It Happened!

Is it possible to have complete faith in something and still have fear lurk in the corners?

I figure it must be . . . because that’s how I often feel about the methods I use to homeschool. Even though I believe with all my heart that inspiring the desire to learn will be more effective in the long run than requiring my children to slave away at worksheets and spelling lists, I still worry when our “school work” looks nothing like what I think a “normal” schooling should look like.

On days when one child chooses to do nothing but embroider letters on to a piece of cloth, the fear creeps up and sometimes I have to go have a little talk with myself in my room.

“Deep breath, it will be okay,” I tell myself. “Owning their own learning is more important than doing math problems. They’ll get there. When the time is right, they’ll motivate themselves to do the kind of learning that they’ll need to be successful in life . . . to get into college . . . to get a job. Trust the process. Trust them. Truuuuuuuust them!”

Then my kids start asking through the bedroom door why they can hear weird chanting. It’s not a good thing. . . .

However, the other day, a breakthrough of momentous proportions occurred. I wanted to leap for joy. I wanted to shout from the rooftops. I wanted to proclaim, “It happened!”

Here’s how it went down:

I was standing in the kitchen in the afternoon fixing food. (Most of my stories, it seems, could start out this way. Why, oh why, does everyone need to eat every day, all day long. It just isn’t fair. But I digress . . .)

Pepper (11) casually walked in and looked at me thoughtfully. Then, without any awareness of the magnitude of what she was about to say, she spoke. “I have a plan for what I want to study every day. I want to do some “Life of Fred”* [the title of her math textbook], work on the story I’m writing, and start studying spelling words. Because, Mom, you know, my spelling really is atrocious. Do you have any ideas what would be the best way to study spelling?”

You could have picked me up off the floor.

This is the same daughter who only six months ago insisted she didn’t want any advice from me. The same daughter who fought the IDEA of a schedule or a routine. The same daughter who has NEVER seemed interested in anything that remotely looked like regular academics–particularly spelling!

Somewhere, somehow, her intrinsic desire kicked in. Because she decided these things were important, I don’t have to beg, plead, or even reward. Sometimes, I gently remind, but that’s it.


I’m still in shock. But my fear seems to be on vacation, and I’m spending a lot less time in my room talking to myself. Life’s pretty good.

*”Life of Fred” is a fabulous math resource for kids who love stories but hate traditional math books. I’ll blog more about it soon.



Filed under Examples and Stories, Purpose

3 responses to “It Happened!

  1. Carolyn

    This is very exciting and encouraging!! Thank you for sharing :) My youngest, and last child at home, is 9. She is constantly going- pretending, drawing, writing stories, making up games, playing outside… This morning she ran off for about 15 minutes and came back with a ‘rain coat’ for our little yorkie. She had cut it out and sewed it on the machine, her own design, and it fit perfectly! But I have the same fears because we’re not doing traditional math, spelling, etc. And, I am not very inspiring, though I aspire to be; honestly, it’s hard to keep up with her constant creativity. So, this post was very encouraging to me. Thankyou!!

  2. taperkey

    You daughter sounds like an absolute delight . . . unless you’re trying to get her to do something “traditional.” Then, watch out! Right? (I love that she created an outfit for the dog. Do you have a picture?)

    Kids like ours are so much fun when we get out of their way and let them shine like they are really supposed to. But I’m learning more and more that we can only really inspire them if we make sure they don’t have too much access to things that will dull their creativity–like lots of media, fluffy books, no-brain toys, etc. Then they can start to just swirl around in no-mans land. They have to have lots of blank space and time to let their creativity soar!

  3. Amy

    Chuckling. Would love to hear about your experience with Life of Fred. Maxwell has reached a tough spot in math. We use Math U See, I used Singapore in the past (& Isaac still does, it works for him). MUS has been great for Maxwell, a kinesthetic learner up to this point.
    Also, we use All About Spelling & love it. Didn’t like any other spell prog at all.

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