This decision has been a few years in the making and we have so enjoyed the last year of living a life of learning that we are choosing to continue it. Someday I'll share more about why we do what we do, but for now I have so many friends considering homeschooling that I want to put in one place everything that has been most valuable in shaping my mind and heart about the kind of life we desire to create for our family, and how we want to educate.
For those considering homeschooling, there is so much information out there. It's overwhelming! I am not an expert nor am I a veteran, however, I have learned an incredible amount in the last couple of years and am now standing on a solid foundation that will shape our years to come. The resources I've shared below are what resonate with me and continue to inspire me. Mama friends, I hope they help you, too!
Note: These are not resources we use to homeschool but that shape our home and perspective about education and life. Full post about resources we use on a daily basis coming soon!
The Wild + Free community has made deep roots in our family and inspired us more than anything else. Their anthem: "Our Desire is to Give Our Children a Quality Education But Also to Preserve The Adventure, Freedom and Wonder of Childhood." Deep sigh of relief. That resonates in me, and I want this for my own children.
Wild + Free has been the most powerful inspiration in our homeschooling journey. When I first considered homeschooling, I had a very dated idea of it in my head. Sheltered. Backwards. Awkward.
When I began to see what a movement homeschooling is today, those old notions were completely swept away by the beautiful, noble, and adventurous ways we can educate in our own environments. These are not mamas in stuffy dresses ruling by fear tactics on a compound. These mamas are like me. They want to educate not just their children's minds but their hearts and characters. They want to cultivate a lifestyle of learning. They want to read good books and play and go on excursions and soak up everything there is to know with the freedom to do it at their own pace. They want morning time with big ideas and God and the guitar and they want tea time with A.A. Milne and Mozart and they want their kids to be able to build forts and pursue passion projects and serve. This community of mamas was my community.
And so it was that I began to catch the vision and the freedom to be found in crafting this life with my family. They are a continual fount of ideas to try, wisdom to heed, challenging thoughts and everything that is true, good and beautiful.
Every month I get a new content bundle - articles and podcasts - that I download and devour. They send a streamlined print magazine with the highlights. I also pour over their print collections. There's one on nature journaling, handcrafts, and cultivating a whole family and I love them all.
When I first began researching to begin this homeschooling journey, I was quickly overwhelmed with information, curriculum, books and stuff. As a minimalist, I wanted to stay far away from anything that wasn't of value or that took up too much space (time-wise and physically) with little dividends. So I searched "minimalist homeschooling."
Meet Jane. Jane and her Salty Tribe were a balm and hope to my soul. Here is a mama doing life with her family on their terms, and those terms are encouraging others, living simply with less, and doing their thing. I was home.
Her approach to integrating/combining subjects and doing it beautifully allowed me to take a deep breath, relax and realize that I not only wanted to own this, but that I could. She has fantastic blog posts about planning, curriculum, materials they love, how they keep things simple, daily rhythms, homeschooling on a budget, what they're reading and how to get started.
If you're thinking about this journey, start at this amazing place.
The words and approaches of Charlotte Mason have been transformative for me, and not only are her books available for free here, but this group has put together a suggested - and free! - curriculum based on Miss Mason's wonderful life's work.
In it, Year 0 (Kindergarten) is encouraged to simply let your child play and discover their own world, learn to do tasks around the house, get familiar with numbers and letters...and not much more. What a breath of fresh air, and what a concept! And you know what? It's been amazing. Without formal academics this year but simply a present mama, lots of read aloud time and excursions, Alice is reading, writing, adding, subtracting, multiplying, playing, grasping big ideas, chasing her curiosities, helping take care of our home, and falling more in love with learning, our world and our God. And all without stress.
Next year will look different. It's our first year of registering as an exempt school with the state and there are certain subjects required. While we won't exclusively use Ambleside Online's suggestions to meet each topic, it has been so helpful to have a jumping off point and gleaning the books and studies that I think best for the next year.
(p.s. getting super excited for this next year!)
This book is one I will read every other year to refresh my mind, heart and soul about what is really important not only in educating at home, but also in life. Her anecdotes and expansion on Miss Mason's ideas are practical and challenging, and her modern vernacular helps demystify some of the strands of thought and words they used more than a century ago during Charlotte's own time. A must read for anyone who wants to go deeper into Charlotte Mason's philosophy.
I love Bethany's thoughtful words and lifestyle about living simply and purposefully. There is always a beautiful nugget to be gleaned from her relevant posts, which range from marriage, feeding your family, managing technology with kids, homeschool planning, simple ways to nurture yourself, recipes, alleviating overwhelm and more. Bethany's introspective nature shines like a beacon to the frantic and unsleeping modern world, and I cherish her words every time she posts anew.
For the last two years I've attend the Spring conference hosted by the NCHEA. Not only is it a fantastic place to peruse curriculum (which I didn't touch with a ten foot pole last year since I was still drowning in information!) but they have fantastic speakers and workshops on all sorts of topics of interest and age appropriateness. Being a newbie, I soaked up as much as I could about starting out and this year I enjoyed all of the literature-based workshops from their keynote speakers.
This year Alice also got to go to the kid's conference where they engaged in drama, music, lessons, hands-on projects, games and Scripture memory. I especially loved that she got to see just how many other people homeschool. We have a fantastic homeschool community here in Blair (so many!) and it's encouraging for us to see that it's not just us; again, it's a movement.
As lifelong learners ourselves, JD and I are always reading and taking in new ideas. When I edit photos or we're driving together, we listen to audiobooks or podcasts. After the littles are in bed you can usually catch us cuddled on the couch with books in our laps.
Listening in particular to the stories, lives and ideas of other men and women on the great subject of education and cultivating a home and lifestyle that promotes lifelong learning is essential to staying refreshed and growing deeper as the keeper of my home. Below are the podcasts that impact me the most, drawing deeply from the storehouses and hearts of others, along with their experiences, wisdom and passions. These podcasts are not just for homeschooling but for motherhood, homemaking and living a life of meaning.
As I shared earlier, the Wild + Free community has shaped me/us more than anything else. They are always interviewing mamas and discussing real issues and inspirations. Like creating a nurturing place where children can chase the spark of their curiosities and natural need to learn. The great value of stories and play. Nature. Mother culture. Community. Marriage. Comparison. Homeschooling with toddlers. Homeschooling with learning disorders. Homeschooling the heart. This community is so real and so wonderful in their honesty of trials and joys.
This podcast from four homeschooling mamas (often present in the W+F community) is such a welcoming place to listen in! Each episode they dialogue on a chosen topic and share their experiences, thoughts and stances.
"This podcast is a collection of conversations about mothering, home life and education. We all homeschool our children, but we hope to offer discussions that anyone can pull up a chair to. We plan to cover topics that will range from the lighthearted and fun to the heavier ones that may include politics, faith and social issues. We hope this podcast is a place to find encouraging and thoughtful dialog."
Mom guilt. Sibling bickering. Serving. School day schedules. Kids and money. Traveling. Discouragement. Building our husbands up. Hobbies and handcrafts. Music. Sacrifices. Traditions. Literature. Meal planning. Charlotte Mason Education. Parenting and educating special needs. Feminism. Overscheduling. School year prep. Homeschooling different ages. Socialization. Chores. Sibling relationships. Book clubs. Screen time. Theology. Whew!
No doubt you'll enjoy their animated discussions and find your own views challenged, changed or affirmed.
Morning Basket time is possibly the most valuable time of the day. It looks vastly different for each family and it certainly needn't be quarantined to the morning, but it's a time and space to come together to read, discuss and share ideas. Many families use this time to read and talk about scripture, memorize verses or poetry or foreign language vocabulary, to read picture books and chapter books, narrate, play games and sing songs.
Pam Barnhill hosts myriad veterans, inspirers and scholars to talk about everything from the importance of story to scheduling.
Here are links to my two all time favorite episodes that absolutely everyone needs to listen to:
Some of these conversations have been lifechanging, the above in particular.
Oh, Sally, where do I even start? I came across Sally's little thumbnail at the bottom of iTunes and clicked...and boy I'm glad I did! This podcast is so much bigger than homeschooling - it's about life. It's about the beautiful role we have as mothers, the incredible purpose we have in our homes and our families. If you need more than inspiration but to fill up your soul this is the place for you. I've since read her book The Lifegiving Home (transformative!) and am excited to begin The Lifegiving Table.
Mamas, we have such a such a powerful role in the lives of our children. Be encouraged and embrace this special time in your life!
So there you have it - the people and thoughts that have transformed my mind and heart over the last couple of years.
Who and what inspires you?