7 Steps to Homeschool Success


“Early on, I started to recognize what was important in our homeschool day and how to keep it important and how to keep it the main thing and not lose sight of our goals. So that’s kind of where it kind of stemmed from. And so the book is very, very simple. It’s not a hard process or anything terribly complicated.” – Crystal Twibell

Listen to Crystal talk about her system for homeschooling success on the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. (8/6/2019 episode)

Yvette Hampton was recently joined in the studio by author, homeschool mom, and homeschool graduate, Crystal Twibell, for a live recording of the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, in which they talked about how to have a purposeful and successful homeschool system.

Crystal Twibell is a homeschool mom of 8 and author of 7 P’s in a Pod: A Purposeful System for Home Schooling Success. She is the owner of a consulting business that specializes in event planning and organizational systems and has worked in the homeschooling community for over 30 years. She has enjoyed homeschooling her eight children for the last 23 years. Transplanted from city life, she and her husband, John, along with their four youngest children, live in rural Georgia and appreciate the quiet sounds of the woods, mixed with the shouts and laughs of her children. A cup of coffee on the front porch and twinkling fireflies at dusk are as much a part of life as the occasional clogged toilet and burned breakfast.

7 P’s in a Pod provides encouragement to homeschool parents through laying out a formatted outline with the tools you need to plan a full, meaningful year of school that allows you to focus on the needs of each individual child. 7 P’s in a Pod is not a cookie-cutter approach; it outlines basic guidelines that, if followed, can result in lasting success for the entire family. The simple text and customizable charts can assist you in purposefully planning your homeschool year.

Yvette Hampton:           Hey everyone, welcome back to the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. This is a really fun episode because I’m actually getting to do this live in the studio with my friend Crystal and she is a homeschool mama. She’s got eight kids, and you have been homeschooling for how long?

Crystal Twibell:             23 years.

Yvette:                         Okay. So you’ve been at this for a little while. It’s really fun to actually have someone with me side-by-side, because usually we have to do this from the computer through Zoom or something else, and so it’s fun to actually get to sit side-by-side with you and talk about homeschooling. Meet my friend Crystal. I’m excited for you to meet her and I know this is going to be a really encouraging episode.

Crystal:                         It’s good to be here.

Yvette:                         Yeah! Well, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to come and chat with me about homeschooling. So 23 years, you’ve got eight kids and a daughter-in-law.

Crystal:                         That’s right.

Yvette:                         Tell me about homeschooling and how you got started on this journey of homeschooling.

Crystal:                         Okay. When I was in the ninth grade my parents just felt the call to homeschool us, my sister and I, and it was during the mid ’80s so really the only people that homeschooled were the foreign missionaries, so it was very unusual. At the time there wasn’t a lot of curriculum and not a lot of help for homeschoolers, but they were determined that’s what they were supposed to do and I’m just so thankful they did. Because it was during that time those high school years that I had especially with my mom to develop a relationship with her that has just been… She became my best friend and of course academics were a part of it but there was so much relationship building and heart molding during that time that that really inspired me to… I wanted at that time to hopefully someday, do that with my children and we have been able to.

My husband, John, has been supportive since the beginning and been a very much a part of our homeschooling journey and so I’m just grateful to have had a good start from my own parents and to have the privilege of doing it all these years so.

Watch our full interview with Crystal Twibell on the Schoolhouse Rocked Backstage Pass website.

Yvette:                         Now is this something that you guys talked about when you were dating? Did you talk about how you wanted to homeschool or was this kind of not something you-

Crystal:                         Well, we actually, I think we probably did. I know we did because he knew I was homeschooled in high school. So his mom, she’s such a wonderful woman and she taught in the school system for 33 years and I think at first I was wondering if she would be supportive. This was before we were married because we did discuss it and she was wholeheartedly for it because she’d been in the system so long and she’d seen so much and she hopes someday that her grandchildren wouldn’t have to experience some of the things that she’d actually had to deal with. So she too has been an amazing support through the years and helped us along. And some of our little special situations with some of our kids needed some extra training and education in different areas, especially in reading we had some dyslexia and things like that, and she just jumped in and helped me and supported us through those times. So John was always on board for it too. He really was so.

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Yvette:                         That’s cool. It seems very unusual, especially for back in those days and for the in-laws to be supportive of it. Because even today with homeschooling as big as and accepted as it is, there are so many in-laws who just are not accepting of it and family members, and simply it’s because they don’t understand what homeschooling is and the benefits and then once, I mean, it seems like every story across the board, grandma and Grandpa or aunts and uncles or friends will be unsupportive. They’re going to say, “No, you’re messing up your kids. This is a terrible idea.” And then they see the end result and they change their minds. It happens all the time. So that’s really, that’s a great thing.

Crystal:                         It is. And through the years I’ve seen how what a benefit it has been because we haven’t had to fight with parents or in-laws trying to keep our stance on it. They’ve been both sides very encouraging and loving and helpful so.

Yvette:                         Okay. So you started being homeschooled yourself in the ’80s and you’re still homeschooling, your kids range in age from 10 to 20?

Crystal:                         26.

Yvette:                         26. Okay. So you have a pretty big range there, but you’re still homeschooling them?

Crystal:                         I am.

Yvette:                         How have you seen the shift of homeschooling and the homeschool community from the ’80s until today?

Crystal:                         Oh, a major shift from the ’80s, like I said, there wasn’t a lot back then. We didn’t have access to the internet like we do now. We can search for things we can… I remember my mom when we first started homeschool, she called Bob Jones University Press and said, “I just need a biology book and a teacher’s manual.” And they said, “Why do you need one book? We can sell you 30 books and a teacher’s manual.” But she didn’t need 30, but they just didn’t break it up that it wasn’t done yet. And so she worked really hard to create curriculum for us. And so now you can an internet search and you have pages and pages of options for every age. So it’s great. On one hand, obviously it makes it much easier to make informed decisions. But on the other hand, it can be very overwhelming the amount of curriculum that’s out there and trying to decide what’s right for us. So, and then support, there’s lots of support groups now. There are lots of communities around that are connecting with one another so you’re not out there homeschooling alone.

Yvette:                         Yeah, which is really important. We talk a lot about community and the importance of coming together and finding other homeschool families. And I think oftentimes people will think, “Well, there’s not a community around me.” Well make one.

Crystal:                         You can start one.

Yvette:                         Start one, because I mean, if you’re homeschooling and you’re feeling alone, I’m certain that there are other families who are homeschooling and feeling the same way. And so it’s a great way to reach out to other families who are probably in need of that fellowship and community and support as well.

Crystal:                         Definitely.

Yvette:                         Yeah. So what has homeschooling looked like for your family and has it changed through the years? I mean, you’ve been doing this now for 23 years, has your philosophy and your way of homeschooling your kids changed through the years?

Crystal:                         I don’t think there’s been a lot of change fundamentally. Now every one of them has been very different. Every child is different. So what works for one doesn’t always work for another. I mean we all say that about our children. And so, and over time, better options have become available. So maybe what I used with our oldest for science in high school, I’m not going to use that. I’m going to use something that’s better for us now. So that has changed. But fundamentally what we’ve done, I’ve always been, I’m a big believer in routine and keeping things in order. And so that has been kind of the foundational building block there that we go from. And beyond that it looks different maybe every year a little different. Now some curriculums I’ve used forever because they work and I’m not going to try to recreate the wheel or whatever. So that’s probably the only change I’ve seen is just over time what’s better curriculum.

Yvette:                         Yeah. So, you’re really good at systems, and this is one of the things I love about homeschooling and I love about this podcast, because we’ve talked to a lot of different people and you’ve got the people like yourself who really enjoy having a system and enjoy having routine, and that’s what works great for your family, and then there are those who do more of the kind of lifeschooling/unschooling method and that works great for their family, and you’ve got those who do classical education and those who do Charlotte Mason and it’s such a beauty that we can do that. Homeschooling gives us the freedom to be able to do what works best with our family dynamics and our family’s personalities.

But I love that you have come up with some systems and you actually have a book for those who are watching this on video called 7 P’s in a Pod: A Purposeful System for Home Schooling Success. You wrote this book a couple of years ago, right? About two years ago?

Crystal:                         Yes.

Yvette:                         So, you wrote this actually from real experience. It wasn’t just this is what I’m going to try out and see if it works. You’ve actually written this because you’ve done it firsthand. Talk to us about your book and what’s in it.

Crystal:                         Okay. It’s just really a collection of my system that I’ve used for years and that’s worked for us through many, many different life changes and ages and different types of learning skills and levels. So it’s been a system that over the years, it was early on, I started to recognize what was important in our homeschool day and how to keep it important and how to keep it the main thing and not lose sight of our goals. So that’s kind of where it kind of stemmed from. And so the book is very, very simple. It’s not a hard process or anything terribly complicated. Personally, I feel like it can be used, any kind of homeschooling out there, if you’re super structured or if you’re an unschooler or if you’re a classical homeschooler, Charlotte Mason, all these that you mentioned, I use a lot of those ideas within that because I researched so much early on to find out what we wanted to do. And so the book just kind of outlines a system. Yes, it is a system and seven different steps to this system and can we go through those steps?

Yvette:                         Yes, let’s do that.

Crystal:                         Okay. The first one, I’ve called it 7 P’s in a Pod because each one starts with a P. And so the first one is to pray for wisdom. And that probably can go without being said. But that’s something where this is the place where we have to start is praying for wisdom as we endeavor to train the hearts of our children and train the minds of our children. And so first one is pray for wisdom and then the second one is to personalize with goals. And so from there I actually have a little goal sheet that I have used for years for every child and myself. And at the beginning of our school year or when I’m getting ready to prepare for the new school year, I’ll pull out a goal sheet, put their name at the top, and I go through five different areas that I would like to… Goals I have for them. And when they get to be middle school, teen or high school, we sit down with that goal sheet together. The goal sheet has spiritual goals, physical goals, relational goals, academic goals, and I’m going to have to look it up in my book. Off the top of my head is not coming to me real quick. But so for instance, I would do this even with my infant, so maybe I had a newborn and I was getting ready to go into the school year with newborn. What are the physical goals I have for my newborn? That would be, that she would nurse well, that she would learn how to nurse well, that that would be something that we’re successful at, that she would take two naps a day. Those are physical goals. And so maybe that she would learn to have mat time all by herself and lay on the mat and be content to play.

Those are things that we would work on. Maybe her spiritual goals for that infant would be, I want to be sure I’m turning on the scripture music at night so that she’s hearing the scripture being played. So this, I mean, it’s super simplified and it’s things I should be doing already. But for me it helps if I can get it on paper and then I’m more likely to remember it and do it. So, and then of course with like a teenager or something. If we go to physical goals, it might be which sports do you want to play and how are we going to incorporate those into our week? And maybe it’s a spiritual goal. Are you ready to start maybe leading a Bible study with some peers or someone younger, a group younger than you? So it’s just all the things that they may wish to do or that my husband and I think that would be worthy goals for our younger ones to do, that’s what we put on that sheet. And the academic goals would be I’d write down that year what I’d like for them to do, are they in math-4 then I want them in fourth-grade-ish and math is on there and grammar’s on there and writing and what history do I want to focus on this year and what science are we going to do, how we’re going to do it? So those academic goals are there each year. And so I take everybody and then myself as well, what are my goals for this year? And I write those in. And again, I mentioned speaking with my husband about it because I feel like he’s very much a part of that. So we share that together. And maybe you’re a single mom and you don’t have that luxury.

Well, whatever older, Godly man, God has put in your life, whether it’s a pastor or a father who can help direct you as well to get that input. That’s what I would encourage on that. So does that answer your questions about goals?

Yvette:                         Yeah. It does in the last one, is ministry goals.

Crystal:                         Ministry goals, there it is. Thank you. Thank you for looking. Yes, ministry goal. And that’s really a super important one. Because I think so often we want to think that ministry starts when we’re adults. The ministry can start much, much younger than that. And so to have our children aware that that is a topic in their goals that they need to be thinking about early on.

Yvette:                         Yes, yes. I think it’s one of the greatest things about homeschooling is that you can serve in ministry together as a family. And we’ve talked about this on the podcast before. I actually did a podcast a while back with Elizabeth Johnston and we talked about how as homeschool families, we have more time. And it’s not that other families who don’t homeschool don’t have the opportunity to do ministry together, but as homeschoolers we have more time with our kids because we’re with them and they’re not coming home and having to do homework and having to go to sports and stuff. And so we have this great privilege of being able to be involved in ministry together as a family.

And I love that dynamic of homeschooling. And I love with your goals that you don’t, you don’t have academics at the top. Academics are important of course. And we talk about that all the time. Our kids have to learn about the world around them so that they can better understand their creator, but academics are not the most important thing. Their walk with the Lord and their character is so much more important than the academics.

Crystal:                         Exactly. It’s certainly not the top of the list, but everything in balance.

Yvette:                         Yes, yes.

Crystal:                         But we do enjoy the ministry goals. We have been able to see through the years because of the time, we don’t have to devote seven hours a day to our schooling. So we can devote a good bit of time to other things ministry. Even now some of this stuff the girls are doing this year with their ‘ministry’, one of their ministry goals was, I call it connect. And so they have certain loved ones that they connect with through a letter or an email or a phone call every week. And some of them are every other week. It depends on, and with siblings now away from home, they have a chance to stay connected with them and their busy lives that way. So I think that’s been one of the sweetest things we’ve seen just because now our family is so split, we have half at home and half away living and doing their own things.

And so for our younger ones to still be able to connect up with those older ones and with grandparents living away and that sort of thing.

Yvette:                         That is so cool. I love that so much. Okay, so what’s next?

Crystal:                         Okay, the third one is to peruse curriculum. And that’s to start looking through all of the options out there through the lens of your goals. Will this particular curriculum fulfill some of these goals, will it actually fulfill some of these goals? Do they match, do they mesh? And so that’s why goals are really important to put out first because then you can choose according to what the needs are.

Yvette:                         Sure. What direction you’re going.

Crystal:                         What direction you’re going in. So that’s helpful because there is, like I said earlier, so much out there, it’s just overwhelming at times.

Yvette:                         Do you do Homeschool Conventions?

Crystal:                         I did for years. I really did. They’re excellent. And not that I’ve too good for it or outgrown it. I just think I have done it a long time now and I feel really good and secure about some of the things that I am using, all the things I need to. So at this point I just, I read still, but I’m not actually attending at this point. So, but they’re great. And I would encourage it.

Yvette:                         Yes. And yes, they’re great, but they can be completely overwhelming.

Crystal:                         Overwhelming.

Yvette:                         I mean we are definitely in favor of Homeschool Conventions, but I think that there are some things people need to know before attending a convention.

Crystal:                        Definitely.

Yvette:                         It can completely undo you if you go and you’re not prepared for what is there. And I remember before we started homeschooling, a friend of mine said, “Talk to several people, figure out what they use for their curriculum and then kind of focus on those things. When you go to the convention,” She said, “Do not stop at every single table and look at every single thing that’s out there.”

Crystal:                         That’s right.

Yvette:                         And so, it’s great because that’s exactly what I did. And so I knew specifically what I wanted to look for. And of course I saw all kinds of other things that were exciting and interesting, but it’s hard to not get caught up in the excitement and feel like, well-

Crystal:                         We should do that too.

Yvette:                         We should do that too.

Crystal:                         … And that, and that.

Yvette:                         Right exactly. And then you go home with 100 books and you’re like, “Okay kids, here we go.”

Crystal:                         Again, creating that goal list before you go to a convention. And matter of fact, when we used to go, I would create my goal list, I would look for curriculum online or in the magazines that came and I pretty much decided before I went so that I could just go touch it and deal it and verify that this is really what I thought it was from what I read. And it did help to kind of keep the focus and not have all of that in your face at one time. So, definitely a good plan on that.

Yvette:                         Yeah. That’s fantastic.

Crystal:                         So, the next thing, number four is to plug into a time schedule spreadsheet. And this may really annoy some people.

Yvette:                         It’s okay. Some people really need it.

Crystal:                         But it’s actually a habit available to… Once if you read the book or get the book or you want information, you can just email me about it and I’ll send a template. That’s basically all it is, it’s just your day sectioned off in 30 minutes sections and it’s super helpful for a large family I found because I could plug in when… I was going to sit down and nurse for 30 minutes. I needed to know what everybody else was going to be doing during that time. They needed to know what they were going to be doing during that time so they weren’t just doing nothing. And so that was a great value early on was to have, when I knew that I would not be available for a 30 minute segment or a 15 minute segment. They had instructions on what to do and what they would be aware of. Also it helped with all the little chores that are so good for our children to do if they knew what time of day or when they should be doing those and what they were.

That time chart was super helpful with that. Also when on that I would put who I was going to spend one on one time with during a certain time of day. So when the kids saw, okay, this is, and I collected it, so maybe it was lavender. “Okay, mom’s going to be with Millay during that time. So I’m not going to interrupt mom during, that’s their time and here’s my color down here, my time is coming. I can hold my questions until then and I know I’m going to get my time too.” So it helped them to know how to respect our time with one another and to also know my time’s coming. It gave a lot of security as boundaries tend to do. So that’s the value in that. The truth of the matter is, I don’t know if there’s ever been a day that we followed it to the minute it’s not really-

Yvette:                         I’m glad to hear you say that.

Crystal:                         … It’s not really meant for that, it’s really just meant for a guide.

Yvette:                         Sure. Some kind of structure to your day.

Crystal:                         A structure. So if I’m supposed to be sitting down at nine o’clock to do history in the morning, but the phone rings and it’s the doctor’s office and I have got to take this call and 45 minutes later I get off the phone and I think, “What do I do now?” Well without this, I may say, “Well this day is a wash. Everybody’s scattered. I don’t even know where to pick up.” So that just says, “Okay, I should have been finished with history by now and moving on to science. I think we’re going to skip science day because I feel like history is where we need to be, so I’m just going to move back into history and just follow along from there.” So just-

Yvette:                         Sure. So you’re flexible with it.

Crystal:                         Oh, very flexible with it. Very flexible with it. It’s not meant to be a ball and chain. It’s meant to free you. It’s not meant to bind you up and it does free. It really does or I found that that there’s freedom in it. I better move along. Let’s see, the number five is plan 180 perfect days and there’s a template for that as well. And I literally sit down in a weekend usually, or for years I did it a new weekend. My husband would give me some time away and literally away from the home, take all my stuff with me, my computer and everything, and just plan each person’s year, write it all out in this template and then print it off. And they had a checkbook or something they could check off every day. And again, it’s a guide. It’s 180 days. But there have been many years that those 180 days have turned into 220 days just because things came up.

But the point is, if I know when I’m supposed to do on Monday, these are all the things I’m supposed to do on Monday, but I’m sick on Monday. I can’t do school. I just can’t. Well I can’t skip Monday schoolwork, but I can’t on Tuesday do Mondays and I can just start shifting over. And I know that when I finished this checklist, that’s I don’t know, 36 pages long, is 36 weeks, then I’ve completed all of the things that I set out to do this year in school. So it may take more than 36 weeks. I’ve had some kids that have just been super motivated and they’ll finish earlier than that because it’s all listed out there. And if you want to push ahead, you can. So that’s the value in that. And there was a certain time in our life where I had to be gone a lot. We just had a lot going on and they were always just, the demand was, I had to be away from our home, so my mother-in-law would come in. She knew what to do.

Yvette:                         Yeah, because you had it all charted out.

Crystal:                         It was all there. It was kind of like a substitute teacher and she could see what was there and we didn’t lose time, so to speak. People were occupied still and purposeful and intentional about their lives. So that’s the benefit of that too, I think when we don’t know what’s coming and if we do have a plan out there, then dad can pick it up or grandma can pick it up.

Yvette:                         Or the older kids can pick it up.

Crystal:                         Or the older kids, older kids did a lot. And so that’s the value in that. So take some time ahead. But it just gives me such freedom because I am not wondering if I’m going to make sure I get it all in that year. Did I do enough? I trust that that’s what God led me to do. I’ve got it all down and now I’m going to go with it. I can run with it. And if something comes up and we want to go have some fun with a group of other kids, other homeschoolers, we don’t have to do school that day. We will do it, but we don’t do it that day.

So anyway, it’s flexible even though there’s structure in it. So the next one is purge unnecessary stuff. And that is, I always try to do that in the summer between some people, school log a year and some people take off a week or two here or school for three weeks and off a week. Whatever you do, whenever you have that little bit of time where you’re not having to focus on school. I go through closets and I go through drawers and I go through school supplies and I-

Yvette:                         Just simplify.

Crystal:                         Just simplify. Get rid of stuff. I go through the kitchen, everything in our home I try to go through and just get rid of the fluff and it just weighs us down. And it’s a great way to start a homeschool year. Where you feel like you’ve kind of purged some things away because during school you just can’t do everything. You can’t get everything done all the time. You can’t always clean out all the drawers or you can’t always do these things. So it gives you a fresh kind of slate to start again on the new year. So there’s that. And then the last one there, number seven is, pick up where you left off. And I alluded that a minute ago, there was one year we had Christmas break and then we were starting back at school on our January 4th or something like that.

And we still had eight at home. So our oldest son got sick with the flu and then in just days everybody just started dropping. So of the 10 of us in our home, nine of us got the flu. And so it took a month, a full month, my husband was the only one that didn’t get the flu.

Yvette:                         Wow.

Crystal:                         And so, he apparently had gotten the strain earlier and so he was fine, and he cared for us for a month but there was no school to be done. I couldn’t get out of bed, they couldn’t function. We literally just had to lay around for months between everybody getting it and trying to get better. And so all I could do was close the books. And then when February 1st rolled around and everybody was alive again, we said, “Okay, well let’s just pick up where we left off. We really didn’t lose anything. We just start where we left off and if we have to go into June or whatever, that’s fine. It’s okay. We’re in control of this.”

So, that’s what that’s for. Because we did get derailed. It just happens. Life is that way. And so the value of having a system in place is you’re ready for that and you don’t have to scramble or fret or call it a year washed or anything. You can keep moving through it.

Yvette:                         I love that. I love that. Okay, so the book is called 7 P’s in a Pod: A Purposeful System for Home Schooling Success. And I love all of the things that you cover in this book and it’s a really short book. It’s an easy read. You mentioned that you have a couple of templates that you can email out. Do you want to give your email so that people can request those?

Crystal:                         Sure. If that’s fine. It’s 7-P 7P’s in a pod so. So 7-P-S-I-N-A-P-O-D@gmail.com.

Yvette:                         Okay, perfect. We’ll link to that in the show notes and then we’ll link to the book as well because you can get this book on Amazon actually. So we’ll link to both of those so people can do it. We’re almost out of time, but I want to ask you one more quick question. One of the things that we find across the board when talking to homeschool moms is that they almost never feel like they’re equipped, that they’re good enough, that they’re educated enough, that they’re ready to homeschool their kids. Did you feel that way or did you go into this feeling like, “Yep, I’ve got this, I can totally do this.”

“I’ve told my kids this for years and we’ve prayed for years and the Lord would fill in the gaps. There are so many gaps in our homeschooling. I look back and I think, “How did they learn anything?” It’s because the Lord was there.And therefore he gets the honor and the glory. I don’t get it. If I could do it all, then why would I need him?And he would not get any glory.”

Crystal:                         Did I feel that way? I do feel that way. I’ve never not felt that way, but I think that’s one of the most beautiful parts of the homeschooling is that it is not up to me.

Yvette:                         That’s right.

Crystal:                         And I’ve told my kids this for years and we’ve prayed for years and the Lord would fill in the gaps. There are so many gaps in our homeschooling. I look back and I think, “How did they learn anything?” It’s because the Lord was there. And therefore he gets the honor and the glory. I don’t get it. If I could do it all, then why would I need him? And he would not get any glory. It would be all about me and how good I’ve done and the things that my older kids are doing now that the Lord-

Yvette:                         I want to talk about that actually and not because I want you to brag about them as their mom, but because of what you just said, it’s all what God has done.

Crystal:                         It is.

Yvette:                         And it’s pretty amazing to look at your adult children. Talk a little bit about what they’re doing as adults right now.

Crystal:                         Okay. They are such a blessing. They’re so precious. The Lord has been extremely good to us in the many, many ways. And one of those is through the relationships we have with our children and having the four oldest children out of the home and what they’re doing. So our oldest is 26 and he is a Naval Flight Officer. So he’s lieutenant junior grade in the Navy. So he’s flying helicopters and he’s over in Milton, Florida. And I do believe I can say that he’s probably my husband’s best friend and that’s very, very sweet of the Lord to give us that.

And then our second son is married to the most precious woman in the world and he is in his first year of medical school. And that’s again, both of those are just the Lord just filling in so many gaps and I’m just thankful for that. And the way they applied themselves and were diligent and they sought to honor the Lord and oh yeah, they were normal and they made some big mistakes and we made some big mistakes and yeah, the Lord redeemed even those things. And then our third is a daughter. She’s a senior at Georgia Southern, so she’ll be a nurse very soon. And then our fourth is son and he’s at GSU as well in business economics, a junior.

So he’s doing that and our second son calls me every day and just keeps me a part of his life. Our daughter who’s away and our son as well. Just that relationship and that’s what we wanted to begin with was that relationship. And then to also see the beautiful blessing and benefit of how the Lord has filled in the gaps that we definitely had and that he’s been so gracious to feel. And so all glory goes to him.

Yvette:                         Yeah. I love that so very much. I mean that is how we feel about our homeschooling. We feel like there are just so many gaps and that’s our prayer, our constant prayer. Lord, you just fill it in. It is so neat just to see the hand of God move upon your family and what he’s done with it. And what he’s still doing. How he’s still unfolding this amazing work in you, and he’s doing the same with us and he’s doing it with homeschool families all across the world.

Really, it’s just been amazing as we have traveled and interviewed families across the country for Schoolhouse Rocked, it’s the one thing that we hear the most is that moms always feel inadequate. But if you just show up and trust that God is going to give you what you need, he will always come through. He will always provide what you need in order to accomplish what he’s called you to do as a mom and as a homeschool mom. Because you even think about just as a mom, take out the homeschooling. Just as mom, they put this baby in your arms and I remember I was 31 when Brooklyn was born and I had been around kids a lot. I couldn’t wait to be a mom. And I remember when I took her home I was like, “What do I do with her?”

Crystal:                         “Is this for real?”

Yvette:                         She’s not a baby doll and it’s not someone else’s child. Wow.

Crystal:                         “I’m not babysitting.”

Yvette:                         Right. This is a big responsibility and we serve a faithful God who does give us everything that we need. So, thank you so, so much for your time today. I loved talking with you. I love your family and we are very grateful. And again, I’ll link back to 7 P’s in a Pod, to the book in the show notes so people can find that. I’d highly recommend picking it up.

Crystal:                         Thank you.

Yvette:                         So, yeah.

Crystal:                         I enjoyed being here.

Yvette:                         Yes. And thank you guys for listening. Have a great rest of your day and go out and encourage a homeschool mom somewhere who is feeling inadequate and she just needs to know that God’s going to get her through this and that she is enough because God is enough.

Crystal:                         That’s right.


You can email Crystal for printable copies of her charts at 7psinapod@gmail.com.


Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

You Can Homeschool Bravely!

“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 the Mom to Mom Podcast and 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.

Backstage Pass Members can watch the full video of this interview, which includes 30 minutes of bonus content, not included on the podcast.

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.com and go directly to there, or we’re also on Instagram.

Listen to Jamie Erickson on the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast.

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.

Jamie:                          Well, you can find me at theunlikelyhomeschool.com, and Facebook and Instagram, and then over at momtomompodcast.com.

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.

Jamie:                          Yep. Barnes & Noble, christianbook.com, all of the places. And actually, if you want to know more about the book, you can go to homeschoolbravely.com.

Yvette:                         Great. Thank you so much, Jamie, for joining me today.

Don’t miss the rest of this discussion. Backstage Pass members can watch this full interview, which includes 30 minutes of additional content!

Jamie Erickson first appeared on episode 11 of the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. Listen to “Letting Go of ‘School’ to Homeschool with Excellence”, which aired September 10th, 2018.

Get Jamie’s New Book…

Homeschool Bravely: How to Squash Doubt, Trust God, and Teach Your Child With Confidence

Other Links…

The Unlikely Homeschool Blog

Homeschool Bravely

The Unlikely Homeschool on Facebook

The Unlikely Homeschool on Instagram

The Mom to Mom Podcast

Mom to Mom on Instagram


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The Joys of Motherhood and Homeschooling

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.

Listen to Sherri Seligson on the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast (5/13/2019 episode)

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.

This transcript is provided by MakeCrate. MakeCrate provides your homeschooler with the STEM skills they need for the future! Fun, hands-on electronics kits paired with an online learning platform teach your middle or high schooler engineering and coding fundamentals right at home! No technical expertise is required. Order your MakeCrate today at MakeCrate.Club/SR. 

Backstage Pass Members can watch the bonus video from this interview, which includes 30 minutes of extra content. Not a Backstage Pass Member Yet? Save 10% on your membership when you use the coupon code “Podcast10“. Memberships go to support production on Schoolhouse Rocked: The Homeschool Revolution.

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

Homeschooling Teens with Confidence and Joy

Yvette Hampton:               Hey everyone, this is Yvette Hampton, welcome back to the School House Rocked Podcast. I am really excited! This is the first time that we have had a return guest on the Podcast. Connie Albers was on at the very beginning of the first season, and her podcast episode was very well received. We had a lot of really great comments on it, and it was really fun. And she is back because she has a new book that just came out. I think actually, we talked a little bit about it in her first podcast, but now the book is out. And so I want you guys to know more about it, and it’s all about parenting teens. So Connie, welcome to the podcast again.

Connie Albers:                    Hey Yvette. It is so good to be back with you and your audience. Oh my goodness, to be your first returning guest is such an honor!

Yvette:                                      I am honored to have you back again. I know there should be some kind of award for that, right?

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Connie:                                    Just between us, that’s good enough.

Yvette:                                      Yes, okay, okay well we are definitely glad to have you back on. I know that the response from the last one was really good, because we talked a lot about parenting. Really quickly, tell us about your family, and then let’s get right into your new book that you’ve got.

Connie:                                    Okay so I’m a mother of five grown children, and three are married. So we had our last one, not our last one but our third marriage, was October 27th. It’s going to be bad if I can’t remember my child’s wedding date. So anyway-

Yvette:                                      As long as you remember your own.

Connie:                                    Yeah, right? That’s hard enough. But no, I have five grown adults. They were a catalyst for me writing this book. They all live in the area, so they haven’t moved away, and we are really enjoying having relationships with our adult children and their spouses.

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Yvette:                                      Yeah, well we’ve had a chance to meet a couple of your kids, and I feel like I know them, because you talk so much about them and you have a great relationship with them. And so, I’ve loved seeing that in you and in your family. And, of course as a mom with a 13 year old, we’re just getting into these teen years, and I have to say, honestly there are parts of it that are, I wouldn’t say harder than I thought, they’re exactly what I thought. The rolling of the eyes, and the huffs and puffs and things like that, which we’re working through. But, I will say that so far it is so much better than I expected it to be at this point. I absolutely love having a teenage daughter. She is just an absolute delight. I love being friends with her. I am her mom first and foremost, but I am also her friend and I love that. And I know that that’s one thing for you, that you really focused on with your kids, was that you were their authority, but you also built a relationship with them.

And I love that homeschooling has allowed us to be able to do that. Because I’m with her all the time. I mean I know her better than she knows herself, most of the time. One of my favorite things is when I say, “I know you’re thinking this.” And she’ll kind of get those big eyes. “How do you know mom, that I’m thinking that?” I’m like, “‘Cause I was a teenager once too, and it was I guess it was a long time ago, but I still remember it like it was yesterday.” So, anyway let’s talk about your book through, ’cause it is amazing. I am so privileged to have been part of the launch team on this book. It is called Parenting Beyond the Rules: Raising Teens with Confidence and Joy. For those of you who are watching this on video, this is the book here. And it is a fantastic book. I am reading through it right now, and I am being so encouraged. So let’s talk about it. What is your hope for this book, in writing it?

Listen to Connie on the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast.

Connie:                                    The biggest goal is, my husband and I had a desire to change our family legacy. Neither one of us were really raised in a Christian home environment. We both kind of went to church, but we knew that the legacy we wanted for our family was to be different of that which was how we were raised. And you know, unfortunately that’s like a lot of people. And we just kind of started mapping out, what was it we wanted our family to look like.

So, as we were parenting the children, I would just kind of make these mental notes in my mind of what was working and what wasn’t. And we started to do a lot of Bible Studies in our house with teenagers, which is you know some people say is crazy. But, they ate it up. And it also gave me an opportunity to hear conversations that they would have about their families, what was working, what wasn’t. So our goal with “Parenting Beyond the Rules,” is that we reach even, I mean I’d like to say we reach the parents of 63 million teenagers. That would be our ultimate goal. But it would be to reach as many parents that are in the season of tween and teens. And provide hope and help for the teen years, because I love what you said Yvette. You’re enjoying this season.

I was probably one of the rare ones, and it wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I was one of the rare ones who would say, “You know what, this is an awesome time.” I mean they’re in transition from child to an adult, and you get a front row view.

Yvette:                                      Yeah.

Connie:                                    To see it all unfold. How cool is that? Even amidst eye rolls, or the comment, “I know mom, you’ve already told me that, mom.” It happens, but that is our goal. We really want parents to not think about their teen years as something to merely survive. Or get through, or just can’t wait until they can finally turn 18 and get them out of the house. No, we want families transformed. We want relationships transformed, because what studies show, not just my experience, but what studies show is that parents are the primary influence in their teenager’s life. And that’s contrary to what the news media or what many would have you believe, that you’re just supposed to hands off and let your kids go. The reality is, unless you forgo that opportunity to shape and influence, you will still have the primary influence in their life during their teen years. I always tell parents I would rather have my child at 20 calling me saying, “What time are we having dinner on Thanksgiving?” Than me picking up the phone and saying, “You are coming for Thanksgiving, right?”. It’s like a no-brainer. So I am focused on helping parents build those kinds of relationships that kids long to continue doing life together, not just a season of parenting.

Yvette:                                      Yeah, and we are the primary influence, good and bad.

Connie:                                    Oh yeah.

Yvette:                                      And so, you know, it can be a little bit scary sometimes, especially when we see ourselves and our own sin manifesting in our children, and our attitudes, and the rolling of our eyes. We see our kids do that, and we think, oh shoot. But it’s true I mean we really are their primary influence, and so that’s a very big task that God has, and responsibility that he’s put in front of us.

Give us a glimpse of the book. What do you talk about in the book? I know you talk obviously about raising teens with confidence and joy, but maybe break it down a little bit.

Connie:                                    So I start off with basically painting a picture, and the cover of the book is really a good indicator of where I’m going with the whole book cover. Yes, so you see the paint brushes, they’re varying sizes, different colors, and you see the paint swath, those are bold and thin and dotted, because our children are also unique. And when we paint a picture, we have to use a variety of I want to say, painting it with grace, and truth, and color, and light. And sometimes we’ll paint something then we’ll have to come back a little bit, see if it’s dry, and say, “No, I think I need to add a little bit more, there’s a character weakness right there, let me add a little filler right there.”

So I want parents to learn how to paint pictures of possibilities within their child, because it starts with a foundation. When you consider the foundation, you have to think about the child’s heart, I always say that you’ve got to really go for keeping the heart of your teen.

Connie:                                    Some of the soil, you know an analogy with our teens heart is it can be kind of rocky. It’s hard to plant because maybe they’re a little tough or jaded or maybe they’ve been hurt or wounded. You know, that soil just isn’t quite as tender. Or maybe you have a mercy child who melts just with a look on your face can bring them to tears, you don’t even have to correct them. And so I really start with the basics, and that is get a vision for your family. Paint pictures of possibilities for them so that they can grab hold of what you’re trying to do, what family you’re trying to build and create, and where do they fit within that family. That is so, so important. And then throughout the book, I take parents deeper through specific aspects like monitoring your mouth. I mean so much is done by the words that we say. And more than just words can either build up or tear down, I’m talking about the words that they hear, not the words that you say, the silent words. Are you listening to them? Listen up parents. So I talk about monitoring your mouth, I talk about listening, and I also talk about understanding their world, because you alluded to the fact, I was a teenager once. The difference is, it’s a very different world.

Yvette:                                      Yes, it is.

Connie:                                    And they are living in a world of technology, which is not evil, it’s neutral. It’s what is done with it. And unfortunately there are quite a few bad actors. And unfortunately that’s the world that your children are living in. So I really talk to parents about understanding their teen’s world. We tackle some tough topics. I talk to them about how do you squash fear. I mean fear can grip us. We can think that we’re going to ruin our child. If we come down on them a little too hard, or if we say something brass that we really shouldn’t have said, an we deeply regret it, but we know it’s still bouncing around between their ears. What do we do with that fear?

So those are some of the topics that I take parents through to help them unpack. How do you create defining moments within your family that become lasting memories? That’s a very critical aspect in parenting overall. So I take them through, and that’s probably like half of the things that I cover throughout the book, but those are some of the chapters, and we deep dive on them.

Yvette:                                      So you talk about creating defining moments, can you give maybe a couple of examples of how you’ve done that with your kids?

Connie:                                    Yes. All right, when you are noticing them, I tell parents, “Observe what your child’s doing.” And where could they be, spend hours and hours, especially a teenager, and yeah I’m not talking about video games, ’cause some kids can spend hour and hours on video games, or text messaging, or on YouTube. But when I talk about creating defining moments, I’m talking about

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capturing something that they have done, and then picturing it and framing it for them. And then retelling that story, telling them that story, reminding them of that story. And here’s an example. Once my daughter was doing something with another family that was very ministry oriented. I wanted my kids to learn to serve others. I mean it’s very easy, we like to serve ourselves, but I wanted my teenagers to serve others. And as she was ministering and serving this other family, I would often hear back from these moms comments, like for instance she would be babysitting, and they’d make a comment of, “She actually vacuumed the floor when the kids were napping or having room time or something.” When I would hear that I would bring that back to my kids and I’d say, “This is something that so and so has said to me.” Now I’m starting to create that, define that moment, that they may or may not have really thought much about.

Yvette:                                      Yeah.

Connie:                                    And now I’m putting it in a picture for them, and I’m saying do you know how it did this, or how it blessed her, or how it spoke to her, or how now she’s going to be teaching her kids to do what you have done. And then we would talk about it, Yvette, throughout the years to this day. We’ll still talk about different moments when that has happened. Whether it’s been caring for somebody, whether it’s been an act within the own family of coming up alongside a sibling who really messed up, and felt discouraged, or you know, just dejected.

Yvette:                                      Yeah.

Connie:                                    And they came alongside it, and I could come up to them and point out, you know you really had a lot of empathy. And I could see how you could come alongside that, you know, your sibling, and once you have noticed what has happened, you form the story around that. You don’t embellish it, you just form the story around it. And then you talk about it often. And that becomes like a little roadmap for them to want to do again.

Yvette:                                      Yeah. I love that so much, because I think that as parents, often times we’re correcting all the time. At least I feel like that. And maybe that gets better as they get older, but I feel like so often it’s you know, don’t do this, don’t do that. Go do this, go do that. And so I love that you’re focusing on the good things that they’re doing, and the ways that they’re serving, just fulfilling those fruit of the spirit, you know the fruit of the spirit in their lives. And recognizing those things in them, because that encourages them to do more. I mean with any child, when you say, “Wow look at that beautiful picture you drew.” What do they want to do? They want to go draw another beautiful picture again. You know, they don’t crumple it up and throw it in the trash can, and so I love that encouragement.

Connie:                                    Yeah, one of the things that is so often true, especially in middle school, there’s a topic that I speak on. It’s probably one of my more popular topics, it’s discover what’s right with your middle schooler. Often times all we can see is what’s wrong with them.

Yvette:                                      Yeah.

Connie:                                    They’re not picking up their clothes, they’re not getting their chores done on the chore chart. They didn’t unload the dishwasher. For some reason, they just can’t seem to hang the towel back up in the bathroom. And you’ve physically shown them how to do it, and it only takes 10 seconds or less. But there’s a disconnect.

Connie:                                    So I love to focus on the fact that your child, your precious daughters, Yvette, they’re uniquely designed and created with a special calling. And I want to help parents to learn how to unpack that. Discover their strengths. Discover their love languages. Discover how God has uniquely wired and formed and fashioned them.

Yvette:                                      Yeah.

Connie:                                    So that you’re not left wondering, okay how do I do this? I don’t know, I’m nothing like you. Or, I can’t even identify with what you’re doing. I want to give the parents tools so that they can learn to speak in a way that their child will hear them. And that requires, I wrote about this actually to our girls in the launch team, teens change, parents adjust.

Yvette:                                      Oh, I love that, yeah.

Connie:                                    And what do we often do? Teens change, we’re like what are you doing changing? You’re not supposed to change. I told you to do this. I’m giving you permission. It’s okay to adjust. You need to adjust, they need you to adjust. That does not mean it’s like throw away everything, rules don’t matter. But that’s why we put the key word was beyond the rules. Teens need rules. I mean, We all have rules, we go drive our car, we’ve got to follow the rules, if we don’t get a ticket.

Connie:                                    So they need rules. They need limits. They need boundaries, but there’s more that they need, and it’s the one thing they can not get from their devices, Yvette.

Yvette:                                      Yeah.

Connie:                                    And that is the relationship with you.

Yvette:                                      Yeah.

Connie:                                    They can’t get that anywhere else, but from you.

Yvette:                                      Nope, they can’t.

Connie:                                    From their parent.

Yvette:                                      You were talking about how they can’t build that connection through technology, and that’s something that just crushes me, every single time. Every time, and I know you see it too, hands down, whenever we go out to a restaurant, or a store or anywhere in public, you always see families, and it’s not every family, but you always see families who they sit down at the table, and out come the phones. And there’s no connection, there’s no interaction between the parent and the child.

Yvette:                                      We saw a dad, this was a couple months ago, we were at i Hop, and there was a table right next to us, and there was a dad with his little girl. And she was probably five years old, and it was just the two of them. And he was sitting there on his phone the whole time, and he was flipping through Facebook. It’s not like he was doing business, you know? I mean he was just literally flipping through Facebook, and the poor little girl was sitting there, she didn’t have her own phone. And she just was sitting there quietly just kind looking around the restaurant, and my heart literally just broke for her, because I wanted to go over him and say, “You are missing an opportunity with your daughter right now.”

Yvette:                                      And it’s not going to get better. I mean just as she gets older and then has her own phone, then you’ll both be sitting there on your phones. And I think that’s so heart breaking. What are you seeing? I know you talk a lot about technology and you mentioned this earlier, that parenting today is very different than it was. I’m even going to say different than it was when your kids were teens, which wasn’t that long ago.

Connie:                                    Right.

Yvette:                                      Because your youngest is what, 25?

Connie:                                    23, not yet.

Yvette:                                      23, okay.

Connie:                                    Oh, yeah 24. See this is bad if I can’t remember their wedding dates, I can’t remember their birthdays.

Yvette:                                      Birthdays. You know I just feel like even in the last five to ten years, there has been a huge culture shift. And so, talk to those parents who are just kind of going into this, these teen years, and these parenting years, and kind of like ahhh. What do we do? What do we do with all of this stuff coming at us through culture and media, and TV and Facebook? I mean it is overwhelming. And how do we protect our kids from it.

Connie:                                    That’s like a full time job.

Yvette:                                      It is, it really is. And you talk about that in the book a little bit.

Connie:                                    I do.

Yvette:                                      So talk about that for a little bit, encourage that parent.

Connie:                                    All right, so for the mom and dad that’s dealing with the technology onslaught, I would often have to tell parents, “Think about it in this way.” When social media started coming on the scene, I could see the powerful influence, and the reason it all goes back to something that we started at the very beginning, and that is the relationship. We are designed for a relationship.

Yvette:                                      Yep.

Connie:                                    And you talked about the father who was scrolling on his Facebook, even adults, they suffer from FOMO, Fear of Missing Out. They don’t want to miss out on something.

That’s why we’re seeing generationally, I mean we’re seeing across the board, people are waiting later and later to RSVP to something because something better might come along. So to the parent that has, and the child that is enthralled, just loves technology, or maybe they’re really looking for their identity in social media. They have to realize that there are some real positive steps they can take. And that is help their child learn to create a positive social footprint. Just write that down, help them learn to create a positive social footprint.

And the reason this is so important is they’re going to want relationships. They’re going to want to make a difference. Let’s face it, generationally, this generation, your children, my readers children, they’re going to be making the most significant impact in society in the next decade. It’s just going to be a wold unlike anything most of us can even imagine. And they’re on edges of that now. They do control, kind of like where we’re all going to end up going. So instead of cutting them off, and I know there are many people who will say cut it all off, wait, wait until they’re 18. I’m not telling an age.

Connie:                                    I’m saying you do have to be very very careful. I’m saying technology is neutral. The internet is not safe. So you think, Connie, that doesn’t make sense. Well it does in how we use it.

It’s not going anywhere, but when we teach our children, like let’s say your daughter is really interested in adoption. I know we talked about this a little off camera, but she’s just passionate about adoption. Just oh, she just wants every baby that’s not wanted to have a loving home. Well then you come alongside her and start teaching her how to use those social platforms. To create a positive impact. Meaning find some of those groups, and start contributing to some of those groups. Not talking about those groups that create havoc and chaos, and are anarchists, or activists.

Yvette:                                      Yeah.

Connie:                                    I’m talking about they’re creating an awareness to something. It could be the pug society, or it could be the save a cat society. But whatever it is, that is passionate to them, show them through your time and effort, how to utilize it. This is why, I was at a conference I was speaking last weekend, and one of the college admissions counselors was there, and we talked about social media. Yvette, your kids are facing over 50% of colleges look at your child’s social media footprint before deciding if they’re going to accept you into college.

Yvette:                                      Right, employers as well.

Connie:                                    Yes, and employers, and you get fired for the same reasons.

Yvette:                                      Yeah.

Connie:                                    And so when you start young and you start helping them realize they can make a significant positive impact, then they start utilizing a tool for good, and not for evil. And they’re not as tempted then, to maybe slip under the covers at night when they’re supposed to be in bed, and you see the sheets illuminated, because they had the cell phone light on. But that’s an important part, is just help them learn how to create, how to do it. They technically do need to learn how, because the bad actors out there are teaching and destroying children by the seconds. Because of things they’re posting that parent’s don’t even know about.

Yvette:                                      Yeah, yeah. Well I think that’s an important point, and I think that goes along with everything in parenting and in life, with our kids is that we can’t just expect them to know it because we know it. You know, we have to come alongside of them, just like we have to come alongside of them and teach them how to do math, and how to read, and how to do all of the other things. We have to come alongside of them and train them and teach them.

You know the Bible says train up a child in the way he should go. And that is part of training. And we think that, well it’s obvious kid, you should know how to protect yourself, and you should know how not to stumble upon these inappropriate sites. And you should know how to do this, and this, and this. But we have to be intentional, and actually that’s one of the things I’ve heard you talk about. Is how parents can be proactive, instead of being reactive. And I would actually love for you to talk about that a little bit. What are some actionable steps that you can talk about? ‘Cause it’s so important as a parent to be very intentional in raising our kids. And I love that you say to be proactive, not reactive. Talk about that.

Connie:                                    Alright, to be proactive, a real good example is show them examples. Pull up some online examples of how inappropriate things have been posted or shared. How reputations, you don’t have to look very far, turn on the news, and you’ll see somebody’s reputation has just been destroyed because of an act of foolishness or an act of thoughtlessness really. So I always take, and I show them every decision has a consequence. So look at this one. This particular person made a conscious decision, and it was caught on video, and a year later, somebody thought it would be funny because they were going through their photo feed, decided to share it.

Yvette:                                      Yeah.

Connie:                                    It went viral. And the virality of that caused this young person to absolutely end up having to have some serious counseling, because it was one of those things where mom and dad didn’t know. She got caught in something that was innocent, so to speak, but it was twisted. So being proactive just means not being afraid to point out poor decisions. And the consequences of them.

Yvette:                                      Yeah, yeah. Oh, it can be scary being a parent today. And I’m so grateful that God has given us his word that we can lean on it, that he gives us clear instruction, even though times have changed, there’s nothing new under the sun.

We were talking about that as a family. I think either this morning or last night. You know everything that’s happening today, it’s not new. God is not surprised by it. He’s not sitting back going, oh man, I didn’t see all this stuff coming. What am I going to do about all this? He’s given us his word to be able to speak life into our kids, and to give us the wisdom. We’ve been talking a whole lot about Proverbs Eight, and about seeking wisdom. And that’s two fold, we’ve been talking to our kids about that, to our girls about seeking wisdom, but as parents I think just digging into God’s word together as a family, and then being on our knees.

You know Heidi St.John says if parenting doesn’t bring you to your knees, you’re doing it wrong. And it’s true. I mean we need to be on our knees daily asking God to give us the wisdom that we need in order to raise our kids. Because this is the next generation. I mean our kids, this is it. They’re going to be our leaders of tomorrow of course, and so what are we doing to be proactive in training them?

We have just a couple of minutes left, and I would love for you to talk about the parent who’s in the trenches of the difficult teen years. You know one of the common mistakes that we can make is to attempt to control our teens instead of guide them. I feel like often times I error on the side of control. I try not to be the fearful mom, but I often times find myself, you know if they’re walking, even on a water fountain, that they might fall into the water. It’s not like they’re going to die, but I don’t want them to get wet. And so I’m always kind of like, okay be careful, don’t walk on the edge, don’t do this, don’t do that. And I don’t want to be that controlling mom. I don’t. I want to guide them instead of control them. How can we go about doing that?

Connie:                                    It’s a mindset. It’s a mind shift. There’s three things that a child, a teenager, and every child, but there’s three things a teen has to know. And [inaudible 00:27:12] has to know that they belong. They belong in your family. That is obviously, they’re part of the Lord’s, but I’m talking about God gave parents to teach and train, so he has entrusted us with his treasures. They need to know that they belong, and that comes through communication. They need to know that their identity is first found in Christ if they’ve accepted the Lord, but it’s found in the family. The Hampton family, we are the Hampton’s and our family means something, and our reputation, and our character, and who we are, and what we do, and how we do it, and how we glorify the Lord, that matters. So that’s where they seek their identity, and they need to know that they’re safe. That their secrets are safe. That this whole thing about control, that’s an illusion anyway. Because we don’t control our teenagers. We may be able to manipulate them and coerce them, and ground them, and make them to behave externally, but there is something going on in the heart that we have no control over.

Yvette:                                      Yeah.

Connie:                                    So we have to realize, some of the things that are going on in the hearts of a kid are, they didn’t choose their parents. You know? They don’t choose their parents, they’re not choosing their school, they’re not choosing their zip code. They’re not choosing their birth order. They’re not choosing their siblings. They’re not choosing like who even makes the rules.

I mean they don’t make any of that. Those are all things that are decided without them having a say. So if you’re in the trenches, let your child know they do have a say in what’s going on within the family. Some of the decisions that we make, how we’re going to implement or maybe even create a rule. They want to have a voice. They want freedom. They’re trying to grow up. So when we think about they want freedom, and they start pushing back on our rules, let’s step back for a few minutes, and let’s just remember to see it through their lens. They see very differently than we see.

Yvette:                                      Yeah.

Connie:                                    Where we maybe see it as, I’m keeping my sweet daughter from falling and breaking her leg. They may see that you’re just trying to control me. Keep me from having any fun whatsoever. So I would say always remember to look through the lens of your child before you start to speak and make a whole bunch of knee jerk reactions and decisions.

Yvette:                                      Yeah.

Connie:                                    And that will help you to set realistic expectations.

Yvette:                                      Yeah, I love that. ‘Cause I find for myself, that often times when I get naggy with my girls and I’m constantly saying don’t do this, don’t do that, don’t do this. When I have a real message for them, they just kind of shut me out in a sense, ’cause I’m constantly nagging at them. So I try really hard to choose my nags wisely.

Connie:                                    And I used to say, I’m careful about how I cut the carrots. Your kids know you so well, I think we forget that. They have been with us since birth. They know what we believe, they know why believe it. They know how we implement it. They even know how we’re going to answer their questions, before they even ask them. Because they know what our values are. And I think as a parent, we often forget. My kids would walk in the kitchen when I was preparing dinner, Yvette I don’t know if I shared this with you before in another topic. They would kind of check the atmosphere. What’s the thermostat and the temperature in this room before I broach any topic? And depending on how I was cutting the carrots, they could tell my mood. If I was in an approachable mood, or if it was a I could be mad at your dad mood, I could be mad at them. I could be having a bad day, so you gotta to remember your kids can sense. They already know what you think, what you believe, and why. And they can sense your attitude, and your heart. So when you’re praying and you’re asking the Lord, really ask the Lord to make your heart tender toward them. To make your love unconditional, not I mean literally without condition, and it is possible, which is why I end the book with, you can celebrate the teen years. They’re not something to be survived. They’re something we can thrive and have the best years of our parenting season.

Yvette:                                      Yeah, well I love it. That is a perfect way to close this out. The book is Parenting Beyond the Rules: Raising Teens with Confidence and Joy, By Connie Albers.

Yvette:                                      So thank you friend, we love you.

Connie:                                    Thank you for your support.

Yvette:                                      Yes.

Connie:                                    Love y’all.

Yvette:                                      We are grateful for you and we’ll have you back again another time.




Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Photo by Karina Carvalho on Unsplash – Ferris Wheel

Photo by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash – Kids Laughing on the street

Using Audiobooks in Your Homeschool

Yvette Hampton:               Hey, everyone, this is Yvette Hampton, welcome back to the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. I hope you are having a great day and enjoying this podcast. I sure am enjoying recording this for you. I have the great opportunity of getting to meet so many different people and having so many different guests, some of them are people that I know personally. Some of them are people that I have never met in person but have had the privilege of getting to know just through the homeschool community.

And, today is one of those guests. I’m really excited to have him on. His name is Jim Hodges, and he is an audio book reader. I guess that’s what your title would be, right Jim?

Jim Hodges:                          On my tax forms, I put Recording Artist.

Yvette:                                      Oh, Recording Artist, that’s even better.

Jim:                                             Yes, I mean-

Yvette:                                      I love it.

Jim:                                             It sounds so official.

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Yvette:                                      It really does, it really does. So, Jim welcome to the podcast.

Jim:                                             Thank you, thank you, good to be here.

Yvette:                                      Yes, yes, our Recording Artist, I love it.

Listen to Jim Hodges on the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. (Airs 3/25/2019)

Jim:                                             You’re a Recording Artist, too, you know.

Yvette:                                      I guess I would be a Recording Artist, as well.

Jim:                                             You are.

Yvette:                                      Since we’re both recording.

Jim:                                             There you go.

Yvette:                                      Tell us about you and your family.

Jim:                                             My wife and I have been married 39 years. We have three grown children. Luke, married with four children. Shannon, married with four children. Matthew, married with no children. All three of whom we homeschooled through high school. We began with Shannon in kindergarten. And, by … and we sent Luke, pardon me, Luke we homeschooled. He was in third grade and so, we started with him homeschooling, Shannon went to kindergarten for six months and then we pulled her out. And, Matthew was like two. And, we never. Well, we looked back once or twice, but we never went back.

And so, Matthew’s never known anything but homeschooling, Shannon, six months of kindergarten and Luke, you know, first or second grade.

Yvette:                                      Yeah.

Jim:                                             But, we homeschooled them all the way through high school and by all outward indications, we did a pretty good job with them and with their education.

Yvette:                                      Yeah, and so you actually started this back in the late ’80s, right? Was when you started homeschooling?

Jim:                                             1988, yeah.

Yvette:                                      Okay.

Jim:                                             Yeah. It was pretty early in the homeschooling history basically. I think it was the ’70s, maybe mid, late-’70s that the movement really kinda got started. I was not interested quite frankly. Monica was very interested.

And, so we came to an agreement, look, oh, all right, let’s homeschool one child one year, then at the end of the year, we’ll take another look at this. And, as I said, it took four months, and we pulled Shannon out of kindergarten and decided, yeah, this is something that we can do and this is something that we want to do. I just wasn’t convinced that we could.

Yvette:                                      Sure.

Jim:                                             And then, when we started, it was like, okay, yeah, we can figure this out. We can figure this out.

Yvette:                                      Yeah, and you were figuring it out back before we had all of the resources that we have today. Because, back then, you didn’t have that many, you maybe had Abeka and-

Backstage Pass Members can watch the video from this episode, which includes great bonus content. Jim Hodges does a live reading of Stuart Little!

Jim:                                             Right.

Yvette:                                      Maybe a few others.

Jim:                                             Konos. We used Konos, which I don’t know how many people have ever even heard of it today.

Yvette:                                      I’ve heard of it.

Jim:                                             It was a … I forget what the phrase is that they use, but it’s basically, here’s a basic subject, build on that, you know, everything is tangentially off of this. And, it was based on scripture. I think by the time we pulled Shannon out at Christmas, we’d gotten to like Genesis chapter one, verse four, you know because everything just went, as things grew, they just grew and grew and grew.

Yvette:                                      Sure.

Jim:                                             And so, we were very slow getting through that. We had, we ended up with a pretty eclectic mix of resources that we used and lots of field trips and hands on activities and things like that. But, we … you know, it was a lot of work.

Yvette:                                      Sure.

Jim:                                             It was a lot of work, there’s not question about it.

Yvette:                                      It still is.

Jim:                                             It was a huge commitment of time and energy and effort and money and … but it was something that we felt like this is what God wanted us to do. So, you know you just do it.

Yvette:                                      That’s right, that’s right. And, it turned out really well for your family.

Jim:                                             It did.

Yvette:                                      So, you were a 20 year Navy-

Jim:                                             Navy vet, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Yvette:                                      And, so did you travel? Did your family travel through your time in the Navy?

Jim:                                             We were stationed in a number of different places, yes.

Yvette:                                      Okay.

Jim:                                             By the time I got into high school, I had moved like eight times.

Yvette:                                      Wow.

Jim:                                             And so, when I … then I got out of high school and I went to college for a year and then I joined the Navy, and we moved every four years. Three or four years after that. So, we homeschooled actually in Pennsylvania, we were stationed outside of Philadelphia. And, they had a put together a portfolio system, have it assessed by a certified teacher, standardized testing and then they say, “Okay, third grade happened.” You know, [crosstalk 00:05:15]. New York was, “Tell us every book you’re going to use, give us your quarterly reports.” You know, just, they were just insane of oversight and provided absolutely no assistance, of course.

Yvette:                                      Sure.

Jim:                                             You know, you just feed us information. And, from there we moved to Oklahoma, which is, the law there-

Yvette:                                      Big difference.

Jim:                                             Is, “You want to homeschool? Yeah, okay. Go ahead.”

Yvette:                                      Yes.

Jim:                                             Absolutely, no oversight whatsoever. So, we were very happy to leave New York and very happy to get to Oklahoma where we just didn’t have to worry about, but you know, we were responsible parents.

Yvette:                                      Sure.

Jim:                                             We took that responsibility very seriously. And, you know the concern is legitimate if there’s no oversight, some people are going to let things slide. Well, of course they are. Public schools let things slide.

Yvette:                                      Right.

Jim:                                             I mean, everybody lets things slide that they can get away with and so it’s really up to the parents to be committed to it and responsible with homeschool.

Yvette:                                      How did your extended family react to you homeschooling in the beginning?

Jim:                                             Is that legal? Was the first, you know question. You know, why do you feel like you need to do this? And, for us, it was really because we’d become Christians and neither one of our families were Christians and we wanted to have our … we wanted to teach our kids our faith.

Yvette:                                      Sure.

Jim:                                             Transmit our faith to them. In the midst of their education. We had kind of a built in excuse by being in the military. You know, we just don’t want to take our kids and have them dropped into this school and then pulled out and then dropped into that school and then pulled out.

Yvette:                                      Right.

Jim:                                             They would just figure that since we know we’re going to be transferred every three or four years, we just figured we would homeschool and you know it’s legal and you know we’re responsible parents and they were like … they were a little bit, you know.

Yvette:                                      Apprehensive, sure.

Jim:                                             Curious about it and not very supportive but the real hammer kinda came down as far as their reaction to our homeschooling when our oldest son, being a typical first born, quite the achiever, very mature, entered high school and they said, “So, what are you going to do for high school?” We said, “Well, we’re going to keep homeschooling them.” And, they just kind of blew up like, “Oh, you’re going to ruin them.”

Yvette:                                      Right.

Jim:                                             And, that high school first born son, also joined the Navy.

Yvette:                                      Okay.

Jim:                                             And, the Navy found him to be smart enough and well-educated enough and a high enough caliber person that they paid for him to get his Harvard MBA.

Yvette:                                      Wow.

Jim:                                             So, you know, I think we did okay with that high school. Yeah. Training, as far as preparing him for life. You know, he went on and to, got his four year degree and then the Navy said, you’re good enough, we want … “Apply to any one of the top ten colleges in the country for a Master’s in Business Administration, and we’ll pay for whichever one you want to go through.”

Yvette:                                      Wow.

Jim:                                             And, Harvard accepted him and so, he just graduated last spring, he graduated.

Yvette:                                      Okay, wow, that’s exciting.

Jim:                                             So, you know-

Yvette:                                      Yup.

Jim:                                             Homeschooling can work out for you.

Yvette:                                      It certainly can, it certainly can. So now, would you have ever thought at that time, you were in the military, homeschooling your kids, would you have seen yourself speaking at homeschool conventions as you’re doing now?

Jim:                                             No.

Yvette:                                      So, this is a new gig for you. You’re going to homeschool conventions around the country-

Jim:                                             Yeah.

Yvette:                                      Actually, around the world because you’re actually going into Canada.

Jim:                                             Going into Canada for the first time this year, yeah.

Yvette:                                      Talk about-

Jim:                                             And, I do, I mean, I’ve got customers in Canada, I’ve got customers in England, I’ve got customers in South Africa, I’ve got customers in Australia and New Zealand and Singapore and-

Yvette:                                      Wow.

Jim:                                             So, I am international even though I haven’t been to the majority of those places.

Yvette:                                      Yeah.

Jim:                                             My voice has.

Yvette:                                      Sure.

Jim:                                             And, my product has. So, when I was in the Navy, no, I had no plans to start an audio book business. That was actually a prompting from my wife, Monica.

Yvette:                                      Okay.

Jim:                                             We had finished probably 19 years of Navy and we were out on a weekly date night at a Cracker Barrel and she asked me, “So, you know you’re going to be retiring in a year, what are you going to do? You know, what are you going to do next?” And, I said, “Well, there’s this big base that right there at Tinker Air Force Base, I could get a job there, I’m sure, I’m retired military. Oklahoma City is the state capitol of Oklahoma, I’m sure I can get a job with, you know a state job as a military retiree, I’d do office administration, I’m really good at …”

And, she said, “Well, you know, forget all that. What if you didn’t have to worry about money? You could just pick any job you wanted and it would be sufficient income for you? Would that, then what?” I said, “Oh, I’d record books.”

Yvette:                                      Wow.

Jim:                                             Yeah. And, she said, “Okay, we’ve been married 18 years, I’ve know you 18-and-a-half, 19, you’ve never, ever, ever mentioned this before. Where did that idea come from?” And, I just kind of related the story, I’ve done theater and I would sing solos at church and narrate the cantata, I was a newscaster when I was aboard ship. They had a closed circuit TV so I said, “I’ll volunteer to do the news every night.” So, using my voice and reading out loud is something that I had always done. So, I thought, well, why not get paid for it for a change?

Yvette:                                      Sure.

Jim:                                             And so, I thought, recording books would be a great idea, and she said, three magic words. “Let’s try that.”

Yvette:                                      Wow.

Jim:                                             Okay.

Yvette:                                      Yeah.

Jim:                                             So, we did. Yeah.

Yvette:                                      And, it has turned out well for you. It has been a good thing.

Jim:                                             You know, I tell people I have never made a killing, but I’ve made a living. And, I absolutely love what I do. Love what I do.

Yvette:                                      Oh, that’s so fun.

Jim:                                             Yeah.

Yvette:                                      Yeah, well, there’s nothing greater than doing what God has called you and to do and made you to do and so-

Jim:                                             Gifted you to do. Right.

Yvette:                                      That’s right. Right.

Jim:                                             Exactly.

Yvette:                                      You are very gifted at reading audio books.

Jim:                                             Oh, thank you.

Yvette:                                      We, our family loves your audio books very much.

Jim:                                             That’s great.

Yvette:                                      We travel a lot-

Jim:                                             Yeah.

Yvette:                                      We are on the road and in the car a whole lot and so, oftentimes, that is our school. We listen to audio books all the time.

Jim:                                             Oh, my gosh.

Yvette:                                      And, so we’ve really enjoyed listening to your audio books.

Jim:                                             Great.

Yvette:                                      Which is why I’m really excited to have you on the podcast today.

Jim:                                             Great, great, great.

Yvette:                                      Talk about, well, you know what, let’s do this. Let’s take a quick break and then we’ll come back and I want to talk about the whole process of recording books, how you find the books and-

Jim:                                             Okay.

Yvette:                                      Record them and all that. So, let’s take a quick break and we’ll be right back.

So, we’re back with Jim, talking about audio books. Tell us about your whole business of audio books, how you decide what book you’re going to read, just how this whole thing has unfolded for you.

Jim:                                             Okay. I’ve always loved history. I’ve always been an adventurous person, that’s why I joined the Navy, and fortunately for me, my wife is also an adventurous person who I met in the Navy.

Yvette:                                      Oh.

Jim:                                             So, she was on active duty, and we just happened to get stationed together and that’s a whole ‘nother, wonderful, wonderful story. But, when I first decided that I wanted to record books, I thought I would record the Horatio Alger books, which I had heard about and learned about when I was in elementary school-

Yvette:                                      Okay.

Jim:                                             Rags to riches stories, you know. There were hundreds of them, they were pretty much rote. But, they … so, I actually recorded one in a friend’s sound studio. He worked at a radio station. But, I felt like I had to leave certain things out. I wasn’t comfortable with some of the things that he had his characters do.

G.A. Henty

So, that got put aside. So, I asked all of my homeschool friends, “Hey, I’m looking for an author who I could feel comfortable recording his books, or their books,” because I didn’t know if it was going to be a male or female. Everybody said, “George Alfred Henty. George Alfred Henty, George Alfred Henty.” So, I said, “Okay, let me get a couple of those from Ruby Reeves,” a friend of ours, who was actually selling the books. And, I read a couple of them and they were like, this young man is just the most amazing, the hero character, the protagonist, just the most amazing young man you’d ever want to meet, almost perfect in every way, but not quite.

You know, just like a real human being.

Yvette:                                      Sure.

Jim:                                             Who is, industrious and respectful and reverent and active and deferential to authority and just all of these character qualities and he gets himself hooked up with famous people from history and he’s at all the famous battles and the marches and the events from history. And, he ends up you know getting the girl and he’s rich at the end of the book.

So, it’s kind of a pattern. But, I learned more history from this guy than I ever knew before and I very much wanted to record books that had good male, strong male role models. And so, I asked a little bit more I said, “Okay, are all of his books like this?” And, everybody said, “They’re all like that.” And, I said, “And, how many did he write?” They said, “A hundred and 22.”

Yvette:                                      Oh, wow, I didn’t realize he had written that many.

Jim:                                             Yeah.

Yvette:                                      Goodness.

Jim:                                             So, I thought, okay, they’re out off copyright, I don’t have the pay any royalties, they’re fantastic books, they’re history, they’re geography, they’re advanced use of the English language, the author was Cambridge educated, a newspaper reporter, a military guy, a real Renaissance man and in 1800s England. And so, these were just a great package and so I’ve now recorded, I do unabridged recordings. I read every single word that’s in the book. I’ve recorded 30 of them.

Yvette:                                      Okay.

Jim:                                             So, I’ve got, you know, 92 to go, something like that. And, I’ll have them all done. But, the process to getting one done is actually pretty involved because of the advanced vocabulary, because of the breadth of locations, because of the numbers of people that he encounters, I spend a month before I turn the microphone on, researching the correct pronunciation of things.

Yvette:                                      Okay.

Jim:                                             And, getting a mental map of where things are going because if you can see it in your head while you’re saying it, you can say it more clearly.

Yvette:                                      Sure.

Jim:                                             I mark up the text, putting, you know an underline on a word that needs to be emphasized or a comma where there needs to be one for the sentence to make sense. So, there’s a whole lot of prep work figuring out what character voices to give each of the people, knowing where the story ends up from where it begins so you know how to present the character in the first place and how they develop over … So, there’s just a lot of, lot of prep work that goes into it.

And then, you turn the microphone on, and you know I record one hour a day, that’s it. Because, I can hear my voice quality degrading.

Yvette:                                      Sure.

Jim:                                             Especially, if I’m doing a lot of character voices, because, you know you do a little, old man, or a young girl, or you know and you do all of the different voices, you’re using all of these different parts of your vocal chords and wearing them out.

Yvette:                                      Yes.

Jim:                                             So, you have to be a little bit judicious with your use of that time. So, anyway, I recorded a couple of his books and contacted people that were distributing the books themselves and said, “Hey, I’ve done an unabridged recording of, With Lee in Virginia, or In Freedom’s Cause, would you like a copy, I think your customers might like them?”

And, virtually everybody that I sent a sample to ordered it.

Yvette:                                      Wow.

Jim:                                             So, it was like, wow, okay, great. So, I just kept doing it.

Yvette:                                      That is awesome. So, when you do the character voices, because I was thinking about this the other day, do you play around with the different characters as you’re reading the book? And then, do you have, I mean, I think what would make sense in my mind would be that, you know, highlight the different characters in different colors or something like that. Like, how do you know what character you’re reading before you get to it to move into that character voice?

Jim:                                             I actually used to read right out of the book itself.

Yvette:                                      Okay.

Jim:                                             And, I’ve discovered that I’m better if I have the text on half of my screen and then the recording software on the other half of the screen.

Yvette:                                      Okay.

Jim:                                             So, what I do is, I actually have a file folder now on my computer with a couple hundred characters.

Yvette:                                      Okay.

Jim:                                             And, my take on that character’s lines so that, I mean, I have to reuse some voices.

Yvette:                                      Sure.

Jim:                                             Like, all the time.

Yvette:                                      Right.

Jim:                                             In fact, the hero character has the exact same voice in every single … I mean, it’s the same you know, because I have a reasonable repertoire, I don’t have a vast repertoire.

Yvette:                                      Sure.

Jim:                                             But, I try to do accents, and you know I do French accents and British accents and old and young and boys and girls and you know, and so, I can go back and record. Like, the first sentence of a character in the book, I’ve assigned a voice in my head and then I just read that guys’ first line. And then, I stop and I cut and past that and I create a file with the character’s name.

Yvette:                                      Okay.

Jim:                                             Captain … and then I put that audio file in there. So, anytime he comes up again, if I forget what his voice sounded like, because he’s been gone for three chapters-

Yvette:                                      You can go back.

Jim:                                             I can go listen to him again.

Yvette:                                      Oh, okay.

Jim:                                             And then, when I run across … and, you know you make mistakes when you record.

Yvette:                                      Sure.

Jim:                                             And, so you edit out your mistakes. What you guys hear is the 30 minute edition of an originally 45 or 50 minute recording because I’ve taken out you know repeated lines and mistakes and coughs and-

Yvette:                                      Sneezes.

Jim:                                             A plane flying over or you know whatever.

Yvette:                                      Yes.

Jim:                                             So, that, the recording phase take … the prep phase takes a month, the recording phase takes a month, the cleanup, mastering, designing the CD cover, and all of that is basically another month. So, each book, each really long book, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 hours books, takes at least three months to get finished.

Yvette:                                      Wow.

Jim:                                             It’s a long process.

Yvette:                                      That is a long process.

Jim:                                             I just recorded my longest book ever-

Yvette:                                      Okay.

Jim:                                             Mark Twain-

Yvette:                                      Oh, wow, okay.

Jim:                                             Wrote Joan of Arc.

Yvette:                                      Wow.

Jim:                                             Nobody knows Mark Twain wrote Joan of Arc.

Yvette:                                      Yeah, I didn’t know that.

Jim:                                             15 hours and 50 minutes long book, and I think it’s the best book I’ve ever recorded. I just fell in love with the book, with Twain’s style, I fell in love with Joan of Arc, I learned a whole lot about the history. Just an amazing book and it took a long time. Because, to end up with a almost 16 hour audio book is just a big, that’s a big project.

Yvette:                                      Sure, sure you know it’s funny because I think, when people, you know whether they’re listening to the podcast or they are watching a movie, we’ve been working on our documentary for two-and-a-half years now.

Jim:                                             Oh, my gosh.

Yvette:                                      Well, it’s going to be an hour-and-a-half long documentary. It doesn’t take an hour-and-a-half long to make an hour-and-a-half long documentary.

Jim:                                             No.

Yvette:                                      It takes a really long time and the same with you as you’re recording these books, you know, a 15 hour book, doesn’t take you 15 hours. You don’t sit down and do it all in one reading or even do 15 one hour segments.

Jim:                                             No.

Yvette:                                      It takes hours and hours of practicing, editing, re-doing, re-reading and so I love that put so much heart into these books.

Jim:                                             I love, it helps that I love what I do. And, I did theater, I did high school, college and community theater many years ago. And, I love to perform. But, I want somebody else’s words.

Yvette:                                      Sure.

Jim:                                             Don’t ask me to come up with something. Just give me the text and I can, I’ll do it and I just get into it. And, it’s just, it’s fun.

Yvette:                                      Well, it shows in your reading. Very much so.

Jim:                                             Good, glad to hear it.

Yvette:                                      You do an excellent job of it. So, as you travel to different conventions and you’re talking to different homeschool families and kids, who do you find are the families or kids who listen most to audio books? And, when do they do that? How do they tie that into their homeschool?

Jim:                                             The best, I mean, a lot of people will listen to them, obviously you know driving to soccer practice or violin lessons or doctors appointments or whatever.

Yvette:                                      Sure.

Jim:                                             In the car is probably the number one place where people listen. But, the number two on the list is quiet time. In your room time. Family time in the evenings where they’re literally just gathering around the CD player and listening to an audio book. I very much encourage them to let their younger kids in particular, play with Legos or draw or color or something, because young hands that are busy can actually listen better than hands that are supposed to be in their laps.

I mean, no child is, very few children, let me put it that way.

Yvette:                                      Sure.

Jim:                                             Very few children can just and listen.

Yvette:                                      Right.

Jim:                                             But, I think the best counsel, advice, method that one family used that I’ve heard is they’ll get a new audio book of mine and the chapters are roughly 30 minutes, 30, 35, 40, some are shorter, some are longer. And, these are the Henty novels. They’re pretty much right around 30 minutes. Well, what they will do is, they’ll go to the kitchen at lunch, and say, “Okay, turn it on.” And then, everybody makes their lunch, everybody sits and eats their lunch, but they’re all listening.

Yvette:                                      Right.

Jim:                                             There’s no talking going on. They’re just listening to the story. And then, at the end of the half hour or whatever it is, they’ve had their lunch, Mom turns it off, she lets them listen to one chapter and then she talks about it. And then, they talk about the words and the definitions and who’s, how’s this person acting and how’s that person acting? And, making sure the younger ones are following along in the story line. And then, they’ll do that until they get through the whole book, and then once Mom’s been through it once with everybody, then it’s like, okay, who wants it?

And then, they will go off and listen to it on their own in their own time. But, I would say, primarily it’s car. But, you kinda need to have a half-an-hour in the car because otherwise you’re chopping up a chapter.

Yvette:                                      Right.

Jim:                                             Better to try to get through the end of the chapter or pick a book with shorter chapters or something like that. I don’t know. But, you know, car, quiet time, and evenings. I mean, I had a mom email me and say, “You have become part of our evening tradition-”

Yvette:                                      Wow.

Jim:                                             “In the wintertime, especially.” They put a fire in the fireplace, they do the dishes and then they all sit around and listen to me in front of the fireplace as a family in the evening and it’s just really gratifying to be-

Yvette:                                      Yeah. That’s exciting.

Jim:                                             That much a part of people’s lives, it’s really kind of neat.

Yvette:                                      Yeah, that’s so cool, I can not tell you how many times we pull up to the front of our house, and we’re still listening and the kids are like, “No, don’t turn it off.” So, we just sit there and whatever. You know, five or 10 minutes because we have to hear what happened at the end of that chapter.

Jim:                                             You have to hear, right. Right. Right.

Yvette:                                      And, you just cannot, you can’t just turn the car off in the middle of it. A chapter or a sentence.

Jim:                                             Right.

Yvette:                                      So, I think our neighbors probably think we’re crazy because so often we sit there and we’re just sitting.

Jim:                                             How long are they going to sit there?

Yvette:                                      We look, we probably look like we’re crazy because we’re just sitting there listening to what seems like nothing to them. What subjects can use the help of audio books thinking through homeschooling, and obviously history because a lot of you read-

Jim:                                             Oh, gosh.

Yvette:                                      A lot of historical books.

Jim:                                             Yeah, the history is, since it’s my favorite subject, the history is obviously number one. Number two is language. Henty, in particular, Twain, these people were well educated people. They had vast vocabularies. They used long and complex sentences. So, you kinda, Andrew Pudewa makes frequent mention of its, whatever comes in is what’s going to come out when they’re writing-

Yvette:                                      That’s right.

Jim:                                             When they’re communicating. So, if you get good literature and good vocabulary and good use of the language coming in when it’s time for them to communicate with the world on whatever their subject is, that’s how it’s going to come back out. So, language for sure, geography, these books take place in Australia and the United States and all over Europe and the Middle East and Russia and you know just all over the place.

In fact, I will sometimes choose a title because the storyline takes place in a new location because I want there to be that breadth of understanding of the world geography in the next generation of kids, too. So, absolutely and the hero character is just an amazingly fine young man, so character training is just infused throughout these storylines and that’s, like I said, that was my primary motivation for choosing Henty to record.

The hero character is the kind of young man that we need. And so, sure, we can hang history and geography and language onto that.

Yvette:                                      Sure.

Jim:                                             Because, to me that, I think that was his primary motivation was to develop the next generation of you know proud Englishmen. And, I met a gentleman once who was a big, big Henty fan and it was his theory that Henty trained the World War I and the World War II British generation of young men.

Yvette:                                      Interesting.

Jim:                                             Because, he was in Downton Abbey Season Three, where they’re bringing the World War I wounded soldiers in to Downton Abbey as a recuperation center, they actually tell them, “We’ve got a whole slew of Henty’s on the shelf. You know, there’s plenty for you to read, help yourself.” And, that was how much a part of-

Yvette:                                      Wow.

Jim:                                             British culture he was. All of these men knew who Henty was, of course they knew who Henty was, they all read him growing up. And then, the World War II generation, as well. So, he’s had a … Louis L’Amour read Henty growing up. F. Scott Fitzgerald read Henty.

Yvette:                                      Wow.

Jim:                                             Agatha Christie read Henty. Arthur Schlesinger Junior, two time winner of the Nobel Prize in History read Henty. I mean, some serious people, authors and historians and you know … read Henty growing up and was a formative part of their education. Anyway, he was an amazing guy.

Yvette:                                      That’s awesome. And so, you don’t obviously have just Henty books.

Jim:                                             No.

Yvette:                                      You have a whole lot more than that. Very quickly, because we’re almost of time-

Jim:                                             Okay.

Yvette:                                      Talk about the other, some of the other books that you offer. The other audio books that you offer.

Jim:                                             Got a lot of children stuff. Todd Wilson, I mentioned in our pre-show, he’s written a lot of Christ centered Christmas stories that I’ve recorded.

Yvette:                                      Okay.

Jim:                                             American history stories, stories of the pilgrims, I’ve read Treasure Island, I’ve read Frederick Douglass, I’ve read you know, classics, children’s, overtly Christian and Henty. I mean, I’ve got, I think we’re up to like 72 different titles to choose from.

Yvette:                                      Wow.

Jim:                                             So, if you want to see what I’ve got, you can head on over, it’s a very curious and confusing web address. It’s called, JimHodgesaudiobooks.com.

Yvette:                                      Yup, that’s right. Well, we’ll link back to that in the show notes, as well.

Jim:                                             Okay.

Yvette:                                      For those listening, there are so many great opportunities and things that he offers on his website. So, definitely go and checks those out. Our family, I don’t know how many we own, I think 13 or 14 at this point.

Jim:                                             Okay, great.

Yvette:                                      And, we are so much enjoying listening to them. So, we know where people can find you. I would love for you just as we close this out, and then I actually want to continue on just for a few minutes for the backstage pass members and we’ll talk about that in just a second. But, I would love for you to give encouragement to homeschool dads.

Jim:                                             Okay.

Yvette:                                      We have a lot of dads who listen to the podcast, which is really encouraging to us. I would love for you to talk to that homeschool dad, and just encourage him in any way that you can. You know, why he should continue homeschooling his kids and how he can maybe support his wife and his kids through this homeschool journey.

Jim:                                             Okay, do the dishes.

Yvette:                                      I love it. Three simple words.

Jim:                                             You know, it’s … one of the things that I struggled with when we were homeschooling was the disarray that I was presented with when I got home from a hard day at work, a stressful day at work. It just really bugged me. But, I got to tell you, the most important thing that happens when you’re homeschooling your kids is that you can develop a really good relationship with them. That was Monica’s primary focus. I did my best. I was a stressed out dad in a reasonably good job but there was major you know dentures, oh, not dentures, but braces and piano lessons and all of those expenses that come with homeschooling that you get for free with your taxes if you go to public school.

All of these, it’s a stressful thing for a dad. I would just say, “Hang in there, do what you can to help around the house. Do what you can to support your wife. In fact, this is a major one, date your kids, date your wife.” We had a date night with our kids. I would take one kid out, once a maybe, every week, then it would be Luke’s turn, next week was Shannon’s turn, the week after that was Matt’s turn. So, they would get it, you know, every three weeks or so. And, I would say, “What do you want to do?” We’d just go out for ice cream, go cruise the mall, go see a movie, go, you know whatever.

Yvette:                                      Yeah.

Jim:                                             It was just hang out time.

Yvette:                                      Yup.

Jim:                                             And then, Monica and I went out on dates every week. If we had to pay a babysitter, we paid a babysitter. If the kids got old enough, then you know Luke could watch them and we could leave them and we wouldn’t go out for very long. Sometimes, our dates were grocery shopping together.

Yvette:                                      Yeah.

Jim:                                             Because, you know-

Yvette:                                      Sure.

Jim:                                             It’s hard to fit those things in. But, my oldest son, the Navy paid for him to go to Harvard for his MBA. My youngest son, earned a full boat ride to any state school in the state of Oklahoma. Shannon went a different way. She became an au pair in France and learned French. She taught English in Korea, South Korea. She was more interested in language and travels. But, you know, she got her Associate’s Degree and then she got married and she and her husband went to China and taught English in China for a year.

Yvette:                                      Wow.

Jim:                                             So, the kids are going to go different ways and they’re going to do different things. But, it is absolutely worth it. Most things that are worth it in the long run are hard in the short run.

Yvette:                                      Yes.

Jim:                                             Homeschooling can be hard in the short run. But, the long run is worth it.

Yvette:                                      Yes, amen. Well, thank you for that. We are out of time for the podcast, but for those of you who are on the backstage pass membership site, we’re going to continue on. We’re going to talk about a couple of things. We’re going to talk about families with special needs and how audio books can play into their homeschooling and help them. We’re also going to talk … I want to ask you about tips that you can give parents for reading aloud.

Jim:                                             Okay.

Yvette:                                      And, when we get to that, and I know that that’s a big thing for a lot of parents. It was something for me when I started reading aloud to my kids that was a little intimidating to me. And, so I want to get some of your advice on that.

Jim:                                             Okay.

Yvette:                                      And then, I would love for you to do a short read for us.

Jim:                                             All right.

Yvette:                                      So, I think you’ve got a book there that you’re going to do that.

Jim:                                             Okay.

Yvette:                                      So, for those of you listening, thank you again for sticking with us today, listening to the podcast, you are a great blessing and encouragement to us. Have a great rest of your day and we will see you next week.

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A Homeschooling Legacy

Yvette Hampton:               Hey everyone, welcome back to the Schoolhouse Rocked podcast, this is Yvette Hampton your host, and I am really glad that you’ve joined me today. I hope you are just having a great week and that God is doing great things in your life, and through your homeschooling if you’re homeschooling. If you’re not homeschooling, maybe you’re just thinking about it and you’re jumping on this podcast to figure out what this homeschooling thing is all about. I think today’s podcast is going to be a great encouragement to you. So I am really excited to introduce you to our guest today. Her name is Ruth, and she has a really amazing story. She actually was homeschooled growing up, and she is a homeschool mamma now, herself. So we’re going to talk to her today and just get a different perspective on the transition of homeschooling and where God has brought us today, and I think you’re going to be super encouraged by today. So Ruth, welcome to the podcast.

Ruth:                                          Thank you.

Yvette:                                      Tell us a little bit about you and your family and what you do.

Listen to Ruth Adams on the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. (Airing 3/18/2019)

Ruth:                                          Well, I am a homeschool graduate from the prehistoric pioneer vintage days of the movement. And now I’m a homeschooling mama to my seven children. My husband and I are raising them on a small hobby farm about an hour outside of Houston. We live there with Zebu cows, chickens, horses, bunny rabbits, cats and dogs so our lives are full, and we’re just enjoying this journey of home education but most important family discipleship. And my husband and I had a heart to encourage other homeschooling parents to focus on the discipleship aspect of their homeschool journey.

Yvette:                                      Oh, that’s awesome. So you were homeschooled back in the 80s and 90s. That was the time that I was growing up, so you and I are probably about the same age. I’m 44. Those are my childhood days as well, and back then, I think I only knew, gosh that I can remember off the top of my head, only one girl who was homeschooled. At that time in our town.

Ruth:                                          Yes.

Yvette:                                      I’m certain there were more, but there was only one that I can even recall at this point. So you were back in the day when it was not as well acknowledged and accepted as it is today. Talk a little bit about what your experience was growing up being homeschooled.

Ruth:                                          My parents began this journey with home education in 1979 when I was in kindergarten. And I actually started kindergarten in a private Christian school, but we were having to commute a ways. And my mom got tired of that really quickly and thought why am I doing this? I can bring these little Abeka booklets home and work with Ruth on her numbers and her letters at home, so we did. And then first grade rolled around and she thought this is getting more serious, so again she enrolled me in a private Christian school, and this time we were carpooling with another family from our church. So that worked out. We still had a commute but we were carpooling, and that helped and so I finished out first grade and started second grade in that private Christian school, but then my dad felt God’s call to move our family to the big city of Houston from a small east Texas little town to the big city of Houston to start a church. And so we landed in Houston in the middle of my second grade year. And so once again, my mom thought well why can’t we just take her textbooks and finish out this year?

But for third grade we heard about a Christian school in Houston, and I started there, and it was about this time that my mom heard James Dobson’s program with Dr. Raymond Moore about homeschooling, and it really kind of opened her eyes that this really would be a valid educational option for us long term. And because my parents were pouring their lives into trying to start this little church, and that took a lot of their time, and then I was involved in the Christian school and that was taking a lot of our time and every night I would come home with tons of homework. It was hard for us to have good quality family time, it just didn’t feel right for our family. And so when my mom heard that radio program about homeschooling, she started to think more seriously. Why don’t we just spend our days learning at home, and serving the Lord in ministry as a family, and so that’s what they decided to do.

I guess I was in third grade maybe a month or two of that school year, and then they brought me home, and they homeschooled me all the way through 12th grade.

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Listen to this historic radio broadcast. Dr. James Dobson talks with Dr. Raymond Moore, author of Better Late Than Early.

Yvette:                                      Okay, I love that program. Those listening, if you haven’t heard it yet, listen here. But the first recording that Dr. Dobson did with Dr. Raymond Moore. And Dr. Moore, he wrote the book Better Late Than Early, right? And it was kind of this new … I don’t want to say revelation but … this awakening that parents had that oh, you mean we can actually homeschool our own kids? We can bring them home and educate them ourselves, and they don’t have to go to preschool and they don’t have to go to kindergarten and they don’t have to go to first grade and be taught by someone else? I think, I could be wrong, but I think to this day, that airing of that episode of Dr. Dobson’s radio show was one of the most listened to ever. And really kind of, many people say that alone was what really kind of started the whole revolution of homeschooling. And opened a lot of people’s eyes up to the possibility of homeschooling, and what it could be and what it could look like for your family. So I love that. Did you have siblings growing up?

Ruth:                                          One brother.

Yvette:                                      One brother. Okay, was he older or younger than you?

Ruth:                                          Younger, so he never went to school at all. They were sort of experimenting with homeschooling with me for the first few years. Back and forth, and back and forth, but finally we got in our groove during third grade. I know that they had specific reasons, one being that we needed more family time together. But another thing is, even being in a Christian school, they realized that I was being influenced by other students, and the teachers and I remember specifically one day I went to school and my teacher was talking about something in a positive light, it wasn’t a big deal, and she was a sweet lady, and I like her, but she was talking about something in a positive light that my parents had a personal conviction against. And when I went home and talked to them about that, I think it really hit them hard.

Schoolhouse Rocked Backstage Pass members get exclusive access to the video from this episode, which includes 20 minutes of bonus content!

They realized that, well whoever Ruth spends the most time with is who’s going to shape her perspectives and her thoughts about life. And I don’t think world view was a huge term back then like it is now. But that’s basically what the Lord was showing them is like we want to take the responsibility to disciple our daughter. We want to be the ones who will guide her and shepherd her and disciple her so that she will think biblically. I’m so thankful they did that and I know that they also really wanted me to have a different vision then the typical vision of youth culture and the foolishness that so many get caught up in their youth. And they challenged me with 1 Timothy 4:12 that says let no man despise you because of your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech and love and conduct and faith and in purity.

And my parents always said Ruth, you can be a leader in righteousness. You don’t have to follow the crowd into foolishness. There’s so many teenagers throwing their lives away to foolishness. But you can serve the Lord in your youth, and you can do great things for God in your youth. They did a great job of bringing me on board with the ministering, and I saw them every day pulling their lives into the Kingdom of God, and the kingdom work into working with other people and discipling other people and they did a great job of saying you can be a part of this. So even from a young age they began giving me ministry opportunities. Whether that was making copies at the copy machine in my dad’s office in the back of our house, or when I got a little older helping in the nursery. I got a little older, it was teaching a class of children and then leading children’s choir and then playing piano for church. But they made me feel like I was needed. And gave me a vision for ministry. So I know that all of those things really were reasons they brought me home, and part of their vision for our family discipleship program. So I’m really thankful for that.

Yvette:                                      Yeah, and so you see those then as a blessing now looking back. At the time when you were being homeschooled, was it difficult for you because there were not very many other kids your age staying home with their parents, or did you actually enjoy that time?

Ruth:                                          Maybe a little bit of both. We didn’t have huge homeschool groups, but we were able to meet a few families and again, they just continued to encourage me in this vision of, you know, you don’t have to have a huge group of young people around you. You can serve the Lord with your time, and our family can be close and we can do this together and the Lord is building character in your life, even if you don’t have a ton of friends around you. And they encouraged me to have friends with people of all ages, so growing up some of my best friends were Godly adult ladies in the church who had children. And I would go to their houses, and I would help them, and then that was tied as two in action, because I was learning from them how to manage a house, and how to work with their children, and they would talk to me about things the Lord was teaching them as wives and as mothers. And then I worked so much with the little children in the church, that I loved them so much. And they were some of my best friends as well. So I learned to have friends of all ages. So that was a long term blessing for me.

Yvette:                                      Yeah, it’s one of the greatest blessings of homeschooling, I believe, is because your kids learn to interact with people of every age. And it’s such an amazing thing. Our eight year old, she’s very outgoing. And we’ve often times had adults say to us, it’s amazing how she can carry on a conversation with an adult. And that’s not to say that kids who go to traditional school can’t speak to adults. But when you’re in a classroom setting all day long with only people your age, and then you’re with adults for a little part of the rest of the week, you don’t have that opportunity to constantly interact with people your own age. And like you said, older or younger. And so it just, I think provides so many great opportunities for us to just expand our view of people. And learn from, like you said, those tied us to women in our lives. Come alongside those other women and learn from them. I think that’s such a blessing. You talked about how your parents taught you to be a leader in righteousness, and I see you doing that now.  You’ve actually come out with a book called Legacy: Reflections of a Homeschooled, Homeschooling Mama, because you were homeschooled yourself and now of course your homeschooling your own children. Tell us about your book.

Ruth:                                          My husband encouraged me to write this book, he thought that my perspective coming from a homeschooled student and now being a homeschool mama of seven would be helpful to new homeschoolers and maybe also to long time homeschoolers who just need encouragement in the journey. So the book really just tells my story over about four decades of involvement in homeschooling, and what the Lord has done through all of that, and what he’s teaching me now as a homeschooling mama. It’s a real encouragement to focus on family discipleship in our homeschooling, and some practical tips too about managing the home and just managing life as we try to juggle a lot. A lot of plates are spinning when we’re homeschooling our children. Yeah, it’s just my story and what God has done and what he’s teaching me now.

Yvette:                                      What are some of the things about homeschooling that the Lord is teaching you now?

Ruth:                                          One of those things is just to measure success with the right measuring stick. You don’t want to use the measuring stick of the world which often times is rooted in humanism and materialism and we want our children to grow up and have the American dream and these sorts of things. But I think the greater goal is that our children will grow up and love the Lord Jesus Christ with all their hearts, soul, mind and strength. We’re not just going for high academics, and them getting into a prestigious university so that they can make tons of money. We’re wanting generational faithfulness. We’re wanting them to take the torch of faith into the next generation. So I think, I love Psalm 1, that says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (KJV) And I meditate on that Psalm, it’s talking about us loving God’s word. About us delighting in his words so that we can prosper. That’s God’s definition of success. Is that we’re living according to his word. And that’s what brings true prosperity.

So when our families are mediating on the Word of God, dwelling on the Word of God, going to the Word of God all throughout the day, and living according to it. Applying it. That’s what’s going to bring true prosperity. And it also talks about His leaf shall not wither. As homeschooling mamas, I know that it’s very easy for us to grow weary, and to wither. And I am encouraged to remember that when we keep going back to the Word of God, that is what’s going to persevere us in this journey. That’s what’s going to keep us going and fuel us and renew our perspective so that we continue to have the vision in mind. Why are we doing this in the first place when we grow weary? He will keep us from withering. Also I think using the right measuring stick. We have to be careful in this online world of social media. We can go on social media and Pinterest and it lies to us all the time and tries to tell us that if our houses are not Pinterest worthy, we’re not good moms or if we’re not throwing our children elaborate birthday parties, we’re not measuring up as mothers, or we see our friend’s photos and their families look perfect. We get misconceptions by what we’re reading online and what we’re seeing online.

I think we just need to continue to counsel our hearts with God’s Word and what He says is the true measure of success and absolutely we want our children to have a good education. And we want to equip them for life. But we don’t want to idolize education. This is something that God has had to teach me, because starting out in the early years, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself by comparing myself with other moms, and feeling like there’s just this huge academic push. And at times I got caught up in that, and it distracted me from the more important areas of discipleship with my children early on in the journey. And so we have to not compare and then not use a short term vantage point but a long term vision of it’s not about how I’m feeling today. It’s not about how does my house look today, and I’m so frustrated because I can’t things organized or my children just aren’t cooperating with me today. We’re just failing, we’re just falling apart because things aren’t going well. Long term success is not based on my feelings today. But we want to say 10, 15, 20 years down the road, will our children be taking this generational faithfulness, will they be taking the gospel of Jesus into the next generation and teaching this to my grandchildren?

We’re not just raising children, we’re raising adults and we’re raising our grandchildren’s parents. And so sometimes it gets very discouraging when we’re feeling overwhelmed as homeschooling mamas, but if we can get our eyes off the immediate stresses, and look at what are we really aiming for? And it helps to ask ourselves that question. What’s really most important? What are our highest goals for this home education, home discipleship thing we’re trying to do? And keep our eyes on that.

Yvette:                                      Yeah, yeah. Oh, I love it so much. We were actually talking last night, or family about you know, you’ll hear people say oh, they eat sleep and breathe volleyball. Or they eat sleep and breathe gymnastics or whatever it is that is that passion of that person. We were talking about Deuteronomy 6, and how we need to eat sleep and breathe Jesus. And that’s what homeschooling allows us to do. I’ve said it a million times, I’ll say it again. Homeschooling is not the gospel. It does not save our children. But it gives such a great opportunity to raise our children in righteousness. And you were talking about Psalm 1, and just the Law of the Lord, and how that brings blessings, and we tell our girls all the time, and I say it on the podcast all the time. One of the things we tell them is that obedience brings blessings, but sin causes pain. And we want our children to understand that God’s Law is there to protect them. God gives us his laws because he cares about us, and what an amazing opportunity we have as homeschool parents to be able to just instill that truth and that grace into our children’s lives, because like you said, it’s not about just the academics. Those are important, as long as they’re pointing our kids towards Christ.

But it’s so much more about character, it’s so much about who they become as adults. Who they become as people, and how are they impacting the Kingdom of God? And everyone of us has a platform. No matter what it is that we’re doing, he has given every one of us a gift and an ability to impact his kingdom for goodness and for truth. And so, are we raising our kids to be able to do that effectively? And how are we doing that with them? I’d love to know with you, what are some of the ways that you do that practically with your kids? How do you raise them in righteousness? How do you raise them in truth?

Ruth:                                          Well I would say that the most important thing is just relying on the Lord and praying. Because I oftentimes say Lord, I don’t know what to do about this or that or the other. But allowing His strength to flow through, and then just, we keep trying to bring things back to the Word of God. It’s not just like there’s a subject of bible in our homeschool. But we want bible to be weaved through every subject. We want the gospel to be weaved through, integrated into every subject, so we just keep coming back to it over and over. And taking moments, as Deuteronomy, you were talking about that passage, says as you lie down, and as you rise up and as you walk along the way. And as I look back I see that that’s what my parents did with me. It was like a 24/7 discipleship center where if we were going to the grocery store, they were talking about the Lord, maybe they were talking about what they had read in their devotions, or they were talking about what the Lord was doing in the church and ministry. They were intentional, I guess having intentional conversations with me. So we try to do a lot of that.

Now we do have family bible time, and I do circle time with my children in the mornings, and that’s a time where I gather all of them, ages three to 17, and that’s an intentional time that I’ve set apart where I am trying to go over discipleship materials with them. It’s partially academic, sometimes we read our history lessons and things like that. But it’s heavily discipleship focused. It’s a time where we read books on Christian apologetics, and on world view, and on culture, do character lessons and make sure we’re reading straight from the Word of God. So there’s intentional times. But there’s many times just throughout the day where we’re just trying to converse. And talk to them about what God is doing and where we see the fingerprints of God in our lives throughout the day.

Yvette:                                      I love that. I love the fingerprints of God. It’s so amazing, because you can’t, if you’re looking for it, you can see Him everywhere. In just about everything. There’s always evidence of our great God all around us, and it’s such a beautiful thing. How have you seen the transition of homeschooling from what it was when you were back in the 80s and 90s to what it is today. We’re in 2019, how have you seen that paradigm shift of what it used to be to what it has become today?

Ruth:                                          I’ve seen so many changes. Just things like, there were only a few curriculums back when I was being homeschooled, and it was difficult to get your hands on homeschooling curriculum. We didn’t have the internet, we didn’t have homeschool mommy blogs. we didn’t have homeschool mommy podcasts. These pioneer parents back then were tenacious and brave and courageous, and they took the vision that God gave them. And they ran with it, even though they had very little resources to help them. And that’s one thing I like to share with people is that in the pioneering days, these parents took risks. Some of them were taken into court battles over homeschooling, and by God’s grace our family never faced that. And I’m really thankful for that, but some of them did get taken to court for homeschooling. And you just look and say why would parents take those kinds of risks and do something that seems so hard and so daunting and very little in the way of resources, they didn’t have big homeschool conventions. What were they thinking? Why would they do this? And I think for, not all of them, but I think for many of them, their reasons were really grounded in this desire to disciple their children.

They wanted to raise up young men and women of faith and virtue and character and wisdom and they felt that was what God was calling them to do.

Yvette:                                      They had a conviction about it.

Ruth:                                          Yes, yes. And now we’ve seen homeschooling explode, and I hope it continues to explode exponentially. I’m encouraged to see this. But I think that in our current homeschooling climate, I believe that many families are jumping onboard the homeschooling wagon for all kinds of reasons. And it’s not always discipleship reasons. I remember years ago we were at an ice skating rink and I met a mom and she told me that she was homeschooling, and she said her reasons were so that her child could skate all the time. And hoped to go far in skating. And there was nothing about discipling the daughter. And so I see people doing it for all kinds of reasons, I see a lot of people homeschooling out of fear, because they’re very scared of the school shootings and things like that. And so maybe running from the public school, and running out of fear rather than running to a vision for family discipleship. And if it’s running out of fear, I’m still glad that brings them to homeschooling, and then I guess my message is to say that’s great. Welcome. Now here’s a greater vision for discipling your children. And it’s not just about the academics, it’s not just about bring them home so they’ll be safe.

But there’s a vision, and realize what you can do in these years and with this extra time that God is allowing you with your children. So that’s one thing, I want homeschooling parents to have vision. I would say in the early days, there was more of a conservative [trench 00:25:48] to the homeschooling movement. There were a lot of families that were more conservative and with the growth and explosion of homeschooling, we see it becoming more mainstream. So in the early days of homeschooling I saw some families focus so much on wanting to raise mature and wise students that they focus a lot on the external behaviorism of their children, and had the best of parts. And yet sometimes they failed to reach the heart of their children through Christ.

And it was things like teaching good character, teaching good manners, teaching them to carry themselves in impressive ways. And yet sometimes there was so much of a focus on that external behavior, that I think some of those kids grew up confused. And maybe thinking that they were earning God’s favor by their mature impressive outward behaviors. And I try to be so balanced when I share this because I think those external behavior things are very important. I mean we all want our children to have good manners. We all want them to be mature and to walk with Godly character. And those things are important. But the thing is if those things are not coming out of a pure heart towards Christ, if it’s just taught as moralism or behaviorism, then I’ve seen many of those kids go off the rails when they grew up and gained independence.

And some of these young people, you would never ever think that they would go off the rails. It’s left me going what in the world, I would have never seen this coming. And I’ve seen this happen, I really think some of these kids never went from darkness to light. I think a lot of them never truly came to know the Lord Jesus Christ in a personal way. They just grew up, like well this is the way our family is. This is our family culture. These are the things we do and the things we don’t do, and God is pleased with me because of that. And so I think we have to be very careful about this. And I think we need to be, as parents explaining the why’s of the standards that we have with our children. Deuteronomy 6 verse 20 says, when your son asks you in time to come, what is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules the Lord our God has commanded you. Then you shall say to your son we were Pharaoh slaves in Egypt and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.

So it’s just talking about when your sons and daughters have questions, that you take the time to explain, say the Lord has done this. Or this is where I’m getting this. I’m not, I think some of these kids might have thought mom and dad went to a homeschool conference, and they heard this guy and now they came home with 25 new rules for the family. Or mom and dad are just making up these rules because they’re weird, and they’re trying to ruin our lives. Things like that. And so we want to really give good biblical applications and explanations to our young people and lead them in loving humble sacrificial ways. We want to have heart relationship. And we want to be, our utmost goal to be that they know Christ because the bible says out of the goodness of the heart, when the heart is right, the behavior will overflow. So I think sometimes people like to stigmatize all homeschoolers as being this way or that way, but I think we can forget the question of what should homeschool culture look like, and say how can our families bring the most glory to Christ? What can we do to honor him and glorify him? So we want to be careful we’re not just creating little pharisees or little good rule followers.

Yvette:                                      Little robots.

Ruth:                                          But that we’re truly, truly seeing heart conversion.

Yvette:                                      Yes, oh I love that so much. That is a perfect way to end the podcast. We are unfortunately out of time for the podcast, but I actually want to continue this conversation for our backstage pass members. So for those listening to the podcast, thank you so much for joining us today. For those who don’t know, I think most of you do, but we have what’s called a backstage pass membership site, and you can go on there and for a few dollars a month, you can become a member and that actually helps to support production on Schoolhouse Rocked. But you get a ton of extra videos and footage from the movie, and all kinds of exciting things. So we’re going to continue this conversation, and the remainder of it will be on the backstage pass membership site. But, really quickly, where can people who are listening to the podcast, where can they find you?

Ruth:                                          I have a website, LegacyHomeschoolReflections.com. And I have a podcast, The Legacy Homeschool Reflections Podcast that can be found on iTunes or on that website. I can be found on Facebook at Ruth L. Adams. So I’m glad to connect with your listeners in any of those ways.

Yvette:                                      Awesome, and we will link to those in the show notes so people can find you. So Ruth, thank you so much for your time today, you are a blessing. We will continue this conversation for our backstage pass members, and thank you guys for listening. I hope you have a great day today.


Website: LegacyHomeschoolReflections.com

Podcast: LegacyHomeschoolReflections.com/podcast/

Facebook: facebook.com/legacyhomeschoolreflections/



Legacy: Reflections of a Homeschooled, Homeschooling Mama by Ruth Adams

Ordinary Homeschool Dad by Matthew Adams (Ruth’s Husband) – https://amzn.to/2Bfbvgp

Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child’s Education by Dr. Raymond S. Moore

Listen to Better Late Than Early – Dr. Dobson Talks with Dr. Raymond Moore –


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