Join Yvette Hampton as she tells Israel Wayne the story of how she and Garritt began homeschooling their daughters and why they went out to make Schoolhouse Rocked. In this episode Israel also discusses the rise of public education and home education and contrasts the story of Schoolhouse Rocked and Indoctrination, which he was also involved with. Israel is a great friend of the Schoolhouse Rocked team and has been an important part of the movie, the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, and the Homegrown Generation Family Expo.
The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast is turning 125! THANK YOU for being part of this amazing ministry. Please join Yvette Hampton and Aby Rinella for some fun homeschool trivia, a LIVE Q&A, a discussion about what’s happened and what’s coming with Schoolhouse Rocked, and more fun homeschooling encouragement. Can’t wait to see you there! Listen to the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast at Podcast.SchoolhouseRocked.com
One of the greatest blessings of homeschooling is that it is generational. Homeschooling builds a LEGACY. Because of this simple fact, it is critical that we take seriously the motivation, direction, methods, and values of our homeschooling, because these will do so much to determine what that legacy is. Is our desire to train spelling bee champions, professional athletes, doctors, lawyers, engineers, pastors, missionaries, mothers or fathers, leaders, or followers?
It is helpful to know WHY we are homeschooling in order to establish HOW we will homeschool. Once we have determined the “why” and “how” of homeschooling, the real challenge begins. It is at this point that we realize we must MODEL for our children what we want them to be, because we know that “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” – Luke 6:40 (NIV)
Barb and Rich Heki, of Grandparents of Homeschoolers, have seen the generational impact of homeschooling. As homeschool parents and grandparents themselves, they are committed to encouraging, inspiring and equipping grandparents to lovingly support, actively engage in and fully delight in the home-education adventure of their grandchildren – whether they live locally or long-distance. They also understand the importance of breaking down the resistance of grandparents who don’t understand homeschooling or support their children who homeschool or are considering homeschooling. As advocates of multi-generational family discipleship (because education IS discipleship), they are excited to be ministering to grandparents of homeschoolers, connecting the generations through home education.
Yvette Hampton recently had the privilege of interviewing Barb and Rich Heki for The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. In this conversation they discussed the Biblical instruction for grandparents to disciple their grandchildren, which is given in Psalm 78, and they revealed the most effective way to break down the resistance of grandparents who oppose homeschooling – to get them involved!
Whether you are a parent or grandparent, child or grandchild, we hope you will be blessed by their discussion.
Yvette Hampton: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. I am thrilled that you’ve joined me today. I have two very special guests on with me today. Barb and Rich Heki. Some of you may have heard their names. They are also the founders of Grandparents of Homeschoolers. So today, we are going to talk about all things having to do with our own parents, and grandparents, and grandparents of your kids. Barb and Rich, welcome to the podcast.
Yvette Hampton: I am delighted to have you on. We actually had you both as part of the Homegrown Generation Family Expo. It was just such an amazing event, and so I’m glad to have you back on talking about being grandparents of homeschoolers. There’s so much to talk about with this topic. I was actually talking to my mom, and I’ll have you introduce yourselves in just a minute, but I wanted to say I was talking to my mom last night, and I was telling her how much I appreciated the fact that when we started homeschooling, we never got any kind of resistance from her.
Yvette Hampton: My mom in the beginning, and actually I was talking to her, but I was talking about all of our parents. My mom, and my dad, and my husband’s mom and dad. When we first went down this road, we had said we’d never homeschool, and then all of a sudden we go to this homeschool convention and we came back, and we were so excited, and we were like, “We’re going to homeschool, and we’re going to do this forever.” We were just so excited about it.
Yvette Hampton: None of our parents really understood it, but none of them gave us resistance about it. They just said, “Okay, if this is what you guys think is best.” I think part of that is we had been married quite a long time. By the time Brooklyn, my oldest, was going into kindergarten, we’d been married for 15 years, and so we were well-established in our adult life, and we were in our mid-30s. So I think they’ve trusted us. We had proven that, “Okay we can make logical and wise decisions for our family, and we had taken really good care of their grandchild so far.” So they trusted us to do that.
Yvette Hampton: I know that that’s not the case with all parents. I’m grateful for our parents and their support even though they didn’t totally get it. You guys have an amazing ministry, not just to grandparents though your ministry is to grandparents, but it’s also to parents who are trying to figure out what this homeschool thing is. So, tell us a little bit about your family and how you got started in this ministry.
Rich Heki: Well, we have four adult children. We homeschooled them all the way through, and they’re all walking with the Lord, and that’s one thing we are so grateful for. We have been blessed so far with three grandchildren. The only bad part about that is they don’t live right near us. They live over a thousand miles away. One of the components of Grandparents of Homeschoolers is we talk about how we communicate, stay in touch with our grandchildren when they are a distance away from us, so we can still stay engaged in their lives. We can talk about that more later. Anything else you want to know?
Barb Heki: Lots of long distance grand-parenting out there. The ministry actually got started when we were leaders in our state organization, and we went to a different state’s convention to just get ideas, and they were having a grandparent tea, and we weren’t grandparents then, but if we asked if we could go just to observe. We saw the grandparents just connecting with each other. The ones who came and just weren’t really sure about this homeschooling thing were sold by the grandparents who were so excited, and they were involved in different ways. We just saw that, and oh my goodness, that was the seed of this ministry.
Barb Heki: The convention thing that you talked about, yeah how excited you were, we encourage grandparents to go to conventions whether they’re online like the one you just had, or whether they’re on site, just go to all of them. Because that’s where they capture the vision, and they get ideas, and they get excited about what they can do.
Yvette Hampton: Right, because then they feel like they can be part of this whole homeschooling experience for their grandkids, which I think is exciting, because when you think about kids who go to traditional school, how often if grandparents are local, how often do grandparents go to the kids’ school play and their sports activities, and all the things that grandparents, their award ceremonies, things like that. I know my parents and my husband’s parents have really worked to do that with my nieces who are in traditional school.
Yvette Hampton: It’s great to be able to help them figure out how they can play a role of encouragement without playing the role of leadership in the education of their grandkids, because obviously there’s a big difference. You’ve got every so often we hear of those grandparents who really want to be controlling and tell their kids, “This is how you should raise your kids, and this is what you should do,” instead of just trusting that, “You know what, you did a good job raising your kids.” Trust that they’re doing the best job for their family as well.
Yvette Hampton: Wait, we’ve talked a lot in the movie about how education is discipleship. I am so blessed to hear that your four adult children are walking with the Lord, because that’s not always the case. Certainly, there are parents who love Jesus, and they’ve led their children to Jesus, and their children have chosen to walk away, but I’m encouraged to know that your kids are all walking the straight neuropath. Talk about as your children were growing up, as you were raising your kids, because you homeschooled all four of your kids all the way through, correct, from kindergarten through 12th grade?
Barb Heki: Yes, we did.
Yvette Hampton: So as you did that, and you guys were back in maybe not so much the early pioneer days of homeschooling, but maybe at the tail end of that, but back in the day where maybe it wasn’t as widely accepted as it is now. Did you homeschool because you were running from something, because of discipleship? What was your reason behind it?
Rich Heki: Let’s see if we can synthesize this. Because of where our oldest son fell in his age where his birthday was, we had the opportunity basically to decide to put him in school a later year. The suburb we lived in at the time, they had just opened a brand new preschool, and they got a bunch of new teachers in there, because the teachers were all excited to be in this new facility, and everybody’s really excited about it. Then they had an open house, so people that didn’t have children in the school could check it out. So we went and when we left the school we had absolutely no peace.
Rich Heki: But because of where Sonny, our oldest son’s birthday fell, we had a whole year to make a decision. We used that time to research, and my wife, we’ll probably come to know just researches everything. She was discussing lamenting about the situation with a friend of hers. We thought of sending him to the Christian school, but it was really not possible for us to afford to do that. So she was lamenting to her friend, “We don’t know what we’re going to do.” Her friend said, “Why don’t you homeschool?” Barb says, “Homeschool? What’s that?”
Rich Heki: So she explained what it was, and we started learning about that. At first, I was a little reluctant. I said, “Well, all right maybe we could try this, but we’ll give it like I don’t know, six months or maybe at the most a year, but let’s see how we do for six months.” I’ll tell you, within probably a few weeks after starting the homeschool, we were fully convinced this was the way to go. Then it got to the point where it’s like, “Wow, even if we had the option, I’m sending our children to the Christian school, we would choose homeschooling even over that.”
Barb Heki: Right. If we got a free ride for all 12 years, we’d turn it down. There is no way.
Yvette Hampton: Me too.
Rich Heki: So God really did a work in us. Once we really understood what homeschooling was about, and actually started getting involved and doing it ourselves, we were convinced this is the way that God wanted us to raise our children.
Barb Heki: What’s neat now that we see at conferences is we see these young married couples coming to homeschooling conferences, and registering for online conferences, and they don’t have any kids yet. They’re already researching homeschooling. We waited until our son turned five and panicked.
Rich Heki: Yeah, we waited till our back are against the wall basically.
Barb Heki: So, I love it. Just seeing the vision that they have, and they are bringing the grandparents along, and the grandparents are getting excited about it, and they’re looking at all this curriculum, and getting ideas, and it’s really neat.
Rich Heki: Yeah, it’s been a blessing.
Yvette Hampton: It’s such an exciting thing, because even with parenting, I started reading parenting books, and I started talking to people about parenting, and thinking through, “Okay, when we have children, how are we going to do this, this, and this?” Of course, I was one of those moms who thought, “Well, when we have kids, our kids will never throw tantrums in the grocery store.” I was the perfect parent, but it’s the same with homeschooling and that if you know that that’s the direction that you want your family to go, you can certainly start preparing for it.
Yvette Hampton: I love hearing from moms, and I have a couple of friends who listen to the podcast who don’t have kids yet, and they listen to this podcast, which is primarily about homeschooling. It’s such a blessing to me, because it’s so much fun to think, I love that they’re preparing their hearts in order to prepare the hearts of their children, and for a life that is honoring to the Lord.
Yvette Hampton: We are talking about discipleship and about the importance of parents discipling their children. I want to talk about grandparents, because this is your ministry. I know you talk about how, and Psalm 78, the Bible actually exhorts grandparents to disciple the hearts of their children and grandchildren. Talk about that, about how that would work. How can grandparents come alongside their grandchildren and help disciple them?
Rich Heki: Since you brought that verse up, would it be all right if I read that?
Yvette Hampton: Sure.
Rich Heki: So, Psalm 78:1-8, it reminds us this, “My people, hear my teaching. Listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable. I will utter hidden things, things from of all, things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants, we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.
Rich Heki: Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. They would not be like their ancestors, a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.
Barb Heki: It’s a worldview change or a change in mindset to try and get grandparents who maybe solid Christians, but they have always viewed school or they view homeschooling now as education, and parents view it as discipleship, because that’s what it is. So that’s the vision we’re trying to get grandparents to grasp is it’s not a separate thing. They disciple the grandkids through everything they’re doing with them. Every moment is 24/7, it’s not 9:00 to 3:00 on weekdays, and to be proactive as they’re doing things, whether they’re teaching a skill to their grandkids, or whether they’re going for a walk in the park, to just be always thinking in terms of look at what God made.
Barb Heki: Just bringing discipleship into everything they do with them. Because the one thing about education is it consumes a child’s life for basically from birth or at least preschool all the way through college sometimes, high school and college. If grandparents aren’t involved in the education of their grandkids, they are missing so many discipleship opportunities, because it’s just all their time.
Yvette Hampton: Yup, I love that passage and just what it teaches to grandparents and exhorts them to take that role seriously. Because they’re leaving a legacy for their kids, and for their grandchildren, and for their grandchildren’s grandchildren and for generations to come. Garritt and I were talking about this actually the other day about what kind of legacy do we want to leave for our kids and for our grandkids. I think that as parents, we need to be intentional about that, because if we don’t have a goal in mind, if we have no idea what direction we’re heading then we’re going to lose our way.
Yvette Hampton: We have to know what our goal is, and we have to know what direction we’re going with our kids, because we hope that they’re going to take that same direction with their kids. Our family has been studying the book of Revelation, and yeah you talked about it. It’s such just a powerful book. Garritt is doing such a great job of leading us through it, and he’s the first to say how intimidating it is to try to teach through a book that is so hard to grasp. As we’re thinking through that book, as we’re studying it, and as we’re looking at the culture around us, and we’re looking at all of the things that are happening, we’re sent back going, “Well, the end times, they might be here, and the tribulation may come in our lifetime.” I don’t know, may come in our girl’s lifetime, we don’t know, but our job is to teach our kids truth, and to teach them to stand firm, and put on the full armor of God. Because if we don’t teach it to them, then they’re not going to be very effective in teaching it to their kids.
Yvette Hampton: No, they could be, of course, but it’s our job to do that with them. So I love that you’re so intentional about just leaving that legacy for your kids. I know one of the things that you talk about is how grandparents can make or break homeschooling. I have interviewed well, many times actually on the podcast, and she’s been part of a lot of things we’ve done is Karen Debeus. She talks about how when she very first started homeschooling, her parents were adamant about her not doing it.
Yvette Hampton: Just like almost to the point of disowning her. They of course now, I mean, the Lord has done a great work in their hearts, but it can undo someone just where you’re just thinking of my parents. I want to still, as an adult, I’m 45 years old, and I still want to please my parents. If I made a decision about my family that my parents were just adamantly against, it would be really hard. I would love for you to talk to the two separate parts of parties in this situation.
Rich Heki: There are actually three.
Yvette Hampton: Okay. So then talk to the three parties in this situation, and how to deal with that.
Rich Heki: So we’ve talked a little bit about the first one, which is having the grandparents onboard. They hear about and they go, “Oh yeah, that’s great.” Now, maybe they homeschooled you, and so they’re automatically going to be pro homeschooling. They will be onboard, and they’ll probably do whatever you ask them to do, and then some, just to spend time with the grandkids. That’s the easy, because they’re already there.
Rich Heki: Then you’re going to find that there’s some that are support of, but they’re a hands off approach. They just say, “We raised you, whatever you want to do is fine.” They’re okay with it, but they’re also not really engaged. I guess with that, the problem with that is there’s so many opportunities where they could do something with the grandkids, and that there’s going to be missed opportunities if they don’t get involved.
Rich Heki: What we want to see is that middle group where it’s like, “Yeah, do whatever you want to do.” That’s great, but we want to see the grandparents ramp it up and actually get involved, so that they can have some of the enjoyment that we’ve had discipling our kids, that they can share in that too, because they have so much to offer probably way more than they realize, because they have all this life of experience that they can bring to the table.
Rich Heki: Then there’s of course the third group is the oppositional one. Those are the ones we have to work on, because a lot of times it’s like they may have had a really good experience in their particular growing up and their history with public school or whatever. They think, “Well, it was good enough for me, so why is it good enough for my grandchildren?” Then if they know nothing about homeschooling, it’s like, “What are you doing with my grandchildren?” Because they know nothing about it, and maybe they’ve heard some negative stories about it or whatever.
Rich Heki: We got a bigger education process just to them to try to explain why are we doing this? Why is this really the best road for teaching our children, but this is going to be the very best education they can have.
Barb Heki: One of the things on the pro side is we have talked to lots of grandparents who actually have moved to the city that their grandkids are in so they can help homeschool them. We’ve talked to families who have moved and say the grandparents are in. So the grandparents can be involved. That deepening of the relationship and the discipleship opportunities are just wonderful. It takes the stress off of parents. You’re not doing it a hundred percent yourself. You’ve got help, and you’ve got support. You’ve got encouragement. You’ve got prayer, and it’s a really neat thing.
Barb Heki: On the other side, we had some friends for the oppositional grandparents. We always also tell grandparents and parents that, “Now, we as grandparents had a chance to raise our kids the way that we felt God was leading us to raise them.” Now, it’s our kids’ turn. It’s not our decision. They’re the directors and we’re the supporters. Grandparents, you now need to remember that. Then parents need to remember to ask them for some of the wisdom that they have from all those years of experience.
Barb Heki: We had some friends at a church that we went to, that they watched us homeschooling our kids, and they came up to us once and said, “We really want to homeschool our kids. We like what we see among the homeschoolers. We know, and we want to homeschool our kids, but our parents are really against it.” As it turned out, one of the parents offered them a free ride through Christian school for all, I think they had four kids, all four of their kids for 12 years if they would promise not to homeschool.
Barb Heki: They buckled too. They didn’t want to have trouble with the grandparents, and wanted to keep the relationship good. So they took them up on that offer, and I was just so sad, because God had given them this vision and this excitement to homeschool, and then the parents just shut it down. The grandparents are really key in how a family operates, because it can be wonderful and joyful, or it can be totally miserable. Sometimes relationships just completely broken off as well.
Yvette Hampton: Sure. I’m certain that those grandparents meant well. They wanted what was best for their grandchildren.
Barb Heki: Yes. That’s a key to remember too in the relationship aspect is that they’re really on the same side, because they both want the best for the kids, but they just have different ideas of what is best, so it’s a matter of bringing them together.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, that is a difficult thing for them.
Rich Heki: I was just going to add to that. We try to impress on the parents as well as grandchildren that our parents did the very best they could with the tools they had at the time. Back in the day, homeschooling wasn’t even on the radar, modern homeschooling wasn’t even on the radar at that time. The thought probably never even occurred to them that that could be done, but back in the founding of this country, all the founding fathers were homeschooled. I think all the presidents I believe on Mount Rushmore were homeschooled.
Rich Heki: There’s a rich heritage in homeschooling, but now that we have these tools, and in many ways it’s getting more and more easy to homeschool because of the internet and through all the resources that are now available is making the job of the parents that much more organized and easier to do for homeschooling. It’s a little bit easier now in some ways to convince the parents that, but there’s still those opposition out there, and we still have to do a lot of education on that.
Barb Heki: There’s two things that I think are key too in dealing with that. One is what is the missing element in all of this, especially for Christian grandparents? The missing element is Jesus Christ, because what educational situation is going to glorify Christ, teach the kids to love and honor Jesus Christ, his Lord and savior. It’s not going to be a public school, it’s not going to happen there. So, to be looking at that.
Barb Heki: The other thing is the most effective way to get really oppositional grandparents to come onboard in homeschooling is to get them involved, because it’s hard to oppose something that you are involved in. If you can have them teach a skill they know, that’s pretty easy. Maybe mom and dad don’t want to ask them grandparents to do that, maybe the grandkids can say, “Grandma and grandpa, will you teach me X, X, X?”
Barb Heki: Then after that is done, then mom and dad put it in under the proper academic category in their records and stuff and say, “Thanks grandma and grandpa for helping teach science.” We put that in our official records. You help teach them science today. So anyway, that’s a big help.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, I think that’s fantastic. I think one of the greatest things that any grandparent, whether grandmother or grandfather can do if they’re local is to just offer your presence, especially if you have a child … if your child has multiple children that they’re trying to homeschool, or if they’re only trying to homeschool one, and maybe they’ve got a baby underfoot, or a toddler or something like that.
Yvette Hampton: So just having grandma come over, grandpa come over maybe once a week or twice a week or something, just for a few hours, and hold the baby, feed the baby, fold laundry, help with some dishes, just help in some way. I think that most grandparents don’t understand the desperate need that most moms feel for that support and just for someone else to come alongside them and just say, “Okay, how can I help you? What can I do? Can I just silently fold laundry? Can I just play with the baby for a little bit?” Just to give mom a little bit of a break, and to give her the opportunity to maybe catch up on lesson plans if she wants to do that, or to just sit and read with her child, or to take her older one to the park, or to get ice cream or something like that just so that mom could be more effective in her role as mom, and as homeschool mom, and all the things that she has lined up.
Yvette Hampton: I shouldn’t even just say grandparents, and that I wish that there were more retired, if you will, homeschool moms who would seek out younger homeschool moms in their churches, in their communities, in their neighborhoods and just say, “Hey, can I come over and just help you? What can I do? How can I be a blessing to you?” Most moms would eat that at. You’ve got the introverted mom who maybe wouldn’t want that so much, but I think that it’s probably not the norm.
Yvette Hampton: What are some ways? You had mentioned earlier about how grandparents can be involved from a distance. So if grandma and grandpa like you guys, you live a thousand miles from your grandchildren, how can you be involved? How do you find yourselves being able to do that?
Barb Heki: A lot of stuff over Skype you can do things. I mean, not Skype, but just online chats, video chats. We’ve written books or short stories together. We’ve done books too like picture books, but we’ll just start out and our granddaughter will maybe write a sentence or two, and then we’ll write a sentence or two, and we just keep writing the story together, or you encourage them in writing the story. You ask questions, “What happened next?” If they’re too young to write, you take down what they say, and type down what they say.
Barb Heki: If they’re a teenager, they can go on and type on their own, but just help them with the story writing. A lot of things that they can do online is you can do I mean, just about anything really. We’ve looked at pictures on the internet and studied animals, different things like that. The Fibonacci numbers are really fun, because anything that you can do sitting beside each other on a couch, you can also do in a video chat. You can have a copy of the same book that they have, and you can read it back and forth to each other.
Barb Heki: For older kids and teenagers too, that is really reading aloud, and going through a book.
Rich Heki: Yeah, possibly they’re learning some Bible verses either through one or just through their folks, but grandparents, it’d be a great way for the children to be learning their verses if they could recite it to grandma and grandma. Then they could coach them and help them out with that.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, that’s so fun.
Barb Heki: About half of grandparents live long distance from their grandchildren. So you’ve got half of them doing long distance things, but the other statistic we ran into is that 90% of grandchildren say that their grandparents had a tremendous influence on their values and their behavior. What is that? That’s discipleship, because their values come from being discipled, and the behavior is played out from their values. So grandparents who live long distance should be really encouraged, because they have a huge influence, and they need to take as many opportunities as they can to do things by distance with the grandkids.
Barb Heki: Then when they go there, you can do so many more things and continue that. We always bring art projects or science projects in our suitcase and stuff. Now, our granddaughter asks so every time we come, “Grandma and grandpa, do you have something for us in your suitcase?” It’s a neat tradition and a neat memory too.
Yvette Hampton: I love the idea of grandparents being involved through just activities like reading. How easy would it be for with the technology we have today, it’s so easy and amazing even though you’re not there in person.
Yvette Hampton: To open up a book, and flip it around, and show them the pictures, and be able to just have them see your faces and get to know you without having to be physically present, it’s the next best thing truly.
Rich Heki: Right.
Barb Heki: Exactly.
Yvette Hampton: What a blessing it is that in our day and age, we have the ability to do that. I know we’ve talked about so many times the whole issue of socialization and how that’s the big thing. I know that with a lot of grandparents, because they don’t quite understand homeschooling. That is the number one reason why grandparents are not supportive of homeschooling, because they simply don’t understand it. That is one of the main reasons why we re making this documentary Schoolhouse Rocked, because we really want to open up people’s eyes to, “This is what homeschooling looks like. This is why it’s beneficial. These are the great blessings of homeschooling.”
Yvette Hampton: Talk about if you were talking to a grandparent. Let’s role play for a minute and say you come face to face with another set of grandparents who were saying to you, “My child wants to homeschool my grandkids and I’m really not comfortable with it, because I think they’re going to be unsocialized.” How do you answer that question?
Barb Heki: I answer it with questions. I ask them first, who is it that does the socializing in whatever environment they’re in, whether it’s the home, a public school or whatever. Then what is the content of that socialization. They need to think about what socialization in a different environment really is. Is that what they really want? Does it glorify Jesus Christ? They need to hone down to what they think socialization is. Basically, in a traditional school, it’s going to be the teachers there and their peers, and probably about 10% teachers and 90% peers.
Barb Heki: The teacher has a lot of influence too, because Jesus said that the goal of education is to become like your teacher. Do we want the grandkids to become like their parents, or do we want them to become like some random teacher who was assigned to them in a classroom, and students who just happened to sit next to them at a desk? Just to get them to think through that, because they really don’t think through it.
Rich Heki: Yeah, and another thing with socialization, most children that I’ve seen that have been homeschooled very readily can communicate with adults, and have a conversation with them. Think about it in a minute, how natural is it to be in a class of 30 children all the same age, not even a variance in the ages. They’re just all with the same age. Then you look at society, where is that replicated in the society? It’s not. It’s just that one particular situation.
Rich Heki: We see it as being, people like to throw around the word diversity. It’s a lot more diverse to be in a homeschool setting where you’re interacting with all sorts of different ages, and you’re interacting with parents and a lot of times as homeschoolers, we’ll go on field trips with our children. They get to interact with adults. They get to learn about maybe another occupation and what they do. They’re being exposed to a whole lot more of life than in a closed classroom.
Barb Heki: There are going to be kids that are shy and withdrawn in the homeschool environment and in the public school environment. The opposite is true as well. It’s just that people are different. One of the things I did, like he mentioned, I like to research. So when I was first looking in the homeschooling, I had this list of I don’t know, probably 30 questions I asked. I asked the one friend we knew who’s homeschooling for names of other homeschoolers. So I called them all.
Barb Heki: When I went through the list of all my questions, and then I asked them for names of people they knew, and so I called all of these people. After about the first three people, I crossed the socialization questions off my list. It wasn’t even an issue.
Yvette Hampton: Right. Nope, it’s not an issue at all. We’ve learned that and it’s funny. I always chuckle inside when people actually bring that up. I always just want to say, “Look at most kids, not all, but look at most kids coming out of the public school and tell me which one of those characteristics you would like my children to emulate.”
Barb Heki: I know.
Yvette Hampton: Not many of them. Not that every public school child is a terrible example, but many of them are. We know a lot of them. Yeah, and so and not that every homeschool kid is perfect, they’re not. We know a lot of them too, but overall, I certainly would want our kids to have Christlike character and to spend their time with other kids whose parents have the same goals in mind that we do and who are heading down the same path as us. So that’s important. Let’s talk about family tree.
Barb Heki: Okay. Family tree is a really fun thing that grandparents can do with their grandkids, whether they’re locally or long distance. Because they’ve got some of the personal memories too that go back further than the parents. The one thing that we tell grandparents to do is to do a twist on the family tree. So don’t just record the names and the dates. You need that to have your framework, but look at character. Talk about what that person was like. Were they a Christian? Were they not? What was their character like? How did that impact their life and what happened to them?
Barb Heki: You can get in this stuff, all kinds of discussions on what just the impact of a good character and bad character. That also leads into the goal that we want to get in the lots of discussions with, with grandparents and grandchildren is salvation. Because that’s the key difference. In a family tree, people don’t think about salvation, they’re just, “Who beget who?”
Barb Heki: What happened to these people based on their faith or lack thereof, and then that leaves right into a gospel message and a deep conversation with the grandkids about where they stand in their salvation and their faith, that sort of thing.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, that’s fantastic. I love the idea of family trees and going back to figuring out where we came from. Because all of the grandparents have played a role in some way that has led their grandchildren to be where they are in life. Unfortunately, we are out of time for the podcast. I would love to continue going on and on, but I’m so grateful for you. I’m grateful for your ministry to grandparents and to parents alike. Where can people find out more about you?
Barb Heki: If they go to our website, it’s just grandparentsofhomeschoolers.org. If they can click on “join,” it’s free. They just fill in the information and then they will get resources and things that we send out. We’re going to be launching some things in the first quarter, new resources for grandparents, and they’ll get messages as to how they can get a hold of this and free resources, so yeah.
Yvette Hampton: Okay. Fantastic. Am I correct that you actually speak at some conventions?
Rich Heki: Yes, we do.
Yvette Hampton: Across the country, right?
Barb Heki: Yeah, and internationally as well.
Yvette Hampton: Oh wow. Okay. Do you know yet where you’re going to be or are you not exactly sure of the schedule?
Barb Heki: We don’t have this everything tied down this one yet, but if they’re in an area where there’s a homeschool convention, or an online convention, they can look for us and just Google us. Yeah.
Yvette Hampton: Okay. We’ll put a link to your website in there, grandparentsofhomeschoolers.org. Thank you both for your ministry. Thank you for the heart that you have for homeschool families and just for what the Lord is doing through you. You are a great blessing, and it’s been fun having you on the podcast. So, thank you so much.
Both: Thank you.
Barb Heki: Thank you for what you’re doing. It’s great.
Yvette Hampton: Thank you so much. All right you guys, thank you for listening. We will see you back here again next week. Have a great day.
It usually doesn’t take new homeschooling parents long to realize that homeschooling doesn’t – and shouldn’t – look like traditional school. It is one of the greatest blessings of homeschooling that we are able to integrate education, training, discipleship, and even academics into every aspect of life.
Yvette Hampton and Danielle Papageorgiou recently sat down to talk about the freedom and effectiveness of Lifeschooling. In this conversation for The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, Yvette talks with Danielle about her passion for integrating education into every aspect of life, and about discovering our children’s gifts, so that they can thrive in the lives God has called them to.
This leads to an important discussion about the blessing of lifeschooling allowing us to continue to train our children even when we encounter unforeseen circumstances. Whether illness, a move to a new city, or a new baby in the home, lifeschooling allows us to continue to train our children while experiencing all aspects, challenges, changes, and blessings, of REAL LIFE.
Yvette Hampton: Hey, everyone, this is Yvette Hampton. Welcome back to The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. I have one of my favorite homeschool people in all the world on with me today. She has been on the podcast before, so you may have heard her in the past. If not, you are in for a treat. Her name is Danielle Papageorgiou. Isn’t that a fun name to say? That’s why I’m friends with you, Danielle, because your name is just fun to say. Papageorgiou.
Danielle Papageorgiou: In high school, every girl wanted to marry my husband because they just wanted his last name.
Yvette: Probably not the best reason to find a husband.
Danielle: Probably not. Yeah, probably not.
Yvette: But you lucked out. God blessed you and you ended up with a really good guy. And you have a really great family. We love you guys. So tell us really quickly about your family.
Danielle: Okay. I have my husband John. We’ve been married for 20 years now, which I can’t believe. My oldest is 18, Connor. And then I have a girl who is almost 16, and then a little boy who is just a crazy whirlwind and he is eight. So that’s us.
Yvette: Yeah. You’ve been homeschooling for how many years?
Danielle: Well, I say right from the beginning because I think birth is day one of homeschooling, because we’re always teaching our kids, you know?
Yvette: That’s right.
Danielle: Right from the womb. And before the… I can’t talk tonight. Before the womb, people read to their kids in their wombs. So, I mean, I say 18 years.
Yvette: Yes. Yep. Well, you’ve done a great job of it and it’s always fun to be able to talk to moms who are really committed to discipling the hearts of their children and just pouring into them. We met you a couple of years ago when we attended your Lifeschooling Conference, and that was a new term to us. It was something that we really had done as a family. We just didn’t actually have a name for what we were doing. And so, you’ve got this conference. It’s called the Lifeschooling Conference. And your home ministry really is about how we incorporate schooling into life and life into schooling.
And it’s all about bringing it together and making it just kind of one great big part of our family, because it’s not separate. It’s not like sending your kids to school.
Yvette: Talk to us about lifeschooling a little bit, and then I actually want to get into talking a little bit about some unforeseen circumstances that might come into our homeschool, because I know you’ve dealt with some of those things. We’ve dealt with some of those things. And so, that will bring some encouragement to families who maybe things just aren’t going smoothly and their whole world is getting shaken up and they’re not exactly sure what to do. So, first, let’s talk about the lifeschooling thing.
Danielle: Right. It’s funny that you say you just didn’t have that term for it, because I hear that a lot. People are like, “Oh, well, I guess we’ve been life schoolers.” That was really my heart, is just to, I guess, rebrand the idea of homeschooling because I feel like over the years, it’s really become more and more schooly. And certainly you’ve always had that element because we do what we know. And so, that’s all people have known. They grew up going to school and having the different grade levels and everything’s sort of segmented like that.
But it’s really not the best way, in my opinion. You really have to integrate all of education. I really think there’s a biblical basis for this because when you look at Deuteronomy, I think it’s Deuteronomy 6, and I always mix up if it’s 4 or 6. But anyway, you look at the verses there in that passage, which is very familiar to a lot of us as homeschoolers, and it talks about teaching our children as we walk, by the way, as we sit, and as we just go through life.
And so, if that’s good enough for spiritual things, then why not the academics as well? It just should be this life-integrated approach. So lifeschooling, the official definition is the individualized process of discovering your child’s God-given gifts and talents that happen primarily within the context of your family’s unique situations and missions. And that’s all about our little tagline is emerging life with homeschooling. Because I really want moms to understand, and dads, that it’s okay when things don’t go the way you’ve planned because, typically, life doesn’t.
I mean, in all other areas, how often does life go the way we plan it? It just doesn’t. And that is because God wants to stretch us. He wants to test our faith and he wants us really to rely on him and not on our own plans. A man plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps, it says in Proverbs. And so, we need to be open to the Lord’s direction and His leading in our homeschooling. And so, that’s just really my heart, is to help parents just really relax and understand that all of these circumstances that happen are ordained by God and He uses them. And we just need to figure out how that learning can integrate with that, and how we can just make it all work.
Yvette: Yes. Yes. I love that you have a whole definition for it, which is really cool because you’ve really thought through this process. I know that you’ve really encouraged me along our homeschool journey over the past few years in that God really does have a purpose and a plan, and has gifted each one of our children in a specific way. I look at your family and your kids, you’re not one who sits down and “We’re going to do math from 7:00 to 7:30, and then we’re going to do science from 8:00 to 8:30, and then we’re going to do grammar. You don’t have your homeschool structured like that.
But knowing your family and knowing your kids, God has really developed in them some incredible gifts. They’re artistic. I mean, your daughter is quite possibly the most amazing artist I’ve ever known of in my life. I’m just stunned by the things that she is capable of doing. They’ve written books. They’ve made movies. They’ve done all of these things. And what’s so cool about your homeschool style and parenting style that I think ties in well with what we really try to do with our girls, is trying to direct our kids to using those gifts and talents and abilities in a way that glorifies their creator because God created them to be able to use those things for His glory, not for ours, but for His glory. And so, lifeschooling allows you to do that.
Then there’s just the practical side of lifeschooling as well. That’s just life. It’s grocery shopping. It’s doctor’s appointments. It’s house cleaning. It’s organization of our home and of our day and trying to just navigate through this life because it doesn’t really come… I mean, some things come easily, but not all of it does. And so, what a privilege we have as homeschool parents to be able to come alongside our kids and help them navigate through the murky waters of life, and at the same time be able to depend on the Lord to help them figure that out.
Danielle: Exactly. Well, and it’s funny because we could think all these things are going to just kind of come naturally to our kids, like how to clean the toilet or cooking and all of these things. But they don’t. I remember when I got to where I was about to graduate college and my mom’s like, “Okay, it’s time to learn how to cook.” And I’m like, “I can cook.” I always laugh because my poor husband, when we got married, I didn’t know how to cook. I mean, I made chicken and I’m thinking, “Well, if you just turn the heat up really high, it’ll get done faster.” So he cuts into this chicken that’s burned on the outside and it’s a raw in the middle.
Yvette: Oh no.
Danielle: And he’s like, “Next time just put it in the trash.” Oh, it was bad. It was bad. And so, all these things are very practical. They’re a part of life and they’re just as important. If not, I think sometimes more important than some of the academics that we think our kids have to know. Like they have to take physics and they have to take chemistry in high school. Well, maybe not. I mean, if that’s not their gifting, God put into them gifts and things that they’re passionate about. And so, we need to really let them do that.
And all the academics… I think of the verse, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Oh, I mean, that’s a promise. And so, I just believe that as you’re seeking God’s kingdom and you’re teaching your kids to seek God’s kingdom and His glory, with the gifts that He has put in them, particularly for them, then all these things are going to be added, and all the academics come in so naturally.
Danielle: Studies have shown that when you learn things in this way, they stick much better through this real life, practical type of learning. And so, it’s just very practical. It just makes things a lot easier. Like I said before, when life doesn’t go according to the plan because we know that it doesn’t.
Yvette: Yeah, Nope. It almost never does.
We are talking about lifeschooling and how to integrate that into our homeschooling. And so, we were talking about God-given gifts and how we have the opportunity as homeschoolers and as life schoolers to be able to take notice of those things in our kids. I would love to know just how practically you have done that with your children. How have you recognized and discovered those gifts in them? And then, how have you gone about fostering those gifts in them in order for them to be able to use those for God’s glory?
Danielle: Well, it’s a funny thing because a lot of moms will say that to me, like, “How do I find my kid’s gifts?” Or, “I don’t know what they are.” They don’t seem to have any gifts or they just want to play computer games all day long. First of all, and this might be a bit of a tangent, but get rid of the computer games or at least cut them way back. You’ve got to have limits on that because it really stifles their imagination and it really prevents them from being creative and figuring out who it is God created them to be. But besides that, I think it’s really a funny thing because they will just sort of come to the surface. There’s no real magic formula as with anything in life really.
There’s no magic formula that, okay, step one, you do this. Step two. And again, that’s because it’s a faith walk and the Lord wants us to trust in Him. And so, you just have to pay attention to your kids. One of the things that I recently created, that I really love, I use it myself, is a Who Is This Child journal. And so, every day I can write down the little things that I notice, the questions that… Right now, it’s Corbin. He’s my youngest. My older two, they’ve kind of got their path and their direction. And I see gifts in my youngest one already, but it’s been really fun to write down the different questions he’ll ask during the day.
Then there’s another section for what I call sparks, so anything that I notice that really captures his attention. I’ll just write that down and that, this is something that maybe we need to explore a little more. So that’s been a lot of fun in that the bottom, I just have a place where you can write a prayer. So every day you just write out this prayer of just, I don’t know, just whatever comes to your heart as a mom and as you’re watching your child develop. And so, it’s just been a really fun resource for me to learn more about my son because I think a lot of it does go back to simple observation.
Sometimes we’re so caught up in the busy-ness of every day and checking off the boxes and doing all the things that we have to get done as moms and homeschooling moms and wives. And so, we can just forget to pay attention. And so, I just think it’s important to be intentional. And I know that’s a really popular word, but sometimes we really do have to just try to be more intentional about that. It is amazing. I remember my friend, Barbara, I don’t know, maybe four or five years ago was like, “I just don’t know what’s going to happen with my kids, what direction God’s really leading them, or how they’re going to use these guests, what He’s going to do with them.”
And I’m like, “Barbara, it’s amazing because the Lord will just bring people into your path, and he’ll just open these doors that you never would have expected. And then, here we are, and her son, Matthew just finished up a movie, a short film that my kids were involved with. My son’s actually the lead in it, and it was accepted into the Christian worldview film festival as a contestant. And so, it’s just so cool to see that. And then, how the Lord used her daughter’s gift of sewing, because she was like, “I don’t know how that’s going to be used.” And so, she sewed all the costumes for it.
When we just, again, just trust in Him and trust in the process, and don’t get so worried, because really, it’s not up to us. I think we carry that weight and it’s so needless because we’re not the homeschool teacher. God is. We’re just the teacher’s assistant. So we need to just trust that process and trust in Him because if we’re doing our best, how is He going to be unfaithful to that? He’s a faithful God and all He asks for is our best. And it’s usually very imperfect.
I will be the first to tell you, I am the world’s worst at scheduling. And it’s always been a struggle for me. But the Lord still works through that somehow. And so, it always amazes me to see that.
Yvette: Yeah. I love that. And I love that you do talk about being intentional. And like you said, that’s a word that we kind of throw around
Danielle: Kind of a buzzword.
Yvette: Yeah. But it really is an issue of being intentional with our kids, and also being flexible in that when they’re not fitting into our idea of what we think that they should be, or how we think they should act, or what career they want to pursue, whatever that is, it’s not up to us. It is, what has God called them to do, not what do we want them to do. And so, I think it’s one of the great blessings of being a homeschool parent, is that we know our kids better than anyone else knows them.
There are teachers all over the world who genuinely love their students. They really do. Most of them don’t teach because they make a ton of money. They teach because they love kids and they want to have some kind of influence in their lives. Unfortunately, many of them have a really terrible influence, but there are many who have a fantastic influence and who genuinely love the kids. But when you’ve got a classroom full of 20, 30, 40 kids, you cannot individually take each one of those children under your wing and nurture their talents and their abilities and their gifts that God has blessed them with and help them develop those things.
And as homeschool parents and as lifeschooling parents, we have such a great opportunity to do that. And it’s not easy. It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s incredibly inconvenient. When my daughter wants to take out the glue gun and cardboard boxes and fabric and paints and make a big mess, I’m looking at that I’m like, “Okay, what are you going to do here?” Then she comes up with something amazing and beautiful. My oldest is very artistic, and she loves to paint. She loves to draw. But she also likes to create things. And so, she got these boxes for Christmas. She made for her little sister, as a Christmas gift, she made these little kind of… It’s hard to explain, but she made dollhouses out of them.
Danielle: How cute.
Yvette: But they open and close, and so they can travel with them. It was so cool and it was just such a special gift that she gave to her sister. And she worked for days and days, weeks, actually, on these two portable dollhouses. What a privilege. And so, she would go into her little craft area and she would listen to an audio book and she would make these creations, and what a joy. How fun it was for her to be able to do that. Danielle, we are out of time for this part of the podcast, but let’s come back on Wednesday and let’s talk more, because I want to talk about just how to deal with some of those unforeseen circumstances. We talked about that in the very beginning, and I want to jump on that bandwagon and talk a little bit about that.
Danielle: Absolutely. Sounds great.
Yvette: Yeah. Thank you, guys, for listening. Join us again on Wednesday. And I forgot to say this at the beginning, but Danielle, she is a special part of the Homegrown Generation Family Expo. And so, if you have not yet participated in that or signed up for that, you can watch it live, or you’ll be able to go back and watch replays of that. So she will be speaking about lifeschooling for that event. It’s going to be awesome. Thanks. We’ll see you guys back on Wednesday.
Yvette: I just said that and then I realized this is probably not going to air until after the expo.
Danielle: Oh, well, do you need to re-record a little snippet or…
Yvette: I’ll do it at the end.
Yvette: Okay. Where are we on time? All right. Let’s go another 20 minutes. You good?
Danielle: Yep. Let’s do it.
Yvette: I want to talk about something that not a lot of people really discuss in the homeschool world, but pretty much everybody that I know who homeschools deals with this in one way or another. And that’s how to deal with unforeseen circumstances. There are so many things. Danielle and I were talking about this earlier, and how there are so many things that disrupt our homeschooling.
It could be illness. It could be just a short stint of illnesses, the flu making its way through your family. It could be chronic illness that you have to deal with day in and day out. It could be a move. It could be having a new baby. It could be having a mother or father-in-law, or grandparent, or somebody move in with you that you now have to care for. There are so many things that can derail us. And so, I want to talk about how to handle some of those things.
Danielle, I would love for you to talk a little bit. Tell us a little bit about your family in the sense of this, because I know that there have been some really difficult things that your family has dealt with, but you and your husband, you’ve stayed the course. You have been faithful to what God has called you to do even through the really, really hard times, and you have trusted Him for the outcome. So talk with us a little bit about your story.
Danielle: Yeah. Well, first of all, I want to make the point, before I forget, that we have to always remember that at the heart of our homeschooling needs to be relationships. So, first of all, is the relationship that we have to the Lord, and that our children have to the Lord. And then, secondly, is our interpersonal family relationships. I think that if you really keep the main thing, the main thing, and focus on the fact that the relationships have to be the priority, everything else kind of falls into place.
We have dealt with chronic illness in our family for just about our entire marriage. My husband got sick with Lyme disease. It was about two years after we were married. And so, that’s always been a struggle in our family. I’m thankful that he works from home and works in IT, which is something he could do in his sleep. I don’t know how. But God’s just really gifted him in that area. And so, that’s been a blessing that he could be home.
And, of course, me being the homeschooling mom, it didn’t really affect our homeschooling all that much, really. It affected our family in the sense that we just really did not do a lot of family things. And still don’t. Going out to the grocery store is like a family event. If my husband goes and my daughter will be like, “Oh, I want to go.” And so, I think just cherishing those things too is important.
One thing we have always done is had family movie night, and that’s almost sacred to my children. We can’t do anything outside the home on family movie night because that just doesn’t happen. So it’s special time with our family that the kids really treasure. So I think it’s important to have those types of things. But recently, really it was a steady decline for both my children. But first we noticed in my daughter, she would complain about not sleeping very well. And this went on for a number of years. But sometimes you just don’t really know how to help your kids. It’s like, well, take more calcium and magnesium and do this and that.
It was just hard to figure out what was going on. And eventually, through series of circumstances, the Lord led me to do a little more research. She really had like a crash. I enrolled her in this camp and she’s like, “I just don’t think I can do it.” I’m like, “Well, just try to go for one day because we paid for it.” And by the end of the day, I literally almost had to carry her out to the car. She was just so exhausted, and I’m like, “Lord, what do I do?”
And so, we got home and He just really led me to, I don’t even know why, but to research adrenal fatigue. And it turned out she checked off all of the boxes for adrenal fatigue.
So she’s been struggling with this for probably going on a year now, that we knew about. But it’s been much longer. And just thinking, it’s just really, really hard for her right now. Reading, huge challenge, even audio books, but she does a ton of artwork. And you’ve seen her art.
Danielle: Just the things that the Lord is teaching her through this. And I just want to say something here too. It’s okay if your kids get behind, okay? Like maybe she won’t graduate on time, but what is that? That’s, that’s something that is imposed on us. And so, again, we just have to protect our children and if they can’t do something, we have to protect their health. If I force her to do things that she literally cannot do, the stress level goes up. The cortisol levels increase and it’s just this cycle. And she will literally have an adrenal burnout.
Again, this is her health we’re talking about. What is more important? We have to protect our children. So it’s okay if they get behind. There is no behind in homeschooling. I just want to stress that. She does the things that she can do, and we’re okay with that.
Yvette: And you’re also talking about a girl who she does well on her state testing.
Danielle: Right. Right.
Yvette: The girl has written a book. I mean, she literally-
Danielle: She wrote a book, yes.
Yvette: … authored a book.
Danielle: She started at age nine.
Yvette: Which is incredible.
Danielle: So if you think of it in that sense, she was ahead and now she’s not as ahead. And she’ll catch up, because that mental capacity, it’s still there. Once she heals, she is going to skyrocket ahead to where she was, and I truly believe that. And so, it does not stress me. We just can’t let it stress us. We have to protect our children and their health.
My son recently, you never expect to deal with these kinds of issues in your kids. But he’s sleeping more and more, and I’m thinking, “Well, he’s a teenage boy. He’s growing.” But then it was like all day long, he’s sleeping and he’s missing meals. So I’m like, “Something is wrong,” And praise the Lord, He led us to a wonderful natural doctor. He’s been helping both my kids now and my husband. But she did testing on him and his cells were not taking in nutrition. He’s really bad off.
He’s graduated. And so, we don’t have that pressure. But it’s hard for a young 18-year-old guy who really wants to just jump into his IT career and really start doing life to be slowed down. But, again, I just see the lessons that the Lord is teaching him through this, and that he has to be patient and wait on the Lord and just learn to trust in Him, because my son is a planner. He when he was young, I mean, you can imagine two people like me and my son. I’m total not planner at all, and my son is super scheduled.
So every night when I would tuck him in, from like three or four or five years old, he’s like, “Okay, what are we doing tomorrow? What’s the schedule?” And it used to drive me crazy. I’m like, “I don’t know. We’ll figure it out tomorrow.” And so, this has been good for him because he said, “I had learned to let go of all the details, but I still wanted God to give me this general direction of where I’m headed. And now, the Lord is just saying, “Nope, you’ve just got to trust me completely, and you don’t know what tomorrow brings, and you don’t know how you’re going to feel, and you just have to trust me.” Yeah. So it’s been an interesting journey for both of them.
Yvette: Yeah, it has. I want to just put this disclaimer in there for you, in that you are one of the most healthy people I know, in regards to how you prepare food for your family. And so, you talked about his cells not being able to take in nutrients. It’s not because of lack of them. It’s not that you’re not providing those for him. It’s just that his body is going through something difficult right now and you’re helping to try to figure out how to help him overcome that.
Danielle: Yeah. Right, right. And it’s just a testament that no matter how healthy you try to be, we can’t do everything perfectly in this fallen world no matter how hard we try.
Yvette: Yeah, oh, sure. I mean-
Danielle: Better trust in the Lord.
Yvette: We all know people who eat donuts and drink Pepsi all day long and they’re like the healthiest people we know.
Danielle: I know, or seem to be anyway.
Yvette: We were talking about how to deal with unforeseen circumstances in our lives. And she’s talking about how her family has dealt with some just different chronic illnesses. And we often, as homeschool parents, come face to face with things that are just hard, whether it’s a move or the loss of a job or a new baby. So in this last half, Danielle, I would love for you to really just offer some encouragement to parents who are dealing with that, who are on that side of it and they’re just like, “I don’t know what to do. I’m ready to put my kids back in school.” Not because they think that’s the best option for them, but because they feel like their whole life is just unraveling and their foundation has been shaken up so badly that they don’t know what to do. They don’t know what to cling to. So can you offer some advice and just hope and encouragement for those parents?
Danielle: Yeah. Well, there’s so many things that you can do. Again, I think it’s more the way you look at things and your perspective. We have to, first of all, like I’ve been saying, we have to have that perspective really of an eternal perspective, and what is truly most important. When your kids graduate someday, who is it that you want them to be? Not necessarily what is it you want them to learn. That’s important, but who is it that you want them to be because character has to come first.
And so, how can you get them from point A to point B to be that person that you want them to be? I believe that God has equipped every parent to be the best person to instill that character and training into their child to help them develop into who God wants them to be. Then just, I would say, from a practical standpoint in this idea of learning to change your perspective, it’s great if… And this is another resource that I have is a lifeschooling vision planner. And one of the things in there that I really love is this backwards method of planning.
It’s going through your day after the fact and writing down in all the different subject areas and categories, what your child learned that day and what they did. Because it’s very surprising. When you start to document those things, there’s a lot of academics that happens just in your day-to-day routine and going about life. It’s always surprising to me when my children will throw out all these science facts and I’m like, “Where did you learn that?” “Oh, Jonathan Park.” I don’t know if you’re familiar with that series.
Yvette: Oh yes.
Danielle: But yeah, they grew up on that, and we have all of the CDs and they listened to those and absorbed it. And they recall that stuff later. And so, I think audio books are excellent because it stimulates the imagination. You can pop them in any time. If you’ve just had a baby, just give your kids audio books, give them lots of audio books and lots of real books too because they’re going to absorb all of that stuff and they don’t need you hovering over them all the time to instill the information into them.
We feel like we have to spoon feed our kids, and they’re natural learners. We just have to encourage that, encourage that natural learning and finding that spark and what excites them, and letting them run with it and learn all about that. Because, again, more academics come in to those different things they’re interested in. You’ll find that just all the different subject areas, how they naturally come in when they find something that they really love to do. So, from a practical standpoint, that’s one thing that we’ve really found beneficial.
Yvette: Yeah. Yeah. And I think just, we’ve talked a lot about this already, is just trusting the Lord, allowing Him to lead you to lead your families. When we read James chapter 1, it talks about asking for wisdom and it says if you ask for wisdom, the Lord will give it to you. And I think oftentimes we forget that. We forget to ask, Lord, what do you want me to do with this? How do you want me to proceed? How do you want us to move forward with this child who maybe they’re struggling with an illness or, again, maybe we’ve just had a big move and my child is having a really, really difficult time adjusting.
In those times, it’s okay to step back and just say, “You know what? We just moved.” We have some good friends who are just going through a move right now and they’ve got six kids.
Danielle: Oh wow.
Yvette: That’s a huge, huge deal. And not all of their kids are going to handle it well. And so, you know what? It’s okay to just step back, take a break and just say, you know what? This is one of the reasons why we homeschool, because we have the freedom to be able to do what works best for our family. And in situations like that, they’re still learning. Like you said, they’re learning now how to organize a home. How do you move into a new home? How do you lay everything out? How do you put everything away and figure out where things are going to go in the kitchen, and in the bathroom, and you decorate the walls.
I mean, there are so many life lessons and that’s why I love so much of your ministry, Danielle, because it’s all about lifeschooling. I’ve said this on the podcast many times before. We are raising adults. We are not raising children. We are raising them to become functional, responsible, Jesus-loving adults. It’s not about the academics. The academics are fantastic. They’re important because those are what point them to Jesus, but we’re really raising our kids to be able to go out into the world and function and have some sort of an impact in God’s kingdom. That’s what it’s all about.
It’s not about, did they become valedictorian and get to give an amazing speech in front of 5,000 people at the end of the year? Who really cares about that staff? Honestly. When they come face to face with their savior, he’s not going to say, “Well, how was that speech you gave?” He’s going to say, “What did you do with the talents and abilities and gifts and the hardships that I put before you?” And we realize over and over again, we are so incapable of doing the things that God has called us to do without Him. And when we get to accomplish a thing, He gets all the glory for it. And so it ends up being-
Danielle: Exactly. Exactly.
Yvette: … such a beautiful thing.
Danielle: That’s one of the things that really has always bothered me because our culture does put such an emphasis on academics and intelligence and all of these things. And as Christians, that’s just not what we should be doing. It’s okay to learn a lot and to use those gifts if you’re academically inclined. I think that’s wonderful. But we have to be careful as parents that we don’t let that go to our heads and get prideful about valedictorian, all these things because really, in eternity, that’s not what really matters. God really doesn’t care about that. He cares about what we do with the gifts and the talents that he gives us and how we give glory to Him.
Yvette: Right. Right. And He wants us to do our best. We always tell our kids, “Work as unto the Lord. In everything we do, we should do for His glory.” And so, we should always do our best. You talked earlier actually about some kids are inclined to learn chemistry and physiology, but not every kid is. Some are created to be historians and some are created to be scientists. Some are created to be mathematicians. Some are created to be moms. Some are created to be pastors and truck drivers. I mean, there are a million business owners. There are a million different things that God can use us for. So, we have the opportunity to be able to foster that in our kids and encourage them in the way that God created them, even through the hardships and bumps that are thrown at us through life.
We are out of time for the podcast. But Danielle, I appreciate you so much. I love your heart for families. I love your heart for homeschooling. And I am so grateful that you took the time to sit and chat with me today. Thank you so much.
Danielle: Thanks, Yvette. I love you guys too. It’s always good to talk with you.
Yvette: Thank you. Yeah. Where can people find out a little bit more about you?
Math doesn’t come naturally for everyone, but there are some secrets to making it REALLY fun and for helping our homeschool students master it. We had the privilege of talking with Nadim El-Rahi, of CTCMath, for a recent episode of The Schoolhouse Rocked. In this interview, Nadim shared his passion for helping students (even the ones who don’t love math) understand it, master it, and even enjoy it.
Do you find teaching math to be a struggle for you or your child? If so, you will be encouraged by Nadim as he and Yvette discuss some of the big mistakes we make while teaching math, the number one roadblock many students face when learning math, how we can make math more fun, and spiral vs. mastery math.
Nadim El-rahi, looks after all things CTCMath and has been working with the team for 7+ years. He has a degree in Math and Economics. He and his wife, Tamara, have been married for 4 years and have 2 children, Emma (3 years) and Chloe (1 year). Nadim’s children are not yet school age, but he has an enormous passion for homeschooling and great admiration for homeschool parents.
Yvette Hampton: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. As always, we have a great guest on today. And this is going to be a fun episode, because we’re going to talk about math. And you might think, “Uh, we’re not going to talk about math. That’s going to be boring.”
But it’s not, actually, because I am learning that math is fun and if you’re anything like me, you might have grown up as a student who hated math. And when I say hated, I mean despised math. I didn’t want anything to do with it. It was the class that I dreaded most, probably from about middle school on. I just did not understand math. I mean I understood basic concepts, but as it started to get a little bit harder, I just really struggled with it and my brain just doesn’t function that way.
But, believe it or not, there are people in this world who actually love math. And we are talking to one of them today. His name is Nadim El-Rahi and he is from CTCMath. And I know that you’ve probably heard a lot about CTCMath, and so we’re actually going to talk about math, we’re not going to talk so much about CTCMath today. But we’re going to talk about how to make math fun, and how to just engage your kids in and teach them effectively.
So Nadim, welcome to the show.
Nadim El-Rahi: Thank you. Thank you for having me, I’m so excited to be here. As you can see, I’m in my office. Ignore everything behind me, just focus on me.
Yvette: It’s okay. While you are in your office coming to us from Australia, which, I think you told me you’re about 16 hours ahead of my timezone, which is Eastern Standard Time, is that correct?
Nadim: Correct, yes.
Yvette: Okay, so it’s seven o’clock here, so 11 o’clock in the morning your time?
Nadim: That’s it. You’re pretty good at math.
Yvette: Yeah, right? Well, and you’re tomorrow, you’re into our tomorrow. As you and I were talking earlier, you could tell us everything about what happens tomorrow. Winning lottery numbers… If the Super Bowl was on you could tell us who won the Super Bowl. It would be great.
Well, welcome, Nadim, to the show. Tell us a little bit about you and your family.
Nadim: Sure. So I’m married to my beautiful wife, Tamara. Been married for four years now. We have two children, Emma and Chloe. Emma is three and a half, Chloe is one and a half. So I’m just loving the journey. Every day’s something new, something different, and it’s really fun. Parenting’s awesome.
Yvette: It is awesome. I could not agree with you more. I love being a parent, I love being a mom. It is the joy of my life, and as a homeschool mom, I get to experience it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And I used to think that I would not enjoy that, I used to think, “Why would I want to be with my kids all day, every day?”
But as it turns out, I actually really like my kids, and so I really do enjoy being with them most of the time. But in addition to thinking that I would not enjoy being with my kids, I also used to think that teaching them certain subjects would be really difficult, and math was at the top of that list. Math and science were the two things that I thought, “Man, if we ever homeschool, I don’t know how I would do that.”
And I was pretty terrified of that in the beginning because, like I said at the beginning of the podcast, I did not enjoy math growing up, it was very difficult for me. And I love people, I love nature, I love things like that. But math was just one of the things I struggled with.
And so coming into homeschooling I thought, “I can handle the elementary school years.” But getting into middle school and definitely into high school, I just thought, “I don’t know how in the world we’re going to manage this.” But I trusted that the Lord had a plan. And as He would have it, He has provided programs like CTCMath to come alongside us moms, who, whether we love math or struggle with math, can help us with teaching math to our kids.
So I want to talk a little bit about math.
Yvette: And first I would love to ask you, what are some of the biggest mistakes that you see homeschool moms making in teaching math to their kids?
Nadim: Yes, and math is an incredibly difficult subject to teach and particularly in these old grade levels. But I think there’s a few things that we can just try to ensure that we don’t do during our homeschool day. One of the big things is the long, drawn out explanation. If you take too much time, or over-complicate the explanation, students will often get lost. So we try to keep it short. Try to keep the younger grades three to four minutes, higher grades six to eight minutes.
Another mistake that can sort of happen that’s linked with that is giving too many diverse methods, or too many methods to attack a problem. Now, every child is unique. So if your child loves math, and they want to explore different ways to answer a problem, by all means. You want to expand on their strengths. But what we find is sometimes parents will over-complicate it. So it’s important to keep it short and not go into too many methods. Find the method that works best for your child.
Another mistake that’s often made is getting caught up in the hype of discovery learning, and we’re seeing this more and more often now. Don’t get me wrong, discovery learning has its place, and it is important, but let me give you a bit of an analogy. If you give a student a Rubik’s Cube, and you ask the student, “Hey, try to work this Rubik’s Cube out,” with no instruction, they’ll play with it, they’ll fiddle it, they’ll get it. Sure maybe one, two percent might get it, and that’s fantastic. But the majority, the vast majority, will get frustrated, annoyed, and put it down. And not want to go back.
Yvette: That’s me.
Nadim: But if I was to sit down with that same student, and show him a small algorithm, a small technique, a quick technique on how to solve that Rubik’s Cube, then they’ll be able to solve it. They’ll get excited, they’ll be passionate, they’ll want a bigger one. And then you can maybe go down that path of discovery learning with the bigger one, with the bigger Rubik’s Cube and whatnot. But throwing them in the deep end to begin with can often beat up their confidence.
And again, each child is unique. That sort of leads to learning your times tables. We believe it’s really important to nail down those facts and have those facts at a young age. It’s proven, there’s many studies that if students have a solid understanding of their times tables, math is far easier in those older grade levels, and they can build on that.
I know I’ve talked a lot about mistakes, but this is the biggest one, and this is the easiest one to commit. I want to start by saying this is not a criticism or anything, it’s just a self-awareness. And I think sometimes, and I’m certainly guilty of this, is getting frustrated when teaching. If the child senses any bit of frustration, you can throw things out completely, and you can lose them. So if you’re sensing the frustration, it’s important to get those levels down.
A consequence of this can be that the student is scared or turned off coming to you, and this could be problematic in the future when they’re coming to you with far more difficult problems as they grow up, much bigger than math. So I think trying to avoid any frustration, it is difficult, but.
Yvette: You were just talking about the importance of not getting too frustrated with our kids when we’re teaching them math. And we talk so much on the podcast about how one of the most important things in homeschooling is to build that relationship with our kids. Because it’s all about relationship, and the purpose of raising children in general is to prepare them for adulthood. And so we need to build that relationship with them, and like you said, if it’s something that’s causing a real rift in our relationship with our kids, then they’re not going to all of a sudden think, “All of a sudden I just love math, and I love it when my mom gets frustrated with me.”
That’s never going to be the case. And so, if I you can maybe give some suggestions of, when a child is really struggling with math, is it best to just put it aside for maybe six months or a year? Or back up and take it a little bit slower? Or maybe get a math tutor? I know a lot of homeschool families do that. What do you suggest, in order to protect that relationship that we have with our kids, what do you suggest is a good way to do that?
Nadim: Well certainly, I think if you are struggling, and it is a continual problem, I think you do need to maybe look at other resources and maybe outsourcing the teaching component of it. And you then become, maybe, the tutor, or they get to the bulk of their learning done, whether it be online, a personal tutor. What works best for you and your family. And then they come to you with a few problems.
But in that moment of frustration, I think it’s very important to remove yourself from that moment. I think it’s very important to take a step back and say, “Can we move on to a different subject? Or is there something else we can do today?” This is what I love about homeschooling. The freedom, the complete freedom, to sort of make the decision of what your day comprises of, and what you’re going to set out to do.
I think it’s important to maybe look at if there’s another method, using different methodology that you could try to explain the problem, or explain the question. Or if you don’t want to switch to another permanent resource, just finding a source for that particular concept that they might not be fully understanding.
It might be that, because you know, math is a building block, and it’s important to build on concepts. It might be the fact that an earlier concept was missed. So you might need to do some revision from the previous year’s work. And that’s really important. So just self-evaluate, have a look at the situation, have a good think about it, and trust in different things.
Yvette: So how do you go back? Because math obviously is a subject that builds on itself. And if our kids get to a point where they’re just really struggling, and they just can’t get it, how do you back up? Because we’ve had that happen a couple of times, where I’m like, “Man, I just don’t know what you’re missing, here.”
And partly because I’m not a math geek, I don’t know what it is that they’re missing. So is there a good system in place? Is there a good way to try to figure out like, “Oh, that’s the one piece of the puzzle that fell under the table, which is causing you to not be able to put this whole puzzle together at this point.” Is there a good way to do that?
Nadim: Yes and no. It comes down to the resource that you’re using, really, I think. Because math is structured in such a way, and some curriculums do this better than others, but if you look at the lessons, they’re incorporated within a topic. But within topics, it’s actually a stream of math, so it might be the stream of measurement. Or the stream of algebra, or the stream of numbers, depending on the grade level and whatnot.
But there are particular streams, and there might be only three or four streams within a grade level that needs to be covered. So if a student is having trouble… Simple example. If a student is having troubles with grade four fractions, well maybe something was missing from grade three fractions. So if your curriculum is ordered in such a way that the streams flow through from grade level to grade level, and topics flow through from grade level to grade level, then you can easily identify the building blocks that happened prior.
But, as we know as well, sometimes math draws on, particularly in the older grade levels, draws on other concepts from different concepts, and other grade levels, and if you’re not entirely sure, I would suggest that you… At CTCMath, we would encourage parents to reach out, send us an email saying, “Hey, my child’s having troubles with this.” And we’d refer it on to one of our math teachers, they would have a look at it, and make some suggestions.
So it does require a bit of in depth knowledge.
Yvette: Detective work.
Nadim: Detective work and in depth knowledge of understanding the curriculum and how it’s structured.
Nadim: I don’t know if that answers your question, I hope it did.
Yvette: Yeah, it does.
Nadim: Email me, I’ll help.
Yvette: Yes, it does. And I’m just going to give everyone your phone number and say, “Call Nadim, he’ll help you.”
Nadim: I’m going to give you my email [crosstalk 00:13:45]
Yvette: I won’t do that. So let me ask you this, because I remember, several years ago, for the first time I’d heard … Now remember, I’m not a math person. And I’m sure math was taught one of two ways when I was growing up. But I remember hearing the term “spiral math” and “mastery math”. And I was like, “What in the world? What does that even mean?” Can you explain the difference between the two, and is there a better way to teach math? Or does it depend on the child and their learning style?
Nadim: Sure. I think everything depends on the child. When I make comments, I make them about their generalizations, and the majority of students. So I think everything does depend on child. But I do make recommendations all the time. And they’re based on what we see with the majority of students.
So, quick definition. So mastery approach is when you focus on one concept at a time in math. Okay? As we know, math involves building blocks, but if you just focus on one concept and one particular thing.
Spiral incorporates revision, so incorporates learning with a buildup of concepts, which both naturally overlap. Okay? So what’s important? I believe, both. I believe both are important. But in separate parts of the day. So separate parts of the math lesson, I should say, not the day.
So when it comes to teaching the content, I believe mastery is the best approach. Focus on the one concept. And that way, if you focus on the one concept, and master that concept, you can build on it. Practice problems should be related specifically on that lesson that was just taught.
So if you have a look at your homeschooling day, and I said keep the explanations to three to four minutes. So if we take a math lesson and we say it’s 30 minutes. Three to four minute explanation, 20 minutes or 15 minutes practice problems, where it’s just focusing on that concept. Now, depending on the concept, there will be some spiral learning there, there will be some earlier concepts covered.
But then the last five, 10 minutes, spiral. Revision. Going back earlier concepts, mix-up of problems, what you just learned, what you learned last week, what you learned last month. Change it up. So when it comes to the teaching and the delivery, mastery approach. But incorporate spiral revision towards the end of a lesson. Does that make sense?
Yvette: Yeah, so basically it sounds like mastery is when they’re learning the concept for the first time. They master that concept. And then they practice it through the spiral method, right? Spiraling, to me, sounds just like practice. So you just go back, and you just keep practicing it so that you don’t forget it.
Nadim: Correct, but with the practice problems, I would focus solely on that concept that was just taught. It might be… Let’s take a really simple example. Multiplication, and we’re looking at four times tables. Okay? So questions we’ll just, four times certain numbers. Four times two, four times six, four times 12, and so on and so forth. Focus on that. And then, maybe in the last five, 10 minutes, include earlier multiplication that you’ve learned. So mix it up. Have fours, threes, and twos.
And that would ensure that some revision, the mind thinking, and a spiral approach, a more wholesome approach to the actual… Because when you sit down and you attempt practice problems, you’re not just focusing… A test, for instance. It’s not just one concept, it’s a whole range of concepts.
Yvette: Okay. So in talking about multiplication tables, times tables, have you found that there’s a best way to teach that to kids, or? Again, I’m assuming it’s depending on the child.
But here’s the thing. When you’ve got, as many homeschool families do, when you’ve got six kids, you can’t have six different ways to teach multiplication. So have you found, because you’re a math whiz, I know this about you. Have you found the most effective way that works best for a family in general? Like, “try this with all your kids.” And then you might have the one kid who doesn’t learn that way and then maybe you can try a different approach with them. But does there seem to be a best way to teach multiplication?
Nadim: Rote learning. Sit down, write it out, keep working through it, keep revising it, keep practicing it, keep learning it. Bounce it off siblings, if you do have those six children. Get them to test each other, quiz each other. At the dinner table, throw a few problems there. Rote learning.
Yvette: Okay. Just over and over and over again.
Nadim: Over and over.
Yvette: I remember, we used to do Classical Conversations years ago, and we don’t now because we travel so much. But when we were in a community, that was always a fun thing with rote memorization, is that we would do fun things like toss a ball back and forth, or do jumping jacks. Or, you know, whatever. Just fun things that would get kids to remember those different facts. And so yes, I agree. Rote memory is definitely, for times tables, the best way to get kids to memorize them.
Now, do you suggest doing them where it’s like, do all the twos times tables first. Then all the threes, and all the fours. Do you stack them like that? Or does it make sense to just try and kind of learn them all at the same time?
Nadim: I would learn twos, learn threes, learn fours. Now, you might want to, once you get to the fours, you might want to introduce some other math concept, because they might be sick of times tables, and then go back and do five, and six, and seven, and whatnot.
Yvette: It’s kind of funny, because we’ve covered a lot of topics on The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, but math is not something that we have talked about, yet. I mean, we kind of interspersed it into different podcast episodes, but we have not actually done an entire episode focused on math. And as I have been homeschooling my kids, and as we have gotten deeper and deeper into math, one of the things that I have really noticed and that we’ve become really aware of in our family, and I’ve talked about this on the podcast before. But it’s that math, everything that we teach our kids, we want to use those things to point our kids towards their creator, towards Christ.
So one might think, “Well how in the world do I do that with math? How do I teach math and Jesus at the same time?” Well, math is so perfect, because math is absolute. It is in perfect order, and it shows that we have a God, we have a creator who is a perfect God of perfect order, and he is a God of absolutes. And so just like two plus two will always equal four, it has always equaled four, it’s never going to change, it can never be revised by anybody because they decide that they want two plus two to equal five. They can’t do that.
And in that same way, we don’t get to change the order of God’s creation. And so math is just one of those things, that again, points us towards just an incredible, awesome creator. He made up math, we didn’t make it up.
And it’s amazing to me how when you look back into history, you can see how mankind, how humans have been able to develop their minds when it comes to understanding math. And they’ll have these big huge problems, that, in a movie or something, you’ll see them writing a big, some kind of math problem up on the board, and it seems like the impossible problem and then they get to the end and they’re like, “Oh. Well there’s the answer.” And there’s only one answer, you can’t have more than one.
And so I love that about math, because it’s not a subject that I enjoyed growing up, but I do enjoy that I get to point my kids to their creator by teaching it. So I would love to talk about how to make math fun. And I know you’ve got some suggestions on that. So talk to us a little bit about this. Talk to the mom like myself, who does not love math, who struggled with math growing up, and who really wants my kids to grow up not dreading math, but being engaged and excited about learning it.
Nadim: Yeah, for sure, for sure. I think the first thing is to tap into your child’s interests. I think to work out what your child’s interests are, and then try to relate that back to math. An example. Me, growing up, I loved cars. I loved the model of cars, I loved the various types of cars. So one thing I would have loved and enjoyed as a kid was surveying the models of cars on long road trips, just outside my home. And then tabling that, and creating graphs and charts.
So I think it’s important to tap into your child’s interests. So if they like cooking, well cooking is a fantastic example. There’s a lot of fractions involved in measuring. What I really like with cooking is, when you find a recipe for four people, but you’re cooking for six, and just multiplying the quantities, that always makes math fun. You know? It’ll add a really practical element to it.
Another example are board games. And these might be better suited to those students who really, really don’t enjoy math, who really don’t like math. So let’s draw out some fun in board games. My little three year-old, Emma, she loves order, and she loves helping out. So what we get her to do is set the table. And we get her to count out how many people are going to have dinner, so then she’s got to count out the plates, and count out the forks, and count out the knives. Because she wouldn’t have an extra fork, or a knife, or one short plate. She’s a bit of a perfectionist and Tamara and I laugh about it.
So really tapping into your child’s interests, and going with it, my brother loves bargains. So our best buys, when we go to the shops, he’s great at picking out the best buys and the best value for money.
Yvette: Yeah, you know, math is one of those things that is fun to kind of incorporate into just life skills. Because the whole purpose, of course, of raising our kids is not to raise kids, but it’s to raise adults. And so we get to take these things that kids learn in a classroom in a workbook, or in an online program like CTCMath, and they get to use them in the real world.
And you talk about your brother, he enjoys bargain shopping. Well, it’s great to be able to go into a grocery store and look at several different items. You know, you look at sour cream, and see, “Okay, how many different items are there? What is the size? How much do they cost? What’s the better deal?” And just trying to figure out that way. And of course, weighing bananas, if you’ve got bananas and they’re 85 cents a pound and you need three pounds of them, weigh them with your kids and think, “How much is this going to cost if we have three pounds?” And just doing that logical math with them. Because that is really what prepares them for adult life, for life in general.
And so it’s a fantastic… Gas is one of those things, too. You know, when you’re pumping gas, and you think, “Okay, gas is so much per gallon, and we’ve got to put 30 gallons in the car, how much is it going to cost us if we’re on empty?” Those are the things that really will allow kids, like you said, to have fun and to start realizing that, “Oh, math is not just something I do on a worksheet, but this is part of my everyday life as an adult. I have to understand these things.”
You mentioned board games. Do you have specific board games? The first game that comes to my mind is Yahtzee. Our family loves Yahtzee, we play that all the time. That, and Rummikub, those are my two favorite games. I like Rummikub because I almost always win. And I like to win. Are there board games that you recommend that are great for teaching math?
Nadim: I’m super competitive as well. I’m super competitive. Look, any games… I tend to lean towards the games that involve a bit of money transaction. So I always liked Monopoly. I think it gets you thinking about a different side of math. More probably the counting side of things, but Monopoly, any game of strategy really incorporates math, because you’re breaking down a problem. You’re breaking down, “What’s the best way?” So it might not involve numbers, but if it involves some sort of strategy, then certainly you’re using your math brain.
Yvette: Yeah, for sure. Playing games, often times, is really good for engaging kids’ brains with numbers and with math and even with accounting. Are there other activities… Well, first of all, are there any other games you would recommend? And I’ll actually, if I have time, I will do my best before this airs, I’ll try to see if I can find some good math games. Because I know that there are lots of homeschool moms out there who actually, they love games. They love playing games.
And again, that goes back to the relationship with our kids. I mean, how much fun is it to play a game with your kid? And I will say, if you have a child who’s super crazy competitive, and they cry when they lose, that is such a great opportunity to reach the heart of your child.
I remember my oldest, when she was real little, we would play games and she would get upset when she would lose. And that’s natural for most kids. I think most kids do that. And it was fun, well it wasn’t fun for her to cry, but I remember just thinking, “What a great opportunity this is to teach her how to lose at a game, and how to be a gracious loser.” She’s not a loser, she’s wonderful. And so I taught her, when she was really little, I would teach her to say, if someone else won… And I would not let her win. I would never let her win a game. But I would teach her to say, “Congratulations, Mommy, I’m so happy for you that you won.” And it was so funny because she was so little and she would lose, and she would first start to get emotional about it, and then she would say, “Congratulations, Mommy, I’m so happy that you won.”
And over time, it really did teach her that if you play your best, you always want to do your very best…
Yvette: But it’s okay if someone else wins. And when they do, we get to celebrate with them. And so, that’s a little bit of a rabbit trail, but are there any other games that, in thinking through it, that you think, “Man, these are just great games for teaching math”?
Nadim: Yeah, and just quickly on that, I think that’s a fantastic opportunity, really taking the opportunity to teach a little lesson there and teaching our kids to be a little kind, you know? Teaching kindness.
There’s many… Connect 4, is another game of strategy. Again, you’re sort of thinking ahead, and thinking on how to break down the problem, or how to best achieve the desired outcome of getting those four in a row. And again, I’ll reiterate, it doesn’t have to be numbers. So chess, or anything like that.
Yvette: Yeah. And strategy games, like you said, those are fantastic.
Nadim: Strategy games, yep. There’s a card game that I liked to play that I don’t know if you would have heard of. It’s called 400. You’ve basically got to get cards to… I’ll send you the rules, how about that?
Yvette: Okay. Oh, fine.
Nadim: It’s a counting game.
Yvette: Oh, yeah, that does sound fun. I would love to hear that. Our family loves Farkle. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that game.
Yvette: But it’s a really fun math game. You have to count the dice and stuff, and it has a terrible name. I hate the name of it. But it’s a really fun game.
So what else? What are some other ways of making math fun with our kids?
Nadim: Yeah, I think if you’ve got a lot of leaves outside, I think it would be pretty cool to go out and sweep them up and think, “Okay, how many bags are we going to fill up?” Play a bit of a guessing game where you sort of estimate how many leaves you’re going to fill up. That’s another situation of making math fun.
And bringing it out in nature, that sort of stems to nature. Everything follows growth patterns. Even if it’s just researching, just jumping on the internet and researching models of growth of trees, of all sorts of things. Growth and decay.
Yvette: Yeah. That’s fine. And you talk about estimating leaves and things. That’s something that you could even do with pasta, or M&Ms, or something like that. Put a bunch in a jar. I know that’s always a fun thing. Sometimes, we go to the library and they’ll have some sort of goofy jar with candy in it or something and, you know, “Guess how many M&Ms are in this jar, and the winner wins the whole jar.” And things like that. Yeah, those are great for kids, great for them to just learn how to logically think through that kind of stuff.
We have a few more minutes left, so what is the number one roadblock that you see that students face when learning math?
Nadim: I think the number one roadblock by far, it’s a great question, is confidence. They’re a bit down on confidence. That once that confidence is beaten, that once it’s down, a shield goes up and nothing sort of… It’s difficult to get through to them or make any headway.
So confidence. We’ve got to really rebuild that confidence. It’s just brilliant when they see things in a different way or an explanation from a different angle that really gets to them, and then you see the “a-ha” moment. The light bulbs go off. And the “a-ha” moment, and the change of expression on their face. So finding confidence is a big one.
Yvette: Yeah. I totally agree. I’ve experienced that many times with both of my girls, where they’re just struggling through a concept and then they just get it, and they’re like “Ah, I get it! I get it!” And they get so excited about it, and you’re like, “Yes, yes, you get it!”
And it is hard to not become frustrated when you’ve explained it to them so many times, over and over, but then there’s just that, it’s like a switch that just, “Oh, yeah, I get it!” And you know, that happens with many things, whether it’s spelling or math or, I don’t know, just a variety of different subjects. But math seems to be the one that…
Nadim: It’s a big one.
Yvette: That concept just clicking over, and just encouraging our kids along the way. And it’s one the great things about homeschooling is that we have our grade levels for everything, but as homeschool families, and as homeschool students, they don’t have to adhere to a specific grade level of anything. They don’t have to be in third grade math, or eighth grade math. We can cater to how God created them and what their bend is towards math.
I have one daughter who does not like math, and I have one who really likes math, and she really gets it. But my daughter who doesn’t like math, she enjoys other things much more than her sister does. And so it’s great to be able to just see how God has created each one of them with their specific gifts and abilities.
So one last thing that doesn’t actually have to do with math.
Yvette: You’re in Australia.
Yvette: I would love to know, what is the homeschool climate like in Australia? Is it growing? Is it even existent? I know you and I have talked before and you’ve said you thought about maybe homeschooling when your kids are of school age. What does it look like there?
Nadim: For sure. It is growing. That’s the great thing about it, it is growing, and it is getting bigger, which is fantastic. It’s not as big, of course, as it is in the US. I think the difference here is that there’s a lot more options available to parents with just the way government funding works. Every school receives government funding, so there’s actually a lot of parents who go off and start their own schools. A lot of people get together and start off their own schools.
There are more options in that. But I think as things change, and I think when our government, if they start to regulate curriculums and what is taught, I think you’ll see homeschooling just absolutely take off here in Australia. We have very close friends of ours who homeschool their six children. It’s fantastic to see. I can see that they actually tap into a lot of the US resources, which is awesome. With my involvement with CTCMath, I’m getting in touch with more and more Aussie homeschoolers as well, which is great.
Yvette: Yeah. That’s fantastic. Is it something that, if there’s a family who’s homeschooling, do others kind of look at them like they’re crazy? Like, “What in the world are you doing?” Or, because I know here in America, it’s not everywhere. But the majority of this country, I mean I never hesitate to go out in public with my kids during a school day. And never, literally I don’t think there’s been one time where anyone has just said, “Oh, you guys are homeschooled? That’s terrible, you should be in school, you should be in public school or private school.”
People may think that, but no one’s ever actually said that to me. And more often than not, people will actually say, “Oh wow, you’re homeschooled? That’s great. I have a sister who homeschools, or a niece who homeschools.” Or something like that. And it’s very widely accepted here, overall. Is it widely accepted there as well? Or are people still kind of sitting back wondering what this homeschool is?
Nadim: I think it is widely accepted. I think the issue that might sort of play on people’s minds, which is really unfortunately still the stigma of the sort of social ramifications. Which of course, we all know, is not true, and is completely wrong. But just sort of educating people, I suppose. Explaining it out to people.
Yvette: That is one of the big, big reasons behind Schoolhouse Rocked. Why we’re making the movie, why we’ve got our blog and our social media outlets, all of those things are to help people open their eyes up to the just great blessings and benefits of homeschooling. And so hopefully we can help do that down under as well.
Nadim: For sure.
Yvette: Nadim, thank you so much for your time today. I appreciate your math encouragement, and we appreciate you guys. We appreciate CTCMath. You guys have been very supportive of what we’re doing and so we are very grateful for you. And people can find out more about you at CTCMath.com, is that correct?
Nadim: Correct, yes.
Yvette: Okay, perfect. We will link to that in the show notes, of course. I’ll try to find some fun math games, in addition to the ones that you have recommended, and I’ll put those in the show notes as well. And you guys, thank you for listening. Nadim, have a great week, and listeners, you have a great week, too. We pray for you guys all the time and we are so grateful for your support and your encouragement. And we will see you guys back here again next week. Bye.
Sam Sorbo is passionate about faith and families. We had the chance to sit down for an interview with Sam for The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, in which Sam shared her story of going taking her own kids back from the schools and how that decision has blessed her family. Please enjoy this transcript of their heart-felt and encouraging conversation.
Yvette Hampton: Hey everyone, this is Yvette Hampton. Welcome back to The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. I am so excited that you are with us today because you are likely listening to this podcast because you likely saw the guest that I have on today. Her name is Sam Sorbo. Many of you are very familiar with her as a homeschool mom, as an actress, as the wife of Kevin Sorbo. She is just an amazing mom, an amazing wife, and she is such a blessing to me. Sam, welcome to the podcast.
Sam Sorbo: Thank you so much for having me.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, and welcome Aby too. I’ve got my co-host here with me as well so the three-
Sam Sorbo: Hi, Aby.
Aby Rinella: I’m here. Hi, I’m so excited to get to know you a little bit better and be encouraged.
Sam Sorbo: Its fun. It’s just like us girls.
Aby Rinella: Yes.
Yvette Hampton: Right. We need our cup of coffee. Right?
Aby Rinella: I know.
Yvette Hampton: We have a neat story of when we got to actually meet you Sam, you are a really important part of Schoolhouse Rocked, the movie.
Yvette Hampton: It was about two years ago, several people had said to us, you really need to try to get Sam Sorbo in this movie. And I felt I don’t even know how to get hold of Sam Sorbo. One day, Garritt just said, we really want you to try to reach out to her, because I’d really like to get her as part of the cast. I said, okay. I found SamSorbo.com and I went onto your contact me page, sent you an email. Every time I do that, I always just assume it’s going to go into this big black hole of email that no one’s going to see it. At least not the person I’m trying to reach. And a couple of hours later you called me and it was so funny because my phone rang and I was expecting another call at the time from someone whose number I didn’t know. I didn’t expect to recognize the number.
Yvette Hampton: I picked up the phone, I said hello, and you said “hi, this is Sam Sorbo” and it was so funny. I actually said, hi Sam, could you hold on just one second and I put you on hold. I looked at Karen, I said “Its Sam Sorbo!”
Yvette Hampton: It was so funny. And then I calmed myself down, and you and I from there had a great talk. I think we talked for about an hour about our families and homeschooling and culture and all things related to those three things. And just it was so neat to get to know your heart, and that made me even now much more excited about having you as part of the movie and so-
Sam Sorbo: Can I be perfectly Frank?
Yvette Hampton: … yes.
Sam Sorbo: I had heard about the movie, and I don’t know if I’d seen stuff but I’d heard about it. I knew some people who had done the movie and stuff. And I was like, I want to be in that movie. When you reached out I’m like yeah. And I had just started this new thing where I pick up the phone now because I’m so tired of texting in the evening and I’m like look, she reached out, she put her phone number right there, she’s getting a call. I picked up the phone and we did, we had a really like mind-meld on the phone that first time that we talked, I think because we share a passion for the incredible grace that homeschooling provides. Is that the right way to put it? It’s such a gift. We feel like we’ve figured out sliced bread, we’ve got the wheel, it’s the most amazing invention, right?.
Sam Sorbo: So when you find somebody who’s like-minded, you just want to hug them. I think when I came to the house I just hugged you. I’m like, hey you’re here!.
Yvette Hampton: There is that there is a connection between moms that choose to school, to raise their own children. There is such a deep connection because it’s a commitment. It’s a beautiful commitment. And like you said, it’s the greatest gift, it is absolutely, next to marriage, it’s the greatest gift.
Sam Sorbo: Yeah. And there’s also the flip side, which is, I don’t want to say that we’re ostracized, but we’re sort of on the outside, and so there’s the mainstream people who send their kids to school and then we’re the other. And so when we meet people who are like us, there’s an instant comradery and it’s such a gift, homeschooling, that we feel like we’ve got that special sauce or we figured something out like it’s the worst kept secret or something.
Yvette Hampton: Well Sam, you and Kevin are from Hollywood and so this is the great analogy, is that when you see a good movie, like an excellent movie, and you want to tell everyone about it, like God’s Not Dead. It’s such a good movie or Let There be Light. You’ve seen a great movie and then you want everyone to see it and so will you tell all of your friends, you’ve got to go see this movie, it’s so good and you get excited about it. That’s how I feel about homeschool. I mean that’s why we’re making a movie about it. That’s exactly why. That’s why we do the podcast. It’s why we’re doing the movie. It’s why we are doing the Homegrown Generation Family Expo, because we want to share the goodness that we have discovered.
Sam Sorbo: And recognize that there are people who don’t want you to share that. Unlike movies, for the most part, it’s like if you like the movie, then go ahead and tell anybody. But if you like homeschooling, there are people out there saying no don’t do it.
Yvette Hampton: Well, I think oftentimes, and I don’t know if you find this to be true, I think oftentimes the reason that people don’t want us to talk about it with them is because they don’t have that conviction, and they don’t want to feel convicted or guilted over the fact that they are not homeschooling. So Aby, do you find that to be true?
Aby Rinella: Yeah, I do. I do find that to be true. As I talk to older generation homeschoolers, I feel like it’s totally shifted. They used to get the, don’t do that, that’s so terrible. And now I almost feel like people are like, aren’t you lucky to be able to do that? But I never could because of a, b, and c and d. The other part I sometimes get is, oh, you think you’re better. And that part breaks my heart because not at all do I think I’m better.
Aby Rinella: I mean, I do with my heart and soul and, and even with God’s word, believe this is God’s best design. This is God’s best way to raise our children. Do I think I’m a better person or a better mom? No. But I do believe, and God’s word says this is God’s best design to raise our own children. He gave us these children to raise, but I think it’s different than it was back on the day of like, this is a bad thing to do now. It seems like people are almost slightly envious that we get to spend as much time as we do together as a family.
Yvette Hampton: And that actually segues perfectly into Sam’s book. You actually have a couple of books, and the first one that I really became familiar with was called, They’re Your Kids, an inspirational journey from self doubter to homeschool advocate. So I would love to talk about that. Let’s have a quick break and then let’s come back and talk about that book.
Aby Rinella: Sam, we had just kind of segued into your book called They’re Your Kids. I love the name of that book because when we were ready to put our kids in school, my husband said, you know, God gave us these kids to raise. He didn’t give them to everybody else to raise, they’re our kids and we need to raise them. So when I first saw the title of your book, I’m like, that was the line, the catching line, that kept our kids home with us to raise. So excellent name. So tell us a little bit about that book.
Sam Sorbo: That’s awesome. So I started homeschooling after my son finished second grade and the school just wasn’t getting the job done. They just weren’t doing what I expected them to do, which wasn’t that much frankly, but they were getting too much, just really wrong. And so I just made the leap and I said, okay, I’m going to do this. At that point I decided to start blogging about it. So that first year I did it until Christmas, and then I said I was going to reevaluate but I knew already I wasn’t going to go back. So the first year was great. Hard, not like oh this is easy, I’ve got this all covered. I was the young homeschooler so I tried to do everything. I checked off every box, it was labor intensive.
Sam Sorbo: And of course I had my third grader, a first grader, and a toddler.
Aby Rinella: You were in the trenches.
Sam Sorbo: So I was blogging about what I was learning and I began learning so much, which I had not expected. Because I was done. I went through high school, I finished, I went to college. I felt like I was done. So why was I learning all this stuff? And yet my kids were teaching me so much and I was learning so much that put me in the position of being able to tutor them and stuff. And the second year I put them back into a little Christian school that had a hybrid program. It was a classical Christian-modeled school, and it was a disaster. And the day that I dropped them off, I cried my eyes out. And the weird thing is, and this is really the reason that I wrote the book, I brought my kids in and my second child was not a great reader, but he was a little mathematician.
Sam Sorbo: He was like a human calculator. He loved, loved, loved math. And so I had allowed him to work ahead in math, and I’d had to tutor him a lot in reading because he was just abysmal. So he was in second grade. I brought him in and the gal said, okay we’re going to test him to see where he lines up with what students. And she comes back and says so you’re right. Because I was apologetic. I said he’s great in math, he’s advanced in math, but he’s remedial in reading. She comes back and she says, so you’re right, he’s testing at about a fourth grade level in math. And I’m like, “yeah”. She said, but he’s reading at about a fifth grade level. And I said, “so I’m the one with the problem?” And she said “yeah, I think so.”
Sam Sorbo: Here’s the thing, right? I made the rules and the rule was I was dropping the kids off that day. So it never even occurred to me, hey look, you’re vindicated. You’re doing fine. Good job mom. Keep up the good work. Take the kids home and keep going. I didn’t, I dropped them off. And the rest of the story is in the book. It didn’t end well. I lasted six weeks and then I stopped and I brought them back home. And somebody said to me about a year later, it took me a while to process what had happened, and somebody said to me, “isn’t it wonderful how God allowed you to make that mistake to teach you that you are enough?”
Sam Sorbo: And that was a huge lesson. So after that I didn’t look back. But before that, you can’t help it, you look back, and the reason is because the system has taught you that you’re not enough, that you’re inadequate, but you can’t. In fact, the system has taught you everything that you can’t do because you can’t do anything that you haven’t been formally instructed to do by a teacher standing at a blackboard. Like this is the paradigm, this is how you learn, and everything else is not learned. And so we have this weird, honestly it’s like we’ve been brainwashed, we have this odd idea of what is really education. I got to tell you I have a new initiative now to revamp the way that we even define the word education. In fact, I may have a way to put it into the political campaign this coming year.
Sam Sorbo: And I’m very excited about that because people need to reexamine what constitutes education, what counts for education. We saw the parents that are being indicted for purchasing their children’s way into college. Really what is a college degree worth if all it takes is some cash that your folks have to get you into the school of your choice or the school of their choice. So we’ve seen that more recently, there was a young man who they found out his parents had bought his way into school, and they were considering rescinding his degree. If we get into the take-backs, then what? And now of course we have the socialists saying, well, education should be free. Well then know how much it’s going to be worth, right? The fact is with the internet, we all have the facility to learn anything we want, basically at any time we want for free. For the most part. It’s insane. So education is in the offing. It’s out there for the taking, and we need to get away from this old, dead paradigm of sending your children into an institution. It’s killing our young men. It’s just destroying them because it’s not geared to young men. Little boys should be outside picking up critters.
Yvette Hampton: Yes. And on that point, Sam, you know it’s really important, and we talk a lot about this on the podcast in that the whole idea of raising up our kids and homeschooling them is to teach them how to learn, and to teach them to love learning. It’s not just an issue of teaching them a bunch of facts, pouring it into their brains so that they can then go off and rattle them off on a test and mark, all the right check boxes. It’s really teaching our kids how to be lifelong learners because like you said the internet is full of all sorts of information that our kids can try. First of all, they need to have the discernment to know what is real information and what is false information. And where that comes from too is then takes us back to the word of God.
Yvette Hampton: Are we training our children up in discernment and in wisdom and teaching them how to be wise and how to discern right from wrong? Just because Facebook says it or the internet says it, or your friends say it certainly does not make it true. And we’re seeing that all around culture right now and this whole new generation of kids has been raised up, and they have no idea what they believe, but they’ve got degrees and they’ve got a piece of paper saying $60,000 in debt to tell them that they have this great education and they don’t know anything.
Sam Sorbo: What’s worse is they don’t know how to find joy. So I just want to step back for a minute, and say that it’s our job to teach our children to love learning. The fact is, no teaching required. Children love learning. They’re innately curious and they’re innately creative. There’s a great Ted talk, well the first half of it, by Ken Robinson, I think it’s been viewed 64 million times. And he talks about the death of creativity. How schools basically kill creativity because you need to get it right. And the only way to be able to get things right is if there’s a culture of the ability to fail. That embraces failure as a way of getting to the right answer. We don’t have that. If you get it wrong, it’s a red check mark, it’s a cross out. Well now they don’t even discern between right and wrong.
Sam Sorbo: As long as you feel good about the answer it’s cool, crazy stuff. So our job is actually even easier, because all we’re supposed to do is inspire the children toward your goal of learning, towards their creativity and that’s the wonderful thing. But now we’ve got these kids who have grown up in this environment where there is no right and wrong, there is no moral yardstick for them. They’ve been taught everything but Christianity there, it is not, no religion. Let’s get that straight. It’s not that we have no religion in our schools. We absolutely have a religion. It’s actually called irreligion now. It’s the combination of atheism and agnosticism and it’s irreligion, and it is the antithesis of Christianity or Judeo-Christian principles. And the reason that I’m so desperate to get the word out is because our freedom is completely intertwined with our Christian faith. And so as we lose the faith in our culture, we lose our freedom because they don’t have the same value as they did, and so we will squander them because they’re completely intertwined, and it’s a very powerful thing. People who have no faith have no concept of what that is, so they’ll squander it freely.
Aby Rinella: That’s why you see so much selling out, without that foundation of a faith, you’ll sell out to the highest bidder, the almighty dollar or whatever they’re going to offer you.
Yvette Hampton: Let’s close out this episode and let’s continue on for part two on Wednesday, because I want to talk more about this, but we are out of time for this one. So Sam, for those listening to this one, where can people can find out more about you at SamSorbo.com, correct?
Sam Sorbo: At samsorbo.com and I do have a new book coming out, so I’ll just throw that up there. It’s called Through Faith. This is my mock up, so it’s not a real copy, I wrote it with my husband Kevin. It talks about marriage, movie making, and miracles, oh my!
Yvette Hampton: When we come back on Wednesday and we talk a little bit more about that book.
Sam Sorbo: I would love to. Just go to SamSorbo.com for all the information you need.
Yvette Hampton: All right, sounds great. Thank you guys for listening. We will see you back here on Wednesday and have a great day.
Yvette Hampton: Hey everyone. Welcome back to The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. I am so excited to have my guest, and I want to say kind of new cohost, on with me today. This is Aby. And many of you who have listened to the podcast know who she is. She has been a great friend, and just an incredible encouragement to my family and I over the past year or so, as we’ve been filming Schoolhouse Rocked and working on the podcast and doing all things Schoolhouse Rocked. And God has just done amazing things in our friendship.
Yvette: So, Aby, welcome back to the podcast. I’m excited to have you on. Because we’ve been talking a lot about just kind of the future of Schoolhouse Rocked and the podcast and what the Lord is doing with all of this stuff. And so you’re kind of jumping on board with me, right?
Aby Rinella: I am so excited to do so. Yes, absolutely.
Yvette: I love this. We got to do an interview together. It was me, you, and Karen DeBeus. And this was several months ago. And the three of us just had a great connection with one another, and then you and I have done several podcast interviews together. And we’ve just become good friends outside of the podcast. And we’re so like-minded. God has really brought us together clearly on purpose. And so I love your heart for homeschooling. I love your heart for family. I love the encouragement that you have given to me. I feel like you have just done an incredible job of standing beside my family and I as we’ve been on this crazy journey, which is what we’re going to talk a little bit about today, right?
Aby: And I am so excited to talk to you about this crazy journey and this incredible journey that you guys have been on. It is a story that needs to … Maybe there should be another movie of the making of the movie. It has been an amazing journey. And we connected about a year ago. And I was so captivated by you guys. And not only what God was doing through you guys but what you guys were willing to do for God. And it was just incredible. It’s incredible to see. The verse Matthew 4:19 just hits me when Jesus says, “Come and follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”
And he asked the men to drop their nets and walk away from everything that they knew, everything comfortable, everything that they kind of had figured out. And he said, “Let it all go. Leave it all behind, and follow me into the unknown. But know that I’m with you.” And I just feel like that is what I see with your family, is that’s exactly what you guys have done. And I feel super privileged to know the story. And I know that the podcast listeners have heard bits and pieces of it. But I’m just hoping that you will share with us from the moment Jesus said, “Come and follow me.”
Well, that was way before he called you to the movie. You followed him. But when he said, “I want you to leave behind everything you know and everything that’s comfortable and I want to do something incredible through you guys for my kingdom.” So will you share that journey with us?
Yvette: Sure. Yeah. It has been an incredible journey. As we’re recording this right now we are in California, which is where we’re from. This has been home to our family, to my husband and I and to our kids pretty much our whole lives. So we have lived in other places for a few short periods of time, but for 40-some years this was home and it was all we knew, and so I guess I can kind of start it a little bit at the beginning, for those who don’t know the whole story.
Garritt used to work in the Hollywood film industry and he did that for many years, and he was very good at what he did. He loves filmmaking. God has just gifted him in that area, and so many other areas as well. But he really felt like the Lord had called him to do this. But he didn’t want to do it in an industry that he didn’t believe in. And so he quit working in that industry, went on to work for our church and teach film in a Christian school for a year. And this was in 2015 through 2016 school year.
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So, he was teaching for that year and working for our church. And through that year we knew it was just a one-year commitment and we knew that at the end of that year it was going to be time for him to figure out what next. They wanted him to come back and teach. But he just didn’t feel like that’s what the Lord was calling him to do. I don’t know if I’ve actually told you this part of the story, but I vividly remember it was April of 2016 and we were sitting in church, and I can still picture it perfectly. We’re sitting in the middle of the service, and we have a great pastor, so usually I was really interested and engaged in what he was talking about.
And I don’t even remember if he had said something that triggered this idea in my mind, or if the Lord just put it on my heart. Either way it was certainly from the Lord. But I thought, “You know, we should …” We knew his job was ending and I thought, “We should just sell our house and sell all of ours stuff and go travel around the country.” And at that time we had felt like the Lord was leading us out of California, but we didn’t know where we would go. We had family in a couple of other states, but we just didn’t have any idea where we would end up.
And so, I wrote on our church bulletin, and I said, “I think we should sell our house and sell all of our stuff and get an RV and go travel the country.” And I passed it over to him, and he kind of looked at me like, “Are you crazy? That’s insane.” And so after church he just said, “We can’t do that. That’s insane.” So I just let it go, and I thought, “Okay, well whatever. Clearly if the Lord’s not going to put that big idea on his heart then it’s probably not the best idea.”
Well, fast forward several months and the school year ended and so his job was ending. And he had so many options for work at the time. The economy was really looking a lot better. And he’s a very talented man, very gifted in many areas. He has tons of experience. He’s got his marketing degree. So it would have been easy for him to go out and find a job. And there were so many people who were saying, “Weil, you should go and do this,” or, “You should do that. And I’ve heard about this job opening or that job opening.”
He also was in the Air Force, so he also has a background in aircraft. And none of it sat right with him. He just didn’t feel like that was the right thing for him to pursue. Like any of those things were right for him to pursue. And so we just prayed through that summer, “Lord, just show us where you want us to go. Show us what you want us to do.” And I don’t remember exactly what month it was, but it was probably somewhere around July, maybe the end of July or so.
And I remember him just kind of sitting on the edge of our bed and he just said, “I don’t know how to tell you this.” He said, “But, I think we should sell our house and sell all of our stuff, load up in an RV and go travel and see where the Lord takes us. And I think we need to film a documentary on homeschooling.” And instantly, without hesitation, I said, “Yes. Let’s do that.”
And it was just incredible that the Lord had put that on my heart many months before that. Because I think had he come to me and just said, “I think we should do all this, I have this crazy idea,” I would have followed if I knew that that’s what the Lord was calling him to do. But I don’t know how excited I would have been about that. But I didn’t just say yes. I was excited about it. And understand, California, like I said, was home. It was where our family is. It’s where our church is, all of our friends, our homeschool community. Our whole life was in California.
And so, the idea of just driving out aimlessly should have been a really scary thing for us. But it wasn’t. Because we knew the Lord was in it. So we just prayed, and we said, “Okay Lord. We’re going to trust you to just orchestrate this. And if this is really what you want us to do then we’ve got to sell the house first.” And we had a really nice five-bedroom house and had the minivan, because of course we’re a homeschool family. So every homeschool mom must have a minivan.
And so, we had our comfortable life. And we said, “If this is what you want for us then you’re going to have to just open the doors. And He did. I mean, we put our house up for sale. The very next day we had an almost full-price offer on it. We sold the house. All of our stuff sold. I mean, it was amazing. It was really cool, because we had friends and family who just came over to our house and they were like, “Okay, we’ll take this, this, this, this and this.”
And then we had a huge estate sale and pretty much sold everything that we didn’t absolutely need to keep. We got rid of all of our childhood trophies and camp pictures, and I mean everything we’d been toting around for 20-some years of marriage. And so the Lord gave us such peace about it. So we in December of 2016 … It took obviously a few months to pull all of this together. Actually, we started pre-production on Schoolhouse Rocked in August I think. So it was almost three years ago.
Started in August and then it took until December for us to actually leave. But in December, on December 15th of 2106 we got in our RV, pulled by our Excursion, and even through the process of that there were so many answered prayers. We wanted a very specific travel trailer. That was the kind of RV we decided that we wanted. And the Lord provided exactly what we wanted. Even more so actually. And it was a mile down the road from us. We wanted a Ford Excursion. He provided the Excursion that came with the travel trailer. You know, they were already attached, and it was perfect.
And so just there were so many answered prayers through that time that we just saw the hand of God move. And so we set out to film this documentary and to really just explore and see where the Lord would take us. And we ended up going straight to Georgia, because we knew that we wanted to be with family for Christmas. And so half of our family is in California. The other half is in Georgia. And then we’ve got kind of other extended family scattered throughout the country.
So, we ended up in Georgia, and that was where we kind of parked ourselves for the past two and a half plus years. And through the process of just being obedient to God we have had to rely on him and depend on him for everything. Everything. It sounds crazy when we tell people that Garritt has not had a steady paycheck, as you will, for over three years.
Yvette: And the Lord has provided our daily bread. I mean, it’s been incredible to just see the hand of God move and provide for us because we’ve answered this call that he’s put upon us to film this documentary. And so-
Aby: Can I interject really quick?
Yvette: Please, yes.
Aby: It wasn’t, from my understanding, that you guys were not like on the homeschool speaking circuit, and you knew all these homeschool people to interview. And you didn’t have one foot in to the whole … You were just a normal guy, a normal mom, and normal kids. And so it wasn’t like we kind of have this figured out and the Lord-
Aby: It was totally into the unknown. And share a little bit about just God’s incredible hand on … I mean, you’ve interviewed … This movie has the top, the cream of the crop, the most inspirational, wisest, incredible cast. And that, share a little bit about how God put that all together.
Yvette: Sure. Yes. Well, as you say, we were just your typical homeschool family. I didn’t know anyone, and Garritt certainly didn’t know anyone in the homeschool world. We’d been to a couple of conventions and we’d heard some speakers that were really encouraging to us. But there were a couple of people whose names we knew. And Andrew Pudewa was one of them. And he was one that I said from the beginning … We had used IEW, which is his company, we’d use their curriculum. And I just really respected him, and I really liked his style of teaching. And I just knew he was very well respected in the homeschool community. And so I thought, “I want to interview him.”
And the Lord worked out the details of that. Before we left California we contacted him. He was the first homeschool expert that we contacted and we just said, “Hey, we’re making this movie.” At the time I don’t think we even had a title for the movie. We didn’t even know what we were going to call it. We just said, “We’re making this documentary on homeschooling.” We thought it was going to be kind of a small direct-to-DVD type documentary. And he said, “Oh, I’d love to be a part of that.”
And he lives in Oklahoma. He said, “But I’m coming to California in a few weeks. If you’re still in California I would love to just do the interview while I’m there.” And we said, “Well, that would be fantastic.” So that’s what we did. He actually drove out to us from … He was in Long Beach and we were way south of him. We were north of him actually. So he drove to where we were, and we got to interview him and just, I mean, we were blown away by his wisdom and his knowledge and his incredible interview.
And then he went on after the interview and he just said to us, “You know, I really believe in what you guys are doing.” He said, “Here are some suggestions of people that you may want to interview.” And he listed off a whole bunch of names. And it was really funny because he said, “All these people are great. I highly recommend trying to connect with these people. I’ll be more than happy to connect you with them, because I know all of them,” he said, “But if there’s any one person that you really need to get in this movie it’s Heidi St. John.”
And I was familiar of course with her. Interested read a couple of her books. But I had never actually heard her speak at that time. So I was like, “Okay. Well, yes, I know who she-
Aby: You really were in the dark, weren’t you?
Yvette: Yes. I was in the dark. And so we just prayed about it and I guess it was about a year and a half later or so the Lord opened the door for us to be able to interview Heidi. And so she’ll come in a little bit later in this story again, as you know. But having Andrew Pudewa in the movie, and having interviewed him, just opened up the door to all of these other people. Because we were able to contact these people and we would say, “We’re making this documentary. This is why we’re making it.” And it was we really want to encourage and equip the homeschool community. We want people to understand the great benefits and blessings of homeschooling and debunk all of the myths and misconceptions that people have of homeschooling. And we would say, “And we’ve interviewed Andrew Pudewa and several other people.”
And as soon as they would see his name they would say, “Oh, well, if Andrew’s in this movie then certainly it must be legit. And so we would love to do this.” And that’s how the Lord opened up the doors for us to interview so many of the cast members that we have since interviewed.
Aby: Obviously God’s movie.
Yvette: Obviously God’s movie, because it’s not anything we’ve done. I mean, we’re not these amazing people that anyone even knows. No one knows our name or anything. So we were able to go to a couple of homeschool conventions where they were speaking. So that spring we hit a few of them and we were able to interview a bunch of people all at one time. I mean, not together, but while we were at the conventions. And that was a great blessing that the Lord just allowed us to be able to do that.
When we started interviewing people for the movie, one of the people that we wanted to interview was Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis. So we called Answers in Genesis, and we said, “We would love to interview him for this movie.” And we were going to be in Cincinnati, which is near where the Creation Museum is. And we said, “We’re going to be there on these dates. Would he be available?” And they said, “He’s not going to be available,” but Bryan Osborne, who is one of their speakers and he is one of their curriculum developers, they said he would be available and he would be happy to be interviewed for the movie.
And we said, “Okay, great. We don’t know who this Bryan Osborne guy is. But yes. If this is the door the Lord is opening then let’s interview him.” So we got to go and interview Bryan. And he was just fantastic. He was a public school teacher for 13 years and just an incredible, wise, godly man. And so the Lord just kept orchestrating all of this and bringing people to us who we didn’t even know that we needed to interview. And God just would say, “Here you go. Interview this person.”
And again, through the course of this God kept providing for our family in just the most amazing and miraculous ways. We’ve had several families who have just come alongside us and just said, “We’ll support you monthly.” And some of them have been just a little bit per month. Some of them have been a couple hundred dollars per month. And the Lord has just put that on their hearts. And other people have supported us by donating large amounts at a time. We had one family who they donated $5,000 and just sent a really sweet note with it. And she said her husband had been homeschooled and his mom had passed away before she was able to see the fruits of her labor. And so they wanted to just bless this ministry that God had called us to.
And that has just happened over and over again where God has just put it on people’s hearts to support it. Because it’s really not our ministry, as you know. It’s the Lord’s ministry. And so, anyway, as we’ve been on this journey and seen God open the doors for us to pull this whole movie together, he brought us to a point about a year ago where we were almost done with filming but we needed just to finish the narrative of the movie. And when you have a documentary you can’t have just a bunch of interviews with a bunch of talking heads. You have to actually have a storyline through the movie.
And so, we got in contact with another production company and we were talking with them and working with them for several months. Actually it was about I think seven or eight months that we were working through trying to solidify a partnership with them. And the Lord closed the door on that, and there’s a whole story behind that that I won’t get into. And it was not anything … There was nothing wrong with them or with us. It’s just the Lord just said, “This is just not the direction that I want you to go.”
So, we actually walked away from that deal. But before we had a signed contract with them. And at that time, that was just in April, this past April, it had set us back several months because we had spent all that time working through that potential partnership. And so April came around and we were like, “Well, what do we do now? We still need to finish the movie.” We still need to have the narrative of the movie filmed, and then we were going to be all done with it. And the Lord over and over again kept putting Heidi St. John on our hearts and said, “She’s the one.” She’s the one that he wanted us to do it with.
So, I called Heidi. We had interviewed her before for the movie in Tennessee. And her interview was excellent. But it was just a regular interview. It wasn’t the storyline of the movie. So I called Heidi and I said, “Here’s the deal. We need to finish this movie and we need a storyline. And we would like to do that with you.” And it was going to by myself and another homeschool mom talking through our journey of homeschooling. And she just said, “I’m in. Let’s do this.” But as you know, Heidi lives in Washington. She lives in-
Aby: On the other side of the country.
Yvette: On the other side of the country. We were in Georgia. She’s in Washington state. So we just started to pray again and say, “Lord, we’re going to just trust you to get us there. It’s not like we have all this extra money to travel across the country. It’s very expensive, obviously, to do that.” And so we just prayed. And again the Lord provided for us to be able to do that. And you were an exciting part of that, Aby, because as we were traveling across the country, you are in Idaho, and you and I … You know, you talked in the beginning a little bit about how you had reached out to us over a year ago and just said, “Hey, I’m excited about what you’re doing. How can I pray for you? How can I help?”
So, the Lord has just formed a really good friendship between you and me. So when I realized that you were on the way we were able to stop by and meet you and your family and stay with you for a few days. And that was such a huge blessing. Clearly a friendship and relationship orchestrated by the Lord. So we got to spend time with you and then we went on to Washington. And we got to go spend time with Heidi and her family. We were there for about two and a half weeks. So that was towards the end of June.
So, we got to finish filming the movie with Heidi. And we filmed the narrative with her, and then we filmed also, she and her family about two years ago opened the Firmly Planted Homeschool Resource Center. And this place is absolutely amazing. It is exactly what every homeschool mom would dream of having. It’s this huge warehouse. It’s set up with classrooms and a theater and an art studio and a science lab, and they’ve got music rooms, and they’ve got beekeeping, and they have a recording studio where Heidi records her podcasts. And they’ve got a computer lab. I mean, a coffee shop so the moms can go hang out while their kids are doing classes.
It’s just amazing what the Lord has done with their ministry. And so we were able to film there with a bunch of their families who are part of the Homeschool Resource Center as well. And it was just incredible to see how God, again, opened those doors, provided for us to get to Washington, film the rest of the movie with Heidi and with her family, and at the Homeschool Resource Center. And then bring us to the place where we are now.
So last month, we finished in July, so last month we finished filming the whole movie.
Aby: That’s amazing. That’s incredible.
Yvette: It was amazing. Yes. Yeah. It was an amazing day when we finished. As a matter of fact, I can’t wait till the movie comes out because there was this one part where we needed to kind of tie up the whole message of the movie. And Heidi and I were sitting in the coffee shop and Garritt’s filming, and we’re talking with one another. And Garritt is saying, because he’s directing the movie of course, and he says, “Here’s the message that we need in order to just bring it home.”
And I was trying to get it out. And I just couldn’t do it. I could not form the words together properly in order to get the message across that we were trying to get through in this movie. And so he looked at Heidi, he said, “Heidi, do you think you can do this.” And I’m like, “Of course Heidi can do it.” And ironically she wasn’t even feeling very good that day. She was just having one of those days where she was just feeling kind of crummy.
And so, she didn’t even know what she was going to say exactly or how this was all going to end. But we had prayed beforehand and Garritt just said, “Okay, Heidi. It’s you. It’s on you now. Bring it home.” And it was literally like the Holy Spirit just came down on her. And she just gave this amazing … And it was probably three minutes of just bringing the whole movie together in one beautiful kind of speech, if you will, to the point where we were all about in tears. Actually I think Garritt was in tears at the end of it. And it was so funny, as soon as he cut he was like, “Yes.” And he screamed really loud and kind of Heidi and I jumped and we were like, “What?”
And he said, “That was it. That’s the end of the movie.” And that was it. And it was done.
Aby: Three years wrapped up in three minutes.
Yvette: Three years wrapped up in three minutes. Exactly. It was absolutely incredible, and it was only-
Aby: And it’s incredible because God knew from the very beginning, from the moment you wrote that little note to him on the church pew. God knew that that powerful last three minutes of the movie was where it was going to be delivered, who was going to say it, in exactly the time and place that he had planned for it.
Yvette: Yes. Yeah. It was a beautiful thing. So that’s where we are right now with the movie. We are done filming. It has been really neat. As we’ve been here in California we’ve been able to meet with a lot of friends and family and just kind of share the journey of where God has taken us over the past few years. And I think three years ago had God laid out for us, “This is what your life is going to look like,” I don’t know that we would have been so quick to sign on the dotted line. Because it’s been a huge blessing. But it’s also been a really difficult three years, because for this whole time we haven’t really been settled anywhere. We’ve been traveling a lot. We have not had a real solid homeschool community. We’ve gone to church in Georgia when we’re there, but we travel so much that we haven’t had a solid steady church community.
It’s been difficult for our whole family. But there have been so many blessings that have come from it. And we know that we are exactly where God wants us to be.
Aby: And he knows exactly where you’re going. So the movie’s wrapped up, and if anybody has not seen the trailer to this film, it will … If that didn’t give you chills, what the story the Yvette just told, the trailer will. So we’ll link to that at the bottom of this, because you’ve got to go watch that trailer. And then it needs to be shared everywhere so that you can get just what’s behind this film. And just as a side-note, because you would never plug this, but I will. That trailer won an incredible award, right? Didn’t that trailer win some award?
Yvette: Yeah. It won best film trailer at the Christian Worldview Film Festival just back in March. So yes. That was really exciting.
Aby: Which just shows you what kind of film this is going to be. This is going to be a top-notch film. So tell me now, it’s August 17th. I know God knows the plan-
Yvette: When we’re recording this.
Aby: So, the plan… Oh, sorry, yes.
Yvette: This is not live.
Aby: Right. So what is it going to take for me to see this movie on the screen?
Yvette: Well, that’s a good question. It’s going to take the Lord, obviously. The hand of God continuing to move. As we have filmed, about a year ago we went and we got to stay with a couple who had invited us to stay in their home overnight. They knew that we were going to be traveling through their town and they said, “We’d love to just have you guys over,” which that’s actually one of the amazing things God has done over the past several years is that people have just opened up their homes to us. Hospitality has been amazing. And people have just loved on our family and randomly they’ll just invite us in, and it’s been incredible because we have friends now all over the place.
But we stayed with them overnight, and the morning that we were leaving the husband, he said, “I really, I just want to pray over your family.” And when he prayed for us he prayed … Do you remember the story of course of the Israelites and Moses is leading the Israelites into the promised land. And there’s the one part where they’re fighting the Amalekites. And the Israelites are winning as long as Moses is holding up his staff. And as soon as his arm gets tired and he starts to fall, then the Israelites start to lose.
And so, Aaron and Hur come alongside Moses and they hold up his arm, and the Israelites end up winning this battle. And so that was what he prayed over us. And he said, “Lord, just bring people around the Hampton family as they fight this battle and get this movie done. Bring people alongside them who will help hold up their arms and encourage them.” Because there’s been several times where we’ve just been weary. We’re tired. We are overwhelm. It has for the most part been I’ll say a four-man show, because we’ll include our girls in that. They’ve done a lot with this movie. And so it’s just been our family who has done most of this.
But the Lord has brought alongside us people who have supported us through prayer, through encouragement, through finances. And writing blogs for us. Just podcasting with me. I mean, so different things that people have done to encourage and support us. And it’s not anything that we’ve done on our own. We are, to be quite honest, we’re totally lame on our own. We are not capable of doing any of this without the grace and mercy and power of God. But the beautiful thing about that is that in the end, and we talk a lot about this as a family. Because it’s been such a difficult journey in many ways and a journey that we couldn’t do on our own, in the end all we’re going to be able to say is, “Look what God did.”
It’s not because we’re such amazing people and so gifted in a million different areas. It’s because God has equipped us to be able to accomplish what he’s called us to do in making this movie. And so he gets all the glory for it in the end.
Aby: Well, and I think too, it is a movie, but it is so much more than a movie. And I think that that’s maybe the message that also needs to get across, is this isn’t just a movie. I mean, look around our culture and see what’s going on. We are in a whole new set of times that we’ve ever been in, and we are raising children in, they’re not scary times because we know who’s in control and we know the end of the story. But they’re difficult times. And our culture is going down fast. And our families are being torn apart. And our children are having to fight things that we never thought they would.
And so, this isn’t just a movie. This is a message that God has placed on your guys’ hearts. But the reality is it’s a message that every one of us who has chosen to homeschool, and even those that haven’t, this is a message that’s on the hearts of the people. And this is a tool. This movie is a tool for all of us. I’ve said so many times, if I could just pay someone to answer all the ridiculous questions people ask me about homeschool, if I could just hand someone a movie and say, “Check this out,” that they would be as inspired and passionate about not just homeschool, but about the design that God made for parents to teach and train their children in his righteousness.
I mean, that sounds like a cop out for me, but I’d love to just hand someone something that they could watch. And that’s what this is. This isn’t just a movie. This is a message to God’s people and to people that wonder and question and aren’t sure. Because more now than ever this message needs to be heard.
Yvette: Yes. Oh, I could not agree more. It’s interesting, because we’ve talked a lot about this over the last even just couple months, in that since we started filming three years ago, the time has gone by so quickly but so much has happened in the last three years in culture. I mean, we have seen a drastic change in the way people are responding to God’s word, in the way that the church is responding, in the way that public schools are responding, and that the deeper their indoctrination is going and what they’re teaching these kids. It was bad three years ago. It’s worse today. And it’s gotten so out of control that parents, they need help, and they need hope. They need to know that there’s another way, another alternative to homeschooling, or I’m sorry, to public schooling or private schooling.
And so that’s why God’s called us to make this movie. But we can’t make it alone. I mean, we are the body of Christ and we are not meant to do this on our own. And we haven’t done it on our own. We’ve been kind of the daily hands and feet who the Lord has called to do this. But we certainly cannot do this without the help of people. I was reflecting recently on … I don’t know, I’m reading a lot of the Old Testament, as you can see. Our family’s actually reading through the New Testament, but in my quiet time I’m actually reading through Joshua right now.
And I love reading about the Israelites because it’s amazing to see what God has done with them. And I was thinking recently about, you know when God brought them out of Egypt and they’re standing at the edge of the Red Sea, and they’re standing in front of this huge sea, and they don’t know how they’re going to get through it. Because what are they going to do? If it had been a little stream or if it had been maybe even like a larger river there were enough of them that collectively they could have said, “You know what, if we just stack these rocks just right or if we lay these logs just so we can figure out a way to get across this stream or across this river.”
But God didn’t bring them to a stream or river. He brought them to the sea. And so they’re standing there and they could not at that point even have said, “Well, we’re just going to stand here and wait, and clearly God’s going to split the sea and we’re going to walk through on dry ground.” Because that had never been done before. And so all they could do was stand and wait. And they were scared. And now the enemy’s chasing them. And again, God just said, “Moses, you hold up your staff and watch what I do.” And he parts the sea. And they walk through on dry land. I mean, that’s an incredible story.
Aby: It’s incredible. Yes.
Yvette: And the same God who can split the sea for the Israelites to walk through is the same God who will provide everything that we need in order to get this movie done. Because again, it’s his movie. It’s not ours. And we, as far as budget-wise, I know you didn’t ask this, but I’ll just say anyway, just so people know where we are, as far as budget-wise it’s going to take close to about $500,000 to get the movie into theaters.
So now that we’re done filming, we’re done with production, we now are moving into postproduction. And post production is where we bring in a composer and a colorist, and probably a second editor, and all the other names that you see in the end credits of the movie who will make this movie excellent. But we have to hire all those people and then all the resources that we need in order to complete this. So post production is about, I think it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of $198,000. So that’s what we need to finish, post-production on the movie.
And then another, well, whatever the difference is of that. So close to $500,000 total to get it actually into theaters. So the rest of that budget is for marketing the movie, which I know that sounds like a big number, but if no one knows about the movie then no one’s going to see it. So it’s not too big for God, though. You know, we realize that [crosstalk 00:38:29]-
Aby: It’s not. And I know a lot of people are probably thinking, “Okay, why would I get behind … There’s a million movies out there. There’s 100 movies out there. There’s lots of movie makers out there.” But what I want to say is getting behind this, we’re not getting behind a movie. We’re getting behind a message that needs to be heard, and God has a message that he wants heard in a culture that desperately needs to hear it. And you know, when we send missionaries out into a strange world where people aren’t following Christ to spread the gospel, missionaries don’t go without people sending them. And there are people sending the missionaries, there are people praying for the missionaries and encouraging and supporting them financially, and in many ways.
And that’s how I want people to see this, is this is a mission. This is a mission that has been put on your guys’ heart. And as parents who have already answered the call to homeschool, we need to get behind this mission. We need to have a heart for the lost. We need to have a heart for parents. They were once probably where we were, that said, “Yeah, I would like to but there’s no way I could.” And they have all the reasons as to why they don’t think they’re equipped. Or even maybe aren’t sure that it’s even the best, the right way to do it. So we need to spread this message. And the way to do that, because not everybody’s an eloquent speaker. Not everybody can make a movie. But God has placed those gifts in the speakers that you have in the movie, and in you and Garritt to make the movie. And so we need to get behind you, homeschool families.
I want to get behind you guys to do this because I look around my neighborhood and I cry for the children. And I cry for the families who they know that they don’t, they don’t want to send their kids out every day, but they don’t know another way. And so this is for those families. This is for our neighbors, this is for our church families, this is for ourselves to be encouraged and our parents and the naysayers, or the people that want to do it but just don’t know how.
So, getting behind this movie isn’t just funding a movie. Getting behind this movie is supporting missionaries who have answered the call to go out into a culture that rejects God and give hope and a message that just must be spread right now. So how can we do that? So now what? I’m on board. What can we do now?
Yvette: Yeah. Thank you for your encouragement with that. There are a couple of ways that people can help. The quickest way is to just go to schoolhouserocked.com. If people want to donate they can click right on the front page. There’s a blue button that says, I think it just says, “Donate now.” But then there are also several different ways that people can help. So I think on the front page there’s a button that says, “Support Schoolhouse Rocked.” I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s labeled. And they can go on there and they can see how they can partner with us. Homeschool friendly organizations can sponsor the movie. That’s a huge way that organizations can help and get on board with us.
People can donate. People can invest. We’re actually looking for bigger investors, and donors. Bigger donors as well. Though honestly, I mean $10 or $10,000, it doesn’t matter. It’s all God’s money and it’s all the same in his economy anyway. But that shows the different ways that people can be involved in helping the movie. And then also, obviously, just praying for us. Pray for us as we go about doing this. We have several people who are on our prayer team and they will send us regular text messages or phone calls or emails and just say, “Hey, how can we pray for you. How are things going.” And that means the world to us.
I think people don’t realize how much we need that encouragement and how much that keeps us going. And, I mean, Aby, you’ve been one who the Lord, I am certain he has placed you in our lives exactly at the right time because you … I think I shared this with you, but a couple weeks ago Garritt and I were out to dinner and just talking through, “Okay, what now? What are we going to do? How are we going to move forward with this? Which direction is the Lord leading us to get this movie done?” And you had sent an email, no, a text message to me that morning and just said, “I’m so excited. I can’t wait till the day that we get to actually see this movie completed, and I don’t care if it takes 10 years for it to get done. It will get done in God’s perfect time.”
And at the end of it you said, “Stay the course.” And as Garritt and I were talking he was sharing with me, he just said, “You know, I just, I know that this is what God’s called us to. There’s no doubt in my mind.” And I know it too. “Because we’ve seen his hand move in so many different ways.” But we need people to remind us of that. To just stay the course, just keep going, don’t give up, keep going, keep going. Have you ever seen Facing the Giants? That’s the Kendrick brothers’ movie.
The Death Crawl Scene from Facing the Giants
Yvette: Oh, you need to watch it. It’s so good. For those of you who have seen it, you may remember there’s this part in there where Alex Kendrick is a football coach. And you need to see this part because I don’t know that I can do it justice. But there’s this part where he’s got this football player and this big football player has another of this smaller football player guys on his back. And he’s getting him to crawl across the field. And he’s blindfolded, the one who’s crawling with the other one on his back, he’s blindfolded. And he’s trying so hard to get across the field, and he’s exhausted. I mean, he gets halfway across and he’s just so tired. And he’s like, “I can’t go one more step.”
And Alex Kendrick is on the football field on the ground with him. And he’s down on his hands and knees with him, and he’s like, “Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. Don’t stop. Keep going.” And I often feel like people like you and our family members, you know our parents have been incredibly supportive of this and what God is doing here. There are so many people who are just on their hands and knees with us and just saying, “Keep going, keep going, stay the course, keep going.” And so when people leave reviews on the podcast, when they email us, when they text us or call us, that is a huge way that people can support and encourage us as well.
Aby: Awesome. Well, I cannot wait. I cannot wait. I keep thinking about sitting in a seat and watching it on the big screen, and hearing a message that is so important to be heard and bringing my friends and my family. And this is going to be wonderful. And there’s been another big movie that’s just been released that is just, it’s changed lives and it’s addressed things that are happening right now that are against God’s word in the culture. And it reached peoples’ hearts. And that’s what I can’t wait to see this movie do, is reach peoples’ hearts for the kingdom of God.
And I can’t wait. And I’m so blessed to be with you in this journey. And I just keep thinking, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me.” And I think this movie is going to give parents the encouragement they need and the tools that they need to not hinder their children from coming to Christ. So I just, I’m so thankful for what you guys are doing. I want to encourage everybody listening to this to get behind this, to get behind this film. It’s for all of us. It’s for God, but it’s for all of us to share and to use. And then share it. It’s just, get on, if you’re on social media share the trailer, share the movie, and share the need that it’s going to take people getting behind this movie to see it in the theaters and to have it in our hands. So-
Yvette: Yeah. Thank you. And I want to just throw out there too, it’s not just the movie. Schoolhouse Rockedis a ministry that God has called us to. And we’re building this whole kind of ecosystem around the movie, which is why we have the podcast, it’s why we have the blog, it’s why we have the Facebook page. It’s not just here’s a movie, now leave and go figure out how to do it on your own. It’s the movie is the base of it, but then you’ve got all of these things that go along with it to help continue to encourage parents in their journey of homeschooling. And that’s really what we feel like the Lord has led us to do, is to build a ministry to homeschool families to help them to stay the course, to help them homeschool with excellence. Because anything we do for the Lord it should be done with excellence, including this movie, including the podcast, including everything that we do, we do it for the glory of God.
And so, it’s not just the movie, it’s the whole package. So when people support Schoolhouse Rockedthey are supporting everything that we’re doing with this ministry.
Aby: Yeah. A ministry to encourage parents and equip parents who homeschool. And for such a time as this. All we have to do is look around and this message is one that needs … And we all need the encouragement. I need to get on to Schoolhouse Rockedand get encouraged. So thank you for answering the call. Thank you for letting us all be a part of it.
Yvette: Yeah. Thank you, Aby. It’s so fun talking to you. And I appreciate you being on with me. This ended up being kind of a reverse podcast where I feel like you were interviewing me, but I love being able to share of God’s faithfulness, and again, it’s all for his glory.
Yvette: Only by his grace. So thank you, Aby, for loving our family, and loving us through this journey. And thank you guys for listening to the podcast today. I know we went way long today. But please pray for us, and please consider supporting us in any way you can, whether it’s through prayer or through a financial contribution or donation or investment, or whatever it is. Just pray about that, and we would love for you to just partner with us in this important ministry. So have a great day you guys, and we will be back next week.
“I had a friend who was homeschooling, and she was joking with me and saying, ‘You’re homeschooling, you’re a homeschooler. Just wait and see, you’re going to homeschool.’ And I said, ‘No, no, no.’ I didn’t want to homeschool. That wasn’t on my radar at all. But God just really started working in my heart too, that I wanted to be the one to disciple my children and raise them up in the Lord.”- Faith Berens
Faith Berens is a special needs education consultant with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). As a special needs consultant for HSLDA, Faith helps families find educational solutions for their children’s learning challenges and disabilities. She has worked as a classroom teacher, in both public and private schools, a Reading Recovery® teacher, an NILD educational therapist, and as a private tutor. Faith specializes in child literacy and has a master’s degree in reading from Shenandoah University. She draws on her extensive experience with learning difficulties including her own struggle with dyscalculia and homeschooling her own children with unique learning challenges to help homeschool students facing their own learning struggles. Her areas of expertise are early childhood literacy, reading assessment, and the identification and remediation of reading difficulties and disabilities.
Yvette Hampton: For those of you who are not familiar with HSLDA, maybe you’re just jumping onto this whole homeschooling train and you’re trying to figure out what it is, HSLDA is the Home School Legal Defense Association. They are a fantastic organization that really protects our rights as homeschoolers. They’ve been around for quite some time now, about 30 years, right, Faith?
Faith Berens: 35 actually.
Yvette: 35 years! I knew that there was just an anniversary last year and I couldn’t remember if it was 30 or 35. For the past 35 years they have been fighting for the rights for us to be able to homeschool our children. Faith is one of their special needs consultants, and I’m excited to have her on the show. So welcome to the show.
Faith: Thank you. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be a part of this ministry and what you’re doing. It’s really awesome to be your guest today.
Yvette: Yeah. Thank you so much. Tell us about you and your family and your background.
Faith: Sure. I’m a homeschooling mom of two. I have a 16-year-old daughter. She’ll be 17 soon, and she has her learner’s permit. She’ll be getting her driver’s license soon, so everybody can pray for me. And then my son is nine, so we have two, and my mom lives with us, so she helps with our homeschooling and we live here in northern Virginia in Fauquier County, and have been homeschooling for 12 plus years.
Yvette: Wow. I Love Northern Virginia. It’s one of my favorite parts of the country. We went several years ago, and I remember driving through the Shenandoah Valley. It’s so beautiful. I felt like we were driving through a picture. I think it was October and it was just breathtaking. You live in a very, very beautiful part of the country. I’m from the desert in California, so it’s quite different than what I grew up with.
So, we want to talk today about special needs. Several months ago we talked a little bit about special needs on The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, so I wanted to have you on because I know that this is a huge concern for a lot of moms, especially for moms who are just starting to think about homeschooling or maybe they are feeling like God is prompting them towards homeschooling, but they think, “I’ve got a special needs student,” and I know that we’ll talk about kind of the whole range of what special needs is, but they think “I’ve got a special needs student and so I can’t.” Oftentimes I think that’s because their doctor or their school counselor or their child’s preschool teacher or kindergarten teacher says, “Oh, well, they need to be in this specific program.” And so as parents we think, “Well, we want what’s best for our kids. And, of course, this is what’s best for them. So, we must put them in this special program.” So, I would love for you to, first, tell your story. Tell us about how you got involved with special needs and homeschooling.
“I always had a heart for my students that were struggling.”
Faith: Sure. Well, it’s kind of a long and winding story, but God doesn’t waste anything. So, I was always a struggling student myself and I have what’s called dyscalculia, which is the math learning disability. And I usually tell parents they can think of that as the math version of dyslexia. So I struggled all through school, but with the help of my mom and getting tutors and accommodations in place, I did fine with that kind of support. I’m a product of public school unfortunately, but went off to college and that’s really where I got the official diagnosis of dyscalculia, and again with accommodations and support was able to do really well, and then went on to get a master’s degree. So I mean, God doesn’t waste anything.
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I always had a heart for my students that were struggling. I ended up majoring in education and then became a reading specialist, and it felt like God put me in public school and private school. That was my ministry. But then when my own children came along, I sent my daughter off to kindergarten half-day, and I was the reading specialist at the school where she was. And she was very high in reading and had a lot of struggles in math as well. She had some attention, focus issues, and some low frustration tolerance, things going on. And naturally in the afternoon I was working with her and supplementing what she was getting at school and loving being home with her. God laid it on my heart to want to be home and to have another child, and I wanted to be my kids’ teacher.
And so, I had a friend who was homeschooling, and she was joking with me and saying, “You’re homeschooling, you’re a homeschooler. Just wait and see, you’re going to homeschool. And I said, “No, no, no.” I didn’t want to homeschool. That wasn’t on my radar at all. But God just really started working in my heart too, that I wanted to be the one to disciple my children and raise them up in the Lord. And that education was about a lot more than just academics. So naturally we made the shift. I left public school and my husband said, “Well, if you can find a job working in your field and making x amount of money part time and work from home,” I still needed to work part-time. And we started praying and I just felt, “What am I going to do?
I’m a trained teacher. What else am I going to do?” How am I going to find a work from job part-time in my niche, which is reading specialist in dyslexia, but serving homeschoolers or private school students and get out of public school. And I just started praying, God, get me out of Egypt and random laundry list. And within six months, God worked it out. There was a job at HSLDA. I didn’t even seek it. It fell in my lap. He opened so many doors. He’s so faithful. So I like to share that story with other parents that think, “How am I going to homeschool? First of all, I don’t know what to do” or I don’t have any training, I don’t have any background” or “I don’t think I’m going to have support. I don’t even know where to start.”
But you know, God orchestrates things and He doesn’t waste any of our experiences and He will provide a way and the resources, and His timing is perfect.
Yvette: Yes, I love that. Talk about some of the special needs that parents face today, and then talk about some of the benefits that there are to homeschooling those kids.
Faith: Sure. We see a huge gamut, anywhere from gifted students, to gifted with learning disabilities, though they’re referred to as twice exceptional. So they might have a learning disability or a processing problem on top of being gifted. Dyslexia is huge. I mean about one in five people, it depends on what stat you read, it can be one in five to one in 10 people, are impacted with dyslexia. And then of course autism has skyrocketed. And so those are the big groups. More and more families are pulling kids out of school to homeschool because of special needs, specifically autism and dyslexia.
“We always tell parents that homeschooling really is an individualized education program. And that’s what it is, due to its very nature. So parents are uniquely gifted. They know their children better than anybody. They love them more than anyone else. They want to see them succeed. You’re going to have much lower teacher-to-student ratios in the home setting. When you compare that with even the very best special needs resource room, with a trained teacher, their case loads are one and 15.”
We get a lot of phone calls and a lot of emails for those two subgroups, but it can be anywhere from anything, from just attention to processing problems to anxiety. We’re seeing a lot more children that are struggling with mental health issues, bullying. And so sometimes parents will call and say, “I don’t know if I’m really, if my child’s really special needs or not.” And I mean, I just kind of say, “You know, we all have special meetings, we’re all unique, we’re all special, and we all have specific needs.” So whether it’s just a slight struggle or attention issues or severe medical needs anywhere, it’s just a huge spectrum.
Yvette: So then talk about the benefits of bringing those children home or keeping them home if you’ve not yet started school with them.
“I mean, in our public schools, kids are falling through the cracks.”
Faith: Right. Well, we always tell parents that homeschooling really is an individualized education program. And that’s what it is, due to its very nature. So parents are uniquely gifted. They know their children better than anybody. They love them more than anyone else. They want to see them succeed. You’re going to have much lower teacher-to-student ratios in the home setting. When you compare that with even the very best special needs resource room, with a trained teacher, their case loads are one and 15. It’s individualized. You’ve got a low teacher-student ratio. You’re able to customize instruction for them, gear your pacing, student needs, frequent breaks, you can schedule around their sleep needs, medication needs, therapy. And it’s just truly a better scenario than what they’re going to get in a school setting because the schools can only do so much. They’re understaffed. And even though we’ve thrown billions of dollars at education and special education, the national report card for rating progress is terrible.
I mean, in our public schools, kids are falling through the cracks, and I’m not slamming public school teachers. I have friends that are believers that are there and they’re serving and they’re doing the best they can. But oftentimes their hands are tied and they’re understaffed and don’t have the resources they need. So parents are uniquely able to do this. They don’t need special training. They need to just love and encourage their kids and meet them where they are. And that’s the other beauty of homeschooling is we can truly meet our kids where they are developmentally. Reading develops on a continuum. So does math skills, and we can meet them where they are right in that zone of proximal development where it’s not too hard and it’s not too easy. And sometimes kids are reading at one level and math is on a different level. So it’s really a beautiful thing and it works really well. And there’s research to show that it’s working well for students with special needs. So parents don’t need to fear and they don’t need to cave into those when the questions come.
Yvette: Probably the biggest reason that parents who have children with special needs choose not to homeschool is out of fear. And you said something earlier that I think is so important to remember is that we know our kids better than anyone and we love them more than anyone. We talk a lot about that on the podcast. There are some excellent teachers out there, but they don’t know your children the way that you know them. They don’t know their … you talked about their sleep patterns and their medications and their different therapies that they may have to go to, and their teachers in a classroom, they cannot cater to those things like mom and dad can. And so it’s such a beautiful opportunity for mom to be able to come alongside her child and really help them develop in the way that God has created them because God’s made your child the way that they are for a purpose.
And it’s not my mistake that you are their mom or that you are their dad. And so for those parents who are very fearful of keeping their kids at home to homeschool, then because again, like we said in the beginning, they’ve been told by their doctors and everyone else that they need to be in these special programs. How would you encourage those parents to get started? What do they do to get started with helping their children?
Faith: So, I mean obviously one of the first things I would encourage them, it would be to join HSLDA because oftentimes families will encounter some difficulties and pushbacks when there’s a child with special needs, typically from a well-meaning medical provider or a psychologist or a neighbor or something.
Yvette: Right. And that can be scary.
Faith: Yeah, it can be. But a lot of times people will question and oftentimes, quite frankly due to ignorance, they don’t understand homeschooling, they don’t understand the homeschooling law or just misinformation. So I would tell them to join, and I would also help arm them with resources. If you’re just getting started schooling a child with special needs, or let’s say you’re pulling out of public school and closing an IEP, then navigate that process well. We help them to do that, how do they withdraw and close the IEP.
Yvette: Now explain what an IEP is.
“A lot of times parents are fearful because they think “I’m not trained,” or “I don’t have any special background.”, but they are the expert when it comes to their child, so we’re arming them with some good resources. If you have a child with dyslexia, then we’re going to point you to resources and books and services for dyslexia or autism because knowledge is power and we battle fear by prayer and trusting in God…”
Faith: So, an IEP is drafted by schools. It’s an individualized education plan. Sometimes students will have what’s called a 504 accommodation plan, but basically it’s just a contract between the school and the parent, and it lays out this is the instruction we’re going to provide or the intervention services or therapies, the frequency of those services where they will occur. Is it in a regular classroom? Is it in a resource room? Is it in a therapy room? Something like that.
And then they’ll have goals. They’ll have long-term goals and short term goals for the student to meet. Most often those are academic. Sometimes they’re social goals, social skills and goals on there as well, or fine motor and gross motor. But typically they’re mostly academicals. But if parents have had their child in public school and they’ve had an IEP, we’ll help them navigate how to close that. Should they close it? Do they maybe want to homeschool, but then also get some services through the school district. That’s a parental option and a choice. HSLDA’s stances is private services are best if at all possible.
But some parents will choose to keep therapeutic or what’s called “related services”, so we’ll help them to transition then to what’s called a service plan. If they opt to do that. But many, many parents by and large just choose to homeschool and not get those services and not have an official IEP drafted by the school because again, homeschooling is an individualized educational plan.
A lot of times parents are fearful because they think “I’m not trained,” or “I don’t have any special background.”, but they are the expert when it comes to their child, so we’re arming them with some good resources. If you have a child with dyslexia, then we’re going to point you to resources and books and services for dyslexia or autism because knowledge is power and we battle fear by prayer and trusting in God and learning, and “what does God say about me and about my child?” A lot of times in my work with HSLDA, I’ll get the privilege to get to pray with parents and help them to press through their fear and overcome the obstacles that are in their way, that’s causing the fear. And sometimes it’s funding. “Hey, my child needs therapy and we’re broke.” Homeschooling is a financial sacrifice anyway, and when you throw special needs on top of it and medications or therapy or we need this adaptive equipment assistive technology, then we’ll help them with funding sources, too.
Yvette: Which is great because I know that that’s really enticing for a lot of families that maybe they do want to bring their kids home and they want to school them at home, but they can’t afford the resources that are out there provided by the government. But once you give them over to the government to be able to provide those resources, you’re giving up control. You’re saying, “Okay, now they’re yours. You control what they do, what they’re learning and how they’re progressing,” and again, I mean I know that there are some fantastic teachers out there and therapists and those people who are helping these special needs children, but you’re still giving them control to those people.
You mentioned resources. Can you talk specifically about that? What are some of the resources, maybe some books and different resources that you can suggest to parents?
Faith: Sure. One of my favorites is Homeschooling Children with Special Needs, by Sharon Hensley. It’s an oldie but a goodie, and I always tell parents if you’re going to be homeschooling a child with special needs you, this is one book you have to have. It’s very encouraging but very practical, and chock full of resources.
Faith: It’s also really encouraging and practical. And then Cheryl Swope, if you’re familiar with her, with Memoria Press, she has a book called A Beautiful Education for Any Childand Cheryl has homeschooled her daughter who’s on the autism spectrum, but also Sharon Hensley’s daughter is on the autism spectrum. They’re both homeschooling moms. So those would be some practical resources to help and for encouragement.
Yvette: Okay. What else is there? Because I know for myself, and especially if we’re talking to a mom who is, maybe she’s got several kids and one or more of her children have special needs and she’s exhausted, and the thought of picking up three big books that are going to be fantastic for her to read through and dig into is just a little bit overwhelming. I know that you’re there and that’s part of your job at HSLDA is to, like you said before, come alongside those parents and encourage them and help walk them through, and that’s what you do in your position, correct? And let me ask you this. As a member of HSLDA, if someone’s a member, do they have access to you to be able to do that at any time or is that an extra service that they have to pay for? How does that work?
Faith: Right, so HSLDA has a small membership fee. It’s annual and that gives people access 24/7 to the attorneys. But it also gives them access to any of the educational consultants. We have toddlers to tweens, consultants for early years and high school, and then the special needs ladies. And so people can email or call. It’s not an extra fee, it’s included.
Faith: Some of the other services they get are free transcript review or in our department, the special needs consultants … let’s say a family gets their child assessed. They get diagnostic testing done by a psychologist or diagnosing professional, and they get this lovely report and a label or a diagnosis and scores, but oftentimes, it’s not practical in terms of now what do I do, what curriculum do I use, how do I teach this child? And so that’s another thing that we’ll do is review reports for families and help to make recommendations and curricula suggestions that’s specific to their child.
Yvette: Which is fantastic because how many other places can you go and get that and have people be able to help you figure out what specifically you need for your child?
Faith: And they’d have to pay, you’d have to pay a private educational consultant to help with that. And then we do have a database of private homeschool-friendly professionals from across the nation. They’ve all come recommended to us by other homeschooling families and they’ve all been vetted and screened, and so members can access that. So let’s say they need to find somebody that does ABA therapy for a child with autism. They can search the database by their ZIP code and know what type of professional or service that they’re looking for. Or maybe it’s just a math tutor, so that continues to grow. We’ve built that over the last 20 years and it continues to grow.
So that’s another thing that we offer, ways to support families, but you know there are more and more organizations, and their state homeschool associations usually have somebody on staff that’s the special needs point person. More and more state organizations are having support groups specifically for special needs or special conferences. Florida does one, FPEA, they do a special needs conference. Midwest Parent Home Educators, they do one.
Faith: So, more and more state orgs are starting those. And then you may not be familiar with Peggy Ployhar.
Faith: Yes, SPED Homeschool. And so that’s great. You know parents can find online support, be it a Facebook support group like homeschooling with dyslexia or homeschooling kids with Down’s syndrome. So your online support groups are great, but obviously it’s best if you can have somebody that, “Let’s have coffee or should I come over and help me?”
And we can talk to people on the phone and help by email. But I always tell parents if you can definitely count on us, but there’s nothing like having somebody there face-to-face close by to walk the journey with you. That’s why it’s just so important for there to be support groups for parents who are homeschooling and specifically for special needs.
Yvette: Yes, I know that it can be a very lonely place to be, especially if you … a lot of people are parts of different communities and co-ops and things like that with homeschooling, and if you have a child who has, especially if you have one that has very severe special needs, it can be very difficult to find your place in those different groups and co-ops and, and so I know that it’s so important, and I know Peggy Player talks about this, about finding your tribe. Find other people who you can connect with, and hopefully someone like you said that you can and have coffee with in a coffee shop or be able to just meet up with in person.
But that’s not always possible. And so having other online groups and people that you can actually connect with, even if they don’t live close by, is just as important. But I will say also, and this goes for everything, even with co-ops, oftentimes people will say, “Well, there is nothing in my area that offers assistance or companionship for somebody who’s in my situation.” Well, start one, maybe. Maybe God is calling you to start that for your area because I can almost guarantee there’s someone else out there in your area who’s in the same boat as you, and you just need to be introduced to one another.
And so sometimes it’s just putting yourself out there and saying, “Hey, I have a special needs child. Does anyone else out here have one? Let’s talk. Let’s get together. Let’s get our kids together.” And that can form such beautiful relationships between parents, and I think that that’s really important. We have just a couple of more minutes left, and so I want to do two last things really quickly. Can you talk very quickly about how to accommodate special needs students at home? And then I would love for you to just give an encouragement to parents. So how would, how can you best accommodate them?
Faith: Sure. I mean, you can do things like frequent breaks and let them move while they’re learning. Learning doesn’t have to be in a table. I always tell parents, for kids with dysgraphia, they can do oral narration or dictation and you can act as scribe, or you can use assistive of technology like Dragon Dictate or Co-Writer. We have lists of assistive technology and software tools that we’ll share with parents. Sometimes it’s as simple as, rather than having the child work in the workbook, we’re just going to pull out a few problems. We’re not going to do the whole worksheet or I’m going to cut the worksheet in half. We’re going to do it on a white board or taking a big notebook and turning it sideways and giving them the paper or the page that they’re writing on. So it’s more of a slant board surface. Don’t be afraid to cut up your workbooks. Make them into something else. Flip books or sorting the pictures in the workbook instead of phonics workbook page, for instance, where the child looks at the picture and has to write the first sound or the middle sound or the end sound. And if writing’s hard, then cut out the pictures and have them sort them on a mat by the sound and glue them down or something like that.
So, we can modify materials, we can modify the expectations, the pace of the lesson, and give them assistive technology. Audio books is a great way to help students take in content and also help them be independent so mom and dad aren’t reading everything to them. Those are some, or having them circle answers or indicate answers and then the parent can bubble in if it’s a bubble sheet for standardized testing.
Yvette: So many great ideas! It sounds like you have a whole bucket full of ways that you can help parents figure out how to bring their kids home and school them. What would be your one last encouragement to parents who have children with special needs?
Faith: Well, don’t go it alone. Like you said, try to find support. Tap into national charitable organizations, and like you said, put yourself out there. Know that you’re not alone. You might feel alone, but I just want to encourage you that you’re not. All of us as homeschool moms, we all have bad days and we all struggle. And there are days where there’s tears, whether it’s our kids or it’s us, right? Now we have, we have great days, too. And that homeschooling really truly is an individualized plan of education. And it can really be an excellent line. So you may feel alone, but you’re not. And we’re here to help you. And I would love to help.
Yvette: That is fantastic. And like we say all the time on the podcast, God will give you everything that you need to accomplish what He’s called you to. So, if He’s calling you to keep your kids at home, He’s going to equip you with everything that you need in order to do it well. So where can people find out more about you?
Yvette: That is so great. That’s such a beautiful organization, and I love that so many of you are coming together and just linking arms to help parents across the world with special needs children. So thank you so much, Faith, for what you do. Thank you for your dedication to encouraging parents and to helping them just stay the course of homeschooling because it’s such an important and beautiful thing. So we appreciate all that you do and we appreciate all that HSLDA does. So, thank you for your time today and for speaking with me.
“In fact, my mother-in-law had asked me, a couple years before I even had kids, if I’d ever consider homeschooling, and I said absolutely not. And it wasn’t anything against homeschooling, I just thought I had the perfect gig as a mom, that my kids could come to school with me, we’d have the same vacation time, I’d be able to spend quality time at school with them. So on paper, everything looked like I would continue teaching and everything would be great. But God’s plans are so much different than our plans, and he began to just slowly sprinkle that idea in my thoughts that homeschooling might be a good path for us.”
Jamie is a Christian mother to five blissfully abnormal kids, and wife to her formerly homeschooled husband, Dain. She is a former school teacher who can now be found encouraging and equipping a growing tribe of mothers all across the globe on theMom to Mom Podcastand through her blog,The Unlikely Homeschool. She speaks at national conferences. And in addition to writing and speaking, she loves talking faith and family over a cup of coffee, and hanging out with her family.
Yvette Hampton: I am excited to have a return guest with me today. Jamie Erickson was on the 11thepisode of the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, and we had such a great response to her episode, she was so encouraging. It’s one of the most listened to episodes that we’ve ever done, and so I’m excited to have her back, talking about her new book that she just released, and a new podcast that she is doing with a couple of other mamas.
Jamie Erickson: Thank you for having me back.
Yvette: Yes. I am so glad to have you back. You are a homeschool mama who loves to encourage homeschool moms. It is one of the big passions that God has put on your heart and you do it well, so I am thrilled to have you again.
Jamie: Thank you.
Yvette: I want to talk about two things. I want to talk about your new podcast that you recently launched and about your new book that was just released. But let’s talk about the podcast first really quickly, because I really want to spend most of the time talking about your new book. So tell us about your podcast.
Jamie: Okay. It’s called the Mom to MomPodcastand I cohost it with Kate Battistelli, and September McCarthy. Kateis the author of Growing Great Kids-Partner with God to Cultivate His Purpose in Your Child’s Life and the The God Dare. She’s been married for 35 years and is mom to GRAMMY award-winning artist Francesca Battistelli and Mimi to her four children. September McCarthy is a mother of 10 and a homeschooling mom. We’ve all homeschooled at various places on the journey. And what I love about our podcast, and kind of why I initially wanted to take on a project, is we’re three moms, three different stages and seasons of motherhood, and we’ve really seen the gamut of motherhood, because Kate and September have grandchildren, and we’re all in different places. And we don’t always agree on everything, but we have the common thread of Jesus weaving all of our words together, and so we have the same goal, to see our children come to know the Lord and love him. And so it’s a really gospel-centered podcast that hopefully encourages moms in every place. It’s really a podcast, at least I hope, for every mom for every season.
Yvette: Yeah. So it’s not just about homeschooling, though you guys talk a little bit about homeschooling on there.
Jamie: A little bit, but it’s really just for any mom, we don’t necessarily focus on homeschooling. Obviously we all homeschooled, or homeschool currently, but we recognize that not every mom is called to that and not every listener will be a homeschool mom. So it’s really, hopefully, for every mom.
Yvette: Yeah, it’s excellent. I’ve listened to it a few times and it has definitely become one of my favorite podcasts to listen to. So thank you for doing that. I love listening to podcasts. Oftentimes, people will say, “When do you find time to do it?”, and I’m like, “I don’t have any more time than you have, trust me,” but that’s usually my, “when I’m in the shower and getting ready in the morning, putting on makeup or whatever”, I can get in a few minutes, 20 or 30 minutes. Sometimes it’s in spurts, but-
Jamie: Yeah. Well, and I love to read, but I don’t always have the time to sit down and read. A podcast is a really easy go-to, to listen to while I’m doing the dishes, folding laundry, and yeah.
Yvette: Yes. I’ve just really, for myself, jumped on the audio book bandwagon. We’ve done it with our girls for a really long time, but I’ve never really done audio books myself. And I found myself not reading as much, because like you said, I just don’t have time. By the time I fall into bed at night, I’m so tired, and I will pick up a book and try to read it, and then I’m closing my eyes, and before I know it I’m asleep and I’ve read maybe a page. But I can do audio books, and I love that. Those keep me a little bit more alert, and so I am enjoying audio books a little bit more. And I can play them on a little bit faster speed, so-
Jamie: Yeah. Oh, that’s nice. Yeah. I think it’s always good for moms to pour into themselves, because you can’t pour out from an empty cup, so if you’re in-taking some great information or even just reading to expand your own horizons, anything that you do that sort of maybe only looks like is adding to you really adds to your whole family, because you come ready to teach and to share, and you have a wealth of knowledge to bring to the table.
Yvette: Yes. And I feel like there’s such a good balance between that, that we have to find as moms, because we don’t want it to be all about me, me, me, and how can I serve myself, and how can I make myself happy. We’re serving our families, but at the same time, like you said, if our cup is empty, I mean, we then have very little to give, and so we need to make sure that we’re taking care of ourselves as well. Not in a selfish or idolatrous ways, but so that we have more to give to our families, that we’re resting and exercising and doing the things that we need to do so that we can care well for our families. So, yes. Well, okay, so that’s the podcast, the Mom to Mom Podcast, and that can be found on iTunes, Spotify-
Jamie: iTunes, Spotify, you could go to momtomompodcast.comand go directly to there, or we’re also on Instagram.
Yvette: Great. We’ll put links to that. Let’s talk about your new book though. I am super excited about this book and I actually love the title of the book. That was the first thing that really captured me. It’s called Homeschool Bravely: How to Squash Doubt, Trust God, and Teach Your Child with Confidence. But I love the Homeschool Bravely part of it, because so many moms … We’ve spent the last two and a half years filming for Schoolhouse Rocked, and the number one thing that we hear from every single mom, it does not matter who the mom is, everything that we hear is mom doesn’t feel like she is adequate enough to home educate her children.
There has only been one mom, in all of our interviews, who said, “Yep. I totally felt like I was capable of doing this,” and she has her doctorate in education, and she did her dissertation on homeschooling, and so I would say, yes, she has every right to say that she felt like she was totally equipped to teach her kids. But for the most part, most of us do not feel like we are capable of doing that. And the reality is, we’re really not. That’s why we need the Lord to help us through this. But we also need to just take that step of bravery and just say, “You know what? This is what we feel is best for our kids, and so we’re just going to take this leap of faith, and we’re going to do it.” Talk a little bit about why you decided to write … Well, first, talk about why you chose to homeschool, yourself, and then talk about what led to writing the book.
Jamie: Well, I was a teacher for several years, even before having kids, and my husband, like you had mentioned, was homeschooled. And homeschooling was never in my radar. In fact, my mother-in-law had asked me, a couple years before I even had kids, if I’d ever consider homeschooling, and I said absolutely not. And it wasn’t anything against homeschooling, I just thought I had the perfect gig as a mom, that my kids could come to school with me, we’d have the same vacation time, I’d be able to spend quality time at school with them. So on paper, everything looked like I would continue teaching and everything would be great. But God’s plans are so much different than our plans, and he began to just slowly sprinkle that idea in my thoughts that homeschooling might be a good path for us.
“When I had my first daughter, I just honestly couldn’t envision myself handing her off to somebody for six to eight hours a day. Not that I didn’t trust anybody else, it’s just that I loved her so much and I didn’t want to miss out on those moments with her.”
And part of that, I would say that the real catalyst for that was that … It was kind of twofold. One, when I had my first daughter, I just honestly couldn’t envision myself handing her off to somebody for six to eight hours a day. Not that I didn’t trust anybody else, it’s just that I loved her so much and I didn’t want to miss out on those moments with her. Even when she was really little and she wasn’t even … school was just a few years down the road, and we weren’t even close to sending her off yet, I still had those painful thoughts of, “What am I going to do when she has to go to school?” So that was part of it. And I also think that, if I’m being really honest, part of my reason to want to homeschool was that, as a teacher, I had seen sort of the underbelly of what it was like for kids in school, and I think teaching sort of ruined me for anything but homeschooling.
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Yvette: So then, was it hard for you, since you’d been in the classroom … In the classroom, whether it’s public school or private school, you have to kind of fit kids into a box, you’re forced to, there’s no other way to do it when you’ve got a classroom full of anywhere from 20 to 30 kids, or more. Was it hard for you, when you started homeschooling, to break out of that?
“Actually, because I do have a teaching degree, I can say that I came to homeschooling with sort of a burden on my back. I had all of these preconceived notions about what schooling was supposed to be, because I had been trained to teach the masses.”
Jamie: Yeah. I often hear from moms, in fact, I just wrote an article about this, about how helpful, or actually unhelpful, my teaching degree was when it came to homeschooling, because I think moms without that teaching degree, moms without that doctorate and dissertation, feel lesser than and feel like they are ill-equipped, but actually, because I do have a teaching degree, I can say that I came to homeschooling with sort of a burden on my back. I had all of these preconceived notions about what schooling was supposed to be, because I had been trained to teach the masses, and that looks so much differently, and has to. I mean, even the best of teachers, they have to maintain order and they have to teach sort of with this herd mentality. And when you bring that, you take that square peg and try to fit it in this round hole of homeschooling, it just doesn’t fit. And it really was a burden more than it was a blessing, for the first few years of homeschooling. And then I found my groove, and realized I could cast off the chains of the old guard down the street and do it my way. But right away, I think my degree wasn’t helpful.
Yvette: Yeah. But loving your children a whole lot was. So was there-
Jamie: Absolutely. And knowing them well helped a lot.
Yvette: Yeah. Right. So much. So you said, obviously, you loved her, you wanted to spend time with her, you wanted to be with her. Do you remember that kind of aha moment, of like, “Oh yeah. I actually do want to homeschool. I said I never would, but I think this is really a good idea”? Do you remember that moment or was it more of a process of time?
Jamie: I think it was a process for me, that God slowly started to show me, I’ve been teaching her all along, and that doesn’t have to necessarily stop just because she meets this magical age that the school district determines she has to then be taught by someone else. Who was it that taught her to walk, that taught her to talk, all … If you look at, statistically, child growth and development, 90% of what a person learns, they learn by the time they’re five. So in those first five formative years, I had already taught her 90% of what she needed to know. Why did I need to pass it off to somebody else?
Yvette: Yeah. I’m with you.
Jamie: But it was a process for me, I guess.
Yvette: Sure. Yeah. And I think it was for me too, a little bit. We’d said we’d never homeschool, and then I think it was kind of like you, at that moment when I held this baby in my arms, I had waited 11 years to be a mom, and I was like, “I really like her. I really genuinely like her, and I love spending time with her, I love being with her. I love watching her grow. I love getting to experience all her first things, her first steps, and her first word, and just the things that you would miss.” And the same with school, I love getting to watch her just figure out what her life is meant to be and how God designed her. And so it’s really exciting to be that mom who gets to come alongside of our kids and experience … I think it’s Israel Wayne, he talks about that kids are in school, if they go to school from kindergarten through 12th grade, it’s like 10,800 hours, somewhere around there. 10,800 hours-
Jamie: That you miss out and-
Yvette: I mean, think about that. That is a long time to miss out on your child’s life. And then, of course-
Jamie: And what-
Yvette: … they grow up, and move out of your house, and …
Jamie: Yeah. What you get on the back end of that, when they do come home at the end of that long day, is really the leftovers. You get the extras that are left over. They’re just tired and they don’t really have much else to give. I didn’t want the leftovers.
Yvette: Yeah. Yeah. Well, okay, so I’m sitting here recording with you and this is really funny, I emailed you last night and I said, “I haven’t gotten my copy of the book yet,” and so you sent me a little bit more information on it, because I’d been waiting for it to come, and my husband literally just walked in as we’re recording and he handed me my new copy of your new book.
Jamie: Here it is.
Yvette: So here it is, you guys. This is so exciting. So I’ve literally not even opened it. He just wants to-
Jamie: Does it have the new book smell?
Yvette: It does. I love the smell of books. I love the smell of libraries. They smell so good. They have a certain smell. And it doesn’t matter what library you go to, anywhere in the country, they all smell the same, California to Georgia.
Jamie: If only we could bottle that smell and wear it as a scent.
Yvette: Right? Yes. Maybe we can make candles and market those to homeschool moms, right?
Jamie: Yeah. That’s an idea.
Yvette: Homeschool Bravelyis your new book. Walk us through it a little bit. Tell us about some of the chapters that you’ve got in it. I mean, I’m looking at it right here, but walk us through the book a little bit.
Jamie: Okay. Well, it’s divided into three different parts. The first part really touches on the fears that homeschooling moms struggle with, because I think there’s some really prevalent universal fears. As moms, we naturally kind of have this lifelong relationship with self-doubt, all moms, I think. But then you go ahead and you add on the weight of your child’s education, and that’s a whole different ball game. That’s a whole mess bag of additional fears that you carry, because now the burden of proof is on you, for those 12 years of schooling. So the first part talks about fears.
And the second part is really referencing some of the struggles that we have as homeschool moms. I think there’s some key ones, when you’re trying to homeschool, when you have lots of little ones under foot, and trying to live in the tension of being mom, but also being teacher. There’s the struggle of teaching a struggling learner, or somebody who just regular academics doesn’t come easy or click with. Then there’s the struggle of teaching sort of that child, one of those wild ones that doesn’t want to color within the lines, and who always has the crossed arms. What do you do on the days where all you see is just chins raised in the air, and defiance, and, “I don’t want to do this”? So hopefully I speak to that in that particular section. And then just the struggle of the crazy chaotic days of just combining home and school. Even if you don’t have a struggling learner or you don’t have toddlers, anytime you try to mesh together a bunch of imperfect people in the world, you’re going to have struggles, because Jesus told you would, in this world you will have struggles.
So that’s the second part of the book. And then the last part is the solutions. Where do we go when we need bravery and it’s just not coming? What is the source, the hope that we have? Where do we look to, to squash all those fears?
Yvette: Yeah. I love the solutions. We always need those. I mean, we can work through all of the problems, and talk about them, and be frustrated about them, and even pray about them, but it’s so great to have actual solutions. And in reality, God’s going to give us what we need. But I love that in this book you offer actual practical ways to deal with those things.
Jamie: Yeah. Hopefully there’s lots of take-aways. And it’s not a homeschooling how-to book, because I think there’s plenty of those on the market. Some really great women have already written them and have done a much better job than I could. But there’s plenty of practical tips and take-aways, I hope, within the pages.
Yvette: Yeah. So why this book? What made you want to write this book? Because there are, as you mentioned, there’s a lot of different homeschool books out there, many really excellent ones. And I’m sure this is definitely in line with all of those. So with all of those out there, what made you want to write this?
Jamie: I think this is a little bit of a different book in that it’s not a homeschool how-to book. So a mom who’s been homeschooling for 20 years could hopefully pick up this book and really glean some truth from it, as well as the mom who’s just starting out, because it really speaks to the pain points that we have and the fear that we have. It’s a book of encouragement that really sets your gaze back on your very source of bravery, and that’s God. And so the reason I wrote this book is because there are lots of homeschooling how-to books out there to sort of give you marching orders, and your 12-step programs, and your checklists, and those are very helpful, but at the end of the day, you can’t tack a pretty system onto soul work. And so I hope that my book really helps a mom sort of quiet the voices of not good enough.
Yvette: In the book, I know one of the things that you mentioned is about how one third of all new homeschool moms quit after the first year. Why do you think this is?
Jamie: That’s a staggering number, isn’t it?
Yvette: It is.
Jamie: That’s 33%-
Yvette: Yeah. That’s huge.
Jamie: … of mothers who start end up quitting. I think there’s a couple of different reasons. I don’t think you can peg it on any one thing, but I think some of the biggest contributing factors are, one, homeschooling can be a very lonely road, and very isolating if you do not surround yourself with a community of other moms sort of circling the wagons and showing you the way. But I realize that there are a lot of moms who are in very isolating communities. And what do you do with that? I mean, you can’t just go dig up friends that aren’t there. So I think isolation is one of the factors. I-
Yvette: So really quickly, on that point, do you talk about, in the solutions part, how to go about finding community?
Jamie: Absolutely. There’s a whole chapter about it, and also how to sort of speak to the naysayers, because I think that’s another reason that a lot of homeschool moms, maybe not the reason they give up, but definitely something that adds to their fears and leads them to giving up, is the naysayers. We talk about how to answer the naysayers, because anytime you choose a different path, homeschooling or otherwise, there are always going to be people, other folks, shouting from the curb, telling you you’re doing it wrong, while you’re actually down in the trenches doing the work. So you have to be able to have some real practical, tangible things, hold them in your hand to know, “When those naysayers come, how am I going to respond? And actually, as a Christian, what is the biblical response when people question your decision to home school?”
I think those are a couple of the reasons. I also think that the fear, the fear of the unknown, you don’t always see the immediate fruit. This is a life work, just like motherhood is, and you’re not going to see the fruit of it tomorrow. In fact, sorry to say, you might not see the fruit of it for years and years and years to come. And we’re such a quick-fix society, that if we don’t see the fruit tomorrow, or by the end of that first school year, we want to give up, because we think we failed, we think we did something wrong. Our life doesn’t look like the curriculum catalog cover, with the smiling children and the mom who doesn’t have any gray hairs. So I think we sit in the weight of this failure-centric thought or mentality. And if there’s nobody to come alongside us, and to cheer us on, and to help us carry that banner, then it’s easy to give up.
Yvette: Yeah. It is. I can say that there have been many times, not where I’ve wanted to give up on homeschooling, but where that fear sets in, and like you said, because oftentimes, we can’t see the results right in front of us. And so my oldest is in seventh grade this year, and I’m like, “Oh, she’s getting ready to go into high school, and I hope we’re doing okay, hope we’re filling in all the blanks.” And it is a little bit terrifying. We were in Nashville recently, at the Teach Them Diligently convention, and I was talking to Rhea Perry. She is a former homeschool mom. She’s a grandma now, but she has a home business company, and she’s fantastic. And she just sat down with me and she said, “How’s homeschooling going?”, and I didn’t break down, but I just was like, “Oh, Rhea, I don’t even know how to answer that.” I said, “I just feel like we’re not always doing what we’re supposed to be doing.”
Now, understand, we’ve been recording … or filming for this movie for two and a half years, and I have had multiple moms sit in front of me and say, “Just take it easy. Take a breath. Let God have control of this. Allow him to fill in all of the gaps, and your kids are going to be fine. You do what God’s called you to do, and your kids are going to turn out fine.” And I still have that anxiety of like, “Oh, I hope I’m not messing it up. I hope I’m doing all right.” And she just sat me down and she said, “You’re doing a great job.” She said, “God has you guys exactly where he wants you to be. He is going to fill in all the gaps. It’s going to be great. Your kids are going to be so much better off for having been homeschooled,” and it was just great. I needed an older mom to come alongside of me and just remind me once again, because I feel like I need to be reminded of that over and over and over and over again.
Jamie: Well, and I think that’s the enemy’s biggest trick when it comes to homeschooling moms, is to, one, make us think that we even can do it in and of our own strength, like God will only give us what we can handle. But that’s just not true. Of course, he’s going to give us some things that we can’t handle. Otherwise, if we could handle it, what would be the need of Jesus? So he wants us to first think we can get it all done, if we just pull up our big girl pants, we can do it. And then when we don’t, when at the first little tripping or stumbling, we feel like a failure, we’re face down in the muck, and we want to throw in the towel, that’s all a part of his scheme.
Yvette: It really is. It really is. So, and going back to community, that’s so much part of why we need community, because we need other moms to come alongside of us, and we need to encourage one another, because there might be a day where I’m feeling really low, and discouraged, and frustrated, and I have a friend who’s like, “No. You’ve got this,” and then another day she may be feeling that way and I can come alongside of her and say, “No. You’ve got this. Let’s keep doing this. Let’s link arms and let’s do this together.” So community is so important.
We have a few more minutes left, so I want to talk about a few more things. Let’s talk about the feeling of being overwhelmed. I know I find myself here, oftentimes, I’m sure you do, I’m sure pretty much every mom does, where we feel like we’re trying to just juggle life, all of these things, being a wife, being a mom, being a teacher, and being a taxi driver, or being whatever it is that we’re doing with our families. Maybe oftentimes we’re involved with ministry, or we’re helping to lead a co-op, or there’s just so many things. How do you encourage that mom who is just dealing with feeling overwhelmed?
Jamie: Well, I guess I would say that, “Remember, anything worth doing is going to be hard. Think about marriage, parenting, any of the eternal things that have eternal value, they’re going to be difficult, and it’s going to require digging in and doing the hard work. Don’t be afraid by that and don’t be surprised by that.” I think it’s very easy for a homeschool mom to be overwhelmed. And I also think that no one else around you, but other homeschool moms, are going to truly understand right where you’re sitting, and will truly understand the overwhelm. It’s easy to look at a homeschool mom who’s at home all day and just think, “Well, she must sit around in her jammies eating bonbons. And if I need a babysitter, I’ll call that homeschool mom, because what else is she doing all day?” They just don’t understand.
I think it’s really important, like you said, with the community, to have other women who recognize, and see you, and see your struggles. And then I think, too, I find it very helpful … and this is a boots on the ground, practical tip that seems to work, at least for me, I find it very helpful to really set … I don’t want you to think of homeschooling as a job, but in some ways you kind of have to, you have to be able to say, “This fits in this timeframe of my day, and I’m not going to let it commandeer and strong-arm the whole day.”
We start homeschooling around 9:30, in theory, on good days, and then at 3 o’clock … I’m teaching five, so they’re not always doing school from 9:30 to 3:00, but I am, because I’m one person and there’s five of them. But at 3 o’clock, I have a hard and fast rule that I’m done, because then I need to go on and do other things. I work from home, so I’ve got to juggle that. Like you said, there’s ministry things that need to be done. And plus I’m also a wife and I want to love my husband well, and I want to love my children as a mother.
I think sometimes you just have to give homeschooling the right weight and importance in the day. And I think too often, especially at first, homeschool moms, because of just the weight of a child’s education, we give homeschooling way more control of our lives, and make it harder than it’s supposed to be, and make it bigger than it’s supposed to be. Yes, academics, education, absolutely important, but your life is worth more than a textbook, or the next test, or that next worksheet. So I think it’s really important to put homeschooling in the proper perspective.
Yvette: Yeah. Yes. I love that. Unfortunately, we are out of time for the podcast, but I would love to stay on with you and continue talking, because I want to talk about a few more things. I want to talk about moms who don’t feel called to homeschool, because some feel like they need to homeschool because maybe their child’s being bullied, or maybe they don’t feel comfortable with the public school but they can’t afford the private school, and they just feel like it’s their only option, but they don’t necessarily feel like God is prompting them to homeschool, so I want to talk to those moms.
I want to talk about community. We touched on this a little bit earlier, but I want to give some practical advice that you give in your book. But I want to, for those who have ordered the book and maybe they haven’t received it yet, talk about how they can go about finding community, because for those introverts it might not be as easy. And then I want to talk about the naysayers. We talked about that as well a little bit, but I want to give some practical advice on how people can respond to those naysayers in their lives.
Yvette: So we are going to close out the podcast right now, but for the backstage pass members we’re going to stay on, and they can listen to the rest of our conversation. For those of you who are not yet familiar with the backstage pass membership, Schoolhouse Rocked is a film that we are in production on right now, looking to release in summer of 2020, but we have a backstage pass membership site, and with the membership site we have a ton of resources on there, mostly videos. So a lot of them are the full length videos, video interviews of people that we’ve had in the movie, like Heidi St. John. Oh my goodness, there’s so many. I should have the list in front of me right now. Israel Wayne, Sam Sorbo, there’s a bunch of people that we’ve got, so we’ll have their full interviews on there. Many of them are already on there.
And then for our podcast, oftentimes like this, I just have more that I want to talk about, so we will continue the discussion and people can view that discussion on video on the backstage pass membership site. So if you’re not familiar, go to schoolhouserocked.com, click on backstage pass, and you can find out more about that. And it’s a great way to support what we’re doing with the podcast, and with the film, and all that we have going on with Schoolhouse Rocked, so we would love it if you would check that out. Jamie, tell us where people can find you.
Yvette: Okay. Great. We will link those in the show notes. And then, again, the name of your book is Homeschool Bravely: How to Squash Doubt, Trust God, and Teach Your Child with Confidence. And that is already out on Amazon,probably through your website, right, and you can pretty much find it anywhere.
For those of you who have been keeping up with production on the movie, you know that last month some big decisions were made about the direction we would take in finishing the film. We asked you to pray for the Lord to guide us, and He has! We are SO excited to tell you that in a few weeks, we are driving west from Georgia to Washington to complete the filming of Schoolhouse Rocked with Heidi St. John! Here’s the scoop…
Yvette Hampton: Hey, everyone. This is Yvette Hampton and I am here with my oldest daughter Brooklyn for this update.
Brooklyn Hampton: Hi, guys.
Yvette: She’s 13. I love having a teenager. It’s so much fun. Most of the time.
Yvette: No, I’m loving it. It is so much fun. So far not at all as scary as I thought it would be. I love being a mom of girls and I love being a mom of a teen. God’s doing great things in her life. Speaking of your life, what are some things that God is doing with our family right now?
Brooklyn: Well, we are going to travel across the country and finish filming the movie with Heidi St. John in Vancouver, Washington. Yeah. It’s very exciting.
Yvette: It’s very exciting. Here’s the update. We are heading to Greenville. We’ll be there for about a week. We’re going to have some meetings with some people there and do a few things there, maybe a little bit of filming, but then we are trekking across the country in our big, blue Excursion and we’re really excited.
Yvette: On the way there we’re going to get to stop and see the Rinella family who we’ve gotten to know pretty well over the last year but we haven’t actually met them in person, right?
Yvette: If you listen to the podcast you’ve heard Aby Rinella for sure on the podcast a few times and so we’re really excited. We’re going to get to meet their family. Then we are going to go all the way to Vancouver, Washington, which is right outside of Portland. We’re going to finish filming the documentary with Heidi St. John. We are super excited about this.
We’ve filmed all of the interviews for the documentary but what we have left to film is the actual storyline that weaves throughout the documentary to pull all of the interviews together. That is going to be myself and Heidi are going to do that together and basically talk as homeschool moms about our journey of homeschooling and all that God has done.
For those of you who don’t know who Heidi is, which most of you do, but for those who don’t she is a homeschool mom of seven kids and she’s got a couple grandkids now but she doesn’t at all look like a grandma.
Yvette: California is home for us, for those who don’t know. We have not actually really been home for the past two and a half years. We went home for a couple of weeks. My mom was really sick and so we went to help take care of her. We haven’t been back there to actually get to spend time with friends and family and so we’re going to go back to do that and finish filming.
Between Vancouver, Washington, Portland, Oregon, and then our treks south from there to California – and in California we will finish filming the whole documentary, which we are really excited about.
Brooklyn: Yes. We are.
Yvette: It’s been a very exciting few years for our family but we are definitely ready to be done with filming and to get this movie out to encourage homeschool families.
Yvette: Here are some things that you can do to help us. We are in need of lots of prayer. There’s just a whole lot that goes into filming a feature length documentary like what we’re doing. God has been so faithful. I mean, do you want to tell some of the stories? I know that’s totally putting you on the spot because we didn’t talk about this beforehand.
Brooklyn: We didn’t.
Yvette: What are just a couple of things that God has done to provide for our family and to just show his power through the whole process of making this movie?
Brooklyn: I mean, there’s so many.
Yvette: I know.
Brooklyn: I honestly don’t know where to start.
Yvette: How about hospitality?
Brooklyn: Hospitality? All right. When we were coming to Georgia to start really editing the movie and all of that we had so many families just offer up their home to us and just welcome us in and be so hospitable and it was a huge blessing.
Yvette: Yeah. We’ve had that happen all across the country really. I mean, it has been absolutely incredible because, as you can imagine, of course, staying in hotel rooms and stuff can get really expensive. We have sometimes reached out and just said, “We’re coming to this particular area. If there’s anybody there who is willing to host our family we’ll be there from these dates …”
Every single time, without fail, God has provided a place for us to stay and then sometimes people just know where we’re going or … Last week, or I guess it was a couple of weeks ago, there was a family who just sent us an email and she said, “We live in the Modesto area in California.” She said, “If you’re coming through this area we would love to host you and have you stay the night at our house.”
These are people that we don’t even know but it’s such a neat way to just see the tangible hand of God working through the body of Christ to support this documentary because we can’t do it on our own. There’s just so much that goes into this. It really is a team effort of the whole homeschool community. That’s been great.
Brooklyn: While you were talking I thought of a story.
Yvette: Oh, tell a story.
Brooklyn: Yes. All right. It was about a year ago and we were going to head to Tennessee. We had nowhere to stay. We were just trusting God to provide a place and this family opened up their barndominium to us. We got to stay there for about five weeks.
Brooklyn: They were just amazing. Yeah.
Yvette: Yes. We didn’t even know until I think it was two weeks before we left for that trip …
Brooklyn: We had been planning this trip for like months ahead of time.
Brooklyn: Like we had this trip, we were going to Tennessee, and we didn’t know where we were staying.
Yvette: We didn’t know but we trusted that because God was leading us there he was going to provide a place for us to stay. Two weeks before we arrived in Tennessee he provided the most amazing place for us to stay on this farm. The White family, is just so incredibly hospitable and gracious. We have been the recipients. That has happened over and over again. The McCosky’s and … I can’t even list all of people because there are so many of them.
Brooklyn: So many.
Yvette: We have literally stayed in many, many houses, which has really stretched our family and our comfort because it’s kind of awkward sometimes, especially in the beginning, to just go stay with people that you don’t know.
Yvette: But we have made friends. We have friends now across the country. Like really good friends.
Brooklyn: Yeah, that we now text with everyday and they just say, “Hey, how’s it going? We’re praying for you.” Those are friends we didn’t even know before.
Yvette: Right. We are learning that where God guides he provides. Our pastor gave a sermon on that years ago, before we left California. This was probably just a few weeks before we left. I remember him giving a sermon and he said, “Where God guides, he provides. That really stuck with Garritt and I. We were like, “Okay, God is guiding us on this trip. He’s guiding us to make this movie. He is going to provide everything that we need” and he has unmistakably and miraculously provided for us in ways … The boxes.
Brooklyn: The boxes. Yes.
Yvette: Do you want to tell the story about the boxes?
Brooklyn: I was going to tell the story but I didn’t know if you were going to go into that whole thing.
Yvette: No. Tell the story of the boxes.
Brooklyn: Yes. Okay. We recently sold our trailer and we are heading across the country, as you guys already know. We just needed totes.
Yvette: Those plastic Rubbermaid tote boxes.
Brooklyn: Earlier that day we had gone to Sam’s Club and we saw these … I don’t even know how much they were like.
Yvette: I think they were like $8 a piece.
Brooklyn: $8. They were like top quality totes. We put them in the cart. We just were walking through and my dad was like, “I don’t think we should buy these right now.” We put them back. We had two of them. I don’t know if I mentioned that.
Yvette: We had two of them. That we needed.
Brooklyn: That we needed. We really did need them. Later that day … Oh my gosh. Later that day we went to my grandpa’s house and we were unloading some stuff and loading up some stuff.
Yvette: To store at his house.
Brooklyn: Yeah. He said, “Hey, I have two totes. Would you guys possibly be interested?” We were like, “Two totes? What?”
Yvette: Yeah. I mean, it was just amazing because it seems like such a small thing but it was one of those moments where I realized once again that God cares even about the little things. He provides for us in amazing ways. He provides for us even in the little things. He provides for us in big ways but he knows when we need plastic boxes and he provides those for us as well. He is a faithful, faithful God.
Just as we have gone to Tennessee and God provided a place for us we’re now trucking across the country to finish filming with Heidi. Heidi is excited about it. We are super excited about it. We know absolutely that this is God’s plan for finishing the story of Schoolhouse Rocked. We have prayed a lot about it. We’ve sought wise counsel. This is just absolutely the direction God is leading us.
It costs a whole lot of money to do this. We’ve got to hire a crew of people to help us finish filming. We’re going to be filming for probably five solid film days with Heidi but we’ll be filming for probably about 10 to 12 days in Vancouver and Portland area and then a few more days in California.
Yvette: It costs a lot of money to do that. We would love your help. We don’t very often ask for this. We would love it if you guys would be willing to come alongside of us and just help support us financially so that we can get to Washington, hire the crew that we need to finish filming, get the movie done, and then we can move into post-production.
We’re looking at some investors, talking to a couple of investors, but those people will come in for the post-production part to fund that part of it because that’s a big huge chunk of money.
If you would be willing to just pray about it and just see if the Lord might put it on your heart to help support the rest of filming for the movie so that we can get this part of it done and then move into post-production. We would love that.
Brooklyn: That’d be a huge blessing.
Yvette: That would be a huge blessing. We know God is going to provide. He provides miraculously. I mean, again, we have so many stories of what he’s done and how he has provided. Where can people go to find out more about helping with Schoolhouse Rocked? Schoolhouse Rocked dot com.
Brooklyn: Schoolhouse Rocked dot com. She totally likes those lines.
Yvette: I did. Though, you would have known that if I hadn’t said that, right? Would you have known to say that?
Yvette: Go to Schoolhouse Rocked dot com. Right on the front page you’ll see a button that says support … I think it says support.
It’s not for our recognition or our glory but it’s really to change the hearts of parents and call people to bring their kids out of the public school system, out of private schools, if that’s where they’re called to, and bring them home and disciple their children. Homeschooling is a blessing.
Brooklyn: It is.
Yvette: It’s fun. Do you enjoy being homeschooled?
Brooklyn: I love being homeschooled. I love being homeschooled.
Yvette: I didn’t pay you to say that either.
Brooklyn: No. She didn’t. I really genuinely love being homeschooled. Real fast, while you were saying the support thing, the other thing you can do to support is send us emails. Send us encouraging emails. That really helps keep us going.
Brooklyn: It’s like send us texts, send us emails. Those are really a blessing. I don’t think people know how much of a blessing that is to us. That really lifts our spirits and it helps us keep going.
Yvette: Yes. Well said, Brooklyn. That is true. People will randomly just send messages either on Facebook or email or sometimes they’ll leave reviews for the podcast.
Brooklyn: Do that too.
Yvette: Do that too. Yes, that is an easy way that you can just let us know that you’re praying for us, that you’re standing with us. Sometimes people can’t afford to support us financially but you can certainly afford to support us through prayer. We would love that. Thank you for saying that.
Brooklyn: You’re welcome.
Yvette: I appreciate that. Yeah. That’s where we’re at. Keep up with us this summer. If you are on our Facebook page it’s The Schoolhouse Rocked Facebook page. You can keep up with us there and we’ll keep up to date on where we are and what we’re doing. We’ll be doing Facebook Lives, especially while we’re filming because that’s just fun.
Brooklyn: Oh, yeah.
Yvette: We’ll give you updates on what God is doing and how he’s providing. If you would like to just be part of that we would love to have you on our team and just have you to be part of the Schoolhouse Rocked crew by being some of the prayer and financial backing that we need.
Thank you, guys, for listening and if you’re watching this on video thank you for watching. We are praying for you guys. We pray all the time that the Lord would use this movie to be a blessing to you and that it would just honor him and serve his kingdom well.
We love you guys. Thank you for your support. Thank you, Brooklyn, for being my guest today.
Brooklyn: I kind of asked for this.
Yvette: You did ask for it. She keeps asking if she can record something with me.
Brooklyn: Yeah. Be on the podcast.
Yvette: Be on the podcast. Here you have it.
Yvette: I’m glad that we get to do this together.
Brooklyn: Me too.
Yvette: All right, you guys. Have a great day. Bye.