Aby Rinella: Hey, thanks for having me. Excited to be here.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, of course, this is so much fun. I love answering questions about homeschooling. So, next up is the question,
What are the best online homeschool Curriculum options?
And that’s a great question because a lot of people do stuff online. So, I’m going to let you tackle this one first, Aby.
Aby Rinella: Okay. This is a huge question right now as parents are thinking, “We want to bring our kids home, we all just got thrown into this online distance learning that we just… We’ve all just experienced. We’re considering keeping our kids home, and so this is what we know, so this is what we want to do, is this online thing.” So, before we actually give you some actual curriculum options for that, there is a difference that you need to know. There’s a huge difference between online public school, which is huge right now, and privately funded, home-based, parent led education options.
With publicly funded online homeschool options, your kids are at home, and they’re doing online school, but it is public. It is government school. It is publicly funded government school. There are regulations. You don’t have the freedoms with homeschool that you have. So, we just want to make a very clear difference. These programs include K12, public distance learning programs, online charter schools, and the “distance learning” programs that schools have instituted since the COVID-19 shutdowns. This would also include hybrid public school and charter programs (part-time classroom, part time at home). Many of these programs are free, and in some areas, parents even get money for supplies and activities, but with that money comes government oversight and control over what materials and curriculum options you can choose. For more on this subject, I highly recommend reading what HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) has to say about charter schools and public-school-at-home programs, here, here, and here.
Side note: We recommend every homeschooling family keep an active HSLDA membership, at all times. These guys are homeschool heroes!
Aby Rinella: And then there is, what we’re assuming that you’re asking, or hoping that you’re asking, which is online resources for privately funded, home-based, parent-led education. And that’s what we here at Schoolhouse Rocked, that’s what Yvette and I do. That’s what we promote. That’s what we love. Because with privately funded, home-based, parent-led education, you can teach and train your children’s heart in the Lord. You can point them to God and His Word in everything you teach. So, the great thing about that is there are still a ton of great online options. So as you’re looking for online homeschool curriculum options, and Yvette is going to give us a few options that are out there, but as you’re looking, really make sure that what you’re looking at is a Bible-based, true homeschool curriculum, that you don’t stumble onto a public school at-home, internet-based school. because they’re both out there.
Yvette Hampton: Yes.
Aby Rinella: And there are great options. So, Yvette, you have a list of some really awesome options.
FULL ONLINE HOMESCHOOL CURRICULM
Yvette Hampton: I do. I have a few, and I know that there are a whole lot more than this, but I’m just going to tell you some of the ones that I’m most familiar with and that I really trust. The first one is BJU, which is Bob Jones University.We have used some of their online science curriculum, and I really like it. As a matter of fact, we have had the privilege of going to BJU a couple of times, and getting a tour of their whole facility, and they are so incredibly intent on teaching everything from a Biblical worldview.
Aby Rinella: That’s awesome.
Yvette Hampton: And not only are they intent on doing that, but they are intent on doing everything with excellence. They have studios set up where they actually have teachers come in, and they teach in front of a screen, and you purchase the books and then you can purchase the videos to go along with the books and have that teacher teach, whether it’s science, or history, or language arts, they have foreign languages, they’ve got just a ton of different things. because then you can choose by subject. And they’re so well-done, very well-produced. The teachers are friendly and engaging, and they’re colorful. And so, my girls have really liked those videos. It’s been fun because I’ve gotten to actually see them record these videos in person.
Yvette Hampton: And their teachers are just as amazing in person as they are in front of the camera. They’re great. So, the website for that is BJUPressHomeschool.com. That’s where you can find out more about that.
Another one is Abeka. We have actually not used Abeka, but I know a lot of my friends who have used them really like them. And Abeka has been around forever. Since the dawn of time! I myself actually have used Abeka curriculum as a kid, because I went to a Christian school where we used Abeka. And so, I feel pretty comfortable saying that they are a trustworthy publisher, who is really putting out some really good, quality curriculum.
Aby Rinella: I agree.
Yvette Hampton: Biblical worldview curriculum. And so, you can check them out at abeka.com.
Aby Rinella: They also have a video series, so you can do online or video, or you can teach your kids with it. So, there’s a few options there as well.
Yvette Hampton: Many, many different options. And all of these companies, you can actually call and talk to their consultants and figure out what’s best for your family. You don’t have to do all subjects through them, you can just do some. Another one that we have used with our family, that I really like, is Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool.
Aby Rinella: I love that name.
Yvette Hampton: They have done a fantastic job. It’s funny, because you go on their website, and it’s not flashy, it’s not fancy, it’s very simple. It’s basically text, and there’s a little bit of artwork and stuff on there, but there are just different. You can search by grade or by subject, and everything is online, and it really is Easy Peasy. [chuckle]
Aby Rinella: So, are they online classes, or just resources online?
Yvette Hampton: Yes. Yes, to both.
Aby Rinella: Okay. [chuckle] They’ve got everything?
Yvette Hampton: Yeah. I did some of this with Lacy, she was third grade, she just finished third grade, and so I went to their third-grade language arts, and you can download, basically, their packet of language arts worksheets and things like that, which she really enjoys. She’s my worksheet girl, she thinks that’s fun. So, you can go on, download those. And then, for reading and stuff, it will have links to different things that you can read. And you do want to do it with your kids, because a lot of it is taking you to other websites, and there… I have not found anything that has compromised what we’ve seen at all, but of course, there’s always that…
Aby Rinella: Yes, absolutely.
Yvette Hampton: You never want to just put your kid in front of a computer with something like this and just say, “Go for it, kid,” and, “Good luck at what you click on.” But it’s fun to navigate through their website and it’s just… It’s really well thought out, and they’ve put a lot of work into it.
Aby Rinella: And isn’t it free? Is it, Easy Peasy free?
Yvette Hampton: It’s free. It’s all free.
Aby Rinella: Okay. That’s amazing.
Yvette Hampton: It’s absolutely free. So, this is a great resource.Abeka and BJU are amazing and fantastic, but they are definitely pricey. And so, if you have a budget and you can use it, it’s definitely worth it, but if you don’t have a budget and you’re just getting into this, and trying to figure this out and you need something free, you can literally do… You can homeschool all of your kids for free, using Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool. The website for that is allinonehomeschool.com. And just great resources on there, I highly recommend that, and it is a Christian website as well, so they are always pointing kids to Christ. Now, not every single video that they have on there is specifically a Christian video, because some of the videos, they’ll link you to a YouTube video to help teach some science, something like that.
Aby Rinella: Yeah, if you’re learning about ants.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, right, right. But again, be with your kids when you do that.
Aby Rinella: Right, for sure.
Yvette Hampton: I wouldn’t seat them behind a closed door and say, “Go for it.”
Another one, and I’ve been on their website, but I’ve never really used this, but again, I have many friends who I trust, who have used it, is AmblesideOnline.
Aby Rinella: Yes, I’ve heard. I have people that I trust, that use that as well.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, and that’s more of a Charlotte Mason approach. And so, that’s another great one. I can’t really tell you exactly how it works, but that’s just another one to check out online. I think the website is free, I know you can go on there and get resources and stuff, and then a lot of that is books that you can get through the library, or order online or whatever. But it’s a lot of reading and seems to be really well organized.
Aby Rinella: And I know that both… I know Abeka for sure, I’m not sure BJU, but they do have accredited programs, if you are looking for that in your state. I don’t… You’d have to know your state laws or what you need for high school courses, but I do know Abeka, and I’m sure BJU Press as well.
Yvette Hampton: Yes.
Aby Rinella: Okay. So, those are both accredited and have all subject matter, every subject… Is both of those. And then, another resource we didn’t mention in the first, but, Cathy Duffy’s 102 Picks… Curriculum Picks. She would probably have, if you go to her website, other options for online, privately funded, home-based, parent-led education, online schools.
Yvette Hampton: Yes.
Aby Rinella: And that is the freedom of homeschooling, we can all do it differently, but there are definitely online options for homeschooling.
ONLINE MATH CURRICULUM
Yvette Hampton: Yes. And math, one last one, I didn’t mention this. [chuckle] I’m not a math person. Math is the one thing that I was like, “Oh, dear, I don’t want to teach math.” Our family uses Teaching Textbooks, we’ve used it for years.
Aby Rinella: Yes, we do too.
Yvette Hampton: And we love it. They are so fantastic. As a matter of fact, they’re coming out with their newest version, hopefully this summer, hopefully before this next school year starts. I know that they’re working really hard to get it out.
Aby Rinella: It is absolutely excellent. For us, it changed math for our whole family. The kids can work independently and really excel.
Yvette Hampton: And then the other one, which you guys always hear at the beginning of every podcast, is CTC Math, and that’s another one that we have not used, but… I’ve gotten to know the guys at CTC Math, really like them, and I have a lot of friends who use CTC Math. It’s similar to the same concept as Teaching Textbooks, but seems to be really well laid out. And I know those who use it really like it a lot. I have not heard a single complaint about CTC math, so that would be another one. And both of those… Actually, all of these, as far as I know, you can go on and test out, like watch a couple of sample videos. I know with Teaching Textbooks, you can do the first 15 lessons for free.
Aby Rinella: Yeah, with Teaching Textbooks, those first 15 lessons are in order, so you could put your kids on there for a couple of weeks to really get a feel for if they like it. They also have online placement tests, so you can know where exactly your kid should start. The possibilities with this are endless, so don’t feel like you can’t do it, because you can!
Yvette Hampton: While we’re at it, we should recommend a great online option for homeschooling MOMS and DADS. The Homegrown Generation Family Expo has over 40 hours of great homeschooling conference sessions to encourage and equip homeschooling parents to get off to a great start, stay strong through the years, and finish well. You can get lifetime access to all of the content there for just $20, or you can enjoy over 9 hours of FREE videos here.
In her books How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You? and How to Have a HEART for Your Kids, Rachael Carman challenges mothers to surrender their will and draw closer to their heavenly Father. She invites moms to join her in loving God passionately and worshiping him fully while sweeping up Cheerios, doing laundry, and planning dinner. You will be affirmed in your role as a mother as Rachael speaks of her struggles with perfectionism and impatience and shares her challenges, failures, and victories amid the ever-changing seasons of life. Her honesty will surprise you, and her humor will put you at ease.
Rachael is not only a respected author but is also a sought-after speaker. She has been a speaker in over thirty states and seven countries. She has been married to her husband, Davis, since 1986. They have seven kids with whom they love to laugh. Together, their life has been a roller-coaster ride, with God at the controls. Rachael enjoys playing in the dirt, eating dark chocolate, and walking on the beach. She and Davis are the owners of Apologia Educational Ministries.
Yvette Hampton and Aby Rinella, of The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, recently sat down to talk with Rachael about why marriage matters, how to make it a priority, why it’s important to set a good example for your children, how to respond when things get hard (because that’s reality) and practical tips on how to have a successful and God honoring marriage. Backstage Pass members will get access to the extended portion of this episode with more tips on how to have a great marriage!
Enjoy their conversation.
Yvette Hampton: Hey everyone, this is Yvette Hampton with my co-host, Aby Rinella, and we are back with another fantastic guest. Thank you so much for spending time with us today. It’s always such a blessing to know that you’re on the other end and that we get to spend a little part of your day with you. Many of you are familiar with our guest today, Rachael Carman. She’s a wise veteran, homeschool mom who both Aby and I highly respect and we’re thrilled to have her as a speaker for the upcoming Homegrown Generation Family Expo. Welcome, Rachael.
Rachael Carman: Oh, thank you so much for having me. I’m really honored to be with you in here.
Yvette Hampton: Thank you, tell us briefly about you and your family.
Rachael Carman: Okay. So I’ve been married to my man, it’ll be 33 years in December and we started out on this journey a long, long time ago together and we have seven children, which even now seems impossible. So we have two boys, two sons, and three daughters in the middle and then two sons at the end. I think it’s our 24th year of home education because next I have one more year and that will be 25 years. But we have five homeschool graduates, we have three college graduates and a fourth in this next May and one with his master’s degrees. So all to the glory of God no one is more surprised than I, and not because of my kids, just because of their mom. “O ye, of little faith.” That was me in the beginning of this whole journey.
Yvette Hampton: Well, it’s always an encouragement to hear from moms like yourself who have gone into this without the great confidence of I got this, I can do this and this is going to be amazing because very few moms feel that way. And so to hear you in this from the other end, just saying God works out all the details and in his fullness is so great. So…
Aby Rinella: Well, Rachael, I’m excited to have you here. I was able to hear you at the Homeschool Idaho Convention, last summer. My husband and I both heard you and it was powerful you bring a powerful story and just a great encouragement. And one of my favorite sessions of yours was the session that you did on marriage. And I think it’s so relevant today because marriage is under attack. The family is under attack and what God’s word has to say about marriage isn’t always a popular message that people want to hear. But it just was so encouraged. I just remember I walked out of that room and I could not believe the amount of women that were encouraged I mean just talking about. Wow. It was life-changing for a lot of marriages and it wasn’t just your opinion of marriage, but it was God’s word. And what does God say about marriage? And God’s word works, it’s designed to work. That’s why he gave it to us.
Aby Rinella: So, I’m so excited to take that message that I know just changed lives at my Homeschool Idaho Convention and just bring it to the masses through this podcast. So, you said 33 years you guys have been married?
Rachael Carman: Yeah.
Aby Rinella: And every moment has been absolute wedded bliss, right? No difficulties?
Rachael Carman: You’re funny. You need to take your show on the road. No, it hasn’t been that at all. And I don’t know if I shared this in Idaho so you might get some repeat stuff today, right? So I remember when some friends called to say that they were getting a divorce, which is heart-wrenching to receive that phone call. I’m sure both of you have received that phone call it’s not a phone call you want to ever receive and the person said they were getting a divorce and why. And he said to me, “But you know you wouldn’t understand because you just think each other are amazing and you all are just crazy about each other”. I can tell you this conversation happened 15 years ago. I can tell you where I was standing when I had this conversation. Because I said to this person on the phone. I said, “No, whoa, whoa, whoa. Look, we have been through our ups and downs.”
Rachael Carman: So this would have been … We weren’t even married 20 years at this point. As we’ve been through our ups and downs and if it were not the fact that I made a covenant before the living God, I would have walked years ago and there was this… I was overcome and I said, “It was some force”, but I don’t think it’s right for any of us to look at anyone’s marriage. Anybody who’s been not married longer than 24 hours, should know it takes work. It’s work. And I think we insult each other when we just think anybody is as easy.
Rachael Carman: I think it’s admirable those who have determined, especially in this disposable generation, to stay the course. Because that’s what it is, it’s not about we’ve had friends that got a divorce because they were no longer in love with each other. That’s not part of the equation according to the Bible, this was a promise I entered into a blood covenant with the holy God of the universe that said that I was committing my life to stay in this relationship, good or bad, up or down. I like it or not it wasn’t about my feelings. It was about a promise that I made. And that’s I really think you talk about circling back, we got to circle back. It’s not this marriage thing isn’t a feeling because that does not get you through the hard times. But a covenant does. And one of my big things about marriage is it’s really easy for us to think, it doesn’t matter if we don’t get who God is. Because when you get who God is there becomes a seriousness to the covenant made.
Rachael Carman: Because of who you made the promise to when you make it to God, the almighty sovereign of the universe. You made a vow and so yeah, 33 years, ups and downs, lots of moves, good financial times, bad financial times, selling houses, houses that don’t sell, unemployment, sick children, death of parents and grandparents. It’s been like anybody else’s but we have determined to stay true to the vows that we made before God.
Aby Rinella: I love that. And not even the vows you made to each other, but the vows you made to God and I think that’s really where the difference comes in with a biblical marriage like you said, “Who did you make the promise to? And do you have a reverence for him?” And that is what carries through the hard times.
Rachael Carman: It really does. Just like his word does not return void when we spend time with God and in his word, when we keep our word, which if you study God’s word is a pretty big deal. Keeping your word is a pretty big deal. We were just reading this morning in family devotions and the Sermon on the Mount. When Jesus told the masses, “Let your yes be yes, don’t go around having to swear”. And my son goes, ” Well, that didn’t make sense. You have to sign contracts.” I said, “No. But that’s not what it meant. It meant we need to be people of integrity such that when I say, ‘I’m going to do something’, people are like, ‘Oh, no. Rachael said she would do it. She will do it. You don’t need to get a signature. She will keep her word'”.
Rachael Carman: That’s what we’re called to and that’s what marriage is. It’s about being men and women of integrity who stay true to the word that we gave. And we stand our ground and determine to… It’s about honoring God, right? We’ve all heard it and they say it. It takes hearing something 17 times before it soaks in. It takes more than that many times if you have teenagers, that was true, but it takes… In other words, it takes a multitude of times to hear something.
Rachael Carman: And this generation has leaned into the idea that marriage is all about being happy.
Yvette Hampton: That’s right.
Rachael Carman: Then we have heard it, it’s really about that process of becoming Holy, Leviticus 19:2, “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy”. And so we’re supposed to… Sanctification is a very real part of this. I mean, marriage is a very real part of the sanctification process that God invites us to lean into, not a runaway from, right? Oh, what I mean when we all love to run away from sanctification, do it our own way, right? And our arrogance and our pride and our selfishness, but marriage is this beautiful context that God says, “Lean in and trust me, I’ve got something for you”.
Aby Rinella: Right.
Yvette Hampton: I love that reminder of trusting him because it’s so hard and like you’re saying, the world is telling us, just do what makes you happy. You see it everywhere. You see it on tee shirts, you see it on signs, you see it on billboards, just do what makes you happy, do you, and that is not what the word of God says. And I was, as you were talking, I was actually thinking about the movie Fireproof with Kirk Cameron. And it’s such a fantastic movie because I think if we’re all realistic about our marriage, we all come to points in our marriage where we feel like we don’t love that person. We’re angry with them. And I mean that feeling may last for 10 minutes or it may last for 10 hours or 10 years. But I think we all feel that at times.
Yvette Hampton: Like I just, I don’t like you. I don’t love you. I don’t want to be with you anymore. But if we rely on those feelings to make the decisions that are life-altering for us and our families, it’s not going to go well with us. And in that movie, Fireproof, he learns to fall in love with his wife all over again. And it’s such a fantastic and beautiful look at what God can do in a marriage. Because even though we don’t feel a certain way, it doesn’t mean that God can’t help us walk through that and heal our marriages. I mean, just like he can heal a wound that a cut on your leg, he can heal the wounds of marriage as well. And if we’re willing to be committed to what God has called us to do, then he can do that.
Yvette Hampton: He is a powerful God. He’s the God of the universe and, he can do that. Why especially in our culture today, Rachael, why does marriage even matter? When you look at a lot of millennials, and I know there are a whole lot of them who just feel like, “Well, marriage doesn’t even matter. I don’t need a husband. I don’t need a wife. I’m doing just fine on my own. I’m pursuing my career. I don’t need a family”. Why does marriage even matter in light of God’s plan for our world?
Rachael Carman: That’s such a great question that I think it’s a question that gets lost. And this me, me, me culture, right? There’s an assumption that it doesn’t matter that it is something that we should do away with. Let’s throw off the shackles of tradition. Let’s throw off the heavy weight of the way things have always been done instead of considering, well, why have they been done that way? Why don’t we dare to ask that question? And it’s a very important question. So, in the very beginning of the Bible, in the beginning, God created, we read through the Genesis account. There is the pronoun we used because we learn very early in scripture, the eternality of God that he established a beginning, right? He established time but he actually existed outside of time, established time with the rhythm of the seasons and all of that.
Rachael Carman: But there’s a… We introduced early in scripture because we know that there’s this perfect unity within the Trinity between father, son and holy spirit. And it is that unity that is physically illustrated in our marriages, right? So, husband, wife and God, that’s the Trinitarian representation in a marriage are those three. And then the reason it matters, I believe is, God wants us to participate in fellowship with one another. He invites us. We were never made to do this by ourselves, which is in my opinion, simultaneously awesome and incredibly intimidating, right?
Rachael Carman: Because it’s awesome because I don’t want to have to do this by myself. I think there are a few things worse than loneliness, which is really why I’m so committed to encouraging homeschool moms specifically because that loneliness can literally take you under when you feel like you’re all by yourself. And I want to just say here if you are a single homeschool mom and you’re longing to be in a marriage, I would just… I pray for you because it is a deep longing and I have friends that are single homeschool moms and that is a very difficult, and I’m so grateful that in scripture we’re told that God is the husband to those women who are doing it.
Rachael Carman: And it’s not easy. It’s harder than doing it as a couple, but God is so good to be a faithful husband in those circumstances. So I wanted to make sure that it didn’t seem like I was unaware that is a very real part of the homeschooling demographic. But marriage matters because again, it’s a part of our sanctification and as we come together as husband and wife and we practice in that fellowship and we practice what we’re called to as followers of Christ, and that is death to self, right? We become more and more like in the likeness of God’s son. It’s a molding process. And when we start learning the beauty and the power of dying to ourselves, then we are better equipped and ready to really serve this others that God puts in our path.
Rachael Carman: That’s what it means when it says so they were trying to trick Jesus and the lawyer I believe comes up and he says, “What’s the greatest commandment?” So it started out as 10, they expanded to 613 and now they’re trying to snag Jesus. Which one of the 613 is he going to say, because he can’t win this, right? Because in theory none of them are more important than the others. And so he goes 10, 613 and he goes to what two and he says, “Love the Lord your God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength”. And the second is like intuit, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Well, that scripture makes a pretty long list of scriptures that have been taken out of context to mean something that it didn’t mean. And so our culture wants that to mean that we need to love ourselves. This whole idea of self-love to the point that we’re neglecting others and we’re becoming selfish and we’re becoming thoughtless and inconsiderate is not at all.
Rachael Carman: If you really want to love yourself, you will seek to become what God has planned for you to be, which means you’re dying to yourself. To love your neighbor means you’re dying to yourself. You love yourself enough to know that your plan for you is not anything on what God’s plan for you is. And so marriage gives us this opportunity to practice this fellowship, to practice dying to ourselves, practice this unity, forgiveness and grace and mercy, right? And it gives us an opportunity to practice intimacy. I mean you want to talk about… So marriage has been under fire for a while now. We’ve seen even among believers, I think it’s 50/50 now, tragically. But even now, I mean you’d have to be dead not to see the attack on sex, right? This beautiful intimate acts that God has given to one man and one woman in a monogamous relationship with each other in a covenant relationship as long as they both shall live is under fire.
Rachael Carman: Because that intimacy represents the intimacy that is available to us, with the God of the universe. It’s a physical representation of the intimacy that God has in store for us and invites us into. So, of course, the enemy is attacking it. We ought not be shocked and surprised. He wants to attack that. He wants people to participate in relationships that are not God-honoring and to carry that shame and that embarrassment and he wants to destroy the beauty of God’s gift to us. So, it matters that we as believers stay true to the covenant that we’ve made, that we lean into the opportunities for sanctification, that God gives us in that context, that we learn what it means to forgive and to be kind and gracious and consider it. That we learn to die to ourselves and that we do indeed enjoy the intimacy that God has given us so that we can be allied to the nations.
Rachael Carman: Because that is something that plays from the inside out, right? And it does, people know. We went out on a date because I’m a huge advocate for couples… Still dating. So we went out on a date and our waiter, he’s in his thirties and he’s like, “So what are you celebrating an anniversary?” And something my husband goes, “No, we’re actually celebrating that in a couple of months”. And he didn’t really care. He just wanted to know. He is so… “And what will it be? How many years have you been married?”. And Davis looked at him square in the eye and said, “On December the 20th, it will be 33 years”. I thought the guy was going to collapse. You know what that nowadays, a marriage that honors God is a huge witness and testament and, I double-dog dare everyone to live that out. Live a marriage that other people look at and go, “I want that”. I think we can… It’s a conversation starter.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah.
Aby Rinella: Right.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah. Such good reminders and I will say happy anniversary to my hubby because right around this… At the time this is going to air, we will actually be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary.
Rachael Carman: Oh, that is awesome!
Aby Rinella: That’s awesome.
Yvette Hampton: Only by the grace of God.
Rachael Carman: I understand.
Yvette Hampton: Only by God’s grace have we been able to do that. And like you talked about earlier, it is only because we made that commitment to God in the beginning and we promised that we would never even say the word divorce. And, we’ve taken that covenant seriously and it at times has been really hard and just like you and just like everybody, we’ve been through hard times but, we go through them together and even in the midst of the trials and hardships that we have, God created us as a team and he brought us together as husband and wife and we’re committed to this no matter how hard it is.
Yvette Hampton: And, so, yeah, by God’s grace, 25 years and happy anniversary to you guys. I mean, it’s just amazing to see that and we love that. We get to share that with others and not brag about it. Like we’re so great, but brag on God about that and say, “Look what God’s done”. Because truly it’s only by his grace that we have been able to stay married this long.
Yvette Hampton: We are talking about why marriage matters. That was what we talked about in the first episode and just about our covenant that we make between not just us as husband and wife, but as us between our savior, the creator of the universe and how important that covenant is and how God will take all of these hardships and trials that we go through in marriage and use them for his glory. If we’re willing to commit to sticking with our marriages and trusting the Lord, he can and will heal any brokenness that we have because he is a God who loves us. He created marriage. He created it for his glory.
Yvette Hampton: And so I want to continue on this conversation and I want to talk about how homeschool moms can make marriage a priority because that’s something that I know that I struggle with. We get so consumed with our kids and with homeschooling and in our responsibilities at home and laundry and dishes and doctor’s appointments and park dates and all of these things. And sometimes by the end of the day, it’s us and our husband, our kids are hopefully finally in bed. And then sometimes, I just… I’m so exhausted and I don’t even want to have a discussion because I’m just done, I’m spent.
Rachael Carman: I love your honesty.
Yvette Hampton: So how have you after 33 years of marriage… We talked about at the end of the last podcast that you and Davis have celebrated 33 years of marriage and Garritt and I are celebrating 25 years of marriage and you’ve got seven kids, Rachael. So you have had a whole lot more even than I have of little people pulling on you constantly. How have you found it possible to make your marriage a priority?
Rachael Carman: Well, I think it really takes us… So I have a theory that I actually think is true and that is that it is very easy for us to just go through this journey at breakneck speed, trying to get it all done, throwing up a lot of dust, but really not accomplishing anything. And the reason why is because we don’t think that we can afford to take the time that we really at the end of the day, can’t afford not to take. And that is to establish a vision with objectives and goals for what we’re doing. It’s so easy to get caught up in just our lesson plan and I’m actually working on some stuff for my grandkids, right? So therefore and too, and I’ve been working on some stuff in concert with my son and daughter-in-law, putting some little activities together for little hands.
Rachael Carman: It’s been lovely and I just been thinking back on when I had little hands here and like you’re saying how hard it was. But very early on, Davis and I were counseled by some really wise people to take a weekend and think what exactly were we trying to achieve? Was it really just reading, writing and arithmetic? That’s not a bad objective and goal. But was that all that we were trying to do? Are we just trying to get kids who would be accepted into Ivy League institutions where we just…What were we trying to do? And I think it’s easy for years to go by and we just keep thinking, “We’ll think about that later. We’ll think about that later”. And I gave the example of homeschooling because we’re homeschooled moms and I think a lot of us can relate to… You get 5, 6, 10, 12, 25 years in and you’re like, “Wait, what did we do?”
Rachael Carman: But, it happens in our marriages too. And I think if we could step back and get a vision for the opportunity that we have. So, I would bet that most everyone wants their children to marry someone who is going to point them to God over and over. I think we would all want for our children, really good spouses who love the Lord, who are going to encourage our children that we have poured so much into, right? As homeschool moms, we pour an inordinate amount into our children and for all the glorious reasons and it’s wonderful and I love it. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done next to marriage, but I’m very grateful that we’ve done it, but if you step back long enough to get the opportunity that you have to have a massive influence on who your kids choose as their spouse… By the way, you interact with your spouse now, right?
Rachael Carman: I can, when I’ve got little’s at my feet already begin to have a very loud voice. Not an obnoxious, not an obtuse, not an overbearing, not a manipulative, but a legitimate, authentic, gracious voice into my children as they began to look for a spouse as Davis and I interact on a daily basis. Because, we are either modeling for our kids something that they are going to long to have that they’re going to want or we’re modeling something that they’re like, “What was that? I don’t want that”. Right. And I mean everything in between, but I want to have the kind of relationship with him on a daily -basis that my kids, as they’re growing up and as they’re teenagers and graduating and getting out into the world, they’re thinking, “I want that”. And so I think it takes getting a vision because once you have a vision for the opportunity, right? Then it becomes a priority because then you’re like, “I want my kids to see an amazing marriage”. Not a perfect one. Our kids have seen us… I will confess, we are not yellers.
Rachael Carman: So, I know that can be a hard thing for a lot of people. We’re just not, we neither one of us came from yelling families. So, our kids have not seen us have a knockdown drag-out, yell crashing. That’s not been part of our home life. But they have seen us upset with each other. They have seen us cold towards each other. They have seen us frustrated and they have seen us come together and they have seen us stick it out and they… Because it’s up close and personal in this journey is going right. So they’ve seen this marriage grow and ebb and flow and work itself out. But they’ve also seen it as a priority. We have had date nights when the kids were little and it was a big deal. I would get dressed up, right? Davis would get dressed up because back in the day, I mean good grief when we had at one point seven under 13. I think, yeah. I mean really it’s a fog.
Rachael Carman: But even back then, I mean we prioritize going on a date and we would make a really big deal of it to the kids. This was our date night and sometimes Davis would go to the local grocery store and pick up a carnation and bring it to me. And it was a big deal. And the sitter came and… Everybody was a part of it and this, daddy is taking mommy on a date, and we would go out. I think your kids need to see that. If marriage is important to you and you want your children to have good marriages, then have one yourself. Prioritize it yourself. I’ve said for a long time, and this is not unique to me, but it is such a powerful truth that applies to a myriad of things. You cannot give what you do not have.
Rachael Carman: So, if you don’t have a vision for your marriage, if your marriage is not a priority, then you can’t cast those two things on that I think you probably want for them, but you can’t pass it on. I mean, you’re setting them up to do what… I don’t know if this is true for the two of you, but it’s been hard to be a first-generation homeschooler. Our parents didn’t do this, right? So we were trying to figure this out. I don’t want my kids to like be a first-generation good marriage, right? I want them to go, “Oh, I remember when dad used to do this and I remember when they do this, I remember they would go on date night”. So, our oldest son is married and they have two grandkids. And so when we get to go see them in the great state of Idaho-
Aby Rinella: Thank you very much.
Rachael Carman: Yeah. They live in Moscow.
Aby Rinella: Oh wow. They’re way North. That’s beautiful.
Rachael Carman: Yeah. They’re way North. And he got his masters and so that’s why we were there. But when we would go and visit, we always made up for to watch the grandkids so they could go on a date. So we… That’s a gift, that’s a very cheap, inexpensive gift that we can give to them and we will continue to give to them. But if you want that for your kids, figure out a way to start doing it now and moving it out.
Aby Rinella: And honestly, I really think not that women need one more thing to fall on them, but I believe this falls on you moms because I don’t think there’s ever been a time where my husband hasn’t wanted alone time with me. There’s never been a time where he said, “No, I don’t have time. I have too much to do”. I usually see it as the homeschool moms who’s 170 lessons that they need to get done in one calendar year comes far before… That 170 lessons is at the expense of their marriages or their husbands. And so it’s usually us when the kids go to bed that say, “Well now I can do my color-coded lesson plans. Or now I can pre-read the book that I want my kids to read tomorrow”. And really I think moms need to know that this falls on you.
Aby Rinella: You need to be available to your husbands. And for years the minute, the kids went to bed, I sat down with my lesson plans and I started to realize, I am being unfaithful to my husband because I am married to these lesson plans. And when I surrendered that and honestly repented of that to the Lord and I said, “God, you know what, I’ve got one hour a day to get these lesson plans done. If I’m going to be spending the rest of the time with my husband, I need you to take this little fish, this one hour and make this work”. And when I put my husband before my lesson plans, when I put my husband before my meal plans, when I put my husband before my clean house, it’s amazing how God extended my day-to-day. It’s amazing how he took a little bit of time that I did have and extended that because I was seeking first the kingdom of God.
Aby Rinella: I was being obedient to God by putting my husband first. And I think we’re afraid to say, you know what when you are putting anything above God, it’s an idol. And when you are putting anything above your husband, even if it’s a worthy thing like lesson planning or… It’s not being faithful to your husband. And so ladies, we got to step it up in this area. We’ve got to be the wife of his youth that he fell in love with and know it’s not easy, but it’s worth it. It’s 110% worth it. And it’s amazing how everything else comes in to play, how God honors that when we make that choice in every other area of our life.
Aby Rinella: And I love how you said… I wrote down and I love how you said, “We need to make our marriages something that our kids want”. We beat them over the head with how important marriage is, we read the scriptures of how important marriage is. But if we’re battling each other every day, they’re going to walk away from it so fast. So I just love how you said, “We’re the living, breathing example of what God’s word says marriage is to be”.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah. That is-
Rachael Carman: We have a whole generation of kids, and I’m talking across the United States, so not exclusively in Christian circles, but we have a whole generation of kids that have experienced the very real ramifications and reproductions, repercussions of coming from broken homes. And so it’s not even just to our kids, but to their friends. I remember a couple of Thanksgivings ago, I have some mantras that everyone should have things that this is a hill I’m going to die on. No one should not have a place to be on Thanksgiving day. Everybody is welcome. People should have, nobody should send it by themselves. Everyone is welcome. This is not my house, this is God’s house. I want people to feel welcome here. I remember a couple of Thanksgivings ago, my second son who went to art school.
Rachael Carman: So yeah, it was as bad as you can imagine. Academically outstanding. He is a gifted artist but the liberalism and the promiscuity and every other blank you want to fill in was present. And this particular Thanksgiving, I remember he called and he said, “So mom, I have some friends I want to bring home”. I was like, “You know that’s fun. That’s great. Just let me know” and he goes, “I know, but I want to tell you”, all of them come from broken homes and we’re all… I’m always talking about, I just got off the phone with me or with dad or I’m looking forward to coming home. And they literally said, “Can we come and see? We’ve never seen it”. So I’m really telling you… And this is something that we also don’t understand the Genesis mandate renewed after the ark, renewed with Abraham to fill the world with the glory of God.
Rachael Carman: That’s part of what we’re doing. It’s a huge part that we have grossly underestimated when we have growing, thriving, joyful marriages. We are participating in the mandate that God has given us to fill the earth with his glory because it’s only with his goodness and his grace abiding in and through us, that’s even possible. But there are other people, Aby, there are people watching you and your husband. There are people watching you and your husband… People you’ll never meet, right? When they see you on a date or they see you’re holding hands, those are all things that we get to say, “God’s way is a good way” and it’s good for us. You know this chasing after my selfish happiness only ends in emptiness.
Yvette Hampton: That’s right.
Rachael Carman: God’s way always brings more fullness and joy than any way we try to do it on our own.
Yvette Hampton: That’s right. His plan is best. Rachael, we have just a few minutes left for this episode and then I would like to do an extended version of this one for backstage pass members, but in the last few minutes that we have for this one, can you speak to the hearts of those whose marriage is just under fire, they are not in a happy marriage for whatever reason. I mean there are a million reasons why marriages are unhappy. Sometimes it’s the husband, sometimes it’s the wife. Their marriage is falling apart all around us. How would you encourage those moms?
Rachael Carman: Yeah. And that’s really a great question and it’s a question that I get often when I do this session. Stand by your man is what it’s generally called. First of all, don’t try to do this by yourself. I believe the first thing you do is you seek God and you spend time in prayer. I think the best way to get the spouse you want to have is to be the spouse that you want to have.
Yvette Hampton: That’s right.
Rachael Carman: So, I think the best thing you can do to improve your marriage is improve yourself and in terms of taking a self-inventory of where you are, how are you contributing? How are you dying to yourself? How are you serving? Are you available? I think Aby made a great point a minute ago when you said it’s not generally the man, but men don’t like to be turned down indefinitely. That’s one thing I learned from my husband that he has talked to our girls about when it comes to dating.
Rachael Carman: He said, “Guys, don’t ask you out unless they think you’re going to say yes”. And so if you get asked out and it’s really a no, you need to be very kind and gracious and considerate because he probably didn’t ask. He would not have asked if he hadn’t thought you were actually going to say yes. So, my point in this is, I really do believe there comes a point where our guys aren’t asking us to snuggle on the sofa anymore and aren’t asking us to get away for the weekend anymore and aren’t… But that doesn’t mean nobody is. You know what I’m saying? I mean, if your husband is wanting to have time with you, we need to run with reckless abandon and do that. So the first thing, if your marriage is in trouble, take some time with God.
Rachael Carman: Dare to pray the hard prayer. God, show me what I need to see in myself, in my own heart. Their prayers that God… I believe God answers all of our prayers. But I mean, boy, that’s one. You’re asking God to show you. He generally shows you. And it’s not usually pretty, but he’s very gracious, loving-kindness. Secondly, know when you need help. There’s no shame in seeking out good Christian counseling and talking to someone. We’ve known friends that in their marriage, some childhood issues come up and it looks like a marriage issue, but it’s really something from way back that was undealt with and unhandled. And we’ve seen marriages reconciled through counseling when they’re both struggling with not… Communication is such a huge thing in marriage. So know when to get help and get it and don’t wait too long.
Yvette Hampton: And know who to get help from because it doesn’t mean go get help from your girlfriend next door who’s not a believer and who’s going to just let you gossip and break down your husband and your relationship, but know how to get godly help.
Rachael Carman: Yeah. I’m so glad you said that. Yeah, and be wise and who you seek help from, and again in this generation, one of the tragedies is their help is so generally pure-based instead of seeking out mentorship from older, they seem to be more content just commiserating among themselves. That doesn’t generally lend itself to progress forward, nor does it offer accountability. Which I think is bad design, but that’s not good. So you’re right. Seek out good biblical Christian counseling and dig your heels in on your covenant. Determine to honor God. Scripture speaks to this. Scripture talks to the woman who finds herself in a bad marriage and adopt a quiet spirit. Live what you believe. Honor, serve, respect. I would commend to anyone that book, Love and Respect. I mean, it’s been an outstanding book. Respect your man, honor him, seek to serve him. Do not talk in any way negatively toward him, to your children or to anyone else that will do it in faster than anything I know. And dare to do the hard work and stick it out.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah. Such good advice. I wish we could go on and on. I wish we had all the time in the world to continue talking about this because I know that there are moms out there who even if they’re not in a struggling marriage, we just need to be reminded of God’s promises and of his faithfulness to keep our marriages going and to keep them strong, not just existing but to keep them strong and have that good example set for our children. But we are out of time.
Yvette Hampton: So Rachael and Aby, if you guys can stay on, I would love to do an extended version and some bonus content for our backstage pass members. If you are not a backstage pass member, go to SchoolhouseRocked.com and you can see the Backstage Pass membership button right there and learn more about becoming a backstage pass member. There’s tons of great content on there, interviews from the movie, behind the scenes stuff from the movie and then tons of great podcasts, extended versions of the podcast that we’ve done. But thank you for your wisdom, Rachael. We are so thankful for you. Where can people learn more about you and your ministry?
Rachael Carman: My name is a little tricky to spell. It’s R-A-C-H-A-E-L.
Yvette Hampton: You’ve got that A in there.
Rachael Carman: I know that A is in there and then my last name is C-A-R-M-A-N. So, RachaelCarman.com and there’s tons of content there. I’m on YouTube with some presentations and I’m also on Facebook, Rachael Carman. So I do Facebook lives periodically and all of that’s available there.
Yvette Hampton: Okay, fantastic. We will link to all of those things and I’ll throw in really quickly, I know you’ve got a couple of books, How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?, and then another one called, How to Have a HEART for Your Kids and you also… Some will know… This many will, but you and your husband Davis are the owners of Apologia Educational Ministries and so that’s a fantastic Christian worldview curriculum. You guys have a ton of great resources on there, so we’ll link back to Apologia as well. Rachael, thank you for your heart. You have such a heart for moms, for ministry, for homeschooling, and I am grateful for your wisdom and your willingness to share with us today.
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Yvette Hampton: This is the type of interview that I love, though I love all of my guests. Sherri Seligson is one who has been through homeschooling with her kids. And she has a really neat story about where God has taken her and where she came from, and what he’s done through her homeschooling. So, I’m excited to introduce you to her. Welcome, Sherri.
Sherri Seligson: Hi Yvette. Glad to be here.
Yvette: Yeah, tell us, tell us about you. Tell us about your family.
Sherri: Well, my husband and I have four children. We homeschooled them K – 12. They are all out of school. I still have my hair and most of my sanity. They’ve made it through college and are actually productive adults. And before we had kids, I worked at Walt Disney World’s Living Seas Pavilion as a marine biologist, and then left that to what I consider a promotion, to become a mom. Yvette: Oh, I love that you say to a promotion because marine biology is a pretty amazing career to have. I love the ocean. You got to really experience God’s creation in a whole different way that most people don’t get to. Sherri: Yeah, it was amazing. It’s definitely not as glamorous as people tend to imagine it, but it’s definitely fun, definitely fascinating. And the more I studied it, the more I saw God’s creative hand in our world, just a beautiful testimony to Him. Yvette: That’s awesome. And so God has used that in some pretty amazing ways, for you as a homeschool mom, but for you also as just a homeschool leader, as a speaker, as an author. You’ve done some pretty neat things that help Mamas like myself who are in the middle of homeschooling right now and in the thick of it. We’re always looking for good curriculum. We’re always looking for the best thing to direct our kids’ hearts towards Christ. And so, you have been able to do that. But one of the things that you love to do is to encourage moms who struggle with the feeling of putting their lives on hold. Because some may have seen what you did as that. I would love for you to tell that story of you, “putting your life on hold” even though, like you said, you actually ended up getting a promotion. Sherri: Yes. You know, it’s something that we have as our… we imagine as a young parent or a young single person, before we have kids, we have this career, because society is telling us that it’s valuable to have a career and that being a stay at home mom is lesser, is settling for less, is not good enough. That is completely wrong in my opinion. Completely wrong. One of the best mission fields we have is our children, our family. One of the best ways to impact the world is through that.
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When I left my job, most of the feedback I got from coworkers, friends, even some family members was, “You’re nuts! What are you doing putting your career on hold like that?” And we tend to do that. We kind of think that we’ve got this plan that we’re going to do in our lives that’s significant. And then we become parents. Then we decide we’re going to homeschool. Which, you know, again, that reinforced the fact that my friends and family thought I was nuts. But then we kind of see that as a sidetrack to what maybe God has for us, what we’re going to do that’s great and mighty in this world. And so, we take this time, we count down the years, we mark off the calendar. “I’ve got five more years.” “Four more years until my last one’s graduated.” Or we even feel the pressure of, you know, putting them in public school or private school, or part-time. Because we just want to do something so that we can say we’re significant. But in my experience, if I did nothing else but… like people say, “What’s on your bucket list?” – and I’ve been to lots of fun places. I’ve been in New Zealand, I’ve been to Iceland, I’ve been to all over. My bucket list top check-off box is being a mom and being with my kids. So I’ve been able to check that box as I’ve been doing it, because that’s the best experience I’ve ever had. That’s the best place I’ve ever been. And God used that time to build skills in me, both spiritually and academically. I learned so much about history that I never learned when I was in public school. And that’s a whole entire topic right there. How much I believe homeschool moms and dads are some of the smartest people I know because we get the enjoyment of learning with our children and filling in a lot of those gaps that we had with the excitement of teaching them. And so He taught … God used this to teach me grammar that I did not have, writing skills, speaking skills, at encouragement, talking with my kids, teaching other kids. Because once you get pegged as a scientist in the homeschool community, you just kind of get volunteered to do co-ops, and to teach this class, which I loved. But it built skills in me that now I’m using every day. So, I’m able to have the blessing of writing curriculum for Apologia educational ministries. I get to teach. I get to film instructional DVDs that help go along with those courses. So we go on location. We talk about the science that’s happening wherever we are. And those skills that I learned going through that process of being a homeschooler, being a mom, were built in me because of that. I could not be doing what I’m doing today if it wasn’t for that amazing experience. And so, I believe that God uses His plan A. It’s not His plan B or our plan. It’s a plan A of bringing the children He has into our families, and then utilizing that experience to build in us humility, to build in us- Yvette: Patience. Sherri: What are those? In real ways … but then also building in us skills, whatever those skills are, that we can use to not only pour into our children, but prepare us for the next chapter that He has for us. Because, believe it or not, you may not believe it at certain times in your life. They will be grown one day. They actually will graduate. They actually will become adults. And then, what does God have for us at that point? And I know he’s got great things for all of us. And it doesn’t mean we’re all going to be like involved in politics or becomes famous whatevers. But we have a responsibility to use our time well and pouring into our extended family, pouring into our children and their children and then whatever it is God opens up to us. And so, I count the experiences that I had as a homeschool mom as part of that preparation, that it wasn’t a sidetrack, it was part of His plan A. And I continue to see, “Oh, I’m so glad I learned that. I would not have learned that had I not homeschooled.” So just as an encouragement to moms to continue building yourself as you’re building your children. Yvette: Yeah. Oh I love that so much. I love that you call it plan A too. Because I think oftentimes we feel like, “Oh, you know, we wanted to do this, we wanted to do that. And now, I’m stuck at home with these kids and I’m having to homeschool them.” And we feel like our work is insignificant and it’s not. Sherri: And it is not. Yvette: And the time goes by so quickly, which I’m sure you will relate to that. You know, our oldest is 13. And I cannot believe that she’s already 13 years old. I mean she was just born yesterday. How can she be 13? And I realize more and more how short our time is with our kids. I mean, it goes by in a flash. And I’m sure you experienced that with your kids. And now, God is using all of the things that you did before you had kids and took the things that you did from being a mom and homeschooling them. And now, he’s done something different with you. But he’s still using all of the gifts and talents and abilities that he created you to have to impact His kingdom. And there’s just no greater work than that. Sherri: Yeah, it’s not wasted time. It’s not. It’s the best thing we can do. And again, it’s the top of my bucket list. I have, you know, things I’d like to do, places I’d like to see, but that’s my bucket list topics. So yeah, it’s worthwhile. And there are days … I mean, I don’t know, I’m going to ask the Lord one day about this, but how time can feel like it’s fleeting, and then there are days or weeks or months where time feels like it’s standing still. I mean, there were those moments with our kids during those little years and I felt like time was not moving. There was no progress. There was no … like I was going to be in this moment forever. Yvette: Yes. Sherri: You know? I think that that’s when we need, even if it’s an hour break, or a perspective change, a friend we can chat with. Because within that tiny little moment of that little parenthetical moment in our life, where we feel like all we’re going to do is clean up liquids coming out of children … they do. That we feel like that’s going to be our life forever. And that’s a tiny little moment within the tiny little period of those young years, within the tiny little period of having them at home, within the tiny little period of my life that God’s eternal timeline … and He’s placed us in this spot for this time, for this period. That perspective helps me to say, “Okay, one more diaper. Okay, one more whatever it is, spilled honey with glass.” Yvette: Oh gosh. Honey is the worst. Oh no. It’s so sticky. Sherri: It is, especially in the glass containers. Come on. Yeah. And so, I think that a lot of it’s our perspective. But if we can get a vision of it, that God’s got a plan for us. And he doesn’t say, “Whoops, well this is happening, I’ll change the plan.” Then, it helps us have that right direction, that right perspective to keep moving, keep moving forward with what He has for us today. Yvette: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. What are some things since … So you’ve homeschooled your kids from kindergarten through 12th grade, all four of them. How many years apart are they? Sherri: They’re each two years apart. I married an engineer. So, we had four kids in six years. And then God just … We didn’t know how many we were going to have and God just said that’s your four is your number. And so yeah, we started with preschool with our first one, and thought, “Well, I can’t ruin preschool. I know my colors, I know my numbers.” And every year we would just pray and we assessed. And it’s usually like this time of year. We’re recording right now. It’s just now February. This is that. I would like check the computer, “How much is it for private school?” But every year, we’d reassess and we would pray and God just said keep going. Eventually our children said keep going. They enjoyed it, they caught it. And so, yeah, we went all the way through k through 12. And it was … They were lumped together, but the spacing was enough to where I could only teach certain groups. I mean, I had older and younger enough to where you couldn’t do everything with all of them. It was like spinning plates sometimes. But it was okay. Yvette: Which life is spinning plates anyway. Sherri: Yes. Yeah. Yvette: How did that build relationships between you and your kids and between your children and them as siblings? Sherri: I could tell you the perspective I have now watching my kids, watching ourselves with our kids, that that’s one of the best benefits of homeschooling is they are building relationships with you as parents and with each other. You know, if you think about the artificial environment of a brick and mortar school where kids are parsed into grades, and the fifth grade class goes on a field trip to the zoo, and they watch the elephant give birth or something. And they’re with kids that they’re probably never going to seek in the rest of their lives. And they’re not … When you’re as … as a homeschool family doing something like that, and the van breaks down and it’s raining and mom’s crying and the kids end up getting lollipops at the store because they’re waiting for the to truck to come. My kids have memories of that, that they share, the shared memories that built were their relationships. Oftentimes, I get the beauty of watching them come home for Christmas and we’re all sitting around having something to eat or something to drink. And they’re just chatting and reminiscing about their experiences. And some of them are misadventures and some of them are just, you know, inside jokes, movies they’ve seen together, things that have happened in their lives. They have shared memories that they get to enjoy together and relive together and that builds their relationships. They’ve been guided gently, sometimes not so gently, to get along. And even with us, we get to spend time with them through those challenging years, through those questioning years, wrestling. And so … And it’s not been easy, but it has been beautiful to see the pursuit. You know, God pursues us, He doesn’t let us go. We need to pursue them. Sometimes they don’t want it. Sometimes … At least, they don’t look like they want it. You know, when you give them a hug and they kind of go, “Oh mom,” they still love it. Tell them you love them, even though they may kind of give the eye roll. They, “I know that mom.” Well, I want to tell you again because they need to hear it. They need to know that we’re pursuing them. And it builds a relationship that is just beautiful, that’s wonderful, that never ends. And again, they’ll call each … When I hear that they’re going out together, two of them are going to go get dinner. I’m like, “Oh, I’m just so excited about that.” So, that will happen. And there were days where, you know, stop touching me, he’s touching me, that was our life a lot too. You know, my children, just like me, were sinners. So, we have to learn that. But just it’s a beautiful thing. The relationship building is such a blessing. And because we homeschool, we’re able to foster that. Yvette: Yup. I love it. I often tell our girls and you hear it all the time, we’re raising adults, we’re not raising children. And I desperately want my girls to grow up to have a great relationship and to be the best defense. ‘Cause I tell them, right now they’re almost five years apart, and so they feel like there’s such a big gap in their age. And it does seem that way, you know, between eight years old and 13 years old. There is a big difference. But I keep telling them, “When you’re adults, when one of you is 25 and the others 30, there’s not going to be a gap there. That gap completely closes.” You know, I’m friends with many, many moms who are 10 years younger than me or five years younger than me and it doesn’t matter. I don’t ask first, “How old are you?” You know? And if you’re five years younger than me, “I’m sorry. I can’t be your mom friend.” And so, that is one of our greatest desires for our girls is that they will grow to have a deep, deep bond with one another because they share life together. That’s what they get to do because of homeschooling. Sherri, I want to talk about how you transitioned your kids from the elementary grades into middle school and then into high school because it seems a little bit overwhelming to me. Yvette: Brooklyn, my oldest, she is in seventh grade right now, if we must label her with a grade. And I’m … that part didn’t seem as overwhelming as it does transitioning her into the high school years with transcripts and all these things that need to be taken care of. How did you deal with that with your kids? Sherri: Besides panic? You know, we … we … each child is different. You know, we actually, after having gone through the process with our oldest, everybody would say to me, “Oh, you’ve completed this transition. You’ve done it all the way through. You’ve got it figured out.” And I realized no, because each child is so different. Their direction was different, their giftedness is different. And so, the mechanics of how our courses that we had them doing and their experiences, whether they would work or not, whether they would dual enroll, it was different with each child. So, that’s going to look different. And that’s what we want. Because remember, we’re homeschooling them. We get that opportunity to adjust their needs, based on their needs, their direction, what God has for them. If we want to do the same thing with all of them, let’s just put them in a big classroom full of 25, 30 kids and do the same thing. And so it’s going to look different. But there are some things that we can do to help our kids in the transition that’s kind of across the boards the same, at least in theory or for the most part. Like as they exit elementary school years and enter the middle school years, we’re talking about adolescence. And it’s interesting that adolescence kind of falls at the same time as … I mean, physically, emotionally, mentally, developmentally, academically, there’s a lot of changes going on. And so if you imagine your child having that, it’s kind of like, I mean, we have to cut them some slack first of all. Their bodies are growing. Their bodies are doing things. They’re like, “What’s happening to me?” They’re having to … Developmentally, their brains are being able to transition from understanding only concrete information to understanding abstract ideas. And they’re questioning more, which is good, sometimes not so great, but good because they’re trying to process what this world is. Who is … what’s truth? How do I fit into this? So they’re going to have awkward feelings. They’re going to have questions. They’re going to be maybe inward. They’re not going to know how to respond. And we have to have that dialogue. That’s when we pursue them gently and give them space. And we also work on academically the transitions that are occurring. They are becoming more able as they enter sixth, seventh, eighth grade to become more independent. They want that. That can cause some of those issues in your household. They’re maybe loading the dishwasher differently than you want to because they see it as a better way to do it. And there’s going to be those questions or those, you could call them clashes, but it’s more of just really trying to see how everything fits. And so, academically, we want to help build those independent learners in them. And so … Like I love doing that as we design curriculum for the kids. Because, in those middle school years, we want to train them walking through it step by step, here’s how you do it, in the same way that you would show a child, let’s say, how to fill a dishwasher. You do it for them and show them. Then, you do it with them. And then, you let them try a couple of times. And you give them good feedback. And then, you’re ready to launch. And they’re going to make mistakes. And they’re going to put the non-hand-washable thing in there and ruin a couple of things. But that’s a process. And it’s the same way with learning. You’re going to give them … sometimes they may have access to solutions manuals or they at least know where they are. And sometimes they may kind of be tempted to find them and use them when you’re not aware. And those kinds of trial and error … This is the time to be addressing those things lovingly, gently, the temptations that they experience in that. They’re also spiritually going to be going from following mommy and daddy’s beliefs, belief system, to making it their own. And so, they’re going to ask questions that might shock us, you know, “How is it fair that a person over in wherever is born there and not hearing the Gospel like I am? Or how do we know that what they’re believing is not true and what we’re believing is true?” And if you don’t know the answer to that, that’s fine. Seek out the answer to that with them. Walk through. It’s not that they’re challenging you necessarily. They’re challenging questions. And we want to walk through that and it’s harder. And that, you’re going to find that in academics. You’re going to find that in how the household is run. You’re going to find those questions. But if you have an understanding that this is a child who’s maturing, this is a child who’s developing, and this is expected. We don’t want them to be elementary aged in their minds all the way through. Right? You don’t want an 18 year old like that. So, we want them to become thinkers. We want them to reason. And we want them to do it early on like this so that they have the benefit of dialoguing with us, of having those hard concepts. We started putting our kids in a co op that met one day a week for certain number … certain classes, not all of them. But I wanted my kids to experience external deadlines. I wanted them to take on that responsibility of communicating to me, “Well, you know, this is the way this teacher is doing this and how do I deal with that?” Or “Mom, this is not how we’re supposed to do it.” Okay, well let’s talk about that. We want them to be able to start navigating that a little bit at a time so that we can walk with them through those harder concepts, or how they manage their time. Let them fail sometimes. This is a safe place at home to fail versus a college environment or a career environment where they’re not knowing what to do and they fail something and they just fall apart. We can’t be … you know, we talk about helicopter parenting, when you’re all involved in everything. It’s really hard to do as homeschoolers because we know who their friends are. We know what they see, what they do, what their learning. And we tend to be helicopter parenting. But we also don’t want to be what I’ve heard as lawnmower parents. Like just push them on through. Just get them going. We don’t care what we’re mowing over. Let’s just get it done and check off the boxes and say, “We’re done.” We have to have … be somewhere between those two machines. I don’t know what we are. I haven’t come up with a metaphor for that. But it’s … We did it. I want to say we did it perfectly, but we didn’t. We did it vary fallibly. We made mistakes. We had lots of times where we would have just, you know, “Let’s have a family meeting and let’s talk about this.” Lots of tears, lots of apologies on our part and my part. But helping them to see that you’re navigating this process with them, through all of those arenas in their lives, helps to build conversation, helps to open up those doors for talking about those things, and helps them to identify that your heart is for them. You want the best for them in the same way that God wants the best for them. And it helps them to navigate those new experiences. I had the blessing. I’m right now working on my master’s in education and science design and science curriculum design. And I get the opportunity to talk with lots of teachers in the public school arena. Yvette: Oh, okay. Sherri: Part of this classroom. And it’s been so eyeopening to see what these dear, dear people have in their hearts for their kids that are in their classrooms and the challenges they face. And most of those who are in middle school, in those middle school years are just hitting their heads against the wall because they can’t influence those kids in the short time they have. They’re not the parents. We had that beautiful blessing of solving that problem, because the kids were home with us. We had those teachable moments. And you can’t have that quality time without quantity time. Yvette: Yeah. Sherri: ‘Cause you can’t just say, “Okay, sit down with me and have coffee. We’re making this appointment one day every month and let’s just talk about something important. Go.” And they just look at you. You know? It has to happen as I mess up, as they mess up, and those natural conversations occur because you’re with them. You’re with them all the time. Yvette: Yeah. Sherri: I mean, I don’t know. Does that help answer some of those- Yvette: Yeah. Oh, it totally does. And I love so many things that you said. You know, you talk about how they’re, at that age, kind of processing, what is truth? What is this life around me? What do I really believe? And what better way to navigate that with them then to be able to be with them day in and day out? Sherri: Absolutely. Yvette: Because we get to see … I mean, you know, no one knows our kids better than we do. No one. They can have teachers. And there are teachers, public school, private school, universities, there are teachers who love their students, truly genuinely love them. But they can’t … They just don’t have the ability. They don’t have the time. They don’t have the ability to know our kids the way that we do. And so they cannot walk through them … through life with them, and help direct them in every single way and, like you said, just allow them to figure it out. And one of the things you said really struck me as you said it. And it reminded me of Ginger Hubbard, if you’re familiar with her. She’s a sweet, sweet friend of mine. She has a book called Don’t Make Me Count to Three. And she talks a lot on parenting. And one of the things that she talks about is do overs and we do them with our kids. And so, you know, if you’re child disobeys and they … and we’re talking, you know, a toddler, maybe they hit their brother or sister because they’re mad for whatever reason. Instead of just saying, “Don’t hit your brother and sister.” And scolding them and then walking away, you show them the right way to act. So let’s do it over. If your sister took your toy, instead of hitting her, let’s figure out the best way to respond to her. And so, you take them by the hand and you walk them through how to respond properly. And I love that you relate that then back to our children and their life and their education. And that, even at the age of 13, 14, 15, you know, 18 years old, we can still take them by the hand and say, “Let’s do this together. I’m going to show you the right way to do it. And then, I’m going to let you do it on your own. And you may or may not fail. And if you do, then we’re going to do it together again.” And let them practice, but coming alongside of them. Because I think as homeschool moms, oftentimes we just assume that they know how to do things the right way. We assume they know how to write a paper. We assume they know how to do these math problems. We assume that they know how to, you know, make a speech or whatever it is. We just think, “Well, of course they know how to do that.” Well, maybe they don’t. And so they need mom to be able to come alongside of them, show them how to do it. Or if we don’t know how to do it, find someone else who does like the marine biologist mom. And you know … and that … I mean, that’s a whole nother topic, but that’s the importance of community in homeschooling. You must have community, you must seek out people. Don’t wait for people to come to you. You seek out people because there are people who are waiting to be sought out. And build community. And then, you come alongside of one another’s children as well. And you do this together, you do this life together. And it’s such a beautiful thing. And so I love that you talk about that as a great way to just transition them. Sherri: Yeah. Well, understanding also that what you do with one kid … you know, you may have … like we had this phenomenal lady that was homeschooler and she’s great for educating our kids on how to write. And I kept thinking to myself, “Oh please don’t retire next year. I’ve got three more kids. Oh, two more kids.” And yet, we have to realize that … I really believe God’s got His plans for our kids. And so, what He makes available for one child, He may not make available for the others, but for His good purposes. And so, we can’t rely on a curriculum or a human or a friend who’s doing something to have to be there for us, as long as we realize that God’s got it. You know, I can tell you example after example of things He did that with our kids. I mean, one of our children is a musician, full time musician, makes a living doing it. Yvette: Awesome. Sherri: And I’m thinking to myself, “Oh Lord, how is he going to feed my future grandkids?” But he has been gifted in that from the beginning and God opened up opportunities beyond what I knew to do. Yvette: Yeah. Sherri: To give him these experiences that he had during his growing up years to prepare him for what he’s doing today that I could not have done. He didn’t make those opportunities, the same ones, available to my other kids. It was just … And so, I see His hand throughout that and we have to trust that, that that’s going to happen to you. It’s going to look different. And as like you were talking about, the sharing thing or the hitting my child and having a navigator, maybe they don’t know how to write a paper. Maybe they did know how to write a paper. But now, as a hormonal 15 year old, they don’t, or they’re questioning it, or they’re saying, “Why do I have to use an ly word here?” I mean, the gamut. It’s there. And so, we have to walk through them… through the questioning season based on everything they’ve learned. “Why is this called red? Does everybody see the same red that I see? Can I call it something else?” I mean, they like to challenge, because they’re trying to reformat their world with their mature brain. And so, it’s just fascinating to see how the brain works, and how God in his amazing design coincided those adolescent years with their … all of that transition time, which makes it fun for homeschool families. Yvette: Oh, what a beautiful reminder that they’re not just crazy. Sherri: No. Yvette: You know, we’ve all been through it. But I think we forget. I mean, I honestly … I remember my junior high years and my high school years. But I don’t remember going through the insanity, sometimes it seems like these kids go through. But I’m certain I did. But I’m sure my mom remembers. I’ll have to ask her because I’m certain she’s got stories. But it’s such a good reminder to just show them grace because we were there once too. It’s how God created them. They are doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing and not to always see it as them challenging us, which I think sometimes we always feel like they’re butting up against us. They’re challenging us. They’re being disrespectful. And sometimes, that’s the case. And then, we need to redirect them and their attitudes. So, I’m not giving permission for that, but sometimes they are really just trying to figure out what this life and this world is all about, so I love your encouragement. Sherri: Absolutely. Photo by Dakota Corbin on Unsplash
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