What’s your homeschool style?

In my first year I of homeschooling, I did not have the advantage of scouring the internet or joining a forum.  I had never been to a vendor hall or talked to a representative of any curricula, so I took the path of least resistance.  I ordered some self-paced workbooks from one of the few catalogs that I had ordered by phone.

After a few days of workbooks, my oldest, Audrey balked.  Their was no scope for the imagination in workbooks.  No books.  No creative writing.  She, like her momma, craved words.  Lots of words.  Words to read.  Words to write.  The workbooks only provided snippets of literature- a portion of a chapter.  This was torture for a literature hungry soul.  
I wasn’t sure what to do.  My mind had not been renewed in the area of education and I thought the powers that be (whoever THEY are) would want me to push through and suffer like any good educator.

I did make some allowances and we visited our tiny library frequently.  Audrey loaded up on biographies and befriended the librarians.  Her thirst for knowledge was insatiable.  It went beyond the bounds of the schoolroom set-up.  She read everywhere all the time.  She wrote for hours.  Unfortunately, I felt compelled to make her work through the workbooks.

A couple years into my homeschooling career, I met Kelley and Ettica, some fellow homeschoolers.  We decided to start a homeschool co-op.  We had four families!  What joy!  I had women to talk to, compare notes with and resources for books.  I read, read, read about education and my philosophy began to change.  I used to think education was about filling in rubrics, meeting objectives and jumping through rote memorization hoops.  Now, I think differently.  I read these titles:

I more than read, I devoured them, hungry for this old, new philosophy.  Here’s a few quotes that changed my thinking:”We, as persons, are not enlightened by means of multiple-choice tests or grades, but rather by the other people in our lives that we come to know, admire, and love.  We are educated by our friendships and by our intimacies….Children are inspired by relationships, and this helps form their personalities.” -Karen Andreaola

I had to set aside my secular teaching degree, my rubrics, workbook, rote memorization hoops (not that they don’t have a place) and I realized- Audrey was educating herself in her free time through books.  She was forming relationships with people from long ago and joining the great conversation that has been going on since the invention of the written word.

“What is the best curriculum for a well-brought up person?  Whatever the specifics of the curriculum used in your home, be sure that your children each day have:

  • Something or someone to love
  • Something to do
  • Something to think about”  – Karen Andreola

what's your homeschool style_

I began a new quest for a curriculum choice that matched my new way of thinking.  Shortly after presenting a workshop entitled “YOU can do it” at our growing homeschool co-op, I was visiting friend Kelley.  I was checking out her bookshelves (like all homeschoolers do) and asked her what curriculum she used.  Sonlight.  She pulled an instructors guide off the shelve and I looked at the multitude of books and said, “I can’t do this!”  To which she said, “Yes, YOU can!”

That was many, many years ago.  I have been using Sonlight plus some supplements over the years and the literature rich curriculum just fits my family.  It may not fit yours.  Don’t feel pressure to order something that doesn’t.  Sonlight provides 27 Reasons NOT to buy Sonlight. If you are thinking about purchasing it, read this first!

I love Sonlight because it not only has the reading my family needed, it can be used for multiple children at once.  Sonlight traveled to Poland with us for five weeks.  I read aloud in the common room in the orphanage.  I have so many great memories of reading together and the kids have so many great relationships with books.

Whatever you choose, make sure it fits your family.  Find out your style!  Read. Research.  Are you science driven?  History buff?  A math genius?  A writer?  Find your style and your kid’s style and go from there.

If your kids love learning (this doesn’t mean they always love school) and desire to continue to educate themselves- you have arrived.

“Their is no education but self-education.” -Charlotte Mason


One Room Schoolhouse Effect- Blogger’s Choice!

One Room Schoolhouse Effect

(re-post from 2010)
Early the other morning, Ania came into my room while I was still doing my Bible study to ask me to help with an algebra problem. I glanced at her book and read the directions.
“I know the boys did this last year, I remember them doing this on the board,” Ania said.
“That’s right. F.O.I.L.- first, outer, inner, last,” I said.
I showed her how to do the first couple of problems and she caught on quickly.
“I know how to do this from watching them. It’s easy,” Ania said as she took the book and went back to work.
This isn’t a first in my home. Homeschooling a large family can have this effect- the one room schoolhouse effect. The younger pupils learn from the older. Ten years ago, Rafal was yelling the vowels from the playpen while I worked with four beginning readers one year.
A few weeks ago, we were having a discussion at the table about some events in history. Rafal isn’t studying the same time period as the high schoolers, but he joined us any way. Several of the questions, he answered about reading books and the history text, why? Because he had heard other people talking about it. He was a little confused himself as to where the information came from.
“Wait, did I read that book?”
“No, Rafal, you did not read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. You just heard us talking about it.”
“No, you did not read Fahrenheit 451, but you will when you are older.”
“For thousands of years, in thousands of places, families educated their own. This tradition changed not because a better method was found but because economic conditions required it. To work one had to leave one’s children; one’s children, furthermore, had to be trained for tasks no-one in their purview could be seen doing. For these reasons institutionalised schooling was invented’ and while it adequately addressed a set of economic problems it inspired a new set of human ones that are psychological, emotional, and even spiritual in nature.” – David Guterson –Family Matters Why Homeschooling Makes Sense
This one room schoolhouse effect doesn’t just help with math problems. It covers a host of other issues such as morals and values that cannot be taught in a Sunday morning sermon. A child must be able to absorb the thoughts and values of his family to direct his moral compass at home. This can be accomplished by table talk, topics of discussion at meal time or as in the above a child just overhearing another child sharing what he read and his thoughts on the book.
This effect happens to non homeschooled children also, in the same manner. What they hear around the dinner table, during homework time, working in the yard, swimming in the pool. It just takes a little more planning and effort on the parent’s part, but I have seen many parents be successful in setting the direction of the moral compass at home. Children are more influenced by family members who take the time to spend with them.
“Architect Frank Lloyd Wright told how a lecture he received at the age of nine helped set his philosophy of life: An uncle, a stolid no-nonsense type, had taken him for a long walk across a snow-covered field. At the far side, his uncle told him to look back at their two sets of tracks. “See, my boy,” he said, “how your foot prints go aimlessly back and forth from those trees, to the cattle back to the fence and then over there where you where throwing sticks? But notice how MY path comes straight across, directly to my goal. You should never forget this lesson!” And I never did, “Wright said, grinning. “I determined right then not to miss most things in life, as my uncle had.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
As I finish writing this blog, I am watching Rafal find common denominators on the white board. Next, I am going to read some WWI poetry with the older boys. Can’t wait to see what Rafal says about that!

What about socialization?

Welcome to week four of our homeschooling blog hop!   Be sure to check out my fellow bloggers posts on socialization.  (Links at the end of post)
This is a repost from another series I  wrote on homeschooling.


“What about socialization?” is the question I am most frequently asked about homeschooling. Only a few people have asked about academics. No one has ever asked:

“How do your children obtain instruction in wisdom?”

“How do your children learn discretion?”

“What about character?”

These curious queries regarding socialization are not about true socialization, rather they are about the currently acceptable definition- a gathering of a group of peers in an organized or unorganized way to hang out. I looked up the word social on http://www.dictionary.com:

“pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations: a social club.” 

The Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines it like this:

“ Pertaining to society; relating to men living in society, or to the public as an aggregate body; as social interests or concerns; social pleasures; social benefits; social happiness; social duties. True self-love and social are the same.”

Neither of these definitions mention that socializing must be with those of the same age. What is interesting in the shift of our culture, the word has been redefined. The 1828 definition mentions ‘relating to men living in society’. The bent of this explanation is towards an individuals being a benefit to society, not just hanging out. 

Originally, schools were not designed to be greenhouses of socialization. The idea that children should be together with their peers all day was birthed out of necessity. It was never the goal. 

According to Noah Webster, “[e]ducation comprehends all the series of instruction and discipline which is intended to:

1. enlighten the understanding
2. correct the temper
3. form the manners and habits of youth
4. fit them for usefulness in their future situations.”

Number four best describes socialization as it ought to be. Children should be “fit…for usefulness,” not be influenced for no purpose. 

Today kids and many parents believe that the current interpretation of socialization is a right or necessity. Putting kids who have no foundation of morals or values together in a classroom is a disaster waiting to happen.

“See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ (the Messiah).”
Colossians 2:8

It is important not to be taken captive by the world’s philosophy regarding education. Teens can be adamant about spending time hanging out with friends in a public school because “that is what everyone is doing,” but is that a good enough reason? Is the current socialization “vain deceit”? Is it promoting godliness or worldliness? Going to public school to be with friends is not a worthy reason. Imagine if an employee told his boss that he only came to work for the socialization?

I think it is important for everyone to have a social life, but it doesn’t have to be accomplished through government-run schools. Instead, it should be through parent-run families. 

“My son, hear the instruction of your father; reject not nor forsake the teaching of your mother.” Proverbs 1:8

“My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.” Proverbs 1:9

It is significant that the mention of sinners enticing a person follows the verse that commands “hear the instruction of your father.” During the teen years, making right choices sets the stage for the rest of life. If a teen is hanging out with the wrong crowd and get involved in drugs, premarital sex, and alcohol, he may think he is having a great social life, but is he being a benefit to his family, to society?

Teens have mastered the double personality- one person with friends and another with family and church family. Our society has taught them that it is okay to curse while mom and dad are not around and to clean up the language when with family and church friends. What kind of living is that? We can thank the current world’s philosophy and deceit for that kind of thinking.

Imagine instead socialization is:
a teen reading a book to a younger child
having a tea party with toddlers
listening to a gray-haired veteran telling war stories
helping a young mom grocery shop
stopping and asking a lady whose car slipped into the ditch if she needs help
plowing the snow off a neighbor’s driveway because she lost her husband to cancer the year before, and spending a few minutes chatting with her
whole families getting together for a cook-out

The younger kids listen to the grown-ups talk about the good old days and problem solve. The older kids learn servant-hood by preparing the house for company. This kind of character in the midst of socializing only develops if parents direct these activities on purpose. Last Sunday, my brother, his wife and two little ones came for a cookout. I told the teens that I didn’t want to see any laptops out or any gaming that day. We talked all day! Grown-ups, teens, toddlers, all talked about books, weather, tea parties, schooling, YouTube videos and more. Great social time!

Clockwise, from top left:
Lorrie @ Life and Lessons LearnedSelena at Campbell ClanKathleen @ Positive Adoption
Audrey @ Everything BeautifulCharli @ WV Urban HippiesTracey @ Building My House, and Maria @ The Joyfully Frugal Home 

Not pictured-Jessica @ Redeeming the Home

*book photo by the Awesome Ania Guire

My biggest frustration

Thanks for joining me for the homeshool blog hop!  Today my fellow bloggers and I are delving into our biggest frustration in the homeschooling arena.

See those kids on the right?  That’s six of my seven.  Some of them were wearing an attitude that moment. Some of them do not like being on the receiving end of the camera.

Are they my biggest frustration?  No! What is my biggest frustration?  The expectation.


Homeschooling doesn’t produce perfection.  Kids are kids.  Do I train them in the way that they should go? Yes.
Do I teach them Bible fundamentals?  Memory verses? God’s Providence in history?  Yes. Yes. Yes.

Guess what!  Doing all of the above does not PRODUCE robotic christian kids.  They still have bad days.  They might have a fit in the middle of Walmart.  They might think plaids and stripes go very well with cowboy boots on a ninety degree day.  They may balk at getting a family photo taken.  They may LIE.  STEAL.  CHEAT.

When homeschoolers become teens, they gradually begin to take the reigns and make their own choices.  My girls decided to kiss dating goodbye and wait for Mr. Right.  My boys thought dating was pretty attractive.  What?  Why don’t I lay down the law?  I did.  When they were small.  I taught them the law (Word).  When they become teens, I want them to make choices.  I want them to fall on their faces a few times (or more) while they are still under my roof and they can receive counsel from me.

What if your teen entertains the idea of premarital sex?  Did homeschooling parents fail? What if your teen questions your faith?  Who failed?  No one.  Your children will eventually make their own choices.

I love teens because they are not afraid to ask the hard questions.  They take foundation you built for them and take a chisel to it to make sure it is solid.  While the dust settles -pray.  Your teen may make some bad decisions.  Pray.  Converse.  Counsel.  Don’t expect perfection.  He may fail out of college.  He may try alcohol.  He may join  another church. Don’t fret.  Don’t blame it on homeschooling.  Homeschooling doesn’t produce perfect children, but it does give them a great Biblical foundation to fall back on.  It does give them the ability to think.  Don’t freak out if they do think or question.  God can take it.  He can also draw them back to HIM.  The Holy Spirit can bring a memory verse to mind when they are thinking about choosing the wide road.

Train a child up in the way he should go, And even when He is old He will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

When he is old he will not depart from it.  Some people are old at sixteen.  Some are old at thirty.  Don’t expect your kids to be perfect because you homeschool.

With that said, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.  I love my teens.  They are intelligent, well-spoken and have fallen on their faces a few times. They are willing to listen to instruction.  They don’t always heed it, but they listen.  One of my teens said that I am the voice inside his head, kinda like those geography songs we listened to, but instead of “the northern border of the united states”, I am replaying all the things I ever taught him. He admits to arguing with the voice.

What can you do?  Pray.  I know, I said that.  Take every opportunity to pour into your kids. I’m not talking about doing extra worksheets.  I’m talking about deep conversation.  When a teen wants to talk at 10pm (past my bedtime). Talk.  When he fails, pray with him.  Counsel him. Love the sinner.  Hate the sin. Give the teen firm, but natural consequences.  When your house is full of his friends and they want to talk about gay rights, listen.  Answer.  Be a sounding board.  One of my blog posts a few weeks ago originated from a conversation with a group of teens.

If you are considering homeschooling and you read this thinking, Why try homeschooling then?  Why?  Because homeschooling gives your the opportunity to pour on the Word while your children are young.  You can redeem the time because the days are evil.  Just don’t put all your eggs in the homeschooling basket.  If your kids go to public or private school, don’t put your eggs in that basket either.  Pray.  Pour on the Word. Converse.  Listen.

Don’t forget to check out my fellow bloggers biggest frustration….

Clockwise, from top left:
Lorrie @ Life and Lessons LearnedSelena at Campbell ClanKathleen @ Positive Adoption
Audrey @ Everything BeautifulCharli @ WV Urban HippiesTracey @ Building My House, and Maria @ The Joyfully Frugal Home 

Not pictured-Jessica @ Redeeming the Home

What didn’t work for me?

What didn’t work for me?
Welcome to week three of the homeschool blog hop!  Thanks for joining me!
See that trap?  It’s a bear trap.  Nasty, huh?  Imagine that closing on a human leg, bone crunching, blood spurting, immeasurable pain.  Not to mention being stuck.  Stuck in pain.  Stuck in one place until someone comes and releases you from the trap. 
What does a bear trap have to do with homeschooling?  What doesn’t work for me is the comparison trap.  It’s a lot like a bear trap.  It’s buried, you don’t see it, but once you get caught in it, you are stuck and in immeasurable pain.
Four of my children are adopted and had traumatic beginnings.  When they came home, their emotional ages and physical ages didn’t match up.  Their development was delayed and each of them had some learning challenges, all of that topped with learning a new language.  On a scholastic number line, they were in the negative.  
Comparing kid to a standard one size fits all is like walking around with a bear trap attached to your calf.  It drains the life blood right out of you.  
The other night at the dinner table, Rafal shared that a boy in his Royal Ranger troop isn’t athletic and the commander encourages him along. 
“I wasn’t that athletic as a child,”  I replied.
“You weren’t?”  he asked increduously.
He was surprised.  I roller blade, ice skate, swim, climb around on rocks with my kids.  I’m still not coordinated, but don’t tell him.
I was a late bloomer.  While my sister was ready to train for the Olympics in gymnastics, I was doing what I did best at the time- stumbling and falling on my face a lot!
“What did you do back then?” he asked.
“Well, I was little and skinny.  So I RAN. AWAY, mostly from other kids.”  Laughter.
Kids are growing through ages and stages at different rates.  Who they are or what they are doing now does not determine who they will become unless we compare and verbally point out what we see as delays.  Get help for your special needs child if you need to.  Talk to experienced moms, but don’t rehearse the delays in front of him.  I have taken classes, attended workshops on speech therapy and various seminars to help me teach my children.  I want my children to reach their potential.  I am saying CELEBRATE their victories.
If Susie next door wins the regional spelling bee and your child through equal time and effort can spell ten words, then don’t compare.  CELEBRATE!
If your child participates in the Social Studies Fair and speaks in front of the judges with tears streaming down her face because of social anxiety. She did it afraid.  CELEBRATE! 
If all the high schoolers at Co-op are taking A.P. courses and your child took two years to complete Algebra I, but he conquered. CELEBRATE!
See also my post “Little Boxes”!

Don’t forget to read what my fellow blog hoppers have to say!

  • What didn’t work for you?  (Tuesday, April 16th)
  • My biggest frustration . . .  (Thursday, April 18th)
  • How do I feel about socialization?  (Tuesday, April 23rd)
  • Blogger’s choice (Thursday, April 25th)

Clockwise, from top left:
Lorrie @ Life and Lessons LearnedSelena at Campbell ClanKathleen @ Positive Adoption
Audrey @ Everything BeautifulCharli @ WV Urban HippiesTracey @ Building My House, and Maria @ The Joyfully Frugal Home 

Not pictured-Jessica @ Redeeming the Home