When the First Day of School Isn’t Picture Perfect

Dear Mom whose first day of school wasn’t picture-perfect

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Yes, I know it hurts as you scroll through facebook and see picture after picture of smiling children, matching outfits, and hair just so. The chalkboard they’re holding proudly proclaims their grade level…

Yet, your kids somehow don’t look like that. No one wanted to get dressed, let alone wear a new outfit or pretty hairstyle. And grade level? You are wondering where your struggling learner is even at these days.

You try to get the kids in order, so you can take the obligatory picture. After all…everyone is doing it– it’s tradition.

They bicker as you try to get them in a cute pose. They whine. They aren’t digging the picture…and neither are you.

Mom, I’ve been there. I know. Every first day is not picture-perfect. We’ve had years where there were tears, arguments, and big, huge let-downs. Mainly on my part. I had built up that the first day should look a certain way…That we needed to have a new outfit, fresh school supplies, a traditional picture, a gift for each child, a special breakfast… and mostly, great big smiles while doing it.

We build these expectations in our heads about what it should be like. We want the picture perfect life. We want our first day to fit in with the world. 

Well, sometimes life isn’t picture-perfect. What if God doesn’t want that for your family. What if He is using your struggles right now for a purpose to grow your family closer to Him? He isn’t looking at that picture, He is looking at your hearts. It is much more essential to have the inside in order right now, than a picture that portrays perfection.

Moms, if you are struggling with not living up to what you see online...or you have created expectations based on others, let’s remember Who we are living for. We are living for the King of Kings and not an Instagram ideal. When did the Internet become the standard for which we live? His Word is the standard in which we should be desiring to follow. He is the One who has given us these children to raise- let’s not waste it worrying about things that are so unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

So if your day had joys, then celebrate them. If your day wasn’t so joyful, let it drive you to your knees and seek the Lord. He wants us to go to Him. And remember it often in the hard times, where we grow closest to Him.


And share those joys and struggles with your friends. Seek prayer, and seek support. We are all in this together and we are sisters in the body of Christ. Don’t pretend it’s all together when it’s all falling apart. Authenticity matters. So much. It matters. Shallow relationships based on appearances aren’t real. But the ones who share the nitty-gritty, where you have cried so much there’s no tears left…those are the times, where your girlfriends step in and pray for you, They cry for you. They lift you up. It’s a beautiful picture.





And remember, the first day, is really just another day. Kids won’t look back and remember all those first days specifically, but you can bet the ones in between, will be what fills their memories- and what you did on those days…what you taught them…will matter. Teach them well- teach them His Word, teach them to follow Him and not the world.

Now, in being transparent…this was our picture yesterday. It wasn’t even supposed to be our first day, but on a whim, we started early. Everyone was smiling and happy because we also got baby chicks yesterday! We always take a photo with our verse for the year, and this year we chose Romans 12:2.



Immediately after this picture, the kids argued about who was holding the chicks, and who was holding them too tight or not right. Later on, there were tears as the high schooler was overwhelmed with her work. Overall, it was a good day, but not without it’s difficult moments. We did work through the hard stuff, and it sure brought me to my knees at times.

This picture is not supposed to represent our whole day. It was a snapshot of a moment, to document our first day. Remember that when you see a photo and take it for what it is- a snapshot of a moment in time. Not a whole life.



Real Homeschool: Letting Go of the Pinterest-Perfect and Instagram-Ideal Homeschool– NOW AVAILABLE at Amazon.com!

Join me as we create a community, of moms being REAL!

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31 Days of Praying for Your Homeschool

Several years ago I had this free printable available, and it was also part of the appendix in my book, Called Home.

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Last year when I re-released the book, we updated this section without the actual verses. Because of my desire to have women in the Word on their own, we just included the verse reference so that you can look up the verses on your own and in the translation of your choice. There is space for you to write out the verses or how God is teaching you through that verse.

Please feel free to share this post, not the PDF itself.



31 Days Of Prayer for Your Homeschool

To purchase the book, which is now updated with a journal section at the end, and includes these verses as well as other journal prompts, please click below:


Called Home DeBeus

Check out where I am speaking in 2017—-> SPEAKING

Listen to the Podcast—-> PODCAST

Watch my YouTube Channel–->YouTube

Shop Simply Living for Him——>SHOP



Will She Be Prepared?

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Two summers.

My baby girl has two summers left before she is officially a bonafide adult and graduated from this journey of homeschooling. And actually, we are in one of those summers right now. So I guess that makes it one and a half summers? 


With each beautiful summer sunset, we get one day closer to the sun setting on a journey that has been so special for us.

And the sun also rises on sweet new days.

(Hear all about our very rocky beginning of our homeschool years here.)


As I think about our nearing the end of this journey, often times I get panicked. It can be just a small thing that will set me off, but all of a sudden I find myself there in my thoughts, frozen. And I ask myself,

Will She Be Prepared?

Did I teach her enough? Will she be able to handle a college course? Can she write a proper essay for the SAT? Will she know enough? 

Then I fret:

We never spent enough time on handwriting..it’s a lost art….kids these days….I should have…

blah… blah… blah

And I stop. And I am quickly brought back to reality.

While there are many things she may not know, and perhaps she will not be prepared for at first… maybe a challenging college course or that Algebra we struggled with will come back.

There is so very much she is prepared for.

Homeschooling has given us a unique opportunity to use life as our education. We have lived each day together, much more hours together than if she were in public school.

She has watched and observed “real life” unfold daily- the good, the bad, the ugly. She knows about so many things I never did as a teen. 

I smile as I think about a few months back, and how she traveled with me and navigated the way to Arkansas for a speaking engagement. Connecting flights, airports, rental cars. She was my lifeline. She did it all.


She is independent. She researches what she does not know or what she desires to learn. She takes control of her life in many ways. She even planned an entire trip to Dinsey for us! All we had to do was show up 😉


So while there may be gaps we left out academically, I have no doubt that she will be able to learn anything she wants to, after the next two summers are over. After all, even though she will technically “graduate,” the classroom she has been in will continue always…LIFE.


And then I am gently reminded as I glance at my Bible. She is prepared. We have made the most important book a priority. She has all the wisdom and knowledge she will ever need in that book.

While I may have taught her math and science, and writing, and all the in between subjects, nothing at all is more important than laying a biblical foundation. If she knows the Lord, she is prepared for whatever will come her way.

She embraces life, isn’t afraid to take risks, and exudes joy. She always chooses to dance in the rain.


Yes, my baby girl will be prepared. God will be with her always, and as long as she follows Him, I can rest that I have taught her what she needs most.


Get My NEW Book!


Join me in August!

Check out where I am speaking in 2017—-> SPEAKING

Listen to the Podcast—-> PODCAST

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Summer School

Right now we are Summer Schooling!

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I love summer. The slower paced schedule and the time outside. Everything in bloom. So much to discover. The warm nights. The sunshine. The yummy treats. I love it all!

Our schedule is slow and our formal books may be closed, but I’ve seen that we are learning just as much as any other time of year. 

I’ve watched my kids in the garden, observing the plants each day.

The little guy points out a bumble bee in the flowers of our tomato plants and exclaims,

“He’s doing what God made Him to do.”

Yes..son…He is.

Or the day we went on a nature study on our property and discovered tons of butterflies in the wildflowers.

“Look! I can see it’s proboscis!”



We watched endlessly as that butterfly sucked up the sweet nectar with its tongue. Can’t do these kinds of observations in books…

Then there are field trips. We went to a local zoo yesterday and my daughter practiced photography. All of the kids (and this mama!) learned a few new things about some of the animals we encountered. It was so much fun to watch them!

This zoo also has museums with lots of old artifacts that I just love. All kinds of old cars, tools, farm equipment, toys, kitchen tools, you name it! We learned quite a bit!

Just getting out each day, without an agenda has the kids learning. 



We’ve been able to learn and explore:

  • Berry picking in our yard
  • Cooking and baking
  • Identifying unknown plants
  • Garden work every day
  • Fixing equipment
  • Building Legos daily
  • Library trips on rainy days
  • Watching birds and other animals
  • Studying insects- yes, the boys love catching ’em!
  • Watching tadpoles turn to frogs
  • Card games every day- never realized how much this helps with math for the little guy!
  • Lots of outdoor chores








Oh, and then there’s been lessons around the house:

  • Setting up the dehumidifier
  • Dealing with a power outage
  • Fixing lawn equipment
  • Learning new chores
  • Fixing a rocking chair that goes back to Grandpa’s childhood!
  • Practicing hospitality- lots of company over in summertime
  • Drying herbs from the garden


And some of the best lessons:

  • Reading Bibles on the porch
  • Spending time in prayer over various things
  • Living together as a family every day
  • Watching God paint the sky at night




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I’ve learned this summer that you can’t stop learning! It happens regardless of what books we open or schedule we create. God is teaching us each day, and I will savor each moment!

Join me this summer at the Simply Living for Him Women’s Retreat!

Take some time to slow down, unplug, and recharge. Find quiet and stillness in a gorgeous setting!!
Seek Him, pray, worship, and rest.

Tickets still available!

Get My NEW Book!


Check out where I am speaking in 2017—-> SPEAKING

Listen to the Podcast—-> PODCAST

Watch my YouTube Channel–->YouTube

Shop Simply Living for Him——>SHOP

Great Big, SUPER-DUPER, Deluxe List of Homeschool Favorites!





















As we wind down this school year and look ahead to next year, I have some new favorites to add to our curriculum. I have put together a list below with lots of goodies I have shared over the years with some new favorites mixed in! We haven’t used every single one, but those I have listed have been recommended highly.

My high schooler used Sonlight 300 this year for 10th grade and we LOVED it. In the early years we felt it was a bit much and never tried again, but now has been a perfect time for us. She takes the weekly schedule and makes sure to complete by Friday (she doesn’t necessarily follow each day, but just completes the five days by Friday.) We only used History and Literature and did do some tweaking, but stuck mostly to the schedule.

So Sonlight has become a new favorite. 

Here is our BIG list of favorites and recommended resources with some newly updated additions as well!


A Is for Adam: The Gospel from Genesis (excellent resource!)

Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers: The Gospel

A Bible Alphabet

What’s in the Bible? Volume 1- In the Beginning

A Light for My Path: An ABC Book Based on Psalm 119

God Gave Us You

The Story for Little Ones

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name

Answers in Genesis Preschool Curriculum

Leading Little Ones to God: A Child’s Book of Bible Teachings


God Creates the World and Chooses a Family (Firmly Planted Family Study Guide)

Ten Girls Who Made A Difference (Lightkeepers)

Beautiful Girlhood: Revised by Karen Andreola

Apologia Who Am I Series

Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends

The Donkey Who Carried a King

The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale

Mountain Born
(one of my favorite read alouds- with Christian themes)

YWAM Books– our very favorite was George Mueller

Little Pilgrim’s Progress: From John Bunyan’s Classic

Answers in Genesis Pilgrim’s Progress Complete Curriculum

The Princess and the Kiss

Wild Thing (Winnie the Horse Gentler Book 1)

The Garden Wall: A Story of Love Based on I Corinthians 13

Imagination Station Series – Adventures in Odyssey –(historical fiction)

Little House on the Prairie 

The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments

The Hedge of Thorns (Rare Collector’s Series) or any Lamplighter books

The Mystery of History, Vol. 1: Creation to Resurrection (all ages)

The Story of the World

A Child’s History of the World

The Growly Books: Begin

In Grandma’s Attic (Grandma’s Attic Series)

Hinds’ Feet on High Places [Illustratred]

Rush Revere Series

The Children’s Illustrated Bible

God of Wonders

Metamorphosis: The Beauty and Design of Butterflies

America’s Providential History (Including Biblical Principles of Education, Government, Politics, Economics, and Family Life)

Genesis: Finding Our Roots

Hymns for a Kid’s Heart, Vol. 1

Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends

Did Adam Have A Bellybutton?


Middle School

Sierra Jensen Collection (my daughter read through these several times!)

Secret Keeper Girl books

Through Peril and Sword (Soldiers of the General Book 1) (written by a teenage homeschooler!)

Adam and His Kin: The Lost History of Their Lives and Times


We Became Men: The Journey into Manhood

Foundlings (The Peleg Chronicles, book one)

The Chronicles of Narnia Complete 7-Book Collection with Bonus Book: Boxen

The Bronze Bow

Created for Work: Practical Insights for Young Men

The Hobbit

The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings (the Hobbit / the Fellowship of the Ring / the Two Towers 

A Family Guide to Narnia: Biblical Truths in C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia

Kingdom Series by Chuck Black

From Sea to Shining Sea: 1787-1837 (God’s Plan for America)

Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends

Created for Work: Practical Insights for Young Men

High School

Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

More Than a Carpenter

Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations

I Kissed Dating Goodbye

All C.S. Lewis Titles

How to Stay Christian in High School

Jesus Freaks: Martyrs: Stories of Those Who Stood for Jesus: The Ultimate Jesus Freaks

The City of God

The Chosen

And the Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity

Hinds’ Feet on High Places ( I love this book!)

Don’t All Religions Lead to God? (Tough Questions)

Perfectly Unique: Praising God from Head to Foot

True Love Project (True Love Project Series)

Answers Book for Teens Vol 2 (Answers Book (Master Books)

Devotions for the God Guy: A 365-Day Journey

The Story: Teen Edition: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People

Essential Guide to Public Speaking: Serving Your Audience with Faith, Skill, and Virtue

Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books

Life Application Study Bible NIV

High School Reading (newly updated!)

(these are our favorites from Literature/History and Bible Sonlight 300)

The Hiding Place

Know What You Believe

Know Why You Believe

Parallel Journeys

How to Ruin Your Life By 30

Walk to Two Moons

Children of the River

Mere Christianity

Screwtape Letters

Other Curriculum for all ages:

ApologiaHands down, best science for us. We have completed several in the elementary series, and this year my daughter is using the middle school level General Science course.  We enjoy the activities throughout each lesson, as well as the notebook activities. Apologia is a top-notch company that I respect immensely. They bring it home to God each lesson, and it is Bible-based.


Polished CornerstonesThis is a very large book from Doorposts that my daughter has been using for a few years. It is worth the investment. It is essentially a Bible study and character curriculum with numerous topics and activities for each age level. There is also a boy version (Plants Grow Up) which we have not used yet.


Math U SeeWe’ve been using Math U See for many years and my children all have done well with it.  I love that the DVD’s teach the lessons, and then I can help my child as needed. I also have high respect for Steve Demme, the writer of the curriculum, not just for his math books, but his heart for ministry and families.


Language Lessons from Sandi QueenThese little gems are perfect for our family in teaching language. Each Charlotte Mason style workbook has short lessons that teach just enough without creating a ton of busywork. We have really enjoyed this series for all levels.


A Child’s GeographyWritten by An Voskamp, these geography books are fascinating for the kids and for me 🙂 We’ve completed the first book in this series.


Truthquest History Guide: American History for Young Students Volume 1Our family used this during our studies of American History, and I actually miss those years. Truth Quest provides a book list for each unit that exposed us to so many great pieces.


Explode the Code– We’ve used all levels from pre-reading up to reading comprehension and my kids have always looked forward to these books. I was able to teach them all to read through these books alone in the early years.

We also LOVE Answers in Genesis and used many resources during our year that we used the Bible as our main text.
Check out their specials below:


Handwriting Without Tears Nothing helped my lefty, who-lea41XBAzK55bL._AC_US218_rns-differently- son better than this handwriting curriculum!







Favorites for Homeschool Moms

Educating the WholeHearted Child — by Clay and Sally Clarkson

Oh, I am so thankful this gem came into my life. I had never even heard of it as a new homeschooling mom, but there it was on sale at CBD.com, so on a whim, I bought it. Best.purchase.ever. I have read that book practically once a year, marked it up, and recommended it to so many friends. It is a must have.

For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay



A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning

A Biblical Home Education: Building Your Homeschool on the Foundation of God’s Word


This book gave me the confidence to use the Bible as our main textbook last year. I am so grateful for the inspiration in this book, the wisdom, and the truth that pointed me to the most important things I wanted to teach in my homeschool.

Get My NEW Book!


Check out where I am speaking in 2017—-> SPEAKING

Listen to the Podcast—-> PODCAST

Watch my YouTube Channel–->YouTube

Shop Simply Living for Him——>SHOP


My Most Important Advice to Any Homeschooler

Over the years, I have been asked many times what my biggest piece of advice for any homeschooler is.

I have learned most of these the hard way and am always quick to answer with these top pieces of advice:

  • Don’t compare your homeschool to anyone else’s.
  • Stick with a curriculum that works.
  • Be flexible.
  • Enjoy the journey.
  • Your relationship with your kids is a priority, even before academics.
  • Engage with your children.
  • Don’t try to recreate school at home.

Those are just a few of my favorites, but there is one piece of advice that I would say is the most important.

Let God Lead Your Homeschool.

YOU are NOT in charge of your homeschool. God is. If you are homeschooling it is because God has called you here. For whatever reason, and for however long of time, God has placed you here. It is so important to remember that because we can get so caught up in thinking we do this on our strength.

God is ultimately the one leading us each day. We must submit to His plans. We can do anything through His power. If He wants us here, He will supply the energy, the patience, the organization…all of it.

Face it, none of us can do this alone. I am only patient when He gives me patience. I am only energized when He gives me energy. And Lord knows I was never an organized person, but He gives me the power every day to complete the tasks that He has called me to do.

And He calls each family to a different goal. So trying to copy someone else’s family will not succeed. He wants us to come to Him each day and let Him lead.

Beginning the day in the Bible is essential for me personally. God’s Word energizes me like nothing else. I can guarantee the days I am not in His Word, and I think I can do things on my own, I fail. The days I wake early, spend time with Him praying and seeking HIS will for my day, are always the days that I feel go smoothly.

God is the head of our family and we must submit every detail including our homeschools to Him. How does that look? Prayer and Bible time are essential. Pray over your homeschool daily, weekly, and at the beginning of the year. Rather than searching the Internet for the next best thing for your homeschool, ask God to show you. Seek His will above all else.

I begin each day with the prayer, “Lord show me what you want the children to learn today. Show me what you want ME to learn today. Then supply the power to do it.” Some days go very differently than I planned, but sometimes that is where the lesson is and that is exactly how God wants it.
Keep your eyes on the goal. As soon as we take our eyes off of God we sink. When we try to do things in our own strength we fail. Let His Spirit fill you and supply for your needs.

And pray. Pray some more. Cover your family and your homeschool in prayer. Pray with friends. 

Let go and let the Lord lead. There really is no other way.


Get my book: Called Home: Finding Joy in Letting God Lead Your Homeschool

This new edition has a journal section at the end plus 31 verses for your homeschool with lots of writing space!

“This is the most encouraging homeschooling book I’ve ever read! So much truth, let God lead in every choice you make, make your goal to show your children how to live for Him. Very practical and such truth! Definitely, worth the time and money, I’m so glad I found this book!” ~recent review

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A Relationship Requires Communication

I often use this example to share just how much we need to talk and listen to God:

I’ve told my kids:

Mommy and Daddy are married. And we live in the same house. What would it be like if every day, we went about our day and never talked to each other? If in the mornings, we went about our day and didn’t even acknowledge one another? What would it be like if all day, we just walked past each other and didn’t even communicate with one another? If we just lived in the house but never talked? We just walked by each other?

That is what it is like when we walk by our Bibles sitting on our shelves each day!

That is what it is like when we say we are in a relationship with God, but we don’t read His Word and listen to what he has to say!


Now there have certainly been times in my life, especially as a new believer where I have done this very thing. I wanted a relationship with the Lord but found myself communicating very little with Him. And if I was communicating, usually I was doing all the talking.

As I have grown over the years, I have come to fall in love with His Word. It is my life and my very breath. I can’t live without it. And it transforms me.

So that is why I am passionate about passing that on to my children and encouraging others who may be at a place where there Bible reading has become stagnant or maybe even non-existent.

Read the Word


If we are in a relationship with someone we must communicate!

If His Word seems too hard to understand, keep reading! Trust Him to teach you. If you say you don’t have time, then you must prioritize! His Word should come before everything else (Matthew 6:33). If you say you are struggling with getting in the Word, then that is even more the reason to get in it!

The Lord is our ultimate love and we must communicate with Him daily. Talking (praying) and listening (reading His Word.) You don’t have to start with an in depth study, just read it! He is enough and His Word is enough.

I have been so transformed by the Lord. I can’t imagine life without Him. But He must be first in everything we do. We can’t expect to live a life for Him and then put Him off to the side…or His Word off to the side on a bookshelf.

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I encourage you. Just start reading His Word. Make it a habit every single morning that no word will go before your eyes (text, email, etc.) until HIS WORD has gone before your eyes.

You can watch my recent session on being a Transformed Woman of the Word below from my YouTube Channel: 



Jesus is Enough

This summer, I am hosting a women’s retreat in Gettysburg, PA. In a world of excess, we are going to focus on that fact that Jesus is enough. The world will tell you YOU are enough. But truly, HE is enough. He is all we need. We don’t rely on ourselves, or earthly comforts, but on Him alone.  I have lived with it all stripped away, and I have seen that yes, Jesus is enough. In fact, Jesus is MORE than enough.

Early Bird Registration is Open! Join us for this life changing and life-giving event. You will spend two days with other sisters in Christ, tired of what the world offers, and ready to live the life that HE offers.

Check out where I am speaking in 2018—-> SPEAKING (UPDATED)

Listen to the Podcast—-> PODCAST

Watch my YouTube Channel–->YouTube



Taking the “School” Out of Homeschool

I’ve been preparing for my new session at Teach Them Diligently this year – Preparing for Life. Not a Test. I remembered this post from years back and republished it this morning!


 Taking the “School” Out of Homeschool

I don’t know why we use the term homeSCHOOL sometimes.  I have been finding more and more when we take the word “school” out of our day, we actually learn much more.

I spoke last year at an Online conference about Education as an Atmosphere.  I want my home to be a continuous atmosphere of learning.  Not a 9am3pm time of enforced drilling of facts.

A typical day in a homeschool looks like LIFE.  It can range from anything from:

  • a day of research on a topic of the child’s choice
  • an afternoon spent listening to Mozart while painting
  • a day in the yard observing an anthill, a robin’s next, or a bee hive
  • a morning gardening, while learning all about compost, seeds, and zone planting
  • writing creative stories, plays, or poetry
  • a construction project in the home. complete with preliminary plans, blueprints, and the execution of the plan with the proper tools
  • cooking up an authentic cultural feast after weeks spent reading about that country
  • analyzing the nutritional content of your pantry
  • grocery store math, while grocery shopping
  • a day out to see a play or visit a local museum
  • a visit to the local nursing home
  • writing a letter to your sponsor child in Africa
  • designing buildings on the computer
  • helping with the finances by watching dad pay bills and budget (or do taxes!)
  • chores, chores and more chores…all life skills!
  • figuring out the how to build rockets, legos in 3D, and more
  • raising chickens
  • spending the day at work with dad as a mini-intern
  • learning all about how day to day life works by being immersed in it and not a classroom!
The list is truly endless.

Life is a classroom. Life is what we are preparing our children for. What better way to learn that with the hands-on lesson of life?

I have found lately when I loosen the structure {not throw it away}, the kids are free to pursue their interests and that is when they truly learn.

When I don’t see a separation between learning and life…they thrive…

This is a video I love of my boys learning in nature….



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