In this episode, Pam Barnhill interviews Robin Ludwig, a homeschooling parent who has discovered the beauty of setting up her homeschool year according to seasons. Robin shares her journey and how she incorporated classical, Charlotte Mason, and unit study approaches into different seasons of the year.
Listeners will gain insights into the benefits of seasonal homeschooling and how it can bring joy and simplicity to their own homeschooling experience.
- The simplicity of setting up a homeschool year according to seasonal routines.
- How to prioritize different homeschooling approaches based on the seasons.
- The importance of establishing critical routines for success.
- Leverage unit studies and nature study during specific seasons for maximum engagement.
- Embrace interest-led learning during the summer months.
- Listen to the bonus audio with Robin that we just couldn’t fit into the show!
- Tactical Motherhood
- Poetry Tea Time
- Robin’s website
- Tidal Homeschooling episode with Melissa Wiley
Listen to the Podcast
Pam Barnhill [00:00:03]:
When I first heard about this style of homeschooling from my guest a few years ago, I was just blown away by this idea. I love the simplicity of setting up your homeschool year according to seasonal routines, and I think you’re going to love it too. Hi, everyone. My name is Pam Barnhill, and I have helped thousands of Homeschoolers beat burnout, create doable systems, and bring more joy to their homeschool day. Welcome to episode 81 of the 10 Minutes to A Better Homeschool podcast. Today, I am interviewing a longtime friend and community member, Robin Ludwig. And A couple of years ago, I was interviewing Robin for something else, and we started talking about how she sets up her homeschool year according to seasons, and how she prioritizes different things in different seasons of the year. Now I talked to Melissa Wiley a number of years ago about tidal homeschooling, but Robin’s twist on it was just a little bit different. And I love the concept so much, I wanted to share it with you. So we’re gonna jump right in to that interview.
Robin Ludwig is a best selling author, poet, tea connoisseur, and retired United States Air Force first sergeant. She loves traveling the globe with her husband, homeschooling her 2 boys, and serving in various ministries. In her recent book, tactical motherhood, a field guide for victory on the home front. Robin explores the principles of military service with aspects of spiritual warfare in the home. Robin, welcome to the podcast. Hello, friend.
Pam Barnhill [00:01:47]:
It is so great to have you here. Robin and I have known each other for years years. In years, she has been a wonderful member of our community. And I’m gonna tell you, like well, first of all, just go ahead and tell us a little bit about your homeschool, and then I’ll tell you why Robin’s here.
Robin Ludwig [00:02:03]:
So I’ve been homeschooling. My my boys are now 9 and 11. We’ve always homeschooled. I’m a former high school English teacher. I’ve taught in Texas and the United Kingdom, and I just knew when I had my own kids, we’re not doing that. And so for us, it’s just there’s been a lot of freedom. We can travel together, and I’m an author and editor on the side. And so I would describe our homeschool as Classically, Charlotte Mason with a twist, and then we’ve leaned into a seasonal schedule that really just fits our lives and our personalities Really well.
Pam Barnhill [00:02:37]:
Yeah. And I like to call it classical Centimeters inspired, you know, because That’s good. That yeah. That’s that’s similar to to what we’ve we’ve always done. Well okay. So Robin is here because I actually did an interview with her just for something else, not even for a podcast, just for some product development stuff that we were doing a couple years ago because she was such a a vital member of our community. And she whipped out this Paige with 4 blocks on it, and each block represented 1 season of the year. And she said, This is how my homeschool changes each season, and I thought, oh, this is so good.
Pam Barnhill [00:03:17]:
So explain to us this seasonal homeschooling idea that you have.
Robin Ludwig [00:03:24]:
So we fell into it naturally just going off our own personal bent. And then at some point along the way, I I was reading I think it was Julie Bogart’s Brave Learner, and she used the term. And I felt so affirmed with my life choices. Like, I’m doing a thing on my own that this amazing, you know, homeschool, expert had mentioned. And so for us, The natural rhythms that we fell into, I just kinda I used all of the planning methods I learned from this beautiful golden haired homeschool guru named Pam. And it just works. So in the fall, we hit the classical model really hard because we’re coming off of a a summertime, which I’ll get to in a minute, but we established those critical routines that set you up for success the rest of the year. Morning time, you know, we’ve got a co op that That starts around the fall.
Robin Ludwig [00:04:12]:
We make sure we have reimplemented poetry tea time if we’ve kinda fallen off that wagon through travel in the summer, and we just established those beautiful routines that get us through. And so the classical model really takes center stage in the fall. We never really Stop it, but that’s where I make sure it is firm in place, and I’m not gonna add anything else at that point. In Texas, it feels like we have, you know, A 1000 years every year of summer with very hot temperatures. And so we don’t do a lot of nature studies when it’s hot outside because I wait So all the venomous snakes are in brumation, which leads us into getting into the winter season where we try to get outside more. And I learned early on, I am not a unit study mom, but I am a unit study mom for a period of time. I learned in the military. I can do something for about 90 days before I’m gonna hit a wall.
Robin Ludwig [00:05:07]:
And so we have this amazing advent study that we focus on in the winter. It’s so beautiful, and that’s not something I’m ever willing to give up. And we have an amazing book box with all of our Christmas and advent books, and my kids love painting. I can’t say that I always love painting because there’s always a mess involved in it. So I have given us guardrails and the and the I’ve solved for yes to make painting And arts and crafts and all that goes along with it, they that takes center stage in the winter for unit studies. We have this art advent, Sort of unit study mindset. And then when we move into spring, we have this amazing weather before the snakes are awake. That’s when We really lean into the Charlotte Mason mindset.
Robin Ludwig [00:05:56]:
We are gonna be outside doing lessons as much as possible, and they’re still classically minded lessons. But if we can do it while walking through the woods or set up a blanket outside and and do a nature study and observe and watercolor and all those Fun things with the Nature Journal, yes, please. And then we really lean into the Passover and the Lenten season. And so we’re able to Do all of that Charlotte Mason style learning in that beautiful season of spring to really glean everything we can out of that season. And then when summer rolls around, it gets unschooling. Not like total complete, you guys do whatever you want, but it is family read alouds as much as possible. We do the our Local libraries summer book reading program. They both read over a 100 hours this summer.
Robin Ludwig [00:06:42]:
They want a fire truck ride. Like, this is Real incentive for reading, and it’s interest led. 1 year my oldest wanted to learn how to become a survivalist. So I’m like, alright. Let’s get all of Bear Gryll’s books. He has a series for kids. I’m like, let’s read those, and you can learn, and then we’ll go to survival camp in the fall when the snakes go to sleep.
Pam Barnhill [00:07:01]:
Okay. I love this so much because and I spent so many years of my homeschooling journey thinking, okay. You know, just as an example, I wanna do nature study. You know? I wanna do nature study, and I wanna be the kind of mom that goes on these nature walks. And so at the beginning of the school year, For us, which was in July or August, I would say this year, we’re going to do nature studies. And we failed miserably at it because, you know, you live in Texas. We live in Alabama. And, yes, snakes and just the heat and the humidity and all of that stuff.
Pam Barnhill [00:07:37]:
And so by the end of the first one, honestly, but, you know, maybe 2 maybe 2 weeks in, then I was just like, oh, yeah. We’re not we’re not nature study people. And I would put that label and that identity on myself when really, Maybe I just needed to start nature study in November. It wasn’t the for it. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. When it cools off.
Pam Barnhill [00:07:59]:
And For you folks who are sitting there going, it doesn’t cool off in at her house until November. No. It doesn’t. We run our application for 11 months out of the year. You know? And so, so yeah. And and then the same thing with poetry teatime. Like, you don’t do poetry teatime in the summer. That’s not part of your summer season because it’s too My
Robin Ludwig [00:08:20]:
youngest right. My youngest, though, he loves it so much. He knows at 2 o’clock every day, it is tea time. And that little man, he will pull up and he’ll get a tray. He’ll get his treat. He’ll get the teapot out, and he’ll be like, it’s it’s tea time. And so it’s become such a habit now In, you know, in certain seasons, it hits those guardrails. Now that’s his.
Robin Ludwig [00:08:39]:
Like, if he wants his tea time, it’s gonna happen at 2 o’clock every day no matter what we’ve got going on, and
Pam Barnhill [00:08:44]:
that’s all. Yeah. That’s funny because now that’s part of his identity. But but you could say, you know what? We’re not gonna fool with tea time until the winter quarter. You know? This is how we’re gonna do it. And this is so good too for families who, obviously, who are doing year round schooling, but also families who don’t even necessarily want to do year round school, but they feel like I need to wrap my mind around some kind of routine for the summer so that we comp don’t completely go off our schedule, and there’s just, like, chaos around here. But if I say, oh, we’re going to be unschooling in the summer, and these are the things we’re gonna do, then you know? And the and this very much is. Robin has sat down.
Pam Barnhill [00:09:29]:
She’s divided her paper into 4 quadrants. She’s labeled the seasons at the top, and then she’s she’s kind of put into those boxes what works for those seasons, and it’s it is a plan in a way for what you’re doing. Right? Yes.
Robin Ludwig [00:09:46]:
Yeah. I came came up with these questions, and it was right before one of my last deployments with the military because I was I was needing to be centered Physically, emotionally, spiritually, all those things. And so just what season is it? We all have different seasons of life, and we have actual literal seasons in nature. And then for me, it’s what are the 3 essentials for this season? So when I originally sat down with those questions, And I’m sure some other amazing homeschool guru or author first posed those. I couldn’t tell you who at this point, but that was for me at a season of, like, Just life change and life planning, but I was able to take that and apply it to homeschooling. What’s the literal season, and what are Our top 3 essentials for this that I’m not willing to give up.
Pam Barnhill [00:10:32]:
Right. Right. And so, I’m I’m trying to think back and remember your list. Are there only 3 things on the list for each season, or do you kind of put a couple of other things and then, like, these are just the priorities? Yeah. There are only 3 things on the list, Robbie. Thing. Okay. We’re we’re gonna have to have a picture of that to put into the, into the show notes for everybody so they can see.
Pam Barnhill [00:10:53]:
And I love that even more because now we’ve listed our 3 priorities, and that doesn’t mean that those are the only things you do. Right?
Robin Ludwig [00:11:03]:
Pam Barnhill [00:11:04]:
Those those are just the priorities that you have.
Robin Ludwig [00:11:09]:
Yeah. The word math is not On that piece of paper at all, but you better believe, math happens every season.
Pam Barnhill [00:11:15]:
I love it. I love it. So it’s just kind of your your focus. So what fruits have you seen come out of this approach to setting priorities?
Robin Ludwig [00:11:25]:
This is this is the amazing part, and oftentimes for me, Fruit doesn’t come when I’m looking for it. The fruit that I’ve noticed, it doesn’t always come when I’m looking for it. There will be an adult who will pull me aside, and they’ll wanna talk to me about 1 of my kids. And usually, you have that heart attack, what have they done reaction, But they’ll they’ll say, I overheard your kids talking. They’re so polite. They’re so smart. What do you do with your kids? And a lot of these people, you know, in Theater, karate, or places where they are without me all the time. They don’t always know that we homeschool.
Robin Ludwig [00:11:59]:
And so the fruit is when other adults are like, there’s something different about your kids. It’s awesome. What is it? Yesterday, I was really struggling. I have a chronic pain issue with my shoulder, and by 9:30, I was tapped out. I was like, I guys. I’m sorry. And then my husband, he was able to to step in for for quite a bit of stuff, and I just Left to try and go rest, and he sent me a video of the older one helping the younger one with his writing. He was teaching him to do a keyword outline, teaching him to write his paragraph, and I’m like, that is beautiful where The goal is not to make them learn everything they could possibly learn.
Robin Ludwig [00:12:41]:
Can you teach yourself anything that you need to know For the world in which we live, for whatever god has put in your heart, and can you teach others? And so that’s been really beautiful. It’s the way that they treat each other. It’s in conversation, you know, with myself or with other people or with grandparents. They’ll just say these incredibly wise, insightful, Educated things, and I would love to take credit for it, but it’s because they’ve they’re learning organically. And so the fruit is so Beautiful and it just kinda pops up. There’ll be seasons where you don’t see fruit in homeschool, but you have to hold on to that hope of, you know, this is when the roots are growing deep. This is not the season for fruit, but that season is coming. And when it’s there, just to notice all of those amazing things that they, have taken ownership of.
Robin Ludwig [00:13:27]:
And so the fruit is just incredibly beautiful. Like my oldest, he’s published a couple of books. My youngest, he will engineer anything. He made a A mini model of a putt putt golf course he wanted to design, and then he has some golf greens, and he made it life size and had us play around in the dining room.
Pam Barnhill [00:13:46]:
So you really attribute the fruits that you see to the kind of the organic learning that’s going on. Okay. Real quick before we go because we are pushing our time limit here. How you you mentioned the math. You just mentioned a writing curriculum, and I have a feeling that writing does not show up on that piece of paper anywhere either. So how do you marry these seasonal priorities with kind of the the skill work? Is it just that you have seasonal priorities and you have skill work and but the priorities are the priorities? How does that work?
Robin Ludwig [00:14:22]:
That’s a really great question. So when I’m able to really establish that classical mindset in the fall of and then we we never stopped doing math. We may not do math single day throughout the summer, but it’s just part of a rhythm of our day. And okay. So we have this writing curriculum that we will start in the fall. And when it comes to winter and spring, when we can be outside a little more, we’re gonna take that riding to the park. We’re gonna sit outside at a picnic table and we can do math there, or why don’t you run and go down the slide and come back and do another math problem? So there are ways that I can incorporate it into those priorities, where it still happens because I do want them to learn the art of composition. I do want them to be able to do their taxes one day, and so certain certain skill sets are just roped in all year long, but they may they have a different flavor with each season.
Pam Barnhill [00:15:19]:
Okay. I love that. I love that so much. Well, Robin, thank you for introducing us to this idea. You know, years ago, I had Melissa Wiley on, one of the earlier podcasts to talk about title homeschooling. And it it was a very similar concept, but you were the 1st person your mind works a little more like mine where it’s like, okay. We’re gonna do this, priority thing, but we’re gonna structure it. And you’re the 1st person that I’ve ever seen to do something like that, and I think that that will appeal to a lot of our listeners.
Pam Barnhill [00:15:50]:
So, Robin, tell everybody where they can find you.
Robin Ludwig [00:15:53]:
You can find me on Instagram @mrs.robin.ludwig, and my website is robinludwigwrites.com.
Pam Barnhill [00:16:02]:
Love it. Thank you. Thank you. And there you have it. Now I will tell you sometimes I am really, We’re really hampered by this 10 minute format, though. If you listen to the podcast very often, you realize that sometimes we go to 12, 15, or even 17 minutes. But we really try to keep it to 10 minutes on the podcast. I still had so many questions to ask Robin.
Pam Barnhill [00:16:30]:
And so what we did was we stopped recording, hit record again, and we actually recorded a few more minutes of questions that I had for her. So if you head on over to the show notes for this episode of the podcast, we’ve included that extra audio clip as a little Bonus for you. So if you would like even more information, from my interview with Robin, you can head on over and listen to that bonus audio. That’s at pambarnhill.com/tmbh81. And finally, one of the things that most homeschoolers start thinking about at this time of year is planning for Christmas. And no worries, we’ve got you covered. Come on over to pambarnhill.com/christmas to get our free Christmas traditions morning time explorations. These are our gift to you that you can use this Christmas season.
Now we’re gonna give you this gift, but we’re gonna give you an extra gift. We’re gonna give you the extra Gift of no guilt for your homeschool Christmas. That’s what we’re talking about on the next episode of the podcast. How do you weave these wonderful Christmas things into your December without any of the guilt. So I will be back in a couple of weeks with that particular or podcast topic, and I hope you join me for that one. Until then, keep on homeschooling.
Watch on YouTube:
- A No-Guilt Approach to Christmas School - November 17, 2023
- Revolutionize Your Homeschool Routine: Unlocking the Potential of Seasonal Homeschooling - November 3, 2023
- Introducing the Wonder World Podcast - October 20, 2023
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