Parents who have not yet begun their homeschooling journey often say they don’t know if they have what it takes. Join us for a panel discussion with veteran homeschool moms to talk about what you need to consider as you weigh whether a homeschooling adventure is the right academic path forward.
Gretchen Roe: 00:00:05.222
Welcome everyone. My name is Gretchen Roe and it is my very great pleasure to welcome you to this episode of the Demme Learning Show so that we can have a conversation about what it takes to homeschool your child. I am so delighted to be joined by three very talented members of our team here at Demme Learning. These are the ladies you get to talk to if you’re looking to get answers about Demme Learning products. All of them are veteran homeschool moms and I’ll let them introduce themselves in just a moment. By way of introduction, my name is Gretchen Roe. I’m a homeschooling mom, retired homeschooling mom of six. We graduated our last one in June. And we had the pleasure of homeschooling kids for 21 years, and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. I’m Demme’s community relations coordinator, and I’m delighted to share this time with you all today. Let’s go in alphabetical order. Amanda, we’ll start with you. How’s that?
Amanda Capps: 00:01:01.995
Sounds good. So I’m delighted to be here today. I am a second generation homeschooler. Currently the homeschool mom of seven. I have graduated my oldest. I have seven children total. Launched one successfully so far. I will have another senior next school year and then six more coming up behind her. I have been in customer service with Demme Learning for the last 13 years. Supporting our customers and helping them with placement and encouragement and just all the things, and I’m grateful to be here today.
Kim Greene: 00:01:38.779
So my name is Kim Greene. I’m the customer service coordinator with Demme Learning. I’ve been with the company for about six years now. And homeschooling mom. I did not start out homeschooling. I was a reluctant homeschooler for my son out in middle school, and that’s where our journey began. And right now, he is a graduate, so I’m left with just homeschooling my youngest. She’s 16, and she’s heading into her junior year of high school. And it’s a long story, but we’ve been back-and-forth with homeschooling. And this upcoming year we’re back to homeschooling again.
Gretchen Roe: 00:02:07.868
And Kim, that part of your story is going to be very valuable for parents today because it’s really good to understand that you make decisions for your kids based on what their needs are. And so we’re going to talk a little bit about that today. Lisa.
Lisa Chimento: 00:02:22.100
I’m Lisa Chimento. I’m a customer success consultant and placement specialist here at Demme Learning. I’ve also been a full-time with the company for the past six years. And before that, for quite a few years, working conventions at the homeschool conventions around the country. I homeschooled my four children for 25 years. They are all grown in flown and on their own. And I miss them. But it’s a pleasure every day to come to work and support other homeschooling families and those who are asking questions like you are. So we’re really thankful for the opportunity to be able to speak to you today.
Gretchen Roe: 00:03:03.671
I think we all come to the table with a different reason for beginning our homeschooling journeys. Mine was only going to be a brief one. I was going to homeschool just long enough to get my youngest to learn her multiplication tables. I found that the homeschooling journey was a tremendously rewarding one. And there’s some myths we want to talk about today and disabuse people of, and the first one is the belief that if you don’t have an educational background, you’re not prepared to homeschool your children and all of us sit here today, 75% of us don’t have an educational background. One of us does. We’ll see if she wants to disclose that a little bit later. But we each come to the table with different talents. And what we want to encourage you to do is look at your cup is half full and look at the talents that you bring. So when you began your homeschooling journey, Lisa. I want to start with you because you decided early on that you were going to homeschool because that was the best journey for your children. So can you talk about that? Can you give us a brief mindset there? And then I’ll go to Amanda being a second-generation homeschooler. And then we’ll talk a little bit with Kim.
Lisa Chimento: 00:04:24.271
Yes, certainly. When my firstborn was still quite little and I wasn’t even there in my head yet and had never even heard of homeschooling. We met a family who was homeschooling and I was so impressed with this family. I was impressed with the closeness of the siblings. I was impressed with the respect they had for their parents. And the things that they did together and I remembered with great regret, my time in school growing up and the separation and segregation between the ages. I have a sister who is only two years younger than I was, and yet when we were in school, I wouldn’t be caught dead associating with her. It just wasn’t done. There are little kids and you just don’t want to know your younger siblings. And what a shame that was because she today is my best friend. And she is a magnificent person and I missed out on all of those years of knowing her well and being her friend. And so I recognized that I didn’t want that for my children and when I saw this family and the way that they were able to function with each other, they could hold a conversation with an adult, they could hang out with a very young child. There was just no problem being able to mix and communicate and be friends with children and people of all ages. And I really loved what I saw. So I began asking a lot of questions. And by the time my oldest was ready to start thinking about school, I was going to have a very hard time being convinced not to homeschool. I was that certain that it was the best thing we could do for him.
Gretchen Roe: 00:06:08.112
And Amanda, you have been homeschooled yourself. So of course, this was an easy choice for you. Talk a little bit about how your parents decided that they wanted a different path for your family.
Amanda Capps: 00:06:22.290
Sure. So the option that I had, I did attend a preschool or a kindergarten preschool type deal that I honestly don’t even remember. I think I remember like snack line and that was literally my only memory of that experience. But it really came down to the fact that I was going to be bussed to an inner-city school based on our geography. And my parents were not excited about that. And being young in the early ’80s, and you know financially not being at a place where private school or a Christian school was a financially an option for them. Homeschooling kind of became the, “Maybe we should look into this. Maybe we could do this.” My dad actually ended up attending a set of classes that he had to do for his job. And his roommate was a dad who was a father of five girls, and they were a homeschooled family. And my dad was very intrigued by this whole concept. And of course, this dad was really kind of talking it up. And so he came home from that and told my mom, “I really think we should give this a try.” And my mom was like, “Are you crazy? My mother is a teacher.” So she came from a background where one of her parents was in education and she didn’t necessarily feel very confident. But the more and more they looked into it, the more excited we did, they became about the opportunity and then it was just kind of– we got started and we never looked back.
Gretchen Roe: 00:08:08.612
Awesome. And Kim, I saved you for last because I love your story about being coerced into the homeschool journey and so I think it’s important for parents to understand that sometimes we have to do what our children ask us to do.
Kim Greene: 00:08:26.739
Yes. So I’m a former teacher and my background is in early childhood education and so my son, I want to say from kindergarten on he kind of mentioned he was always a homebody, and he had always wanted to just stay home. And I’ve always worked full-time. So any time he kind of brought up the topic of homeschooling, the panic sat up in me because I’m working full time. How am I supposed to handle this and juggle all of these things? So finally he hit sixth grade and halfway through sixth grade it just was not working. There were so many issues, differences in values in his learning and friendships and things like that. And so midyear sixth grade, we pulled him out at his request. And it was two weeks during Christmas break of me in panic mode going, “Okay. What do I do? How do I do this?” And actually, Demme Learning was one of the first places I called to find out about their math program, and didn’t realize it but I had actually spoken with Amanda years ago. And she gave me guidance. But yeah, it was something that I didn’t intend to do and coming from the public school background of being a public school teacher it wasn’t something that I had even– it wasn’t even on the forefront of my mind at that point. But he needed it and he let me know that he needed it. And I’m so grateful that we listened.
Gretchen Roe: 00:09:49.514
Absolutely. And I’m grateful that you listened because we wouldn’t have you as part of our terrific team today if you hadn’t listened. So that’s pretty awesome. So the first thing I would like to do, ladies, when we think about changing people’s mindsets from, “Maybe I can’t do this,” to, “Maybe I can,” is to ask some questions. So I’m going to pose these questions and then I’m going to ask you ladies to briefly answer them. And the first one is why are you choosing to homeschool? Lisa’s already answered this very eloquently and I think each one of you has, and so for our attendees, we want you all to take that question away. And we want you to take it away in an affirmative context. We can all list all the reasons why we don’t want to do something or why we feel compelled to have to do something. But you’ve heard all three of these ladies talk about their motivations for wanting to homeschool their children. And Amanda, now I’m going to circle back to you very briefly because my children were homeschooled but they’re not homeschooling their children. So how did you choose to homeschool the next generation?
Amanda Capps: 00:11:06.119
So for me, this was kind of a no-brainer. One, because of my own experience, I could just see how much more effective with my time I could be. I was like, “I could send my kids to school, but they’re going to be wasting a lot of time. A lot of their day.” The other thing is I chose to have a large family because I really wanted to have kids. And I wanted to spend time with them. And I wanted to impart good family dynamics and good work ethic and good skills, and so for me, I knew the most effective place. And like Lisa already shared I wanted that camaraderie, that togetherness. I also wanted to offer a superior education, which I feel I can do in this environment. When I was about 10, I went to my mom. It was like it just dawned on me. And I was like, “You could have sent us away. And you could have had eight hours a day to yourself to do whatever you wanted to do.” At that time too, I had a little brother that entered the family. I’m the oldest of five. And this was brother or sibling number four and second brother. And getting to be really involved in the day-to-day with this child, with this baby, with all of his needs, and looking at all of that stuff, it made me want to be a mom. He was the best live baby doll in the whole wide world. And I realized and went to my mom, and I just said, “I would have missed this. I would have missed all of this because I would have been away. I would have been at school.” And again, just like Lisa said, so many times in that environment, the parents and the siblings are kind of, ugh, they’re the enemy. You don’t want to– you’re not cool if you like your family. And I just didn’t ever want that to be an attitude or an experience that our family had.
Gretchen Roe: 00:13:13.874
Absolutely. And I think that that is casting a vision for yourself of what you want it to be is so much more affirmative. Because if you only have a list of what you don’t want, then when the going gets tough, you’re going to start looking for the yellow school bus. And we don’t want you to do that. So we want to encourage you to stay in the game as long as you possibly can. Kim, you had said when we did our note-taking session that it was hard for you to transition to thinking about homeschooling as not being school. So can you talk a little bit about that because I think this is a really valuable portion of our conversation?
Kim Greene: 00:13:57.268
Yeah. If my experience can save anybody from going through it, I’m happy to share. I brought my son home. And being of the mindset of being a former public school teacher, and just that is what school was. That’s what I experienced. That was school. I came home, and I said, “Okay, we’re going to do this.” And I found the curriculums we were going to use. And I found everything. And I set up just a mini classroom. And I remember the one day– he was doing okay with it. But I remember the one day he was sitting there, and we just had a little table, and he literally was laying his back on the table with his book up like this, and his feet were like half on the wall. And I just looked at him. And I was like, “I brought him home to not sit at a desk for eight hours a day. And here I am implementing that in my home.” And so we rearranged things. We changed things. You want to do your work sitting on the sofa, sitting on the floor, laying with the dog, whatever. And then I also started embracing a little bit more of the freedom of being able to do things that he was interested in. Because I looked at it and said, “Okay, you’re in sixth grade. These are the things that you need to learn.” I looked up the state standards, all of those things. And it took me quite a while, probably that last half a year when we started homeschooling. That’s what it was. It was a learning experience for the two of us, figuring things out and figuring out what not to do because homeschooling is not the same as school at home. And there was a tough lesson to learn. But his seventh-grade year, we were much better. [laughter]
Gretchen Roe: 00:15:36.183
And I think that if we have the expectation that it’s a learning journey for ourselves, then we can be a little bit more gracious to ourselves when things don’t quite turn out the way we planned for them to go. Lisa, I know that you taught your kids together. You did a lot of things that were group-oriented. So I wonder if you could give our parents a little bit of vision do I have to teach every subject to every student, or are there ways that we can combine things and make them more of a joy?
Kim Greene: 00:16:10.708
Yeah, for sure. The first year that I homeschooled, we were still living in the town where we had lived since we’d been married. We had friends. We had support and so forth. And then, the second year in, we moved. And we moved out of state, and I knew no one. And I just had a new baby, so I had two little boys and an infant. And I was a little panicked. I will say this. The best thing that I did that year and everything that came after it was to find local support. I found a homeschool support group. And it was the number one thing that made the best difference in our homeschool situation because I had people that had already walked that path. And they were so generous with their information. And so I asked a million questions and got a lot of good information. And I realized I did not have to school every child separately and then dealing with a newborn and all of the transitions and the different things that come into play with that. And so I found out about unit studies, and I thought, “This is marvelous.” My boys had some similar interests and some different interests, and we were able to explore those things. And you can do subjects like history and literature and science and geography through unit studies very well. And so we used that. They did their math and their reading separately according to their own skill levels. And the rest we did together. And then, as the baby grew, she started becoming a part of what we did with those unit studies in those years. And it was really fun. We did field trips. We just had such a great time with that. And they were able, like Kim said, to be able to explore their own interests, find out the things that– we would finish one unit study that was maybe six-week long, and I would go, “What would you guys like to learn about?” And one of them piped up car engines. And so then, we went on that path. And it was just really good. I learned so much [laughter] that I would have never learned otherwise because I was able to explore their own interests as well as some of mine.
Gretchen Roe: 00:18:25.289
Amanda, I’m going to toss a question out here. I know you know the answer to it because you answer this question every day for parents. But is there anything in a group environment that needs to be taught individually as far as making it the best experience for kids?
Amanda Capps: 00:18:43.377
Absolutely. You need to teach math separately because each child needs the opportunity to kind of thrive and be in their own place for that subject. Spelling needs to be taught individually. And then, if you’re getting a child reading, [laughter] that needs to be done one on one. So I tell people all the time that think of a stool. Think of a three-legged stool, and your math, your writing, and your reading are the three legs. And then everything else can really fall into place or be unit studied-base or be group-based, but those are really the ones that are the key. And without one of those legs, [laughter] you’re going to fall off.
Gretchen Roe: 00:19:37.522 Right.
And that is really true. So if we can set that tone in the parents who are going to watch this or listen to this podcast and you’re thinking about, “Okay. So what are all the things that I need to do?” Amanda’s kind of outlined it for you. She said math. She said reading. She said spelling in compositional writing. And beyond that, like Lisa has said everything can grow out of a unit study. Kim, I’d like you to talk a little bit about you started with your eldest child. And we often counsel parents, “Start with the oldest child in mind.” How did that work in your family? Because you didn’t bring both kids home at once, right? You did this in incremental steps. And I think it’s really good for parents to know, you don’t have to bite the whole apple at once.
Kim Greene: 00:20:27.550
It did. So my oldest, we’ve homeschooled him for a full school year. That 7th grade year for him, it was just homeschooling him. My daughter was still thriving in elementary school. And she loved it. And she had no interest in coming home. And then there was a new math program that came through our county, and she was really struggling. And at that point, she saw her brother at home, and she was like, “Oh, in fourth grade, I want to come home too.” So we kind of did a little test run with her, and she was like, “Yep, this is for me.” And so that next year is when I started homeschooling the two of them together. And there were some things that we did together. We kept science separate because they both had total different interests when it came to science. Math was separate just because they’re three years apart and definitely some different abilities happening there. And the same with writing and reading and things like that. But there were reading things that we did together. We sat on the sofa and read similar books together. Some social studies books, different things of interest and stuff like that. But yeah, it was not all at the same time, which was nice for me because I kind of got used to it with one. But then in other ways, it was totally different because what I expected it to be with for her, she’s a total different person. And so things I had done with him, it didn’t work for her. And so it was still a learning curve learning what works for him, what works for her, and balancing the two at the same time.
Gretchen Roe: 00:21:53.087
So tell me a little bit about that. How did you strike a balance so you weren’t turning yourself into a pretzel trying to meet two entirely different sets of needs with two different kids?
Kim Greene: 00:22:04.792
It was a balance. And it was a daily attempt at a balance. Because at the same time, I had a home daycare, so I also had 8 kids under the age of 5 that were not my own kids. So finding that balance of when things could get done, what they could do independently. Nap time was our biggest time to spend some time together and do things. But there were days where we just needed time together. Sharing a home and sharing your mom with other kids is hard. And so sometimes that nap time would be the three of us sitting down quietly while the rest of the kids were napping and playing a game together. So it was a balance in trying to figure out what worked for the two of them. And jumping back and forth physically, I think was the hardest part. Working with him and figuring out, “Okay, if I get you started on this, then I can get you started on that,” and then jumping back and forth physically between the two, I think was the hardest part.
Gretchen Roe: 00:22:59.218
And so Lisa, I want you to get ready because I want you to talk about how you established routine. But before I do that, I would like Amanda and Kim to talk about being a working homeschool mom because I know we have more and more women today who are doing that. And I did that. We did school from 8 to 3. And if you’re going to, as my dad used to say, “Ferhoodle” around and not get your stuff done, it became your homework because mom had to go to work at 3. And so that was a different environment. But tell me ladies, what are the things that you did to make it possible to work and homeschool? And both of you are still doing that, so I know you’ve got some rich information to share with parents. Amanda, we’ll start with you.
Amanda Capps: 00:23:51.473
So I think for me, that was probably the biggest advantage of being a second-generation homeschooler because I didn’t come into this with any preconceived idea of what it was supposed to look like, or that you can only school between the hours of 8:00 and 3:00 or whatever that– the traditional, what we think of the school day, right? So I’ll be honest. I have kids that they’re not functioning before 10 AM. I will literally be wasting my time and my breath to try and get them going on something before 10 o’clock in the morning. But then I also have kids that are morning people and bright and early and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed like their mother. And those kids, I can go ahead and get started. And so I think a lot of– the biggest word that I can think of is just flexible. You’ve got to be flexible, and you’ve got to recognize and know your kids well enough to know what is going to be successful for which kid. So some of my teens, they prefer to do schoolwork in the late afternoon or evening. That’s when they’re getting their second wind, and they’re really perking up. [laughter] And my littles are up at 6:30. So you’ve just got to kind of balance that. And then we school year round to make up for the fact that I work, and that we have kind of a crazy lifestyle. My husband is a first responder so that impacts our schedule. And then I also had to acknowledge that I literally, physically can’t do it all. So my mother comes and helps one day a week, and then we have a friend who is a homeschooler that I grew up with who all of her children are raised and grown, and she comes over and helps one day a week. And so with that all put together in the mix we’re successful.
Gretchen Roe: 00:25:39.650
Absolutely. Kim. How does it work in your household? And I know your kids are teenagers, so you could and can offer guidance and then set them on a course. So how does that work?
Kim Greene: 00:25:51.954
Now I can. But back when they were younger and when we first started out, my home daycare was just with teacher families. So we had summers off. And so during the school years, when we did the majority of things, we had that routine. I did find preparation on my end was key. If the night before I had everything set to go it made for a much smoother day the next day. I don’t have morning people as children, and I’m not a morning person. So it kind of worked out. My kids got to sleep in a little bit. I would do everything I did with my preschoolers, and then I would jump in with my kids while the little preschoolers were having their free play and things like that. And so we developed a routine that kind of worked around everything that worked for us. But it also allowed us in the summertime– if we got the core stuff done during the school year the summertime was field trips, exploring interests, going swimming, doing all the fun things that we really couldn’t do a lot of during the school year because I was tied to the house.
Kim Greene: 00:26:52.420
And So that’s how our school year routine looked. Now it’s completely different. They are much more independent. My son’s senior year was basically just dual enrollment. So I had no parts in anything, which was a little hard to let go of. But my daughter, she’s back to homeschooling now. She did attend public school for 9th and 10th grade and decided halfway through 10th grade last year this was not for her, and she came back so I listened to her on that. But I’m putting together everything for her for 11th grade, and she’s very excited because most of it’s going to be independent, and that’s how she functions. But it’s also tailored to her. She loves to read. So the English that we’re going to do is literature-based. And she is going to just thrive with that, I think. And so she’s excited. I hope that excitement stays. But it’s nice that you can do that independence and still be able to be a part of things.
Gretchen Roe: 00:27:45.362
Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think you said something that’s really important that I want parents to remember, is you had to teach that independence. It doesn’t happen overnight. And it happens differently with every child. My eldest son couldn’t be left alone to do a single math problem until his senior year of high school, or maybe halfway through his senior year of high school. And then we rocked along to his youngest brother and when he was in fourth grade, he said, “How about you give me a list? And I’ll let you know if I need you.” Different kids, different needs. Lisa, I love what you say about homeschool routine and how you plan for that routine. And in fact, if any of you have heard me speak at a public function, you know that I steal Lisa’s good words here. So we’re going to talk about how you set routine and how you created community in your household.
Lisa Chimento: 00:28:47.844
Yeah. And this was one of those things that was shared with me by that wonderful homeschool group that I found when we had moved that second year. Got together and some brilliant woman said, “Plan your school day around your meals.” And it was like a lightning bolt to me because what I had already started experiencing was we would get going with school and kind of get caught up into it and totally miss– I would miss meal time. I would miss that they were getting hungry. And then I would start to see it in behavior because they were hungry, and they were grouchy and grumpy. And then I’d be scrambling to try to pull something together. And it just really didn’t make for a good day. And when I heard this, it made me realize that I could do just that. So I began to say, “We are going to eat lunch at this time each day. We’re going to eat dinner at this time each day.” And so I would plan the school day around that. And half an hour before I wanted to put lunch on the table, we would stop whatever we were doing. And, “Okay, you guys, just put your stuff away and somebody helped me set the table.” And I get that out. And it was such a pleasant time because no blood sugar was dropping, and I didn’t have a bunch of hangry kids. And it just made for a beautiful, peaceful day that way. And it was really lovely. And when they’re young, of course, you’re not even going the whole day schooling. For the most part, you tend to be done before lunch when you’ve got just a couple of little ones. But then once they get older, you are sometimes going into the afternoons. But that’s what we did. We planned our days around our meals, and it made everything better. I would give them schedules to do in the morning. Once they could read, I would write their schedule and what was expected. They had to make their bed, they had to go in and dress and wash themselves and put whatever away. And then we would get started. Before reading, I would draw pictures of it, and then they would be able to look at those pictures each day, a little toothbrush to remind them to brush their teeth. And so it was really, really– it really worked out beautifully. And that one thing made a tremendous amount of difference to just plan my day around my meals.
Gretchen Roe: 00:31:04.563
I had the privilege of doing a webinar two weeks ago with Dorinda Wilson, who is the author of The Unhurried Homeschooler. Thank you, Amanda, again, for connecting Dorinda and I. And she said something so valuable. I keep sharing it because it’s amazing. She said, “You can’t expect what you don’t inspect.” So as parents, it really is important for us to be on top of the things that we ask of our children. You said, Lisa, you gave him a list of, “Here’s what I expect you to do.” And I’m sure that you came back around to that list several times during the day. Amanda, now seems like the perfect time to talk about, when you home educate, it’s not all books and papers. And so, can you talk a little bit about what counts as school in the Capps household.
Amanda Capps: 00:31:59.400
Absolutely. So I think sometimes we get in this mindset that if we’re not sitting at a table and we’re not filling out a workbook or solving equations or that type of thing, that somehow we’re not doing school. We’re not doing academics. But the reality is there’s a lot of the day-to-day tasks of keeping a family and a home running that can double as academic work as long as you know how to classify it and how to quantify it. A perfect examples are cooking. In our family, because we are a family of ten total, we’re never going to just make a single recipe ever. It’s not going to happen. We’re going to double, triple or quadruple the recipe. Well, you’re dealing with fractions, right? And some of my children have learning challenges. And so I have learned if I don’t want to waste a bunch of ingredients on a recipe that didn’t actually get read all the way through by my dyslexic kiddos, that they are going to read it out loud to me first and we are going to gather all of the ingredients. And we’re going to make sure that they’ve actually processed. I mean, I don’t even think parents even realize that following directions is a major skill and it’s really a necessity. And it doesn’t matter if you’re reading the directions on a worksheet or you’re reading the directions in a recipe or you’re figuring out how to remove a stain from something.
Amanda Capps: 00:33:30.142
The other thing that technology has really opened up for us is you can YouTube it, right? So not everybody wants to give their children free reign of the internet, but under supervision and on certain devices, those things can be invaluable for your kiddos that maybe wouldn’t be successful with traditional written instructions or a written list. You can give them a voice memo. You can have them look up how to do something on Pinterest or on YouTube. And they can take that initiative in responsibility and be successful and feel accomplished. And so those are all ways you know, cooking, laundry, budgeting, meal planning, cleaning, all of those things can be academic tasks as well and be counted as such.
Gretchen Roe: 00:34:21.381
Kim, how did you– when you transitioned from being responsible for all of the academics to transitioning for Andrew to be responsible for his own academics, how did that go? What did those conversations look like? Because I know we’ve got moms in the audience today who would want to know how you started to set that up. Was it an all or nothing thing or was a little bit at a time and you moved him that direction?
Kim Greene: 00:34:50.694
I think the biggest game changer for me was I took a course in executive functioning. And up until then, it was really frustrating me because to me, if somebody said, go do this, I’ve done it so many times I know what to do. And I had those expectations for my kids, but I needed to scale it back and make sure that I was setting the precedents for them with those directions following directions like Amanda said. It is a skill set. And you’re not born with that skill set. So I did like Lisa said, I’m just thinking back to the little charts and things I had for my kids when they were little. My son was never good with routine. If you talk to him now, he is my by routine kid. And the reasoning for that is because I took that executive functioning course. And he knew every morning he had a little flip book with pictures, and this is what I need to do in the morning before school. Those sorts of things. So I tackled it in the same way as he got older as I did when he was little, minus the pictures. And basically, it was, okay, for this subject, here’s what the expectations are. And he literally would have to check off the checkboxes and go down the steps and read them out loud to me because he was my kid that if there was a set of directions for something, he totally spaced out on that and just looked at whatever below and did his own thing. And so it was just training him to, okay, there are directions. There’s a reason for these directions, and you need to pay attention and make sure that you understand the directions. So I would have him read the directions, summarize the directions in his own words. And then go and do it. And then we would check in and say, “Okay, this is great.” And I just slowly gradually started giving him more and more freedom with that. But we did start very, very small.
Gretchen Roe: 00:36:34.276
And I love that because what you said about we as adults make assumptions about what kids have capacities to do, and sometimes we’re setting them up for failure because we’ve taken our adult expectations and tried to transfer it onto them without doing it incrementally. Lisa, when we were in our planning session, you said something that was really so valuable in talking about the encouragement of knowing you’ve been educating your child the whole time, now you’re just going to formalize that process. Can you talk a little bit about that? I think that’s really good advice.
Lisa Chimento: 00:37:16.740
So yeah. I think that parents sometimes they think it of themselves, and sometimes unfortunately they’ve been made to feel this way, that they are not qualified to teach their own children. And I encourage you to take a little while and sit down and think about the things that your child has learned from you. Maybe they’re just two or three or four years old, but they have learned a great deal. You have taught them, I made a list, how to talk. You’ve taken them through their first steps. You taught them how to eat food properly instead of like an animal. You taught them how to dress themselves and how to pick out clothes and think about little things like what matches and what doesn’t and what’s the right thing to wear on a certain weather day.
Lisa Chimento: 00:38:05.758
You taught them how to bathe themselves, how to navigate in your home, how to navigate your neighborhood, how to navigate in your town. You’ve taught them how to communicate with other people. Hopefully, how to share with people and how to resolve conflict. And all of these things are skills. They are life skills that go far beyond school years, and they’re so valuable. They’re going to make a lasting impact on that student for the rest of their lives and in the relationships that they have. You are qualified. You know them, and you love them better than anyone else on this earth. And it doesn’t mean that you have to be an expert at everything. You can be the one who finds the experts if you need to, to bring to them.
Lisa Chimento: 00:38:55.653
But you have the ability to say, this is what I want for my child, and this is what I don’t want for my child, and I’m going to make sure that I give them the best that I can give them. And you can go out and find the resources. I think the thing to think about is that this is an opportunity for you to be on a lifelong journey yourself as a parent, a journey of learning about your own children in a way that you perhaps wouldn’t learn about them if they were away from you most days of the week and a way to have a relationship with them and learn for yourself. I have learned so many things myself from my children, things that I wouldn’t have known if I had not been with them every day through all of those years. They’re different than I am. They process things differently than I do. And so I have learned so much from them that way. I think it’s an opportunity for us as adults to be able to put away those fears. There are going to be challenges for sure, but you are qualified to take on those challenges. And if you can find people around you to support you, then you have a source of encouragement and information that goes far and wide.
Gretchen Roe: 00:40:14.134
Absolutely. And you said something very valuable, and Amanda said this as well. And I think Kim alluded to this as well. We can’t do it ourselves. We cannot do all of these things that are expected of us all by ourselves. So we have to figure out what our support system looks like, who that support system might be. And your support system might be different at different ages. I wanted to turn my attention a little bit to some of the questions the moms had asked because I think this one says something really important. And so, Amanda, I’m going to hit you up for this one because I know this is a truism in your household. And this mom was looking for a realistic perspective regarding her decision to homeschool a child with learning disabilities. So what could you say to encourage her?
Amanda Capps: 00:41:10.970
I think a lot of parents come into the homeschool arena because they feel like maybe the teachers, or the school, or the school district doesn’t have the resources, or is just passing their child along. And as a parent, they just know in their heart and they know in their gut, this is not helping my child. This is not what my child needs. And so, they kind of start their homeschooling journey like a deer in the headlights. Like, oh, what do I do? How do I even begin to start? And so, the main thing is, if you know your child’s struggles, look for ways to help them be successful. And you have all kinds of tools and resources at your disposal. The other thing is network. Find other families. Find other moms who are currently in the trenches. Who have kids that are dyslexic, but they’re fluent readers or they’re successful and say, what did you do? What did you use? It may not necessarily work for your child, but it will maybe get you going in the right direction and eventually you’ll find that resource that really does click and work for your child. The other thing, too, that I would encourage parents is I think sometimes we get very focused on what their peers are doing, what they’re able to do. And I think sometimes we see– not that there aren’t very literal challenges that these kids have in their processing, visual, auditory, whatever that looks like. But I also think that they can really– I just lost my train of thought. Darn it. Where was I going with that? Anyway, I think you can– oh, comparing. You can really compare and yet, letting a child get to the place where they get a little more maturity. They may not have that skill at six, but they’ve got it at nine. And somehow your kid isn’t failing if they’re getting it at nine versus six. That doesn’t automatically discount them or make them late or behind. We definitely want to have expectations, and goals, and things that we’re trying to meet. The other thing, too, is I think sometimes parents get in the trap when you have a learning challenged child of, well, we just need to take all of this away, or we don’t need to do that because it’s hard for them. And I would ask you to really self-reflect and go, wait a minute. Do you like everything that you do? Do you love doing 10 loads of laundry a day? Do you love cleaning a toilet? No, we do those tasks, we do those things, because it’s the responsible thing to do. And adults are real good at doing things that they don’t often love or like. And so, we would be doing our children a real disservice if somehow we give them the idea that, “Oh, well, if it’s hard or you have to work harder at it or it’s not something that you enjoy, you don’t have to do it at all.”
Gretchen Roe: 00:44:12.293
Right. And you said something that was really important. And I think all four of us would reiterate this in the conversations that we’ve had with parents. If we could encourage you to lose one word from your vocabulary, it’s behind. Whatever the reason for your homeschool journey, we want you to know that your child is exactly where they are, and it’s your goal to bring them forward successfully into the next stage of their life. And that means they’re not behind anyone. They’re just with you and that’s a huge difference-maker for kids. Because when we say, “Oh, this is little Owen, and Owen is behind in math.” What Owen hears is that he’s deficient in something. So instead, if you can say, “This is my child. And this is Owen and Owen loves everything to do with Minecraft and national parks and skateboarding,” that changes the conversation for those kids,” it makes a tremendous amount of difference. I’m going to throw this one out to the three of you all because I giggled when I read it, but I shouldn’t have giggled because I know exactly where this mama’s heart is coming from and it says, “I’m currently homeschooling my team. And I struggle sometimes.” And I know you guys know what that means because teams are their own brand of crazy. So can you all each offer a good piece of advice to a mom who is homeschooling a teenager? Kim, I’ll start with you.
Kim Greene: 00:45:48.466
I knew you were going to. It’s easy to really want to be patient. It is really difficult to practice that patients. And there have been many days where I just want to lose my mind. But instead, I have to stop and pause and I have to remind myself that during the teen years, there’s a lot going on. They’re trying to figure out their place in the world. They’re trying to figure out self-acceptance. There’s some hormones involved in there you know. It’s just there’s a lot going on. There’s a lot of developing that’s happening behind the scenes and a lot of growth that you might not see, but instead, you see a behavior that you don’t like. So there have been many, many times where I have to just approach my kids and say, “Okay, hold on. Let’s set the school stuff aside. What’s going on? What is really the issue? And yeah, math is frustrating you right now. What is really going on? “And it might lead to an hour-long conversation in a cup of teens and cookies and okay, now we feel better. And then we just pause and come back to math the next day. Realizing that a lot of times for teenagers, the emotional needs, sometimes have to come before the curriculum and the whatever you’re teaching them for school that day.
Gretchen Roe: 00:47:06.056
Great words. And I love it. And so Lisa, I know you have something to add to that too. I see you taking notes and rehearsing. So you won’t forget, so.
Lisa Chimento: 00:47:17.574
Yeah. One thing that I learned and unfortunately, I learned it a little late on my older ones will tell you, things change. As you get to the third and fourth kids, you start doing some things a little differently because we learn too, that some things work and some things don’t. And so I learned to ask more questions instead of doing more telling. And I think it’s helpful because a lot of time, a child – no matter how old they are – don’t even know that something is going on until somebody asks them a very specific and pointed question. The other thing is, that specific and pointed question probably will not bear as much fruit if you are trying to do it in the heat of a moment where emotions are high and stress and anxiety are high. So at those moments, find a way to just de-escalate and let things settle down until it’s a more teachable communicative moment. And then say, “Okay, I realize something went really badly there. So let me ask you some questions. What were you feeling? What was going on,” and so forth. One thing that I have learned in regular communication with parents of teens and with the teenagers themselves, who are struggling maybe with higher level math material, is that when you don’t understand something, and I think this is true for adults. When we feel stuck on something, we feel we’re lacking understanding in something, and there’s a dread of doing it. And when we’re being forced to do it, we push back. And for a student who is having to be in school, this is the law. They have to be educated, and you are making them do their schoolwork and they don’t get it. It’s going to come out in all kinds of terrible ways. And words like, “I hate this,” and “I’m stupid,” and “I don’t know why I have to learn this.” Those kinds of things get spoken. And it usually isn’t because they hate it, or they think they’re stupid, or maybe they do, but maybe they’re being made to feel that way because the thing is, they just don’t understand it. And so it may need to be taken back a couple of steps to go, “Okay, did we miss something here? Did we miss some prerequisite material that will support you understanding this now?” And so I think those kinds of questions need to be considered. And I think it’s all part of learning how to be a student of your children.
Amanda Capps: 00:49:50.771
So I think we hear a lot these days about emotional intelligence and the teen years are a great time– because let me tell you, if they’re not coming to you, they’re figuring it out somewhere. And I would much rather have my kids feel safe and feel comfortable to come to me and ask those questions, the embarrassing questions, the difficult questions, the things that they’re struggling with, the things that they are excited about, I would rather them come and have those conversations with me than to go ask Google or to go ask their friends or just whatever. And so I think cultivating an environment where just lively discussion is safe. And sometimes it’s astounding as a parent to throw a controversial topic out there, and then listen to what they really think about it. Find out what they really know, or where they may have misconceptions or misinformation and be like, “Well, wait a minute.” And so it just gives this opportunity for dialog and relationship building and all of those wonderful things. I mean, sometimes those are the best times and the best memories. Trust me, they’re not going to remember their math homework, but they’re definitely going to remember those conversations.
Gretchen Roe: 00:51:16.512
Absolutely. Absolutely. This is why I love doing what I do because I knew the three of you would have three perspectives that were incredibly invaluable to parents to be able to understand. And there comes a day in everybody’s homeschool journey where you’re like, “Why did I do this? Somebody tell me why I have lost my mind to do this.” And sometimes those are the days when you need to close the book and just reconnect. Like Kim said cookies and a cup of tea or a thought of maybe we could do this differently. I’m amazed at the number of conversations I have with parents when I say, “So you’re getting pushback from an 8-, 9-, 10-, 12-, 14-, 16-year old. Have you asked them why? and so often it– we’re so used to parenting that we forget that collaborative aspect and I think it makes all the difference in the world. I can’t believe we’re almost to the end of our time together because I just knew you guys would be full of a lot of wonderful things and you have more than delivered on this so we’re going to– I’m going to ask one more question of each of you and then I’m going to ask you all for closing thoughts and that is this mom really ask I think a terrific question which is how do you make your homeschooling journey a peaceful homeschooling journey? So and I know you guys might need to think about that. I’ll give my answer to that and that is to be the best student of your child. As you prepare for this journey, they’re going to teach you far more than you’re going to teach them and I would suggest that you really invest your time in getting to know them, getting to know what they love, getting to know what they dislike, getting to know what energizes them, and how to bring that out in them. And ladies, we’ll play the alphabet game again. Amanda, let’s start with you.
Amanda Capps: 00:53:21.331
I found a lot of valuable insights in the love languages actually knowing you know the ways that my children accept and feel loved. I think that you know is a great piece to the puzzle and keeping things peaceful. I have children that it means the world to them if I’ve been away and I bring them a little something, a little gift. Other kids, they really need me to sit next to them and maybe put my arm around them or hold their hand while we’re doing– because their love language is physical touch or for others, it’s like, mom, can you do this for me? Can you make this happen? Because acts of service or sometimes they just need you to be there and they need that quality time. So knowing that. Birth order is another one. We all know if you have more than one child there’s some fun things going on with birth order. So that can be a really great way just kind of being aware of their place and where they fit in the family and all of that. And then the only other thing that I would say is I think where we get into the most trouble with our kids is when we make assumptions. I have heard so many parents say, well, he’s just lazy. He’s just unmotivated. He just doesn’t have any drive. And I’m like, it’s just– it’s crushing to me. It’s like, oh, my goodness. Oh, don’t say that out loud because the reality is they’re probably trying really hard. And so I think if we can assume that everyone is giving their best effort and if we feel like there’s something lacking, we have that conversation that can really make a world of difference. Gretchen Roe: 00:55:01.079
Kim Greene: 00:55:04.699
I think for me, the keyword is flexibility and being able to let go of control, especially as your kids get older. And that’s just a life skill for them. It’s really difficult for a mom when you have been in control of everything from day one to step back and let them take the reins for certain things. That’s just a parenting skill in itself but it does have to extend to homeschool too. And then being able to listen to them and what their needs are and what their interests are. And being able to listen to them if you know what, today, I need a break, mom. I’m having difficulty with this friendship and I’m just mentally stressed out. And listening to your child for that. And I think the other thing is to stop comparing. I know when I first started out, there are some very lovely blogs out there of these homeschool mamas that are doing it phenomenal and they’re beautiful and they’re great but they’re not my family. So being able to look at those things and say I really like what that person’s doing. I like that person’s doing, I might be able to tweak and work that for my kids’ needs. But my homeschool is not going to look like their homeschool because they have a whole different dynamic that I do. So yeah, just being able to look at it for your kids, sometimes you have to put the blinders on because it can be really overwhelming when you see Jane C homeschooler over here that has the best setup and the best of everything. And she’s got chaotic days too. They might not make it to social media, but they have chaotic days too. So it’s okay. Embrace those days, work through them, and then the next day is a new day.
Gretchen Roe: 00:56:43.151
Yeah. Really, Lisa.
Lisa Chimento: 00:56:46.874
I think the conversations with your children are really important. And even when they’re young to be able to go, “What did you think about this? How did you like the way we did this?” And get feedback and listen. And because then you can come to some agreements. You might have an idea about what you’d like to be doing, what curriculum to use, what schedule to have, what things to participate in, and your kids might have a really different idea. And I think it’s important to have those conversations and come to agreements ahead of time. And it might need to be some compromise on both of your parts.
Gretchen Roe: 00:57:22.271
Absolutely. I tell you what, these ladies are full of wisdom and if you ever call Demme Learning and you’re looking for support in your journey, you might get the opportunity to talk to one of them. I hope you do because it will be a life-changing conversation. I think my piece of advice to you is to get a simple $2 notebook. And use that notebook in an affirmative way. It’s very easy for us to find things in society that drag us down. And if I had an individual conversation with anybody who is watching this or listening to it, you could tell me the most difficult thing that happened in the last week. It’s easy to recall that. It’s harder to recall the things that bring us joy and bring us contentment and are fun and funny. But I promise you, there will come a day in your homeschooling journey when you’re going to need to refill your cup. And if your notebook has things that have been fun and funny and encouraging, it will be an easy way to refill that cup. So make that a habit for yourself. Being able to note the wonderful things that happen as this journey unfolds for you. I want to thank you, ladies, for joining me. I’m very grateful for all of you. And I can’t believe we have finished this hour so quickly. You guys are so full of wisdom, and I hope everyone who has listened to this finds that to be the same because these ladies truly make the journey here at Demme Learning a fantastic one. This is Gretchen Roe for the Demme Learning show. Thanks for joining us. You can access the show notes and watch the recording at DemmeLearning.com/Show or on our YouTube channel. Be sure to rate, review, subscribe wherever you may be hearing this, especially if you really enjoyed it. Thanks again for joining us and we’ll look forward to having you in our living rooms again very soon. Take care, everyone.
Amanda Capps: 00:59:18.354
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What does it take to homeschool? A determination and a perseverance. It doesn’t require you to be a teacher. It requires you to be a student of your students. Knowing what invigorates them, causes them stress, challenges them, and motivates them, are the best indicators of whether or not you will be successful.
The first questions we can ask:
- Why are you choosing to homeschool?
- What are your desires for yourself?
- What do you want for your student?
Answering these questions is about what you want, not what you don’t want.
We answered many of the following questions in the episode, but here are some of them as food for thought as you continue your exploration into homeschooling:
- How do you manage your time?
- How much time do you have to devote to your child’s education?
- How important are the academics for you?
- How much are extracurriculars an influence for you?
- Where does your willingness to “swim against the stream” lie?
- Is this decision being made for a season, or for the remainder of your child’s academics?
- How important is a community to you? Do you want your child involved with others?
- What kind of support do you have in your family or social circle?
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