My Fresh Outlook on Homeschooling (And What We’re Doing This Year)

keep your face to the sunshine
I had a lovely conversation with her {daughter} about cultivating her soul and me wanting always to be cultivating the garden of my own soul–what I would plant there, and what I needed to pluck out, (sin, bad attitudes) in order to be sure that my heart was always growing more into the person I wanted to be – when I grow up into His likeness.” -Sally Clarkson

Yet another year to start fresh, to begin again the work of cultivating the garden of my children’s souls.

Oh yes, I am always trying to imprint their souls with life, love, grace, and the facets of the world around them and how/why it works. But I still love the idea of a starting line; the “ready – set – go!” of a new season of intentional learning. There is something about “a new day” that breathes life into the ordinariness of life. I think that’s why I love that “school” starts in the fall. Fall is like a new day for me, fresh and crisp, and ready for me to take in all of the gloriousness that the season holds. I am motivated and I feel most alive in the fall.

As we begin a new day, a new season of taking in the wonders of God’s world, the people and places, and the magical mysteries of earth, ocean, space, and time, we will learn gently.

Gently, for me, is by being free to work at the pace of my children, not at the pace of a curriculum. My husband and I have made the decision this year to just write down the things we want our children to know, to take in and remember, and to focus on teaching those things (our children are six, four, and two years old). The reason we are teaching at home (aside from the fact that we believe God has asked us to) is so we can nurture their personalities and bents, focus on the areas God has gifted them, disciple them in life, and continue to cultivate the garden of their souls…which is quite a bit of work (especially because mine needs a lot of cultivating itself!).

Side note: teaching little children does not come naturally to me. It takes a ton of work, prayer, and grace to keep me going. Please be under no pretense that I am always cheery and our days are like rainbows. Quite the contrary. Coffee, Jesus, and vision are what get me through.

The biggest goals I have for my children are that they know God, love Him, and love others. I want to teach them about the world around us so that they can reach out to the world…and love well. I suppose if I didn’t accomplish anything else, I’d be most satisfied if my children knew and loved God, gave Him their hearts, and loved people well.

I think this year I am the most excited about homeschooling because I don’t feel terribly overwhelmed (mainly because of the more natural approach our family has chosen to take this year). I’m also taking the advice of my friend Sally who says, “the most important things you can do for homeschool is to read lot’s of books together, have a math program, and be around adults. If you do these things, your children will be brilliant.” :)

So this, our year, will consist of reading lot’s of books together (on various subjects I want my children to understand), doing a math program, and spending time with other families.

We’ll also be trying out this U.S. geography program in addition to snatching little gems from Queen Homeschool Supply – particularly their copywork books and nature books.

And of course, my number one resource for homeschooling: Educating the WholeHearted Child

Your Turn!

I’m opening up comments today because I’d love to hear what you’re doing with your babes, any great links you have to homeschool goodies, and any wonderful other bits of brilliance you have to pass on to a mama of a first-grader, kindergartner, and spunky two year old.


Photo Credit: keep your face to the sunshine

78 Coffee Talks on “My Fresh Outlook on Homeschooling (And What We’re Doing This Year)”

  1. Greg says:

    This summer I'm using Khan Academy videos with my 12 year old. The combination of the visual graphic with voice-over and not having the speaker show his face works really well. Can't say enough good things about it.

  2. Lisa Grace says:

    Educating The Whole Hearted Child is also our number one resource! What a difference it has made in our home and our family's vision.

    We have a 6 month old, 5 yr old (K/1st) and 7 yr old (2nd grade). We have decided to start an actual math curriculum with Math U See and our kids were very excited about science so we are using Apologia's young explorer series on Astronomy. We are following the classical model of education and using history to guide our other studies.

    One thing God has impressed upon me is to play at least one game a day with my kiddos as well as to spend time every day reading aloud to them. Right now we are reading Little Pilgrim's Progress….and LOVING it! The two older kids take turns reading the Bible out loud in the a.m. and Mommy or Daddy reads it aloud each night. I love our time together home education and most importantly in discipleship!

  3. dorothy says:

    So many wonderful things have been mentioned already. I just wanted to mention a wonderful curriculum we began using this year after much deliberation – My Father's World. It's biblically focused, Charlotte Mason influenced, and we are loving it. We also switched this year from Math U See to Singapore. My kids just were not developing rich enough mathematical thinking and problem solving, so we switched. So far, it's been helpful! Enjoy your year!!

  4. Angela says:

    Enjoy your first year of homeschooling. Before you know it they'll be in high school and you'll be looking back at those early years with fond memories. Read, play, laugh and take lots of pictures!

  5. I just figure living is learning and if I can stay connected to the Lord, pray for new creativity, be intentional as sweet Sally teaches us, not get bogged down in curriculum but remember that grabbing their hearts is my greatest desire…..that's when my kiddos will thrive. I can never lead them closer to the Lord than I am myself so that is the key…me growing!

  6. r.elliott says:

    I must say…I am a home schooling dinosaur …I have 3 older children I homeschooled…and have gone on to marriage…post graduate work…God gave us 2 "trailers"…senior and sophomore this year. After all these years…I hit a bottom with my daughter…she pushes…she expresses…she makes home schooling at times…a challenge…the other day…we had a heart to heart…I told her…"It all comes down to relationship…and I am not willing to let this destroy our relationship…"…this was not a threat to send her to school…but for us to consider where she will grow the most….and that she has to have more ownership in the process. She has to chose to fully embrace being home schooled by me…I can't force her to follow…I committed to her…to allow the Lord to come and change me…teach me how to teach her better…but she has a chose too…
    so all that to say….build that connection while they are young…read…snuggle..always look for opportunity to show them the way to Jesus…because….we never know what child will pull so hard…pull where you think the thread that holds you together is going to break… and in the storm is not the time to try to build…if it is not there in their teens…it will rip wide open.
    School is what God uses…first to expose…challenge and change a mom's heart…so then we can turn…and help our children embrace God's working through school in their heart..
    Blessings on your journey…

  7. Lindsey says:

    My kids are a bit older, 11, 9 and 7 so we're plugging along but like you, we focus on reading good literature. We do math, and science but from a very Charlotte Mason perspective. We're almost like unschoolers but with a very intent purpose at hand, if that makes sense at all.

    Enjoy them while they are little. You have so much time for formal schooling as they grow older. If I could go back to the days when mine were your age I'd do lots more hands-on science experiments, park days, nature walks, and just SNUGGLING and being together.

  8. Robin in New Jersey says:

    Hey there ladies, I am about to start my 22nd year of homeschooling. My oldest 3 are 22, 25 & 28. My 18 year old graduated in June. This year my 12, 14, and 16 year old daughters and I will be around the table together. I wish I could go back and start all over again. I wouldn't make my oldest 3 cross every t and dot every i. I would definitely go on more field trips, and make sure they were all playing some kind of a sport. Now with my girls at home, we are more relaxed, they take more classes with co-op, and unfortunately due to my husband losing his job, we aren't able to keep up with piano lessons or sports, which makes me really sad.

    I would say, be sure to love on your kids everyday, read lots of good books out loud together, and be sure to take time for yourself and your husband and go out and have fun with your girl friends once in a while! Those are things I neglected until the last 3 years.

    As far as curriculum. When I first started schooling, all there was was Bob Jones and ABeka. Then I heard about God's World and Sunlight, but didn't want to switch. Now I use an eclectic curriculum. I don't envy you who are just starting out. There are so many choices these days. It must be confusing!

    Blessings to all of you!

  9. Carey says:

    Thank you!!! For sharing the Queen Homeschool Supplies info! I have had a difficult time homeschooling my 8 and 6 year old boys and decided to relax this year and just read great books. We discovered "My Side of the Mountain" recently and planned to read it for "school" this fall, Queen Homeschool has a guide for it and we are so excited!!!

  10. This year, we are focusing on a few things. Things like Family Discipleship, History, Science, and the fundamentals (R'R&'R). Things like building family unity, a good work ethic, and responsibility.

  11. Susan says:

    I love your biggest goals! (I only have an 18 month at this point, so schooling isn't really anything we are working on at the moment, though I have no idea what we'll do when the time comes). When I was pregnant with our daughter, my husband always prayed for a smart, healthy baby. Of course every parent wants their child to be smart, but it always bothered me that his focus was on that so much because I think the most important thing is that our child(ren) love and follow the Lord.

  12. Keitha says:

    Thanks for this. We are concentrated on how WE can Bless our girls and speak Blessings over them throughout this year – how to create a banqueting table for their hearts, minds and bodies. How can we Bless them?! Homeschooling has definitely bruised my feet and I’ve found myself in a ton of potholes over the years but the road ever leads to deep, deep satisfaction and a true enjoyment and vitality with our girls that makes everything in me smile. It has been so, so good!

    Blessings on your year!

  13. Jess says:

    Our eighth! year of homeschooling began this week. I have found Sally's books to be so encouraging and helpful and love the Charlotte Mason approach. We were lead to Heart of Dakota a few years ago and love the heart behind this curriculum–developing our kids' relationship with Jesus while weaving in everything else. Thanks for sharing your plan, I agree, Jesus and coffee are necessary components to my days.

  14. Like many others here, we are new homeschoolers this year as well. I have sort of my own "curriculum" for my five-year-old; the other children are 3 and 9 months so pretty much just along for the ride. What I've tried to do is simply block out some time each day where I really really really focus on learning through play. I don't feel like I do this enough with them, as I'm always letting "other" things overwhelm me. But, I'm a neurotic scheduling person, so if I say, okay, we're going to spend X amount of time Mon-Thu mornings doing "school" and an hour after lunch doing Bible study/reading . . . well then there's a chance we may get some school-ish stuff done each day. She loves reading, and geography, and lots of other subjects, so I'm just going with what she already shows interest in and trying to find fun ways to learn about them. Looking forward to reading more . . . just found this site and I'm going to follow on FB now.

  15. Sarah says:

    What a blessing to find this post and to take the time to read through all the comments. Thank you Lord for leading me b/c this is exactly what I needed to be reminded of. Amazing. Sarah Mae, may you know that God is using your blog to bless many others…including me! We too are more "officially" starting school this year with a 7 year old, 5 1/2 year old, almost 4 year old, 2 year old and newborn (due any day now!). I just received all of our materials and am using My Father's World. It was great confirmation to me to hear this curriculum mentioned with praise. As I've been convicted to love and enjoy my children it was good comfort to know that I am not alone in this wonderful journey of homeschooling and that as along as we continue to look to our Heavenly Father for strength we CAN do this…I too am not a naturaly stay at home/homeschooling mom.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  16. Melanie says:

    " I am motivated and I feel most alive in the fall." -You

    This so describes me as well. I live in Florida though and it's still so hot here that I'm having a hard time getting motivated. :-) I would be lost without Jesus and coffee! I start off the day with both and then repeat after lunch when I start to drag.

    I think it sounds like you've got a great year planned! My favorite homeschool book is A Charlotte Mason Companion. It's the one I always go back to. I do have Educating the Wholehearted Child ordered and it will hopefully get here soon. This is our 9th year homeschooling and I have a 10th grader and 4th grader.

    May your homeschool be blessed this year and always!

  17. Carla says:

    Love this post so very much. I'm a spiritual and faithful person though I adhere to no particular religion but I so very much love what you're saying here. My two girls are 2 and 4 and I can't explain it but homeschooling just seems right for us. I discovered it through blogs like yours when I first became a parent and it spoke to me. I love the concept of a less formal structure to your approach. We're going to attempt the Before Five in A Row because we love books and I work better with a little bit of structure and also list the things we can see our girls are very interested in. Thank you for sharing this! I'll be sharing this with my mother-in-law who can't quite grasp why I want to homeschool. It scares her tremendously but I'll be sharing beautiful and inspirational posts like this one with her. Thanks again!

  18. apryl says:

    i envy you at your children's age – i was still undecided then. this will be our 8th yr home schooling with 15 & 11 yr old sons. one thing we've done right: reading to them ALL the time from day one, tons of books all over our home for them to read once they learned. they are avid readers & children who love to read are ahead of the game! i think your idea for a relaxed year (at your children's ages) is great – they don't need a "curriculum". starting out teaching your children to love math rather than to have a "math program" would be something i would do if i would have known better before. i have always taken it a year at a time, but i wish i would have spent those young years studying up for the later years because things are a bit more serious now:). ENJOY your children – i miss those days of 2, 4 & 6! in a blink of an eye they will be 10, 12 & 14 and you will not believe how quickly it has gone.

  19. Emilia says:

    My hats off to all you ladies that are home schooling. I am a veteran home school mom of three. My children are 23,20, and 17. My boys graduated in 06 and 10; my daughter is on her last year of high school. We did mainly Abeka curriculum but integrated Apologia science, and our reading program was based more than anything in history (non fiction) We utilized the library at least once a week. Of my three children, two are avid readers; the other one is more of a visual learner. At the library, you can obtain a teacher's library card besides your regular card. With your teacher's card, you can keep books longer and this helped when I wanted to teach them a new concept but did not want to purchase the book; the six weeks allotted time x2 gave me plenty of time to cover short term concepts. I did not have a set schedule for them. We sure did Bible first and then as the Lord led, we accomplished our day. At the beginning I would make sure that all curriculum was accomplished per year; as time passed, I relinquised this "bad" habit and just approached our homeschool journey as best as possible without creating so much stressed on my children as they entered high school. I can proudly say that all three have excelled in their studies. The oldest began college at age 14; was accepted in UTSA prep engineering program; attended UTSA; my middle boy is married, one child and has an excellent job based on what he self-taught himself at age 13/14 (computer 3d design); and my precious daughter, well, we have one last year; she is advanced but not ready to enter college so G-d willing, will be doing dual-credit and graduate next May.
    Now, I am preparing to help my son with his daughter to raise her under G-d's will. Home schooling is the education the Lord wants for my precious grandbaby. She is just four months….but OH, how much you can teach a babe…..Many blessings to ya'll, from a lady in Texas!!!!

  20. Summer K says:

    Hey Sarah! I'm so glad you and your family have found a fresh perspective for your school year this fall. We are doing the exact same studies you are – Math U See, Road Trip USA, and then lots of reading (using some FIAR and Ordinary Parents Guide to Reading). I have a 5 year old and 2 year old, so it will be a relaxed year for us also :). My newest mantra is "less is more" and to not complicate or over think things – easier said than done of course :). Best wishes for a wonderful start to your year, Sarah!

  21. Erica says:

    Thanks so much for the link, I hope you enjoy the curriculum! Erica

  22. Cassandra says:

    AMEN! Our children are 6, 4, 3. I'm feeling the same as you this year. Trying to plug through complicated curriculum at this age is so incredibly FRUSTRATING!!! I alwasy collect so many learning tools and curriculum ideas and tons of books and so on and at the start of planning I sit and stare at it all with a feeling of complete loss. This year, although I do have quite a few 'plans', I want to really lean more to what you're doing. I just find, for me anyways, I can easily get distracted and go from 'relaxed homeschool' to doing almost nothing in the way of 'educational' things. We do a lot of nature hikes and spend most of our time outside in the woods and by the river. But I also know they need to do their academics. It's a fine balance, isn't it? Hahaha… I laughed outloud at your comment about your days being all rainbows – wow, I can relate!!! ;)
    Cass @

Leave a Coffee Talk

CommentLuv badge

  • Photobucket

    I'm Sarah Mae. I'm figuring out how to fit perfect into fallen skin. Stick around for the stretching...your soul is welcome here.

  • Meta

  • Loading