Homeschool Stories From Real Moms Episode 5: Following Your Heart
Homeschool Stories From Real Moms
Episode 5: Following Your Heart
Earlier this month we introduced a new theme on our blog - stories about homeschooling told from real moms. These posts are to encourage you along your homeschooling journey, share experiences and connect with other homeschooling moms all over the world.
This week's homeschooling story is from Stephanie Cass. Read below to hear her story about how she never intended on homeschooling her three boys but she felt her heart pulling her to do so.
I never planned on homeschooling my three boys, now ages 4, 6 and nearly 8. In fact, it never even crossed my mind. I thought for sure we’d enroll them in the same little country school that my husband had attended as a boy or maybe we’d look into our local Christian school. But the day came to enroll my oldest into preschool and I just could not do it. I felt an unexpected pull on my heart, a calling to homeschool so not knowing what we were doing, we blindly jumped right in and I’m so thankful that we did. Homeschooling over the last several years as been a huge blessing to our family and has truly become the heartbeat of our days together.
What it looks like for us.
Over the last 4 years, we have realized that the gift of homeschooling is that our days don’t have to look like public school done at home; In fact it’s been one of the biggest unforeseen blessings. What once looked like stacks of worksheets, curriculum to-do lists to check off, and a little boy sitting perfectly still because I thought that’s just how it had to be, now looks like loads of read aloud snuggled up together on the couch followed by narration, lessons done at the picnic table or even at the beach, math and spelling done orally and with fun manipulatives, trips to the science museum, and lots and lots of time spent in nature, exploring and adventuring with three wild and curious boys.
Our philosophy for learning. Following a mostly Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling, we believe that Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life. It’s more than taking in dry facts from a textbook and being tested on it at the end of the term. For us, it’s about making discoveries together as family, cultivating a love for learning because that’s what we are made to do, and building their character on what is beautiful and noble, pure and lovely. These children are so curious, so naturally awe-inspired by all the things around them and we want to elevate that thirst for learning, not squelch it. We try to spread a rich feast of ideas for our little fellas in the way of beautiful classic literature and “living” books, poems, artist and composer studies, handicrafts, foreign language, and nature study, not just filling them with information but teaching their
A typical school day.
Although the details of our days vary, our daily rhythm generally remains the same. The kids (who usually all end up in our bed before morning) slowly make their way downstairs to the dining room, carrying their blanket or favorite stuffed animal and cozy up in their chairs to start their day. During breakfast, we do our “Morning time” activities which include Bible, poetry, handiwork, song, copywork, and a rotation of composer/artist study, drawing lesson or literature “tales (such as fairy tales, fables, etc). All together this time gathered at the table may last 40-45 mins. It’s an anchor in our day and even if it’s all we get done, I feel like we have enjoyed a beautiful feast.
After a short break of free play, we complete (mostly oral) math lessons, which are kept short and simple (20 mins per day) using items like acorns, pine cones, counting sticks, and a small dry erase board to keep things engaging. This is followed by our “Daily Main Lessons” which include a rotation of recitation/foreign language and reading from living books on the subjects of American History, Natural Science and Geography. This term, it means reading about Ponce de Leon, the solar system, and mapping our way through the Great Lakes. We end our school time with the boys reading/spelling activities and a read aloud during lunch.
After filling their bellies, their days are free for the taking. This leaves 5-7 hours open for playing,board games, read alouds, fort building, gardening, nature hikes with friends, sports practices, and anything their little hearts desire. In the Fall and Spring, this often means walking to the creek for endless exploring, animal tracking, flower picking, and tadpole catching. And in the winter, it’s bundling up with a warm blanket and hot chocolate with a stack of books.
Now this doesn’t mean that every day goes smoothly or that we don’t have off days, because the truth is, we do. But those days don’t define us or our homeschool. Being home with my children every day is not always easy, in fact, it’s hard but (as my friend @m.is.for.mama likes to say) hard isn’t the same thing as bad. This motherhood and schooling journey is sanctifying to say the least but boy, it’s totally worth the work. I get to spend so much time with these boys, time that would be cut short if they were at school 6-8 hours a day. I get to see them grow into the men that they one day will become. I get to see them cultivate relationships with one another. I get to do life with my children and as hard as some days may be, I’d choose this life over and over again.