Dirt Road Days of Homeschooling

Dirt Road Days of Homeschooling

Dirt Road Days


by Audra Talley


Ah, the sweet lazy days of summer where the cool shade of the tree in the backyard beckons me. I decide that today is one of those days, so I head to the back yard, blanket in hand. My kids, who were scattered all over the house, somehow know I have exited and come traipsing after me. For the next hour we lay under that tree, everyone gazing up through the leafy green light filtering through the tree, examining the puffy white clouds as they scuttle across the sky. In the background I can hear the water of the ditch bank rippling past. I breathe a sigh. Wait! That isn’t the sound water flowing in the ditch bank! It’s the sound of my overflowing sink! I jerk back to reality just in time to prevent a major disaster. Upstairs the kids sound like they are engaged in an epic battle, the outcome of which will determine who gets to use that tiny Lego piece. My imaginary dirt road fantasy fizzles into thin air.


I don’t know about you, but I love dirt roads. There is something so inviting about that dirt track that begs to be followed. Each bend could lead to a never before seen moment, a chance to see nature “declare their Maker’s praise.” I have been known to divert from a well-planned road trip (or shopping trip, or drive home from church) onto an unknown route for the simple sake of seeing something new. I also keep a summer bucket list of unvisited, un-experienced dirt road adventures and try to check off a few every year. Adventure has been the byword of many of our excursions, big and small.


I am all about those dirt roads in everyday life, but when it comes to our academic home school life, I struggle. I often joke that my heart beats Charlotte Mason and my brain is wired Classical. I start off every school year with Charlotte-inspired dirt roads, but end up in the well-traveled ruts of classical structure. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I worry that if I let us wander too far down any dirt roads we’ll get lost along the winding way and my children’s education will seriously lack the hard skills they need for future success.


Letting go of academic expediency and letting us wander down the winding way of whim and discovery is a challenge, but I am learning to let them intertwine. It is seeing that the diligent rigor of math needs to intermingle with the gentle freedom of art, that the paved road of phonics needs an occasional detour down the dirt road of self expression. It is in being okay with both, letting God show us the one to take, and trusting Him to guide us to where we need to be. Ultimately, I need to remember that God isn’t found at the end of a math book or upon completion of a grammar lesson or a particular grade on a test. God is found in the pages of His Word and He reveals Himself in His creation, in the lives of those who seek Him, and in His work in our hearts as we travel all of life’s roads.


So, this summer I am practicing real home school dirt road days (not just imaginary ones). It is okay, laugh. For those of us who are naturally wired to be more structured, practice is exactly what we need and I am letting the lyrics of This Is My Father’s World inspire me. Our first venture was a bit disjointed (okay, very). It took twice as long to get to our destination as it should have, I left behind half of what we needed for the day, and we stayed for twice as long as I intended. But we adapted, we enjoyed the time, and while my “classical” mind questions my kids’ retention of the academic material, I have no doubt that it was exactly what God intended it to be.

This Is My Father’s World

By: Maltbie D. Babcock

This is my Father’s world,
And to my list’ning ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees,
of skies and seas—
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world:
The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their Maker’s praise.

This is my Father’s world:
He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world:
Oh, let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world,
The battle is not done:
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.


Audra Talley was born and raised in Idaho, was homeschooled K-12, and graduated from CofI with a degree in political science and history. She is currently a full time domestic engineer and homeschooling momma. Married to the man of her dreams for nearly 12 years, Audra and her husband have four children (16, 8, 6, almost 4 years of age). The youngest is the only girl in the bunch. The Talley family loves spending time together and does lots of fishing, camping, hiking (anything outdoors). Calling Nampa home, Audra is involved in her church, various homeschool activities, and whatever adventures pop up.

Committed to helping parents fulfill their God-given right and responsibility to educate their own children.