Getting a degree in music education required at least half of my major classes to be education-focused. I studied various philosophies of learning, wrote a discipline plan paper, created lesson plans that corresponded with TEKS, and spent a semester student-teaching, half in an elementary school and half in a high school. This is when I decided I didn’t want to teach. I really didn’t like kids too much, never liked babysitting really, so why the heck was I going to delve into a life full of other people’s kids!? And music teachers (in ANY level) are so inconceivably busy, prepping for concerts, leading sectionals after school-hours, rehearsing for contest, or preparing lesson plans for hundreds of students. My mom was an elementary school music teacher and I witnessed first-hand the hours she spent on her laptop at night during the week preparing for her classes for the coming weeks. She was dedicated and loved what she did… and she was great at it! I admired her dedication, but it’s just not the same kind of life I wanted to lead.
And now here I am 10 years later… homeschooling. My, how life is funny sometimes.
If you don’t know our homeschooling journey, we did not have a plan from the beginning to do school this way. Our eldest son began in pre-school and kinder in a private Christian school. He did great and excelled. The next year the school absolved it’s grade levels, so we felt a leading to try homeschooling. My husband advocated for it, since he was familiar with it, being home-schooled exclusively for the entirety of his education. So I gritted my teeth and asked lots of questions.
Curriculum was fun to buy, as everything still looked fun! “I can do this!”, I thought.
We went on our jolly way until our 3rd son was born just 18 months after our second. You know how this is going to pan out, right? A first grader, a toddler, and a nursing infant (and I also had a full voice studio with about 15 students I was trying to manage), was just about the limit for me. I felt dry, tired, and completely empty. No one was getting a good part of me or what they needed.
In November, I begged my husband to send my son to public school. I felt he was ready to be a light in the “world”, and he could be challenged where I just didn’t have energy to give. He did FANTASTIC! I stopped teaching voice lessons and started taking care of my body, working out every day (and getting some much-needed ME time), he was making friends and doing great academically, and the younger boys were getting regular naps and snuggles in these early stages of life!
Christmas break came in the middle of Deron’s 3rd grade year (it had been a full year back in school) and SO randomly asked to be homeschooled again.
“What??! WHY?” I thought we had a great thing going! He had just won the math bee out of all of the students in 3rd grade, and he went on to win second in the spelling bee and had tons of friends! I saw him flourishing, but the reason took me back.
“I just want to spend more time with our family…” he said.
Whoa. It was true. We only had a few hours at night, and those were largely spent making dinner, bathing everybody, and the usual routine. When we went out of town, our travels were limited to the weekend, and then being tired for Monday morning. And the morning routine… yeah…
It was convenient for us to begin homeschooling the following fall because we moved to Dallas that summer (2014) and we were in a state of transition homestead-wise (that’s a whole other story). I’m not sure what happened that year in my mindset, but something clicked. My husband was working exclusively from home now too, and for the first time, we were ALL together, ALL the time. And it was wonderful!
People thought we were crazy and it definitely took some getting used to, but we fell in love with being together. I fell in love with taking the boys on adventures and hikes, doing school in coffee shops, and frequenting museums, zoos, and other public places during the week when there were NEVER crowds. (That has spoiled me, for sure.) The ages of the boys also helped for sure. Deron, being 9, could read to himself and be somewhat self-guided, and Jude was just starting Kindergarten. Sollie was no longer taking naps and could easily play alone and keep himself largely occupied when needed.
After such a great year, I was hooked. And I had so many more ideas for a fulfilling lifestyle that included more community, more traveling, more adventure: all during the year, not limited to summer break, and including my husband. We moved into our new house the next summer and did it all again, including the road trip of my dreams…
But something still seemed tiring. It was all good, but I felt like I was missing pieces in some way. I wasn’t in love with the curriculum we were using and I was hearing the guilt of “what if you’re not doing enough?”, “he needs more language practice”, “are they reading enough of the classics”, “they’re still playing too many video games”, etc, etc, etc. We all know the guilt dialogue. And the thing is, it’s all on my shoulders. I am responsible for their education and that is SCARY. Liberating, but frightening.
I met a friend during that year who had her kids enrolled in Classical Conversations, which I had heard of before, but was only mildly interested in. I felt that it would hinder the freedom I loved owning our own style and resources (and schedule). It seemed like every time I saw her, an answer to any common struggle I had was, “oh yeah, CC helped that for me!”. Needing more community? Check. Laid out, long-term goals and progression? Check. A lifestyle/education that promotes and encourages seeing the world as beautiful including reading classical literature, music and art? Check.
My friend suggested I read The Core by Leigh Bortins who is the founder of Classical Conversations, an accomplished engineer in her own right, and also happens to be a mom of 4 boys! Hearing her heart about education won me over. I went to a 3 day practicum to learn even more, and I was impressed. I love that I will be given a trajectory that is whole-minded, long-term, and and pretty much everything I felt I was missing preparing school for my own kids… on my own. And I am still their teacher, CC really emphasizes that. I can shave away, dig deeper, or modify whatever I want for the boys (and still travel!) and it won’t be counted wrong on an assignment. It’s just a foundation.
I share all of this because of this:
All of our lives share one thing: everything’s a journey. We try different things, we learn what works and what doesn’t. We get frustrated and try to find motivation from somewhere. We rely on the Lord… or we don’t. Sometimes we give up. Sometimes we never find the solution we seek.
I hope that if you are looking for something, that you’ll keep searching, noticing the serendipity of situations and friendships that come at the perfect time. Or that you take a moment to refocus and realign yourself as to why you’re doing what your doing. And don’t be afraid to change things up. If something is not working, maybe something should be different. Ask questions. Don’t grow weary. Keep going.