S2E10: Tidal Homeschooling: The Ebb & Flow of Home Education | with Melissa Wiley
Published April 17, 2017
61 min
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    We’ve reached the finale of this Brave Writer Lifestyle Series. The past interviews have shared literally decades of homeschool experience, including all of the challenges, discoveries, family relationships, and friendships that have resulted from this Brave Writer lifestyle of love and learning. (Don’t worry! We’ll be back with a new episode next week!)


    We’re going to wrap up the series with the wisdom and wit of the wonderful friend, author and homeschooling pro Melissa Wiley.

    Melissa is mom to “a small army of children” and she has been writing children’s books since 1995, including her Brave Writer featured book The Prairie Thief (affiliate link). In 2005, Melissa started her blog Here in the Bonny Glen to document her family adventures – it’s my favorite homeschooling blog and it’s hilarious, so make sure you head over there and read it.

    Melissa will also be teaching two Brave Writer classes in the Spring! One class is about comic strips and the other is titled “Penning the Past.”

    Melissa was drawn to many of the great ideas in Unschooling, Charlotte-Mason and the classical method – but she didn’t like how strict the teaching methodologies were. She found that her family was constantly learning in different ways.


    Shifting between more and less structure was working, though. The tide would come in and the tide would go out, but they were learning at every level. She observed her home education style and coined the term Tidal Homeschooling. It’s not a method, it’s a description.

    • High Tide – The family charters the ship and maps out the journey. The parents are the captain and the children are the crew. They’re open to side trips and adventure, but the captain is in charge and there’s a planned course of action.
    • Low Tide – The family is at the beach. The children are all wandering along the shore, exploring their own interests. Although the children are all doing their own thing, the parents are still involved and can act as a facilitator.


    Everyone is present at every stage of the journey, but their roles may change along the way.

    One of the benefits of looking at home education through the lens of Tidal Homeschooling is recognizing that we go through these seasonal changes. Tying ourselves to only one point of view about learning sometimes limits our creativity and causes us to miss a natural ebb and flow in how learning gets expressed by our children.

    When I talk about the Enchanted Education I talk about surprise, mystery, risk and adventure. It can be an adventure to go solo, but it can also be an adventure to participate in a well-prepared lesson or plan.

    It’s a beautiful metaphor that expresses how the seasonal shift can make us feel and why we should move with the flow of things rather than fighting it.


    Melissa’s oldest child is in college right now, and overall she feels that Tidal Homeschooling was an effective primary education.

    • During her first year, Melissa’s daughter realized, laughing through tears, that she didn’t have a bad teacher until she was 18.
    • She said she could have used more practice doing timed tests.
    • While many of her peers relayed a high school experience full of pressure and AP classes, Melissa’s daughter loved her high school years.


    Melissa’s husband, Scott Peterson, is a comic book author. Her kids grew up on comics and comics played a role in their home education.

    The images support the text and the text supports the images, and so kids have multiple shots at decoding comics. They can actually invite children into decoding risks and provide them with the courage to read.

    Melissa’s 3rd daughter learned to read using The Adventures of Tintin. Her youngest child did the same thing with Calvin & Hobbes. The vocabulary is often more advanced than what you might find in an early reader’s book, too.


    “She had so much motivation to decode those words in the bubbles, in the balloons, because she wanted to have the whole story, not just the half that the art was telling.”


    The images can also offer assistance to children who struggle with reading. The art will help them make sense of the story, and going through that process teaches them to decode context clues for meaning.

    We’re in a golden age when it comes to comic books for kids. They’re bound in sturdy collections that can stand up to young children, distributed digitally, and available at most libraries.


    To close out this Brave Writer Podcast Series, here are Melissa’s five things that should fill every child’s day (based on Charlotte-Mason):

    1. Good books
    2. Imaginative Play
    3. Meaningful Work
    4. Encounters with Beauty
    5. Ideas to Ponder and Discuss


    You can download show notes for the podcast here: http://blog.bravewriter.com/category/podcasts/



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