Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S - Meet Sandi

Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S!

Real Moms, who face different Obstacles and Challenges as they homeschool their kids, yet put their trust in their King, Jesus Christ, and Stand firm in what the Lord has called them too!

Since today is the first day of summer, I wanted to start the Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S series. I will be posting a new conversation each week (every Wednesday) throughout the summer! I hope you are blessed and encouraged by this!  I am starting out with a very "seasoned" homeschool mom, Sandi Queen!

Queen Family
Me: "Sandi, thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to chit chat with you about your homeschooling experience! I'm excited to be interviewing a "seasoned" homeschool mom!

Sandi: Thank you for giving me this opportunity, Andrea.

Me: "Can you share a little about your family and how many years exactly you have been homeschooling?  Is this a decision you have always known you would do or is it a decision you made unexpectedly?"

Sandi: The Lord led us to homeschool our children when our firstborn, Kiley, was 7 months old. She will turn 26 this October. Our three daughters have all graduated from homeschooling and work full-time for our publishing company, Queen Homeschool Supplies, while I am still homeschooling our three sons. Since our youngest, Jeremiah, is just ten, I've got awhile to go yet!

I began reading to our first child when she was born. When we were at a friend's house one evening, I was reading to Kiley (our 7 month old) and Tara, her 3 year old daughter. When I finished, I said to my friend, "Just think - before you know it, she'll be going off to school!" My friend's response was, "No, my kids are never going to school. I'm going to homeschool them." I began the barrage of questions that, a few years later, became common questions asked to me by others - "What's THAT?" "Is that legal?" "How do you get started?" It's funny how things turned out. My friend never did homeschool her children. But her words stuck in my mind and my heart. I just knew this was the Lord's will for our family. Once my husband agreed, I was set. At 7 months of age, Kiley officially became a homeschooler. Seven months later, her sister Casey entered the world and became our second student. Since I've read to them and taught them since birth, I believe that's when homeschooling begins. And since learning is a natural process, even after graduation, it never really ends.

Me: "If you could name your top 5 favorite things you love about homeschooling your children, what would they be?"

Sandi: Hmmm...there are so many. I guess I would summarize my favorites as these:

1. The ability to be absolutely certain that what my children are learning is in accordance with God's Word. The Bible is most important, and we live our lives with It as our Guidebook. Since we write or publish all materials our children use for school, I know with all certainty that they are not being exposed to things that would be contradictory to our beliefs as Christians.

2. Togetherness. We live in a very rural area. The schoolbus picks our neighbor children up while it is still dark outside, and drops them off just as it is getting dark again. I can't imagine, nor would I want to experience, my children being away for that length of time every day!

3. Flexibility. Whether it's traveling to conventions to sell our books, performing musically for another church or church camp, riding in a bicycle race, or even just dealing with a health or extended family crisis - all things we've experienced, homeschooling allows us the flexibility to focus on these things while still getting our schooling in.

4. Time to focus on interests. Most of our kids are heavily involved in our church's music ministry. Several play musical instruments to accompany other singers, as well as singing together as a group, and also being part of various choirs and ensembles. They have played and sung at Christian camps and other churches, as well as at nursing homes. All this requires much practice, which requires much time. Since this is the Lord's work, it is of utmost importance to us as a family. Homeschooling affords them the time to practice during the day as often as necessary, as well as the ability to go to a funeral service and play the music for the grieving family without having to worry about missing school.

5. Being able to focus on educational interests and work at our own pace. Every child is different, and has different interests. Our son Luke spends hours some days making hand-made paracord bracelets, which he sells on our website and at conventions. He is learning new knots for different designs all the time, and custom makes bracelets all the time for people who have specific requests. He just picked up this interest one day and has gone with it. Our daughter Casey has been designing book covers and doing editing work for other publishers as well as for us since she was in high school. Homeschooling has allowed them to pursue interests such as these without being forced to sit in a classroom doing busywork for hours each day. It has allowed them the opportunities to do REAL things that they are interested in, and to see how their skills can be used in the world.

Me: "I know you have faced some challenges over the years in the midst of homeschooling your children. How did you make homeschooling work during those more difficult seasons?"

Sandi: Yes, our youngest son, Jeremiah, was diagnosed with cancer at age 3. He was in treatment for 3 1/2 years, every single day. That was 7 years ago, and he is still on a protocol every day. These things not only take much time, but they add a heavy stress burden to a family. Being away in the hospital with him for weeks, having to travel to our "local" hospital (2 hours away) weekly for spinal taps and chemo, having a visiting nurse come daily for chemo administrations, dealing with a 3 year old with a needle inserted into his chest which must remain for 3 weeks without getting bumped or rolled over on, and so much more, definitely takes it's toll. But homeschooling allowed us to be able to continue getting schoolwork done during this time, as well as to still be able to be there for each other. My other kids were there, every step of the way. They were there to hold Jeremiah's hand while the visiting nurse attached the IV bag to his mediport. They were able to make the 4 hour round trip to the hospital and back each week (and later, each month) with us, keeping Jeremiah from being afraid, as they joked and laughed with him in the backseat, discussing where we would go for dinner after the hospital visit. They were there when, after a spinal tap with chemo shot into his spinal column, he threw up in Walmart from chemo-induced nausea, and when he laid, nauseous from yet another of these same procedures, across my lap at his favorite restaurant, unable to even think about food, while the rest of us ate.
So many lessons were learned that they would have missed, had they been sequestered away in their separate schoolrooms in their separate schools, while my husband and I took care of Jeremiah alone. I have written a book, "Homeschooling Through Adversity," which is also available on CD, which tells how the Lord brought us through this time, and another book, "Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death: One Family's Journey Through Childhood Cancer," which chronicles the day to day life we lived during the 5 year time period beginning with Jeremiah's diagnosis. There is way too much to share here! But, in a nutshell, homeschooling during this time allowed our family to grieve the loss of Jeremiah's health and the loss of having a "regular," healthy family together, and to support each other. Though some of the day to day things my children saw and experienced during those times were indeed scary to them, I know it would have been far more frightening to them had they been away from home for ten or so hours each day, and had no idea what was going on with their little brother. 

Me: "You have had several of your children graduate already. Was it as hard as some might think to homeschool during the high school years? What are children, who have graduated, doing now with their lives?"

Sandi: Homeschooling through high school was actually easier than when our children were younger. The books we publish, written for our children, are based on the Charlotte Mason method. We have always used living books as a base, and have been big on teaching the children to find out "why." I wrote a book for them, "Learning How to Learn," which is a curriculum that teaches the user how to use research materials, so that they are equipped to find out whatever in life they want to know. From the beginning, once they could read, they were required to do daily research. Our history program, "A Living History of Our World," science series, "Discovering Nature," and geography series, "Bringing the World to Life," as well as our Bible studies, all require the child to research and find out things, then record their answers in their own words. I believe that's why our kids are so strong in learning how to do new things. They have been trained from an early age how to find things out!
We have six pretty amazing kids. :o) All have become authors when they were still being homeschooled. Jeremiah, at age 10, is now writing his first series of books with his two older brothers, which will be published within the next year. They all earn royalties on the sales of their books, which in part encourages them to find out new things and write even more. Our daughters who have graduated continue to work for us, running the office, dealing with wholesale accounts, running the warehouse, attending conventions, as well as developing and creating new products. They write books, proofread and edit, and design covers. Our daughters Casey and Haley are avid photographers, and have taken many of the photographs used in our books and on the covers. Casey has done book covers for other publishers as well, and also edits for others. Kiley most recently wrote two of the volumes in our "Discovering Nature" series, including the best-selling, "Our Animal Friends." And Haley is working on an art history program for publication. 

Me: "What advice would you give to any mom who is just starting out with homeschooling or contemplating the idea??

Sandi: Pray! Seek the Lord's direction for your family. 

Me: "Thank you so much for giving of your time to answer my questions.  Your years of experience with homeschooling is going to be such an encouragement for other moms!"

Sandi: Thank you again, Andrea, for the honor of being interviewed. I pray my words will be the blessing and catalyst that some family needs to begin their homeschool journey.

Just in case you missed it: Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S - Introduction

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  1. Loved the interview with Sandi and reading her story. What a wonderful inspiration of her home school journey.

    I'm so proud of you for the decision you and Sam have made to home school your children (my grandchildren). Love, Mom

  2. I have never heard of or met the Queens before, but I can see I have been missing out! Wonderful interview.