If you are a learn-at-home family, you know the decision to educate your own children comes for a lot of different reasons.
But no matter what the reason is, one this is for sure: the bulk of your child(ren)’s time will be spent with YOU.
This can be a wonderful, amazing, awesome thing… but if most of us are honest, it is probably daunting, overwhelming, and maybe occasionally claustrophopia-inducing. (At least for fellow introvertish parents like myself.)
Part of living the Brave Learning lifestyle is paying attention to the “Super Powers” (which you can read about in The Brave Learner or snag in her free companion guide!). One of those super powers is “Collaboration”– where insteading of “momming” or “dadding” your kid, you decide to “big sibling” them instead. The idea is to come alongside to help them accomplish something, versus “reign down” the ideas from above.
Sometimes, collaborating means finding something your kid loves, connecting her with people who do it and sitting beside her with a fan to the flame the learning.
That’s exactly why we decided to do a class or two on Outschool!
I enrolled my daughter in a Fairy Tale STEM class— which is just perfect for the ongoing Fairy Tale Jot it Down Project we started in the summer!
The class is super fun and engaging!
Here’s my girlie, holding up a mini-Rapunzel that she is going to design an tower escape for. 🙂
The first week, she watched her class via my laptop, using her unicorn band headphones. I had her stocked with crafty tower-building “tools.” Each week, the teacher sends an email with the things that the next class will need– things that you probably have at home already, but just need to gather for the hands-on part of the class. Each week, they read a fairy tale, have some fun idea time, and then find solutions!
You can see E’s work in progress– a Rapunzel tower. Not pictured: a straw and pipe cleaner ladder. Other students in the class made swings, slides, etc. It was fun seeing all the ideas!
The next week, was Robin Hood… where they crafted their own bows and arrows and figured out the science behind shooting. (We are still figuring that out over here. Ha!)
Here’s E, looking all tough with her bow and arrow! I actually put her class on the ipad this week, which worked better as she was about to move it easily if it got in the way. (She tends to spread all.the.stuff.out.everywhere.)
E looks forward to her online class every week and loves it, and she enjoys “teaching me” and showing off her projects to me each week.
We chose the Fairy Tale STEM class because it fits with what we are doing right now, but I am definitely looking ahead to other classes that can add more surprise, curiosity, and celebration to our homeschool, Brave Learning journey!
I don’t know about you, but in the middle of doing the mom/wife/work/homeschool thing, it can be too easy to forget that we women need community and learning of our own.
It’s the whole “can’t pour from an empty cup” thing.
I’ve said this before, but before I learned about Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy, I came across her advocacy for “Mother Culture” and…
I. was. sold.
Because it can be hard to find something in the community to fit my schedule for me to come to, I’ve started making small events in my home for others to come and attend. As a result of this time, I find motivation I need to tie up cleaning loose ends around the house (ahem…), learn something new, feel the fulfillment of seeing a project/event “completed” (versus chores, etc., that never stop), and opening my home to both my friends and any friends that *they* have… which allows me to meet new people at the same time.
I’ve just spent some time plotting out the fall classes, and can’t wait to get started prepping for them.
If you are in the upstate SC area and happen to come across this blog post, please connect! RSVP to one of these events and come on over! I’d love to meet you!
For those of you who are interested in doing events like this for yourself and want some tips on how to get something like this started, shoot me an email or leave me a comment! I’d love to chat and walk you through the process! It really is easier the more you do it!
Without further adieu, my upcoming Mother-Culture-inspired Community events!
(Click on pics to read more details!)
Consider yourself officially invited to our Beanie & Brunch event! Grab yourself some thick, soft yarn and come learn how easy it is to knit with a loom!
Are you a fan all things fall, pumpkin, and latte? Me, too!
I’m planning a small paint, sip, and sniff event at my home, and would love to see some old friends… and make some new ones!
Did you know that November 14th is National Pickle Day?
In preparation for this amazing new-to-most-of-us holiday, come join us to learn an amazing new pickle recipe, packed with fresh veggies, herbs, and even some essential oils!
Fellow momma teachers, do yourself a favor…
If going to or planning events isn’t your thing, no worries. But please DO something for YOU.
As you plan a lesson for your kiddos, or sign them up for some class or extracurricular, make a commitment to invest time– and even money?– in your own enrichment, too.
And all of those things– checklists and curriculum and planning– come with small boxes to check and, often, to-do lists to do.
It would give you the impression that I thrive on details.
Confession: that’s not true.
If I get TOO locked into something, I start feeling twitchy and claustrophobic. That will eventually override my (needless) fear of not doing enough, and eventually make me cranky and shut down. If I feel like my day is a huge “DO THIS” instead of “BE THIS,” I languish.
That’s a very old word that seems a bit hyperbole-ish, doesn’t it?**
It’s not, in this case. Ha! I vascilate between all of the definitions up there. It’s pretty pathetic.
I’ve tried to talk myself out of this part of myself. But it hasn’t worked.
And you know what? Maybe it isn’t supposed to.
Maybe I’m not supposed to be a super checklist momma, as convenient as that might seem to be.
Instead, probably since my youngest was born, I’ve had to just come to terms that I have to stop being a control freak– not just over my circumstances, and my kids, but myself, too. At some point, you have to stop wasting energy to erase your weaknesses and instead, highlight your strengths.
You know what? Big picture is my strength.
And it is going “big picture” that saves my sanity a lot of times. The Big Picture showcases what is essential to me.
A brainstorming exercise that I recently did instructed me to write a list of values for my business. As I was writing them, it occurred to me that those values incapsulated 4 key areas that I wanted in EVERY area of my life, not just my business. I want these 4 things in myself, my home, and my homeschooling.
These 4 things can serve as My Right Things checklist for almost everything I want to do, and every lesson I want to teach. I’ve put them altogether in a print-off that I’m going to include on my walls in a few key locations in my home… and I’d thought I’d attach it here, in the hopes that these words resonate with any other Big Picture people.
I hope your day lets you imagine and spark imagination in others. I hope you have the opportunity to both encourage and be encouraged yourself. I hope you enjoy the power of education today– and that the knowledge you give and receive blesses you intellectually, morally, and socially. I hope you take the time to truly enjoy today and everyday by seeking pleasure within the menial, noticing the benefit of each hour, and truly finding satisfaction with the ones you share your life with.
*She drops a lot of business goodies and truth bombs in her book Boss Up! You should check it out if you are balancing momming and businessing at the same time– or thinking about it. I wish I had several of her suggestions and early business walk-thru when I went into business a few years ago. But alas. Better late than never.
**Seriously, languish is an old word. Its origins are from the 14th century and comes from the latin word, languire, and means to “fail in strength and exhibit signs of approaching death.” It was probably originally used by a mother of 13 kids at a river, who was trying to pound a stain from a loincloth against a rock while simultaneously keep her 5 kids under the age of 4.5 from drowning. The other moms around her doing the same thing overheard, quickly made the word a part of their normal vocab, and the rest is history.
I first read about this brilliant concept from Julie Bogart’s The Brave Learner book, and it was so incredibly freeing! It felt wonderful to “have permission” to not stress and plan my life away in order to homeschool! I can spend my time actually teaching and learning with my kids, instead of just planning to… imagine that!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept of planning from behind with homeschooling, it is when, instead of spending time to write in what you will be teaching all week/month/year in a planner, you write down what you actually accomplish in the planner as you do it throughout the day. No getting stressed and having to draw arrows and erase and re-write and scratch out things in the planner if things don’t go according to plan. Instead, your record is what you actually did on the actual day you did it.
I will say I do have a game plan for every day, so we aren’t unschooling. There is a rhythm of our day in my head, but my brain doesn’t store the details. The details work themselves out throughout our day and get recorded in the planner.
Speaking of the planner… it’s been three weeks since it came in the mail and I’ve geeked out over it! It’s a custom-made Plum Paper planner*, and I LOVE it! You can find a little bit of a virtual flip-through in my instagram post.
I’ve gotten a few questions about how I personally make planning from behind work for me, so I thought I’d just explain the process that my brain goes through every day we do school.
I plan from behind by doing the next thing. I know we are going to do some enrichment basket, LA, Math, and either Science or History every day. Each of those things has its own pattern. So I simply follow the pattern based on the day before.
The way our LA rhythm works is: read aloud/journal/play (Blossom & Root), read aloud/narration/play (B&R), word game/reading word list/mini poem (B&R), copywork/a lesson from The Good and the Beautiful/free write. So, yesterday, was a read aloud/narration/play day, so I know today is going to be a word game/reading list/mini poem day. So I go to the relevant places: the next section of the book, the next list, the next poem worksheet. We do them. We write those pages, lists, etc. down in the planner.
And we do the same with everything else we do: math, science… even our enrichment basket. (I know some people don’t record what they do in the basket in their planners, but I do. Our enrichment basket covers art, music, poetry, nature study, growth mindset, habit training, Bible, life skills, Spanish, and handicrafts. Some of that is covered every day we do the basket. Some of it is looped. But either way, I think it is worth writing down and noting that we are incorporating those learning areas in our lives.)
So, that’s it. I follow our rhythm (basket, LA, Math, science or history), do the next thing, then right it down.
And it completely works for us! I KNOW and feel confident in the fact that I am keeping a good record of work for my children, yet enjoy that I don’t have to spend hours writing it all in just to feel disappointed or like I’m failing if I have to rearrange it for some reason.
It’s just another way that I’m determined to keep the essentials/most important in my life– and in our homeschool journey, that’s not just what I plan, but actually HOW I plan, too.
* If you’d like to try Plum Paper for yourself, feel free to use my referral code and get a discount!
There’s a Disney quotation or lyric for everything, isn’t there?
My husband says that the entire movie of Emperor’s New Groove should be made into GIFs.
He’s not wrong…
The other day, my kids wanted to watch a movie. Considering it was hotter than the surface of the sun outside and the babykins was cranks from teeth coming in, I acquiesced and found myself overhearing snippets and songs from Hercules while cleaning the kitchen.
I began wondering how many years ago that movie came out, but stopped. It was a little discouraging… besides, I had already put away the math manipulatives. Ha!
Anyhoo, I’m wiping down counters when I hear teen Hercules singing “I can go the distance.” Applicable in the whole mothering thing in general, yes? But the phrase that kept repeating in my head after the song had stopped and the movie had moved on was “I would go most anywhere to feel that I belong.”
Man, I didn’t think I’d relate to a pubescent demi-god so much at this point in my life.
Motherhood has given me an identity crisis of sorts… and I know I’m not alone.
I’m reading a book right now for mompreneurs that hits on this fact.
It’s called Boss Up! by Lindsay Teague Moreno. It’s good. If you find yourself doing a side hustle or not-so-side hustle while homeschooling, you’ll find it super helpful. Inspiring, even. And a kick in pants, if you are needing motivation that a business is worth doing as a mom. The book acknowledges that motherhood isn’t as fulfilling for some women as we assumed it would be… and how some women aren’t happy being stay-at-home-moms and regret that decision. You know what? It’s true. I think it isn’t talked about as much as it should be– that motherhood isn’t what we thought it would be and doesn’t complete us like we were told it would. But wanting to stop being with my kids to go back into the workforce full-time or heavily part-time? I don’t fit in that category.
Here’s my thing: I want to “stay at home.” I want to teach my kids. I love this homeschooling gig. I love reading stories to my kids, and doing art with them, and seeing their little ah-ha moments. I love planning learning units. I’m a curriculum junkie… I love it! It fulfills me. It lights my fire.
It’s the day-in, day-out other stuff that I lament. Warning: I’m about to sound like my 3 year old when he drops his ice cream cone on the ground, okay? I completely understand that I don’t sound like a “mature” adult that is supposed to have her “big girl panties” on.
But the constant straightening? The constant dirty clothes and putting away clean ones? The constant wiping down puddles on sinks and rings in toilets? The constant making sure everything is up off of the floor so my crawling baby doesn’t choke on the trail of rocks my boy likes to sneak inside? The constant looking around and seeing 1,000 things to do that I have no desire to do? The undoneness of all the things that I don’t have time for that reminds me of all I didn’t get to when I’ve been busy all dang day?
The pretty-much-constant-unless-we-are-actively-engaged-with-school-or-mom fighting between my two oldest (6 and 3 yo)?
THESE things. They wear my soul down. Make me feel like I’m slowly drowning in things that must be done and tolerated instead of things that bring joy.
I used to teach college. Now when I teach outside of the home, it’s to upper-grade highschool. And sure, there’s some mundane-ness to teaching. Grading isn’t my favorite… but I love the privilege of seeing minds sharpened. I love how the act of learning benefits ALL– student and teacher alike. I feel like my energy and effort is “worth” something, versus folding underwear. Or <<shutter>> sifting through kids’ clothes to swap out sizes.
To borrow from yet another Disney song…
Basically, I want to homeschool my kids, soak in all the moments with them, outsource all the stuff I don’t want to do, and invest the time doing laundry and cleaning and and and…
into something else.
Into the business that I have on the side. It’s not even a want, really. It’s a need.*
I don’t want to be 100% home. I don’t want to be 100% outside-the-home, either.
I want what I want from both.
And I realize as I type that how completely unrealistic that sounds.
I think that’s why the idea of Essentialism appeals to me so very much.
Less, but BETTER.
I 100% agree with McKceown that “only once you give yourself the permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.”
I think for women that want the best of staying at home, and want the best of contributing in external ways (like me)… we don’t feel like we belong in the SAHM camp OR the working mom camp. So, we end up trying to do BOTH… and that’s just. not. possible. (Enter burn-out.)
Something has to give.
It makes sense to keep what brings you joy, what you are good at, what gifts contribute to others’ good the most– and somehow say no to the rest.
Is that selfish? Or is that “essential?”
Because I’ll be honest. I didn’t decide to stop teaching college to stay home and clean my house all day. I did it so I could spend time with and educate my own children. My side job? It’s a flexible thing that I like doing that allows me to be present for my kids– not free up hours to sweep and referee at the same time.**
So, besides spending money (that I can’t currently budget) to bring in someone to do what I don’t want to do, what’s the answer?
Let the non-essentials go? Ignore them, despite the chaos it would cause?
Keep doing the non-essentials, despite the fact it wears on happiness and prevents solid time investments in a side job that would make it possible to financially afford concentrating on the essentials the way you want?
Are there any fellow women that land in this no-man-land’s of Motherhood? One foot in, one foot out of this SAHM, Working mom thing?
If so, I’d love to learn from you! Tell me how you handle this odd internal conflict AND how it practically looks for you in your home! Let’s encourage each other!
I’m teaming up with several handcraft creatives, educators, and resource makers to give all those that attend some great tips and tools to make this next academic year amazing. As an extra plus, the evening will be full of great giveaways, which makes it even more exciting!
Visit us at the facebook event page to RSVP, read more about how to enter in the giveaways (note: it’s ultra-easy!) and get a sneak peak at what to expect!
Here are some of the people teaming up with us:
Along with those amazing peeps and the giveaways they will be offering, there will also be tips and tools about immune boosting, food prep, attention helps, calming techniques, habit-forming helps, and more!