Alice Waters Quote teaching kids
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Teaching Children

Teaching kids how to feed themselves and how to live in a community responsibly is the center of an education. -Alice Waters

While our home education program isn’t centered on teaching our children to feed themselves & live in a community responsibly, it does make up a pretty important part of it. What a blessing it is to have them all here with us every day so that while learning to feed ourselves and all the little details it entails that we are able to keep our focus on the Lord…. together.

We had established lots of old patterns, habits, that kept things running smoothly in our old home. 2 1/2 acres seems so manageable now that we have 3 times that much land to work…  8 children a lot more work than 7… Every day is a struggle between choosing food, clothing, or education as we go about our work in this world. (Cleaning seems to have taken a seat way in the back.) I can’t keep up with it, let alone get ahead.

While I’m looking forward to falling into new routines and things running more smoothly in the future, for now I need to be satisfied with my decision to be content with food & raiment the focus of my managerial duties. “Formal” schooling is fitting into the nooks and crannies of time and I’m thinking about calling us “unschoolers” for a season and hope it doesn’t become a habit. No, I could see that happening far too easily, perhaps it would be best if I kept pressing to fit it in. I was really quite happy with the whole arrangement, am sad to see it isn’t working right now, and must be determined to make it work once again!

Meanwhile, it is good to know that there are others who would find an emphasis in DIY food production part of a good education.

Now to go tweak that Agrarian School Calendar & write up some lessons for next week…

What do you think should be the center of a child’s education? 

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  1. Just had to offer my two cents’ worth here! This was my Facebook post for the day:

    Reflecting on the joys, delights, challenges, and benefits of
    homeschooling my children these past TWENTY-SEVEN years on this, our
    last day of homeschooling for the 2013-14 school year! It’s been worth
    it — and I’m not done yet; my “baby” is only 12. After all, where else
    can one spend more time delivering baby goats than doing math in one’s
    last week of 6th grade ?!
    I ask you. (Worry not, horrified teachers out there! Aforementioned
    child finished the SEVENTH grade math textbook with 100% on the final
    test two days ago.) Bring on the next years! And maybe some day I’ll
    realize my dream of helping to homeschool my grandchildren………

    Here’s the back story………

    We have six children, farm with dairy goats/chickens/rabbits on a couple of acres, and our two boys are on the autism spectrum. Three oldest graduated home high school at age 15 and are now living happy, healthy, successful adult lives; oldest two are married and in their 30’s, with babies, and Daughter #3 is in her mid-20’s and single. Boys are 20 and 16, with the oldest dealing with Asperger’s Syndrome — wow, I could tell you LOTS of stories about this young man! Our younger son is like a 200# toddler with rather severe autism issues. Super-duper not fun :(. Youngest is Daughter #4, Farmer Girl, Deliverer of Baby Goats, and a huge blessing. Hubby often works out of town which means I play single mom quite a bit. At age 56, I’m undoubtedly quite a bit older than most of your readers, and perhaps I have some useful experiences to offer.

    It’s interesting that you talked about fitting formal schooling into the nooks and crannies of your day because that’s exactly what we’ve always done! And I’m here to tell you that very relaxed, semi-structured homeschooling works. It works WELL. That’s difficult to see when you’re in the everyday trenches with only younger children.

    We focus on Bible, reading, writing, and math. Really, all the “extras”– history, science, art, health, and so on — can fit in beautifully with the core basics. Children who read well, write well, and have basic math skills can almost educate themselves, with Teacher Mom playing more of a facilitator role.

    In our early years of homeschooling (we are talking 1987 here, people!), I was as anxious as the next person about being the perfect teacher and raising perfect homeschooled children. When I had a miscarriage at the end of our first year of homeschool, and subsequently conceived our 3rd child in the fall of that year, I put my feet up and “couch-schooled” for much of that year. Oldest daughter, an avid reader, read a lot, wrote a little, and did daily math. Since we were in a state that required annual testing, I was very concerned about how well she would test with such a laid back approach to learning. Well, I need not have worried: In every subject area, her scores jumped FIVE grade levels from the previous year! Three additional children later, with similar gains in testing (in entirely different children, I might add), I have stopped stressing :).

    Find your own groove in homeschooling! It won’t look like anyone else’s because your family is unique and wonderful!

  2. OH! name is Dianne and I too am addicted to beating MYself up. I constantly have this going through my head…”God is a God of my home should be more orderly” I do not know where or how I got that..but I surely torture myself all day never feeling like I am doing enough EVER. appear to be a lifelong learner and I am pretty ceratin your babes will be the same. I bet they are learning so very much from your lifestyle.
    AND most importantly..i would like to say that I couldn’t agree more..that the Lord should be the center of all we teach and model for our children. God bless you!

    1. I’ve heard that saying about God being a God of order before too in relation to homemaking, but really in 1 Cor 14 it’s talking about keeping an orderly worship. I’ve been thinking a lot recently (not in this context, but it could apply here too) about how Satan would have us to believe that his work is dark, occult, etc… but really if you look at his work in the Bible it’s about looking like light and twisting the Scriptures into meaning something they didn’t mean and burdening us with “sin” that isn’t really sin. Are we burdened because of God’s word or man’s ideas (even if it’s well meaning Christian “Titus 2” women)? Jesus said His yoke was easy & His burden was light and I fear we’re laying up more our own shoulders than He would have us ultimately crippling ourselves for doing His work. I mean, God is a God of order. That’s one of His attributes, (and I thank Him for it- what a frightening thing life would be without absolutes and certainties!) And while there are some we cannot attain, I suppose being orderly could be one of them, but is that part of our sanctification, which we’ll never fully attain, and not a sin, being disorderly? Would it even be possible with children in the house- which I always hope to have. Sorry. Just some ramblings as they came to mind. 🙂 Directed more at myself than to you Dianne 🙂 Still struggling…. may you be blessed with peace.

  3. It certainly is hard to juggle everything Quinn and you have twice the number of children as I do! I’m sure you are doing a fine job so don’t be hard on yourself! I tend to be much too strict on bookwork and I need to remind myself to relax and remember that children are learning through life as well. There is no such thing as a perfect education, but Your children are certainly getting a great one!

    1. My name is Quinn & I’m addicted to beating myself up. If it’s not one thing it’s another, but I’m my own worst enemy & harshest critic in all areas. But probably the most when it comes to time management & “getting it all done” or prioritizing what doesn’t get done rather… My the Lord give us grace and bless our children’s minds with wisdom whether we’re too strict in bookwork or not strict enough!

  4. I can identify with your agrarian “distraction” while trying to do everything else. We moved to 5 acres last year from 1/2 acre, baby #5 is due in September, and we homeschool. But I’ll say right now that we have far less agrarian commitments – no livestock. The move last May wore us out more than I ever thought it would, and this time of year is so very busy as we try to get all the gardens started out well. Add to that an infant…I think you’re doing well to squeeze in some formal lessons, but don’t be hard on yourself. The gardening will ebb and flow, and at least for us a lull will be coming soon.

    1. Congratulations on your impending arrival Ami! And the big move! I’m glad for your having shared that the move was tougher than you expected. I thought it was just me having a rough time with adjusting and me being who I am get myself all bogged down in beating myself up for not getting it together by now. May your gardens & babes & pregnancy be blessed!

  5. “Every day is a struggle between choosing food, clothing, or education as we go about our work in this world. (Cleaning seems to have taken a seat way in the back.) I can’t keep up with it, let alone get ahead.”

    We struggle with that, too. Couples with less children always have such nice, clean homes…

    As for “What do you think should be the center of a child’s education?”

    Learning to walk with God and glorify Him. That’s the keystone. After that, getting them reading… and reading… and reading.

    1. Or the Amish. We live around lots of Amish and they keep their farms so tidy, I can’t understand how they do it!! You can practically profile a farm & know it’s Amish by that factor alone. They all do seem to send their kids off to school, maybe that factors in? I know when the kids are away the house stays more clean. (Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox…)

      After that, reading, reading, reading- YES!!! How much lighter our loads would be if they can educate themselves!

      1. Amish: that is my conclusion too. Crossing my fingers our house will have a similar effect come August…

  6. I have so much admiration for homeschooling families that can do it well! I homeschooled the kids for 2 years, but with my husband’s encouragement we are trying out our local school this coming year and I read a great book called “Going Public” by a wonderful, large (11 kids), Christian family The Pritchards. While I am prepared for any negatives, I am also thankful that I won’t have to do the physical teaching and trying to balance it with : working on the farm with my husband, the little ones while trying to school the older ones, canning with so many underfoot, volunteering, housework, and cooking for 7 hours of the day, etc. Teaching was very stressful and difficult for me (I do not have a way with words to say the least). I know I won’t be LESS busy because I’ll be adding in volunteering at the kid’s school every week, but I won’t have the stress of homeschooling. We will see what happens this year, but I’m excited as are the children. Much kudos to those who dedicated their children’s growing up years to homeschooling though! I always said I wanted the perks of both ways of educations as there are definite perks and cons. haha.

    Anyway, we still will center our children’s education on Christ Jesus. With devotionals and Bible reading every morning like we do now and also doing a great Bible curriculum called “Telling God’s Story” on Fri-Mon. I already bought it and am very impressed!

    1. I admire you for knowing when enough is enough and doing what was best for your family. I hope it goes well for you and that the Lord puts a hedge around your children so that the “negatives” will be few and far between and blesses you with wisdom, discernment, peace, & productivity as you go forward!

  7. We fit in “formal” education where we can but I feel there is so much to learn with food production and farming. Every aspect of formal education can be tied in there. Think of all the skills they learn when growing food! Counting seeds, responsibility to make sure they grow to food, etc. Our children have learned so much from working with us on our farm. They have realized how fragile life is and to look to Nature for cues and observations of seasons, etc. Its a wonderful life and cut yourself some slack this time of year. Children learn best playing and being with their parents all the time! In my opinioin anyways 🙂

    1. I want to thank you for your encouragement Ashley! I thought of your comment several times this week when that nagging guilt started to seep in 🙂 I tried to work on being more deliberate with conversational education rather than bookwork and to be satisfied with it. And trust that their minds are absorbing more spontaneously than I could hope to teach them much planning. Thanks!

      1. Also, dont dis so much on unschooling ;0) What works for one child or family here and now may not work for another in another time. Especially if you have special needs children, that is why cookie cutter schooling is the least effective and the most frustrating, take it easy on yourself and them, and if you are starting to feel called to unschooling, maybe you should listen 😉 i think we worry so much because for the last VERY short period in human history, we have had it drilled into our heads what education looked like, and even those of us who have made the leap to non industrial schooling have trouble shaking off those fetters. Do what comes natural, and remember, industrial schooling and ‘traditional’ schooling, have little to do with eachother, and it is the former we are used to in the US.

  8. I loved your post regarding being “bold like a lion” and stating that “formal” schooling isn’t your main goal. I think I could breathe a sigh of relief after that as I felt that I wasn’t the only one thinking that way! So thanks. Our main goals are for our children to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, THEN to watch as we model for them how to provide healthy food for themselves, THEN for other learning mixed in between. I remember being in that spot after our fifth was born. You know how it goes, when they start sleeping through the night and are on that 2 nap schedule, it gets easier. I remember them all being 7 and under and it was survival mode. Forget the clean bathrooms! We didn’t even venture into a “formal” science program, just observing nature, painting/drawing in our sketchbooks, gardening, etc. History was done half-way. Yeah. Then, enter the mission statement. We built one as a family and I look to it every time I get discouraged like I’m not doing enough. It’s funny though…some “survival mode days” have only seen a few books read to them, but then after reading those living books, their little minds churn, wanting to explore more of a topic. I kept a basket full of living books by my seat at the table and would try to get through them as I would serve lunch/nurse the baby at the table while reading. Blessing to your beautiful family as you adapt to your precious, new little one! You are a real encouragement to so many!!!

    1. I’m so glad to have learned all about Charlotte Mason & living books and the way she encourages so many subjects to be taught! Really, it’s a breath of fresh air & a comfort knowing that even though we may not cover every fact formally, they are still picking up on so much through life experiences & real, solid literature! A mission statement is a great idea! That has to be wonderful to have something like that written up to fall back upon!

  9. The center of a child’s education should be the Lord. With us all knowing this deep in our souls then why the constant struggle to find a balance. So there sits the curriculum with plenty left to cover before the last page (and it’s MAY!!!!) But then there are the animals. the garden, the hunting in the bush, the fishing in the river (which by the way today was their best fishin day yet. Oh, to find the balance. Lets all pray on it some more. Thanks for the reality post. Enjoy those blessings, they grow fast.

    1. Right there. In that last sentence. That’s what I needed to hear. Yes, we must enjoy them for they do grow up fast! Sadly, all my mommy guilt is robbing me of that enjoyment especially for those middles where time has slowed down their growing a bit. Unlike the baby where you can measure her development on a weekly basis- it’s so much easier to cherish those moments knowing how soon they’ll be gone. But I tend to forget that with those middles. Thank you so much Bev for the reminder!

      1. definitely hold on to those middles… they turn into adults in the blink of an eye… ;;sigh;;