Because People Will Confront You

While at Barnes and Noble

Standing in the children’s section of Barnes & Noble, my phone chirped, alerting me to a Facebook notification.

My children were completely engaged in reading twaddle of all sorts or playing with the elaborate train table, so I touched the screen on my phone and it took me to a post that I had published notifying me of a new comment.

I struggle with the home-schooling concept. There is a reason that most people don’t fix their own cars. There is a reason why most people don’t treat their own diseases. There are professionals who study the theory and application of the relevant principles in various disciplines. They become experts in their field.

I couldn’t read anything more in that moment. My knees were shaking and I felt a little sick that I had attracted such attention to myself personally because of writing about unschooling.

We don’t unschool, but I felt obligated to defend not only it, but also the whole notion of home education.

They become experts in their field…

I think the reality that home school parents are not all experts in the field of education is a common anxiety for all of us. The fear is preyed upon by people in the field of education as seen in the comment I received.

But what’s interesting to me is that even highly respected educators who have been trained, certified, and tried-by-the-fires of classroom management have felt the same anxiety when it came time for them to take their child home for school.

Home education is not a matter of expertise and readiness. It is a matter of conviction, commitment, and choice.

It’s a matter of becoming an expert in studying your own child.

Even the trained experts in the field of education feel unqualified to teach their own children:

I was terrified, which was ridiculous. After all, I was a state-certified teacher. I’d taught public school for six years… The most discouraging thing I encountered was the lack of support from family and neighbors. When I started home schooling, I worried a lot…But as I look back none of the worries materialized. (Jessie Wise from A Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise; pages 3 and 628)

There are usually misconceptions driving people who confront home education.

The most common is that an education can be given. A true education is one that is sought after by the learner.  In our society, many people are steeped in the lie that the best education happens in an environment manufactured by the experts. (Which, as it turns out, is one big sociology experiment that ends up changing its methods every 5-10 years or so, but that’s a subject for a different post.)

I cannot take out of my brain what I have learned and hand it to you and expect it to have the same impact. That’s why the real influential teachers that any of us have had the privilege to learn under were the ones who inspired us and gave us an example of confidence and respect for learning.

Knowing this, I understood that I could not give the author of the comment an education on the value of home education. Instead, while my heart was pounding, I wrote my response. Not one I could copy and paste from a handy home education manual, but rather from my experience, conviction, and from a spirit of unity.

“I will do my best to reply to each of the issues you raised:

1. It takes a professional to educate a child.

I completely agree. I would go so far as to say that there needs to be a higher standard for professionalism in parenting as well. I do not take my role as primary educator of my children lightly. It is my primary profession, and I take my job very seriously. I’m investing my life into this work, and the sacrifice to do so is very costly. I hope you can see from my writing that I am endeavoring to continue my education. This is not a mandatory requirement for me, but it is because I have learned to love learning. My number one goal in parenting my children is to always lead them by example. Inspiration has a great effect on the human spirit….”

I went on to detail many more points to answer his comment, but the value wasn’t in what I said – it was in being ready to say it.

Often, confrontation comes without warning.

Whether the individual questioning your choice to home educate is coming from a place of good-will or not, the most important stance you can have toward home education is simply to know what your stance is.

Clearly know:

And I recommend that you know these points well enough to express them to your spouse, a friend, or another home educating parent.

Chances are you won’t have warning before someone (well meaning or not) confronts your decision to keep your child home for their education. This simple confrontation will feel like a personal attack.

Be ready.

Maybe you’ve had a great first few weeks of schooling at home and so you’re all smiles and berries – happy to move into fall with field trips to apple orchards with your safe and supportive home school group.

I hope this is the case!

During times of joy and celebration, our guard is down and an attack from the outside can be hugely damaging because of the simple fact that it took you by surprise and the fall from the heights can seem more painful than already being low and going lower.

Or maybe your first few weeks of teaching your own offspring has lead to more battles than books and the voice inside your head is saying that maybe you made the wrong choice. Did you hear the wrong call? Are you living outside the plan for your life?

These doubts, feelings of failure, and the battles of everyday life in a season like this can be paralyzing. It feels best to hide the failures than to expose them to ridicule. Each day is a struggle already without someone knowing and judging you for it.

You are not alone.

In times like these, you do not need an attack from the outside. But confrontations always come in one form or another. Search for support now.

Do you have your response ready?

If you found this post helpful, especially the quotes from the Facebook comments – then you should Like The Home Learner on Facebook. After you “Like” the page, be sure to hover over the Like box and click Get Notifications so you don’t miss out on the comments in the future. Everyone loves a good debate.

Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.

Maybe You Are Cut Out for It (Consider Home Education).

We are different - 1st day of school 6

On Monday we had our first day of school. It did not look like backpacks and new clothes. I didn’t stop everything to do all 8 subjects in one day. I’ve been at this thing long enough now to know that hyper schooling isn’t good for any of us.

The kids did let me take pictures of them. The real, natural them.

This month marks the beginning of our fourth year of home schooling.

In this amount of time I feel like I’ve learned through mostly failure, yet I’m in this thing for the long haul. It’s a lot of hard work, long hours, and thankless service but I wouldn’t trade it to send my kids off on a yellow bus if you paid me.

We are different - 1st day of school 5

I have so many mixed emotions about seeing kids of all ages sent off to school.

I often wonder have they considered all their options?

Whenever I encounter someone who hasn’t considered (or won’t consider) home education it’s either because a.) they don’t believe they are cut out for it or b.) they don’t think their kids are cut out for it.

When I say that maybe none of us are cut out for it but we still should consider it – these are the top 2 reasons why people won’t seriously consider home education:

  1. Their kids always fight when they are together.
  2. They want them to be socialized and have a normal school experience.

I think those are cop-out reasons.

And here’s why:

  1. I don’t think it’s working with our design to separate kids from their siblings and put them into a group of their peers.

I know a lot of parents get tired of the fighting, whining, and on-purpose-pestering between kids over the summer. Mine do it too.

We are different - 1st day of school 1

I don’t think the answer is to teach them to avoid people who bother them. I think we teach them to learn respect and how to value a person just because they are.

Everyone has value just because they are not for what they do.

And I practice what I preach. Last summer I declared a screen fast as a consequence for arguing. I told my oldest two that because they were so at odds with each other they were going to spend MORE time together without the distraction of a screen.

Maybe it’s just our house, but screen on = kids quiet. Screen off = kids fight.

I realized, I don’t want to have to screen them 24/7 just so that they don’t fight and yell. I would rather have to face loud more and get to the root of their relationship than have fake peace just because there isn’t noise.

I think it’s a part of the design to learn relationships and conflict resolution at home with siblings.

If separating your kids feels like the best thing for your family, and they are able to love one another more fully because of the space created by leaving home for school then I’m happy for you.

But chances are that separating them may just isolate them from the people in the home – the people they are supposed to know and love the most.

We are different - 1st day of school 2

2. Peer groups. Personally, I went away from home for school. The primary influence on my mind came from my peer group. I was “correctly” socialized.

I constantly felt like I could struggle my way to the top of the peer group where the kids thought I was smart, funny, popular for an hour or a day (if I was lucky and really had something new or cool).

But then inevitably gravity and sin took over.

I would slump back down to the bottom. I despised this feeling growing up. I didn’t realize that I was crying out for someone to affirm and value me in my effort to climb to the top, I was just a kid. But that’s really what all my choices, values, and goals in life centered around – how to stay at the top of my peer group.

Once peer group values have taken root, there isn’t much an adult can do or say to reverse the effect.

The lie runs straight to the heart that what my friends do, like, want is #1. Thanks mom, dad, teacher, pastor, etc. for the talk, prayer, encouragement but it falls 2nd to the lie.

This was painfully true for me, but this may not be true for you. And it might not be what happens to your children either.

What I want to beg you to pay attention to is:

In order to protect your child from believing the lies that are so pervasive in our world, you must know that you have your child’s heart.

Know beyond a doubt that relationships in the home come before relationships outside the home.

It’s never too late to home school. It’s never too late to take them back to the foundation.

We are different - 1st day of school

Listen to your instincts, pay attention to the signs, and be brave. Taking your child’s education into your own hands does not have to remove all your freedom – in fact, I’d like to say that maybe you’ll find more freedom, contentment, and satisfaction in this pursuit than you can find anywhere else.

So, I want to suggest that maybe (just maybe, this isn’t a sly way of promoting a false “always”) they are cut out for it. Maybe the person you’ll be as a grandparent will look back and wish you could do things over. Maybe the #1 thing you’ll want to change was taking them away from home for school.

Maybe you feel like you couldn’t handle it, and I get that. But maybe you’ll regret sending them away for school for the rest of your life – and I know for me, that thought is harder to handle than the thought of having to break up another sibling squabble.

Maybe it’s time to consider all your options. Maybe you are cut out for this.

Further reading: Why be crazy enough to homeschool? Answered by Ann Voskamp

Day 28: First Things and A Recipe for Rest #B2S #31Days

Photo credit, words added

Photo credit, words added

My family attended our “Meet the Teachers” night last night at the private school where my daughter and son will attend the homeschool program.

The simple surge of excitement to see friends, find desks and lockers, try out the recess equipment, and check off a list to earn a popsicle was enough to rattle me. I’m not ready for this, I said.

I like to take things slowly. This is why I’ve been preparing for almost a whole month to go Back to School, tackling items on my list that seemed more intimating this year than ever before.

Learning how to break tasks down into bite sized chunks has totally changed my life.

And it has changed my attitude too.

When I feel rattled in more than one area of my life, I lose my place of rest – and I don’t always know how to get it back.

I’ve lived entire years rattled. Constantly over stimulated by my surroundings and unable to steady my feet on solid ground.

So this little rattling, while uncomfortable for me last night, carried with it a renewed passion to stand firm on the things that I know must come first. I’ve banked my life on these first things. These are the things that are far to valuable to let go of just because the energy of a bunch of people together threatens to make me feel undone.

My first things:

Inner spiritual strength: raising my children and committing to the path of home education is admittedly hard. Sometimes when meeting someone new, they will comment, “Oh, I could never do that.” And I say, I can’t either. It isn’t in me to patiently train my children day-in-and-day-out. If left to myself, I would’ve thrown my hands up years ago and said “I can’t do this.” But He equips the called, and He strengthens the weary.

Home comes first: I’ve finally accepted that I cannot be a Yes Woman. My first few years of home education were compromised by saying yes to every good thing. If there was something at church, Yes! If a friend wanted to meet for coffee, Yes! If a child needed babysitting, Yes! Being home on purpose for the priority of education, training, and doing life together was not prized – and so being home came in second. Like knowing I should buy organic produce – it was always what I knew I should do, but couldn’t because of all the other good things I thought we needed.

Personal discipline: nothing replaces the hard work of personal discipline. I have not found a single thing on earth that can replace or mask a lack of it. When I lacked personal discipline – I felt thin, transparent, and guilty all the time. Like for all my worth, talent, gifts, and value (from just being, not from doing) wasn’t truly enough. I constantly felt like I was trying to fool everyone into thinking I was a respectable person. Instead of focusing on being a respectable person and then not caring if others thought so or not. Hard work, integrity, strength, and healthy thoughts have guarded my mind from even caring what people think of me – this is the worth of personal discipline. So when I feel tempted to slack or compare, I quickly correct my sights to my current goals and priorities remembering that my first things are what matter most to me – not whether my first things are like your first things.

It’s a real battle for me to overcome the temptation to seek after fitting in or the easy life, and a real test of faith in the Way of Jesus and the upside down logic that the way up is down.

I’ve learned that when I feel like fighting against the rattling of my soul, it’s really time to rest. True rest helps me not only prioritize my first things, but it also enables me to recognize my rattled feelings for what they are and stand firm from a position of peace.

A Recipe for Rest

Recipe for Rest for the Home School Mom:

For every activity, decide in advance when you’ll stop. This may seem a little overkill on the planning side, but it helps me budget my time well. {Here’s more on how I use a time budget.}

Know your limits. I get overwhelmed easily, and if I start to feel overspent on an activity then I want to give up. But when I know how long a task will take me, or I know how much energy it will cost me – I can plan for how to better accomplish the task. And if I need to I can choose to break the task up into smaller parts.

Take notes so that you can pick up where you left off. This goes hand and glove with #2. When I need to take a break from writing, but I’ve just gotten to the good part – I jot the idea down quickly. Or when accomplishing the “to-do” list that is my life, I’ll write down progress on a task that’s started but not yet finished. (Using my Bullet Journal for this has been very helpful to keep everything in one place and in context.)

Develop self-control. No one can do it all. No one can be in two places at once (and yelling down the stairs to answer a child’s question doesn’t count). Everyday we make thousands of choices with our time. The “no’s” are just as powerful as the “yes’s.”

Identity. No one else can rest for you. Know your needs and commitments. Untangle what you do from who you are and make peace with rest.

Keep your heart and mind focused on the truth. Rest is commanded for the believer, and we find our rest in Christ. True rest must originate from a relationship not simply relaxation. Meditating on scripture has allowed me to rest even in the middle of chaotic circumstances. I have known the deepest rest when my trust has been in the Right Person and not in myself or my circumstances.

Set goals for the future wisely. One sure fire way to burn out is to fail to factor rest into your routine. So make sure to have anchors in place that allow for consistency without having to reinvent the wheel each week.

Rest is a sacred and wonderful blessing to be enjoyed, but as a busy mom I’ve missed out on it for the sake of “getting more done.”

It wasn’t until I listened to a message on rest and work that my heart began to change. I realized I wasn’t honoring God with all my “gotta work harders” and my “no rest for the wearies.” I couldn’t find rest in my own strength (I was believing these  7 lies that keep me from rest) and I wasn’t enjoying my work to the fullest either because my efforts were out of balance.

If you’re feeling out of balance, may I recommend Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Mornings course? You may be delightfully surprised to find out that the first area she makes over is rest. It’s so important to living a purposeful life, and it comes before setting goals and getting the To-Dos done.

Read my post detailing the 5 things I needed most from the course, and how this course was the catalyst to some really great changes in my life.

This is Day 28 (only 2 more posts!) in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.

Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.

Day 26: Our Block Schedule #Back2School in #31Days

Kid-ucation Graham and Joe

I’ve been studying our days for a long time.

How my kids spend their time when allowed to play however they please, taking note of their highs and lows – excitement and boredom. Ups and downs or I like to call them – anchors and hot air balloons.

I’ve experimented with timing and different levels of involvement, and through this I’ve learned that a strong routine is built upon the natural order of a person’s interests.

For example, my daughter almost invariably will begin her day already playing in her mind. She has a plan for what she wants to do first as soon as she comes downstairs. All she needs is a snuggle and breakfast and she’ll be set for hours. She not only wants this freedom, but she needs it in order to thrive, create, and discover. When I have tried to establish a morning routine for her, she not only resents me but it’s almost like she deactivates – all thinking, feeling, and working functions are turned off and she is very difficult to manage.

I am not saying that I let my daughter completely do whatever she pleases just because she will fight me otherwise. I guide her most definitely in the mornings, but in ways that she doesn’t discern as guidance. Making sure she has a rich learning environment in which to play isn’t created on accident, and I’ve learned that my best involvement with her environment is an unseen one.

My son, however, doesn’t want to eat right away and he wants to be told what to do first. He wants to know what things he needs to do in order to earn screen time. Most often screen time is reserved for the afternoons when the toddler is napping and the energy level for the day has lulled. His personality thrives when I establish a morning routine for him, this is how he best functions knowing that I am helping and enabling him to reach his other goals for the day. Otherwise, when left to himself in the mornings, he flounders and frustrates – himself and others.

So for today, when I show you what our block schedule is and what it means for us – I am by no means expecting you to copy and paste it into your day planner with fingers crossed and a prayer that maybe this will help keep everyone in your home happy.

Likely, it won’t work for any other family than just mine. And I’m okay with that.

What I do want you to glean from this post is connections between my children’s behaviors and the behaviors of the children in your life. We are all unique and yet strangely similar too.

Here is our current Block Schedule:

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 7.11.48 AM

You can see that our 3 main blocks have natural anchors for that time of day.

Breakfast, morning chores, snack time, lunch, dinner, and bedtime routine. Just announcing that it’s time for morning chores requires a full-stop from what they were involved in and a change in action.

Full-stops are so important, necessary, and crucial that I use them sparingly – and always couple them with eating or leaving (things the kids love naturally).

The reason a full-stop is so valuable is that it supports authority. When I announce that it is time for a full-stop, it isn’t a matter of “wanting to” for the kids.

I’ve learned that limited use of, but full confidence in my authority has safe guarded our home from the threat of wasting our days. And more than that, it has allowed me the freedom to more fully enjoy my kids and engage in their fun because I’m not secretly afraid that they will bully me into giving into their every desire. Oh how I’ve learned the hard way that giving them too much freedom to choose hurts all of us.

You’ll notice that I don’t use times in my blocks. It’s important to not tie times to these anchors for us. I’ve attempted to schedule based on a time on the clock and that’s only led to frustration for all of us. Just because it says 12:00 PM on the clock doesn’t mean my kids want to come in from outside to eat. Usually, we like to eat before noon anyway.

Timing is important, and learning to use a time budget has been life changing for me. But trying to time everything perfectly has made me too obsessive or too passive.

So when it’s time for an anchor, the kids know that they will be receiving instruction as to what they can do next.

Individual lessons: math, writing, activity books, reading, and lapbooking will be included here.

Group lessons: using our Five in a Row and Early American History, we will focus on 2 main subjects per day – I have written out a sample week, a bare bones plan for our days:

  • Monday: Science & Bible – Start Lapbook
  • Tueday: Math & Language Arts
  • Wednesday: (HC)2 – no group lessons
  • Thursday: Early American History & Art
  • Friday: Social Studies & Cooking Lesson – Finish Lapbook

All lesson specifics will be written in the Kids’ Bullet Journals – all chores, anything time sensitive, or places we need to go per day are included here. We’ve already started using them this week to get comfortable with the new habit, and so far the kids are working well with this layer. (Remember, I only add one new thing into our routine at a time.)

Bedtime routine: We started doing the’s Bedtime High Five years ago. Those of you who visited our home way back when JoeAnna was 3-4 years old will remember the construction paper hand taped to the back of our bathroom door.

This routine, and the simple phrase “let’s do our high five” has had a lasting impact on our bedtime efficiency. Teaching our kids from an early age to do the same things every night before bed has created strong habits that build security into their lives.

Why Block Schedule?

I’ve learned from trying to do too many good things in a single day that this pushes us too far. The best things get rushed or skipped while the new things suck all our time and energy.

Taking the time to fill a block only with the essentials leave us with room to breathe, room to make mistakes and start over, and room to simply enjoy the hot air balloon moments in everyday.

This is the beauty of a home education. A tutorial education, one that is fit to the individual.

I hope today’s challenge in the #Back2School in #31Days series inspires you to study your days too. To see and discern what times are best for the people in your life, and to see growth and fruit from your intentionality.

This is Day 26 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.

You can still get access to the course:

Crystal Paine’s #MakeOverYourMornings course has been one of the most inspiring sources of help-to-change for me, and I hope it will be for you too. Join me and a group of friends as we go through this course now! Comment or contact me if you want in on the group encouragement.

Read my post detailing the 5 things I needed most from the course, and how this course was the catalyst to some really great changes in my life.

Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.


Day 24: Facing down my panic (the story of the desks). #B2S #31Days

B2S Day 24 Facing Down Panic 1

I started to officially home school 3 years ago. My daughter was 5 years old and my son was 3 years old. I had planned to start kindergarten and preschool with them respectively. I thought I was doing what was expected of me. I had no idea what their learning styles were and for that matter – I didn’t think twice about my teaching style.

I had one focus:  Do every-thing-right.

“Right” was a growing vacuum taking into it every good thing that could possibly be done, and it also meant matching the ideal picture in my head of what a home education looks like.

So, at the beginning of the last week in August 3 years ago, I began to panic. I had tried to read all the Instructor’s Guides to the curricula we purchased – desperate to follow all the rules, check all the boxes, and thereby educate my children.

I wanted my gold star.

But one thing was wrong with the ideal picture I was trying to create for our learning environment – we didn’t have desks. I knew there was no chance of having a schoolroom in our house at the time, so I decided to adjust our living room to section off a quarter of it for a learning center.

I searched Craig’s List for desks, bookcases, and anything I felt would give me the security I was lacking.

All this searching masked my fear. I felt like because I was doing something right, I could ensure the outcome would be what I wanted. I put all my hopes in looking right. I thought that if I had the right desks, the right books, and the “start date” (because every one who knows that we home school would ask, “so when are you going to start?”) then I could ensure that I would get the affirmation that I craved.

Doing, working, searching, gathering never brings security. But that’s what I was hoping for – I wanted to get my security from the outside in.

At the end of each day, nothing was enough. I was still scared that I wouldn’t have the right stuff. I was scared that I would teach the curricula out of order. I was scared that I would confuse my children and mess them up. I was scared of my own laziness and defective parenting.

I was scared because I knew I was the primary one responsible for the education of my children, but it felt like I was the one with the least control.

And 3 years ago when I began to panic on the inside, I channeled all that energy into controlling our environment.

I bought 2 desks from 2 different people. 1 on Sunday, and 1 on Labor Day. I had my mind set that we would start “school” on Tuesday, the day after Labor Day. I knew we needed school supplies too. But even though I really had no idea what we needed, I went to Walmart anyway.

Because nothing feels better than spending money carelessly when my soul feels insecure and out of control. Yeah, right.

When we finally arrived home, to carry into the house all of the items that would make me feel secure. My physical proof that we were in fact a home educating family, my husband said that he couldn’t bring the desks into the house right then.

He didn’t know that he was basically stomping all over my emotional craziness, and I kind of freaked out at the potential that all my planning, controlling, and setting up was being thwarted.

I had a full blown meltdown.

In my mind, everything was going to be ready by Monday evening, so that I could wake up Tuesday morning to the bliss of starting our first day of school.

Instead I was having to deal with a change in my plan. The pain of failure threatened to crush me, and I was having to face all my fears coming true.

All my effort, priorities, philosophies, and desires for what was best for my children hinged upon this plan and it wasn’t going to happen.

I rested all my security on having desks in place and plans in motion by Tuesday morning.

After crying and begging my husband to drop everything he had planned for the day to help me, we got everything set up by Monday evening.

But instead of relief, I still felt panic.

Because no matter how many books, desks, pencils, papers, notebooks, crayons, or charts on the wall – none of it could give me a sense of security that this was going to work out for our good. I rested all my hope that I would receive the affirmation I craved on the amount of work I could do to look the part, but I never prepared for the daily work of doing the part.

I wanted to earn the prize for Best Home School Mom on the first day of school, instead of committing myself to looking forward to the prize of finishing strong on the last day of school.

The panic was lying to me.

It said that I could have relief the easy way – on the outside – when I needed to go through some really hard stuff on the inside before I would ever truly face down my panic.

B2S Day 24 Facing Down Panic 3

So, let me fast forward 3 years, and there has been a slight shift in my focus – lots of imperfect progress gained from recognizing more and more the lies that panic feeds my mind and heart. I have had to learn slowly through so much failure that this home school life is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.

Motherhood is a marathon.

I’m learning to prize the long view, to take the scenic route, and to slow and steady myself especially when I feel pressured to plan, control, and design my own success.

And I’ve learned that I’m not allowed to go shopping when I start to feel panic. I’ve banned myself from Target.

3 more important lessons that help me prize peace even when I feel pressured to panic are:

  1. Remember to see my children as growing, changing, and developing – when I panic I subtly believe that I can in fact control them, when peace trusts that my job is only to guide and train them.
  2. Lean into greater levels of self-discipline. Panic says that I can rush, force, and procrastinate to get the same result as patiently tending to the roots. Self-discipline has taught me that progress is hard fought in a daily battle and the fruit from this work is good, organic, and eternal – a sharp contrast to the manufactured fruit of the rush of emotion I get from swiping my debit card to surround myself with the stuff of learning.
  3. My children can sniff out panic from a mile away, and they will fight against it with everything they have. This is not a sign that I should press into the panic further (even though I have, and it hasn’t ever ended well for me or them). I take this as a sign that I am prayerless. Filled with prayer = filled with peace with or without all the right stuff.

So my kids, at ages 3- and 5-years old refused to play a part in my panic, and they refused to sit in their desks. Their refusal made me feel even more the weight of all my failure, but it was a gift because it made me let go of the lie that said I could have complete control of their education.

B2S Day 24 Facing Down Panic 2

Since then, we’ve all grown. Now, they happily sit in their desks, learning and growing in their interests every day – because I finally let go and allowed them to use their desks on their own time and in their own way.

And at the beginning of this August, when I felt a small pang of panic that I had only 2 desks, but 3 children I chose peace instead. And wouldn’t you know, just like how God always provides, a dear friend of mine (a fellow home schooling mom with 3 kids graduated and 2 more on their way) wrote me and offered us a desk – free of charge and full of blessing.

So, today’s challenge for the #Back2School in #31Days series is to record and remember all the ways that learning is in the daily, the small, and the patient. An education isn’t kept in a room, or a book, or in having all the right stuff – education is a lifestyle; it’s a living.

This is Day 24 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.

Don’t miss out!

Tomorrow is the ONE-DAY-SALE of Crystal Paine’s #MakeOverYourMornings course. Check it out today, and get a free sneak peek at the material. Or better yet, buy it for a friend and go through it together! The sale is so good, you won’t want to miss out. If you’re still not sure, read my post detailing the 5 things I needed most from the course, and how this course was the catalyst to some really great changes in my life.

Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.

#Back2School in #31Days: Day 5 – Creating a Book Nook

In Day 3, I revealed the awful pictures of what I was starting with for a schoolroom. I hope if you’ve been at this home education thing for a while you were able to sigh with relief that you weren’t starting from that point this year – or if this is your first year of educating your kids at home you were able to see how possible it is to overcome overwhelming odds to set up your space.

Each of our challenges for facing a new year are unique.

Back2School Logo

Today’s bite size piece was deciding to turn the closet into a book nook for the kids.

The original plan for this space was to convert it to a hallway-accessed, built-in shelving unit because we don’t have a linen closet. And our bathroom is tiny (in a cozy, we love this house no matter what sort of way).

So, I let my mind explore the idea of using this under the staircase closet as a special kid-sized area and also started brainstorming what we would do for bathroom storage. (I created this Small Bathroom Solutions board as a result, and we’ve actually accomplished some of these. Setting goals for using Pinterest really works.)

As the idea continued to form, I knew it was going to be a big hit with my kids. I was convinced that I just had to create it.

And out with all the random things as seen here, in order to first move in our small 2 shelf bookcase.

First, I hold myself to the cardinal rule of my own creation – Thou shalt only move an item to its home, or it must move out of our home. I can’t tell you how many times during each of our 11 moves (in 10 years) that I’ve driven myself crazy by busily shuffling things from one flat surface to another.

So busy, but never getting anything done.

Constantly “rearranging” but never giving an item an official place in our home.

It was enough to make me motivated to reach out for this book and change.


As each item was moved out of the closet it was carefully given a home somewhere else, or it was thrown out or donated. I’ve learned to just go with my gut because another one of my crazies with moving is indecision. (Again, thank you Tsh. This podcast is a gem.)

Second, I grabbed the small shelf to see if it would fit, and with that in place I was free to start unloading my kids’ favorite books. In went pillows, a small ottoman, a pretty curtain to cover an unfinished wall, and 2 lamps. Oh, and the guitar – of course!

B2S Day 5 Book Nook

Finally, I revealed the space to the kids and the magic took over from there. Books and pillows in a small space with a cave-like, secret hiding spot feel? WIN.

Serious win.

All the what if we really need storage? And where will we put hairdryers and towels, extra toilet paper and toothpaste-questions paled in comparison. It didn’t matter. So what if I have to run down to the basement for extra toilet paper or reach into the over head cupboards in the schoolroom for my hairdryer (that I only use an average of once a month anyway)?

My kids’ affection for our home and their cool space has just gone through the roof.

And I now am completely convinced that creating spaces with purpose within the home is a non-negotiable. When I first read through Organized Simplicity the winter of 2013, I had no idea how to see the purpose of a space – I was instead the master of multitasking spaces way beyond their design.

Now looking back I see the huge difference of asking too much from a space, by hoarding and cramming too many “good things” into one place.

So, do I sometimes think this closet/storage space turned Kids’ Book Nook is a waste of useable space? Not at all.

B2S Day 5 Book Nook 2

The joy our whole family gets from it is irreplaceable.

What space in your home brings the most joy to your kids? How can you make it even more enjoyable for everyone?

If you’ve missed a day, check out the index of posts: click here.

Further reading:


Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.


Charlotte Mason: Educational Theories Defined Part 6


I have to confess that when I learned the time period of Charlotte Mason (1842-1923), I felt strangely in context.

Let me explain, I do not study late 19th or early 20th century English history, but I have been watching a lot of this TV show (of which I do not whole-heartedly approve of season 1 episode 1, but that is a conversation for another time).

While enjoying the story lines, it has broken my heart to watch women hand off their children to nursemaids and then to governesses from there to raise, train, and guide their children. The interactions between the child and parent looked strangely different than the interactions normal for my environment in 2015. Thanks, in part, to the philosophy and work of Charlotte Mason; her emphasis on training parents whether they keep their children at home for their education or not.

Charlotte Mason committed her life to training teachers, parents, and children. In all my research, I have found no preferential treatment of any category of persons. At every age, stage, and environment she believed education was happening. (4, page 8)

“This broad view of true education as the sum of all life meant that Charlotte Mason first turned her attention to the parents. She believed that they had the most interesting and valuable vocation that exists among mankind…Charlotte Mason never spoke of education as merely taking place behind the walls of the schoolroom. She saw the home as the basic educational environment.”  – Susan Schaeffer Macaulay: For the Children’s Sake

Charlotte Mason was educated at home by her parents, and after their deaths she was trained and certified as a teacher. (1) During this period, there were two main philosophies about the purpose of education: “education for all” or a “liberal education.” (2) Mason believed that a liberal education should be broad in scope, living in nature, and available to all regardless of social status. (1) The other philosophy was the promotion of education in order to produce a working class. The easiest way to produce a society of working citizens was to make a one-size-fits-all or industrial model to education. (2)

Her philosophy gave birth to theory and Home Education was written. Her principles were written to help parents better understand and raise their children. (1)

“Her views were shaped by her teaching experiences, not the other way around.” – Susan Schaeffer Macaulay For the Children’s Sake

Mason’s philosophy was influenced by studying brain research available in her time and on her own experience as a teacher. She believed that every child is born a person, not good or bad but capable of both. (1,3)

Mason wrote a 6 volume educational series titled Home Education, a geography series titled The Ambleside Geography Books, and created a periodical called the Parent’s Review which she edited and maintained. She also wrote 5 additional titles: Parents and Children, School Education, Ourselves, Formation of Character, and Towards a Philosophy of Education. (1)

Two definitions of education, two principles and one motto summarize the fundamentals of Mason’s thought:

  • “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life”
  • “Education is the science of relations”
  • She believed that children were born persons and should also be taught the two principles:
    • The Way of the Will
    • The Way of Reason
  • Her motto for students was “I am, I can, I ought, I will.” (1)


There are two non-negotiables in a Charlotte Mason education. 

  1. Habit Training
  2. Living Books

First, her focus on habit and human nature is intriguing to me because it captures the heart of the personal discipline that I hope to exemplify for my children.

She believed that academics should wait while habit-training was attended to first. (6)

She was loving in the presentation of a good habit to a child, recommending that the mother “never lets the matter be a cause of friction between herself and the child, taking the line of his friendly ally to help him.” (5, vol 1. page 123) She is also firm in her focus on habit training (which is as much parent training as it is child training) cautioning the mother never to let the child “slip” in any area they have been instructed to create good habits. Lest the child do well for so long that when the occasional slip happens and the mother allows for it without calling the child to correct their behavior – “The mother’s mis-timed easiness has lost for her every foot of the ground she had gained.” (5, vol. 1 page 124)

The effort of decision, we have seen, is the greatest effort of life; not the doing of the thing, but the making up of one’s mind as to which thing to do first. It is commonly this sort of mental indolence, born of indecision, which leads to dawdling habits. (5, vol 1. page 119)

The second non-negotiable to a Charlotte Mason’s style of teaching is the use of living books. Living books are works of literature, either fiction or non-fiction, that breathe life into the reader. The story comes alive and so does the reader.

Living books are usually written in narrative or story form by one author who has a passion for his topic. A living book makes the subject “come alive.” And the students were required to tell back, or narrate, in their own words what was read in the living book, in order to secure it in their minds. (7)

Educators who do not approve of the Charlotte Mason approach – an atmosphere, a discipline, a life – base their disapproval on what they believe education is useful for. If one believes that education is only useful in securing employment, then to develop relationships will not be a priority.

Charlotte Mason’s reply could be this quote from her work Home Education:

“If a human being were a machine, education could do more for him than to set him in action in prescribed ways, and the work of the educator would be simply to adopt a good working system or set of systems. But the educator has to deal with a self-acting, self-developing being, and his business is to guide, and assist in, the production of the latent good in that being, the dissipation of the latent evil, the preparation of the child to take his place in the world at his best, with every capacity for good that is in him developed into a power. Though system is highly useful as an instrument of education, a ‘system of education’ is mischievous, as producing only mechanical action instead of the vital growth and movement of a living being.” (5, vol 1 page 10)


“In fact, an educational system that says,…‘There. Now you are educated. This piece of paper says so,’ is doing me a gross disfavor. The truly educated person has only had many doors of interest opened. He knows that life will not be long enough to follow everything through fully.” – Susan Schaeffer Macaulay For the Children’s Sake

Finally, Charlotte Mason believed in a living education:

“A living education empowers students to author lives that are full and free, rich in relationship to God, self, others, ideas, work, and creation. It puts a primacy on formation and not mere information, providing the tools needed to live well in all aspects of life, spiritual and intellectual, personal and professional, present and future.” (8)

Charlotte Mason inspires every person to love learning for a lifetime. What she did and how she did it has been the study of many respected educators in recent years. In the 1980’s, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay wrote For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School drawing attention to Mason’s philosophy and brought about the revival of the Charlotte Mason education which is still growing in influence today.

This is theory #6 in the series on Educational Theories Defined. To see the index, click here.


  1. Wikipedia: Charlotte Mason 
  2. The History of Education in England: Chapter 3
  3. Towards a Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason
  4. For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
  5. Home Education by Charlotte Mason
  6. Simple Homeschool’s Post: 7 Characteristics of a Charlotte Mason Education
  7. What is the Charlotte Mason Method by Simply Charlotte Mason
  8. Ambleside Schools: About Us
I hope you’ve enjoyed this part of the series: Educational Theories Defined. You can find the rest of the theories listed and linked by clicking here. Also, there are affiliate links in this post. They are set apart by underlining. If you would like to know more about these links, check out my disclosure policy or contact me. Thanks for reading!

Now is the time to plan. Check out this resource:A Simple Homeschool Planner