Tag Archives: homeschooling family

Taking Back Our Homeschool

three young kids exploring in a shallow creek

I’ve been seeing lots of “back to homeschool” posts on Facebook this month. One in particular this week made me stop though. There were pictures of kids, working hard on assignments and a cozy learning space. It appeared to be a great start to a new year. Then I came to the “disclaimer” at the bottom of the post. One I’ve seen many times over the years. This mama was explaining that their school room/area gets chilly, and the kids were dressed, but prefer to wear their robes over their clothes to stay warm.

Woah. What? Why would that even matter?
Because there’s a good chance without the disclaimer, something would be said about it.

Now, I’m sure someone is reading this and thinking I’m going to give a lecture about how it’s totally okay to do schoolwork in your pajamas. And while it totally is, (Didn’t we learn anything in college?) that’s not where I’m going with this.

What our kids wear to homeschool DOES NOT MATTER. If someone outside of your household cares, let it be their problem. For multiple reasons, I have my kids get dressed most days. It works better for us. However, I don’t give two cents what anyone else’s kids are wearing as they practice writing or read about World War I. I’ve taught plenty of lessons to kids in pajamas, superhero costumes, random ensembles of mismatched clothing, and swimsuits. And I am completely unapologetic about it.

young boy in a costume showing off a lego creation

Mamas, let’s take back our homeschools.

Take them back from the expectations of others.

Gone are the days of needing to explain or apologize for the way we craft our children’s learning experiences. Would anyone go to their child’s kindergarten teacher and ask why they have the kids sitting on a brightly colored rug together while listening to a story, insisting instead the students should all be at their desks? Absolutely not.
Do people come at homeschooling parents for not having their kids fully dressed or sitting at desks? They certainly do.

Things We Do Not Have to Do/Have/Be to Educate Our Children:

(Also known as – Things We Will No Longer Apologize or Make Explanations For NOT Doing:)

A strict 8 a.m. start time

Fully dressed kids

Fancy curriculum

A classroom in my house

Lots of extra curricular activities

Regular tests in every subject

Very structured, academic homeschool co-op classes

A college degree

Workbooks for every subject

A set number of “class time” hours

Anything else that someone outside our home thinks we “need” to have or do to fully educate our children

young girl with a pink bow writing in a math workbook

Now, I’m NOT saying any of things are bad or shouldn’t be part of a homeschooling plan. In fact, they’ve all been part of our plan at one time or another in some form. However, I AM saying every family and situation is different, and we get to choose how our learning time and space looks and feels. That’s the beautiful part of homeschooling!

The point of homeschooling is not just to teach our children the information, but to teach them to find the information and to love learning. If a space and life is created where a child learns to love learning and how to teach themselves, that will serve them well in every area of life, for the rest of their life.

That is nothing to apologize for. Ever.

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A Reason for Homeschooling

We’re going into our third year of homeschooling at our house! Wow. That’s so crazy to think about. I read once that most people give up on homeschooling in the first three years, so that has been my goal – 3 years. Do it three years, and if then it isn’t a fit for our family, we can try something different. Well here we are, entering year 3, and I’m not thinking about quitting anytime soon.

I don’t think I was ever asked my reasoning for choosing to homeschool until this year. Then out of nowhere I was being asked over and over, “Why do you homeschool?”

There are several reasons our family homeschools, but I’d like to share just a few of them with you today. Hopefully I can provide a little encouragement to someone that is on the fence about it or is having a rough day. If you’re 6 weeks in (or 6 days or 6 years), and wondering, “What on earth have I gotten myself into?” take heart. Breathe deep, and remember that His mercies are new each morning. Is it all roses and fingerpainting? Nope. Some days there are tears all around. Some days are exhausting and overflowing with to dos, as there just aren’t enough hours in each day. Some days my husband comes home and I go hide in my room to cry because I’m certain I’ve failed terribly and I need to repent to God and my children.

If you’re on the verge of submitting that intent to homeschool form, but are scared to death, say a prayer, take a deep breath, and go with the Lord’s leading. I always tell new homeschool moms, “Find your why and write it down. Go back and read it as a reminder on the hard days.”

So why do it?

Some days ARE all roses and finger painting – on the front porch, with school books and cups of lemonade scattered around. In winter, some days are books read aloud, all of us curled in a pile in front of our fireplace with little ones on top of me and bigger ones next to me, sketch pads and Lego blocks strewn about. They also get to explore their own interests. Today we’ve had lessons in sewing, and my crew is currently working to plant their own winter garden.


Family time. My husband’s job is demanding. It’s not uncommon for him to walk in the door, just to turn around and leave again 3 minutes later, or 30 minutes later just as I’m setting plates of food on the table, only for him to return long after the kids are in bed. When he’s off work, we soak it up. When he has a Friday off, we have a family day. There’s no rush to get everyone up and out the door. We can run errands as a family or just hang out at the house. When my husband works on Saturdays, we take that time to work ahead in preparation for the days he is off.


Relationships. Watching my 6 year old son teach his 3 year old sister how to fold laundry. Or all four big kids having piggy back races through the house. Just this morning Ihad a conversation with my older boys about my number one job being to teach them to love God and love others. If they can recite the entire Declaration of Independence or multiply 5 digit numbers in their heads, it means nothing if they don’t love God or each other.

Because I was called. My number one reason. This is what keeps me going on those hard days. Even when I start to daydream about handing the teaching over to the local school district, I know in my heart I would be disobeying God. That is not His Will for our family. Does that mean we will homeschool forever? I have no idea. God’s plan for our family may look different in several years, or it may look much the same. But for now, this is my calling, my family’s calling, and we are thankful for the opportunity toΒ  make it happen and the blessings it brings with it.



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Bill & Alice Nix Petting Zoo at ASU

Our local homeschool group was recently invited to attend the Bill & Alice Nix Petting Zoo at the ASU Farm. It had been a few years since I and my oldest two sons had visited the petting zoo, so I was excited to take them back and take their sisters for the first time. We were not disappointed. πŸ™‚

The Bill & Alice Nix Petting Zoo has been located in the old beef barn on the Arkansas State University Campus in Jonesboro, Arkansas since 2006. It is free and open twice each year – once in the Spring and once in the Fall. Group tours are done during the week, and Saturday it is open to the public. (That’s also a good time to check out the ASU Regional Farmers’ Market.)

We love field trips! (What homeschool family doesn’t?) This field trip was extra fun because it fell on a day my husband was already scheduled to be off work, so Daddy got to tag along for the fun.

First we headed into the barn to visit with the animals. Some of the animals are contained in gated barn stalls, and others, like the funny pot-bellied pig, wander around freely, plopping down here and there for a head scratch.


The petting zoo is home to an array of farm animals – sheep, goats, pigs, cows, and even an alpaca! Students from Arkansas State were stationed throughout the barn to assist with holding some of the animals, answer questions, and help ease the fears of some of the younger children. (Obviously there were no fears from my crew though. lol)



The kids also got the chance to hold chicks and visit up close with a lamb and a rabbit. The fluffy bunny and the little chirping chicks were the favorites of my girls. My boys were more fond of the big steer.

After everyone had a chance to hold a chick and pet all the other animals, our group loaded up into a trailer for a hay ride around the farm. We were accompanied on the hay ride by a few of the university students to tell us about the ASU Farm. While it is a teaching facility, it is also a working farm, raising livestock for meats, wool, and growing hay. They explained what went on in each building we passed and told us some facts about the other livestock we saw on the farm. They did a great job of involving the kids and asking and answering questions.


After the hayride, several families walked across the street to play and visit in the ASU Display Garden of the Craighead County Master Gardeners. I wish now I had taken photos there. It is a beautiful garden with plenty of open space for the kids to run and play and a picnic area too.

If you would like more information about the farm, upcoming petting zoo dates, or to schedule a time for your group to attend the Bill & Alice Nix Petting Zoo:

Arkansas State College of Agriculture & Technology Website





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Filed under Arkansas, entertainment, Experience Review, field trip, out and about, Reviews, travel

ABC Jesus Loves Me – Week 1

This week marked the beginning of our pre-school homeschooling journey. We are using ABC Jesus Loves Me curriculum for 2 year-olds, and so far it has been great. All of the worksheets are available on their web site for free, and the crafts use basic household and craft supplies. It’s also easy to break up into the day, which is great for my son. Sitting still is not his strong point. Even so, he has enjoyed the stories, crafts, and songs.

Here are a few pictures from our 1st week….

The first two pages of the Creation Book

Coffee Filter Earth

This project was modified. We didn’t have any of the regular, circular filters.

Circle foods: raisins, crinkle cut carrots, hot dog circles, crackers

I had a lot of fun tying in our lessons at mealtime. I also served most meals on round plates and used lots of foods and drinks that coordinated with the lessons. Week one was pretty easy because the lessons included circles and the color red.

Here are some red/circle food ideas:

Pizza (with red sauce, pepperonis, jalapeno pepper slices, olives, etc.)
tomato slices
red Kool-Aid
crinkle cut carrots
Ritz crackers
hot dog slices
banana slices
cucumber slices
sausage patties
Lunchables (the ones with circle crackers, meat, and cheese)

We also added an extra craft, using the heart coloring sheet as a template for making some Valentines for a few friends and family members. I can’t post pictures of those yet though. πŸ™‚

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“I see you!” {joy and blessings…and fear}

So I’m tip-toeing into the waters of homeschooling. I’m still afraid to completely commit to it. God’s working on me though. πŸ™‚ God laid it on my heart more than 2 years ago, right about the time The Boy was born. I’ve always said it was an option, but leaned toward the “no” end. After all, I survived public school, and loved it, why shouldn’t my kids? My husband felt differently about it though. Honestly, I don’t have much confidence in myself as a teacher, especially for rambunctious boys! Nor am I excited to hear the negative comments that I know some friends and family will feel the need to express to me. Even as I type that, Deuteronomy 31:6 comes to mind. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I’ve had all kinds of excuses why I couldn’t/shouldn’t/wouldn’t do it, but God keeps pushing them to the side. I was worried I would be going at it alone. Most of the people I knew who were involved in homeschooling had children much older than mine or had no children at all, but they had grown up in a homeschooling family themselves. In the last few weeks I have found out several families I know are homeschooling, and I had no idea. I also found out that several young moms I know (that also happen to have children the exact same ages as mine) are researching it and considering it. Even two of my own relatives with children the same ages are considering it. One of those, my aunt, lives a little over an hour away, and her little girl is 8 weeks younger than my oldest son.

I began worrying about the cost of curriculum, especially since I was wanting to start a preschool curriculum soon. My aunt told me about ABC Jesus Loves Me. It’s FREE and looks like it is going to be fabulous. We are starting it this week.

I began feeling overwhelmed every time I tried to research anything or look into curriculum. I sent a quick message to another homeschooling mom I know via Facebook, hoping that she might have a minute to send me a couple of links to web sites or book recommendations. She does have 4 kids, so I wasn’t expecting much. She did have time though, and she also sent a longer reply than my original message and invited me over to look at her stuff and share info and ideas with me.

Through each of these little blessings, God has reminded me, “I will provide. It will be a JOY.”

Last week He started working on my insecurities about my teaching abilities. I am very concerned that I won’t be able to teach my children everything they need to know – that I don’t know enough. One morning last week, while the boys were eating their breakfast, I read them the story of Zacchaeus and we talked about the story. I even looked up a video on YouTube of the old song I learned in Sunday School 20 years ago at First Baptist Church of Almyra. The boys weren’t nearly as excited about the song as I was. πŸ™‚ After breakfast, Lincoln stood up in his chair, told me to go to the couch, and started saying, “I see you! I see you!” He loves to hide, play peek-a-boo, sneak up on people, etc. so I hear that phrase a lot and really didn’t think much of it. He was getting frustrated though. I paid closer attention to what he was saying. He instructed me again on where to go. Then I got it! He wanted to act out the story! I asked him if he was Zacchaeus, and he gave me an excited, “Yeah!” I was shocked. He really had been listening! I gave him a playful, “You come down!” and he scrambled down, grabbed my hand, and pulled me to his house (the kitchen). I was overjoyed. I’m so glad that God allowed him to be excited about that lesson and show me that it can be done – my rambunctious 2 year old can listen, understand, and retain stories and lessons spoken by me. I’m still terrified, uncertain, and feeling overwhelmed and incapable, but that definitely planted a seed of confidence. Maybe this can be done.

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