Our journey to find learning at home.
Rewind ten years ago April when they placed this tiny, crying and most delicious thing I had ever seen into my arms and said “Congratulations, you are a mom.” I was forever changed, this little being that called me to the incredible life that is motherhood, he was perfect, and I was terrified.
Are they going to let us just take him home? I asked my husband on the day of our release. And yes, they definitely did. Since I crossed the threshold cradling perfection, into that darling little ranch of a home in Michigan, I felt a small, quiet pang in my heart. This baby had just lived closer to my heart than any other being for nine months and now, I never wanted to be separated from him. I wanted to run with reckless abandon into staying home full time – alas being so young and newly established our household depending on two incomes it could only be a dream to be home with my child. We got our finances in order and 3 months later jumped right back into 2 parents working while our little one was going to a great Early Learning Program in the same building I worked.
Five years later, we had our middle little and felt the call to move to Pennsylvania to be a part of the church we belong to, there. In the plan we decided when we moved, we would change our lifestyle so I could stay home with our children. I could not go through leaving my wee one while I worked and struggled to pump and keep up with two wild littles. We moved, began our life in PA and we were immediately faced with choosing a school for our oldest, Sam.
We chose a Kindergarten that had roots in Montessori, and we liked it (except for clip charts – which I do not blame any teacher, I mean they have 20-30 kids to teach and keep in line; and then that tug at my heart that he should be home with me). I struggled a bit. The thought of my busy, brilliant, and wild little guy being forced to sit and only enjoy 20 minutes outside time per day. Everyone around me would assure me I was just feeling mom jitters and that kids need school, kids need structure…kids need clip charts. By the end of the year I could not shake it, I wanted him home with me. Doubting all my abilities to teach at home, we finally stopped considering home-school and sent him back in the Fall.
Again, year after year, Sam was great in school his brilliant mind allowed him to excel academically with ease, but his busyness did not go unnoticed. They said have him tested and we had him tested, they said try therapy and we tried therapy, they said see his doctor and we saw his doctor. However, every avenue ended with the same result: he is busy, he is smart, and he is absolutely fine. But we knew our child needed more that what school, the institution could give him. He needed breaks, he needs to have his bare feet in the grass, he needs the sunshine on his back as he watched ants carry 10x their weight. He needed to be wild, he needed to be free. Every year once summer commenced, there was that voice in my heart…whispering home-school. And every year, I pushed it back.
In 2019, my youngest (Jacob) was 2, our middle one (Eden) was 5 and Sam was 10. We were gearing up for 2 in school and only one home. You will love it, I was told, to have time with my youngest and enjoy the quiet. To be honest, I did enjoy those quiet slow mornings of block building, book reading, and couch snuggles. I also missed my older two children. They would come home, exhausted from the school day and I was in a place of struggling with my 4th grader who was done to get all of his homework done, keep the younger two from fighting over the same toys and get dinner ready. It was frustrating, exhausting, and overwhelming. I had to fight to get homework done or accounted for, and it was hard. Being assured that this was normal, and it only gets harder, I tried outside play as soon as school was over, I tried less TV or more TV. Still, it was a fight and it felt wrong to struggle school all the time.
Then arrived, COVID 19, quarantine and schooling from home. Just like that, the homework fights were gone, there was an adjustment to online work and assignments but the kids had the freedom of sleeping until they liked, getting work done at their own pace (guided but on their terms too) and we found opportunities to do so much, at home with three kids. Quarantine forced us all into our home, but it also made me realize that home was just where we belonged. Learning with me and our family. That voice began to stir again; you are capable, you are brave, you are the very one who was made to know and love your child the most in this whole world, you are the one who knows what they need. Then there came the day when I realized, as Ainsley Arment writes in her book The Call of the Wild and Free: “and that voice was mine.” When we made the resolve to home-school, my heart has never felt such peace in the education of my children.
This summer, Three Wild Three Free was born out of the desire to learn at home with our children, from the realization that I was made to teach my children, the God given right to keep these wild ones with me as we explore and learn from the wild world around us. We are still learning our new rhythm as we shake off the formal education set-up we have known and embrace a more wild, a more free one; but together we are learning. Welcome to our journey as we go!