God gave me the idea for this community five years ago, and then the nudge to finally start it this year. I almost started an NCFCA Debate Club in Lynchburg in 2021. Almost as in: I emailed a few people and prayed about it, and that is all. Participating in NCFCA was an incredible experience for our teens, and I really wanted more teens to have that experience. Well, they will, in this community!
God nudged me in big ways this school year.
- In September 2021, I attended a Wild + Free conference in Franklin, TN with a couple of old friends from Oregon. (I am headed to the one in Dallas with those same friends this May, let me know if you’re going too!)
- When I returned from the conference, I quickly downloaded Ainsley Arment’s book on Audible: The Call of the Wild and Free: Reclaiming the Wonder in Your Child’s Education, A New Way to Homeschool. Guys, I cried like a baby. Like a baby! The way she describes homeschooling is so beautiful. What she describes is what I was naturally inclined to do anyways, but felt guilty doing so. I believed lies that I had to conform, to make my homeschooling rigorous like a school, and do to what everyone else was doing. That pressure kept me from being the homeschool mama I wanted to be. My three boys are done with homeschooling and I can’t go back. Don’t get me wrong–we have some great memories from our homeschool years. We are all really glad that we have been able to be a homeschool family. And, now that I am encouraged to homeschool in different ways, I intend to do so from here on out!
- I started going on nature walks and pressing flowers and leaves with our youngest daughter, who adores this time. She asks to go outside every day! We pulled out the Handbook of Nature Study when we saw a groundhog, and the various bird books on our table when we saw a big and beautiful creature in the sky near our home. This is the kind of homeschooling I love. THIS is the kind of homeschooling I want to encourage for each of you.
- I also listened to the audio book of Habits of the Household. I gleaned some fun things from the book (like our once per week “Movie Night”), but mostly it made me realize how much I miss being a part of educating little kids. I don’t plan to be a tutor at STAR Homeschool Community, because I will be the director, but I will still get to be involved. I can pick books, and assemble materials for projects, and watch eyes light up as kids learn. Our kids are so big now (11 to 20!) and I miss little kids. The homeschool community we have been participating in is only for middle & high school students. STAR will be for all ages!
- I listened to The Read Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie. Again, this is such a gentle approach to homeschooling. It made me realize how important read aloud time is for every stage of childhood. We pulled out the chapter books again, and even though one of my girls fought it, we have been reading together as a family. It is glorious! I love books, and I love my kids, so why not read aloud, even to my teens? I am so thankful for this book. It encouraged me to encourage all of you: read to your kids! Read to your kids at any age! Even our twenty year old is enjoying our read aloud time. It’s good for the whole family!
- I started reading and listening to every single book about the Charlotte Mason method I could find. I had used Ambleside Online’s curriculum and read through their website many times in the past. I have downloaded samples of Simply Charlotte Mason curriculum multiple times. I have listened to For the Children’s Sake and most of Consider This. And, now I am the proud owner of Charlotte Mason’s Home Education Series–which I hope to begin reading soon.
- During this process, I have been messaging with those friends I went to the Wild + Free conference with and bouncing all of my ideas off of them. I joined a homeschool co-op with one of those friends when our kids were very young, and later we were on leadership for a co-op together. As teens, her kids participated in a classical community, so she is familiar with that structure. She is organized, and so good at thinking about important details. The other friend I have been messaging with has tutored and is now directing a classical community. She has been a Wild + Free mama much longer than me and does daily nature walks with her big, beautiful family. When I would come up with a schedule, or the mission statement, or an idea for memory work, etc., I would reach out to these two wise friends and get their thoughts. They have helped shape this community structure into what it is today, and I am grateful for them!!
Other books, conference speakers, human connections and homeschool communities we have participated in have provided inspiration for STAR Homeschool Community as well. Off the top of my head, both Elizabeth Elliot and Victoria Botkin have spoken into my life and my thoughts (via audio messages) about being a wife, mom and homeschooler. There are many others, and I can’t list them all here, but as I think of them I will write more posts.
For now, I encourage you to read or listen to the resources mentioned above. I hope you are encouraged as much as I have been!