May 19, 2012

Home School Is Not Public School At Home

Happy Home School Greetings,

As our year is coming to a close, I am wrapping up my planning for next fall.  How about you?  In the back of my mind I am thinking ahead to Brianna's high school graduation next spring.  Which has me reflecting back on eleven years of her schooling in the old Wachter Academy.  I am always evaluating and reflecting and fine tuning our school program.  This year we tried a few new things that we really took to.  I hope to share them in other posts shortly for those who are looking for some new ideas for next year.  This letter from a fellow home school blogger, Lisa, over at Homeschool Days was very timely with all our figuring and thinking and end of the year summing up this week.

I hope you don’t mind me asking you some questions.  I’m not asking to be nosy.  A friend and I were talking about these things and both of us, at times, revert back to the public school way of thinking.  So here goes… What does your homeschool look like?  Do you use a certain curriculum?  How do you feel about teaching former grammar and sentence diagramming, etc.?  And what about math?  How structured are your days?  In what month do you start & finish school, normally? Blessings,Lisa

Dear Lisa,

In no way do I mind your questions.  Asking questions and sharing ideas is one of the ways we make a successful home school.  I have answered many of these questions to some degree before here at Art's Chili Pepper.  If you check the Homeschool Label on the side bar you can check out some previous posts that may be of interest to you.  In the meantime, let me try to summarize some of your questions quickly.

Sadly, I think many of us revert to public school ways at least once in our home school careers.  Some people dwell there and it works for them.  Others kind of fall into it by default and either don't realize where they are or don't know how to get out.  Mostly, I find home schoolers who try to follow the public school model hate what they are doing or feel constantly overwhelmed and burdened at the process of schooling their children.

By the public school model, I am loosely referring to the idea that every page must be done, a certain number of hours must be kept, work must be done in a certain fashion or at a certain place, test taking, specific subjects or topics must be done, busy work, repetitive or redundant work, and the list goes on.  You get the idea.

I know, I really had to fight the ideas that had been drilled into me through 12 years of private and public school education.  I didn't know anything about teaching.  I didn't know any home school families.  There weren't a lot of resources out there.  Even the internet was not widely or regularly used when I began schooling some 15 or 16 years ago.  So all I had to go on was my own experience.  It became more complicated when our school came into question in a custody battle and we felt the need to really conform as closely as possible to the public school model in order to defend our right to school Kaitlin at home.

But the fact of the matter is, she was miserable.  I was miserable.  At the end of the day when Allen came home to two of us crying, he was even miserable.  The thing is, neither Kaitlin and I worked well under those constraints.  She learned differently.  I taught differently.  Neither of us enjoyed sitting in front of a book all day filling in answers when we already understood the concepts for the sake of having something to show the powers to be.      We both longed to spend our time exploring topics that interested us, but we were so busy finishing work books that we never could get to the real crux of the matter, learning.  It got even worse because while I didn't enjoy it, I understood it was a necessary evil for a time.  Kaitlin was a child, and she didn't understand the importance of it so it became a constant power struggle that exhausted us both.

However, when the day came that we could follow our natural love for learning and exploring and put away all the ideas that every problem had to be done, things had to be done in a certain time table or the thought there was only one way to fulfill our requirements... wow!  school sure changed for us.  We fell in love with the idea of learning and Kaitlin excelled.  Indeed, school became something we enjoyed and looked forward to.  By the age of 15 she was finished all her high school requirements and started a correspondence course with a college out of Pennsylvania.  By the time she reached graduation age she had also completed a three year Bible college degree run by a church in Louisiana and hosted by our local church.


  1. It sounds like your family has a great system! I love how you are truly able to incorporate your faith throughout all aspects of your day and make it the center of your children's education! (and to not waste all that time on busywork - ugh I did SO much of that in school growing up!). I wasn't home schooled but would love to home school my own children someday and it is really encouraging and neat to see families like yours and how well home schooling can work!



  2. Hello there.. it's been awhile since I've had the chance to stop by.
    Now that we're done homeschooling it's interesting to sit and read about others continuing on. I love especially seeing people continuing to follow God's leading.
    Blessings dear friend..