Posted in Homeschooling Corner

Homeschooling the High School Years (Part 2- The Benefits)

Welcome to part two of a five part series focusing on our experiences homeschooling through the high school years. This series will tackle what high school learning looks like at our house, the benefits of homeschooling the high school years, the curriculum we use (plus activities outside the home), how we prepare for college, and our advice for both the child and the parent.

♥ We have several years experience with public schools (within the U.S. & Canada), private schools (within the U.S. & Peru), and homeschooling. My oldest son graduated from a public high school. My oldest daughter spent one year in public high school and then was homeschooled the rest of her high school years. My youngest daughter was homeschooled all the way through her high school years. All three have gone on to further their educations through universities. ♥ I am currently homeschooling my youngest son for his high school years, and we love our days together. ♥

So, why do we homeschool through the high school years? Here are our top ten reasons:

10. Because we’ve made it this far so why not take it to the finish line? Plus, I’ve seen high school life today. No, thank you!

9. Because learning can be family-style. Bonus- People of all backgrounds and ages attend college together!

8. Because when I was in high school, I was like a walking zombie! I functioned on very little sleep (Thank you, Mr. Homework) and high stress. I always felt as if I was clueless to something important going on at school. I ate poorly and burned out half-way through the year.

7. Because I believe teenagers need their parents’ love and influence more than ever. These are confusing years for them.


6. Because home is where love abounds, where morals and values are instilled, and where a teen feels automatic acceptance and security. In other words, home is a natural and nurturing environment, conducive to learning. Bonus- pajama days and hot breakfasts.

5. Because my teen is one-of-a-kind and deserves an education that fits him. Bonus- college life is also tailor-made!

It looks like they raked the last of the snow to make this snow-bear, haha.

4. Because teenagers are still kids, and kids need time to play, daydream, create, and read for fun. Bonus- impromptu snow days!

3. Because it’s so freeing to be on our own time schedule and calendar. Bonus- this actually helps teenagers prepare for college life!

2. Because having a confident teen who values being a child of God over popularity, is priceless. Bonus- God gets to be a part of his school days.

1. Because my time with my teen is too precious to settle for the tired bits left over after each long school day, punctuated by hours of homework. Bonus- I get to share in his school days, even when I am not directly involved.

On a quick, serious note, the things my oldest two experienced at their public high school constantly tested their moral character. While they remained strong in our values, they admitted it wore them down physically and mentally to be exposed to that kind of worldly environment every single day. It was so much nicer to keep my youngest daughter away from all that and watch her flourish at home.

♥ Have you homeschooled or are you homeschooling your teen through their high school years? What would you add to this list? Thanks for reading. ♥

Posted in 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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.)

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.

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.

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. ♥

Posted in Homeschooling Corner

5 Things We Wish Our Friends and Family Would Accept About Our Choice to Homeschool

We began our homeschooling journey eight years ago, and you can read our story here if you’d like. We were the first and continue to be the only family who homeschools within our circles of immediate-extended family (on both sides) and our family-friends. And you know what? Before we started homeschooling, our parenting choices were never, ever questioned, but as soon as we made the choice to homeschool… Gasp! I kid you not when I say that for eight years now, our homeschooling has been a running hot topic, and not in a we’ve-warmed-up-to-it sort of way! Here is a short and sweet list of things we wish our dear ones would simply accept about our choice to homeschool (even if they never approve)-


1. We are not homeschooling to make other parents feel uncomfortable or question their own parenting choices. Honest! Consider this: Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if we all marched to the exact same beat? We’re following our own hearts and beliefs on this one.


2. We believe homeschooling is a superior choice for our children. We don’t even pretend to know what is best for anyone else’s children. However, when we make comparisons of homeschooling verses public schooling, they are ours to make based on our personal values and experiences with both. For our family, homeschooling offers tremendous advantages and benefits that public schooling can’t even touch. We especially love the freedom it gives us.


3. When others share “homeschool failure stories” with us, we’re not sure what point they are trying to make. What does another family’s homeschooling have to do with us anyway? Whether public schooling, private schooling or homeschooling, each and every family is unique, with their own quirks, strengths and weaknesses. I just want to point out that there are also weird, shy, socially-backwards, (fill in the blank) kids in public school! We even know some of them.


4. Our homeschooling takes a LOT of parent dedication, time, effort and heart. No matter what our dear ones think about homeschooling in general, I wish they would at least recognize all the hours I spend planning, organizing, and implementing lessons, activities, unit studies, and so much more. I wish they would see how much of my heart goes into it, and how much joy it gives me. I wish they could see our homeschool days in action because that way they just might realize how natural our homeschooling actually looks and feels.


5. We consider our unconventional, imperfect homeschooling to be a parenting success. We have no regrets for choosing this lifestyle. Homeschooling makes us happy, brings us closer, and gives me more time with my teenager before he’s grown up and leaving home. We’ve graduated two daughters who are each pulling excellent grades at their universities, hold part time jobs, make time for friends, and participate in community and church activities. They’re responsible, functioning adults and to us, that proves our homeschooling has been a huge success.

Hooray for homeschooling!

♥ Thanks so much for reading! If you homeschool, what might you add to this list? ♥