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How Homeschooling is Like Birth

How Homeschooling is Like Birth

We recently had our fourth child.  After three other kids, you’d think we’d have this birth thing down-pat, but that’s a big fat “Nope.”

In four kids we’ve had every birth experience possible.  Our first was an oh-crap-we-just-got-married-and-pregnant-and-don’t-know-anything-about-birth-type of experience.  We took the classes offered by the hospital,  hoped for a natural childbirth, and ended up with the “cascade of interventions,” complete with narcotics, pitocin, epidural, and the threat of forceps.

To avoid all that with our second baby, we became temporary hippies and planned every detail of a birth center water birth.  No OB was going to tell me what to do this time.  Yet after pushing for umpteen thousand hours, we transferred to the hospital and had a c-section, for which I was completely unprepared.  I’d prepared only for a birth that was going to go according to my plan.

Kids, like newborns, are pros at giving their parents opportunities to learn flexibility.

In keeping with my newly-discovered theory that children come out however the heck they want to, our third baby was born 16 weeks too early. I spontaneously went into labor one evening, and by the time we got to the hospital it was too late to stop that train.

So, for our fourth baby, I resigned myself to the thought that “whatever happens, happens.”  Yet this one magically decided to be birthed exactly according to plan.  Assisted by two very talented midwives and a doula whom I adore, she was born sans drugs in the comfort of our bedroom–though every time I share that fact, I think about this:

For each kiddo, we wrote a birth plan.

You know, that document that details exactly how the birth of your child will go.  Cue uncontrollable laughter

It’s funny how idealistic and naive we were for the first birth plans. We wanted to control everything and failed to realize we were dealing with an semi-independent person, albeit a small one.  By the time we got to #4, our birth plan was more like a list of preferences, with a clear understanding that babies don’t follow directions and we’d likely have to be flexible.

Homeschooling is like planning and executing a birth plan–both on the macro and micro scale.

You can plan your year:

  • We’ll get through such-and-such a level of math by such-and-such a date.
  • We’ll use every Friday for errands, co-op, and extracurricular activities.
  • We’ll do a (really cool, really involved) science experiment every week.

You can plan your week:

  • We’ll do 5 grammar lessons this week.
  • We’ll read all the way through this book this week.
  • The child who hates spelling will complete X number of spelling worksheets this week.

But then your plan encounters real humans.

Kids, like newborns, are pros at giving their parents opportunities to learn flexibility.

The kids all get sick during the weeks they’re supposed to be accomplishing the most–putting summer vacation off track and causing you to purchase calming tea in bulk. You or your kid (or both) end up hating the curriculum you bought. More calming tea.

Your kids all join activities or sports that meet on different nights of the week. Your minivan might currently smell like last night’s fast food, a fact which shames you when you chat with the super amazing hippie organic farmers in your co-op.

The really cool, really involved science experiments happen maybe three times per school year because they explode your kitchen and you just don’t handle that like you’d hoped you would.

5 leisurely, consistent grammar lessons for the week turn into two massive lessons on Thursday and Friday because you didn’t get to them till then.  But, hey, they’re done right?

The child who hates spelling still hates spelling and can somehow make it take forEVER. And that book you wanted to finish this week? It’s not done yet, but who cares? The conversation it sparked was the real point anyway.

Almost nothing in homeschooling goes exactly according to plan.

Just like birth, the best  you can do is make a plan that’s really more like a list of preferences or priorities.  The kids will change the plan, circumstances will change the plan, even you will change the plan.[pullquote] Almost nothing in homeschooling goes exactly according to plan…The kids will change the plan, circumstances will change the plan, even you will change the plan.[/pullquote]

Don’t mistake me, it’s wonderful and necessary to have a plan.  It’s a must to surround yourself with good resources.  Read books, make friends with other homeschooling moms, join a co-op, get involved in extracurricular activities.  All these resources help, but the happiest homeschoolers I know are those whose main tool is flexibility.  They’re willing to adjust the plan to fit the kid, the season in life, the temporary circumstance.

Once we let go of the idea that we control everything we can realize the beautiful flexibility we have to make adjustments along the way.  Cheers to adjusting your way through the end of this school year, even if you’re off the plan you wrote in September (or this morning).

Rhiannon Kutzer

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1 Comment

  • Mystie Winckler June 11, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    I love everything about this post. 🙂 It is all so, so true!

  • Leave a Reply

    Nice to meet you!

    I’m Rhiannon.

    You can call me Rhi for short (as in “rejoice”). I’m a fiercely independent homeschooling mom of five, a Navy wife of 13 years, and a creator of various things: articles, a semi-regular newsletter, quilts, furniture, and the occasional knitted scarf. This is the site where I write about our homeschool journey and news and happenings in the homeschool world. more about me.


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    Need a shot in the arm for your homeschool? Get Thrive Together, a monthly email that brings you:

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    Latest Posts


    • One of the things I most love about #homeschooling is the freedom it allows us to love books. It is 9:30am. We just finished breakfast after getting up late because last night we had troop meetings for our scouting groups. The kids are all well-fed and well-rested. But before we start on reading the books I’ve assigned them, we’re taking some time to read our own choices.
When I was a kid, we had plenty of books in the house, but I never really read for pleasure. It didn’t matter that my mom was a librarian and teacher. I wanted to be outside. I thought reading was for school hours and school work.
I carried these thoughts through high school and college, where I read a lot of really great books, but not many that I chose for myself.
My kids will have a totally different experience. Not saying mine was bad, but I am saying that I missed out on worlds or great books and thoughts from great authors in my younger years that I am only discovering now as an adult: the middle books of Narnia, Anne of Green Gables, Arthur Conan Doyle, Winnie the Pooh, Beatrix Potter, Harry Potter, and many more.
My kids have the TIME FREEDOM to get to know the thoughts of authors they CHOOSE. I don’t care how you school, all kids deserve this opportunity. All kids DESERVE to believe that books can be FUN and INTERESTING and MYSTERIOUS and LOVELY.
What can you do today as a homeschooling/private schooling/public schooling parent to help your kids love reading? Make no mistake: if ALL our kids take from their educations is a habit of reading widely and enjoying it, they will stand a great chance of becoming great adult humans.
#amreading #readaloudrevival #bravewriterlifestyle #homeschool #schoolchoice #charlottemasonirl
    • FINALLY! Everyone is well (enough) that we are back to school. No one is in bed with a fever #winning . Instead, we get to spend our morning with the Scottish Play. I 💛 me some Shakespeare and #MorningTime !
#homeschool #homeschooling #family #amreading #shakespeare #bravewriterlifestyle
    • Fact: The #Navy wife life will kill you if you don’t find support somehow.
Fact: That support will almost 100% of the time be the females around you.
Fact: Our whole family got the flu literally THE DAY Jake’s boat pulled out.
Fact: This little @theglorioustable ditty about crashing our proverbial banana trucks posted the same day. God has a sense of humor. Link also in profile. (
The fact that I am just now getting around to posting about it tells you the extent to which the flu knocked me on my ass. I was in bed for three days straight. I am NEVER this sick.
Fact: If it weren’t for strong, kind, generous WOMEN around me, I probably would have ended up in the hospital and my kids may or may not be alive. The menfolk care too, they just weren’t here. Couldn’t support. Had their own work to do. The mission does not stop for sick families.
Find yourself a tribe if you want to survive. You HAVE to have someone to call. Even if, like me, it’s your mom (who will--wisely--tell you to ask for local help even though you don’t want to be a bother.) I needed prayers, sure, but more than that, I needed local people to literally come to my house and feed my kids and put food in my fridge, be here while I went to the doctor, and put my kids to bed when I was too sick to stay awake a minute longer. A virtual community CANNOT do those things. It can try, but a local community has power a virtual community will never have.
Another post on this topic here: (
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    • Happy New Year and all, but more importantly, today we got to watch our @wyo_football win the Arizona Bowl. (With a freshman QB starting for the 1st time ever, btw 😮😮😮💪🏻) Way to go Pokes! #theWorldNeedsMoreCowboys #OneWyoming #GoWyo
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    • Morning Time Details! E. (12), S. (almost 8), and L. (6). Our Morning Time morphs as the kids grow and change. It usually includes a combination of memory work and reading aloud. We try to cover a WHOLE LOT of things: Shakespeare, Bible, poetry, catechism, hymns, timeline, art study, composer study, and Ambleside selections for nature study, tales, and church history. This term I’m adding Plutarch.
The hard part is figuring out where I want to aim, with the 5-year gap between E. and S., and then L. being a newbie to full-on school. Having moved twice in 2019, I nixed MT and just focused on individual work. That came with costs. Shakespeare, Plutarch, art study, and composer study suffered. Memory work barely happened at all. I was BUSY. We missed out on discussing things together. Now that we’re settled, it’s time to restart MT.
This term I’ve decided to aim Shakespeare and Plutarch at the oldest, while the girls listen in and do handwriting/drawing/fine motor. I won’t ask them for much narration. Our reading schedule for these is AMBITIOUS. Maybe crazy. Then we’ll do all the memory & read aloud stuff that suits everyone. These lessons are SHORT. Then E. will go do his individual work while I read aloud w/ just the girls.
Also, “Morning Time” is a misnomer, considering we break it up throughout the day. It should really be called Morning/Lunch/Nap Time. I need a new name. Circle Time? Except we don’t sit in a circle. Together school? Except we’re together doing school all day. I don’t think English has the word I’m looking for. Maybe Tertulia or Salon?
Our actual coursework is: the Scottish Play, Plutarch is Alexander the Great’s life, our artist is Gustave Courbet, composer is Paganini, Bible memory is Psalm 46, Hymn is Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me, read alouds will rotate from Burgess Bird Book, Trial and Triumph, Blue Fairy Book, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Vanderbeekers, & picture books. Timeline is from Classical Conversations. Poems are Charge of the Light Brigade, Winter Night by Teasdale, and The Land of Nod.
Whew! It’s gonna be a fun term! What do you guys do for Morning Time?

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