I would like to introduce you to a dear friend of mine for this week’s Homeschool Interview. She is an amazing woman who loves her husband and serves her family with a loving heart. Michelle and Jon have four, absolutely beautiful, children: 1 biological and 3 adopted siblings. They range from almost 20 to 13 years old.
I met them on an Above Rubies retreat in Colorado many, many years ago. Michelle’s sweet disposition instantly drew me to her and we have stayed in touch. I’ve been blessed to watch her family grow.
Why did you start homeschooling? Do you still homeschool for that reason? Is there more reason or different reasons now?
We always wanted to homeschool. My husband was homeschooled and we felt this was the best way to raise our kids. We love the idea of customizing our courses to their particular needs and talents, to teach strong family values and maximize the short time we have them before they launch. As they’ve gotten older we realized the importance of keeping them home during the tough preteen years and beyond. We did attempt a semester at a Christian high school and quickly discovered this was not best for us. There’s so much peer pressure and negative influences we have found that it’s easier to navigate and manage when they have more time at home than the typical school child. They still encounter those pressures and influences but it’s not as overwhelming or unsettling as it was when it was in your face 8-10 hours a day. Also the hours spent at school and then doing homework was overwhelming. We missed the extra family time.
What is the most challenging part about a typical homeschool day?
Getting my social one to stop talking and get to work.
What scares you the most about homeschooling?
I used to be afraid that I wasn’t doing enough or that my kids would not learn what they needed. Our brief experience in a private school taught me that even though I “thought” my kids were behind and struggling in reality my kids are actually doing great and have a better grasp on academics and the how life works in the real world. In many subjects they were advanced for their grade level.
What is your favorite thing about homeschooling?
I love the flexibility we have to slow down and take time to truly master a difficult topic. That’s something traditional schools cannot do. My husband has an unconventional work schedule and homeschooling allows the kids to actually see him. At times we have taken our school and traveled with him.
Who is your homeschool mentor? Who taught you the ropes or you look up to? Why?
Hmm, when I began, it was my mother in law, then I was inspired by Lorrie Flem of TEACH magazine (no longer in print).
How is dad involved with your homeschool?
Currently my husband is teaching math to my 14 year old. I LOVE this!
What does a typical homeschool day look like for you?
We start with math and rotate kids through the computer. If it’s not your turn on the computer you work on spelling, enrichment class homework. History reading is sometimes all together as a read aloud or sometimes alone on specific assignments.
Do you have a designated school area or school all over the house?
Ha! We do have a designated space but we rarely use it. Typically it’s the living room or kitchen.
Are you part of a Homeschool Co-Op? And do you serve or teach in any way?
We have an enrichment program. I love to have the day to visit with the other moms in the lounge area or run errands.
What outside activities are your children involved in?
Youth group, Harp lessons, gymnastics, theater and occasional sports.
How do you provide quiet work space for each child?
We use headphones with classical music.
How do you divide your time to help each child?
I rotate their work around needs. E.G. I do math with child 1 while child 2 and 3 are working on a writing assignment or individual reading assignments.
Have you thought about what you will do after your children graduate? Looking forward to it or not?
I’ve thought a lot about this but no specific set in stone ideas. We may adopt again or do foster care. I might just look for opportunities to invest in others and spoil my grand kids. I think I’m a mix of looking forward to it and being sad. I mean I’ve been at this for 17 years so change might be nice once I get through them all!
Do you work from home currently?
No. I did babysit for a family during a rough financial patch but I find working from home stretched me too much and I wasn’t able to accomplish everything to my standards. I prefer to just be a mom and I’m thankful that I can.
Do you plan to go to work after your children graduate?
Uncertain. I’d love to own a bookstore with a little coffee shop but who knows what God will bring along.
Any tips or tricks you have learned along the way?
Don’t compare yourself or your kids to others. Everyone’s homeschool journey is different and that’s the beauty of homeschooling. Find a curriculum that you love and works with your skills, needs and schedule. It’s ok to go slow. Don’t be afraid to switch things up if something isn’t working. You know your family best, trust your instincts and give yourself grace in the journey. The goal isn’t to test well but to learn the material. What good is a test with 100% if you can’t remember it in a week. Focus on the learning and the rest will follow.