Homeschool Bravely – Jamie Erickson

Jamie EricksonOn this episode, I talk with Jamie Erickson about her book, Homeschool Bravely, and how moms can learn to overcome their fear in homeschooling, trusting that God will complete a good work in their children.

Jamie Erickson taught elementary school before becoming a mother. When her first child turned five she made the decision to homeschool her daughter. Four more children followed and she homeschools all five. Jamie is the founder of The Unlikely Homeschool and a popular education blogger. Her website, social media channels, and blog encourage and equip a growing tribe of more than 50,000 homeschooling mothers around the world. She has written for a number of homeschool publications and is also a co-host of the Mom to Mom Podcast.

Here are some of the questions I asked:

  • I was just recently introduced to your work and I’ve been enjoying your book, Homeschool Bravely. I address fear a lot on this show because I really think it is the root of so many of our “issues” as homeschool moms. So I appreciate your addressing this issue right at the start of the book. Why do you think there is so much fear surrounding the choice to homeschool and is that fear valid?
  • How did you first venture into homeschooling?
  • I love the chapter in your book, “Homeschool, Not School-at-Home.” You say, “‘Real’ school and ‘real’ teachers are all we know. So we use their plans, their methods, their benchmarks—and single-handedly sabotage our own efforts. We foolishly use the map of the traditional way but expect to end up at a better destination.” How did your homeschooling philosophy develop over time? Did you start with a “school-at-home” approach?
  • The definition of lifeschooling is “the individualized process of discovering your child’s God-given gifts and talents primarily through real life experiences that happen within the context of your family’s unique situations and missions.” In reading your book, I definitely saw some lifeschooling going on during the season when you had to take your daughter to regular cardiology appointments. We’re going to take a quick break, but when we come back, I want to talk more about that.
  • You had some great ideas for ways that children can discover their gifts and learn through “real life.” Can you share a few of those…maybe some you’ve had personal success with?
  • What are some of the gifts that you have seen early on in your children and how have you tailored their education around the development of those gifts?
  • I love this quote: “Your goal is really not to be a teacher, but a coach.” Explain this a little more.
  • How has homeschooling strengthened your relationships with your children? What do you say to the mom who thinks she wouldn’t be able to handle being with her children all day?

If you’d like to learn more about Jamie, visit her website at www.theunlikelyhomeschool.com. To read a free sample of her book, Homeschool Bravely, visit www.homeschoolbravely.com.

Unhurried Homeschooling – Ana Willis

Unhurried HomeschoolingWhat a joy to chat again with my friend, Ana Willis! Ana calls herself an “unhurried homeschooler,” giving a nod to one of her (and my) homeschool mentors, Durenda Wislon. (Both Durenda and Ana will be speaking at this year’s Lifeschooling Conference!)

Ana is the unhurried homeschool mom of 3, wife, health coach, social media and online marketing strategist, and blogger. She loves to encourage, inspire and empower moms to go from stressed to blessed by providing them with the tips, strategies, and resources they need to succeed.

Ana is the founder of They Call Me Blessed and Hebrew for Homeschoolers, and the creator of 5 Days to Your Best Homeschool Years, Grow Your Blog Partying in 30 Days, and the Beyond Blessed Life Planners. She also leads a vibrant online community for moms on Facebook.

Here are some of the questions I asked Ana on the show:

  • Ana, you and I have known each other about a year and we had the chance to room together at a blogger conference last year, which was so much fun! It’s been exciting watching your journey of moving into an RV full time and lifeschooling on the road! Tell us more about that. What are some of the advantages and how do you deal with the unique challenges of homeschooling in a small space?

 

  • How did you begin your homeschooling journey?

 

  • Many homeschoolers bring the school model home because we all tend to just do what we know. Is there anything in particular that helped shape your educational philosophy?

 

  • The definition of lifeschooling is “the individualized process of discovering your child’s God-given gifts and talents primarily through real life experiences that happen within the context of your family’s unique situations and missions.” Is there a part of that definition that particularly speaks to you and share with us a bit more about how your family incorporates lifeschooling?

 

  • How has unhurried homeschooling strengthened your relationships with your children?

 

  • I know you’ve had some health struggles recently. How have you navigated through some of those tough times?

 

  • What are some of the gifts that you have seen early on in your children and how have you tailored their education around the development of those gifts?

 

  • Tell us more about your community, Ana, and how you balance being a Proverbs 31 businesswoman with homeschooling and caring for your family.

 

 

And don’t forget, you can hear more from Ana this July at our virtual Lifeschooling Conference! Tickets go on sale in June, but you can sign up to be notified at www.LifeschoolConference.om by clicking “Grab my Free Ticket.”

Schedule or Routine?

schedulingDo you follow a segmented schedule, complete with time slots, or more of a routine in your homeschool? Or perhaps you relate to Christi’s description of a “rhythm”! On this episode, Christi Deason joins us once again, this time to discuss scheduling. While scheduling is definitely not natural for either of us, Christi talks about how her loose style worked for their family and I share my own experience with my style of minimal scheduling.

As is typical, we take some time for a few necessary rabbit trails, as well! (College proponents, watch out. We’re not anti-college, but perhaps we get a bit opinionated here!) Since scheduling involves curriculum, I cover a bit of what I’m doing with that, too. It’s not fancy or complicated, but it works for a wiggly, kinesthetic seven-year-old!

Here is the general outline we followed for our interview:

Did you follow a schedule or more of a routine? What did that look like?

Did you have it written out or did you use some kind of software?

What subjects went on that list, at what ages?

  • I tend to follow the “better late than early” advice
  • With my youngest, I always do Bible and character training daily, even if we get to very little in the way of formal academics
  • We also regularly do history, as Bible tends to dovetail well into ancient history
  • Science at this age is focused mostly on nature and animal studies, but we also incorporate any interests as they appear (today in our Bible doctrines, we talked about faith being something that can’t be experienced with our five senses, naturally leading into a science reading and discussion about the five sense).

What time did you usually start? Did you take certain days off?

  • We took off Fridays, birthdays, and of course…snow days! Being in the south, snow days are something to be enjoyed as much as possible, in my opinion!

What factors went into deciding the schedule (husband’s work, personalities, early birds/night owls, specific giftings…)?

Were there any years that seemed harder to schedule?

Anything you would change about how you scheduled or did your routine?

The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling – Karen Campbell

Karen CampbellOn this episode, I talk to one of my new favorite pioneer homeschoolers, Karen Campbell, about relationship homeschooling! Interestingly, I went to college with Karen’s daughter, Mollie, but didn’t know her very well and had no idea she had even been homeschooled. After connecting with Mollie on Instagram recently, I saw a few of her mother’s posts and was delighted to discover that she had homeschooled back in the early days, and that we were kindred spirits in our philosophies.

This interview did not disappoint! I enjoyed listening to it again myself, and I know it is going to bless you to hear Karen’s wisdom as she shares some of her experiences from the “pioneer days.” Here are some of the questions and topics we discussed:

  • Tell us more about your homeschooling journey back in the early days of the movement.
  • Many homeschoolers bring the school model home because we all tend to just do what we know. I know you put a lot of emphasis on what you refer to as “relationship homeschooling.” Is there anything in particular that helped shape your perspective and educational philosophy?
  • The definition of lifeschooling is “the individualized process of discovering your child’s God-given gifts and talents primarily through real life experiences that happen within the context of your family’s unique situations and missions.” Is there a part of that definition that particularly speaks to you and can you share with us a bit more about how your family “lifeschooled”?
  • What are some of the gifts that you saw early on in your children and how were you able to tailor their education around the development of those gifts?
  • You focus a lot on the relationship aspect of homeschooling. What were some practical ways that you focused on relationships and what were the results?
  • How did you fit homeschooling with your blogging ministry and how did your ministry impact your homeschooling?
  • You talk in your book about grace-filled parenting and I love some of the stories you share. Tell us a bit about how that applies specifically to the high school years?
  • We just did an episode on co-ops. I think many of the current co-ops end up putting the same strain on relationships that school does. What are your thoughts?
  • What do you see as one of the biggest problems in the homeschooling movement today?

Be sure to check out Karen’s excellent book, “The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling: When the One Anothers Come Home.” And also take some time to visit her site, ThatMom.com, where you will find many insightful blog posts and podcast episodes.

Prioritizing Relationships in Your Homeschool

prioritizing relationshipsDisclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

 

Christi Deason joins the show again, this time to chat about the importance of prioritizing relationships in the homeschool. We talk about the two priority relationships for our children, their relationship to God and their relationship to us, their parents.

First, the most important relationship for us to help cultivate is their relationship with Jesus. That should be our #1 goal, not academics!

Why should we prioritize relationships over academics?

  • The Bible has very little to say about academic instruction.
  • The Bible warns against prioritizing anything that has to do with prosperity.
    • “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36
    • Usually the primary purpose for focusing on academics is a concern about our children “getting good jobs” and being “successful.”
    • Very intelligent people who are morally bankrupt may become successful by the world’s standards, but they often do the most damage. As C. S. Lewis stated in his book, Mere Christianity (affiliate), “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”

How do we properly prioritize their relationship with the Lord?

  • It happens naturally as we do life with them and they see our own walk.
  • We must be strong in our own faith!
  • Look for opportunities to make faith real and practical to everyday life.

This primary relationship depends on our parental relationship. We are a picture of Christ to them.

How do we cultivate that?

  • Treat them as individuals.
    • They are not our property or slaves.
    • They are our “brothers and sisters” in Christ!
  • Love unconditionally – “Love is patient, love is kind…”

Practical ideas for building relationships:

  • Have a weekly Family Movie Night.
  • Schedule in regular talk time or time just being together so talking can take place naturally (watching a favorite show, working on a hobby, etc.).
  • Take your children on errands and special outings one-on-one
  • Find good Bible study resources. Some of our favorites for helping our children develop their own devotional time were Kay Arthur’s Discover 4 Yourself® Inductive Bible Studies for Kids. Here are a few my children enjoyed:

Everything hinges on prayer and following God’s leading. Ask the Lord how you can better prioritize the relationships in your family, then listen as He directs!

Co-ops: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

co-opsWhat makes homeschool co-ops good? And what makes them bad or downright ugly? Are there certain things that we should look for when we try to find a co-op?

On this episode, veteran homeschooler Christi Deason and I tackle the issue of homeschool co-ops and try to answer these questions. When Christi was homeschooling her children, the landscape of homeschooling and co-ops looked different than it does now. We talk about what has changed and where we see problems developing.

It seems everyone these days who homeschools is involved in a homeschool co-op of some sort. In fact, in the survey we conducted before this interview, all the respondents except one indicated that they had been involved in a co-op at some point in their homeschooling. But is it truly necessary for all families to even be involved in a co-op?

Our opinion is, simply, no. What works for some, may not work for your family. And there is nothing wrong with being your child’s sole teacher! For the homeschool pioneers, this was normal. Remember, homeschooling is about freedom, and your children will be successful if you follow the Lord’s leading.

So how do you know if a co-op is right for your family? We give some suggestions to help you determine if a homeschool co-op is right for you and some ideas of what to look for. Here are a few tips:

  • Look for something small
  • Look for something with families you know and respect
  • If your children are young, keep it fun-focused (not academic)
  • Look for something with some flexibility
  • Look for something that fills a true need

Here are some other things to remember:

  • Pray first and ask God if this is the right direction for your family
  • Be okay with the fact that what works this year may not work another year
  • Always be willing to “shift” if things don’t work out

There are some great co-ops out there! Just be careful to pray first and be discerning during the vetting process. Know what you want and don’t settle for any homeschool co-op simply because you think you need to. At the end of the journey, YOU are the teacher and you and your spouse are the ones responsible for your children’s education. God will show you what is best if you trust Him.


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Favorite Homeschooling Books – How Tos

Favorite How To BooksOn the last episode, Favorite Homeschooling Books – Philosophy, we look a look at some of my favorite homeschooling books related to educational philosophy. If you missed it, be sure to go back and have a listen! It is important to form our own beliefs about education and develop/refine a philosophy.

Now I want to explore some books that have helped me with the “nuts and bolts.” Admittedly, I am more of a “learn by doing” type of person, but these books have given me some good ideas and a jumping off point for my own methods and ideas.

Some of the books on this list are ones that I have not read, but have reviewed enough to know they are gems worth reading! For example, “Learning in Spite of Labels” is directed at parents of special needs children and thus does not pertain to me. However, I know the author and her philosophy, and I’ve read enough excerpts to highly recommend it.

So, let’s jump in!

 

Mary Pride’s Complete Guide to Getting Started Homeschooling by Mary Pride – This is my very favorite resource to recommend for brand new homeschoolers! What I love about it is that it really is what it says… “complete”! Mary goes through every topic imaginable with homeschooling, tackling learning styles, educational philosophies and methods (the 12 most popular homeschool methods), educating the gifted and special needs child, testing and evaluation, and many common questions the newbie may have. This book was my crash course one summer when my kids were young and I was still figuring things out! It was really instrumental in helping me being exploring my own philosophy of education and what I wanted for my children. Until I read this book, it had not even occurred to me to figure that out!

Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder by Mariah Bruehl – I’m not sure how I came across this lovely, inspiring book, but it’s one that you just want to pick up again and again. It almost has a “coffee table” book feel about it. The pages are those clean, smooth pages that show off photos so beautifully. Okay, I know… That may seem a silly virtue to start with. Content is pretty important, after all! But when you have exclellent content in such a nice package, it is hard to not get a little giddy. The photos and layout are inspiring… like holding somoene’s Pinterest account in your hands. But I suppose I should at least mention something of the content. 😉 I love that this book, while focusing on the importance of play, helps parents to gently guide their children’s play to help develop various aspects of the education by suggesting various projects and “playful learning spaces.” This can, of course, be taken to the extreme and we don’t want to interfere too much in our children’s imaginations, but I think the author strikes a good balance here. As I’m sure it’s apparent, I am inspired!

Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners by Lori Pickert

This is another book that helps the parent to guide the child in their learning. Though not as “exciting” as the previous book (dull paper and black and white pictures…snooze), it is still worthwhile for its excellent content! What stood out to me was the ideas of engaging with children and helping them take the next steps. The parent is taught how to help their child research ideas without taking over, how to praise with sincerity and honesty, and how to help the child document their progress. What I love about this approach is that we are building connections with our children by being involved and interested in their work. And by allowing them to take the lead, we are teaching them to be independent and affirming that they do have great ideas and that we believe in them!

100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy

This is one of those tried and true books that nearly every homeschooler owns, myself included. I must admit, though, that I have not read it in its entirety. I use it as more of a resource for researching curricula. But, like the Complete Guide above, it is a book that can be very useful for the new homeschooler in forming a philosophy of education and figuring out the nuts and bolts of what that will look like in their home. Cathy even has a chapter dedicated to helping you figure out what style and philosophy of education will work best for your family by going through a series of questions and quizzes. Many parents forget this crucial step and dive right in to choosing curricula! So I appreciate her attention to this important detail.

All Through the Ages by Christine Miller

I was very excited when I came across this book because it fits so well with a living books and story type of approach to history. This could probably also be put in the category of curriculum, as it really is more of a how-to guide to building your own history curriculum. It is divided into periods of time, with each period having a list of recommended books by grade level.

Learning in Spite of Labels by Joyce Herzog

If you’ve never heard Joyce Herzog speak, you need to find a recording somewhere and purchase it! Joyce is no longer speaking at conferences, but for those with special needs children, her wisdom is invaluable. If you can’t find a presentation to buy (or even if you can), then purchase her book. I’m not big on labels, and neither is Joyce, but she still recognizes the need for teaching that is specialized for those who learn differently, whatever we may want to “label” them. Her positivity and encouragement can be felt through hear writings, and her tips are practical and sensible. Though she is no longer speaking, I was privileged to hear her on a webinar about a year ago, and I will never forget her demonstration that helped those of us on the call understand what it is like to be learning disabled. (It’s also on pages 4-5 of her book.)

 

These are just a few books I would recommend to help you in your lifeschooling journey. I hope these past two episodes have inspired you, as they have me, to dig into some good books this year!

Favorite Homeschooling Books – Philosophy

favorite homeschooling booksThere’s just something about winter that lends itself to reading. It’s that time of year for comfort food, a favorite hot drink, and curling up by a fire with a good book. There are even cultural traditions centered around reading during the winter months.

In Iceland, they celebrate something called Jolabokaflod, or “Christmas Book Flood.” Everyone exchanges books and on Christmas Eve and the whole family stays up all night reading their new tomes and nibbling on chocolate. Oh yes…I could adopt such a tradition!

I think it is important for us to encourage in ourselves the habit of reading, and perhaps more so with being lifeschoolers, as our children will naturally follow in our footsteps. The old phrase, “more is caught than is taught,” has much truth to it and lately I have been more focused on trying to improve such areas of weakness that I see mirrored in my own children!

Despite my love for reading, I could definitely work to be more intentional about it. And as a busy lifeschooling mom, I imagine you could use some work here, too! I also believe it is important to stay sharp in our “profession,” so in the spirit of continuing education, I thought I would take the next two episodes to introduce to you some of my favorite homeschooling books in the hopes that they may become yours, as well. They have made an impact on my lifeschooling journey, as I am sure they will for yours.

I’ve decided to divide the books up into two sections, and subsequently two separate podcast episodes. I’m sure I could further subdivide them, but I’ve found that when reading about homeschooling, there are generally two categories that everything falls into: Educational Philosophy and Practical Methods.

In order to know how to teach, you must first know why to teach it. You have to first come to a fundamental understanding about what education actually is. But all philosophy and no methodology can leave a teacher feeling a bit lost. So once the philosophy is firmly established, it’s important to also have some practical books on how to carry out the educational process.

I encourage you to check these books out and commit to reading some new books this year! While I have read parts of all of these books, there are some that I have not yet finished. But I want to recommend them because I have read enough to infer their value and usefulness.

Educational Philosophy

The following are books that have helped shape my educational philosophy of “lifeschooling.”

Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally by Chris Davis

Pioneer homeschooler Chris Davis is most responsible for solidifying my personal educational philosophy. Years ago, I read a blog post he wrote about education and finding our children’s gifts and I excitedly read it aloud to my husband and shared it with just about everyone I knew! It was just the validation I needed that what I felt deep in my heart was true and would, in fact, work in reality. Chris started homeschooling in the 70s and 80s before it was even legal. He graduated three boys who, despite a very different educational philosophy and practice, have all gone on to be successful.

It is impossible to narrow it down to one, but one of my favorite parts of the book is where he talks about the importance of blessing our children and calling out the gifts we see in them. We have a responsibility, as parents, to help identify and name those gifts we see in our children.

Once we have done this, we must do two things in order to help our child develop these gifts. 1. We must resource what that child needs and 2. We must gift the child “sufficient time to become eminently qualified in the field of his giftings.” Davis did this by purchasing a large amount of computer programming books for his son, who had an interest in learning “all the computer programs currently in use.” Today he is a very successful computer programmer and owns his own business.

Upgrade: 10 Secrets to the Best Education for Your Child by Kevin Swanson

This is one of the simplest, yet profound books on education that I have ever read. It succinctly breaks down the idea of education and what makes it a “good” one. This would be a book that I could hand to another parent without “offending” them and I believe it would have them convinced to homeschool by the first or second chapter. The reason why is that it takes such a practical, logical approach that is hard to argue with.

Here are the 10 secrets laid out in the book:

  1. The preeminence of character
  2. Quality one-on-one instruction
  3. The principle of protection
  4. The principle of individuality
  5. The rooting in relationships
  6. The principle of doing the basics well
  7. The principle of life integration
  8. Maintaining the honor and mystique of learning
  9. Build on the right foundation
  10. The principle of wise, sequential progression

I had the opportunity a couple years ago to be interviewed by Kevin Swanson at his home studio for one of his podcast episodes, Why Most Schooling is a Waste of Time, and it was funny to see how many similarities we had in our educational philosophy. He thought I had read his book. . . but it turned out that we had both just read another Book the had helped shape our thinking into something very similar!

Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto

This was another book that profoundly impacted my belief in homeschooling as not only a valid form of education, but the best form. John Taylor Gatto was an educator in the public school system of New York City for more than 30 years and even won the Teacher of the Year award. But his methods and beliefs were far from typical or conformist. Sadly, he passed away just last year, but he left a huge impact on the field of education. . . to those wise enough to listen.

In this book, Gatto starts by telling us “what he does wrong” as a school teacher. In his words, what he does that is right is simple to understand, “I get out of kids’ way, I give them space and time and respect.” But in carrying out his expected duties as a public educator, he instead teaches:

  1. Confusion
  2. Class position
  3. Indifference
  4. Emotional dependency
  5. Intellectual dependency
  6. Provisional self-esteem
  7. One can’t hide

These may seem like radical assertions. However, when you understand the history of public education and why it was instituted, they become obvious and self-explanatory. Gatto does a good job going into this background information so that the reader can better grasp his seemingly-radical propositions.

What makes such assertions even more shockingly ironic is that fact that this entire section is a direct copy of his acceptance speech for the award of 1991 New York State Teacher of the Year! I wonder if anyone clapped?

Einstein Never Used Flash Cards by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., and Roberta Michick Golinkoff, Ph.D.

Life got in the way and I never completed this book, but it is one I hope to pick up again in the new year. I enjoyed the authors’ perspectives as scientists because they were able to counter some popular myths by showing how scientific studies on learning have often been manipulated and misinterpreted. One such myth is the “Mozart Effect”: the idea that if you expose your child to classical music at a young age will help them become smarter. They are also strong proponents of allowing children to learn through play, including one chapter called “Play: The Crucible of Learning.”

The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling: When the One Anothers Come Home by Karen Campbell

I am currently thoroughly enjoying reading a book called “The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling.” Though we didn’t interact much, I actually went to college with the author’s daughter and had no idea she was homeschooled, let alone the daughter of a homeschool pioneer who wrote books and spoke at conventions. I didn’t discover that until just recently!

This is another book that would be beneficial not just to homeschooling moms, but to moms everywhere. Karen’s goal is to help us see that the most important aspect of homeschooling is not academics, but relationships. It is about practicing the “one anothers” of Scripture: Love one another, submit to one another, etc.

I love this quote: “Typically, the first question asked by new homeschoolers is, ‘What curriculum should we use?’ assuming that academic success ought to be the first priority. And yet, if happiness in life is most fully measured by the success of our relationships, why is it so rare to hear someone talk about the dynamics involved in building sound relationships, especially those based on the commands given in Scripture?”

Karen drives home the point of the importance of relationships in homeschooling with a story about a “famous” homeschool veteran in her town with whom she was excited to have the opportunity to chat. She was surprised, however, when this revered leader asked her, “Karen, can you tell me how to have a relationship with my grown children?” With tears in her eyes, she asked, “Why are we not friends?” This woman had missed out on the greatest opportunity that homeschooling affords us: the chance to build deeply-rooted relationships with our children.

 

I hope this overview has given you a good place to start with planning your 2019 reading list! We often work hard to plan our children’s curricula, but forget that learning never stops and we are as much in need of continuing education as they are. Be sure you set aside time this year for your own learning! Next time, we will talk about some great homeschooling books to help with the practical aspects of choosing curricula, planning, and organizing. That’s Life as a Lifeschooler! Subscribe to our podcast so you never miss an episode!

Lifeschooling with Boys – Hal and Melanie Young

Hal and Melanie Young - boysOn this episode of Life as a Lifeschooler, I talk with Hal and Melanie Young about their homeschooling/lifeschooling journey and about what that looked like with boys.

Hal & Melanie are the award-winning authors of Raising Real Men, My Beloved and My Friend: How to Be Married to Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses, and several other books. They are publishers, writers, bloggers, and popular conference speakers internationally, known for their Christ-centered focus and practical, real-life stories. They are the parents of six real boys (four grown!) and two real girls and live in noisy, messy happiness in North Carolina.

Here are some of the questions I asked in our interview:

I’m sure many of my listeners have heard you both speak, but tell us about your background. How did you start homeschooling?

Many homeschoolers bring the school model home because we all tend to just do what we know. Is there anything in particular that helped shape your educational philosophy?

The definition of lifeschooling is “the individualized process of discovering your child’s God-given gifts and talents primarily through real life experiences that happen within the context of your family’s unique situations and missions.” In your family, I know that mission aspect plays a large part. Can you share with us how your mission in encouraging homeschoolers played a part in your homeschooling? (In particular, with regard to technical skills, etc. that were learned in that context.)

How has homeschooling strengthened your relationships with your children?

What has been one of the most difficult times of homeschooling in your family?

What are some of the gifts that you saw early on in your children and how were you able to tailor their education around the development of those gifts?

When it comes to raising boys, tell us some practical tips, especially for those of us with very active young boys who can be hard to homeschool.

Hal and Melanie Young can be found at HalAndMelanie.com and their podcast can be heard at HalAndMelanie.com/radio. You can purchase their books and also find many other wonderful homeschooling books and resources, as well as gifts especially for boys in their online store at RaisingRealMen.com/shop.  Or if you need ideas, check out their special gift guide for boys at RaisingRealMen.com/giftguideforboys. (I mentioned Christmas gifts in the podcast, as this was recorded earlier, but there’s always time to shop for next year, right?!)

And that’s Life as a Lifeschooler! Be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode. Hope you’ll join us next time!

Lifeschooling and The Arts (Part 2) – Lorina Harris

Lifeschooling and the arts part 2(There is a bit of an echo in this recording. Apologies!)

In part 2 of my interview with Lorina Harris, we focus more on what their own homeschool looks like.

We start with a discussion of the importance of art with regard to academics. Studies have shown that involvement in the arts actually boosts test scores among students. There is something to be said for exercising both the left and right sides of our brains. As Lorina points out, all the various arts–music, acting, visual arts–help us learn to study detail and see things we are not used to looking for. There are subtle nuances we miss as mere observers that are gleaned when actually studying these creative disciplines as students. This skill of observation is transferable to many other subjects and areas, including business and entrepreneurship.

Lorina and I also talk a bit about the connection between music and math and how that has helped her son, in particular. We talk also about their family’s methods and philosophy of homeschooling. Lorina has always tried to expose her children to many different types of experiences and field trips, showing them how learning relates to real life and developing a love for learning in her children. Even during the fun times, there has always been a focus on learning. Video games are educational-based, for example, and not just mindless entertainment.

She relies heavily on “living books” and doing what works for their family rather than relying on rigid curriculum or highly structured co-ops and classes. As she puts it, “I don’t believe there’s a curriculum out there you could follow fully 100% and get everything you need for your particular family.” With such an emphasis on books, her daughter in particular has grown to love reading and we talk about some of the challenges of a voracious reader who needs to be constantly “fed”!

I ask Lorina how homeschooling has strengthened the relationships she has with her children. “We have a different kind of connection. We’re closer. My daughter considers me her best friend and I’m thrilled that she says that out loud to her friends.” She talks about the importance of talking to our children and being honest about our mistakes and weaknesses.

We talk at the end about Lorina’s art studio and her plans to begin offering online art classes. She also currently offers sketch excursions in the D.C. area and around the world. And in January, she will be launching a podcast called “Be Inspired Now” available on iTunes. You can find Lorina on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheArtSmartstudio and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/theartsmartlady.

Did you miss part 1 of this interview? Go here to listen now!