About Kari Patterson

Kari Patterson and her family live out in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. As a 2nd-generation homeschooler she espouses the same philosophy her own mom did in the 80s: Cultivate a love for learning and one’s education will never end. She bakes bread, brews kombucha, speaks at conferences & writes at Sacred Mundane. Her new book Sacred Mundane is available now.

Our experiment year: 5 discoveries so far

Written by Kari Patterson of Sacred Mundane

This year I ditched most of what we’d done before, and decided to take an Experiment Year. That is, a year to try new things, refuse to stress, return to JOY, and recover our lost love of learning.

By the end of last year I found myself frustrated by our workbook-driven, scope-and-sequence-bound educational existence. I just kept thinking, “This is not the life-giving, freedom-filled educational environment I had always envisioned for our family.”

Something had to change.

Turns out, almost everything did, and it’s been great! I am actually ENJOYING myself, my kids are enjoying themselves, and we’ve had ZERO TEARS over educational issues. Hooray!

These are not prescriptions, as every family is different. But I wanted to share five of my discoveries so far. My hope is that one of these might be an “Aha!” moment for you as well.

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How to homeschool your own heart this year

Written by Kari Patterson of Sacred Mundane

I‘ve been there more times than I care to admit — looking ahead at the new school year and searching for just the right change: a new book, a new method, a new schedule. If I just change up this or that, maybe it’ll be that magic bullet?

Certainly, sometimes a tweak here and there truly helps. But more often than not, you know the one thing that most needs to change?

Me.

Nine times out of ten, the issue isn’t the workbook, it’s my mindset.

It isn’t the program, it’s the problems that lurk in my own heart: the impatience, anger, perfectionism, discouragement, lack of discipline. More often than not, it’s me stuck in the same cycle of negativity, it’s me forgetting my purpose, it’s me losing sight of the goal, it’s me letting life overwhelm, it’s me losing my joy.

More than anything else, what I really need is to better homeschool my own heart.

[Read more…]

How to recover your lost love for learning

Written by Kari Patterson of Sacred Mundane.

And then I tore the math workbook into pieces while my stricken son watched, and I knew something had to change.

I closed my eyes. What’s gone wrong here?? 

I’m ashamed to even share it here, but I’m guessing if any of you mamas is schooling a special needs kid, you have had a day when you JUST. CAN’T. TAKE. another school-lesson sidelined by endless interruptions and dropped pencils and blank stares and suddenly forgetting everything taught up to this point.

Chances are this day happens to fall when you’re most hormonal and have approximately 87 other things to do before noon. Chances are you woke up with a headache, gained three more mysterious pounds, are agitated about another issue altogether, and this all creates the perfect storm for that mommy-fail moment you wish you could forget.

This was mine. It was a little math workbook–something I’d picked up for him “for fun.” (Oh the irony!)

We were so not having fun.

Thankfully, my son and I snuggled and prayed, I apologized and he forgave, I recycled the shredded pages, and we talked about how things had gotten off track.

Reflecting, I could see how the tension had mounted for weeks — we’d had a hard few months and as the end of the year approached I became the drill sergeant, pushing to complete the pages, eager to cross the whole year off and be done.

I was so deeply saddened by this. I just kept thinking, “This is not me! This is not the home education I’ve longed for and aspired to and envisioned for my kids. What’s happened?”

I took a few weeks to contemplate this. I prayed, talked to close confidants, read articles here, and processed my feelings with my husband Jeff. Two key things rose to the surface: [Read more…]

Teaching kids to take initiative

Written by Kari Patterson of Sacred Mundane.

When he showed up with our dinner, I could barely believe my eyes — this was a kid! What kind of kid does this??

Let me explain. My husband frequents a local coffee shop, and gets to know the baristas. He had often chatted with one in particular, a guy named Christian. Turns out one day Jeff had shared with him about a difficult season we were in. In response, (after asking Jeff’s permission), Christian took the initiative to coordinate—and personally deliver—dinners out to our house the following week.

Now, I was already floored that someone I had never met was willing to bring us meals (we live a long way out of town).

I was further floored that this person was a guy (sorry, but usually it’s the moms who think of things like meal-delivery!).

But I was completely floored when this guy showed up and looked barely old enough to drive.

He was 21. With a wide, bright smile, he was respectful and kind, talking at length with our kids, admiring our home, and hand-delivering a nutritious meal made by his mom. He was clearly a go-getter, working part-time while also going to school and pursuing his passion in a creative career while also serving in his church.

I soon discovered he was one of 7 brothers … all homeschooled.

Ah. As soon as he left, I looked at Jeff and said, That’s why we homeschool. I want to raise kids like that.

[Read more…]

How to host a Nature Day

Written by Kari Patterson of Sacred Mundane

“Now I don’t have to die to go to heaven,” my son grinned. “It’s right here.”

We were walking along the trails zig-zagging through the wild countryside of the property we would soon call home. Towering trees, low-hanging limbs laden with moss, a pond and trickling creek, old-growth stumps — it was all so lush and green and vast — as far as the eye could see.

But even as spectacular as the scenery was, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. Seeing his wonder–rapture really–as he explored and discovered, head tilted back, gazing straight up, pointing here and there, “Mom, red-tailed hawks!”

I couldn’t believe this was where, Lord willing, our kids would grow up.

I grew up out in the country, and took for granted the gold-mine that was my backyard. I grew up hiking through the woods, forging the river to a friends’ house, building forts from limbs and twigs, climbing trees, planting gardens, holding still and silent watching the deer creep by.

These days, though, it seemed you had to choose between a roof over your children’s heads OR a piece of land, so I had long ago given up the idea of raising my own kids out in the woods.

So, when we fell into this gift of a place, that had a roof and land, I knew it was meant for more than just our own personal pleasure — I wanted the gift of nature to bless others as well.

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