"It's amazing how lovely common things become, if one only knows how to look at them." ~ Louisa May Alcott

Saturday, May 11, 2019

The Homeschooling Path I Never Thought I Would Go On

"Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths."
Psalm 25:4

In so many areas of my life, God has led me onto paths that I never would have expected. New ways of thinking or living have taken root by His planting a tiny seed of an idea. Sometimes it has been from a personal struggle and His answer has changed me forever. Sometimes it has been through reading a book and everything in my mind has fallen into place. Sometimes I have gone kicking and screaming onto a new path, not because I don't think it is from Him, but because it feels so out of my depth.

Homeschooling has been one of those last experiences for me.

Though I ran eagerly into homeschooling when He laid it on my heart, as I sought what I thought our homeschool life would look like, God began to strip my own ideals and Instagram-square dreams away, and for the past two years I have kicked and screamed a little

You see, I dreamed of a Charlotte Mason homeschool like Elsie's family from Farmhouse Schoolhouse:

I love the Charlotte Mason method and ooze over homeschooling families the world over who learn in the way that I would love to. But trying to implement a heavy CM-style of homeschooling into our lives has not worked at all. We do elements - like being outside a lot and reading good quality, living books - but it just does not work for our son. Any form of a lesson - even as beautiful as CM - just seems to drain away any sort of love of learning for our son.

About two years ago, I began to investigate unschooling. Though I had brushed it aside in the early days of our homeschool research for all the normal preconceptions people have against it, something began to intrigue me about it. As I read family blogs and read thoughts from mothers on Instagram, I could see how we, as a family, had been living that way since the children were born. I never taught them to walk or talk, and yet, they are made to do so and learned themselves.

"If we taught children to speak, they would never learn."
~ Bill Hull, teacher

Most parents tend to leave toddlers and preschoolers alone because we know, by instinct, that they will learn all they need to know for the stage they are at. But as our children head towards five, we begin to panic and, as homeschoolers, we feel an intense urge to "get serious" about learning and education. Suddenly, we believe children need to be taught and can't learn without us. 

This has absolutely been my own experience. 

I have tried on and off for a year to teach our son to read. But we have stopped each time because it was just horrible. Even when he wanted to learn to read, any time we sat down and did a lesson (of various kinds and curriculum), he would ooze onto the floor in frustration and boredom and tears (the oozing part is figurative!). 

Yet, guess what he has been doing for the last month? He has been teaching himself to read by his sudden passion for Asterix comics. And Garfield and Tintin. All of a sudden, he's spending an hour or more pouring through a book, sounding our words he knows and asking questions and crying out, "Mum! Listen to this!" It is so, so exciting. (This is a helpful read on children learning to read by themselves.)

He's been lit by inner motivation. He's found something he loves and wants to understand. And He has done it himself.

God just keeps humbling me and stripping away all sense of control I have over our children. He keeps reminding me that it is Him who teaches and guides and enlightens. I need to step aside and ask Him how I can facilitate that. And right now, it's taking Josiah to the library and getting four or five comic books for him to devour every few days.

I never, ever thought we would be unschoolers. 

I still struggle with it every day. The more I read about it, research learning, and see my children as evidence before my eyes, the more I believe in it. I see it's beautiful benefits of freedom and respect and joy. But it's hard! It goes against so much of my own schooling, my own ingrained ideas and experiences. 

Yet, I have continually asked God to show us the path He wants us to be on and, no matter how much I keep trying to do what's comfortable and what is normal, He keeps leading us back here. There is so much more I could share from this journey we have been on, and I will. But from here, I wanted to share a few beginning thoughts in case there are any other Christian mothers on a similar path.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference."
~ Robert Frost

Has God led your family down a homeschool path you never expected?


  1. I love this and love how God has been leading you! I have changed so much in our own homeschooling journey and am so thankful for all that He has taught me. I love the ideal of unschooling and love to read the posts from Our Unschooling Journey, but have not found the way to implement it for our family. And I think that is ok, for us for now, but I hope that I will follow more and more of God's will for our homeschool. It is such a gift and a blessing to be able to teach my son in this way!

    Thanks for linking up @LiveLifeWell!



    1. Yes! Seek God and follow His way for your children, it may look totally different and that is very good :D

  2. It is hard! I sort of had the opposite experience though; I went into homeschooling with the intention of embracing unschooling and spent the whole first two years battling with my boys to take over the reigns while they begged me to plan and "teach." I had to finally let go (even if my blog is called Our Unschooling Journey! and do what works best for each of our boys. Sometimes I leave them alone to learn and discover and sometimes I don't.

    1. Lol, if you're children are begging for lessons and you follow that lead, you're still unschooling in many ways :D If your children are motivated, that is the best thing!

  3. After many years of homeschooling, I am more convinced than ever that Living is Learning, and "unschooling" is the most natural form of education - especially when you seek God's guidance and let Him lead along the path.
    Thank you for sharing your heart here - it's motivating and inspiring!

    1. Thank you so much, Linda! Your comment blessed me this morning.

  4. I'm glad I stumbled on your blog, its beautiful! Unschooling is something that although we don't really 'officially' do, we end up doing a lot of... its really hard to force ourselves to configure to a daily 'school' schedule... I mean, isn't that one reason we don't send them to school, among many, lol. Excited to hear more about your journey!

    1. Wow, thank you so much, Stacy, that means so much. And yes! When we tried to do lessons etc. I ended up thinking what was the difference? Thank you for visiting!

  5. YES. This is my story, almost identically in some spots. I never comment on anything...but wanted you to know the Lord has absolutely lead us down the same path. I have 4 kiddos - ages 1 to 12. We have homeschooled since the beginning. I started out Charlotte Mason and love the idea of so much of it - and we do a bit on our own naturally anyway. It has taken the last 3 years for the Lord to really stretch and pull me and lead me to read so many wonderful books and blogs on Christian unschooling. I *know* He has lead us down the path, and we have not only experienced such love and insatiable learning...but also such joy and peace! And I experienced a pretty awful postpartum this last sweet baby, and I was able to just fully let go as I needed a lot of time to heal and rest and allow God to mold me into who He wants me to be in this yet again new chapter of life. I just wanted to encourage you to continue seeking Him. It is hard, hard and anxiety-producing some days to not only be walking a narrow path to homeschool, but then to branch off and take an even narrower path by unschooling. Thanks for writing a post that I so resonate with!

    1. I love this so much! Thank you for sharing your story and encouragement. I am still stepping out each day...I've just trialled CM again, but have stepped back to Five and a Row again...but unschooling is alive in many ways in our home. It's such a journey and I'm thankful for support online, like yourself xx