When I first began my homeschooling journey, I just knew that there must be someone out there who could just tell me how to homeschool, and then everything would be great!

So, I took a lot of homeschooling moms out to lunch over the years, grilling them, cajoling, and wheedling anything out of them that I could, hoping to find the elusive ingredient(s) that were missing from my homeschooling dish.

I could never quite find it.  But, I did learn something.

I learned that teaching children (and really, anyone), is an art more than a skill set.  And, in the end, it’s the amount of love you invest that really makes the difference.

But, was love my missing ingredient?

No Lack of Love Here

No.  I had plenty of love.

The problem was that I kept adding too much of one particular ingredient that didn’t belong at all.

Like adding pepper to apple pie or something.

That ingredient was fear.

Fear cancels out the power of love faster than you can recite 2 + 2=4.

So, what I realized was that the fear had to go.  It just had to.

How do you get rid of fear?  Well, I can’t tell you the answer, because, really, what do I know? And I’m not you.  But, I can tell you where you can look to find out.  Look to God.  He will help you.  Study about fear in the scriptures and words of the prophets, and then listen.  He will tell you how to get rid of it.

So, get rid of that fear, and then read on because this amazing recipe will blow your mind!

It doesn’t really include ingredients per se, because every family is different…but here is my METHOD in real life. 

The Beginning of My Day

It’s 3 am and I am up feeding the two month old.  As soon as I put him down, the 15 month old wakes up and needs mommy.  By the time I’m done with that, it’s 4 am.  I am supposed to get up at 5 am so I can get some exercising in after I try to read my scriptures and pray for more than 30 seconds before someone else needs me.  But, as I climb up the stairs, I decide to use Elder Scott’s talk as an excuse to go back to bed… (he said we should have adequate sleep in order to better receive revelation).

Today I Proudly Choose SORRY.   🙂

As I crawl back to bed I think, “I really should get up.  All those Pinterest people are always saying ‘You can feel sore tomorrow or you can feel sorry…’ ” Oh, well.  I’d rather be sorry and get 15 more minutes of sleep. I am exhausted and the sun hasn’t even come up yet.  I feel like such a weenie.

It’s 5:45 am and the three year old comes in, “Hey, can I get up now?” he yells at the top of his lungs, and I mumble yes, and then the two month old wakes up because the three year old was too loud, and I am already feeling behind for the day.

I pull myself out of bed and decide it’s going to be a great day.  I say that all the time, and the kids are always making fun of me for it, because sometimes it isn’t, no matter how much I say it is going to be.  But I really believe it every day, and I can honestly say that there is something great about every day, even the hard ones.

Not every day is great, but there is something great in every day. More wisdom from Pinterest.

I take a shower (and there is that blasted floor to ceiling mirror–ugh.  I should have gotten up and at least tried to exercise…oh, well.  I’ll try again tomorrow). I go downstairs and we all have breakfast.

This is actually my morning routine at this point in my life, more or less.  Oh, I like to think it’s more ambitious.  More…productive.  I’d like to embellish or put some sort of spin on it, but I won’t. There it is in all its naked truth!

My kids are also following theirs:

  • Get up.
  • Personal Hygiene.
  • Read scriptures.
  • Help with the little children/family work.
  • Family prayer/scripture while eating breakfast.
  • Math.

So, they are all doing their math and I play a little with the pre-school aged children.  Then, if all the stars and planets are properly aligned and heaven is smiling down on me, the two month old and fifteen month old will take a nap at the same time.  If not, then it’s teaching my five year old to read while holding/feeding a baby or wrangling a 1 1/2 year old. Or all three.

And, hopefully the five year old will finish her lesson without making the mistake of mixing up the sounds and blurting out what sounds like a swear word and having everyone react, scaring her half to death, and then having the five year old cry and say she’s never going to read again…

Reading Lessons….

It doesn’t sound very calming, but if you go into it with the attitude that no matter what happens, you’re going to just let it roll, then it’s actually kind of fun.

After math, we do a scripture class, which is really, really nice and my favorite part of the day.  Sometimes we sing, too.

The toddlers and under just kind of haphazardly join in, so really, it’s a bit noisy.  That’s okay.  The children are learning far more than I believe they are. While it appears that perhaps no one may be able to hear me when the 15 month old is doing the happy shriek (you know the one that is blood curdling, but just means they are really excited?), that’s okay.

As long as I don’t lose it, the Spirit can still teach them.

Then, I go and prepare lunch and usually do some prep work for dinner (or start a crockpot dinner).  This is the time the children start working on vocabulary, writing, or reading.

  • Scripture Class
  • Vocabulary/Writing
  • Reading

Then we eat lunch.

After lunch, it’s nap time for the 3 and 1 year olds.  Also for the 5 year old, but she refuses to comply. Every day.

Oh, well. Sometimes she at least sits still for a few minutes and reads with me.

This is the time when the children finish up their vocabulary (word maps from the Robinson Curriculum list), writing (a one page essay), and reading (1 hour of Robinson Curriculum list, 1 hour of “relaxing” reading…which is their choice).

My son is also reading through The Writer’s Reference, training for a marathon, and working on ACT prep. (Note to self: that sounds way more impressive than it is…I’ll repeat it to myself and others on my off days when I am feeling insecure!)

After that, there are some projects (today it was moving tree branches, catching up on laundry, installing smoke alarms, etcetera) that the older children need to do and also having a heart to heart with my daughter who totally had a melt down, or revealing consequences to the fifteen year old for his previous unreasonable and disobedient behavior (ah, the big reveal…such a peaceful, happy time….),  then it’s kind of “free time.”

Most of the kids are playing outside right now for free time.  Yesterday they made a rope swing, climbed trees, and one of them scratched himself in the eye with a stick.

Free Time

Some of them will just keep reading.  Occasionally, they will ask if they can bake or try a recipe.  Some of them paint or draw or play the piano.

I block off the entire morning and usually about an hour in the afternoon for school.  I rarely, if ever, allow interference there, unless I feel that God is telling me to be flexible (which sometimes happens).  But, in general, I will not answer the phone until after 2 (that is, if I can even find it).

Sometimes, when I don’t have a new baby, I am able to get some writing done while the kids are working on their school, but honestly, that has not happened in months.

Sometimes when I am on bedrest, things just don’t get done the way they ought, and that’s okay, because we do school Monday thru Friday all year long, and on Saturdays we do half-day of school, so it evens things out for when things just don’t happen well.

Guess what?  The best public school teachers I know sometimes have days where things just don’t work out, and it feels like no one has learned anything.  It happens.

Blechy days happen to everyone.  That’s okay.  Just don’t dwell too much on it.  Our homeschool motto is:

If things don’t go well, or there is a fight, or you just can’t get it together, or you call your sister a ‘chowderhead’, or you can’t remember how to do division, or you really don’t enjoy reading William Cullen Bryant’s “Picturesque America”, just take a deep breath, repent if you need to, seek forgiveness if it’s necessary, forgive yourself, and

Go Forward With Faith.

Don’t sit moping that you are the stupidest person in the world, or that you are the worst brother ever, or the most horrible mom on the planet.  Acknowledge there is a problem, if there is, pray for a solution and

Go Forward With Faith.

So, that’s it.  And that manifests itself differently with each individual family, and each individual person, for that matter.

(While I won’t give you all the details here, I would highly recommend reading Dr. Robinson’s story and philosophy on home education, even if you don’t use his curriculum, because it really was refreshing and taught me more than any homeschooling mom ever did!)

And, over the years, I have learned something very profoundly exhilarating.  The recipe for a great homeschool only requires two things:

A Willing Heart.

A Willing Mind.

Everything else will fall into place, and it’s not as complicated as the curriculum vendors and the naysayers and the political pundits would have you think.  And it doesn’t have to be loaded with emotional baggage and fear.  In fact, that is probably the only reason you feel that you are not successful–the fear and guilt and emotional baggage.

Not That Complicated…

In the end, it’s so incredibly simple: like making ice cubes.  Do you really need a recipe for that?  Sure, the ice cube maker companies and the gourmets will say that you have to be an expert or you need special training, or a high end ice cube maker, but don’t listen.  It’s not that complicated!

Here is an example of  a review of an ice cube recipe on Food.com that I hope will prove my point about homeschooling:

My wife and I have been dining at the Palms for ages and from the beginning we have been a huge fan of their ice cubes – so smooth and cold – just perfect. We’ve become close friends with the manager, but…he refuses to share their recipe. I’ve gone to great lengths to try to duplicate this at home, but have always failed miserably. We even tried to sneak some home one night in my wife’s purse, but when we arrived home, they had some how gone missing and my wife’s bag was a soggy mess.

With much trepidation and little confidence, I gave your recipe a go. I was anxious and kept checking on them every five minutes for what must have approached 15 hours with nary a positive result….. I had given up hope and passed out dejected and exhausted on the couch. I had forgotten to discard the unsuccessful recipe before my brief respite and when I awoke and went to pitch my disastrous attempt, I was astonished to find perfectly smooth, cold, ice cubes at my disposal.

My wife and I quickly broke some out and tried them with some tepid tap water – perfection – just like the Palms! My only complaint is this recipe takes much longer than the implicated two hours. I recommend anyone using this recipe to make it at least 24 hours prior to serving. Other than that, it’s perfect. I can’t wait to see the look on the Palms’ manager’s face the next time he comes over and finds out I’ve finally duplicated their recipe!

Or this one:

This is a great recipe. We have a large family, so I quadrupled the recipe, and also added an extra 1/4 cup of water, and it came out great. These cubes also keep great in the freezer. I blanch them for 2-3 minutes in boiling water, then put them back in their trays to use later. When you’re ready to use them, just pop them out of the tray and they taste like you just made them!

In the end, homeschool is like making ice cubes–you can tweak it however you like and it will still turn out.  But the more complicated you try to make it, the more of a mess you are going to make.

So, keep it simple and take a good, long, hard look at how much you have succeeded so far, because I guarantee you, you have!

(And, now, I will send you to read the rest of the reviews because it’s really, really funny and you will laugh…)