Fun-Schooling Pep Talk! (Part 2)

I ended my last blog post telling you that after 16 years of motherhood and trying lots of different homeschool methodologies, I quit.

What did I quit?

I quit dipping my toes in the shallow water while my children called to me from the deep end where they knew best what made them sink or float and I learned to trust.

I had tried a little bit of so many different things and nothing added up, it was all too hard, too much, too soon, and I tried. I thought I had failed and yet they thrived because everything I thought would never be enough added up to so much more that I could ever understand. And they were brave, and they were curious, and they were hungry to learn about this planet we call home, and I never thought I could ever give enough, but all I have is all God gave me… And it’s plenty.

But what about the mess, the stress, the fears, the changes that I struggled with in the dark, while my children were playing in the light? I was trying so hard to do it all, and so many voices from the outside spat out worries, saying I’m not enough. But I was enough.

These are the children entrusted to me, and this is the place we are in, and these are the tools, the ideas and the passions we share. And my children will not be like any others, they are not even a bit like each other, but they are the ones that I have been given to love.

So after 16 years of struggle, of reading mountains of books on dyslexia, Unschooling, Charlotte Mason, Classical Education, Autism, Delight-Directed learning, Montessori, Free Schools, conventional education, one room school house models, entrepreneur-based learning, passion driven learning, element, flow, talent and disability… I tried to put it all together, and glean the best of every world, and customize every child’s education based on their learning style, love language, career goals and special needs. And I wore myself out. Until I gave up trying to do it all, and created the first Do-it-Yourself Homeschooling Journal, just in time for the birth of my 10th baby.

I created the journal from a place of pain, discouragement, need, and hope. I had given up the idea that I could custom design each child’s curriculum and decided to find a way to set them free to “Do-it-Yourself” within the boundaries of all the wisdom I had embraced over the years. When I created the first DIY Fun-Schooling Journal I thought I was cheating my kids, because my whole plan was to make a curriculum that set ME FREE from having to homeschool! I was going to put my entire philosophy of how children learn into a journal that would keep them busy learning for 4 hours a day for 60 days… So I could take a break for 6 weeks with my new baby. It worked.

They used my system to study their passions and cover all the basics while I took care of my baby and enjoyed her to the fullest. The DIY system worked so well I was able to focus more and more on being mommy and less on stressing over Homeschooling. So when the 6 weeks were over, we didn’t stop Fun-Schooling. My children wanted more DIY Homeschooling Journals, but they wanted to help design them, and so we did.

And now we are overwhelming YOU, with so many options for homeschooling that maybe you are smiling through your tears cause you have no clue what to do, and you want to dive in deep but it’s still scary. So you wonder how to start, and you haven’t read the 200 books I read that inspired me to design this system of learning, and you wonder if you should trust, try it or keep experimenting. Something in you says go all the way, and other voices say it isn’t safe, so what are you gonna do?

Is there a way to homeschool without fear? No. I don’t think so. It’s the fear that motivates us to be brave. It’s not the kind of fear that hurts us and binds up and traps us. It’s a feeling of greatness, wonder, power and depth that makes each of us feel so small…

Let that kind of fear stir up courage to do what you need to do, to be who you need to be, to dive in completely, and trust. It’s more fun in the deep end anyway. Just ask your kids.

Want to take it to the next level? Start your own Fun-Schooling co-op! Here’s the perfect book for you!

Fun-Schooling Lifestyle, Practical Tips & Reality (Part 1 of 3)

(Transcribed from a Q & A Facebook Live video with Sarah, dated 2/2/22)

My homeschooling adventure began when I was 14 years old, and really struggling in the public school that I was going to, back in 1991. And we didn’t know anybody else who was homeschooling and hadn’t really heard of anybody else who was homeschooling. My parents actually looked into homeschooling because of some health issues my little sister had.  I wonder how many of you started homeschooling because of sickness going around and you weren’t even planning on it? Let me know in the comments!

So, my sister had health problems that couldn’t be handled well in school, and so my mom brought her home, and I was then going to school all alone. It was boring. There was a lot of bullying. I was kind of small for my age and kind of awkward. I only wanted to do art and hated math. So many things I didn’t like about school.

I saw my sister staying home and getting her work done so fast and then getting to do all the things that kids like to do. She got to be with my mom and dad all day. I’d come home from being at school all day long and have to do all the super boring homework that took me as long to get done as my sister’s entire school day.  So I started asking my parents to please let me homeschool. They said we’d have to wait until we got our tax return because they had spent a lot of money on my sister’s curriculum. My reply to that was, “Who needs a tax return and who needs curriculum? Aren’t there enough books at the library?”

We had a library just a couple blocks away and what I said made sense to my parents, so after Christmas I got a library card and didn’t go back to school. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.  My mom got me 5 or 6 composition journals from the store, and I wrote on the cover of every one of those the subjects I was interested in, and took them to the library with me. I asked the librarian to help me find books on each subject. I had my journals, colored pencils and a giant stack of library books—it looked nothing like a standardized education. 

I actually thought I was kind of a dumb, hopeless kid.  I failed third grade, I often got Cs and Ds in school. I was so proud of my A in art, and that’s what mattered to me.  That first year I got to study what I wanted to study, and that’s the heart of Fun-Schooling. That is what inspired me to create journals specifically for our kids to study their passions.

That first year I studied Ancient Egypt for History and designed my own mummy cases. My parents took me to a couple museums that had displays on Ancient Egypt and I got books on hieroglyphics—I was a super happy kid! But I discovered that I wanted to do much more. I was really interested in the history of fashion and I loved fashion design. So I got a big pile of books on that topic. All of that also qualified for Geography because I was interested in fashion around the world. There was a lot of Social Studies involved in fashion and fashion design as well. I also joined 4H and learned about photography and sewing. I had an interest in genetics. I wanted to learn about what makes us who we are. As part of that I got a bunch of mice from the pet store and started breeding them for my 4H project, and that was my Science. At that point I also fell in love with poetry and I started writing my own poems and copying poetry into my journals, and that was my Language Arts.

The only thing my parents ended up buying curriculum for was some Math stuff, and it was super boring and they didn’t really notice that I didn’t do it that year. My little sister needed a lot of attention, and they’d see me sitting there with my big pile of books and journals.  There was a different way I was going to learn Math. (click Page 2 to continue reading)