Never Planned to Homeschool…

Never Planned to Homeschool

I have a real life friend with a 4 year old, and their family is in the trenches of THE decision.  What educational option is best for their family, their daughter?  As I invited her over and offered to let her pick my brain {what’s left of it}, it occurred to me that I have thousands of readers with this exact same dilemma.  I have answered it briefly here and there, but never in a complete blog post.  So, for my friend, and for all of you who are my “friends,” I share our journey with you.  The road that led to homeschool, but began with nothing resembling homeschool!

 

My Background

I babysat since the moment I can remember, I absolutely loved children and would babysit for free if it meant I could spend time with cute kids.  I went to college with no real plans in mind and midway through my sophomore year I decided to be a Nutritionist.  I soon learned that I would have to take Organic Chemistry and I knew I had to change direction.  I remember sitting in the counselor’s office to declare my major and the moment I chose Early Childhood Education and why.  I had no clue what I really wanted to do, but I KNEW I wanted to be a good mom, so I chose the major that I thought would help me with that. The counselor tried to talk me into education K-6, and I purposely chose Early Childhood Ed with B-K {birth through Kindergarten} certification. I thought that would be best for my mothering goals and if I did decide to teach I knew I had no desire teaching beyond the Kindergarten level.

So, I completed my degree, with several internships, one being Montessori based, which is where my passion for Montessori came from. I went on to teach Kindergarten in the public school system for 4 1/2 years and loved {almost} every moment of it. I stopped teaching right before PacMan was born, to begin my journey as a mom.

 

Original School Plans

I love the group education model and always desired to send my own children to public school.  I had no problems with private schooling, or homeschooling, just believed that MY kids would attend public school, and thrive!  My husband agreed, as we both attended public schools for our educational journey.  There was never really a question in our minds about the schooling choice for our children, until…

 

Missionary Living

When PacMan was almost 2 we transitioned into missionary life in the inner city.  This process is a whole different story, but here I will share how that transition affected our schooling future. We live in a big American city, in the heart of the “ghetto” and unfortunately the schools around us aren’t schools we wanted to send our children to. We looked into a few private schools and just never felt led to that route, for many reasons {financial, and others}. So, it became clear we had to figure out what we were going to do and I began thinking and exploring when PacMan was just 3. I had 2 amazing friends who homeschooled {one is Shannon who writes the Calendar Connections cards!} who were inspiring to me, but I still didn’t think it was the choice for us. I still had no clue we would eventually become homeschoolers!

 

The Year of Indecision

During that year of indecision, we enrolled PacMan in a preschool 2 days a week at a local His 1st Day of Going SchoolChristian school that one of the other missionary families’ children attended. At the time it worked out fine and he loved it.  Later I learned that this was a bit of a mistake, and maybe my own selfish desires led me to be OK with that decision.  I was working full time as the children’s ministry leader and I needed those few hours of work time.  Once we made the decision to homeschool, I paid the price for this transitional decision as Pac begged to go back to “going school” as he called it.

In hindsight, I wish I would have kept him home, but I also don’t regret sending him.  I know, that’s a bit contradictory, but I am certain I gained valuable insight by him going to preschool, and the experience for him was positive.  Even if it was the wrong decision, God redeems and all is well.

 

I feel the Holy Spirit Leading us to HOMESCHOOL, AHH!

Obviously we came to the decision to homeschool and although I don’t remember the final decision or the conversation that solidified the decision, I do remember feeling fully guided by the Holy Spirit. I can’t say I felt certain, but I did feel peace in the direction we were taking. A few very specific things led to our decision.

  1. Our location. The public schools weren’t what we desired for our children and the private schools weren’t a good fit for us.
  2. Our missionary lifestyle ~ we work odd hours, take odd time off and really benefit from a year long schedule not hindered by a public school schedule.  We take vacations during the off season with grandparents, and are able to have our weekly day off easily be on Friday instead of a normal weekend {my husband works on Saturdays and being a ministry family, we “work” on Sunday too.}.
  3. Daddy’s daily work hours ~ my husband leads the recovery ministry at our church and also runs the work training ministry. He is the full time missionary during this season of life and his plate is full.  He is also currently in college, completing his Bible degree and also getting his masters degree in Christian counseling. If our kids went to school, he wouldn’t have the time with him that we feel is valuable to our family.  He spends lots of time with them, even with his busy work routine.  He is able to do this because we homeschool.
  4. Educational freedom ~ I wanted to be the one influencing my children on a daily basis for so many hours a day.  Back in my teaching days I knew many wonderful teachers, but I also knew many I would not want my children spending hours and hours per day with.  I really dislike the lack of input a parent has on who the teacher is. I have no viable solution for this, other than to do it myself. The luck of the draw just wasn’t sitting well with us, and having an entire year led by a man or woman that wasn’t someone we felt comfortable with was very concerning. Now, even saying that I do know that had we chosen public school God would work it all out for good. Even though I say this, I also trust God fully and know that even if my children were with a teacher we didn’t approve of, God would always be there with them and in the situation.
  5. Ability to adapt to the needs of my children ~ I love figuring out a child’s learning style.  Learning about Multiple Intelligences was a favorite topic of mine in college, I love how unique all children are.  Homeschooling gives me the awesome challenge and opportunity to adapt to my children in a very specific way.  This has really benefitted Krash, who I think would fall between the cracks in a group education model.

 

OK, but HOW will we homeschool?

Once the decision was made I became overwhelmed with all of the choices.  Being so overwhelmed led me to look into public cyber charter schools, and I went to an open house and was impressed.  The school we ended up choosing seemed to be a good fit and the more I learned about Calvert, the more I felt it was a good start for us.  We began our homeschooling journey with the idea that we would take it one year at a time and one kid at a time.  What works for one season of life may not work always and what works for one of our kids may not work for all of them. I knew if the cyber school was a bomb, I could always homeschool the way my friends did and figure it out that way.  Honestly, choosing a cyber school gave me a peace at first and I am totally pleased with that decision.  I was lacking confidence, yes – even having been a teacher. I was extremely overwhelmed and felt that I would somehow fail my children.  The cyber school was a completely positive and supportive experience for us and still is to this day.  I have heard other stories that haven’t gone the way mine has, so I am hesitant to even say how much we love our situation.  We are very blessed indeed. I have more FAQ about our cyber school choice here.

 

 

The First Year of Homeschooling

I must admit, I wanted to quit the first year.  I had dreams of the big yellow bus driving by Color Treeand waving as my son hopped on!  PacMan was a VERY strong willed little boy and the early days of homeschooling him were very exhausting. He fought me on almost everything and I often thought we made the wrong choice. But we pressed on, knowing that we truly felt that God had led us on this journey.

Gradually we found our groove and each year it got better, but I still struggled with my fear about messing up my kids.  I knew I could swing Kindergarten and 1st grade but beyond that I was certain I would fail them.

 

7 Years Later…

My oldest will enter 6th grade in the fall, Krash will be a 2nd grader and Ladybug is a preschooler. I am currently re-learning 6th grade material so I will be fully prepared to teach my son in the fall.  I was one of those A & B students who tested well.  I memorized information and then dumped it out of my brain forever.  It still amazes me {in a bad way} what I don’t know.  Basic facts of history, math, grammar rules and more.  I am truly relearning much of what I am now teaching.

I can honestly tell you I love homeschooling. Not because it is easy, but because I know it is right for our family at this time.  Around 3rd grade things got MUCH easier with Pac, and now we have a groove that works. Personally,  I still struggle more than you will ever know and I still doubt, but overall I am confident in the path God has placed me on.  I know He is walking beside me and will never ask me to do anything He feels I cannot handle!  My fears are goofy, I am consistently reminded of that.

 

What About You?

When I am asked for advice, I tell my friends that they must seek the will of the Lord for their family.  What works for one may not work for another.  I have no problem with public, private, hybrid or any other educational model.  Just because I homeschool {and use a cyber school} doesn’t mean I believe it is the only correct choice.  It is right for our family.  Praying and seeking as a family is deeply important. 

One thing I will tell you is that I don’t think anyone should NOT homeschool out of fear. We all have fears, even the best homeschoolers have fears.  I have listened to the greats, met them at conferences and have learned that they too were just like us {Sally Clarkson and Rachael Carman are two I adore}.  Women who struggle with doubts, fears, and who lack the confidence to believe that we truly are what’s best for our kids.

Remember, you can always change your mind.  That’s why we have the one year, one kid at a time policy.  If it isn’t working, seek the Lord and pray more.  Maybe you will feel called to stick it out as we did, but maybe you are in a situation that isn’t right and you need to change. It is a decision only your family can make with God’s guidance.  The best advice in the world can’t come from friends or blogs, it comes from the Lord.

 

Think YOU Might want to Homeschool?

{disclaimer~ affiliate and blog sponsor links below}

Looking for resources to read? If you have a baby, or a toddler, be sure to get my Tot School eBook for free here.  I also highly recommend Montessori at Home!, an amazing eBook which has inspired much of our homeschooling. Seasons of a Mother’s Heart was a great read in my earlier homeschool years also.

I contributed a chapter to this jam packed eBook, which I think is an amazing resource for those of you on the fence. You Can Do It Too! shares stories from over 25 homeschool families. The eBook is regularly 9.99 but is only $4.99 for the summer!

Homeschooling eBook

 

Want to get started reading right now?  Head over to my friend Jolanthe’s amazing and helpful blog series, Homeschool Basics

Homeschool-Basics

 

For future planning, I recommend trying to get to a homeschool convention. You can search to see if your local area has a yearly convention, or if the Teach Them Diligently Convention will be near you {Nashville, Washington DC, Spartanburg, and Texas in 2014}.

336X280 TTD Button 2013

At a convention you can browse through curriculum, and sit in on MANY helpful sessions.


Do you have your “how we chose homeschool” story on your blog?  Leave me a link in the comments, I’d love to read!  Or if you don’t have a blog and want to share your story in the comments…feel free!

The Perfect Catalyst

Philippians 4 verse 6 and 7

 

I am struggling as a parent in a very specific area.  I am praying, I am seeking, I am IMG_3753 copy 2reading, I am trying desperately to get out of God’s way so I can become the parent He needs me to be.  God gave me a child very different from myself, my sweet and adorable Krash.  I have known how different he is from me since early on.  He has always been our wild child, our funny one, our overly adorable and cute one.  He is daring, loud, exciting, adventurous, hyper, loving, intense, hilarious, determined, extreme, caring, energetic, bold, and courageous. He is what some would call all boy.  I can’t count how many times the phrase “he’s lucky he’s so cute” has been said by someone!

I am an only child, and a girl.  Having 2 boys first in our line up of 3 children has knocked me clear out of my comfort zone.  Honestly having more than one child has done it to me too.  I grew up in a very quiet home, being the only one – the noise, if any, came from me!  With 3 kids, the noise is intense and with Krash thrown in-it goes beyond intense.  PacMan is a quieter person overall,  and he and I have come a long way regarding his behavior and strong will.  He is much more like me in personality so even though we but heads, I understand him more since we are more similar.  Ladybug is me in almost every way possible.  She is difficult and extremely dramatic, but I get her.  Then there’s my Krash, the one who throws me off in a way I never imagined.  He is where my deepest prayers are centered right now.

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I struggle with anxiety, which is triggered greatly by noise, transition, and unexpected things.  Krash is all of those rolled up into one.  He is very intense and unpredictable and will throw me off in a split second.  I react to him in ways I wish I wouldn’t.  I damage his little spirit, I know I do.  That’s why I am writing, putting it out there, typing through the feelings inside of me in hopes that somehow this can be a part of my healing.

I know the right answers, I even counsel other parents at times who have kids like him.  It is much easier to know the right things, I am trying to DO them and really struggling.  I know what damages him, I know that things I say must make him feel like there is something wrong with his intense little spirit.  I know God created him to be this way and that he is awesome…I just can’t figure out how to stop getting my buttons pushed.  My immaturity in my responses to him just overwhelms me at times.  How could I possibly have just reacted the way I did?  How can I let those words come out of my mouth?  If I heard another mom speaking that way to her child I would be sad. Those thoughts and more just replay in mind all of the time. IMG_3827 copy

I vow to change, I commit to speak gently and to watch my tone, to be more patient.  I fail, I fail, I fail.  Honestly I am just so tired of failing in such an important area of life-raising my precious son.  He deserves so much more.  Truth is, he is an awesome kid.  He is SO much fun, so energetic, so funny, and enjoyable.  The core of who he is is a person I really truly like, not just love – I really like him.

Lately, I haven’t been liking him as much because I am letting my emotions get in the way.  He has been struggling with the grumpies lately and overreacting about just about everything.  He has little fits and he moans, and sighs a LOT.  He shows negative behaviors that are a bit out of character for his normally happy self, and I am seeing selfishness step in and pull him away. 

IMG_0573As our middle child, I am also seeing him struggle to find his place, struggle to find his time.  Ladybug gets lots of one on one time being the youngest.  Pac gets a lot of one on one time naturally since he is much older.  Krash struggles to fit into this and even though I try and am aware of this need to pour into him – I fail. The oldest and the youngest naturally get more attention.

So, where does this leave me?  It leaves me on my knees.  I am no where near where I desire to be as a parent of this child.  I have so much growth left to do, and I am not giving up.  Currently I am re-reading a book {Answering the 8 Cries of the Spirited Child} I read when Pac was young and going through a very strong willed couple of years {major success with that kid I tell ya}. I remember highlighting portions when I was reading it years ago, and the reason was very different.  I am finding the same portions hitting me in the heart again and praying to be molded into a more Godly parent.  Recently I Instagram-ed {I am 1plus1plus1 on Instagram} this…

I need this child, God gave him to me on purpose.  I usually think of that in regards to God never giving me more than I can handle, and knowing that I am the right parent for him…but thinking of it this way is way more humbling.  It isn’t just about me dealing with Krash, it is about God using Krash to mold my character and help me become more like Christ. 

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Lord, use this awesome child of yours to make me more like you.  As I strive to not worry about this and pray about it, while trusting in your promise to bring me peace beyond all understanding, {Philippians 4:6-7} I thank you Lord in advance for your work in me, and ask you to continue to work more and more in my heart and mind.

Do you have a perfect catalyst to bring you opportunities to develop more Godly character?

Just Me & a few struggles

Psalm 37 verse 4

My blog is filled with practical ideas for homeschooling.  Free printables, loads of toddler teaching ideas, even glimpses into our daily homeschool life.

Occasionally I get personal, like when I was struggling with a difficult pregnancy, or when my husband was diagnosed with cancer.  The personal side of me isn’t shared often, and I am praying about changing that.  I am seeking the will of God for His direction and asking for wisdom in how to share more of ME with YOU.  I began to feel called to do more of this many months ago, I have just been praying about it.  I still don’t have an entirely clear direction and have no idea if this will be one post or a regular thing.  Depends where God leads me.  For now, He has led me here, today.

I hope to offer you more of a glimpse into who I am ~ the wife, the mom, the Christian, the inner city missionary, the friend, the girl.  I receive many emails from readers asking for this, wanting to know more of the woman behind the teaching blog.  I desire to bring this to you as God leads.

I thought I would begin by sharing a simple top ten list. The top 10 areas I struggle most with. 

Sometimes knowing a person’s areas of struggle can give you the clearest window into their heart.  My struggles are my biggest prayers, my most passionate pleas to the Lord.  I pray daily for most of these things and many of them I am desperately seeking to change.


In no particular order, here are my struggles and a bit of my heart behind each one.
  • losing it ~ I often lose it.  For me losing it can mean raising my voice, losing my cool, all out yelling, or just bottled up frustration that doesn’t come out in the best way.  I struggle with self control in this area and unfortunately my precious children suffer because of my sinful nature.  I pray THE MOST about this one. {Awesome book I have read and need to read over and over again: Good and Angry}
  • exercise ~ For this season of life, I just can’t fit it in.  I was never a fanatic but usually much more regular with it.  For now I am at peace with it being a very low exercise period in life, but I don’t like that and I would really love to tone up.  I need sleep and when I tried to fit it in and sacrificed sleep-I was a miserable mess.  It just wasn’t worth it. 
  • being a better friend ~ I am not a natural friend to many.  I take a long time to get close to someone and then I only tend to have a few really close friendships.  I get overwhelmed easily and I feel bad about my tendencies to only focus on the few friends rather than the many that I do have.  I know I can’t do it all, but my heart is burdened for the many friends I don’t talk to enough.
  • being a hermit ~ I am a homebody and for many reasons this is a good thing {e.g., homeschooling}.  But, I tend to hide out if possible and miss social events due to anxiety.  I would much rather be in my own home than anywhere else.
  • hospitality ~  Surprisingly, I struggle in the are of hospitality.  You’d think it would be a gift since I love being in my own home so much! I DO enjoy having people over, being a wonderful hostess just isn’t natural for me, I really have to work at it!
  • checking out ~ When I get overwhelmed with life I just check out.  Mostly mentally, I can lose myself in a cleaning project or something else just to get away from my actual life.  My kids suffer from my tendencies to do this.  I have learned to fight this for the most part, but it is still an ongoing struggle.
  • anxiety ~  This is a biggie for me, which I am sure comes as no surprise after reading a few of the above items.  My anxiety is triggered by a few things, unfortunately most of them coming from my own children.  Noise, feeling smothered {either literally or in proximity}, clutter/messes, and many things happening at once {phone rings, doorbell dings, child cries, siblings fight}.  Most of this is simply daily life with 3 homeschooled children.  It is a constant battle for me.  My anxiety often causes me to check out and lose it , as mentioned above!
  • personal Bible reading ~  I pray constantly, but sitting to read my Bible, alone is my current struggle.  We read the Bible daily together as a family, I read to the kids, and I read as I teach Sunday School and Children’s Church.  BUT, on my own Bible reading doesn’t always happen.  Recently I chose a simple reading plan in my YOU version Bible on my iPad and have followed it almost everyday.  Hopefully it will stick.
  • email, phone calls, mail ~ I struggle majorly with these areas of communication.  I am always behind on answering emails, phone calls, and writing any needed snail mail. Since my blog began to grow and I gained a blog email inbox in addition to that growth, the problem has only become more difficult.  I know there is only one me and I cannot answer every email or call, but I often forget the ones that I NEED to answer-like from my mom. I harbor much guilt in this area also, I hate leaving anyone hanging.
  • cooking, baking ~ My husband is the dinner cook, which works well for our family.  That part isn’t a struggle ~ it is a blessing!  Where I struggle is more in the area of doing fun cooking with my kids and for my family.  Making cookies, baking bread, making muffins, etc.  I desperately wish this was a natural gift of mine, but it is not.  I still pray for God to drop this gift in my lap.

There you have it, the top 10 struggles for me at the moment.  I trust God when He says that if I delight in HIM, He will give me the desires of my heart {link goes to the song we love}.  I pray that I will continue to delight more in Him, that the desires of my heart will be His.

    Do you struggle in any of the same ways I listed above? 

Final Thoughts from Relevant 2010

So, do you think I love my roommate? You can read her thoughts about the conference here and here.jncgiggle

 

I loved meeting Crystal {Money Saving Mom} and getting to know her better.  Small world to find out we all read each other’s blogs and didn’t know it!j-c-frugal

 

These 2 ladies rock, I am so honored to have met them IRL and for the time we spent together.  Sara and Tara ~ I look forward to the future ;-).

IMG_8590Sara ~ Happy Brown House,Tara ~ Mommy Missions

 

My good friend Jill lives close to the conference center so was able to drive in and visit for a few hours on Saturday!  It was awesome to see her and talk for awhile!  She posted about her visit here on her blog!me-c-j

 

I met Jen within an hour of arriving last Thursday and it was a blast getting to know her!  She is hilarious!j-c-friend

 

I also loved getting to know Kris {Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers} and although I didn’t get a photo with her, I did take this one!IMG_8606[3]

 

I was honored to sit in on small group sessions with many of these beautiful ladies below.    IMG_8600

 

Relevant changed me and I have spent days praying, processing, and talking with my husband {as many attendees have done}.  Ann Voskamp was the final speaker on the last night and God used her in a mighty way.  She said many wonderful things that struck my heart, but I must highlight the one that has stuck with me the most.

She spoke of how a mother duck plucks the feathers from her chest to line her nest.  She doesn’t use discarded feathers, she doesn’t use the worst, she uses the best-and this requires sacrifice.  It is my prayer that I will remember to line my home nest with the best of me, not the leftovers.

I have pages of notes from God’s words spoken through Ann, but that is the one thing that has stuck with me in the most powerful way, I have been in prayer daily over this.

I WILL be going to Relevant 2011 ~ God wiling, and am already excited about it.  It was a weekend filled with Jesus, in a way I never imagined possible at a blogging conference.  I am so grateful for the opportunity I had and pray God will allow me the opportunity again.  I hope to meet a few of you next year! ;-)

If you missed my other post about Relevant 2010, you can find it here!

Down for Days…

I got hit with the nasty pregnancy symptom mimicking flu-ish bug last Thursday night. I woke up around 3am and it all began. I finally emerged Monday around 10:30am, and have slowly regained my motor skills. I literally laid in bed for 3 days. It is the only time I have ever felt this sick since I was pregnant with Ladybug {and with Krash}. I had Hyeremesis with both, but much worse with Ladybug. I DON’T miss those days at all, some of the worst ever.

So, I am thankful that this sickness won’t last {I am NOT pregnant} and that I am already feeling about 70% normal again…just still weak from not eating and laying around for days. I am way behind on email and hope to do my best to catch up but it just might not happen. We are in the home stretch of the homeschool room renovations and we also go on a 2 week vacation in a few weeks {1 week at the beach and 1 week visiting our home supporting churches}. Pac Man has begged to get ahead on his lessons so he doesn’t have to take any schoolwork with him, so I am honoring his request and buckling down with him every spare moment. Honestly, I am very proud of him, usually he is a procrastinator. He did well today {I didn’t do any school with him while I was sick}.

BEST part about being sick…seeing my man step into the most amazing MR. MOM EVER. He totally rocks at full-time Daddy-duty.

WORST part about being sick {other than the obvious}…missing out on all of the cuteness for days. I just stared at their faces tonight as we played. It’s amazing how emotional a momma can get just being absent for a few days.

OK-back to catching up with all that was left undone the past few days!!!