Tag Archives: homeschooling

Leading from Behind

As a parent, leadership is a daily job, and it can be all-consuming.  If we don’t direct the day, will teeth get brushed?  Will math be practiced?  Will bedrooms be cleaned?  Will Bibles be read and prayers be said?

If we don’t walk at the front of the line, will these little ones go astray?  Will they know where to go and how to get there?

We are placed in the position of authority in our homes, and that isn’t a job to be shunned or taken lightly.  However, being in charge can lead us to put on blinders as we focus intently on the goal of raising healthy, responsible adults.  We can too easily miss the wonderful people these kids already are.

Early in the fall, we had a remarkable day with glorious, sunny weather.  My mom and I took the kids for a big walk.  We strolled behind as my children walked ahead of us, happily brandishing sticks (and light sabers!), picking up interesting finds, and relishing the  warm day.  I called out to them from time to time if someone drifted too close to poison ivy or became too enthusiastic with a stick.  But overall, I simply chatted with my mom and observed the wonderful way that children learn even without direct leadership.  Their curiosity comes naturally, so I can’t help wondering if their learning actually happens more readily without my interference.  Certainly their joy seems to!

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But this post isn’t simply an attempt to say “get out of the way” of kids’ learning, I have something a little different mulling around in my brain as I reminisce about that particular afternoon and reflect upon some things that I’ve observed in the last few months of homeschooling with a newborn in our family.

When I stand behind the action and watch from a few steps back, I am still leading my family.  I am leading them toward MORE of what they are doing.  I am showing my children that their activities are productive, their conversations are important, and their observations are valuable. I am leading them to do more of the same, to see their choices as good.  By not interrupting, I am saying, “You are doing good things.  You are smart, curious, and important.”  I tell them by my actions that we are on the right track.  School is going well, and they are growing as amazing people on this beautiful planet.  I do have to step in at strategic points in our week.  I do have to make concrete plans from time to time and take the first steps into new activities and new lessons.  However, the more I lead from behind, the more I see the leaders that these kids are becoming, and I have the ultimate pleasure of watching it happen.

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Getting Back to the WHY

We hit a rough patch early in the fall.  We had been working hard on the house–painting, cleaning, organizing, and decluttering.  That’s exciting!  All good things.

But then there was the flat tire, the dented car door, the leaking sink,the dentist appointments, the strange little stomach bug with a slight fever, the lost library books, and those pesky multiplication facts.  Sigh.  Real life.

Suddenly, in the midst of all that LIFE, I kind of crumbled under a whole lot of self-doubt.  Have you ever been there?  You’re working hard to do all the right things–to check off all those boxes–but you always feel behind and inadequate.  That’s where I wallowed for awhile.  Homeschooling, in particular, was feeling like a bunch of “get dones” instead of the joyful privilege that it can be.

I’m not one to linger in a bad mood for long, and I knew I needed to do something to shake the funk.  I reached out to a group of homeschool moms who might understand.  Their responses were incredible.  They were practical, offering actual help for spelling and reading.  They were whimsical and inspirational, reminding me that I’m not alone.  One friend told me to get back to the WHY of our decision to homeschool–to return to all the things I love about educating my children at home.  That advice was a true answer to prayer, and I followed it immediately.

In our homeschool, getting back to the WHY means experiencing the outdoors.  It means learning through all of our sense.  It means learning by doing.  It means reading lots of things from a variety of sources and subjects.  It means learning together as a family.  And it looks a little something like this:

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Learning New Things

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I love many aspects of educating our children at home.  I could go on and on.  I love the freedom to learn what, when, and where we choose.  I love that my children can learn together, developing their relationships with each other in special ways.  I love library visits in the middle of the day and dropping everything to go on a picnic at lunchtime.  But if I could pick the number one reason that I keep on homeschooling even through the squabbles and messes and meltdowns over the times tables, my favorite part of home education is being a witness to my children’s educational milestones–seeing the BIG THINGS as they happen, watching their faces as the light bulbs go on.

 This week Charlotte wrote her name without any help.  She’s been getting close for awhile, but she needed to copy the letters or be reminded of what came next.  On Monday, she wrote it alone–no model, no reminder.  I wasn’t surprised by her ability.  I was taken off guard by her reaction (joy and pride) and her brothers’ jubilation!  The process of learning new things is a joyful one–whether you are 6 weeks old or 106 years old.  I feel such privilege to be able to see new things being learned by the people I love best.  Sometimes–as Mom and Teacher–I play an important role in that learning.  Sometimes it’s only between my child and God.  Those are the most amazing to behold.

Summer School

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Summer school is in session!  We wrapped up our regular school year on June 5, and we took last week off completely.  We had long, lazy mornings.  We made pancakes.  We went swimming.  Basically, we had a little stay-cation, and yesterday, we got back to work–summer style.

(I saw the idea of the summer school bucket on a homeschooling blog, and now I can’t find the post!  So…if this looks familiar to you, please share the name of the blog in the comments.  I certainly want to give credit for this cute idea.)

In our summer school bucket, I included a new pencil for each student, a bunch of fun erasers from the Dollar Tree, a new notebook for each student, some math flash cards, and a new set of double-tipped markers.  I had the bucket and the summer school sign on the dining room table when everyone woke up.  It helped set the tone for our day and hopefully our whole summer.

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For my little preschooler, I made this “Summer Fun Book.”  I’ve been collecting links on Pinterest for a few weeks, and I printed coloring pages and activities for Charlotte to enjoy while her brothers do their summer school lessons.

All of this makes me think of The Sound of Music.  Maybe you’ll remember the scene, too.  The housekeeper tells Maria, “The Von Traap children don’t play.  They march.”  Well, don’t worry!  We aren’t missing the joys of summer.  Our summer school is going to take 1 to 1.5 hours per morning, Monday through Thursday, and we have some projects (and books!) in progress for the afternoons.  We have a lot of fun things planned for the season.  I think I’ll do another post about our Summer Bucket List.  There is much fun to be had!

Farmers in the Dell

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I love farms.  I often daydream about being a farmer–although my visions are probably completely romantic, unrealistic notions.  But nonetheless, I like to get a little touch of farm life any time that I can.

I belong to an amazing attachment parenting meet-up group.  I adore many of these families, and I enjoy meeting new AP parents as often as possible.  I was excited for our long-awaited tour at a local dairy farm this week.  We’ve been to this particular spot a few times, and it is always a fun event.

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The morning started out with some drizzle.  Thankfully, the rain stopped just in time for our tour to begin.  We saw the mamas-to-be in the maternity pen, fed handfuls of grass to the other ladies, and explored their fuzzy heads, moist noses, and sandpaper tongues.  Dairy cows are gentle and shy, yet curious.  They didn’t seem to mind our visit at all, and they were eager to welcome lots of little hands and the grass they offered.  We hand milked a very patient gal named Gloria.  Imagine more than a dozen farmers coming to milk one cow.

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The dairy farm has about 100 cows and a handful of pigs, a goat or two, and a farm dog named Moose .  Each grandchild in the family picks a baby cow and names her!   In the store, you can buy milk, butter, cheese, a wide variety of homemade foods, glorious baked goods from the on-site bakery, and the most heavenly chocolate milk you could imagine.  To me, it tastes like a melted milkshake.  How could I forget!  Ice cream!  The dairy makes its own ice cream, and we were each treated to a free cone after the tour.  We had a beautiful day as “farmers in the dell.”

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