As long as we’re on the subject of Not-School…

In CategoryHome Schooling, Navel Gazing

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about my educational philosophy. I sense a shift within myself, and am trying to figure out what exactly is happening and put it into words. 

I was homeschooled myself, from 8th grade onward. At the time (1985), it was illegal in my state – I vaguely remember my parents talking in low voices about people being arrested and their kids being taken from them. My mom did not want us to even be seen outdoors during school hours. There were not a lot of curriculum choices available back then. We used A.C.E., like the local Christian School; and I also remember hearing about Abeka.

They shielded us from what had to have been a lot of stress; because it’s only now, looking back on it as a parent that I can imagine what that must have been like. I suppose we were almost pioneers, though I have no memory of feeling like anything monumental was happening. 

Strangely, even though pulling my sister and me out of public school was a huge decision and almost unheard of at the time, I do not think they put very much thought into the actual education itself. We were given our workbooks and left to our own devices. My mother was not what you’d call a natural teacher, and anytime I struggled with the material (which was abysmal, in my opinion), we had relationship-altering arguments. 

It’s a wonder that I chose this route for myself, frankly. 

Obviously, I want to give my kids an entirely different school experience. One filled with togetherness and traveling and good books and the natural learning that happens through adventure.  I see my role as being part facilitator, part teacher; providing them with a banquet of possibility and giving them the freedom to choose what they wish and gobble up as much as they want. 

Good grief, I sound like a crackpot. 

But I FEEL this weird yearning within me – it’s in there, growing, nagging, and generally on my case constantly.  To do more, give more, be more for my kids. 

I have a friend who tells me I am going to end up an unschooler. But I don’t think so. For one thing, I don’t like that word. “Unschooling” sounds too much like “nonschooling.” For another, I am not the kind of person who can be all “yeah, they’ll learn how to do algebra when they want to” or whatever. Nobody wants to learn algebra. My people will learn maths, and how to read and write well, the end. 

But other subjects? I don’t see why history, science, geography, literature, art, music, sports, and everything else can’t be largely interest-led. Surely I can give them the power to study what they are interested in, within guidelines that I set. 

The thing is, I don’t really know HOW. How do I implement this idea? How do I balance a quality education that at least partly satisfies my need for checking-things-off-a-list but also gives my children the freedom to pursue their own interests – without squashing their desire under a pile of worksheets? 

Most importantly, can I do it so it doesn’t interfere with my teevee viewing?

Children make large demands upon us. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. Thou hast set my feet in a large room; should be the glad cry of every intelligent soul. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time…that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest. We cannot give the children these interests; we prefer that they should never say they have learned botany or geology or astronomy. The question is not, how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education, but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him? 

Charlotte Mason


In CategoryNavel Gazing
  • The other day, I gave my kids goldfish crackers for breakfast. In the car. Because I just needed to go to Starbucks that badly.


  • I overheard some mom the other day complaining about laundry stains. Here is what I do about that: make my kids strip to the waist before every meal. Ta Da! Problem solved! You’re welcome.


  • My mother-in law is coming for a visit next week. The last time she was here, Little sat on her lap and exclaimed, “I didn’t know GIRLS could grow MUSTACHES!”


  • I let my hair guy wax my eyebrows. It was weird.


  • I found an adorable pink cardigan for my daughter at the thrift store. It was in great condition. When I got it home, I saw that it was Calvin Klein. CALVIN KLEIN. For a THREE YEAR OLD. I’m sorry, but whoever originally bought a designer sweater for a child is a sucker. Which is, in fact, the nicest possible thing I can think of to say about that.


  • I got a very weird spam comment the other day. It said “Another tragedy in the making. I guess we won’t stop unless we have destroyed everything.” I guess I should apologize that my post about the kids’ little garden aroused such a strong response. Who knew cucumbers could set someone off like that?

NOT Back to School – A Day in the Life

In CategoryHome Schooling


This week on the Blog Hop, the topic is A Day in the Life of our home school!  

The following represents a pretty honest account of our typical day…


The kids start thumping around and throwing open our bedroom door every five minutes to make various announcements – “I have to PEE!” and “I’m HUNGRY!” 

I put my pillow over my head, then plant my foot in Jim’s back and shove him out of bed. He gets everyone dressed and chucks food down their beaks while I hang onto every last possible second of sleep. I know what you are thinking – he’s swell and I’m not. It’s okay, luckily I’m fine with that. He does laundry too. 


I stagger down the stairs and head directly for the coffee pot. Jim refills his mug, kisses everyone and heads to his office in the basement, where mysterious computer geekery happens. The kids follow me around, peppering me with questions until I threaten to put a baby gate up in the doorway so I can drink my coffee in peace. I check my email and cruise the internets for an hour or so, occasionally hollering settle down! and  NO! you can’t have the hammer! in the direction of the playroom. 

9-ish am

I drag myself away from the computer and herd everyone into the school room


Big begins his morning negotiating session. “No, not Ma-ath! Math is the WORST. How about if I pick, then you pick?” and “how about if I skip all theseones?” and “Little gets to play with bugs? I want to play with bugs TOO” and so on and so forth. Mostly, I find this amusing. It’s interesting to see his powers of persuasion developing. We usually compromise, with my conditions being something like, “okay, but if you whine even ONCE, you have to go back and do them all.” At some point he realized I would not negotiate with him if he didn’t hold up his end of the deal, and he now honors his agreements like a little gentleman. 

9:02am – Noon

We begin with Handwriting Practice, then I let him choose between Math and Reading/Phonics. After that, it’s his turn to pick, then mine, and so on until our work is done. In the past I kept a 4 day school schedule, so I could keep a day for paying bills and shoveling out the kitchen. It was too stressful for him, so we moved to a 5 day schedule, limiting ourselves to 3 or 4 subjects a day. Math, Reading, and Spelling are on Mon/Wed/Fri; and Geography, Science, and Vocabulary are on T/Th. Handwriting Practice is daily. Yay for being an understanding schoolwork scheduler, Boo for no time to bill-pay or kitchen-shovel.

So mornings are filled with schoolwork, intermingled with lots of “wait your turn” “lower your voice” “pay attention” “quit doing that” “get off the floor” “where did you get that?” “quit making that noise” etc, etc, etc. 

Actually, there is quite a bit of “quit making that noise!” now that I think about it. 

Some days he buckles down and gets all his work done by lunch, and some days he needs lots of play breaks and snack breaks.

Some days we get absorbed in chemistry and our weekly experiments go on all afternoon, and some days Someone has eaten all the marshmallows we were going to use for molcule-building and I have to be evasive about why we can’t do our project. 

Some days I spend a lot of time either comforting him when he’s struggling or sternly telling him to quit whining and get with it. I call that Character Training and tell myself it’s just as important as book work, so I don’t get too discouraged at how behind we are falling. 

Some days I have to make bread or go to the grocery store or pay bills or lie on the couch with a bag of chips and the remote (not really, but doesn’t that sound great?), and school gets minimized or pushed to the next day altogether. 

Noon-ish onward

Jim comes up and helps make lunch for the kids. He fills me in on the latest thing Microsoft is doing to mess up his life, and I ask him if skip-counting by fives really seems that important. 

After we finish schoolwork, they do the things kids do and I do the things mommies do, sometimes getting exasperated and saying things like where did you get that hammer? and how about watching Word World and being quiet for a few minutes? Jim comes home around 5, and they wrestle with Daddy or read aloud; and I take a break before starting in on dinnertime, bathtime, and bedtime. 

Eventually, about 13 hours after the day began, it’s time to sink into the couch and relax with some teevee

And get ready to do it all again tomorrow.

I love to peek in other people’s windows, so link over to the Blog Hop and tell about your Day-in-the-Life!

A bhoe? A shoot?

In CategoryNavel Gazing

So, I went Hey-I-Can-Still-Rock-The-Cool-Boots shopping yesterday. There have apparently been some new developments in the footwear industry since the last time I shopped.

What IS this?

Is this actually “in”?

Are there people out who suffer from hot toes and cold ankles simultaneously?

Is there a gladiator subculture I don’t know about?

In related news, I spent an hour trying to figure out how to get the picture OUT of my camera. While I was at it, I also rescued pictures of my daughter’s first haircut.

That have been trapped in there since 2008.

‘Cause I rock at being a mom like that.