Dec 1, 2015

December 2015 Term: Week One

"The Adoration of the Shepherds" by Rembrandt van Rijn

Our family is loving our time together each day, learning using Charlotte Mason principles. I do have to spend time planning each term, so that I can use a customized plan just for our family.

Planning ahead for each term helps me sooo much on a day to day basis. It makes our learning time flow smoothly, yet gives me lots of wiggle room to still be spontaneous within those plans.

Our first term of the school year just ended as we took a break for Thanksgiving, and now we are really having FUN with our special "December term" of homeschool. For years, I have hoped that we would spend all of December learning more about Christmas, the Savior, doing service, baking, and doing Christmas crafts.

But most Decembers have just flown by, with us running hither and yon, and we have done next to nothing for our homeschool learning in December. But not this year!!! I am excited on this December first to share our first ever December Homeschool Plan! I thought I would post our schedule each week, just in case  anyone wants to take advantage of all my planning. Here we go! (NO affiliate links are included in the list below.)


Merry Christmastide to all!

With joy,

Nov 18, 2015

Law of the Harvest

"Men cannot really long rest content with mediocrity once they see excellence is within their reach." ~Thomas S. Monson
I just wanted to share a quick update of how our new homeschool approach is working in our home right now. 

Today, as my 8 year old daughter showed me her finished copywork assignment, I couldn't help but take notice and praise her for her improved penmanship. She is progressing! Each day, each week, each scripture, she is becoming better.

Today's copywork

It is a JOY to watch!

Seeing her beautiful handiwork reminded me how vital the law of the harvest is in my homeschooling efforts. As much as we might wish it could be so, we cannot learn by just watching alone! And osmosis is not a realistic learning style... We must try, experiment, work, fail, and try again.

This month's growing

The harvest I am most excited about this Fall has been in our singing time.

We are working together as a family to learn a new song each week with a goal to record them all on a CD for the kids' great-grandmother as a Christmas present. She has been asking us to record some songs for her for many years, and we are FINALLY accomplishing this through our daily singing. 

This has been one of the most rewarding examples of the law of the harvest at work that we have ever seen in our family! As we learn the songs, we are recording them, and will compile them into one playlist to burn on a CD for our sweet grandma. We have learned and refined one new song a week. 

Here is a list of the songs we've learned this Fall:
  1. "All Creatures of Our God and King"
  2. "In the Garden"
  3. "Homeward Bound" (We did that one for two weeks.)
  4. "In the Highways"
  5. "Alice Blue Gown"
  6. "Country Roads"
  7. "Lead, Kindly Light"
We will not be recording all of these, and have others we already know that are on our recording list. We also have more to learn, and we are enjoying our music time together each day.

It thrills me to no end that we are finally-- FINALLY-- singing together on a regular basis! And we have learned all these songs just by singing for a few minutes every day, adding a new song each week. 

(Once we get all of our songs recorded and uploaded to SoundCloud, I will post a link here on the blog.) 

It's AMAZING how that law of the harvest works; drop by drop, day by day, inch by inch, song by song. ♫ 

Happy growing, friends!

Love, Rachel

Oct 19, 2015

A Day in Our Homeschool

October means Table Time in costume regalia

I am thrilled to say that we are in the middle of October, and our new schedule and study outlines are still going strong! It has been so helpful to me to have a plan that fits right into a routine that can still be flexible and fluid, depending on the timing of the day.

I think others might benefit from "seeing" what one of our homeschool days looks like, so here goes... Hang on to your hats while I present our "Keppnergarten" eclectic and quirky learning experience!

Morning Busy-ness

Since we have a young adult who nannies for a local family, and teens in our home that attend LDS Seminary class at the local charter school, we are still tied to a school schedule. Our cute nanny needs to leave our house before 7am, so we all get up early for family prayer. 

As soon as she takes off, the teens all get showered and ready for their classes, which start at 8am. That means that I also need to get ready during that hour in the morning, since I am their ride. It has been really good for me to recognize the need to be more self-disciplined first thing in the morning, rather than getting lost in my email or on Facebook. So I briefly read my scriptures, and then get dressed in my "mom uniform"*.

SIDE NOTE: I am not one of those moms that can stand having homeschool lessons while everyone is in their pajamas. Neither the kids nor I feel ready to work and engage when we are lounging around in pj's. To each his or her own, but this is what works for US.)

The teens and I race out the door at about 20 minutes (ideally) before their final school bell rings at 8:00am. On my way home from the daily drop-off, I have a heartfelt conversation with my Father in Heaven. I know from personal experience that if I take the time to get my scripture and prayer times in, I will somehow be a better mom and have a happier day. It's a true principle that proves itself day in and day out.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. on the road... Seminary class lasts for about an hour and a half. That gives me time to come home and cook breakfast. We prefer to have a homemade breakfast, instead of cereal, for a couple of reasons: 

1) We are CHEAP thrifty people and cereal for a crowd like ours get expensive. (We would go through 4-5 boxes per breakfast, y'all. And with the high cost of milk, too, that adds up!)
2) We have kids with food coloring sensitivities. Translation: Our little sweethearts turn into holy terrors when they get a huge shot of sugar coated in Red-40. It is NOT pretty. You have to trust me on this!

Okay, to cut to the chase, I make breakfast while listening to a podcast** or LDS Conference talk. (This also helps with my goal to be a nice mom.) Then it either goes in the oven or it is served the younger kiddos. I return to the school to pick up kids after the first hour class at 9:30am. My 12 year old son does the babysitting during these brief school runs, and he has done well with it.

We all eat breakfast, then quickly do our after-breakfast chores. If we are doing really well, and the kids don't avoid their chores for too long, we are on track for our...


Table Time is what I have christened our "let's sit at the table and learn" time. The kids grab our box of binders, our pencil/crayon caddy, and the basket of handwriting notebooks and workbooks, and we are off!

Here is where Charlotte Mason (CM) resources have come in beautifully handy for me. At the end of August, I was reading all I could about her methodology, and had a few BIG planning days, where I mapped out all the subjects and books I would use to teach those subjects.

Now, I am usually a seat-of-my-pants girl, but I have LOVED following my plan-- for once in my life! The cool thing is that I have a plan for each day of the week, but if I want to shake things up a bit, I can switch the order of whatever it is I have planned for that day. Spontaneity can still exist! But now, I am not so overwhelmed by possibilities. I have already made those decisions, and there is great peace in that!

Here's what we do for Table Time EVERY day:
  1. Prayer
  2. Scripture Memorization (Old Testament/Pearl of Great Price)
  3. Copywork (They copy the scripture we are memorizing that week, focusing on their penmanship.)
  4. Scripture Story (Old Testament)
  5. Hymn Study and Singing
  6. History Read Aloud (Different history each day of the week.)
On every Monday during Table Time, the kids can also pass off their memorized scripture from the previous week to earn a little treat. They have been doing so well!

MATH... Dun-dun-dun...

After Table Time, the kids each take a turn doing their math on one of our three computers. We use two online programs that have worked really well for us. 
  • XtraMath: This is a free website that helps kids drill basic math facts up to basic division. A parent has to set up an account for each child, but then they can sign on easily with their own PIN number.
  • CTC Math: This subscription website has been a LIFESAVER for me and my older children. I love that the lessons are NOT Common Core aligned (They are based out of Australia), and that the instructor is so good at explaining each lesson. The kids have never asked for my help with math since they began this program. They can independently learn without the distractions of other subjects and fun videos. (Which has been our issue with Khan Academy.)

My beloved Mary Englebreit weekly planner, from whence all homeschool planning flows.

A Change of Pace

In my last post, I talked a little about Swedish Drills, so I won't go into them in detail, but we do that next, after moving into our living room area. I have found that it's been really important for my kids to have different types of things to do. Table Time is sitting at the table, math time is at the computer, drills take the kids moving all around the house, and reading aloud times are spent lounging around on furniture. The variety keeps them excited and their minds ready for new things.

Each day of the week, we focus on a different read aloud subject from "living books," as Charlotte Mason called them. So I am reading aloud from a few sweet, old books I found for free, or VERY cheaply, on Kindle: 
  • "Famous Men of the Middle Ages" by John H. Haaren
  • "An Island Story" by H.C. Marshall (British History)
  • "Shakespeare's Stories for Children" by Edith Nesbit
  • "The Boys' and Girls' Plutarch"
  • Various classic fiction (We just finished "the Light Princess" by George MacDonald. It was so wonderful!)

One of the things I really love about Charlotte Mason, is the idea that lessons and read aloud sessions should be SHORT. This has kept my kids interested and engaged, even when they are young. Another thing I have added after every thing I read is Narration. This is a CM activity that solidifies what was just read in to the children's minds. (I also like to add in some Socratic discussion, as well.) Narration has been extremely helpful for my kids' attentiveness. They listen much better during our read aloud sessions, as a result.

Weekly Subjects

As you can see from the photo above, each day we focus on a few different things. I love the variety it brings to keep interest high, but also helps me to cover the subjects that I've always intended to study with the kids, but never could fit in.

Here are the subjects we study once a week:
  • Mondays- British History, Poetry
  • Tuesdays- Plutarch, Music Study
  • Wednesday- Middle Ages, Art Study
  • Thursday- Latin, Shakespeare
  • Friday- Homeschool Classes with TJLA (I take the big kids and disappear for a few hours to teach a Shakespeare class.), Handicrafts with big sister
One thing I have not written down is Nature Study/Science. This is one area that I leave completely free-form, and strongly encourage the kids to head outside as much as possible. It's still HOT here right now (90's and low 100's), but as the weather gets gorgeous this winter, they will be outside more and more. With a couple parks within walking distance, we are ready for Nature study!

Afternoons and Evenings

This is the time each day when Nature Study occurs, as well as independent study for older kids, projects, and lots of PLAY time. (This is when mom can clean, read, do laundry, write blog posts, go shopping, etc..)

If there is a subject like Art or Music study, or some reading aloud that we didn't get to in the morning, I can easily slip that subject in randomly in the afternoon hours. 

Evenings are when we all wind down and enjoy one another's company. (Though I do spend a little time running a daughter to ballet lessons 2 evenings a week.) This is Dad's favorite time to read aloud to the kids. He is in the midst of reading "On the Banks of Plum Creek" to our little girls, and they love it!

At the end of the day, we gather for family scripture study and prayer.

Peace and Progress

I have had such a wonderful time seeing my children improve in their studies! They can look through their penmanship notebooks and already see their progress as the time has slowly rolled on. When I review their math studies, I can see what they have worked on, where they are succeeding, and where they still need to work. I wake up in the morning and already know what I will be teaching in the new day!

My hours of planning in the late summer has given me such peace in the here and now. It was worth all the hard work and time that it took to learn and to work out a schedule. Who knew that being prepared could be so much fun?! 

Wishing you all the best,

* My personal "Mom Uniform" includes a skirt, a comfy blouse, and an apron.
** My favorite podcasts include Dave Ramsey, BYU Speeches, and Power of Moms

Oct 6, 2015

Walk Beside Me

For my final post in this series about the changes we've made in our homeschool, I thought I'd just share the resources we have found that are helping us on our journey, as well as share some of the things we have been doing that are working well in our homeschool. 

Two Philosophies

I have been homeschooling since 1999, y'all. I am not new to all the buzz words and learning styles that have been out there for the past sixteen years! I have definitely heard about Charlotte Mason over all that time, and even have the complete set of her original book series on education. However, in the past I had only thumbed through the books a few times and discussed her methodologies with homeschooling moms now and then.

I was going strictly child-led with our homeschooling, and so as wonderful as I felt Charlotte Mason's ideas were, I dismissed her based on her parent and/or teacher-led philosophies. My kids were doing whatever they wanted with their learning, and I was just there to get them the resources they needed, and to help now and then when they might get stuck doing their learning of choice.

During the first 14 years of our homeschooling, we had a flurry of baking, reading, insect-hunting, game-making, DIRT, play, and SHAKESPEARE going on with the students in our home. I was a very busy mom who was running around trying to organize and lead a homeschool community, blogging, speaking at homeschool events, directing plays, and sewing intricate Shakespeare costumes.

It was a lot of fun (and I love fun!), but it was also very, VERY chaotic. I am not a big schedule person, and so my kids never knew what to expect from day to day, and neither did I-- or my husband. But because we were all child-led, all the time, I felt that the flexibility lent itself to the style of learning we were attempting to follow, and I didn't think we needed to change anything. Our kids would learn ALL they needed to know, and I was not worried!

Reality Sets In

I had always loved my teens; they were model youth! We had lots of fun in our homeschool group, in our Shakespeare plays, in our family circle, and I was sure that they were going to grow up to be amazing people who would make a real difference in the world.

Until the time my children began to discover that they had never done any real, sustained learning. And when studies got difficult for them, they would just drop the subject at hand and move on to something easy. I started to see these warning signs, but was completely unequipped to know how to deal with these disturbing trends. My personal philosophies kept me from requiring anything of my children, at least academically. (We had lots of requirements when it came to household duties and family rules.)

And then, we had a couple of very, VERY difficult years in our family. And it wasn't just with one child. One of our older children has autism, and so I knew she had to do things in her own way-- I did not push her for most things, or we would have even bigger problems. But our very ambitious child began to realize that his education had been severely neglected, and so he lost almost all respect for me, treating me accordingly. Then another child started dealing with depression and some very, VERY serious issues that greatly affected self-esteem and lead to alarming actions.

I began to realize that I had been neglecting the education of my children, right when they needed my guidance the most. And as a result, they no longer felt they could look to me or trust me as their homeschool teacher.

Searching and Stumbling

We took some steps back, at this point. I was leading a homeschool group at the time, and started simplifying everything I could with the group, in our commitments, and in my personal interests, so that I could focus on my family-- doing whatever it took to get us "back on track." 

We poured all of our efforts into our family's spirituality, desperately trying to heal the broken family culture that we had unwittingly created. In the midst of doing everything possible to save my children from spiritual death, I gave birth our last two children, directing a musical while pregnant with one, and costuming a Shakespeare play weeks before giving birth to the other child! (And also turned 40 years old. Yay?)

I remember pleading with the Lord to help me know what to do. We were also beginning to require a few minimum things from our children academically, now: MATH, and penmanship. The kids seemed to grab hold of having requirements, and I began to study more and more about the one-room schools from early American history. I was seeing the value in daily requirements for myself, and the principles of the Law of the Harvest kept coming to mind, resonating in my heart. 

As daily order was coming into our homeschool, some of the fun DID leave. But I had to choose between keeping learning exciting, or keeping my children's hearts. And so I chose the latter.

Probably the final nail in the coffin of child-led homeschooling philosophies for our family came when my newly-called missionary son looked at me, about a month before leaving our home, and said: 
"I can't believe you're finally really homeschooling, now that I'm about to leave. I'm happy for the other kids, but I wish you had done this with me."

Humanities-Based Education

Once much of the smoke from the spiritual battles in our home cleared*, I began studying again, looking for just the right fit for our newly formed homeschool ideals. I still adored rich, full, classic books, music, art, and history. I no longer worried about keeping things fun and exciting, so that the kids would want to study. Rather, I again saw how valuable studying the truly good works throughout history was for our family culture. 

My children did not know all the wonderful, beautiful, inspiring things that were out there, but I did!!!

I kept going back to the lovely works that spoke to my heart-- the things that the kids had groaned about when they were running the show, so I would drop them. (Child-led!) With me taking my children by the hand, we could now explore the beautiful things I had always wanted them to experience-- TOGETHER!

I found myself looking for a homeschool experience that was similar to majoring in Humanities in college. I was praying with all my heart for such a thing, wondering if in the end I would have to create something on my own.

But then, I rediscovered Charlotte Mason.

Befriending Charlotte

One of the ladies in my homeschool community started talking about Charlotte Mason. In fact, she taught a class on Charlotte Mason at our very local LDS homeschool conference. I was interested, but also thought maybe I'd give this lady my set of Charlotte Mason books-- I wasn't using them. Luckily for me, she had her own set, and so I kept them. 

This same woman started sharing more about Miss Mason's philosophies in the community, and I was learning more on the side, as well. I was cracking open the books, reading here and there, and was beginning to feel very, VERY drawn to the method, but felt very overwhelmed at the same time. (If anyone has read Charlotte Mason's original books, you know how rich and deep every word is!)

And then, the same lady and some other friends hosted a small gathering where they simulated a Charlotte Mason homeschool day. It was intended to show what a CM co-op type experience was like, but it resonated so deeply with me that I was overcome with emotion. 

I COULD DO THIS!!! I wanted to do this in my home, to give my children this type of beautiful homeschool experience. With free resources like Ambleside Online and inexpensive options like Simply Charlotte Mason, I finally felt the support and help I needed to move forward.

I began to walk beside my children, sharing a beautiful, inspiring feast of beauty and richness with them, guiding them, leading them to the things that I, as their mother, feel are important for them to learn.

Our New Homeschooling Day

And so we are walking, hand in hand, among the beautiful and good in our homeschool every day, with a PLAN for each and every day. 

The younger children and I have a set time where we do what I call "Table Time," with devotional (scripture memory, scripture story, hymn study & singing), and copywork (Copying the scripture we are memorizing, of course!). 

Then the kids each take a turn at one of our three computers to do math. (HOORAY for CTC Math!!!)

Next, I do some reading aloud from Living books (Plutarch for children, Shakespeare, Poetry, or English History) and then we practice Swedish Drills, which the kids are really enjoying. (I am loving the lessons in attentiveness and obedience that happen naturally as a result of these exercises!

We also throw in Art study and Music/Composer study once a week, which the children also enjoy. I love hearing little voices pronounce the names of our French artist of the term (Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot), or talk about how Brahms' Lullaby makes them feel deliciously sleepy!

One thing I had always heard, but was never able to really latch onto during all my homeschooling years, was the idea that homeschool is life.

I came to realize that we can stop and read ANYTIME. If I don't get to one of my planning reading during the morning, I can stop in the afternoon, or just after dinner, to read Plutarch, or poetry. We can listen to our current Composer's music while cleaning or cooking, or playing and creating.

I should mention that a couple of my teen daughters have decided to take some classes part time at our local charter school, and that is working out really well. Our older children also still meet for some homeschool classes (This year it's Civil War, Chemistry, Writing and our old favorite, Shakespeare.) once a week, where I have even gone back to teaching Shakespeare again. (And I'm LOVING it!!!) We do use Khan Academy for a few high school subjects, where the older kids work on filling the gaps in their high school transcripts. (Plans really are wonderful things!)

After everything we have been through, I have been pleasantly surprised at how peaceful and wonderful mother-led education can be! Of course, I had to spend the last few weeks of August planning, studying, researching, writing, and planning some more, but the work I did then is paying off big dividends NOW.

And so, I Lead, Guide, and Walk Beside my children on this wonderful, ordered, JOYFUL homeschool journey, little by little, every day. 

Thank you for joining me!



*(The spiritual war still goes on, especially for one child, but those battles are no longer fought right in our home.)

To learn how to start using Charlotte Mason's ideas in your home, check out the "How to Get Started" page on the Simply Charlotte Mason website. It helped me immensely in knowing how to plan and start this first year!

Sep 14, 2015

Guide Me

When God created His plan for His children, He knew that we would need guides to teach us all the things we would need to know. Over the span of generations upon generations, babies are sent to homes with mothers and fathers who have experience and wisdom.

All parents have a sacred duty to give their innocent children boundaries and rules. While children should have a span of freedom to learn and explore, the mature parents are the guardians of the limits and the keepers of the gates.

Good Shepherds

"the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep." ~John 10:11-13

True shepherds do not drive the sheep by force or fear. Yet, the shepherds, because of their life experience, do know the very best pastures for grazing, and the sources of clean water. And so they carefully guide the sheep to the places where they will be nourished and filled with the best grasses, and refreshed by the purest water.

Once the flock is filled with the nutrients they need, they are free to frolic and play in the pastures, all the while, under the protection and watchful eye of the shepherd who truly loves them. As the sun dips below the hillside, the sheep are gathered in and surrounded by walls of protection.

Homeschooling parents are like the shepherds from days of old. They love their little lambs, providing nourishment and protecting them from the wolves or thieves that can prey upon them. They are not motivated to teach their children because of payment; rather, they have a natural interest and concern for the quality of education their children. They also wish to protect their children from the enemies who hope to deceive them with lessons that fill them with educational and spiritual "junk food."

Educational Feasting

“We spread an abundant and delicate feast in the programs and each small guest assimilates what he can.” ~Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education
I grew up in a home where my parents both had a great appreciation for history. My mother also had a love for beautiful artwork, literature, music, and poetry. I read "classics" from a very young age because of the suggestions my mother made, and the example she set of reading, herself.

When I reached first grade, my mother enrolled me in piano lessons, which I continued taking until I was seventeen. She had also encouraged my love of singing and performing throughout my childhood and teen years, and I could count on her to attend every recital, concert, and production I participated in.

We did not have a lot of money, but she sacrificed and did all she could to barter and help out in order for me to excel at my interests. When I wanted to quit, she was there to encourage and challenge me to keep going.

Our home was filled with lovely music, our walls were graced with the works of masters, and our bookshelves were bursting at the seams with the greatest literature that the world had to offer. (Even if they were just paperbacks that Mom purchased with spare change at yard sales.)

I was enriched and filled with the beautiful and virtuous. Of course, I occasionally dabbled in the things of life that were not as nourishing-- and some things that were even a bit poisonous. But I would be drawn back to the siren song of the bountiful educational feast my mother was constantly spreading before us.

Purposeful Planning

“… a parent who does not follow a fully thought out plan of education will fail to fulfill the claims his children have upon him for growing to adulthood in full possession of his abilities.” ~Charlotte Mason, Home Education

I have been called by God to shepherd my little (okay, my large) flock through many dangers, bypassing tempting fields off the path, and gathering them into verdant pastures where they will be guarded, nurtured and fed. There are times when lambs seek to explore and experiment. Loving shepherds do not let their young and inexperienced little ones wander aimlessly without guidance.

Wise parents take the time to research, ponder, pray, and then create an educational plan for each child in their care. Then, with those plans in mind, they gather wholesome resources, books, classes, and experiences for their students.

Next, they guide their children to develop study skills through each subject, asking questions, discussing ideas, following up with assignments, holding them accountable to commitments, and challenging them to attain new levels of excellence.

Of course, there is a time and place for each thing on the list above, and we will cover those in the coming weeks. But NOW is the time for us to pray, to ponder, and to learn all we can about what our little lambs need in order to face the world outside our little pastures. This is not a step that can be done in one day, but in creating a plan of action, we will make the journey easier, and more pleasant, too.

Coming up...

Thank you for reading all of my philosophies and thoughts about these changes I have made in my homeschool. I am almost done sharing my reasoning behind the name of this new blog. Next time, I will cover the last element: "Walk Beside."

Until next time...

Love, Rachel

Sep 3, 2015

Lead Me

"You have not taught your children light and truth, according to the commandments; and that wicked one hath power, as yet, over you, and this is the cause of your affliction.
And now a commandment I give unto you—if you will be delivered you shall set in order your own house, for there are many things that are not right in your house." ~Doctrine and Covenants 93:42-43

      Anyone who knows me knows that I am what the world calls a "strict" mom. My kids do chores, have rules to follow, and are not spoiled nor given everything they want. We have a very large family, and we have many children to care for, so we do our best to supply them with their needs and many of their wants, but we literally cannot meet all of their requests.

      We also don't feel that it is good for children to have everything they want when they want it. We want them to learn patience, self-denial, and discipline. We assign our younger ones to the care of our older ones, because we want them to learn to serve unselfishly, and to sacrifice.

      The way I have tried to manage our home and family has been orderly and intentional. I have done all I can to make our home environment rich in art, music, spirituality, and culture. I have always wanted my children to learn how to be truly good, live with integrity, and love God.

      But there is one area that I have neglected, and made the mistake of expecting things to grow organically, without effort from me.

      I have neglected my children academically.

Parental Stewardship

      I have been homeschooling a long time-- a long time! Since 1999, I have had my children home with me for the purpose of being educated under my care. I have often explained one of my reasons for homeschooling as feeling that the education of my children is my God-given responsibility and stewardship.

      So how could I have neglected the education of my children in this way???

      To make a very long story short, I came to believe that my children did not need my instruction-- that they would learn all they needed to learn on their own. I felt that if I set the example of working on my own projects, that they would follow suit and work on their own.

      In many ways, things did work well. If I practiced the piano, my children would clamor to play the piano. If I spent hours a day reading, my children would spend hours reading.

     But there was one element that did not work out in a positive way. My projects tended to be on the computer. I was doing big things! I was connecting homeschoolers, building a community and network of homeschooling families, planning and running events. It was fun and exciting! I was busy and happy. My kids were smart, they were reading, having fun, learning various subjects, and discussing. But they were not receiving instruction and guidance-- academically-- from me.

      The one thing I was not doing, was homeschooling.


      For those who do not homeschool, who might read my blog, you need to understand that there is a movement in the homeschool world that has gained a lot of traction. It's called "Unschooling." 

      I want to make it crystal clear that I am NOT here to discredit unschooling, or say that no parent should use unschooling ideals in their homes. I could never, ever in good conscience tell a parent that what they are doing in their own God-given stewardship over their children's education is lacking. I believe in 100% homeschooling freedom, and I find compulsory schooling laws to be unjust and draconian.

      I can, however, with conviction, say that unschooling did not serve my own family well. 

      I wish to cover my reasons over the course of time here on my blog, so I will elucidate on my personal experiences unschooling in the future. More on that to come...

Steering the Boat

"I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father;" ~1 Nephi 1:1

      My oldest children were by now in their teens. They were good kids, they were thinking about great things, and reading difficult books. However, they were so independent and strong-willed that they would not submit academically to anyone-- not to me, as their mother, nor to the mentors that taught them in their weekly classes with our homeschool group. They were the masters of their educations, only they were now prideful and unteachable.

      Frankly, they did not know all that they did not know! They had no course, and did not know how to navigate, even if they did have a plan. They simply floated along the waves of their present interests, and were going nowhere. Adulthood was waiting on the horizon, and they were clueless on how to meet it.

      At about this same time, I read a phrase written by a fellow homeschooler who had children slightly older than myself. What she wrote rang in my ears, and caused me to begin to change my own course.

      She wrote,

"We cannot leave our children to float adrift in their educational boats."

      Like a clash of thunder, I knew that I needed to step up and help my children steer their boats, before they drifted further and further off the course I knew that God and I wanted for them.

      So after more than a decade of "homeschooling," I found that I needed to start over. I needed to stop focusing on other homeschooling mothers and their children, and "behold my own little ones."

      The beam in my own eye had to be addressed, at last. It was a path of humiliation and regret, but at last I was going to face the fact that I had neglected the education of those precious ones I had been given stewardship over.

      Which is the course upon which I am still finding my way today.

      Thank you for joining me on the voyage.

With love, Rachel

Aug 24, 2015

Changes in Our Homeschool

These changes in our homeschool have actually been a long time coming. I have been homeschooling for what feels like ages-- 15 years. And I have three children that are done with our homeschool, though I don't know that I can honestly say that they have "graduated." (That is a post for another day.)

Making mistakes is GOOD-- I know that. But only if we learn from those mistakes! Making the same mistakes over and over again and expecting different results is foolish.

Hence, the need for real change.

For the vast majority of my homeschooling years, I have been using a set of principles that I felt very good about-- I felt inspired to go down that path. Unfortunately, I did not use those principles in the way that I should have. I wanted homeschooling to be easy, to fulfill my own selfish plans and desires. And so, I also learned that some of those principles did not work well for our family.

So while I am grateful for the ideas I once followed whole-heartedly, I have also learned that the personal needs of myself as a homeschooling mother and the needs of MY children must come first in our homeschool.

And that is why I am starting this new blog. I feel that I need a new beginning, a fresh start. I am not the homeschooling mother that I was when I began our educational journey just before the turning of the last century. I have fallen down, picked myself up, and gained insights that I feel may help another homeschooling mom out there, somewhere.

And so, WELCOME, as I share my experiences leading, guiding, and walking beside my children still being homeschooled in my care.