Homeschooling Corner

Engaging the Heart, Soul and Mind to Make Connections (This is why we homeschool.)

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We walked onto a boat dock overlooking a lovely lake, but this caterpillar was what Marcus noticed first.

Sometimes a vacation is needed to put a jumble of thoughts into focus! At least, this mini vacation to Island Park and Yellowstone served such a purpose for me. Maybe it was the change of scenery or that I’d brought along all of my camera equipment and was in full photographer mode.

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The view of the lake from the boat dock.

Over this summer I reflected on the reasons why we homeschool. I am not one of those homeschool mamas who evaluates whether or not to continue homeschooling year by year. I have too many issues with public education and I value my time too much with my son, especially now that he’s a teenager and has started his high school years. My time with him is priceless.

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I asked him to pose for a picture and this is what he did.

I am a passionate homeschooler and I have at least one hundred and one reasons why I homeschool my son, but I’ve been trying to pin down my BIG reason which encompasses all the little reasons.

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This little guy was sunning himself on a bank at Big Springs.

If you remember my quote from my not-back-to-school post, I mentioned engaging my son’s heart, soul and mind, something my public school education rarely did for me. Most of the time I felt like I was just herded along for the ride. In fact, I often felt out of breath at school, figuratively speaking of course, just trying to keep up with all the busyness and demands on my time and energy. I do have one memory of a time when my heart, soul and mind engaged at school: Once, my middle school teacher walked into typing class, but instead of instructing us through another typing lesson, he sat on top of his desk, looked at each and every one of us, and spoke to us directly from his heart.

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Close-up view looking into the water from over a bridge at Big Springs.

His next door neighbor had just committed suicide. If I remember the story correctly, she was a young mother suffering from severe depression. She phoned her husband at work one day and told him she couldn’t take her life anymore. Before he made it home, she had shot herself. My teacher wanted me and my peers to know that if we ever suffered from depression we should seek out help because life is always worth living. Someone needs us and each life has immense worth. I have never forgotten that one class, nor that teacher for taking the time to place my heart, soul and mind above my typing speed and accuracy.

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View of the ducks from the bridge.

Looking back on my school years, I don’t remember much of what I learned. I guess some of that is to be expected, but what if there is a more meaningful way? What if the heart, soul and mind could engage in the process? What if all this learning could actually mean something more than just dates and facts for a test or making it to the next grade level?

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See that dead tree in the middle of the river? A nature guide called it “the tree of life after death”.

Today I was thinking about all the little details I had intentionally photographed in Island Park and Yellowstone National Park, such as the little caterpillar who didn’t even make it into the lake photo. As lovely as the view of the lake was to look at, the caterpillar was so lively and fun to watch and I would’ve missed him if Marcus had not pointed him out to me. I only saw the lake at first.

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He explained that it’s actually giving nutrients to the water, and it provides a safe haven for fish.

Looking at my photos, I realized I often started photographing each of the fascinating aspects of something, such as a the ground around a geyser, before taking a picture of the entire scene which gives the context, even though both were equally cool. Sometimes we call the entire scene “the big picture”. Could it be our school system focuses too much on the big picture? Even then it’s a big picture someone else decided for us, someone who doesn’t care much about the heart and soul elements, which is why they are seldom –if ever– involved in the learning process. (At least this has been our family’s experiences with public education.)

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The long view from the bridge at Big Springs.

I want my son to make connections when he learns. I want him to connect his learning in meaningful ways to his life. I believe this happens when there is unrushed time for the little details of the big picture to touch his heart as his mind processes them. This in turn refreshes his soul because the learning goes deeper, it actually means something. That’s when those light bulb moments occur that homeschooling moms love to witness first hand. This kind of learning takes root and best of all, the learner grows as he makes connections.

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Close-up view at Fountain Paint Pot in Yellowstone

Two years ago Marcus studied Joan of Arc.  He learned of her childhood and other details of her life. He was able to see her as more than just a historical figure. He saw her as a courageous young woman who truly believed she had a cause worth defending. She actually performed some amazing feats. It was as if a greater power was with her and this was her mission in life. Maybe one day when Marcus’ beliefs are tested, he will remember Joan of Arc.

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The long view

♥ And so this is the all-encompassing reason I homeschool my son- to engage his heart, soul and mind so that he connects his learning to his life. In this way, I’m sure his big picture will turn out to be a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. ♥

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14 thoughts on “Engaging the Heart, Soul and Mind to Make Connections (This is why we homeschool.)

    1. I’m so happy to hear that! I know all too well about the “blink” as I have three older kids who are now adults. Marcus is my youngest. Congrats on graduating your daughter. That’s awesome! Two of mine are homeschool graduates and they are also doing very well in college. It feels good, doesn’t it? We rocked as homeschool mamas! 🙌🏻

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  1. This was such a great post, Camie! The joy of homeschooling comes in being able to focus on one child at a time and one small lesson at a time. Whether it’s history, coming, animal husbandry, math, or a caterpillar each lesson is valuable. And through homeschooling your kids you’ve learned a lot, too.

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  2. I’ve been recently re-evaluating our homeschooling purpose, and I’m seeing how I’ve been focusing incorrectly for my teens on schooling to get to college. That’s pointless to me–kind of like skipping all of the joy that’s possible now for an uncertain future. I want to see them engaging now AND later–not just later. The littles are still joyfully climbing trees and reading books because they’re awesome, but the teens and I are finding a new path.

    And it’s kind of hard to make a course correction!

    Wishing you and your boy much joy in these teen years. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like that observation, “school focuses too much on the big picture.” First because when i think of focus, i think of a pinpoint in space, so focusing on the big picture seems almost a contradiction in terms. But if you think of a cameras focus, i guess it is more of a spectrum, going from the most specific ( the caterpillar’s eye) to the most general (the view of lake, mountain and sky.)
    Second it made me think and ponder what the big picture actually is, when you speak of a child’s education. We hear the words “college and career ready” bandied about, but that focusses on skills, not content. As far as subjects go, public schools try to cover the basics of a broad range of subjects, and in their overview, leave little time for examining anything so minor as the caterpillar.
    Like your method of taking photographs, at the risk of leaving something out, a more interest-led homeschooling experience starts at the meaningful, personal level and follows where it leads, much like adult learning. I don’t know if thats what you were getting at, but thank you so much for your valuable insight!

    Liked by 1 person

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