“A Life of Its Own”

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January 30, 2023

An Interview with a 

Homeschool Mom... 

“It’s interesting to see how our homeschool has a life of its own.  The same thing hasn't worked with every child.”

I recently sat down with a very dear friend of mine and asked her to share the wisdom and insights she has gained from her many homeschooling adventures over the last decade or so.  Personally, this interview was an opportunity for me to glean some valuable insights that sparked new ideas while validating others.  And more than anything, it simply reaffirmed my love of homeschooling.  My hope is that the excerpts I share here will do the same for you, as well…

“Whatever They Would Absorb”

It seems that every family comes to the decision to homeschool in their own way— Jen and her husband knew they would homeschool before ever having children.  For them the decision came as a result of both of their college experiences, which were in stark contrast to what they had experienced in high school.

“It was just so different than anything I had ever experienced in public school.  I felt like if I had had more of that independent study structure that college tends to have, I could have done better in high school and not been forced into a one-size-fits-all peer group…  I felt like that was a better educational environment than public school.”

So when children began to come, the decision had already been made.  “We’ve always considered ourselves a homeschool family and since they were preschool age and younger, we’ve been teaching our kids whatever they would absorb.”

No Bounds

When asked about how her family has benefitted from homeschooling, Jen’s first words were, “The closeness… And the flexibility is fantastic.  Our classroom really has no bounds.  Museum time, documentary time, walks together, all kinds of different activities.  

“My children know what a classroom looks like, but they don’t have to sit in one 5 days a week.  They get the opportunity to enjoy different avenues of learning rather than the sit at your desk, open your notebook kind of thing that happens in most every class period.”

In other words, her kids get to observe, experiment and solve problems on a daily basis.  Yes, both Jen and her husband suggest important activities that they feel their children need to learn, but for the most part, the learning is very student directed, which, in my opinion, is better.  As an outside observer who has had countless opportunities to be in their home, each time I visit I see this philosophy bearing fruit as I consistently observe unique and individual growth in each of their children as they progress in their homeschooling studies.

“I Really Like Liking My Teenagers”

When asked what she likes most about homeschooling, Jen said, “This list is pretty long, but If I’ve got to pick one thing, I’ve got to go with the relationships that we’re building within our home and within our co-op and in that community… And I really like liking my teenagers.

“I’ve been really grateful for the opportunity to be their mentor.  Our conversations enlighten me and I can see them growing on levels that I might not get an opportunity to see if they were learning at the hands of someone else.”

Sunshine and Cupcakes…

Well, actually, to quote Jen more accurately, “Not every day is sunshine and cupcakes!”  As we discussed the things that seem to be a bit harder as a result of their decision to homeschool, she was quick to say, “This one is so easy!  My children are always home and so my house looks like it!

“Our biggest challenge is just keeping everything in its place and everything having a place.  And we ebb and flow.  There was a time period of four years when we didn’t have a baby in the house and then another baby showed up and it was kind of chaotic again.  And as we grow the little ones and teach them it gets better, but there’s always something to clean up.”

If maybe you can relate, just remember what the comedienne Phyllis Diller once said,

“Cleaning house while children are growing is like shoveling snow while it’s still snowing!”

Cheering Each Other On

When asked to describe some of her best homeschooling successes, Jen was quick to talk about how much her kids love interactive lessons.  “Geography especially comes to mind.  We have a really big felt map with movable felt pieces and so we like to quiz the kids that way.  We also just got a new interactive globe.  Any time we bring some kind of new learning tool into the house, the kids get really excited and those days are great.”

“When those kinds of interactive lessons are going on, the kids are really encouraging of each other and they kind of cheer each other on, they’re excited about what they’re learning.  I love the lessons where everyone can get involved and sometimes it takes something tactile so we can involve the younger children.”

Being the Kind of Human

Each of Jen’s children gravitate to certain learning activities more than others.  Her 13 year old absolutely loves to read, a statement I can personally attest to.  Having learned to read when he was four, it seems he has had some kind of book in his hand ever since.  During our interview, Jen shared a particularly special experience she had with him just a few days before…

“Last week, he was reading from Uncle Tom's Cabin, a book that was assigned through his History and English class at the homeschool co-op we’re involved with.  And as I went up to him to remind him of something I needed him to do that day, I could see tears in his eyes.  I looked at what he was reading and said, ‘It looks like you could use a hug.’

“And as I was hugging my boy, I said to him, ‘Thank you so much for being the kind of human who can feel other people’s pain.  And I know that you’re going to grow up and be the kind of man who won’t stand for this or allow this to happen again.  And this is why we take the time to learn these kinds of things about our history because we have to be ready to make the stand so we don’t repeat that kind of history again.’  It was just so touching to see that much of his heart in what he was reading.”

It’s experiences like this that make homeschooling so awesome!

One On One

Jen also shared her thoughts about her 9 year old, who, unlike her brother, has taken much longer to learn how to read.  

“I wish every student could have the one-on-one time that my daughter is getting as I’m teaching her how to read.  When she reads to me, anything she is struggling with we write down in a notebook that we call her Book of Sounds.  It also has a page for homonyms and another page that has become her spelling list.  It’s very specific to what she needs, not one-size-fits-all.”

“Each day I’m seeing more progress.  And I’m excited for her and don’t think she’ll have any limits because whatever it is that has made her slightly slower to read, she’s not going to feel like that takes away from her worth.”

It was also fun to listen to Jen talk about a recent discussion she and her husband had with their almost 15 year old:

“We had a whole big discussion last night about fashion.  We discuss music a lot and last night, as kind of a joke, my husband played this verse of Will Smith’s ‘Parents Just Don’t Understand’ that’s all about what it was like to go with his mom to the thrift store to buy new school clothes. 

“And as I was talking to my teenager, I was saying, ‘Aren’t you grateful that you haven’t had that kind of fashion pressure?’ And he was like, ‘Do I need to learn something?  Am I not cool if I’m not wearing the right clothes?’  And this kid will be 15.  And it’s just something he hasn’t had to stress about.  He’s been able to free up that space in his brain for those things he wants to learn.  And I wonder how much creativity would be squelched in a public school setting if he was worrying about things like that.”

Trust

When asked if she could go back in time and talk to her former self at the beginning of her adventures into homeschooling, Jen’s words were clear and encouraging:  

“Don’t be afraid.  It’s going to be okay.  Your children are going to learn what they need to learn.  And take a deep breath and trust in that process.”

Until next week, may you also take courage in your homeschooling efforts, remember to take a deep breath, and trust in your homeschooling process.

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About the Author...

Leah Stallard

Leah Stallard is the creator of Playing2Learn.com and HomeschoolMomsHub.com and is a teacher, entrepreneur, performer, and speaker. She helps homeschool parents teach more effectively by showing them how to discover and support their children's natural learning abilities. This eliminates contention, whining, and complaining, leading to a love of learning and their children's desire to become self-motivated, mission driven adults with a world class education.

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