homeschooling or no? drumroll…

Oh goodness. Where to start? I’m only writing this post tonight because if I announce my intentions for the coming school year, I feel like it will MAKE THEM SO. And I’ve had enough with the waffling and the cold feet and the fretting and the waffling.

Hold the drumroll for a sec and let’s back up to the beginning…

On May 18, I wrote a post called homeschooling. truthfully. I just read it again two minutes ago, and as a completely unbiased observer, I must say it’s a tad on the brilliant side. Too keep my humble reputation in tact, I’ll add that I must have had some divine help. I don’t really even remember writing it. (Did I??) Anyway, it chronicles all the reasons why homeschooling scares the pantaloons off me (none of this has changed since May).

On May 19, I wrote a post called happy homeschool rainbows. More brilliance (one last hurrah before The Brilliance took off 2+ months for summer vacation and shows no signs of ever coming back). All the dreamy, idealistic reasons to homeschool. I re-read that one a few minutes ago too and felt all fuzzy.

May 20 = homeschooling, part 3 (doubts and second thoughts) (aka, the end of the brilliance). Re-reading this one made my fuzzy feelings flee. I kind of forgot how awful that week ended up being. All the turmoil and angst.

May 24. Last post on homeschooling (I think). And be thankful I didn’t say much about the whole debacle in June or July because goodness. I spent a bulk of my time threatening Ava that, “If you can’t be nice to Nina, YOU ARE GOING BACK TO SCHOOL!”

So, what did we decide (as of 2 days ago)? Roll that drum…

Livi (10) is going to 5th grade at her public (magnet) school. She wants to be with her friends and experience a year of being Top Elementary Dog. Then, according to her, she wants to be homeschooled for the rest of her life.

Nina (5) is going to afternoon kindergarten (1:00-3:30) at the elementary school a mile from our house. Her teacher is a hundred kinds of awesome, and I’m excited for her year. “I only want to go to kindergarten though, Mommy. Then I want you to homeschool me the rest.”

And Ava (9)? Is staying home. With good ol’ Mrs. T./Mom as her teacher. If you love me at all (and/or know me and/or Ava even the tiniest bit), you’ll start praying RIGHTTHISMINUTE.

She is so excited. And me? I’m taking big, deep, really deep breaths.

I have no idea what I’m doing. I need simple this year. Easy. Not a whole lot of thought (at least not at first). I’m considering doing public school online. Anyone have any experience with it?

I welcome any/all words of wisdom/encouragement (I don’t even know what to do first! How do I even make this legal??). Expressions of concern are okay too–just know that I’ve agonized over this one, and I’m pretty sure God has nudged us in this particular direction (after making me sweat it out for two months).

I’ll be blogging along this new journey, and I can’t imagine it’s going to be pretty. Entertaining, yes, but not pretty. Stay tuned (if you dare).

56 thoughts on “homeschooling or no? drumroll…

  1. Pingback: Marla Taviano » consider yourself warned

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  3. Jeanine

    Congratulations on making a very hard decision and what sounds like the best one for all concerned! I took each of my three sons out of school at different times, and it really worked out well. I did end up homeschooling them from middle school through high school, but there are 3 years between the first two and the second two. Anyway, I know if you’re like me, you feel like you never get to spend enough time with your middle child, so I predict that this will be a wonderful blessing for you both!
    I am now homeschooling my daughter, and she just finished 4th grade, so I can make some suggestions based on what we did last year. We did the classical conversations foundations program, which is wonderful. There are several communities that meet in the Columbus area, and you can find them by going to It involves a one morning a week meeting, and then homework to complete at home. I supplemented with Saxon Math (highly recommended), and Learning Language Arts through Literature, as well as reading Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer. If you just want to ease into it, I used What Every 4th Grader needs to know by E.D. Hirsch with my first son, and that’s the only thing we did for the first few months. Of course, in his case, it was What Every 6th Grader needs to know. That was actually plenty to use to begin with. It’s a great series of books, and really does include everything they need to know in a given year.
    I think you would love Beyond Five in a Row (found on Amazon), which is a book of unit studies using books you should be able to find in the library. Enjoy!

    1. lauren johnson

      Me too! My oldest is going to a great private half day K5. Not sure what I am going to do about 1st grade. Praying our way through too!

  4. Jennifer

    I love that you’re doing what works for each girl and not expecting for them all to need the same thing at the same time. Look forward to reading updates!

  5. katie

    i think it’s so cool how prayerfully you’ve made this decision. plz keep us all informed this year about how it goes. i have enjoyed talking to my sister-in-law Jenny this past year while she homeschooled her kids for the first time (did you know that?) i would love to homeschool Levi someday. but i also know that it will be challenging at times. and require lots of discipline, of which i have little….hhhh…

  6. Vickie Sloderbeck

    Hi Marla:
    As a homeschooling mom of 22 years (children ages 33 to 15), the hardest thing about homeschooling is deciding to become a homeschooling mom! There is something a bit scary about wearing this label and being totally responsible for your children’s education. Yet, that is exactly how God intended it isn’t it? Whether we “authorize” another to teach them, it is still our responsibility.

    One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given was this: Don’t make home like school–make school like home. This has served me well. Don’t try to bring your traditional ways of thinking about school into your home because it will only frustrate you. Buy a couch and read out loud sitting next to each other instead of buying a school desk. Continue to go places as a family and learn about history and countries from personal visits. There’s nothing like actually going to all the places Laura Ingalls Wilder lived, rather than just reading her books.

    And don’t compare your schooling days with those of others because they don’t have your children and you don’t have theirs. One size doesn’t fit all.

    While academics are important, it isn’t the main thing. Homeschooling is about relationships—those enjoyed with your children and their ability to learn from you and your husband. You are their role models, and when you are, you will find that you don’t have to deal with a lot of the “junk” other kids bring home from school. When we started in 1989, we had a 7th, 3rd, and 1st grader. That year, my children became friends and we did things together each day. Being in traditional had fractured our family and our relationships and we didn’t even realize it. Don’t be surprised if your other two girls begin to feel like they are missing out on things at home and want to join Ava.

    My first three oldest children are married with their own children and they, too, are enjoying homeschooling my grandchildren. With two left at home (ages 17 and almost 16), my job as a homeschooling mom is almost done. Yet, because I’ve had time with my children, I celebrate the “empty nest” because my children and I have succeeded. They are Christians who are well adjusted, hard working, and willing to serve others. Homeschooling helped them to see the real world ahead of their peers in school and I have memories and time with my children most of my other mom friends do not.

    Stay on your knees and enjoy the journey!

    P.S. Make it legal by joining Home School Legal Defense Association ( They are lawyers who have homeschooled their children and made homeschooling legal in all 50 states. They will defend you free of charge if anyone ever hassles you. Terrific peace of mind!

    1. Ann O'nymous

      I just wanted to add my support of joining HSLDA. I remember several incidents from when I was homeschooled caused by schools officials not knowing regulations or creating their own for homeschoolers to comply with. Each time these situations occurred, my mom was quick to contact HSLDA and they took over from there. None of the situations went as far as needing defense in court and were probably on the minor side of what HSLDA deals with, but they were major problems for my mom and she was so thankful to have someone to turn to.
      Simply joining HSLDA won’t make homeschooling Ava legal. Different states have different requirements (e.g. filing a notice of intent, submitting quarterly reports, individualized home instruction plans (IHIPs), or standardized tests scores) but HSLDA should be able to help you with that. It’s become relatively easy to find local homeschooling groups as well. Some have mentoring-type programs to help new homeschooling parents with questions they have as they start the journey.

  7. Cheryl Pickett

    I have friends in Columbus (the ones that couldn’t make the zoo bash last minute due an accident) and I believe they home school, at least they were checking into it a couple of years ago. Their two girls are a few years younger than yours, but if they did go that route, I am certain they will have some excellent Christian resources. Let me know if you’d like their contact info.

  8. kendal

    as a public school teacher, i read through your post and all comments with trepidation because so many homeschooling parents bash public school and it hurts my feelings. but such a refreshing post and comments. i changed churches about a year ago and my joke is htat i don’t fit in becuase i don’t homeschool my kids, play a musical instrument or have a tattoo! MANY homeschoolers. and i have loved getting to know them and understand their reasons for homeschooling. ALL of them felt called to do it. they network, network, network. our church even offers a few classes in bible study and apologetics for homeschoolers in our area. check out your community – you shold be able to find field trips and classes and support! go you!

  9. Leigh

    I like that your decision is more of a “both/and” response, instead of “either/or.” It is uniquely tailored to each girl and to what they want. Because of that, this next year will go well for you, even as you adjust to homeschooling one. You can do it!

  10. Julie

    Your topic of hs came through my wall, so of course I had to click and see what you decided. 🙂
    My one tidbit that I will share about homeschooling is this…If God is behind your choice to homeschool then you will have an unbelievable peace while you do it. (even on the tough days) Let me know if you have any questions…don’t know if I can answer them but…lol. This is beginning my 10th year!!! Can’t believe I can say that!

  11. kim hansen

    You will do just fine. I love my children and I worry about them at times in school (so much has changed since we were in school) but I know that I could never never teach them I would pull my hair out. HOWEVER God wired us all different and some of us can do just that—homeschool our children. I have a friend that does the online school for their two children and they have not complained. Just make sure that the child gets plenty of peer time outside of the home. Best of luck and I am sure you will rock

  12. Elizabeth

    Oh, my brave friend, I admire you! You experienced such angst because you care about your girls’ education so much, and I love that. Each girl is different and I know each one will have a wonderful year of learning and growing. And their mama will too!

    1. Marla Taviano

      1.) I’m not as brave as you think. and 2.) I actually don’t care that much about their education (eek!). But I DO care about THEM (and us as a family).

      Thanks for all your encouragement!! Texting you right now…

  13. Brittany Miller

    I did an online charter school for my last 2 years of highschool…and I loved it! It’s called OHDELA – Ohio Distance and Electronic Learning Academy. I would highly recommend it. It’s homeschooling but not, since every subject has a teacher and some hold “online” classes and discussions. Let me know if you want more info. I think they have a website too.

  14. Sharon W

    I think it’s great that you have decided to do what fits best for each kiddo. And that it works out that you will start with just one. So you can kind of ease into it. I’ve always wondered how parents home school kids that are of various ages??? I personally don’t think I have it in me to home school (though my daughters only 18 mo so not a decision that has to be made any time soon.) But there are definitely some benefits of homeschooling that appeal to me. Can’t wait to hear how the first year goes!

  15. Melissa Irwin

    We are first time home-schoolers. I started with my 6 year old 1st grader this summer to get my feet wet. I thought at least if summer didn’t go well I could send him on to public school….but it has gone great. It is so hard and yet so worth it. I bet you will be blessed in ways you cannot even yet imagine.

  16. Kathi

    Yippee!!! My biggest advice for the first year is LET GO of any notion of how this is suppose to look and just enjoy being with and getting to know Ava (even if this means what your doing does not resemble school). Take walks, play games, do art, enjoy good stories, serve your community together. Trust God; what is right for you and your kiddos will be made known; just don’t be too busy with ‘ought-to’s’ to listen.

    I am super excited for you guys.

    1. arminda

      We are about to start our second year of homeschooling (first grade). Last year I had our entire day scheduled down to the minute and by the end of the second day I realized how this was NOT going to work. So we tried something else. And then we tried something else. Oh and then we tried something else. This year? Yup, something else. 🙂 That’s what is soooo great (among other things) about home schooling. If something isn’t working for you or your kiddos, you can change it! And yes, relaaaaaaaax! 🙂 (I know, easier said than done!) Good luck, this is so exciting!

  17. Jessica

    That is a great plan! I just heard some families speak at a parenting conference from all different backgrounds and they had their kids in private, public and home school. I will be praying for you and know this will be very exciting. How did you find an only afternoon Kindergarten? I am sure you need Ohio rules & regulations; but I have a lot of friends down here in South Carolina who have been through a year or two of homeschool and know the ropes. I know your blog community will probably have tons of resources. I think Nina is a smart little girl and God is going to give you both an amazing year during this time!

    1. Marla Taviano

      Afternoon kindergarten is standard in our school district. I heard that Ohio is going completely full-day but we got an extension. Then I heard something different, so I have no idea really. Just glad she gets to go half-day.

      Thanks for your encouragement, Jess!

  18. Jonna

    I KNOW you will do a fab-o job chicklette!! I will message you privately so as not to take up a gazillion pages here. I am so excited for ALL of you!! By the way, you things are in the mail!

  19. Jen Hanson

    I’m excited for you and for the time you’ll get to spend with Ava. Being that she’s the middle, she will probably cherish this special time with her mama in a way the other two might take for granted (though Ava might not realize/express it now). Also – being that she will likely be your most challenging pupil of the three, it’s probably a blessing start with her. Work out some of the kinks now, ya know? It’ll make home schooling all three a breeze later… right? 😉

    1. Marla Taviano

      You hit the nail on the head about Ava’s need for quality time, and she DOES realize/express it now. The more I think about it, the more I’m in awe of how God orchestrated all of this. And of COURSE it’s going to be a breeze!

  20. Amy

    Sounds like a great plan!! What is best for one child is not always best for the others. Such a blessing to be able to let each of your girlies bloom in their own special “pot”! I will pray for you with Ava. Don’t know what your concerns are with her, but I am guessing I have similar concerns with one of mine this year.
    Since we are in Swaziland, I have been kind of “forced” into the homeschooling arena. My homeschool-er friends are all laughing because I was always the “I will NEVER homeschool” friend. Now, here I am, embracing it (or trying anyway…). This will be a challenging year for us since I will be more on my own in teaching than last year. Excited to go through this adventure “with” you.

    1. Marla Taviano

      Thanks, Amy! Maybe a field trip to Swaziland is in order. 😉 Seriously, I’d love to talk to you more about how we (me, my family, my blog readers) can help your ministry over there. I prayed for you just now. Hugs, friend!

  21. Bethany

    How exciting! I have been praying over this whole schooling thing as well (although I have 3 more years) and I’m excited to hear about your homeschooling experiences. I just love being the middle child so I can learn from all your mistakes. 🙂

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