Organizing Head & Heart to Homeschool

so we begin again!

‘Education is an atmosphere.”

I once wrote Charlotte Mason’s words on a chalkboard, just so I’d remember.

I wanted to live in the air of that thought.

Education is the atmosphere we breathe, the envelope of wonder that surrounds us, held by the gravity of our daily habits.




I am scared to homeschool this year.

Sometimes an atmosphere can grow dangerously thin and lungs can gasp. So I want it right there on my wall — “The Lord is strength of my life.” When the books and the plans start to teeter, when I start to hyperventilate, I’ll need to remember the one Who I am supposed to live and breathe and have my being in.

Sometimes we need to remember that the atmosphere protects all life on earth and we live in the Lord.




The Farmer built the cover-facing bookshelves with lumber from the country hardware store just around the corner.We painted the wood black. All the wood black, the chairs, the tables, the rocking chair, making all the memories one family.

The rocking chair was the one the farm girl took to her first university dorm room in the city and rocked her homesick self under stars, the same rocking chair she hauled home from the city after she married the Farmer, rocking that firstborn during the midnight feedings, looking thankful up at stars.

The hanging maps were rescued from an attic. Sometimes we lose our way. Sometimes we need rescuing.




The table and chairs were the Farmer’s parents and Mom Voskamp served us pie off this table on Sunday afternoons.

We hauled the old shelves out of a 150-year-old cellar, the blue masons still sealed with Bartlett pears and memories. I washed out the cobwebs and lined the shelves with books, their own sealed lips long broken.

The coffee table was my Great Grandma Harnes’. We were only married a month when we inherited it and she left for the nursing home. I exchanged the legs on it for retrofitted spindles from the staircase of the first house I ever lived in, the first banister I ever slid down.

Education is an atmosphere and I like geography and finding our right place in the topography of time.




And where Mom Voskamp served us pie, I now light candles in the thrifted wooden caddie at the center of the table and we breathe in the fragrance of Light and the kids orbit about with papers and pencils and books and I stay at the Center; I need to stay in His center. In the caddie, I keep a a prayer book so we can pray through the hours of the day, keep our Scripture memory work in an old card box right there for reference, keep a daily calendar of Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest.

Sometimes an hourly rescue is necessary.

We only start to wildly flail for air when we leave our atmosphere.



The couch and chair where we curl up to read words, they are from my grandparents, the red woolen blanket too, passed on by my Dad after their household goods were divided and the granite bench engraved with their names was set to rest back under the spruce in the cemetery at Cold Springs.

The couch still holds the scent of her Oil of Olay and his Reader’s Digests and all their nights watching Jeopardy. Under that blanket, I’m 8 again and I can hear the creak of Grandma’s knees coming down the hall.

My kids now lie under that blanket reading books and sometimes they inhale deep and ask, “Did your grandparents smell just like this?” Half of them never met my history.

I nod and say yes, they smelled just like that.

Atmosphere is the warmth that holds us and grows us and our fragrance can last generations.






This summer, when we laid out all the bits of our history out on the lawn, laid it all out and painted every piece gathered from the years and the people all with the same brush of promise, made all the pieces for a one-piece life, I had prayed for courage to begin again, knowing the tilted days of crazy upendedness would come.

And now autumn comes and the earth tilts on its angle and we’re ready to begin another year of learning in earnest and I think how education is an atmosphere and our days are meant to tilt and we are meant to spin and He holds us perfectly on this axis of rotating glory.

“Are we ready to begin now? Just begin “beta school“? Test out the school rhythms — just in trial — before September?” Hope asks at the end of the organizing.

I take a long, deep breath.

God is our atmosphere.

I nod yes to the coming spin.





Resources for creating a homeschool classroom:

Lord is Strength – Walligraphy

Oswald Chambers – My Utmost for His Highest – 365 DayBrightener Calendar

Rand Mcnally World Map (Classic Edition World Wall Map) Rand Mcnally World Map (Classic Edition World Wall Map)

Skeletal System Subject Poster Print, 27x39 Skeletal System Subject Poster Print
Eggs of Two Dozen Birds Giclee Poster Print
Mollusques Art Poster Print, 20x24 Mollusques Art Poster Print
Champignons Art Poster Print

Homeschool Learning Spaces Inspiration:

Rain Gutter Tutorial for Cover Facing Books

South facing and part of  West facing walls More Book Inspiration

Our creative/learning space A creative learning space inspiration

Playful Learning Spaces– Highly recommended inspiration

A vintage schoolroom

Gameroom-Lounge-Learning Room inspiration

Home Learning Spaces


Related Inspiration:

Four Ways to Simply Homeschool

Live the Seven Rungs of Holistic Homeschooling

Why Homeschool? The Pros and Cons

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