About Me

Welcome!

Hey! My name is Kelly. I’m a PA K-6 certified teacher with 25 years of experience working in the private sector.

Fourteen years were spent in the classroom teaching both first and second grades. For the remainder of the time up until now, I have been working part-time in learning support.

I have one child whom I have homeschooled since day one. He is now in secondary education. Additionally, I have been a homeschool evaluator for almost 20 years.

Why I Blog

When I first began homeschooling back in 2015, I had grandiose ideas of how our homeschool would work. After all, I was an experienced primary teacher who now wanted to instruct my own child. As a colleague said to me once, “This is your wheelhouse!” So what could possibly go wrong?

Well, I found out!

After a very rocky few years and me questioning everything I had ever been taught regarding education, my son and I found interest-led learning. Unschooling, as it is more commonly known, has been a lifesaver for us. I’m not sure I would have stayed the course had we not found this path and I will forever be grateful that we did!

While we are still on this journey, I thought I could help other homeschoolers who may also be struggling by sharing our experiences and what we both have learned along the way.

I definitely still have a lot to learn myself but am hopeful that others may learn from our experiences or even find some solidarity in an educational world that can, at times, feel a bit lonely.

In this process of guiding my son, I have also discovered (or maybe rediscovered) some of my own passions and what brings me joy. Throughout this blog, I hope to share some of that with you too!

In the Beginning

I grew up playing “school”. I had a dear friend who had a dedicated playroom where she had an actual chalkboard nailed to the wall. (She was so cool!) We spent HOURS in that room teaching imaginary students and we loved it! Teaching seemed to be in my blood! (Or maybe I just liked to boss others around!)

So it was no surprise that throughout my elementary years, I leaned toward following a career path in education.

But as I grew older, I began to dislike the thought of school. Don’t get me wrong, I was pretty good at playing the game of school. I showed up to class, was a keen memorizer of information, and was able to regurgitate that information with ease for the test resulting in pretty good grades.

By the time I was a senior in high school, I longed to get out of school, which felt more like a prison by then, and start my life. Much to the dismay of my school guidance counselor, I had decided that college was NOT for me so I didn’t take the SATs or apply to colleges.

After graduation, I began searching for a job. I trained as a certified nursing assistant at a local nursing home. I applied for a job there and lasted 3 whole months. Oops. Clearly the wrong choice for me.

During those 3 unhappy months, I decided to apply for a teaching assistant position at a daycare. Being around children was always a joy for me and this seemed like a good fit. And indeed it was.

That year I worked in the 3-4 year old room and loved every minute of it. I actually arrived at work each day full of excitement! I couldn’t wait to engage with those kiddos!

As I sat there each day interacting with the children and assisting with their lessons, I began to realize something. Teaching them, and building a relationship with them felt so natural, so ME.

A New Journey

A full year after graduating, I returned to that same high school on a Saturday morning and took those college SATs with a room full of high school juniors and seniors. Umm, awkward! (No doubt that guidance counselor got a good laugh out of that!) Though you may be surprised just how much one forgets after being out of school for a year, I managed to score well enough to get into the ONLY college I applied to.

And I was off.

The next four years were spent at Franciscan University of Steubenville building amazing friendships, growing in faith, and getting a degree in education.

Upon graduating, I returned to my hometown and applied to three local private elementary schools. After interviewing at all three, one principal took a chance on this new starry-eyed college grad and launched my teaching career in a second-grade position. I was ecstatic. And…a wee bit nervous!

I spent the next nine years growing as an educator. Some days were extremely difficult, especially in the beginning. But as time went on, thanks to a great mentor, my confidence and knowledge base grew immensely.

A position soon opened up to teach first grade at that same school and I jumped at the chance. I always told my principal that I would move anywhere but up grade levels. I was a primary teacher through and through.

Picture of my early years as classroom teacher.

I remained in that first-grade position for 5 more years. Teaching first grade was even more exciting to me than teaching second. I was coasting along…until….

….I had a baby of my own! I longed to spend more time at home with him. I knew this time would go so quickly and couldn’t bear the thought of losing one single second. When a part-time learning support position opened up at my school, I jumped at the chance. Through this position, I was able to spend more time at home while still contributing to our family financially and in a less time-consuming role. It was a win-win.

My family!

Additionally, this gave me the opportunity to complete my other mission….homeschooling my son.

By this time I had been a homeschool evaluator for a dear friend of mine and knew that this was also the path I wanted to follow with my son. And so, our homeschool journey began.

A Bump in the Road

We began homeschooling in 2015. What felt like something that should be natural, after all, I had been teaching other people’s children for over 15 years now, turned into a DISASTER.

I had been gifted an older language program called “The Letter People” and was eager to begin teaching my young son. I had seen this program work in my school and knew the kids loved it.

So we began.

It started out GREAT. Smiles. Laughter. Good times.

Picture of our first day homeschooling.

But that did not last long.

Shortly after beginning the school year, so did the struggle. Tears. Tantrums. Shutting down. First him, then ME.

I reached out to my many homeschooling friends and got some advice. Back down. Bond. Read together. Play.

This was the best advice EVER. Too bad I didn’t listen beyond that kindergarten year.

At the start of first grade (this is my wheelhouse, remember?), I believed it was time to “buckle down.” Play was over. Time to be a “real” student.

Nope. Tear. Tantrums. Shutting down. Again.

Believing that I could not allow him to just “play” all day, I pushed forward. And he pushed back. Hard.

The next two years were more of the same. As a recreated school at home, I did what I thought was the right thing to do. And he began to hate school and more importantly, learning. I was defeated.

That is when I began searching for answers. How could I instill a love of learning while also ensuring a solid education for my son and checking off the boxes required of me as a homeschool supervisor in my state?

I read everything I could find on homeschooling. I joined multiple homeschooling groups on Facebook. I listened to homeschooling podcasts. I searched and I searched for direction.

Eventually, I found my answer in unschooling or interest-led learning and my entire mindset shifted. I put away the workbooks. I threw out the detailed schedule. And slowly, I began to let go of everything I ever knew about education and learning.

NO SCHOOL- message left for me on the table by my then 5 year old son!

I began observing my son. What did he love to do? What brought him JOY? We focused on play. Finding and exploring passions. Learning….without even knowing it. And we have not looked back.

Maybe you are here because you are on a similar path and are not sure if you want to homeschool or not. Maybe you have already chosen this path but have no idea of how to proceed.

Either way, I say WELCOME. I am so glad you are here. I hope by reading our story and following this blog, you may find your way just as we did.