What Do You Have To Prove?

A. Khatir / freeimages.com
A. Khatir / freeimages.com

A few months ago as I was out and about I ended up having a conversation with an older gentleman I’d never met before.


He was old, the kind of old where his skin had given up on the whole concept of elasticity and instead folded in upon itself in valleys and peaks across his face. He was a World War II veteran and I thanked him for his service in the midst of our talking. He didn’t want to talk about his service in the military and instead looked at the four children I had on display and turned the conversation toward them.


“Where to they go to school?” he asked me.

“We homeschool,” I replied. He looked affronted. With so much skin available to him for use his expressions were magnified. It was obvious he was reevaluating my placement on the “normal” to “psychopathic killer” stranger scale.


“Well, what do you use to teach them reading, writing, and arithmetic?” he asked. I explained our educational plan and how we are careful to meet the state standards in these areas and go beyond the standards when it makes sense.


“Hurumph,” said my octogenarian friend. His face showed that he was trying to help me see the error of my support of home education without being rude. “Well, what about socialization?!” he asked me.


A little part of me was amazed that I was getting all of the stereotypical complaints against home education in one conversation, but I responded with an explanation of our civic groups participation, our weekly gatherings of youth activities, and how the flexibility afforded by homeschooling allows us to visit interesting places like museums regularly.


He was unimpressed and equally unwilling to let go of his belief that home education was foolhardy. So he finalized his questioning with what he saw as the knockout question:


“So, I guess you got your degree in education to be a teacher, then?” he asked me suspiciously.


The reality is that no, I don’t have my degree in teaching. I shared this with him, including the research that most home educating parents don’t have teaching degrees, yet their children are able to perform as well or better than their publicly educated peers on standardized tests and ultimately are able to find success as happily employed adults. I mentioned the studies that cite example after example of hiring professionals valuing skill sets encouraged by the home education lifestyle: autonomy, ability to respond to changing situations, problem solving skills, etc.


But then, seeing his interest had completely faded in the barrage of information I was using to convince him our family is educating “properly” and he wasn’t going to change his suspicious nature regardless of anything I said to validate my perspective… I just stopped talking.


He didn’t notice. He looked the other way for awhile. Eventually we said goodbye and went about our respective business. I don’t expect we’ll ever see one another again.


As I played the conversation over in my head later, one question echoed:


“What am I trying to prove, and to whom? Why?!”


Having just returned from our state’s homeschooling conference, I have educational models and methods on my mind. I am inspired and challenged, convicted and overwhelmed. I feel supported in this educational lifestyle choice we’re making, and like I’m part of a larger group of likeminded people.


I learned that there are more children homeschooled in this country right now than there are in parochial schools. The pendulum is swinging.


That being said, we must figure out what we are trying to prove with our home education and to whom. We must know our why are explore the underlying motivations.


If we homeschool because it’s the new trendy thing to do we will not be successful. We will simply be sheep following the next new thing.


If we homeschool because that’s how you prove to others that you’re a real Christian, we will fail because real Christians educate their children in all sorts of different ways. This isn’t a competition.


If we home school because we are out to prove the public education system wrong, to prove our kids are all little geniuses, we will ultimately be left with an empty spot in our heart because we push so hard for our children to “succeed” we push them right out of our homes with our perfectionism.


I’m of the opinion God blessed us with these children and we are called to be stewards of their individuality, to shine the spotlight on the ways they are gifted to be unique, they ways they can be used to impact this world.


It’s our job as educators to give them the skill sets necessary to allow those giftings to bloom.


For example, if I have a child who is gifted in design it behooves all of us to teach her the skills necessary for engineering so that the visions in her head can find a place in reality.


If I have a child who has a gifting in leadership it’s my educational responsibility to expose her to reading so that the stories of past great leaders, of people who learned to use their leadership not to “boss” others but to “empower” them, will be present in her brain and she can learn from their wisdom.


It is not my job to convince others to home school. I don’t know their stories or what they witness in their own families. I can’t compare.


It is my job to sacrificially educate our children with the tools needed to accomplish the work God has laid out in advance for them to do. I need to educate and then get out of the way… because this is the task God prepared for me to do!
And when it’s all said and done:

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and I could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.'” — Erma Bombeck


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Copyright © StealingFaith.com 2010-2013 | All rights reserved

Denim Jumpers are Out, Rolling Crates are In

Times are changing...
Times are changing…

Friends, I’ve just returned home from my very first visit to a state homeschooling convention.


First, it was awesome. There’s no way to get around the fact that we were surrounded by several other thousand people who were strangers and yet like-minded and that was pretty cool.


Going in to the experience I was a little nervous, as I assumed I would be entering into a sea of calico yoke-dresses and denim jumpers. I was confident the women would all have very long hair and sprinkle their conversation with adoring mentions of their families, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”


I was wrong. While there were definitely old-school homeschooler sighting out and about, I am surprised to report the vast majority of attendees would not be immediately identifiable as home educators in a police line up (or airport people watching marathon, for that matter!). They pass as normal, friends! The face of homeschooling is changing!


That being said, one thing did become crystal clear during the experience: while the Age of the Home School Denim Jumper has passed the Age of the Rolling Crate has arrived.


The rolly-crate is the new denim jumper.


From a practical standpoint I totally get the rolling, collapsable carry all, especially as a practical aid for the home schooling parent purchasing a year’s worth of curriculum in a frenzy of conference discounts and new educational model exposure. Who really wants those plastic bags cutting into your arms constantly when you could instead scoot along the convention center hallways unburdened by texts and workbooks and penmanship guides, paper airplane models and STEM aids and safety-dulled pocket knives?! That’s right. No one.


But a word from the perspective of the person who wasn’t dragging a rolly-cart here: stop running over my feet with your wheeled, heavy carriages of educational doom! Accept the inevitable fact that if your crate dimensions are 16″ x 16.5″ x 14.5″ it will never, ever fit down a row of auditorium seating leaving only 12″ of space from chair front to seat back. Don’t even try to squish yourself down the row of the workshop. It’s not happening.


I don’t intend to be a downer, but facts are facts and if you can’t identify that your rolly-cart isn’t going to go vroom like a greased Rubix cube … well, I know there has to be a perfect math curriculum available for you in the exhibitor auditorium just down the hall. Go check it out.


Homeschoolers used to look like this:

Homeschooling used to utilize copious lengths of fabric... now, not so much.
Homeschooling used to utilize copious lengths of fabric… now, not so much.


But now, with the changing of the old guard, homeschoolers look like this:

The rolly-crate is the new hallmark of the home schooler.
The rolly-crate is the new hallmark of the home schooler.


And we’re all the better for it.


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Copyright © StealingFaith.com 2010-2013 | All rights reserved

My “Why?”: Because It Is Yet Light

Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience
Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience

I’ve been at a few training sessions lately for Classical Conversations (the organization we collaborate with in our homeschooling journey) and it’s forced me to answer a very important question for our children’s education: Why?


Why bother educating at home when I’m impatient, easily frustrated, always behind on housework, not formally educated in elementary school techniques, etc.? Basically, in all the ways that seem to matter from the outside this whole home schooling path we’re on as a family seems… well, idiotic.


And yet… here we are. Even worse, the more I learn about CC the more committed I am to seeing the culmination of this method within our education process. We’re choosing a difficult path… and liking it.


But why?


In all the world, of all the many ways we could choose to educate our children, Why would we choose Classical Conversations? Why would we accept more leadership in an organization when my life is full as it is? Why bother when it would instead be so much easier to take off some hats and find space to relax? Classical Conversations is not a religion. It is not a replacement for church. It’s just a model, a method, in the sea of other options, right? And even more importantly, Why CC?


My Why is that CC makes home education possible for me. This organization clearly places an exceptional, achievable educational journey in front of my family that I can follow as the primary educator in our family without freaking out because I may be missing something in setting up their knowledge base. It’s comprehensive – and the company’s explicit aim is to reveal God through the knowledge of Him and His creation, to know God and to make Him known. And that mission – that ability to make a monumental task like education my child achievable – is a gift I find a blessing, one my husband and I are willing to sacrifice our time and energy  to promote!


I don’t want to keep this opportunity to myself, or to for those lucky few families who happen to live within driving distance. I am so aware of the mom who is dying inside, knowing they don’t want to turn their children over to public schools to be wards of the state for 30 hours each week – but don’t know where to start to even attempt to teach their children themselves. I want that dad who aches to mentor his children to find a way to walk alongside their child in all aspects of life into adulthood with the support of a Godly community. There are people desperate to make the life change necessary to bring their children home who don’t know where to start; CC can be the diving board… at least it was for me.


I know we are all busy – too busy, truth be told. We don’t really want to pull our children home with us because we are intimately acquainted with their tricky personalities, the way they can push all our buttons 16 times before 7:30 a.m. We are already so very tired just with the day-to-day living that must take place to survive. Even so, there’s something valuable about this homeschool craziness that somehow, some way makes the sacrifice worth it (for me).


Here’s one more snippet from my most recent training session that gives me goosebumps. It was a written response to a person expressing hesitation about whether being a leader in the CC is worth the pay off, but the sentiment applies across the board to those who embrace this counter-culture idea of being your child’s primary influencer:


“… as home schoolers, we have a responsibility to work while it is yet day. The night is coming, when no man may work.  We can’t be sure we will be able to home educate 20 years from now. What can we be doing now to make that a possibility for our grandchildren?  So yes, our main responsibility as wives and moms is to our husbands and children first… [but] it isn’t going to do any of us any good to protect our home time and our family time if we have no freedom to home educate. There may come a day when we are compelled to give our children to the state to be educated.  At that point, we will have much more time to devote to the cause.  But a very much harder task to accomplish.”

Before you take me to task on being all death, doom, and destruction regarding the urgency of working to make homeschooling a viable option today, please consider the families in Germany seeking political refuge in the US because the German government wants to jail them and place their children in the state foster care system for daring to educate at home. Take a moment to consider our current US Secretary of Education publicly announced he feels Americans should not consider the ability to education their own kiddos a basic right of citizenship.


The night is coming, friends… but I want to do my best to keep it light for a few (figurative) hours longer.


Just for fun, here are several links to infographics regarding the home education movement and effectiveness:


1. Homeschooling by the Numbers.

2. Homeschool Domination: Why These Kids Will Take You Down.

3. History of Homeschooling.

4. 2008 – 2009 SAT Scores.

5. How American Homeschoolers Measure Up.


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Copyright © StealingFaith.com 2010-2013 | All rights reserved

“Me Likee” Link Up – Homeschooling Edition

Stories for Homeschooling
Stories for Homeschooling

I know I just posted a “Me Likee” Link Up but there have been so many good articles lately that I need to post on them more than once a month!


As you know, we homeschool. We are logically devoted to this lifestyle, largely because Classical Conversations gives us a roadmap that means Mama doesn’t FREAK OUT about what exactly to teach when all your children really seem to want to do is study their navels and pick lint from their toenails.


Because, yes, we are genetic overachievers like that.


Here are some of my favorite posts on homeschooling in the recent past – enjoy (and if you have your own, please post them in the comments)!


1. School Staring Age: The Evidence. For quite awhile I’ve been suspicious of the idea that enrolling your child in 6+ hours of school at age 4-years-old might be a little… dodgy. This study confirmed my gut instinct that little ones need lots of time to play – not worry about standardized testing.


2. Why I’m Not Cut Out To Be A Homeschooling Mom. When we tell people we homeschool the overwhelming response I get is, “Really? That’s good for you. I wish I could but I’m just not cut out for it.” While we are all called to different paths, there’s a chance that you were cut out for it… and just don’t realize that none of us are “cut out for it”! I appreciated this candid piece about how many ways we are inadequate – and yet wholly perfect – to teach our children.


3. Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy. This isn’t exactly a homeschooling article, but I think it’s a thought-provoking look at the choice to raise our children differently than we were raised, with realistic expectations instead of inflated perceptions of our own awesomeness… which really doesn’t make us happy!


4. Why Preschool Shouldn’t Be Like School. I am susceptible to feeling like my children are good enough, smart enough, and driven enough to achieve, achieve, achieve! Except my oldest is currently 7-years-old. And children must be given the freedom to be a child. Our culture is telling us to push our children harder than we, ourselves, were pushed and it really isn’t the way to make our kids fall in love with learning.


5. And Then I Realized I Was Doing It All Wrong In Homeschooling. When your child is in the traditional school setting you get parent/teacher conferences and pick up waiting conversations to help you figure out where your kids are ranking in the general scheme of education. When you homeschool,you are constantly wondering if what you are doing is enough… or too much… or…? This article talks about the paradigm shift one parent had in their value system for homeschool success.


6. Myth of the Teenager. We have bought into the propaganda that teenagers will be rebellious and difficult and forgotten the long-held belief that teenagers are in their maturing capstone, moments away from adult responsibilities. This post debunks the idea that teenagers have to be difficult.


7. To the Moms of One or Two Children. Now that we have four kiddos in our family I frequently have people say they don’t know how I do it all. The reality? Whether you have one child or 16 children they take all your time and the parenting journey is one of high highs and low lows. I appreciated this note of encouragement!


8. Homeschooling by the Numbers. Have you ever wanted a quick snapshot of the demographics of homeschoolers in the U.S.? Your wish has been granted!


9. We are Going to Homeschool our Children but that’s Only because We Hate Education. I am falling in love with Matt Walsh’s writing! I admire the way he is able to grab words and shape them into something beautiful and passionate. He turned his skill and humor toward education in this blog post – and I liked it!


10. Mothering Young Children: Come Singing and Sighing Unto the Lord. I’m not going to lie. This isn’t the headline that catches your interest and makes you think, “Oh, yeah! I can’t wait to read that article!” But let me tell you something: a friend sent this to me and I was moved, almost to tears but its encouragement and honesty. Try it. Really.


What are some of your favorite homeschooling reads around the Internet?




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Copyright © StealingFaith.com 2010-2013 | All rights reserved

Homeschool Blog Awards

 photo HSBA2013AwardsNominateMe250x250_zpsdb90eecf.jpg


It’s that time again – the Homeschool Blog Awards! It’s been an awesome honor that Stealing Faith has been nominated the last two years. Can you help keep the streak going?


Go on over and nominate Stealing Faith for the Humor and Variety categories (there are 20 categories, so be prepared to nominate all your favorite blogs) – and when it comes time to vote… vote!


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Copyright © StealingFaith.com 2010-2013 | All rights reserved

Easy Lessons

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann

Today we had a turbo load of reading lessons because Dos has decided she wants to get her ears pierced and I’ve told her she can’t until she can read.


Doesn’t anyone else see the connection between artificial holes in the ears and language comprehension?!


I’ve heard other parents say they don’t reward their kids for accomplishing what should be expected behavior. I understand this concept and in a few ways I agree with it, but when it comes to the stuff that causes a reduction in the whine factor around here or simply makes my life easier – bribery all the way, baby.


Before we started homeschooling I never really understood the physical process of reading. To me, it was a magical process that just happened, kind of like outgrowing your clothes overnight or getting freckles in the summertime.


Little did I know there was a reading Bible for homeschoolers and parents who want their kids reading at 18-months-old and are known for shouting, “Rah! Rah!” and shaking pom-poms.


I don’t know what that pom-pom reference is about. I don’t own a pom-pom. Just a chainsaw.


Back to the issue at hand, I do know the reading manual of choice (at least in my circles) is Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Englemann.



At the most basic level, it’s written by a guy named Siegfried and anything coming out of a guy named Siegfried has got to be decent. And possibly German.


Second, it’s filled with words that are color coded. If the kid is supposed to say something it’s in black type. If the adult is supposed to say something it’s in pink. That’s pretty much dummy-proof. They even give you a pronunciation guide just in case you’re a little fuzzy on the exact sound an “r” or “o” makes when in isolation. (It’s not as simple as you might assume.)


All of these are lovely additions and speak highly of the book.


However, may I suggest that Siegfried may have underestimated the easiness of repetition 100 times? And that these lessons are not exactly easy-peasy? At least, according to Uno and Dos they’re the worst sort of punishment a child can face.


They groan and moan and whine and complain and basically roll around on the floor in despair… unless they think pierced ears are connected to the whole process.


I’m sticking with it because I’ve heard many, many parents credit this book with their child’s reading success and ability to explore the worlds a novel opens. I also just read the blurb on the book cover and discovered my friend Siegfried is also the author of a book called Give Your Child a Superior Mind.


I told you Siegfried was cool – now I know he’s superior! And maybe, just maybe, my kids will be superior, too.


But only after they’ve gotten their ears pierced.




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Story of a Reluctant Homeschooler: Part Three

What we think homeschool is about...
What we think homeschool is about…

I posed some questions we had to answer as a family in yesterday’s Story of Reluctant Homeschoolers: Part Two:

What is the point of education?


Is an education truly necessary? Is it useful for all people?


Each family will answer these questions differently. I’m going to share our answers to these questions by simply talking through what we witness in our own homeschool.


Our homeschool journey is under constant analysis and revision (and I’ve heard that from many other homeschool parents as well). It’s a fluid process for our family: we are constantly wondering how we can scale back or improve.


While my type-A personality hates that fluidity, I’m comforted by knowing responsiveness is a leadership skill and important to practice. I also recently heard most airlines are off course 99% of their flights, that it’s only through constant corrections they find their way to their destinations.


When I don’t keep the long-term vision in front of me, I completely lose track of the destination in the excruciating minutiae of raising four children aged 7-years-old and under; the nobility of this decision to be a full-time educator is completely obliterated in the knowledge there is laundry on the sofa needing to be put away and a suspicious puddle on the floor in front of the bathroom door.


I’ve been known to read popular blogs or peruse Pinterest and completely freak out because we don’t do art or science projects at home; when I attend homeschool conferences it looks like everyone else has their home school better organized operating more effectively than ours.


I struggle with insecurity, with wanting the best for our children; I quiz my kids after they come home from gymnastics or AWANA and ask them if they feel as smart as the other kids? When Uno didn’t pick up on reading at 5 years old – or 6 years old into 7 years old – I was in a panic and certain we were short-changing our children a good education as obviously my best efforts weren’t paying off.


Yet we stuck with it.


When I get my head wrapped around the knowledge the only comparisons I should make are against the priorities we’ve set as a family (and, of course, our state requirements for homeschooling) I realize we do have success happening around our dinner table.


When we stay the course we slowly see fruit being produced in this educational model.


Why do I say that?


Our children treat people who look or act differently than what they’re used to with love. I take them to the play areas in the mall and see them treat strangers with a friendly attitude and look for ways to help. I’m seeing the fruit of character in them.


When we travel, our children are obedient and trustworthy.  We rarely have to ask them to do things more than once and we don’t worry for their safety. We’re seeing the fruit of safety in them.


Yesterday we were looking at clouds and Uno asked me how tornadoes formed. Our conversation stretched through vocabulary words: atmosphere, weather patterns, and temperature differentiation. Then it went a step further and we discussed the tornadoes in Oklahoma this past spring and how a weather occurrence impacted everyday living, house structure, emergency supplies; we talked about how to handle fear of unpredictability by trusting in God’s plan even when we don’t understand the “why.” We’re seeing the fruit of critical thinking as our children recognize how our world laces together.


When I ask our kids about their friends they always name their siblings first. They choose to spend time together and they help each other out as a natural process. We’re seeing the fruit of unity in our family.


I don’t share this because I think our kids are soooo special. I share it because I need the encouragement of looking at these items and seeing snapshots of progress. I share it because my kids may not be awesome when we get around to taking the standardized tests… but it doesn’t change the quality of the education they are receiving. (Although I do hope they do well on standardized test. It’s just that in our opinion tests are not the most important piece of their education… or even in the top five most important pieces.)


There’s another point I have to remind myself constantly: You can’t force the fruit.


These children are going to bloom in their own dad-blamed, sweet, meandering time. We plant the seed with knowledge and lessons, but we can’t force true understanding. We can nourish the soil with academic Miracle Gro – for us it’s a program like Classical Conversations and flashcards and conversations and the History and Discovery channels – but the seed will sprout when the seed will sprout. I can’t mold it to my time schedule.


Too often I want my children to pick up on a concept after one explanation. I want them to be experts well before we’ve put in the 1,000 hours needed to truly know something. I want the accolades of smart kids who are perfect and destined for success… because I want the pat on the back as their primary educator.


I want a beautiful, picture perfect, happy family where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” Yet we all know that phrase was a funny monologue of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, MN radio show because it’s implausible… bordering on insanity.


I have to consciously decide – over and over – if I push for my kids look perfect, there’s a reasonable chance they will never be educated.


With that in mind, I’d rather lose the battle of daily perfection (and I do!) but win the war of a well-rounded, high-character child that sees God in every part of their life because it’s never been segmented; to have children that learn about relationships and family through continued encounters with people who can be challenging and aren’t scared of being authentic because they haven’t been pressured to be perfect.


Nothing I’ve talked about in this post says a specific thing about the quadratic equation, spelling bees, or Romeo and Juliet… but these paragraphs have everything to do with our family values about education and what we think education should contain.


At no point can I claim this journey is easy… but because it aligns with our values it becomes doable and worth it.


Does your child’s education reflect your family’s values?


Have you missed a part of the Story of a Reluctant Homeschooler? Here you go, links to catch up!

Story of a Reluctant Homeschooler, Part One

Story of a Reluctant Homeschooler, Part Two


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Story of a Reluctant Homeschooler: Part Two

We took our family’s educational process back to the one-room schoolhouse model.

I’ll be telling our story of Reluctant Homeschooling over the next few days.


Yesterday I left off with the discovery that, despite our ill-informed prejudice, we decided we wanted to give homeschooling a try. I wasn’t willing to go for it all the way because I was still working and, frankly, the idea of not getting a break from my child was a little too scary to seriously contemplate.


So we pulled Uno back to a half day in pre-K and started Classical Conversations one day a week to see if this could work for us.


Over and over my husband and I tried to figure out how we would accomplish this crazy goal of homeschool. I didn’t want to give up my career path and he didn’t want to be the primary educator… what would we teach Uno? How would we teach Uno? Would she gradually become incapable of socializing in a normal way with other children? What did we think we were doing???!!!!


A few opinions emerged from the weeks of wrestling with whether we should side step the traditional education process:


  • If the education we received didn’t give me the skill set or confidence to teach my child in a logical, educated way… why would we want her to continue in the same system? There’s a phrase for that: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Poor outcomes don’t need repetition.


  • There are many, many ways to educate a child and homeschooling is only one of a wide array of good educational choices. There is no spiritual winner’s laurel for homeschooling. Homeschooled children aren’t any more intelligent or godly or… anything… simply because they learned to diagram a sentence at their kitchen table or missed out on mystery meat in the cafeteria.


  • We didn’t want our children in school as wards of the state (yes, that’s the legal status of a child during school hours) for the time equivalent of a full-time job. School takes up a lot of time, which makes sense as the institution acts as free babysitting for many, many families in this country. But we liked the option of a shorter quantity with (hopefully) improved quality of time spent on schooling.


  • We didn’t want to spend the precious few hours we had with Uno at the end of the day doing homework and undoing the behavioral lessons she’d picked up at school. We wanted that time to concentrate on family, not sass.


After deciding some practical reasons for home education in our family we had to consider a few larger, simple questions with startling complexity:


What is the point of education? Is education about the social outcomes?

A miscellaneous gaggle of facts?

Is an education truly necessary? Is it useful for all people?


Without those foundational ideas solidly answered in my head, there was no way homeschooling would ever be successful for our family because the sacrifice would be too extreme. The loss of “me” time – even the ability to use the restroom in peace – and the constant stress and insecurity would be too painful for success to occur unless I was truly convinced this was the best choice for our family.


So we wrestled. And wrestled. And, over time that wrestling has proven to be a blessing to us because we were able to start with the end in mind.


From a practical perspective, we started by finding childcare for Uno for a few hours a day so we could both still work. Over time our situation changed so I now run a business out of our home. We wear many hats, our school day doesn’t follow a specific pattern, but we’ve found a way to adapt and make this work or us.

What are the answers to those questions for you?


Did you miss the start of the Story of a Reluctant Homeschooler? Here you go, links to catch up!

Story of a Reluctant Homeschooler, Part One



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Story of A Reluctant Homeschooler: Part One

We never thought we’d be homeschooling!

We are preparing for our fourth year of homeschooling. I am still in shocked awe that this is a path our family is walking together!


Five years ago I didn’t have anything against homeschoolers – except I really believed the required attire for the home educated was a denim jumper; that girls had long hair worn most commonly in a bun, boys wore button down shirts with the top button buttoned and well-geled crew cuts, and they always had pasty skin and buggy eyes because of lack of sunshine. In my mind, they also were very clean.


Not to work off of stereotypes or anything.


My husband and I would talk about how we wanted to educate our children and dream of supporting their public school teachers, being involved in the Parent Teacher Association, and warm cookies around the kitchen table while asking, “How was school?” each day.


It was a good image. {sigh}


Once Uno hit school age, however, we discovered our perception of school wasn’t quite as “Norman Rockwell” as we had originally assumed. Uno is a rule follower and her pre-K teacher quickly put her into a leadership position by assigning her to be the constant companion of the most troublemaking boy in the class.


The first time she came home and told us he punched her in the face we thought she was joking. By the third time we weren’t thrilled with the education our child was receiving. We met with her teacher and learned her veteran, very well respected teacher just loved having Uno in class because, “I never have to worry about the other children behaving when she’s around, she keeps them right in order!”


We started looking for options. Homeschool reared its ugly, bun-sporting head.


I am NOT a college-trained educator but I do have a background in educational concepts: my Bachelor’s is in Journalism and Humanities, my Master’s is College Administration, and I have a good chunk of a PhD completed in the History of Education with a focus on colleges and universities. When I started looking at what my child was experiencing (that pre-K is a year more concerned with learning how to treat others, raise your hand until recognized, stand in line, and share than how to hold a pencil, letters, numbers, or colors) I was able to trace it pretty easily to the literature I’d learned in my own studies, specifically to the man who overwhelmingly influenced modern educational practices.


John Dewey, father of modern education, founder of the Dewey Decimal system, and orchestrator of society. Buildings across the U.S. are named after him and there may even be some educational nerds who say his name in a voice hushed with reverence.


The idea that our public schools should create societal norms and shape the relational philosophy in large part comes from Mr. Dewey. In 1897 Dewey published his pedagogical creed, which includes the statement: “I believe that the school is primarily a social institution. Education being a social process… “


And here, I always thought going to school meant my child would be prepared for a career. But it turns out after the sweeping educational reforms of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, inspired by Dewey philosophy, schools feel it’s more important to teach community values. I’m not inherently against that – except that’s my job as a parent – not a school system that in intent on pushing children into cookie cutter molds so they will pass a test, resulting in more governmental funding for the school.


Something’s fishy about that to our family.


I’m going to take a few days to walk through the Story of a Reluctant Homeschooler.


I don’t want to be homeschooling. When we chose to make this switch I was working professionally in a field I felt God’s calling to work within. I don’t have a teaching degree and I honestly don’t love children that much. They move and shriek and occasionally drench you with nastiness!


I don’t want to be homeschooling – but we’re in it for the long haul.


We’ve spent a good amount of time thinking through our decision and I’ll share that thought process with you. I know some of you cringe about your child’s educational system and wonder if you could  – maybe??? – pull off a change. For others, there’s a reasonable chance you can’t relate to our rationale at all and think you can smell the crazy on us.


But just in case it’s helpful… I’ll share.  Stick around for the next few days as I continue to tell the story of a Reluctant Homeschooler.




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Copyright © StealingFaith.com 2010-2013 | All rights reserved

Octopus Testicles

Colossal Octopus by Pierre Denys de Montfort
Colossal Octopus by Pierre Denys de Montfort

I talked myself out of quitting homeschooling again today.


I quit homeschooling about twice a week. This is because my children do not sit obediently at little desks and look up at me with cherubic faces, begging to learn. Instead they do their work sprawled out on the sofa while bugging each other and there’s usually a younger sibling asking me for a snack, a drink, a potty time, etc. while I’m trying to explain the place value of numbers. It’s hectic!


When things get rough I go back to my original post about why we homeschool. Nothing has changed, but I wish this choice were easier! Since I have no compelling reason to challenge our original ideals, I love the curriculum we use with Classical Conversations, and I usually think my kids hung the moon after I’ve had a good night’s sleep, twice a week I tear up my resignation, put my big girl panties on, and stick around.


This week I’ve been analyzing the choice once again.


As you know, recently a car accident killed an acquaintance of ours and her children. Last month another family in our social circle lost their eight-year-old daughter in a boating accident.


I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about mortality, walking through the emotion of grief with these situations… and homeschooling came into play in my internal dialogue.


I’ve never been a “fire and brimstone” type of person – I don’t talk about life change based on the fear factor because I don’t believe we’re called to walk in fear and I also find fear to be a dirty motivator that doesn’t spawn lasting change.


But if, by a horrible circumstance, my children were killed in some way, I would be resentful of every moment I missed. I would hate that I didn’t see them read their first words, that I wasted the opportunity to know them in a moment-by-moment way.


Just this morning I was talking to Dos about Kraken, the mythological giant octopus that sailors of old used as spooky stories. We talked about fiction and myths and about the octopus of today. She thought about it and said:

“Mommy! An Octopus can be as big as the ceiling? Bigger than me?!”

“Yep, very big!” I assured her. It was a proud educational moment.

She got a look of shock on her face and said, “Oh! So I could get died from its mighty testicles?!”

“That’s tentacles, my dear,” I said. Proud moment… destroyed.


I will laugh about octopus testicles for the rest of my life! But if I had been rushing her out the door this morning with her lunch box and school bag… I would have missed it.


I believe our kids are a gift from God that are our responsibility to steward. It’s my job as a mom to satisfy their physical needs of food, housing, clothing, cleanliness. But it’s my privilege as a parent to meet their intellectual and emotional needs so that when the time comes they can be released into this world capable of functioning in a mature, well-versed and useful manner.


There is very little about the role of a mother that is easy. I would many times prefer to be back in my professional life because the lines aren’t so blurry and I’d work with people who already have a skill set as a functioning adult. (And don’t cry when I tell them no or ask me to wipe their behinds.)


But I don’t want to miss this. I don’t want to miss the octopus testicles. I want to be present at more than breakfast and bedtime, to live the process instead of witness only the end of the year performance.


My definition of motherhood may not work for anyone else – and that’s fine because it really only needs to fit me. But, for me, some things are more important than my preference or convenience. I choose attentiveness to those things for as long as this season lasts.


This post was originally published May 17, 2013 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!





If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution).
Copyright © StealingFaith.com 2010-2013 | All rights reserved

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