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The Beginning | Raising Leaders

Lately I’ve been talking with my friends quite a bit about homeschooling. A few (5 1/2!!) years ago I began writing the story of how we came to homeschool. I thought it would be appropriate to bring it over to this blog and share for those who might be interested. I intend to write quite a bit about our style of homeschooling (which probably looks very different from most people you know). We’ve been homeschooling for 8 1/2 years and it’s been an amazing journey, though not without its challenges. I don’t have all the answers, but I feel very comfortable with our methods and after all these years, I would never go back to turning their education over to someone else. I enjoy having my children around. They are amazing young people. But we had a rocky start and it was definitely touch and go there for a while.

Perhaps me sharing my story and our methods will help some of you out there on your own homeschooling journey! If you are interested in hearing more, leave me a comment. Because honestly, I’ll be more motivated to continue writing this crazy story if there are people actually interested in what I have to say.;)

The beginning as written in 2009:

Three years ago I started homeschooling. And boy was I on fire! I surrounded myself with curriculum and books and schedules. Color coded schedules. Move over Wonder Woman… here I come. I had in my mind the perfect picture. Domestic tranquility. A haven for learning. Efficiency at it’s finest. Eager young minds open to be filled with the best I had to offer.

I started out the year of “school at home” with the highest expectations. Do you know about “school at home”? It’s when you try to replicate what you did when you went to school. An hour for math, an hour for reading, and hour for science, an hour for history, and hour for writing, an hour for art, and hour for p.e., an hour for foreign language, and hour for music, an hour for going crazy…

But as our school year wound down, I was burnt out. Literally. Ashes. Dust. I had nothing left to give. I was pretty sure I was a tyrant and my children were heathens. I’ll spare you the details. I had no idea how other homeschool parents did it. How did they still like their children? How did they run a home, including cleaning, laundry and meals, and still have time to give their children an education? And what about being a wife? And church member? And family accountant? What about me? I wasn’t sure I still existed.

Jake and I made the decision to put our children back in public school. There was no need for us to be in constant suffering. It was a simple decision. My objective? Peace. I knew it was out there… I’d experienced it before. And I wanted it back.

This should be the end of the story. But its not.

Every year homeschooling vendors gather for a curriculum fair. It’s an event much looked forward to by Alaskan homeschooling families. Tables filled with games, lesson plans, educational toys, and textbooks. All brightly displayed and calling to you. Pick me… Pick ME! I had decided I wouldn’t be attending. I wasnot going to go look for temptation. I had made a decision. No more homeschooling.

As the event approached, Jake was on a military trip to Germany. I could feel my resolve weaken. We talked on the phone and I suggested I might just go and “look around”. My dear companion reminded me of our decision and advised me to stand my ground.

So I can’t exactly explain how I came to be standing in the lobby of the hotel where the curriculum fair was being hosted. No explanation at all.

But I do remember how I felt on that beautiful April day. I felt empowered. Strong. Able.

Odd. I hadn’t felt that way in an entire school year.

As I wandered through the aisles and tables, I kept my hands in my pockets. “Just browsing… Stay aloof.” I whispered to myself. I slowed to a stop at the Institute for Excellence in Writing table. Andrew Pudewa has some really great stuff. I highly recommend him. I flipped through some books and my eye fell upon one in particular. The title was familiar. I’d heard it mentioned before.

I paid cash. No way was I going to put it on my homeschool account. That would indenture me for another year of servitude. I was too smart for that.

Upon returning home… {what had I done with my children during that time? I have no recollection… which testifies to my state of mind.} I started to read. And read. And read. I got goose bumps. I found myself nodding my head in agreement again and again. I devoured the book in one sitting. It was late when Jake called to check in on me. Uh-oh.

He says he knew as soon as I answered the phone.

In the midst of my animated dialogue it was confirmed. We were going to continue homeschooling.

I espoused all I had been learning and feeling. This book and it’s principles was the piece I had been missing. I felt it in my marrow. And interestingly enough… it wasn’t about homeschool. It wasn’t a curriculum. It was about education. And leadership. The author outlined 7 Keys to Great Teaching. It made perfect sense. It contained truth.

A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century by Oliver Van DeMille stopped me in my tracks and diverted me. I didn’t know where I was headed. But I knew it wasn’t back where I had come from. And that was enough.

September 21, 2014 - 4:31 am

Tara Norris - I remember when you told me about you goung to the convention…it makes me smile because that’s when you came to my house and talked to me about tjed for about 3 hours…it was awesome. You have no idea how much you helped me. You are such a rock!

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