Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Home Educating - Why I've Chosen This Path

The thing is, I never thought I would be a homeschool mom. 
I knew I wanted to be a mother,
but I knew I could never be a "teacher."

I never wanted for my kids to see me as mother one moment and then teacher the next. 
One moment I'm making breakfast, the next I'm commanding children to sit at a table with a sharpened pencil and to to be quiet. Lesson plans mixed with recipes and chores and bedtimes.
No thanks.
Also the idea that little old me would even pretend to be smart enough to teach...seemed almost prideful. I don't think I put that idea in my head...but I heard it from multiple places. 

 Really though, I think I just didn't understand it. 
Until I was made to. 

My child needed me and deep down inside, in those dark places of the heart... I knew that only I could give him the security that he needed.
 What about an education though? Could I give him that? 
I did a lot research, weighing options...talking to homeschoolers that had had a positive experience.
I looked at the options,
in the end his security and comfort is what won. 
It was challenging in the beginning (often still is) but it's the best thing that has ever happend to me -
this "interrupting of plans." 
Isn't it always that way? 
There is an expectation, a force and a want where we feel we HAVE to do it this way, this one way.
 Then life happens and we make the choice to either stay on a comfotable path (sometimes uncomfortable) or try a different one. 
I was open - and the unbeaten path looked those most adventurous.

This post is not to say that homeschooling in ANY way is superior -
it's just to tell you of how it has effected my life for the positive. 
It's a written account, to testify, that one way really isn't best for all. 
The only way that's best for all is Love, 
anything outside of that realm is part of the great living experience and experiment. 
Choices, convictions, growing - it's all part of the very big plan of joy.

"Growth itself contains the germ of happiness."
- Robert Louis Stevenson

The first thing I did was investigate all the different methods in homeschooling.  Choosing the "elusive one" for our family has been rather tricky...
because I've found that I am drawn to parts of many types of educating - and as in every other area of my life....I've chosen a big mash up. 

Here is a portion of my  "I do not" list :

1. I do not like to be rigid...I don't follow a certain curriculum even though I have ones to help keep me on "target" (meaning the government's and their set of tests.)
2. I like a free flowing day with a little bit of structure - I like to have goals but not become a goal.
3. I do not practice home tardies and detentions and punishments in our learning space. 
4. I do not give out quizzes and tests even though my kids do take the CAT every other year (state requirement.) I would like to add here, not as a boasting but as general info, that Trinity scored in the 90th percentile in almost every subject on her test...and it was the first time she's ever been tested. 
5. My general philosophy is to teach my littles about their world through nurturing curiosity.
6. I do not use writing or reading or exercise to discipline my kids. I would like for those things to be a source of joy in their life so don't want to tie anything negative to them.

Sometimes, when I do get caught up in my own agenda I have to remind myself that a my little's only opportunity to have "home." 

Our home is not a school.
 If I want them to have a school education, then I would send them there.
 We've chosen hot tea and barefeet and free speech (if it's kind) is greatly enforced. :) 
Day's off for hormonal distress is also greatly encouraged - no one needs a basket case to be shoving diagramming down their throat.
Also, I am not the author of information and the last word on any subject...whether it be faith,nutrition, history, science, math, or English. I do not know best - so I encourage our kids to think for themselves. I guide them, show them options, but in the end give them the freedom to choose. I encourage them to be kind, to respect all people and creatures, and to find stability and security in Love and how He made them. 
In a very small nutshell ... that's my "philosophy" if you want to call it that.

Hopefully overtime, we will have clues as to where their natural "bents" are and we will do everything we can to support our kids accomplishing those goals - whether they want to study computer coding or be a great "store organizer " as Trini calls it.

“Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion has no hold on the mind. Therefore do not use compulsion, but let early education be a sort of amusement; you will then be better able to discover the child's natural bent.” 
― Plato

 My desire is for my kids to be able to take care of any way that brings them joy.
 I'm raising hard workers, truth tellers, and people lovers. 
I'm raising givers, creative souls, God worshipers. 
If I'm permitted to have a "want" of someone else,
that's what I want. 

"Happiness is in your ability to love others."
- Leo Tolstoy

I love homeschooling because it has taught me to love learning. The world has been opened to me -
one I never knew existed.
Tristan's fortune cookie the other day read
"to teach is to learn twice."
I thought how true that was...and for teach is to learn for the first time.

Today we finished workbooks, went on to investigating history...
ancient India.
  We became so involved in our learning that 3 hours later...
we were still talking about it. 
My littles were sitting on the couch, cups of Spearmint tea in their ever growing hands, 
and we connected and talked and shared...without limitations. 
My son that the world would say has "social issues" was completely connected to me and having a very social experience - an intimate one, a vulnerable one. His eyes were open and his mind was wandering and I saw the value in both - searching eyes, an energy filled body, and a questioning mind.

“The function of a child is to live his/her own life, not the life that his/her anxious parents think he/she should live, nor a life according to the purpose of the educators who thinks they knows best” 
― A.S. Neill

The kids did their math, and I could help them.
 While they practiced long division I went to work on all my little stuffed animal patients (many had suffered lacerations of the neck, ear and belly...) 

I sat in a chair and stitched, every now and them helping out with a word problem,
my kids nearby...working on math and feeling loved.
What a wonderful experience
... to see math, for the first time in my life, as not just logical but creative.

I'm thankful to have the opportunity to live simply, but to be able to keep my children close (not sheltered) and pour all of me into all of them. It's rewarding to see children that are 9 and 11 being able to bake applesauce muffins completely alone, find solutions, being  friendly and kind without the stress of peer pressure. 

“What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children's growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it isn't a school at all.” 
― John Holt

What I've learned through this journey is that to homeschool...
I don't have to be a teacher. I'm not a teacher.
I'm a mom helping them discover the world.
I'm a mom that is encouraging them to love learning.
I'm a mom that will teach them to take a test ONLY because that is a skill they may need one day,
 not because a score defines them. 

“We can get too easily bogged down in the academic part of homeschooling, a relatively minor part of the whole, which is to raise competent, caring, literate, happy people.” 
― Diane Flynn Keith

"True happiness involves the pursuit of worthy goals.
Without dreams, without risk, only a trivial semblence of living
can be achieved."
- Dan Buettner

I have time to read more then a bedtime story to my kids.
I have time to craft with them, chore with them, walk with them... and have three hour long conversations with them whenever I want...because they are here with me. 
In this world of children, and especially in this world of children on the spectrum, I have enjoyed finding ways to keep them "out of the box." 
Educating at home is just one way I do this in my life - but it's been an effective way. 

“To confuse compulsory schooling with equal educational opportunity is like confusing organized religion with spirituality. One does not necessarily lead to the other. Schooling confuses teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new.” 
― Wendy Priesnitz

Unfortunately, I have been the brunt of a lot of passive aggressive comments.
I've been told things like :
"yah, well I wanted to do more with my life then just bake cookies."
I've been told by kids that their parents TOLD them that they should count themselves fortunate that they don't keep their children home all day sitting at a table doing workbooks. 
I've also been told them someday, hopefully I will think of what my children need and not my own wants. Yes. That one bit a little.
I've been told a lot. 

I wish I could say that I have a granite constitution and opinions just bounce off my soul. 
That would be a massive lie though - those words have made me question my own value and also my choices for my kids.They have made me feel unqualified at times to follow my heart.

A precious friend reminded me, during one of those days I was letting other opinions effect my happiness "But Alyssa...they are just deflecting on you - they are taking their own feelings about themselves and placing them on you."

What a sweet friend to wrap up reality for me, and hand back my sanity with a bow on top.
The nay saying was an excellent opportunity for me to learn to value other people's choices and also to be confident in my journey. 

At some point in time, I'm sure I will be able to look back at those experiences with gratitude.

“Homeschooling and public schooling are as opposite as two sides of a coin. In a homeschooling environment, the teacher need not be certified, but the child MUST learn. In a public school environment, the teacher MUST be certified, but the child need NOT learn.” 
― Gene Royer

I look around me, and see my daughter baking muffins and learning to double fractions in the recipe.
I see my sons chasing each other with underwear on their heads and capes around their necks and I see that they are CLEARLY not bored. 
I watch my oldest investigating and laughing and being shocked by what he is learning - and I know those facts will stay in his mind because he learned them through fun. 
I watch my daughter journaling and drawing pictures of her Paradise,
using apostrophes and colorful adjectives and learning what "anthropology" means. 
I found my little boy...the one doctors told me the world would underestimate because of his speech...sitting and drawing for hours and then cutting out his figures...with his little fingers that supposedly needed Occupational Therapy...and I know this choice to stay with them is more then baking cookies. 

They ask "wouldn't you like to do something for you...something fulfilling?"

In my soul, loving other people in practical ways is very fulfilling.
Learning is very fulfilling.
Watching kids run around with underwear hats and deep belly laughs is extremely fulfilling.

Being a witness to joy is the most authentic form of fulfillment I think one could every find.

Seeing kids write stories for fun is fulfilling.
Someday, maybe I will do something else...not something "more."
I try to live here and now...not in my future, and that is very fulfilling.
Constantly striving for the future instead of living today is missing out on life. 

Today, I am a mom that shows her kids that learning is an adventure, and is a life long process. 

 ~thanks for reading~

and just for kicks, because I DO love a good quote :

“There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

“Real education must ultimately be limited to men who insist on knowing. The rest is mere sheep herding.” 
― Ezra Pound

“The home is the first and most effective place to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self control, the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home.” 
― David O. McKay

“We want our children to become who they are--- and a developed person is, above all, free. But freedom as we define it doesn't mean doing what you want. Freedom means the ability to make choices that are good for you. It is the power to choose to become what you are capable of becoming, to develop your unique potential by making choices that turn possibility into reality. It is the ability to make choices that actualize you. As often as not, maybe more often than not, this kind of freedom means doing what you do not want, doing what is uncomfortable or tiring or boring or annoying.” 
― Gregory J. MillmanHomeschooling: A Family's Journey


  1. Thanks for sharing. Love reading about why others choose to homeschool and how they came to it. It's a beautiful journey, with lots of ups and downs, but I wouldn't choose any other path with my little man.

  2. Your children are blessed to have you as their mother.
    Have you read "Nurtured by Love" by Shinichi Suzuki? I think you would like it. Here are some quotes.
    "First character, then ability."

    "Our aim needs to be the nurturing of children. The moment we rigidly convince ourselves, “Education is what we’re after,” we warp a child’s development. -1- First foster the heart, then help the child acquire ability. This is indeed nature’s proper way."

  3. wow. so glad you shared this post. including the quotes.

    "sister mine" homeschooled her older, and now she is homeschooling her younger.
    they are wise, brilliant, funny, competent, intelligent beings, and i'm sure that homeschooling had something to do with making these two this way.

    keep on keeping on.

    1. That's always encouraging to hear ! I love hearing a good homeschool success story :)