I am so excited about this new section on our blog. At the beginning of this school year we had the pleasure of getting to know Samantha Lam. She's a homeschooling mom of three boys and this year saw her making a shift from a classical approach of teaching to a Charlotte Mason approach. She began using our Early American History for Primary curriculum and is going to be blogging about her experience. She'll be providing snapshots throughout the year and I know her experience will speak to many of you. So, without further ado, I am going to let Samantha take the floor:
My name is Samantha Lam and I am a homeschool mom of three amazing boys; Josh and Jordan who are seven-year old twins, and Jacob who will tell you he is “super three”. My husband Jonathan and I have been married for 10 years this December.
I had seriously considered homeschooling when the twins were two after reading Marilyn Boyer’s book Home Educating with Confidence. But as my boys turned three, Joshua was diagnosed with Autism. Overwhelmed and confused, I was convinced by psychiatrists and specialists that Joshua needed to be in the public school system where he would get the expert care he needed. After two weeks at our local program, I knew something wasn’t working. I was not willing to continue to subject my sweet boy to an environment where he was clearly miserable. I pulled him out and placed him and his brother into a private preschool. We were so fortunate to have a wonderful and amazingly loving teacher who took great care of my Joshua his first year. But by his second year, at age 4, I was being pressured to allow the teachers more control over any emotional issues he was having. After the first half of his second year, we made the decision to pull both of the boys from preschool and have them home with me.
I was extremely fortunate that there was already an established homeschooling group in my church. Many of them had become part of a national classical group that was very structured and “all laid out,” making the transition easy for me. Not to say the first year was easy. I had a perfectionist on my hands, an autistic child, and a new baby. I was just plain tired.
For two years, I was grateful to have the support and structure of this wonderful classical group. Many of the women in this group had been long time friends. We had been single together, been in each other’s weddings, and entered into motherhood together. And now what a joy to be homeschooling our children together. Our group met together once a week and followed the outlined structure of this classical program. We put on plays, had picnics and field trips, the kids built great friendships and we had it all laid out for us. It really left little to research. I added language arts and math, and we were complete.
Over this past summer, a portion of this group planned to attend the local homeschool conference. I actually wasn’t planning on attending the first day, but God seemed to have a different plan. Convinced
by a friend we should go hear a particular speaker, we headed out Thursday afternoon to hear Rea Berg. The title of her talk was "Homeschooling with Creativity and Passion". As I had heard many different talks on homeschooling thru the years, I was a bit surprised how much this talk had an effect on me. There was something in the way she talked about education and connecting with our children thru great literature that really moved me. We spent most of the afternoon and evening on the exhibit floor at the Beautiful Feet booth, picking at both Russ and Rea’s brains. What an amazing opportunity, but it was also a bit unsettling. I had known what I was doing in the fall already. I had a plan, a roadmap, and all my friends were already doing it too. I had no desire to change. None, whatsoever! But something was tugging at my heart and I felt the spirit leading me to be open to more than what I already knew.
Over the next few months, after much reading and research and prayer, I made the decision to make a major shift in my homeschooling philosophy. I had read Susan Schaeffer Macauley’s For The Children's Sake, and Karen Andreola’s Charlotte Mason Companion. I had purchased a number of the study packs from Beautiful Feet at the conference and had been reading many of the books with the boys over the summer. I was amazed by the way it affected them. We all know those days when all the children seem to have a hard time being “nice” to one another. Unkind words fly through the house like little weapons aiming at desired targets and causing havoc and tears. I would pull all the kids in to snuggle on the couch with a book and read. First I need to say this was a very different tactic than my usual “You kids need to be nicer! Stop acting that way!” speech. But the way these stories opened their hearts and truly changed the atmosphere in my home was amazing! And all without a mommy lecture!
We are now in the throes of what has started out as a wonderful third year. We have officially switched from a classical approach to a Charlotte Mason approach. I have begun a small group in my home where we have eight kids going thru the Early American History (Primary) pack. What an amazing time we all are having studying these historical figures.
I am so grateful to the Berg’s and the sharing of their hearts! It has changed my path and helped me to hear the call God has for me. I can’t wait to share more of my journey with you all! Come back and see what God continues to show me and how he plans to change me and my family!
Thank you Sam, it's going to be exciting to follow your experience throughout this year. For those of you interested in learning more about teaching history through literature and the Charlotte Mason approach, check out these previous blog posts: