Hi! I’m Karissa. If we haven’t met yet, it’s nice to meet you 🙂 And thanks for stopping by.

I’m new to blogging and it feels a bit overwhelming, but I’m telling myself that none of this has to be perfect and whatever is shared here will be GOOD ENOUGH. Especially since it will be shared with a good heart and the best of intentions.

My husband Geno and I have four kids, ages preschool through elementary (3, 6, 8 and 10), and this upcoming school year (2021-2022) will be our first year homeschooling. I don’t really count our distance-learning experience as “homeschooling”… that was just bananas. What we’re committing to here is involved, home education run by me (their mom). And dad when he’s not at sea. It may seem a bit of a departure, seeing as though 3 of our 4 kids have attended public school up until this point. But we have a handful of reasons why we’ve chosen this new path and I’ll share a few with you here today.

First, we simply want to spend more time with our kids. As it stands, they wake up before 7am, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, and are out the door by 7:45. They spend all day at school and we (their parents) have very little say in their day-to-day education. The exception being homework, which is just stressful for everyone. By the time they walk through the door at 3pm they’re exhausted and hungry. We simply want to spend the best parts of their day with them.

This summer we’re moving from Hawaii to Washington (state) and we want to explore, learn, and create memories with our kids without being tied to the confines of a traditional school day. Math, history, science – these subjects are usually attached to a textbook. We want to get outside and LIVE them with our kids. If we want to study birds and recite multiplication tables while hiking Mt. Olympus, we can do it.

Honestly, we want more control over the subject areas covered in our kids’ education. There were so many hidden figures that I never met in school; men and women who built our nation, those who were already here when it was “discovered”, men and women who weren’t afraid to stand up against injustice all over the world and those who are currently making a difference. Maybe their names were grazed over somewhere in a textbook at some point, but I never got a chance to KNOW them. I want my kids to.

We want our kids to be excited about learning for learning’s sake. Not learning to pass a test, not cramming to make a grade. Oh, how I wish that subjects like algebra would’ve COME ALIVE for me in my time. That biology or chemistry might have jumped off the page and led me into a world of wonder instead of leaving me grappled with frustration. It actually took me becoming a school teacher myself to understand these subjects well enough to teach them to others. We want to lay the foundation for a lifelong love of learning in our kids early. Something that neither of us received in the public school system.

A few years ago I was introduced to Miss Charlotte Mason, British educator and reformer in England at the turn of the twentieth century. Miss Mason held a firm belief that each child is a born person, and we must educate the entire person, not just his mind. She proposed an education inspired by the writings of the Bible, rich literature and “living books”, rather than traditional textbooks or “watered down twaddle”. Charlotte emphasized respecting each child as a born person and giving him a broad education. She presents a generous curriculum including nature study, art & music appreciation, musical instruments and handicrafts, as well as the usual academic subjects of math, reading, writing, science and history.

I’ve been busy preparing Term 1 (of 3) for the fall semester following Ambleside Online’s curriculum recommendations and boy, what a job! There’s been so much for me to learn in planning what they’ll be learning, but I feel like my feet are finally on solid ground and we have a great foundation to start with.

Our house gets packed up next week and we’ll move mid-June, so I really wanted to nail down as much as I could before everything goes into boxes. I bought most of our books and materials second-hand on eBay and have spent about $120 per child for the entire school year – which is SO MUCH LESS than I was anticipating. If I had bought everything new we’d probably be in for at least double or triple that amount, so thumbs-up for savings! I was also excited to learn that some of the recommended living texts were books we already have on our shelves. Further encouragement that we’re on the right track and that we’ve already been supporting a living education here at-home.

I feel prepared – at least to start. And I know we’ll figure out what’s working and what’s not as we go. This year we’ll have a preschooler (Baby B), a 1st grader (Big B), a 4th grader (Miss A), and a 5th grader (J). Each child will be following their own grade-level studies in math, reading, and writing, but we will be studying history, science, poetry, nature, art, music and handicrafts as a family – which I really like and think will be fun for us all.

That’s about it for now! A quick intro to what we’re planning to do and my first blog post here at Lights of Wonder. Not so bad! Thanks for reading 🙂