Tag Archives: Homeschool

Do Things Scared

There are some massive changes going on in our family this summer. While we’re all excited for them, I have to admit, I’m honestly terrified too. Us moms, we ultimately just want our kids to be happy, well adjusted people, who aren’t turds. I think that’s something we can all agree on. Of course the pathways there are numerous and everyone seems to have an opinion on “what is best”.

As of July 1st, I will be hanging up my hat as a homeschool mom. It’s kind of a struggle, I feel like I’m somehow losing my credentials as a mom. That by not homeschooling I’m giving up and taking a shortcut. 

I shared a few weeks ago about the possibility of our oldest four going to school in the fall. The decisions have been made and teacher assignments are in the mail. Avelyn will be going into second grade and Henry, James, and Ellie will be going to kindergarten.

Academically I think those are the right choices for them, my concern remains for the social aspect. My kids are going to be a full year to two years older than the kids in their grades. Ultimately, that’s not a big deal, because who cares how old you are when you graduate high school.

It’s more my concern that they will stick out. I’m also hoping that their maturity and age will set them apart from their classmates in a good way, that they will have the strength to do and say what is right, and not cave to the negatives of peer pressure.

So yea, I’m nervous. I’m scared. But I’m also hopeful and excited. I think it’s the right time.

People have also assumed that we’ve thrown in towel on homeschooling, we haven’t. It’s just not what is working for us right now. Maybe in a few years we will come back to homeschool, maybe we won’t. We have always said we will take it a year a time. I can’t predict or know what’s going to happen.

The other big change this summer is that the kids are going to overnight camp! It’s just for two nights, but still, that’s a HUGE deal in our house. Our church diocese has a camp they run all summer long. The kids were excited to try their beginner camp, so we will see how it goes.

I’m hoping and praying that it goes well; particularly since I have one child that does not do well with not being home, not that any of them are fantastic at being away. I’m just hoping I’m not making any midnight drives to pick kids up from 3 hours away.

So, yea…big changes for us. Good changes, but still scary. It’s a good thing my motto for the past year has been do it scared.

 

 

Homeschool in the White House

I shared a long time ago about how this past school year (2017-2018) was going to be the first year of homeschooling Avie and the triplets, but I never shared anything about it again. It’s been hard. This post hasn’t been an easy one to write, the words haven’t come together willing.

I knew going in that teaching the basics wasn’t going to be easy, not because I’m incapable or the kids are inept, but just because of personalities. And I was right.

We plowed through much of the school year, dealing with attitudes and personalities, trying to figure out how to approach things for each kid, because they all are different and learn different too. There were times when it was sweet perfection and times when there were tears, either me or the kids.

I love homeschooling, don’t get me wrong. I love it….in theory. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s the kids, maybe it’s all of it together, but it was not working for us this past year.

One thing I do know is that I have always said

I will not sacrifice my motherhood on the altar of homeschooling.

I won’t do it.

My relationship with my children, as their mother, is far more important to me and our family, than whether I homeschool or send my kids to school.

In February, Avie expressed interest in going to school…then Jamie (Henry and Ellie were adamant about NOT going to school). We played with the idea, talked to the school. Right now we’re in the process of finding out where they will fit grade-wise and deciding whether or not to send them in the fall. Then the other day Henry and Ellie said they wanted to go to school.

There are parts of public schooling that are very appealing to us, and no, getting them out of my hair isn’t one of them. I really want my children to play instruments, I want them to be exposed to the arts. Honestly, we can’t afford piano lessons for all five. By the time we’ve checked off the boxes of what we HAVE to do, I have nothing left to give for the things I want to do (crafts, art, etc), and that part SUCKS!

As of right now we haven’t made an official decision yet regarding any of them. The school really feels strongly that James needs to go into Kindergarten and that Avelyn needs to repeat second grade, and I’m not sure I’m ok with that.

James will be 7 in December and while he’s not fluent with his letters, I’m concerned that he’s going to be bored and frustrated surrounded by 4 and 5 year olds (not to mention that he’s going to stick out like a sore thumb with his speech issues, glasses, and being a full head taller than any kid his age). I  truly do believe that he will rise to the occasion if he’s placed in 1st grade, as will Avelyn.

As for Henry and Ellie, I really don’t think there’s any convincing I could do on the school’s part to enroll them in first grade. They’re smart, but they’re just not there with their letters.

Needless to say, I’m struggling. Struggling with feeling as though I’ve failed them, that they’re behind, that this was my fault and my selfishness of wanting to homeschool, that my “little experiment” resulted in their being behind their peers academically. Then the other part of me is “screw it”; we did what was right for our family at that time, I don’t regret for one second having them home with me.

What is the rush of getting them into school?! Why? So they can be in the workforce or college a year earlier? I want my kids to LOVE learning, not be “educated”. We all have our opinions on curriculum, common core, and socialist education (no child left behind etc). Traditional schooling is NOT for everyone, not every kid flourishes in it, and the same is for homeschooling. And I refuse to be made to feel that I’ve done wrong by attempting this year of homeschooling.

And none of this is to say that we will never homeschool again. I really do feel that for our family homeschooling is the right choice. I truly feel that if we do send the kids to public school that it will be for a season, maybe not for all of them, but for some of them. Maybe once they’ve had the “experience” and have the basics under the belts, we will all be home again. I don’t know, but I know that I’m ok with whichever way we decide.

I’m sure this won’t be the last time I write on this, because this is a huge thing in our family right now. None of it’s easy.

Life Happens – Where I’ve Been for the Past Year or So

I know I kind of fell off the face of the earth for the past, umm year, is it? It’s been a while since I posted anything of any substance, anywhere, longer since I posted anything about my family. I still have drafts I wrote last Summer that I have every intention of publishing…someday. In all honesty, life has been a bit of a struggle for me, the past few months, the past year.

I read something about stress-levels post multiples and how post-partum depression hits later than with singletons. I don’t know if 6 years later is feasible or not. Maybe it is. At just the time they say it hits (2-3 years of age), we had Peter, which didn’t give me the chance to breath…life marched on. There was no time to feel “depressed”.

There’s still no time, but it’s there. The tired, the not caring, the overwhelmed. 

And this is where I always freeze up when it comes to sharing, because no one knows how or wants to admit that they don’t really like themselves or their life sometimes. At least I don’t. And there’s another part that if you are liking who you are becoming or what you are doing, there’s a problem with that too.

I love my husband. I love my kids. I love our home. Sometimes it’s all too much though, too much noise, too much stuff, too many personalities, too many to-dos. And all the too much means there’s not enough of other things…quiet, clean, brain power, focus, clarity.

My mind gets swept along the raging river, bashing into rocks and being sucked under the waves. Sometimes, I’m able to keep my head up, manage to keep afloat amidst the debris, and other times I’m sucked into one of those underwater crevices of a rock and the panic sets in.

They tell me that this is normal, that it’s just “motherhood”. Then why do I feel so alone, despite opening up to others, that no one really is drowning in this as much as I am. I don’t honestly think I’m failing at this, I think I’m doing a pretty darn OK job at mothering these 5, but why does it feel like I’m the only mom that wants to walk away from it, from them?

Last summer my book club read “The Awakening”, and most of the responses of the other moms was how could she leave her children, that she was so selfish for all she was doing…and all I could think was how I “got” what she felt. She would do anything for her children, except kill her “self”.

I’m sure there are many Christian moms that would read this, clutching their pearls, at the very thought of not dying to self, of not living solely for their children. I’m sorry, I can’t, and I don’t honestly think that God wants me to become a shell of a woman for the sake of my children. I don’t for one minute believe that I am supposed to entirely relinquish my interests, identity, or any part of me for my role as a mother.

That said, it’s finding my self, finding the time to remember who I was before any of this, that feels impossible. The part that makes it so impossible is that I’ve always lived for someone else and what they expected of me, so it’s not just FINDING my self, but actually LEARNING who I am, and in that there is a struggle.

When you start figuring out who you are, what your interests are, who you want to be, you have a tendency to piss off people, to disappoint people. You become no longer willing to just make every one else happy, to be a doormat. Suddenly, there’s a whole other part of you. Your interests and opinions and feelings don’t line up with what people expect you to do and be. And that can be a very hard place to be.

It’s very often pointed out that the marriage/husband should be the focus of a family, because after the children are long gone, that will still exist…and it’s true. Your children are your’s for a season, your husband will be your’s until death do you part (baring anything else). But here’s the thing, YOU will be you until forever.

What happens when a spouse dies? You’ve lived your entire life for that person only to not know how to function when they’re gone. I don’t want to do that either. I don’t want to curl up in a ball and not be able to live if something were to happen to my husband, and I know he wouldn’t want that for me, just as I wouldn’t want that for him, no matter how old we were.

Now that I’ve taken this whole big thing to explain what my mental state has been for the past year. I have been in a constant struggle between taking care of my children and husband and taking care of myself. I don’t have an answer on how to manage it. I don’t have a solution.

Sometimes I feel like me. Sometimes I don’t want to get out of bed (I d0 anyways). I’m not sure that there is a way to find a balance between the two, because as soon as I feel like me, I’m hear that I’m failing my family. It’s lovely really *note sarcasm*.

I think the hardest part of my writing and being active on social media, is that I don’t want to be open with certain people in my life. I honestly don’t want to share my struggles with nosy relatives, the neighbors who are just going to gossip, but I don’t know how to cut those ties without insulting someone. So I shut myself up instead. At the time it seems easier.

That said, I am seriously considering going private again as a blogger, because I know I need this space. There are a lot of things that I want to mull over and share and process here, and hopefully in the near future I will be sharing more about things that are going on in my life.

This Homeschool Mom’s Summer Reading List

*This post contains affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission on any purchases made through these links, at no additional cost to you. You can find my disclosure policy here. All titles are clickable links.

We’ve just wrapped up year two of “officially” homeschooling: YAY! I still balk at the title of a “Homeschool Mom”. I don’t feel like a homeschool mom, for some reason I have it in my head that homeschool moms are neat-nik, bible thumpin’ women who manage to keep their house clean, their kids well mannered, and dinner on the table at 5. I am NOT that mom, and I know (deep down) that is not the majority of homeschool moms.

Our houses are loud, our children are messy, chaos is constant, and we like to think of ourselves as John Wesley’s mother with her apron over her head, quietly praying to the Lord, while we’re actually just trying to escape for 2 minutes. At least that’s my house. Some days I can deal with it better than others.

Now that the school year is done and the books are back on the shelves, it allows me a bit more freedom in my own time. There is nothing I enjoy more in my free time than reading.

Before we had children we had planned to homeschool. I wouldn’t say it was a life long dream or any kind of fancy, but we figured that was the path we’d pursue. I had read a few books before we had headed down this path, but not many, and only two since we’ve started on this journey.

Needless to say, there is quite the pile of books that I’ve collected (and many more I haven’t) over the years that I haven’t read. Looking at the pile, knowing the triplets start kindergarten, I decided that it was time to read some of them…you know, before they’ve graduated. This list is some of those that I’ve already read, as well as some books which have sat in the TBR pile far too long.

What I’ve Read

Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie

Read this one last year and LOVED it! Sarah Mackenzie is the mom of 6, and the creator of Read Aloud Revival (as well as momma to preschooler twins). It was a quick read filled with lots of great ideas and tips on how to create a place of rest in your home. How having that base is what will allow you to not homeschool or educate your children but create an environment of welcomed learning. If you’re feeling as though you’re drowing in homeschooling and KNOW that it just CANNOT continue as such, then this is the book for you.

Homeschooling for the Rest of Us by Sonya Haskins

My family is not your average family. We have three kids the same age, and when we started homeschooling we had 5 kids five and under. There is no book that covers that dynamic. Most books assume that you have one child per age and that you can set your child up to be schooling independently, before having the next one start.

Haskins’ book has great information about not following a formulaic approach to homeschooling, and instead letting your family life determine how your homeschool functions. It’s truly the book that set me up for thinking about how we are going to homeschool next year.

The Digital Invasion by Dr. Archibald Hart and Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd

This book isn’t specific to homeschooling, but I feel like the digital is very much invading homeschooling. Many curriculums are going toward computer based learning, which is great, but it comes at a price. Hart and Frejd go into how the digital world is reshaping our brains and the way we are relating with not only the world around us, but our families as well.

The thing I truly appreciated about this book, wasn’t that technology is a plague and should be avoided, but a very real presence in our lives and homes and how best to use it without being used by it.

When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling by R.C. Sproul Jr.

I think I read this when Avie was a baby. It was the first book I had read on homeschooling, and one that I will probably be re-reading this summer (particularly since there are no notes or dog-eared pages in it). One of the things that has stuck with me from this book is the “why” of homeschooling.

Why are you homeschooling? What is your definition of success? Are you raising your children with the goal of being successful by the world’s standards or by God’s? It has continually made me rethink what our motives are when it comes to parenting.

What I Plan to Read

Obviously, these are the books I haven’t read. Other than saying that trusted people have recommended them to me, I can give you no incentive to read them for yourselves.

Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay Clarkson with Sally Clarkson

From Amazon: Whether you are a first-time homeschooler or a longtime veteran, this comprehensive guide will equip and empower you for your journey of faith as a family. Discover the joy of bringing relationship-based, book-centered learning into the natural daily life of your home.

Give Your Child the World by Jamie C. Martin

From Amazon: Featuring a carefully curated reading treasury of the best children’s literature for each area of the globe, as well as practical parenting suggestions and inspiration, Give Your Child the World helps moms and dads raise insightful, compassionate kids who fall in love with the world and are prepared to change it for good.

The Book Tree by Elizabeth MccCallum and Jane Scott

Very similar to Give Your Child the World in the sense, that it is an invaluable resource for choosing good books for your family.

From Amazon: They have provided a guide to the best of children’s literature serviceable for both veteran reading families and those just beginning their great journey of the imagination. I think you’ll find that their accurate descriptions, careful recommendations, and cogent insights will prove to be as delightful as it will be invaluable in your own family.

Reading Together: Everything You Need to Know to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read by Diane W. Frankenstein

From Amazon: This engaging guide shares advice for parents, teachers, librarians, and caregivers on how to help children find what to read, and then through conversation, how to find meaning and pleasure in their reading. With more than 100 great book recommendations for kids from Pre-K through grade six, as well as related conversation starters, Reading Together offers a winning equation to turn children into lifelong readers.

Home Grown Kids by Raymond and Dorothy Moore

Raymond and Dorothy Moore have prepared this influential book to show how, by using the everyday resources and experiences of your own home environment, you can truly enjoy your child and give him or her a wholesome, first-class education that neither stifles creativity nor hampers character development.

~*~*~*~*~*~

I know this list is in no way exhaustive of all of the wonderful homeschooling books that are out there. I’m sure if I looked through just the boks that I’ve pinned and saved on Instagram I could probably add another 15 easily. BUT…

I’d love to know what are some of your favorite homeschool books?

Homeschool Planner 2017-2018

It’s here! As promised…I finished the 2017-2018 Homeschool Planner, which is now for sale on Etsy! Just like last year’s planner, this year comes in both blank subject and with subjects printed, but everything else is just as expected. Psst….there’s a special promo code just for you at the bottom of this post.

Only this year I’ve created several additional pages to help you homeschooling mamas keep track of things that you probably have to report to your school districts. Things like Assignments, Field Trips, Grades, Attendance, and a bunch of blank pages for you to create whatever you need.
Just like last year there are pages for those of you who are bloggers, to help you keep tabs on what you have written about, what things you still want to explore, and when you want to share them; as well as giveaways and reviews.

The other part of the planner that’s my favorite is the Life Pages; which include a place to list out all of your regular and favorite meal ideas, who you’ve invited to dinner, your goals for the year, and a monthly notes section with places to keep track of things you’re grateful, birthdays, to-dos, and relationships you want to invest in (this might just be my favorite part).

And just for launch week only…

I am offering a $5.00 off coupon with code HSPJMW17 for the planner, so you can get it for $10, rather than the regular price of $15.

Where can I order the planner?

You can click at the MY SHOP link above or visit https://www.etsy.com/shop/WhiteHouseEmporium Remember there are TWO different versions, the blank subject and a filled in subject…make sure you add the right one to the cart.

PS. if you’d be interested in a reviewing or promoting the planner let me know Hello at JessicaMWhite dot com