Homeschool & Building A Life With Intention

Did you see my post about our upcoming road trip? If so, you know that our family is embarking on new adventures and that we are opening up to some radical changes in our lifestyle. We are putting a lot of focus on our hopes and dreams for our family and are taking some big steps to build a life with intention.

One of these family dreams is to offer our kids an education that is full of incredible life experiences and uninhibited exploration. We don’t know exactly what that looks like or how to achieve it, but we know we are ready to try something new to get there.

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Last year, we began to notice that our older daughter, Karuna, was slowly disengaging from school. In 2nd grade, she was already complaining of boredom in the classroom and dragging her feet through homework. Her general attitude began to sour and I could see her pulling away from her relationship with her sister. She and Ora used to play imaginative games for hours, but soon she became only interested in being with friends, or being alone- reading or playing Minecraft. I figured that at 7 years old, she was in a transition time of discovering her passions and letting go of things she was no longer interested in. But something still felt off.

I imagined how her next few years would be if we continued on this path. And I realized it began to look a lot like my early-adolescence. That terrified me. My 4th-8th grade years were consumed with social anxieties and pressures, I pulled away from my family and cared more about fitting in with my peers than anything else in the world. I still have journals I wrote during that time and feel sad for that girl. Karuna is a lot like me and I want to do what I can to broaden her worldview and show her that life is full of options and diverse experiences.

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We are incredibly lucky to have access to so much of this world- to adventures, diversity, beauty, service, and love. If it is at all possible for us to offer her something beyond her recent school experience- which was slowly chipping away at her enthusiasm and love of learning- then I felt I had to give it a shot. I knew in our decision to homeschool, I’d be giving up a lot of my own free time and taking on a role that might be extremely hard. But something was telling me I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. That no matter where we end up in the years ahead, I would never regret giving up this time for myself in order build a stronger relationship with Karuna and explore the world together.

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We have been homeschooling (unschooling, actually) Karuna for a little under 2 months and her energy has completely shifted. She is a smiling, joyful delight (most of the time!) and once again, happily plays imaginative games with her sister. She is curious and inquisitive and is opening up to new ways of thinking about her role in this world.

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And at times, homeschooling has been even harder than I thought it might be. There have been days where I question everything we are doing, where I worry that Karuna will get bored and lonely outside of school. That she’ll fall behind her peers academically and resent us for this decision…

But then I see her joy. I see how much she’s learning and growing from this experience. I see her reading voraciously. I see her face light up when she illustrates a book or creates stop-motion animation. I see her expressively recount word-for-word a long campfire story from nature class. I see her going on weekly adventures with her Aunt. I see her laughing with her friends. I see her making new friends. I see our relationship as mother and daughter growing stronger. I see our connection as a family growing deeper. I see her light and it is only getting brighter.

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We don’t know what our educational choices will look like in the future. We are open to all options for next year and are taking it one day at a time. We know that we are not stuck in any decision and that if we wait until tomorrow to follow our dreams, then we will blink and years will have gone by. We know that however unconventional our path may seem, we have decided to put ourselves out there and consciously create the lives of our dreams.

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31 comments

  • Heather October 13, 2016   Reply →

    Absolutely Beautiful! So happy for all of you !
    I love that Pad that she is using? Please let me know what that is?
    I’d love to see you soon! xo Heather

    • Megan Schiller October 13, 2016   Reply →

      Thanks Heather! That pad is a tablet at the Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa. We just went up there earlier this week and it was so fun! Karuna is really into comics and graphic novels so it was so great for her see a whole museum dedicated to Schulz and the Peanuts comics. This tablet was in the art studio room where kids can create their own comics. She loooooved it. I took a photo of the description of the tablet and software- so I’ll find out what it is and let you know. I’d love to see you soon too. We’re due for that glass of wine :)

  • Lucy October 13, 2016   Reply →

    How lovely to read about your jump into home education! We’ve been doing it for 3 years now and we have an amazing relationship with our daughters, and haven’t regretted our decision once. I can’t wait to read about how you get on :)

    • Megan Schiller October 14, 2016   Reply →

      That’s so great to hear, Lucy. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Natalia October 13, 2016   Reply →

    So beautiful!

    • Megan Schiller October 14, 2016   Reply →

      Thanks so much Natalia!

  • Ramona Shaw October 14, 2016   Reply →

    Wonderful post! Congratulations on your courage to take on this challenge.

    • Megan Schiller October 14, 2016   Reply →

      Thanks Ramona. I really appreciate your encouragement :)

  • Shivani October 14, 2016   Reply →

    Wow I am some steps behind on your decision, I want to take my son out of kindergarten he just started K at the end of August, he is fine he is happy but my ideologies and wishes as a Kim are different I also have to make huge changes in my lifestyle… I’m just eating for a good moment so it will not be a tough transition, he is very social and has a hard time with changes… anyway I am also interested in I schooling and it’s inspiring to read you and know I do have to take the risk and that thing it is the only way. Need to be brace like you. Thank you Meghan for sharing and inspiring me you were my first inspiration into having a a creative home, still working on our space. Best wishes, blessings and much love.

    • Megan Schiller October 14, 2016   Reply →

      Shivani, thanks so much for that. I’m so glad to have inspired you to have a creative home and hope that I can be here for you during this time of reflection on your son’s education. I thought a lot about it and researched it for almost a year before we decided to go for it. I think it’s good to know that you can always change course if things aren’t working out (either in school or out of school). I also try to listen to my intuition a lot and see where it is leading me. Good luck in whatever you decide!

  • Kate @thestreamlinedlife October 14, 2016   Reply →

    Absolutely love this post so much! You are so wise to see what your daughter needs and proactively meet it. You’re inspiring as always and can’t wait to follow your travels!

    • Megan Schiller October 14, 2016   Reply →

      Thanks so much, Kate. You are one of my inspirations for all of this!

  • Crystal Wiley October 14, 2016   Reply →

    SO happy for you and your family joining the lovely, amazing, open-ended homeschool world! You’ve done nothing but inspire us in our creativity inside the home. This year (only our 2nd yr homeschooling) our focus/theme is relationships and all I can say is we wouldn’t have it any other way in this season. So again, welcome – it’s not always easy but it’s beyond worth it and our kids will (hopefully) thank us one day! :) I was a lot like you when I was an adolescent and is one big reason we homeschool as well… to give our kids the opportunity to be themselves untethered by others’ opinions and pressures to be something they’re not. Much love to you all! And again, would love to get together if you’re ever in our area! xox

    • Megan Schiller October 14, 2016   Reply →

      I really appreciate this, Crystal. I love hearing about your homeschooling experiences and I think your focus on relationships this year is so important. Thanks for all of your support and would love to get together too whenever we make our way to Oregon. If not on our next big trip, I know we will someday soon!

  • don schiller October 14, 2016   Reply →

    Taking the path less traveled is wonderful. You have a very creative family, and the children soak up knowledge. Congratulations on being true to yourself and embarking on a grand adventure and life experience for all.

    • Megan Schiller October 15, 2016   Reply →

      Thanks Saba! I really appreciate you saying that :)

  • alana October 14, 2016   Reply →

    what an inspirational story, and what a blessing you are to your daughter(s). for you to recognize her needs {see where they are not being met in school, and to realize how you can fulfill those at home} is so astute + insightful of you as a mom.
    i too am struggling with our oldest {which has a trickle-down-effect to the other two “not wanting to go to school” also}. sadly, i feel like the system is not putting children at the centre, but rather “the curriculum” / outcomes … and not hooking kids in. engagement is so important, and i believe that if we don’t start with kids’ interests and build curriculum around THEM, they get lost. forlorn. bored. and eventually “check out.” i’ve been home with all our girls since the beginning, and i believe i’ve given them {to the best of my ability} the richest, most diverse start, as you have undoubtedly too. it’s disheartening to hear of a transition from a rich, child-centred, experiential world to a world that is uninspiring + unidimensional. i believe what you have chosen to do is remarkable. and i would LOVE a visit from you on your journey to get to know you + your family! {we’ll show you a good, old-fashioned, canadian winter adventure!}

    • Megan Schiller October 15, 2016   Reply →

      I so feel you, Alana. It’s hard to see this happening and know that there is a better way. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone, but there are so many alternatives that you shouldn’t ever feel stuck with the situation. We can chat about this soon among other things- let’s talk!!

  • Salvia Harris October 15, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you for this. I love your honesty that homeschooling is tough at times. Some people make it sound so easy. My son is turning 5. I’ve contemplated homeschooling myself. I’m just not overjoyed with our current school system offered as he nears kindergarten. I’ve looked into Montessori By Mom. That has worked over the summer months.
    We will be in San Fran at the end of this month. You’ve enspired me to take my boys to the Schulz museum. I love your blog! Keep writing!
    Salvia Mom

    • Megan Schiller October 15, 2016   Reply →

      Thanks Salvia, when I think about the tough days of homeschooling I try to remind myself that life will always bring tough days no matter your situation. We had plenty of tough days when she was in school too. But I agree, it’s nice to hear about these days along with the good days so none of us feel alone in our tough times. That’s great that you’ll be visiting the Schulz museum. If your son likes ice skating, they have a rink right next door as well. And if you go before Halloween, you should check out the Petaluma Pumpkin Patch. It’s right off the freeway on the way to Santa Rosa from SF. It has a 4 acre corn maze that is really fun. We got lost inside it for almost an hour and never found the way to the exit. We ended up having to go back to the beginning to get out :)

  • Bernadette Brophy October 15, 2016   Reply →

    Fantastically lovely post!!! I am so happy for you and love reading about the beginning of your journey to homeschool and deepen your relationship with your daughters. We began homeschooling our son 3 years ago for the same reasons you discussed: we noticed a continual decrease in his love of learning, boredom in school and homework was always a trial. Now he’s able to explore his interests, play imaginative games with his sisters, design and dress up in costumes (I’m thrilled that he still does this at age 11), and his interest in reading is slowly returning. I love the freedom homeschooling gives us–designing our own curriculum is such a thrill and experiencing homeschooling with my kids is what I always imagined parenting would be. Even though our “curriculum” is focused on hands-on activities (art, science, history, field trips) and is completely worksheet-free, he’s been asking to be unschooled–your post is inspiring in this way–what a gift you’re giving your daughter! I’m so happy and excited for you that you’ve followed your intuition and begun this journey–I look forward to following your blog.

    • Megan Schiller October 15, 2016   Reply →

      Thanks for sharing that Bernadette! I love that your 11 yr old son still loves dressing up in costumes and feels free to do that. It sounds like you have a great thing going with your family.

  • Andi October 15, 2016   Reply →

    What a great mom. You’re so right…they grow up so fast and these days are irretrievable.

    • Megan Schiller October 15, 2016   Reply →

      Thanks Andi. So true.

  • Kenza Saadi October 15, 2016   Reply →

    Thank you for sharing this! We made the jump a month ago and I see the same smile and brightness in the eyes of my seven year old son, all of which I was seeing withering away at school. This post made me see that there are other parents out there who share my feelings and view on life. Thank you! Kenza.

    • Megan Schiller October 15, 2016   Reply →

      That’s so great to hear, Kenza!

  • Salvia Harris October 15, 2016   Reply →

    You’re right! Eric Worre taught me that life always has challenges. Riding a bike or tying shoe laces. We once raised just one child and that was tough getting through the temper tantrums or potty training or eating difficulties. But we keep at it and it gets easier and then it’s not so hard. And it’s women like you that set the example in writing to remind us that we can do, get through, support each other through these challenges.
    Be well
    Salvia Mom

  • Bar October 16, 2016   Reply →

    So happy for you, Megan. And excited to follow your journey. It is indeed a brave choice that I’m sure thousands of parents have mulled over during the course of raising their kids. I know I have! But you did more than think and talk about it, you did it! I know Karuna will have the best year. Thank you for sharing your story, and please continue to update us!! xoxo Bar

    • Megan Schiller October 18, 2016   Reply →

      I appreciate you saying that, Bar! I will definitely keep you updated on the journey :)

  • Brittany October 18, 2016   Reply →

    Every word you wrote touched me so much! We are exactly where you are at…only a little different, but the same heart and words exactly! At the beginning of this year my husband and I felt just what you are saying- if we stay on this path, 30 years will go by working and not living our dreams. So this Summer we bought a sailboat, our house is now being sold and we are getting ready to go and live and travel on it with our three girls. Adventure, exploration, homeschool and living intentionally are all on the list! We are excited, and I am so very excited for you too. I know homeschooling will be the best decision you’ll make with your kids!

    • Megan Schiller October 18, 2016   Reply →

      Wow, Brittany, that is so exciting! Congrats on taking that giant leap. I can’t wait to follow your adventure on your blog. Do you listen to the Family Adventure Podcast? The host is the dad of a family who sailed from the East Coast to Europe with his family on an extended adventure. He now interviews other families who travel with their kids. It’s really inspiring. Best of luck to you guys!!

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