Homeschool Hub Utah is dedicated to connecting, educating, inspiring, and serving homeschool families throughout the state of Utah. These blog posts are designed to do all of that! Every month we aim to spotlight different families with different backgrounds, teaching methods, educational philosophies, lifestyles (rural/urban/etc.), different struggles, and different successes. We are always looking for more stories! If you, or someone you know, would like to be spotlighted in our monthly blog posts, please contact us with the subject line “spotlight.”
I come from a public-schooled family, and as a child I LOVED going to school. But when my oldest child was just a newborn, the thought of sending him away seemed very wrong to me. Even though he was still an infant, I couldn’t handle the thought of him leaving his family all day, every day, for the most impressionable years of his life! I felt strongly that wasn’t what our family was supposed to do. I had never even considered homeschooling, but all of the sudden, I felt a very powerful pull in that direction.
Now, having done this whole homeschooling thing for about 10 years (with many, many more years to go!) I can honestly say this is exactly what my family is supposed to be doing right now.
How do we do it? We started out following the Classical model explained in The Well-Trained Mind by Jesse Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. The Classical philosophy was very appealing to me. I really love the concept of the Trivium! And if I had only had one child, maybe we would have stuck with it a little longer. Those early years of homeschooling were very, very, labor intensive on my part. Nowadays we are more of a relaxed Classical/Charlotte Mason/Eclectic mix (and YES! There IS a Facebook Group for that!) We never really perfected the habit of formal narrations, and Latin will be (sadly for some) leaving our homeschool curriculum next year, but I adore living books, morning time, nature studies – of my own persuasion, logic and debate, Classical literature, and viewing my kids as individuals rather than little minds to mold.
On a practical note, in the mornings after a spiritual “home seminary” which somehow also involves watching the WorldWatch news program, my “littles” do Saxon math, grammar, Writing and Rhetoric, handwriting, piano practice (and formerly Latin). Lunch break is usually an hour or two, preferably outside. Then in the afternoons we rotate between science and history (following the four-year rotation The Well-Trained Mind recommends – 1. Ancients/Life Science, 2. Medieval/Earth and Space Science, 3. Renaissance-Early Modern/Chemistry, and 4. Modern history/Physics – and whatever tech class the kids have that year. (Thank you, My Tech High!) Do I sit down with all the kids and do their school work with them? Absolutely not. I just start with the youngest and help him until he’s done, then move up the line until my 11-year-old is finished. The older they get, the more independent they have to be. Sorry, not sorry. The older kids? They’ve still got piano practice, Saxon math, science, and a little history they need to get done. But because they attend a co-op once a week for teenagers (add in seminary, debate, and choir on top of that), they’ve got WAY more on their plates. They basically operate on auto pilot at this point. Hallelujah. They still ask for help – and I still offer it and make sure they are feeling alright about everything. I promise, they aren’t abandoned.
Thursdays everything flies out the window. That would be our not-at-home school day. But it’s also everyone’s favorite day! (We love our co-op, we love our choir, we love our friends, we love our classes, some of us love getting home late and not getting to bed on time. Some of us don’t love that part as much.)
We aren’t perfect people, and yes, the house is always messier than I want it to be, but I get to be with my children every day of their childhood and youth and they get to be with me. I know some people do a little happy dance when they send their children back to school in the fall, but that thought just breaks my heart. I love that my children are important to me, and I love that I am important to them. I love learning, growing, exploring, experiencing, nurturing, discovering, healing, and becoming better people together. I love watching their understandings expand and their skills sharpen. I love that they are thoughtful and kinds towards ALL people (except they are also normal children and are sometimes kind of jerks to each other.) I love that they have wholesome, building, and inspiring experiences outside of our home with a wide range of groups, clubs, and classes. I love that we don’t have the drama and fads that come from being immersed in popular culture and the public-school environment. Our life is so full of so many good things – and we share it all together. I love that we laugh together. I love that we support each other. I love that our family is a unit – not just a group of people who live under the same roof and go our separate ways every morning. That is the part I am most grateful for.
Don’t get me wrong! Some days are pretty horrible. Most days are just mediocre. And those first few years we experienced a lot of bumping and bruising as we were figuring out exactly how we were going to make this all work. We’ve cried the tears and, yes, thrown the books in anger and frustration (that was me). But we’ve/I’ve also learned to get past that. Now, the hard days come with extra love, extra mercy, and yes, extra patience that no, I did not have when we started about a decade ago. I love homeschooling. We aren’t the smartest or most talented and honestly, we are still figuring out how to make this work as every year brings new challenges, obstacles, and opportunities. But I love how it helps us all become our best selves. I wish every mother could experience this joy with her children, whether in homeschool or somewhere else.