About Hannah Vanderpool

Hannah Vanderpool is a writer, a world traveler, and a homeschooling mom to two great high schoolers and a middle schooler. She can’t imagine a world without sisters and books. You can find her at Praying With One Eye Open.

The ABCs of homeschooling older kids (and ourselves)

Written by Hannah Vanderpool of Praying with One Eye Open

I’ve homeschooled my three kids from the beginning of their little lives, and I treasure the memories we share from our years at home together.

It wasn’t all delight-led learning, of course. I look back with regret on impatient words I’ve spoken; times when my expectations for my kids weren’t reasonable.

Overall, though, homeschooling is one of the best decisions we ever made.

But my kids are teenagers now, and, if I’m honest, I’m not having a lot of fun these days. Oh, we still enjoy one another (most of the time), and we don’t fantasize about going to brick and mortar school (usually).

We eat dinner together and take walks in the park. But the things that made homeschooling enjoyable for me in earlier days have largely fallen by the wayside.

For instance, my teens don’t want me to read to them anymore. They’ll sit patiently if I insist on doing it, but while they used to delight in read-alouds, now they forbear them.

Also? They don’t want me to sit beside them and help solve problems except once-in-a-while. They don’t ask my opinion as often as they used to, and when they do, they sometimes ignore it.

Increasingly, they need me in the same way I need a plumber or firefighter–in case of emergency.

And I don’t like it.

What’s a mom like me to do when my current role looks more like a springboard and less like a teacher? And what if I loved being a teacher? What if it feels like everyone in the house is moving up and moving on except me?

I’ve decided what I need most, right now, is to homeschool myself. I need to remember my ABCs.

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10 things I’ve learned in 10 years of homeschooling

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Written by Hannah Vanderpool of Praying with One Eye Open

I’ve noticed something about my fellow homeschoolers. As a family’s kids get older, the parents tend to get quieter online, at least where homeschooling is concerned.

It’s probably not because they’ve run out of ideas for how to incorporate science into their teenagers’ days, or because there aren’t plenty of funny one-liners they could report.

It’s probably because those of us with older kids sense that our teens need increased privacy, and that, before long, their educational journeys in our homes will come to an end.

And, anyway, if we think about it, we’re just glad blogs didn’t exist when we were their age.

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I’m one of those moms who felt like there was plenty to discuss when I was homeschooling 5-, 6-, and 7- year-olds. But now that my husband and I have a teenager, I suddenly feel at a loss for what to add to the online conversation.

There are stories I can’t tell these days — struggles that will stay between our own four walls out of respect for my kids.

The truth is that when I talk about homeschooling now, I end up talking about me, not math. I write about how I hope all the years at home have served my kids well, hoping I’ve done enough of this or that, or that I’ve said enough “I’m sorrys.”

Will the future be kind to me, I wonder, as I see this strange and sweet chapter nearing its last few pages?

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The power of poetry

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Written by Hannah Vanderpool of Praying with One Eye Open.

We’re in the living room. Two of the kids are stretched on the couch and they’re tugging a blanket between them, though they know better than to wear it out further.

The middle boy sits on the loveseat. He smiles and flops himself flat, legs off the side.

He knows he has the better seat, the one across from me.

I pick up the poetry book. It’s a thick, yellow anthology, one we’ve been working through for almost a year.

Every day we sit in our places and I read from it — words about love, and trees and ordinary people.  Today is no different.

This morning I read my best, paying attention to the rhythm and flow of the lines. I finish the last line of a Langston Hughes poem and then I don’t say anything because there is meaning in the air and I want them to feel it.

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Pressing through the middle years of homeschooling

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Written by Hannah Vanderpool of Praying With One Eye Open

I’m a writer who likes fresh beginnings and well-timed endings.  Middles?  Not so much.

When I think about the middle of, say, a novel manuscript, I imagine a hammock creaking under the weight of a couple of lemonade-sipping kids or a dad who really ought to be mowing the lawn.

Creative writing instructors refer to these in-between pages as the dreaded “saggy middle.”

They teach rookies and published authors alike how to push through their own saggy middles with enough energy and forward momentum to keep readers engaged until the end.

This is important because it’s easier to start a story, and even to finish it, than it is to keep putting one foot in front of the other when you’re in the middle of a thing and can’t see your way to an ending yet.

As it turns out, writing is not my day job–homeschooling is.  I’ve been on this particular journey for nine years now.

Our family started strong when my three kids were barely out of Pull-ups (yes, I was over eager).  I hope to finish well, too, when my youngest daughter is finally ready to fly my little coop.

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Homeschooling in a different world

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The following is a guest post by Hannah Vanderpool of Praying with One Eye Open.

The sun’s warmth slipped through the iron latticework of our living room windows, burning away the early morning fog. The first call to prayer sounded over the loudspeaker filling our apartment with strains of muffled devotion. The kids emerged from their shared bedroom with sleepy eyes and plopped on the couch.

Dilsara, our Nepali house helper, whisked past them to sweep dusty floors and make beds. Breakfast would be cereal and buffalo milk, as usual.

The kids begged to watch a Popeye cartoon in Hindi, and I pretended to hesitate before relenting.

Our morning ritual in India.
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