Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | October 28, 2017

Trusting the Process…

trust the process

I often wonder if I’m doing a really bad job homeschooling.  I wonder are my children being exposed to enough?  Should we be doing more math (not according to this study, but I still worry!)?  Are my children really self-motivated or do I say that to make myself feel better?  It is especially difficult to have complete confidence in unschooling when my children’s primary interest is dogs.  But this week, I realized that in addition to their obsession with dogs, both girls have their own separate STRONG interests at the moment…

The big sister is head over heals, madly in love with acting.  She is taking an acting class and goes to bed each night counting down the days ’til she’ll go to her beloved class again!  This is the same girl who was diagnosed with selective mutism at the age of 4, by the way!  She LOVES acting.  The teacher is amazing.  The kids in the class are so nice!  She loves them all, even the boys (imagine that?)!  Acting is a perfect example of me playing the role of her guide (not her teacher).  I never, in a million years, would have guessed this kid would love drama!  She desperately wanted to take an acting class, so I researched local theater programs and together we settled on this class.  And it has been a smashing success; she’s ready to sign up for the winter session!  Maybe even two classes!

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And little sister is obsessed with swimming.  She took her first glide at the hotel pool during our homeschool road trip and she has been begging me to take her to a pool since we got home.  On Friday night, I finally got us to a pool (a 90 degree, heated pool, I might add) and she loved it!!  And she’s ready to go back to their next open swim!

So what’s my lesson?  Calm down!  The kids are doing great.  Rob and I are holding the vision for the girls…energetically and physically we are holding space for them to grow into exactly who they came here to be.  Now all we have to do is trust the process of their unfolding…sit back and enjoy the amazing slow homeschooling ride!

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Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | October 24, 2017

Homeschool Road Trip!

I was inspired by my friend Isabela’s homeschool road trip.  She took her three children on the road for over a week, to see Hamilton the musical and some associated historical sites.  How awesome is that?!  Isn’t that the whole purpose of homeschooling?  To use the whole world as our classroom?!

So my friend’s kids are into Hamilton.  That’s awesome.  My kids?  What are they into?  Well..  Dogs.

The girls check-out from the library any and all fictional and factual books about dogs they can get their hands.  The little sister has pretty much memorized the entire Puppy Place series.  They learn about dog breeds, puppy care, and working dogs.   Little sister blindfolds herself while big sister leads her around.  Then they switch roles so big sister is blind and little sister is the guide dog!  We watch TV shows and movies about dogs.  The girls search the internet for dogs available for adoption.  I’ve been waiting for them to grow out of this phase, but they are relentless!  And so, it was time for me to embrace their obsession:  dogs.

I found a dry land dog sledding challenge in Waterville, ME.  We went up early to get the lay of the land, and then on the day of the big race, we showed up right on time!  No lines.  No entrance tickets.  Walk right in.  There were three fans there:  big sister, little sister, and mama.  Every other person was competing in some race or another.  But you know what?  It was awesome.  We met this fabulous woman who introduced us to her dogs, let us pet them, and even gave us a live demonstration of her event.

Why did I wait so long to embrace this particular interest of both of my girls?  This homeschooling at it’s best.  Thank you Isabella, August, Julian, and June for the inspiration!  xoxo

 

Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | October 7, 2017

Deciding to Homeschool

I facilitated a “Getting Started Homeschooling” talk last week with my friend Milva McDonald.  As we drove through two hours in rush hour traffic to get out to Central Massachusetts, I wondered allowed, “why are we doing this?”.  But once we got there, I remembered how important these chats are…in fact, I remembered sitting in the audience at my own local library when I was grappling with the decision to pull my child out of school.

Now, five years into our homeschooling adventure, I *think* I have a few pearls of wisdom to share with families deciding whether or not to homeschool…here are my top 3 suggestions:

1.Instead of condemning school and moving away from school, make the conscious decision to choose homeschooling.  Running away from something that you don’t like is never an effective plan…in fact, you will most likely end up recreating what you are running away from (school) at home.  Instead, research the hell out of homeschooling.  See if any of the many varied homeschool methodologies (my family unschools) speak to you!  Homeschooling is not actually school at home.  When you switch your lens to see education as something that happens effortlessly and all the time, homeschooling becomes this amazing lifestyle.  By choosing homeschooling (as opposed to defaulting to homeschooling, as a way out of a bad school situation), you’ll start your adventure with an entirely different tone!  You can start your homeschool research here!

And if, in the end, you as the primary homeschool parent do not want to homeschool, don’t do it!  You have to hold the homeschool container for your child.  If you don’t want to homeschool, the experiment will not be successful.  Homeschooling is not for everyone.  And it’s okay.

2.If your child has been diagnosed with learning differences and has an IEP with the public school, you are “entitled” to those services as a homeschooler.  BUT I suggest that you stay open to the possibility that your child’s learning differences are only relevant in a school environment.  Your child may only require special education services to survive in a class of 25 same aged students.  When homeschooling, your child may well blossom as a result of the expansive time and space she’ll enjoy.  By tailoring your days to meet your child’s specific needs, her learning disabilities may become simply her learning style.

3.If your parents or in-laws are not on-board with the homeschooling, my best advice is to keep the discussion to a minimum.  Five years in, I have not converted my father to team homeschool.  But we no longer butt heads on the subject.  He has not changed.  The change is that I am now so confident in our decision to homeschool that his negative opinion no longer bothers me.

If you know in your heart that homeschooling is right for your child and your family, you need to do it!  You may have to suffer through some uncomfortable lectures from well-meaning parents.  But they had their chance to parent YOU, now it’s your turn.  And as you settle into homeschooling, you’ll watch your child thrive, you’ll feel your relationship with her strengthen, and well…you will not longer be concerned with the peanut gallery (wink-wink).

I hope this helps!

Love, Tracy

Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | June 21, 2017

The Past Year…

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Why hello there!

So, it’s been about a year since I posted anything!  So much has happened.  But I have been uncomfortable blogging because I have been judging the hell out of myself, feeling selfish and insecure, not wanting to share my journey with the world.  But I’m ready now…

In the past year, I traveled to Peru three times.  Yup, I’ve spent six of the past 56 weeks (it’s actually been 13 months…) in Peru.

I’ve participated in 11 ayahuasca ceremonies.

I’ve transitioned from the role of participant in these trips to the role of administrator, as I now organize the trips and the hold the logistics.

Before I went to Peru, I was, well…asleep.  I was doing the very best that I could to be a perfect mom and a perfect wife.  My goal from the minute my alarm sounded in the morning to the moment I fell asleep at night was to make sure that my family was happy and healthy.

I honestly never even considered my own happiness.  I was a mother and wife.  I believed that my sole responsibility was to ensure my family’s happiness and wellbeing.

Yes, I had weekly babysitters and I saw very expensive healers quite regularly.  But the reason that I paid for those support services was so that I would be in good enough emotional shape to do my job:  to care take my family.

On my first trip to Peru (in April 2016), I woke up.  I realized that I was neglecting myself to the point of denying my own existence.  I remembered that I am a person, a woman even.  I have likes and dislikes.  And interests and passions.  And I remembered that I’m actually pretty funny!  It was a joyful reconnection with myself!

On my second trip to Peru (October 2016), I realized that my happiness is my responsibility.  The decision to hold a high vibration is mine and mine alone.

I am a mother who loves her family and I am a woman with a lot to offer the world.  And yet, for the past ten years, I’d only played only the role of mother and wife.  I stuffed the rest of myself into a little box and put it high up on a closet shelf.  God, I was playing so small.  And I am not small (which helps to explain the 50 pounds I’ve gained since becoming a mother!).

You know, there is so much debate around mommy wars:  working moms vs stay at home moms.  What a fucking waste of time.  Moms, we all got screwed by patriarchy!  Both of our choices suck.  It is time for us to rewrite motherhood!  We have a responsibility to (1) bring our talents into the world by doing work we love and (2) raise our children who we love so much, well and slowly.  Both “sides” are right.  Where we’re wrong is in thinking that the solution is one extreme or the other.  The truth lies in the middle.

I’m going to be honest, the third trip (May 2017) rocked my world.  I met Voldemort on the trip and it scared the shit out of me.  I had to face every single fear I’ve ever had.  And do you know what I learned from my encounter with evil?  I learned that you can only meet evil with love.  You cannot get scared.  You cannot get angry.  All you can do is send love to the darkness.  All you can do is love the people who are unable to resist the evil and (the easy part is to) adore the warriors of love who hold space and send so much light into the world that the darkness doesn’t stand a chance.

And from this lesson of light and dark came another amazing gift.  I realized that my mother was not dark.  She was pissed off and crazy.  She was exhausted and mean.  But she was not dark.  In fact, my mom was an angry, but fierce warrior and as a result, I had a childhood free of darkness.  There was no evil in my world.  I was 43 years old the first time that I encountered true evil.  What a remarkably well-held and protected childhood!  I had no idea how lucky I was; I now have a new found gratitude towards my mom.

And I even think that the way she mothered me, without any words of affection or praise, was part of our contract.  I am certain that my biggest life lesson is about my own self-worth.  And her parenting style ensured that I would have to teach myself to love and value myself.  No hand-holding from my mama!  What if she was just playing a role for me?  What if she was contractually obligated to toughen me up?  I think we made this deal long before my birth.  And I think that she loved me.  And I know that she did the best that she could.

My mother died 13 years ago, yet somehow her spirit came to one of the ayahuasca ceremonies and through me, the plant healed the generational wounds that I held for my mother, that my mother held for her mother, and that my grandmother had held for her mother, and so on and so forth…  Once and for all, we set all the Tracy women free (my mom’s maiden name was Tracy – how funny is that?).  My mom and I freed our children and grandchildren from having to hold this burden any longer.

And so, my encounter with evil this past May, pretty much zipped up my mother wound once and for all.  And so what am I gonna do with myself now that I’ve healed my mother wound?  What is my life gonna look like now that I find my old story (my old wounding) rather boring?  Well…I think that I might just blog about it!  Welcome to Off KLTR, Part II!

Thanks so much for reading!  xo, Tracy

Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | July 22, 2016

Choosing Homeschooling Over a Waldorf School (Part 3 of 3)

k and l cheering

Check out the first post and second post in this series.

When our big girl attended the Waldorf kindergarten, my husband and I always disclosed our girl’s emotional and behavioral difficulties at our parent-teacher conferences.  We confessed our daughter’s tantrums and sleep deprivation to our beloved kindergarten teacher.  She gave us suggestions.  We always tried to implement them.  But, peace and sleep remained elusive.

Finally, in the spring, I announced to our beloved kindergarten teacher that we would be homeschooling for first grade.  She was shocked.  Even horrified.  She is a Waldorf teacher.  She believes in her heart that every child needs and deserves a Waldorf education.  And our daughter was certainly not just any kid to her.  She loved our daughter, so watching her beloved student “lose out” on what she believed to be the most important piece of childhood was heartbreaking to her.  I completely understood her position, but held strong to my conviction that school was not working for our girl.  Even the most beautiful, the kindest, the gentlest school was not working for our family.

Perhaps because we were leaving…perhaps because she’d been holding the words back for two years…perhaps because God just spoke through her at that moment, one day our beloved kindergarten teacher asked me something to the effect of – since everything is going so beautifully in the kindergarten for your girl and things are so difficult only at home, do you think that you (the mother) might be the problem?  Holy sh*t.  Her words packed a wallop.  After crying my eyes out for a week or so, I pulled myself back together and decided that I knew that school vacations and summers were entirely different experiences than the school year.  My girl was happier.  It was much easier for us to spend time together.  I knew that I was not a perfect mother, but that I was trying my very best and that I needed to follow my intuition.  We needed to at least try homeschooling.

And thank goodness that we did try homeschooling!  It has changed everything.  The sleep issues and tantrums stopped completely during that first year of homeschooling.  So I was right that school wasn’t working for our family.  I was right to follow my intuition and pull my kid out of school.  That was confirmed during the first year of homeschooling.  But it has taken me several more years to recognize that the teacher was also right.  Much of my daughter’s issues were my issues.  This correlation is only logical now that I’ve learned about conscious parenting.  I’ve learned that my children mirror my fears and traumas.  But I needed the time and space that homeschooling creates to come to this understanding.  In the everyday race to survive school, it’s very difficult for mothers to work on our personal issues.  The goal is to survive, thriving is not on anybody’s radar (as far as I know anyway).

School is seen as children’s jobs and it is the parent’s (usually the mother’s) responsibility to pick her kid up from school and deal with the unraveling that is bound to happen as a result of holding it together all day at school.  Adults have to work and so do kids.  Or so our culture wants us to believe…  Slowing down my children’s lives has been a much better gift than the music- and art- and movement-rich Waldorf school experience we have forgone.  I am forever grateful to our beloved Waldorf kindergarten teacher for the myriad of gifts she bestowed upon our daughter and our family.  And I am grateful that she spoke her truth upon our exit.  She was right.  And I am working on my own fears and traumas in order to clear them from both my field and my daughters’ fields, so we can all live more fully and joyfully.  And it is the homeschooling lifestyle that enables me to do to that deep, personal work.  And so in my experience, there is no such thing as a magical school that can meet every child’s needs.  Each and every school (regardless of its size, mission, appearance) is an institution.  No exceptions.  But my family has found our own little nirvana at home in our Slow Homeschooling lifestyle.

Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | July 18, 2016

Choosing Homeschooling Over a Waldorf School (part 2 of 3)

k and l on chair

Please check out the first post in this series, Choosing Homeschooling Over a Waldorf School (Part 1 of 3).

Once we received our big girl’s letter of acceptance to the Waldorf School, we sold our south of Boston home and bought a home in a town neighboring the Waldorf School.  We threw out (most of!) our plastic toys and put our television in the basement (for Patriot’s games).  We did not sign up for so much as one afterschool activity, nor did we send our girl to school on Fridays (despite paying for the requisite five days of kindergarten).  We had simplified!  Now all we had to do was sit back and watch the magical transformation!

And there was an amazing transformation.  For starters, she spoke at school!  She spoke quietly and only to those she trusted.  Our girl loved her teacher (both teachers actually, the assistant was as angelic as the main teacher).  And she loved her friends and playing at school.  She loved the food the assistant lovingly prepared for the children’s snack each day.  Her heart opened as she spent hours outside each day.  She stopped caring what her classmates thought of her clothes and began to choose clothes based on her own likes and dislikes.  She learned to relax deeply into play.  She now could get lost in play – and play independently – for hours.  Even at the time, we understood that the gift of play is the cornerstone of a happy, healthy childhood.  And I am forever grateful to our beloved kindergarten teacher for these gifts.

Two things, however, did not change:  the sleep and tantrums.  Afternoons and evenings were a series of tantrums.  We would walk on eggshells in an attempt to get through the day in hopes of avoiding those dreaded episodes of kicking, punching, screaming and crying.  But our poor girl just could not unwind from her day.  She could not fall asleep and as a result, it was incredibly difficult for her to get up the next morning for school.  Weekends were much easier because she could just sleep in and would wake up much happier on her own time table – and with several hours more sleep under her belt!

Though age eligible for first grade, we opted to have our daughter do a second year in the kindergarten (a decision we will never regret).  We figured that the sleep and tantrums would work themselves out during that second year of kindergarten.  But by the time we reached January and there’d be no signs of improvement, I knew that full-day first grade wasn’t going to work for our girl.  Our family couldn’t even sustain the half-day kindergarten schedule; there was no way we could endure the first grade.  And so I started my research on homeschooling.

Please stay tuned for the third and final post in this series

Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | July 16, 2016

Choosing Homeschooling Over a Waldorf School (Part 1 of 3)

k and l on swingBig Sister (Waldorf Kindergartener, age 6) and Little Sister (Newly Home, age 2)

It feels really important for me (to the point that it’s my responsibility) to share my family’s experience with Waldorf education.  I’ve met countless homeschool families that fantasize about Waldorf schools, envisioning them to be some sort of educational nirvana.  At the park, at the pond, in the woods…I regularly meet families that lament their inability to send their child(ren) to the Waldorf school…either because their child was not admitted to the school or because their family could not afford the school’s hefty tuition.  And so, they’ve opted for homeschooling, but as a second choice to the Waldorf School.  I often wonder if I would feel exactly that same way too, if we hadn’t sent our big girl to a Waldorf School for two years?

Without the experience of having sent our older daughter to the Waldorf School for two years of kindergarten, I suspect that I too might have some of those same lingering doubts that I hear from moms and dads in my community.  These families all wonder the same thing…what if Waldorf might have been the one school where their child could have thrived?  Luckily, however, I was able to CHOOSE homeschooling without any nagging doubts that somewhere in the world there exists a magical school that could meet my super-sensitive big girl’s needs.  And so, I’d like to share my family’s story with you…

We loved our older daughter’s Waldorf kindergarten teacher.  In fact, my heart overflows with gratitude when I think of our two year relationship, as this beloved kindergarten teacher changed the course of our family’s life.  We weren’t living very consciously before we chose Waldorf kindergarten.  Before attending the Waldorf School, our daughter watched at least two hours of television a day.  Our then four year old daughter, after being in preschool all morning, was rushed around to afternoon enrichment activities such as ballet and gymnastics.  Our daughter cared deeply that the clothes she was wearing were the same as those of her preschool classmates (think Disney Princess!).  Our daughter required a playmate or an adult’s constant attention.  She had no idea how to play on her own.  And she could not fall asleep before 9PM nor could she wake up (without be dragged out of bed) before 9AM.  Finally, to really spice things up, our daughter had been diagnosed with a bogus school-based disorder called selective mutism.  And not surprisingly, our daughter tantrumed all. the. time.

We met our beloved Waldorf kindergarten teacher at the interview.  There was a pretty severe snow storm that day, but my husband had taken the day off from work and was willing to risk all three of our lives on Route 95 in order to avoid taking an additional vacation day for his wife’s crack-pot idea that we would send our then four year old to half day kindergarten in Lexington to the tune of $15,000.00 a year.  Luckily we made it to the school without any fatalities and that day, my husband fell under the spell of our soon-to-be beloved kindergarten teacher.  She was warm and kind and wise.  But most breathtakingly, she understood our girl.  Despite the fact that our daughter did not even whisper one word at the interview, this teacher “got” her.  And my husband was ready to take out the check book.

Please stay tuned for part 2 of this series

Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | July 12, 2016

Summer Reading Programs are Stupid.

Challenges[1]

Recently, at our beloved local library, my big girl spotted the (above) flyer for a Harry Potter Summer Challenge.  This girl is a serious Harry Potter fan!  She lives and breathes Harry Potter.  She only reads the seven Harry Potter novels (over and over again) and books about those seven novels and the accompanying movies.  She is unbeatable at Harry Potter trivial pursuit.  She was sooooo excited about this challenge.  She re-read the flyer and then asked me a question, “what grade am I in, mom?”.  Homeschoolers don’t care what grade they’re in…they don’t keep track of such unimportant information.  She is officially entering the fourth grade, but from an age perspective, she could be entering the fifth grade.  Upon confirmation of her fear that she is not in sixth grade yet, her face fell.  The Harry Potter Summer Challenge is only open to children entering grades six and up.  So…um…how stupid is that?  I bet my big girl could win the challenge.  I cannot imagine that any child has a greater knowledge or interest in the Harry Potter series than my ten year old.  But the library has decided to segregate its readers on the basis of age, recreating the outdated, now purposeless school model.  How sad.

Of course, we went downstairs to the children’s room to ask our beloved Lauren the librarian if perhaps we could sneak our ten year old Harry Potter expert into the challenge this year?  But she assured us that the teen librarian was strict about the age/grade requirements.  My ten year old teared up.  A well-meaning library assistant tried to raise my girl’s spirits by asking her if she’d like to join the younger kids’ summer reading program.  Children keep track of the hours they read each day and once they’ve reached a certain number of hours, they bring their reading log into the library where they are rewarded with a marble which they can add to one of three jugs.  Each jug represents a movie.  The movie with the most marbles at the end of the summer will be shown in the community room.  Umm…that’s lame!  My ten year old wanted to participate in Harry Potter trivia, not get marbles for reading and voting for movies!!  My ten year old declined.

I told the library assistant that we were homeschoolers, so reading is a natural part of our lives.  Just something that we love to do.  And, I may have added that I don’t believe in rewarding children for reading.  Lauren the librarian who is an absolutely lovely human being jumped in and said something (in her lovely and diplomatic way) about how we could just participate in the program just for fun.  She’s so sweet.  But we still declined and the library assistant was p*ssed.  How could we not want to participate in summer reading?  It gives kids incentive to read!  It’s free!  You get a free book!  Who wouldn’t want to do the summer reading program?

Well…us!  Because summer reading programs are stupid.  Why would we reward children for reading?  It would be like rewarding a kid for eating all of her ice cream!  Reading, like ice cream, is delicious and irresistible!  Why would we ask kids to keep track of the time that they spend reading?  Why would we want to make reading a chore, instead of allowing it to be what it already is:  the key to other worlds!  No bribery or blackmail necessary.  Just leave the kids alone and let them read whatever and whenever they want this summer.  Summer reading programs are stupid.  Period.  End rant.

Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | June 21, 2016

Perfectly Imperfect Summer Solistice

summer solsticeSo…Summer Solstice kinda snuck up on me yesterday.  We’d had a super busy weekend.  Sunday was busy from sun up to sun down celebrating the girl’s daddy and my father.  Then on Monday, the girls started baking camp, my sister Nicki came to visit overnight, and my sweet niece came over for the afternoon.  And so, around 4pm I final got around to taking out my favorite pagan parenting book – Celebrating the Great Mother.  As I read the book’s beautiful ideas, my heart started to race.  How the f*ck was I going to pull this off?  How could I make summer crowns with the girls when we had no flowers, no wire, only ribbon?  How were we going to make a summer solstice altar?  I had no sunflowers.  Sh*t!!  I then dove head first into a tirade of negative self talk.  Why hadn’t I thought of Summer Solstice earlier?  Why hadn’t I planned?  Why was I such a bad mother?  I couldn’t even celebrate the beginning of each season with my family – there are only four of these damn days each year!!

But then, I’m pleased to report that I did a most important thing:  I took a breath.  And I thought, okay, I need to feed these people dinner.  How can I make it a Solstice dinner?  And so, because my sister was visiting, I was able to leave my two very tired campers home with her while I ran to the grocery store to buy food that we could prepare over an open fire!  I bought hot dogs, sausages, meat-less sausages (for my California girl sister), corn on the cob, and summer fruit.  When I returned home, my sister and I successfully started our very first fire together (how had neither of us lit a fire in our combined 81 years?)!!  It was empowering actually!  The girls helped us to cut the wood for the fire and to light it.  They were tickled with our girl-powered effort!  Once the fire was roaring, we roasted our prepared summer meats over an open fire.  The girls LOVED it.  Said it was the best meal they’d ever eaten.  And when the daddy got home, he was greeted with big smiles, meat on a stick, and a gin and tonic (I forgot to mention that the auntie and were sipping gin and tonics while we labored.  It was hard work after all!).

So this is what I’m learning:  maybe I don’t have to plan everything out months in advance?  Maybe I really and truly don’t have to worry about creating Waldorf-approved, breathtakingly beautiful festivals.  Maybe I just need faith.  Faith that things always come together.  Not necessarily perfectly, but there is something to be said for imperfection.  Hot dogs on a stick didn’t make it into my Pagan parenting handbook.  And yet the meal was (for my family anyway) a perfectly imperfect summer solstice celebration!

Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | June 8, 2016

Homeschooling Only Some of the Kids

hsing only one kid

I had the chance to chat with a lovely friend of mine who is planning to homeschool only her younger daughter next year.  Her older daughter will remain in school.  This friend was the third amazing mama to sit in my kitchen to discuss her plans to homeschool only one of her children while the other child remains in school.  Sadly, friend #1 and friend #2 have since enrolled all their children in school.

So why doesn’t homeschooling only some of some of one’s children seem to work?  Each of these moms shared similar thought processes…she was doing what felt right for each individual child.  But the problem is that they are thinking inside the “school box”.  They are thinking within the context of school:  learning happens between certain hours and through direct instruction from an adult (a school teacher or mom).  But, homeschooling is so much more than an alternative way to educate your children, it’s a lifestyle.  And once you step outside of that school box, everything starts to change.  You start to view the world in a totally different way.  And really, how can you break through the limitation of this widely held, deeply instilled societal belief that learning = school if you have even one child in school?

Once you switch your lens…once you understand that children (and people in general!) are always learning…what would be the purpose of sending any child to school?  Once a family comes to view their community as their children’s best classroom, not a school setting with 20 or 30 age mates and one teacher, then why would that family (like all three of my friends) scrape together twenty thousand dollars a year to send each child to a private school?

So as a result of having even one child in school, you are pretty much tied to a school model.  Not just the school schedule (daily and yearly), but also the school mentality.  School happens between 8 and 2 (approximately) and through direct instruction.  This means that mom assumes the role of teacher for the homeschooled child(ren).  On my site I call this the school-at-home model.

Honestly, I feel like moms who homeschool only some of their children get the worst of both worlds.  They remain philosophically attached to the school model and they are tied to the school schedule/calendar and they don’t really get a minute to themselves.  And as I *may* have mentioned before, if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

So here are my top reasons to homeschool ALL of your children.

1.  Life Style/Life Learning.  By homeschooling my children, I’ve come to see that education and school have little to do with one another (as a former school teacher, this lesson rocked my world a few years back!).  Only because we left the world of school was I able to see that direct instruction from a predetermined curriculum is not a requirement for learning; in fact it’s often a hindrance to real, deep, self-directed learning.

 

If you have one child in school, it seems almost impossible that you’ll adopt a slow homeschooling (unschooling) lifestyle.  Most likely, you’ll adopt a school-at-home model, trying to (at least somewhat) emulate what your other child is doing in school.

 

2.  More time together as a family.  This is really a continuation of reason #1.  By stepping off the school treadmill, you get to spend so much time together as a family.  You get to enjoy one another at home, unrushed.  You learn naturally by experiencing life together as a family.  By removing the stress of school, my children, my experience of motherhood, and my family as a whole blossomed.

 

3.  Sibling relationships.  Homeschooled siblings for the most part, enjoy wonderful relationships with one another.  They spend a lot of time together and have ample opportunity to work out their problems and resolve their differences.  School gets in the way of sibling relationships, placing more value on peers than family.  So if you only homeschool one child, you miss out on this wonderful gift.  And, it’s worth mentioning that two happy siblings entertain one another thereby giving the primary homeschool parent a break!  (See if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy motto above!).

 

4.  Pace.  Ahhh..slow mornings.  When the whole family homeschools, no alarm clocks are necessary!  Mornings are peaceful, quiet, and productive!  My children play beautifully for several hours after breakfast.  That’s when I get all my own stuff done.  I wouldn’t have those crucial hours if I were dragging one of my kids to school every morning.

 

5.  Visiting museums, libraries, etc and vacationing at off-peek times.  By time boxing homeschooling to the hours your other child is in school, you are missing out not only on the magic and beauty of slow-homeschooling, but logistically you are missing out on the best times to do stuff!  Between the hours of 12 and 3 is a magical time to explore museums for example; you get the whole place to yourselves!

 

And those vacations!  If you homeschool ALL of your children, you can go on vacation anytime!  Europe in May or September.  How ‘ya gonna beat that?  Homeschool friends of ours spent a month in Hawaii this winter.  Can’t do that with a kid in school!

 

I would love to be wrong about this.  I hope that it is possible to LOVE homeschooling only some of your children.  While I feel like it would be impossible for me to successfully homeschool one of my children, I most certainly (honestly and truly) hope these families work out a beautiful dance that works for their families (or better yet, decide to pull ALL their kids of out school)!!

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