Meet homeschool teacher at Peebly Christian Academy, and mom Patricia Bryan. She’s schooling her 5 daughters, a 17 yr old who is in the 12th grade, a 14 yr old in the 9th grade, a 10 yr old in the 4th grade, an 8 yr old in the 2nd, and a 6 yr old in the 1st grade.
When their oldest was 5 they enrolled her in public PreK school. It wasn’t long before they realized that the district was not the ideal place for their daughter to be educated.
“We were having a lot of trouble with bullying and being physically beat up. A 5 yr old girl should not be getting beat up in Prek.”
The Bryans are a Christian family seeking to share their faith with their children. Homeschool allows them to do so everyday. Additionally, homeschooling allows them to nurture their children’s natural curiosity and love of learning. They seek to foster in their children the desire to learn and progress at their own pace.
“It means not stressing about cramming for a test or “teaching to the test” since they are retaining so much of what is learned on a daily basis. It means that beyond the basic requirements, each child is allowed enough free time to explore and dig deeper in their own interests wether it be science, art, history or music.”
For this family, Patricia’s husband acts as “principal” of the school. If one of the children just can’t seem to mind momma that child has to see daddy about it when he gets home from work. She says that her husband is her biggest cheerleader. He is very supportive and very committed to seeing homeschooling through to the end.
Patricia shared that the flexibility afforded by homeschooling works well for their family. Rather than working life around education, they work their academic studies around their life. They enjoy taking days off throughout the year as necessary. Because they choose to homeschool throughout the entire calendar year. This allows Patricia and the girls to travel with dad on occasional business trips, visit family or friends, take field trips, or spend an afternoon at the lake, while other kids are in a classroom.
She tells me that her girls are growing into best friends. That’s not to say that they don’t have other friends, they do. But they are growing stronger as sisters and friends and truly love spending time together and for mom Patricia that is a true blessing for her heart.
The Bryans school at the kitchen table, on the couch, and sometimes on a couple of desks in the bedrooms. She told me that sometimes they even school outside or while in the car. Homeschooling freedom allows you to learn wherever you happen to be.
They utilize a blend of homeschooling methods, Charlotte Mason with Thomas Edison. They begin with living books, play educational games and outside play when the children are young. She shares that by the time her children reach age 10, they become fluent readers that love to read.
By the time they are entering junior high she says that they are “quite independent.” She structures her school with a monthly syllabus daily assignments. She gives each student their syllabus and daily task and they are free to determine how and when they will complete the work. The family requirements are that they try their best, Patricia doesn’t stress about grades, but she does teach to mastery. She always has the children correct mistakes, even if it’s just 1 mistake. Their goal is for the girls to really learn a topic before moving on to another topic.
Her favorite teaching resource is the Rod and Staff nurture bible readers for reading practice for the 1st-4th grades. She also loves using Math U See and Life of Fred for math. Patricia told me that her favorite place for homeschool shopping is Rainbow Resource.
For hands-on activities she likes the science experiment kit that she purchased from Creation Sensation. She says it is designed to be used with Apologia’s Exploring creation with Chemistry and Physics. Each experiment is clearly labeled in a separate Ziploc bag and separated out by lesson number. Because every single experiment is easy and fun she says it was totally worth the money spent.
Patricia doesn’t like teaching writing. She says writing isn’t fun for her hand grading essays and research projects. That’s why she utilizes a curriculum that teaches directly to the student. She also has learned to utilize online website, Write at Home, for grading writing assignments. She says that she simply emails the assignment to the company, pays them via PayPal, and within 5 days she receives back the graded paper.
Like many homeschooling moms, she admits that she struggles with the fear that she’s not teaching her daughters enough.
“I try to remind myself that I won’t do this perfectly, but that as long as I am following God’s will and diligently pointing my children towards Him, then all the rest doesn’t really matter.”
She also struggles with having the house clean. But she also realizes that homeschooling affords her the flexibility to take a day off and really jump in and get some extra cleaning done. All of her children are now old enough to really assist and do a good job with cleaning tasks. Sounds to me like she is preparing them for their future, offering them hands on training for being keepers of the home.
They each have daily chores like emptying trash, making their beds, sweeping floors, emptying the laundry hamper, putting away clean clothes, washing dishes, feeding the dogs, cats, and horses. With 5 children Patricia does 3 loads of laundry a day and they run the dishwasher twice a day. Yet, she always feels that something is always left undone.
“If the school work is done, and the house is relatively clean, then you can be assured that my grass needs to be mowed. We live in the country on 10 acres and have almost 2 acres of “yard” to be mowed. When I began home educating our children 10 years ago, I worried and stressed a lot about it. Now I have learned to accept that it’s going to be ok. It will never be perfect, but it really doesn’t matter that much when I consider the importance of educating my children and helping to shape their little hearts to do God’s will.”
For Mr. & Mrs. Bryan, their biggest struggle is with the reality that in spite of their best efforts that one of the children, or even all, may choose to not follow God. They understand that choice does not lie with themselves, but is an independent choice each child must make. She says that they keep reminding each other that God does not want them to have a spirit of fear, and prayerfully hope that they foundations they are laying, will yield the fruit they long for.
The Bryans live in an area where there are thousands of home educated children. She tells me that there are 3 co-ops within 15 minutes and a dozen support groups within 30 minutes from their home, there are also homeschool teams for basketball, baseball, football, volleyball. There is even a homeschool band that is the largest homeschool band in the United States. She told me that every year there is over 2000 participating in their annual homeschool day at their state capitol.
To unwind, Patricia likes to spend time outside watching her children play. She also enjoys reading articles, chatting with other home educating moms and watching the occasional cooking show. In the spring, summer and fall, their family attends a family camp that she tells me is very re-energizing.
“To be surrounded by literally dozens of other like-minded families sharing the same struggles is very encouraging to me. I reflect on good memories of our last camp when I am feeling discouraged.”
Looking toward the futures of their children, they realize that just as home education should be individualized so too should higher education. They want their children to have a focus for their future. So college attendance will not be mandatory. They are open to a few classes at a community college or vocational training. They want to encourage their daughters to seek to educate themselves based upon their interests. If a child chooses college it must be with a focus, a purpose, and an end goal. What they want to avoid is sending their girls to college for the sake of just obtaining a degree, or finding themselves, or just for the college experience.
“We do encourage higher education. We don’t know what that will look like for each child yet.” We will continue to pray and seek God’s will for each individual child.”
Patricia is a homeschool mom who is seeking to protect her daughters in her own home while at the same time preparing them for their individual futures. That’s why she is a real life superhero homeschool mom.
This post is part of my Real Life Superhero Homeschool Moms Series.