3 children can have some fun. I try to tie it into history or science when possible but sometimes we just do whatever they ask for. After art we snuggle up for some read-aloud time – sometimes it is related to something we are studying and sometimes it’s just for fun.

When the baby gets up we all head back outside for playtime for the rest of the day until dad gets home. At dinner the kids recount to dad what we did during the day (which lets me know what really sunk in and what didn’t). My husband says he is getting smarter just by what the kids are teaching him. We enjoy family time and and before bedtime I or my husband reads aloud to our 5 and 3 year olds, and my 7 year old reads aloud to us (or sometimes we read to her). In general I’d say we read a lot, we play a lot and we laugh and snuggle a whole lot. That’s what makes it all worth doing!