Whole Heart School – A $44 Education?

Sep 8, 2010 | Homeschooling, On Motherhood | 33 comments


Today was our first day of school.
We tinkered with it a bit last year, just a few times, but today was the real deal.
I have read a lot about Homeschooling. A lot about Public Schools. A lot about Private Schools. We chose Homeschooling based on some very moral convictions, a genuine concern over comprises made in the average Christian family, the stats of children that leave the faith once they reach their late teens … and out of a desire for our children to receive more of a classical education. I’m not going into this with rose colored glasses. As wonderful as it is going to be it’s going to be difficult. Not for them, for me.
Think about it. I have to educate my children. I have to teach them to read. I have to teach them theology. I have to learn to keep their attention… There won’t be that coveted 6,7,8 hours of Mom time a day… OH! The things that I could get done.
But it’s not about me is it?
And so, this morning at 9:00 we rang the bell, said the pledge, The Lords Prayer and started school.
We are using the Charlotte Mason philosophy of schooling.
There will be NO un-schooling in this house. The education will be classical in the sense that we will use living books when ever we can as opposed to text books but not classical in the sense that some employ the “trivium.”

I was going to invest in a Phonics curriculum but… call me cheap, call me rebellious, I thought I would just hit the Target dollar aisle instead. I was going to pay about $10 for a writing pad on a website that I really respect but why do that when I could get one on clearance at Target? I was going to get flash cards from this same website but why would I do that when I could get them from the Target dollar aisle? All in all, I purchased phonics books, flash cards of all kinds, scissors, colored paper, counting cubes, math magnets, quality letter writing booklets both upper and lowercase, Pre-k workbooks for LeeLee, glue sticks markers… everything we need in addition to our “living books” at home or the library for a mere $44.
Now, if I get to December and Aidan can’t write a lick or read a word it was a bad decision but I think it’s going to be OK. I don’t think the Target dollar aisle will hurt for Kindergarten. Forty four dollars for back to school.
Can’t. Beat. That.

We are almost done with the “School Barn.” It was once my side of the garage, and before that an old carriage shed or something. The floor is wood, the ceiling is wood, the walls are wood, there are two windows as before the garage addition it was the outside wall. Thus the affectionate term “School Barn.”

It is really a charming little space. It has a heat vent and everything.  And to stay connected to the outdoors we can simply open the garage door and school in the fresh air.  It is unbelievable ideal.  I never wanted to be the Mom with the schoolbooks spread all over the dining room table.  Sadly, I am just too uptight for that so I consider us very blessed to have this space to learn.

And I am feeling pretty daunted. It may sound corny but I am REALLY feeling like a Momma now. We have a real schedule. Structure. I feel there is a lot to live up to. I’ve got lots of memories of my Mom having it all together… at least in my eyes as a child. But beyond the school barn, I am feeling really blessed. Forget feeling. I KNOW I am really blessed.
For tomorrow I GET to do it all over again!!!!

Only 2.5 but thrilled to be at her brother’s side learning.
Dapper Dan!


  1. Amy Kinser

    Congrats on homeschooling. I am teaching a senior, sophomore and a 2nd grader this year. We have always homeschooled and loved it. I am thankful for every minute the Lord has allowed me to teach our children. What a blessing and job it has been.

  2. Carissa

    What a blessing to pull up your site and see this!!!! Oh those children are beautiful!! I am so happy for you!!! We hit the target aisle too~same map~flash cards~work books~etc…

    I know what you mean about having a real schedule too… I thought I was scheduled before, but now we really are. And yes, it would be wonderful to have 4 to 6 hours to myself… I can’t imagine! But the time, love and teaching that we are giving our children is priceless and far above anything they might receive at a public school. (I know you know that, just feels good to say it again).

    Ps I didn’t get to comment on your rant in the previous post, but I was saying Amen all the way through it!! 🙂

    ~ I have several friends that are home schooling also, I pray for all of us each morning, as we have a large task at hand… you will be on the list also!! 🙂

    Take care,

  3. Priscilla

    I’m so happy for you. You will never regret this. I taught school for many years. When my husband died my youngest daughter was 14. After a year and the death of my mother, she wasn’t doing very well. Her grades were going down and she was withdrawing. I was a bit of a wreck as well. I made a decision I have never regretted. I sold up and moved to England. I bought a home school course. She did better and when I got her a tutor she did fine. After a couple of years we returned to the US. She finished and we both taught at the private school both my daughters attend and at which I had taught. She later moved to Switzerland because of her fluent French. She worked for the press sec. of the president of Switzerland. She came back after 5 years, and taught with me again. Now she is assistant to the chairman of the Republican party of our state.
    I tell you this not for approbation, but to encourage you. You have beautiful children and you are a wonderful, beautiful mother. These are the children who will lead our country and bring honor to you and your husband.

  4. * French at Heart *

    ~*~Wow Angela!!Good for you to make such a wise decision..selfless and Im sure alot of work..but so worth it Im sure!Our boys have attended public school and thankfully have remained honors students with a love for God and a respect for teachers and my hubby and I!! Kudos to you and such a brave decision..I wish I had the patience and creativity! ;)blessings,Rachel ~*~*

  5. * French at Heart *

    ~*~*And one more thing.. your kiddos are absolutely precious!!~*~* 😉

  6. Teresa

    I stand up and applaud you. I just started homeschooling this year….my oldest four ages 14,13,12,10 have been in private and public schools in prior years. I had just about had it with all of the liberalism and just plain strange rules and regulations, not too mention how disrespectful children can be to one another and their elders….even in the private schools! Since this is my first year doing it, I’m still a green pea but I’m sure I’ll make it work…with God’s help.

  7. Anne - Fiona and Twig

    I so admire you for tackling this.
    Even with Christian or parochial schools, you can never be sure that the liberal minded folks aren’t watering down the faith.
    I think for a devout Christian family, home-schooling is the best way, whenever possible.

    Dapper Dan…{smile} I’m a HUGE O brother Where Art Thou fan, so that got a big smile out of me!

  8. Mac n' Janet

    You’ve made the right choice, as a retired school teacher I say without hesitation that I would not have a child in public school. Children are subjected to such indoctrination that it overpowers whatever they’re taught at home. Every teacher has “pet” projects and your child will be taught things you often would prefer they were not.
    So enjoy your children and the teaching you’ll do, it’s a joy.

  9. Chrissy

    Oh my gosh…they are the most darling faces!!!! Such blue eyes!! Good luck with the home schooling!!

  10. Kalee

    This is awesome. We don’t even have children yet and I’ve been looking at different homeschooling methods and curriculum, because while we’ve considered Catholic school, the tuition is too much for us currently. And my problem is the push for memorization of facts and knowledge (for testing purposes) and lack of morals and good old fashioned character. A teacher does not have the power to teach these things any more (I went through 3 years of elementary education in college before I decided it wasn’t for me, it wasn’t the teacher I wanted to be). So it’s up to me to start our future children out learning.

    This method sounds great, and the school barn setup looks fantastic!

  11. Farmgirl Cyn

    I LOVE Charlotte Mason and those methods! I used “How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” for both Sam and Avery. Loved it. It had come highly recommended. Also used the “Bob” books.
    If anyone is considering homeschooling, I have them read “Dumbing Us Down” by John Taylor Gatto. He was the New York City teacher of the year a ways back, and then the states teacher of the year. The book is phenomenal.

    LOVE the 1st day of school pics!

  12. Girl Meets Paris

    Oh how I remember those days… creative, wonderful, tiring, but in the end, a great experience.

    If you only spent $44… perhaps there’s some wiggle room for some French perfume???


  13. Stephanie

    This is so great. You are doing something wonderful here and they will be much better off as a result of your hard efforts. Your school house area is fantastic!

  14. Tina Leigh

    My grand baby will be 3 next month. I have started the same ideas with her (her parents are much to be desired in her life, long story). I did the same as you after much research. I home schooled my boys for a while when they were little but MUCH has changed since then.

    Something I found that has turned out to be a gem…dry erase tablets!! I was looking for the old brown paper-learn-to-write-your-letters-on tablets when I came across these. It is by mead.
    If it was up to me, my grand would get her education from me…..NOT PUBLIC school. Again tho, I am fighting some parents that, well, just dont give a RIP!!!

  15. Tina Leigh

    Oh and those babies of yours…I could eat-em! Too sweet.

  16. Mrs. B.

    Love it. And the school barn is perfect. 🙂
    I’m assuming you’ve read For the Children’s Sake. One of my very favorites.
    And all of Sally Clarkson’s books. Must-haves for the homeschooling mama.
    Sending my piglets to preschool this Fall has been pretty hard on me. But we’re taking our schooling one year at a time and evaluating what’s best for the family as we go.
    This year it’s private preschool!

    Congrats on starting your first “real” year!

  17. Miss Gracie's House

    Aww…love it…my favorite teaching style…Charlotte Mason, Ruth Beechick, and REAL books…oh, the hours we have spent there. Sweet times. I think I’ve said this before but this is such an encouragement to me to see such vision in the next generation. And love the school barn, too!

  18. Alice

    I admire anyone who is willing to take on such a daunting task. Though the thought to homeschool never crossed my mind, I’m sure it it did I would not be up to doing it properly. When my kids were younger and needed help with their homework I always told them they’d better bring home their text book so I could brush up on the subject. Once my daughter needed help in math, and received an F on the paper I helped her with. They soon realized they needed to ask their dad for any help there.

    I think its great you are not just using text books but actual life experiences to teach your children. They will learn so much more this way–and retain it forever.

    Luckily, our children are wonderful, smart kids who grew up in a small town. They have kept their love for church and God, even the two oldest who are off at college. Like you, I am blessed to have such great kids.

  19. I'm Sheila Atchley.

    As someone who has always only home schooled, and graduated three of my four (down to the last one this year!) I feel I want to tell you….YEAY! You’ll love this adventure. There will be days when it all is so unspeakably sweet – you will know you are doing what you were born to do.

    And there will be dark days.

    Home education won’t keep your children from “the world”…it won’t keep them from choosing to compromise when desire meets with opportunity. But it *will* give them a foundation, educationally and spiritually. It will give them a full-to-bursting cache of family memories and thoughts from God’s Word and from Great Books…thoughts and memories that will “come calling” in those seasons when they are tempted to fall away. And they will be tempted. Home schooling does not remove the enemy from stalking your children’s lives – but the grace of God is sufficient for every weakness. I promise. But you know that already!

    We also used CM/classical method all the way through. Check out Ambleside Online if you haven’t yet. We spent years without a television, built tree houses and planted little gardens – we renovated a whole house as part of “school”, did it as a family. We built an entire 600+ square foot addition ourselves, baked our own bread,won lost people to Christ, sang songs to learn state capitols and science trivia…we were “that family”. ACK!

    Blessings and grace and peace as you begin this arduous, but altogether worth-it-all journey. It tickles me to see your sassy confident demeanor – all the way down to calling some folks fools if they give into too much television. I rolled on the floor over that post! I look at you, and see myself, way back when. (Most people I know would say that is a compliment…I hope, I hope…)

    Let me tell you. On the day you see your little girl walk down the aisle to marry a MAN OF GOD, and she is well educated and confident and Godly….you will know…you’ve fulfilled your fondest dream. It will ALL be worth it, in that moment. Ask me how I know…been there, done that, twice in the past year and a half. And I now have a grand baby on the way!!

    Give it all you got, girlfriend. Godspeed!

  20. japink

    I was homeschooled from second grade until I graduated. I will forever be grateful to my parents for homeschooling me and my two sisters! It was one of the most life changing (or should I say stabilizing) things that I could have gone through. Our family is so close knit and my relationship with my parents, particularly my mother, is indescribable. Not that there wasn’t fights and hard times with homeschooling but in the long run it ALL PAYS OFF! I believe it is the best thing a parent can do for their child. Be encouraged!

  21. SK

    We love homeschooling. We started when my oldest son was in the 3rd grade, and he is a junior now. Last year was the first year for my 7-year old–teaching your own child from the beginning is *the* best! 😉

  22. Deb

    Oh.My.Goodness. Your babies are adorable! Or should I say “students”…

    I taught my daughter in a private school when she was in fourth grade (just happened to be teaching fourth grade that year). Then for seventh grade, we homeschooled. Those were just the sweetest times. This year she is homeschooling her own daughter, and they are loving it. Good for you; you will never regret your decision to be everything God intended a parent to be!

  23. cityfarmer

    momma here …
    Grandpa Don …
    one gram …

    this falls right in line with all of your other life choices.

    God first.
    respect for big Daddy.
    home birth.
    no TV.
    organic food.
    work from home.
    quality family time.
    Biblical discipline.
    respect of elders.
    and on
    and on

    this make my whole heart sing!
    I am the proud momma who gets to be the hands on part of the whole plan.

    thank you for such a sweet compliment.

    Your desires and plans are already being honored.

    It’s clearly evident.
    you ARE the Proverbs 31 woman.
    We rise up and called you blessed!

  24. North Street Bookkeeping

    The first day of school has the potential for being terrifying, but not at home when you understand your teacher, her motives, and your surroundings.

    I truly am honored to be a part of this family and I’m so proud of you – I REJOICE! It becomes more evident in things you say and do that you have the Spirit of God in you. I respect how much you have grown and matured in the faith. I praise God for blessing your family, our family and our relationships. In God we trust!

    I love you all,
    Grumpuh Don

  25. Ann at eightacresofeden

    Wow I’ve been homeschooling since 1998 and wish I could have had such encouragement when I started out. My pastor’s wife face dropped and said ‘Oh you’re not are you?’ when I told her I was going to homeschool my first son.
    I am so glad I started and stayed for the journey – teaching my children to read was one of the joys – I used the same phonics book for each child called ‘Teach Your Child to Read’ (an English publication not the in 100 lessons one) It is falling apart now and I have had to laminate the pages but it is one of my most prized possessions.
    Each day I get to converse with my children – home education is really that passage in Deuteronomy 6 being lived out. From when you rise up and head over to your school barn each morning – life lessons will be all around you and I can see you now Ang in your beautiful garden with your children, pointing out to them the butterflies and bugs and they will go into the barn and draw butterflies and bugs and you will talk to them about the glorious Designer and Creator of all life, who will be there for you in everything!
    My family vision for homeschooling you might be interested to know is ‘To raise outstanding children who reflect the character of Christ, have a passion for people, a love of life and a wholehearted desire for learning.’

  26. Homemaker Ang

    I have not read the other comments before posting this so I have a clean slate and mind 🙂

    I appreciate your enthusiasm so much! You remind me of myself 14 years ago already… How time has flown!

    It is good to start with high expectations! Homeschooling is a very serious endeavor and sadly to many homeschoolers actually do not take it seriously enough… They are doing their children a true diservice by not making school a top and serious priority…

    I had a school room all set up as well, 14 years ago… It is hard for us that attended traditional school all of our lives to break away from these thoughts… We need to get away from the fact that just because school is in a classroom that we must have one. Actually, throw out just about everything you know about the school you and I attended…

    I too dreaded school books around the kitchen table… But now, it works well with six children to be able for me to “command” if you will from the kitchen, the center of the home.

    As the children grow older school takes more time… Eventually to keep making homeschooling work for us (as I would never send them anywhere else) I needed to adapt to the kitchen because some book work was taking a looooonnnnnggggg time with 4 different grades 🙂

    I know you catch my drift… I am not trying to bash your enthusiasm, just be open 😉

    On “unschooling…” don’t forget that going to work with daddy and learning a trade with mommy counts and that does not come from any book… Our children have learned the best parts of their lives, not from a book but for real…

    I do demand this: Before school is started, chores finished, all of them ready with fresh clothes and teeth and hair brushed! NO PJ SCHOOL SLOUCHING HERE!

    If more people would take homeschooling or any schooling for that matter for their children as serious as you do… The world would be a much better place!

    Godspeed my friend and I am rootin’ you on! You can do this…

    If God gave you these chickens just for you, who knows them best? YOU DO!!!! even in teaching their whole little hearts!

    Momma’s are truly the best teachers to their own…

  27. Homemaker Ang

    oh and one more thing… the pledge… hmmmm…

  28. Fiona

    Gosh Angela I can’t get over the beauty of your family every time you show us new photos. Just adorable. Love your Parisienne Farm Schoolhouse too.

  29. Jenny

    Hurrah Whole Heart School. What precious pics and what a wonderful learning environment. Way to go mama Parisienne.

  30. Coco Coterie Boutique

    Charlotte Mason ~ I had a collection of her books, homeschooled one of my children for a year, and, as a result, he skipped a year when he returned to public school. Best wishes on your heartfelt endeavor ~ xox Alexandra
    P.S. Your mom blessed ME yesterday~

  31. Emma

    Oh, homeschooling is such an adventure! My oldest started 9th grade at the Catholic High School this year. I’m home with an 8th grade, 3rd grade, kindergartener, and preschooler. What fun. My 13 year old just started a teen blog. She is learning so much. I give her assignments and she follows through on her blog. She is also learning so much about “the blogging phenom”! Click on her name to check her out.
    Enjoy your journey!


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