|Minda and her family!|
Minda: "I am glad to have this opportunity to chat with you"
Me: "I'd love for you to share a little about you, your family, and what sort of things you all enjoy doing together"
Minda: "My husband and I have a large blended family. Together we have 10 children currently between 2 and 12 and "yes" we want more. We like to be with each other, which is good considering there are so many of us! We live in a small town in the Pacific North West right at the water. We like going down to the waterfront, playing in the woods behind our house, getting together with friends, and consuming as much pizza as possible. (hahaha)
Me: "Have you always known you wanted to homeschool or are you what they call an 'accidental' homeschooler?"
Minda: "I have always known that I wanted to homeschool. As a young teenager I was greatly influenced by several homeschooling families. I made the decision in highschool to be homeschooled myself and always knew I wanted to homeschool my children as well.
Me: "Have any of your children ever attended Public/Private School? What are the reasons you have chosen to homeschool? How long have you been doing it for?"
Minda: "Well, Currently, being a blended family, three of the ten go to public school, although we would prefer it if we could homeschool them. Our oldest child attended preschool for about 6 months and the rest of the time/rest of the children have been solely homeschooled. I have however homeschooled in 4 different states "under the radar", private affidavit, and charter schools. Our oldest is going into 8th grade so we have been homeschooling now going on 9 years. Our reasons for homeschooling... well there are soooo many! Hmmm... trying to put it into one sentence.... God gave these children to us and the best way that we can steward this gift of children is to be the ones who raise/train them in all areas, educational, spiritual, emotional, etc. We could not facilitate that to the best of our ability if we were sending them off to be raised/trained up but others 5 days a week, consuming the majority of their waking hours.
Me: What would you say has been the hardest aspects or obstacles to overcome in with homeschooling?
Minda: My own pride! In the beginning I used to think I would be this super homeschool Mom whose children were so far ahead of the game. God really humbled me! I had to break free from my own ideals, being a public school trained brain learning to be a home schooler. I remember at one point in the beginning having to tell myself often "its not my inability to teach or their inability to learn we just haven't found the right system yet". Once I was able to set aside all my preconceived ideas and develop our own model of what it meant for our family to facilitate learning at home (see I even had to change the verbage to wrap my brain around it) then I started to see success as defined by each child's progression and not in comparison to everyone else.
Me: "What are some of your favorite aspects of homeschooling?"
Minda: Great question! 1) seeing the character qualities we want developed in our children being worked on everyday 2) practicing as a child what is appropriate for when you are an adult. We tell our children that often. Its soooo good to see older kids helping and tending to younger ones, having the kids participating in the day in and day out of running a household, taking care of a home and nurturing a family. Our children are not just taking in scholastic learning but how to be moms and dads, husbands and wives! Its not all about them, its about a unit. When they get older they will all most likely marry and have children. We believe our daughters will be better wives and mothers because they spent time as a child practicing those skills in our home and we believe our sons will be better husbands and fathers because they practiced those things tenderly and in real ways as they grew up. As parents we have the opportunity to instill in our children now as children the know how they will need to be amazing adults. 3) Just as much as I was excited when as babies they reached milestones, I am just as excited to see them reach milestones as they grow. Being there as they learn to read, master a hard math problem, allow God to mold them into his image. Those are beautiful things to witness and we get to be there along the way! This builds our bond together! and 4) would be that God gave our children to us to teach us, to refine us, to change us. I know more about Jesus and want to be more like Jesus because of the way he uses my children to point me to HIM.
Me: "What have you learned the most about yourself during this homeschooling journey?"
Minda: Hmmmm.... That I suck. HAHAHA! Did I just say that? Yes I did. I have learned I am selfish and lazy and even more totally depraved than I did before hand. Do you know how nice it would be to send my children off to school for the majority of the day and have a clean house, quiet aside from babies, chores getting done and not being messed up, free time to go run whenever I pleased, catching coffee with your girlfriends after you drop off kids at school??? Sounds great right? But ohh how God has shown me that all of those "wonderful things" sound wonderful because they indulge the part of me that is selfish and lazy. Having your kids home with you 24/7 is a BIG JOB and requires that you be full and present and it shows you your sinful nature all the more because you can not hide from it, theres too many people around; like little mirrors, reflecting the bad AND the good. I am a better person, friend, wife and mother because of the time spent with my family. It just would not be the same without homeschooling.
Me: "Have there been days/times you felt like throwing in the towel with homeschooling? What encouragement would you give to any mom out there who is feeling discouraged or not excited in homeschooling her children?"
Minda: YES! There have been some very difficult seasons in my life. Lots of moving, babies constantly being born, difficult family circumstances, lots of change. There were times I actually had to just stop schooling because it could not be fit into the current situation. We have had gaps from kids not retaining things because of what was going on in our home. My encouragement is for Moms to remember that by the time they are graduating they really will be able to read and do math- so don't sweat it. If you have a new baby mid year and you can barely keep language arts and math going- THATS FINE! put side the other stuff! Have your kids read historical novels, watch science videos on netflix. Simplify. We encourage our kids to always be learning so even if I cant get to it all, they are still taking things in. I have found that many times when I am forced to back off that when we pick back up their skills have grown because they naturally worked on them through coloring, writing their own books, reading science magazines, etc. Get creative and count everything!!! Don't allow the lie of "failure" to creep into your brain- rebuke that thought, take a breather and pick up again when you can. Homeschooling is NOT suppose to look like a public school. Those teachers don't have to make food, flip the laundry, chase the dog, tackle a toddler, or school with a newborn attached to them. Homeschooling is day in and day out, go with the ebb and flow and count your successes! (and yes if the only success is that you and your other 4 children just spent 2 weeks potty training the 2 year old that is success! You may not have done "school" but you worked on character and life skills and when your kids have their own kids- they will be so good at teaching that skill to their 2 year old. SO- name it and claim it)
Me: "What are your long term goals with homeschooling your children?"
Minda: Well, we want them to love Jesus. Beyond that, we want the last 2 years of highschool to be college so that each child graduates with a 2 year degree. That can be facilitated through online classes and at the JC. God has given each of our kids different strengths, weaknesses and desires. We want to help shore up the weaknesses, expound on the strengths and give them a good foundation to seek God with their desires to accomplish his will in their lives.
Me: "Do you take time away from the kids/home to do things for yourself? If so what do you enjoy doing?"
Minda: I don't really have scheduled time out. With a larger family I find its better to be really flexible. I find little pockets of time throughout the day/week. My husband and I get up an hour before he goes to work to connect and have bible time. I then have roughly 30 minutes before kids get up to check e-mail, catch up on the news or whatever. Mid day the rhythm of our house changes because little ones are napping. And at night my babies go to bed at 7 p.m. and then big kids go to their rooms and read for another 30-45 minutes unless its a special family night. This makes an end to my day and time to recoup.
Other than that I try not to A) be selfish with my time and B) be creative about when and what I do. I like to run but that does not always work out but when it does I am thankful. Reading and crocheting are also fun and easier to fit into the day. I have learned to adjust what I view as personal time throughout the different seasons in my life. I am a trained doula and photographer but those are things I haven't actively done in a long time because they do not fit into this current season.
I enjoy things that we can all do together. I'd rather find those things and do them than do nothing and complain about what I can't do. Its also a different dynamic now that I have a 12 year old. She is very responsible and I can leave for a time and she can hold down the house just fine. That makes things very different. I can go on an hour run, or meet up with a friend for an afternoon tea if I wanted too. It was different when all I had was little ones in the house, it made my blocks of time shorter for sure (hahaha) or at least made it to where the option of grabbing a coffee with a friend without kids wasn't possible.
Even menial tasks like food prep and laundry can be redeemed through right attitude and some kick'n music! Plus it models that right attitude and outlook for my children as well and that's important. When I do "claim a moment" I have no problem telling that to the kids as well. "I need an hour this afternoon people. I am locking myself in my room with a cold coke and a book. Be good, mind your bones, and I'll see you then". hehehe- sounds funny to hear myself say it but that has happened. The kids don't have a problem with that either, I think the respect the time I claim because I do not misuse the right to claim it- does that make sense?
Me: "Is there anything else you'd like to say or add that I didn't cover?"
Minda: You did a good job! I probably talked to much! I would encourage others just not to give up and to keep going. Don't be too hard on yourself and relax. If your child doesn't grow to be the best speller but their character is strong then you have run the course well.
Me: "I really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy household to share your heart with me! Thank you so much"
Minda: You are welcome. I had fun too! Thank you for your part of encouraging the homeschooling community!
Just in case you missed it, here are the first four in the series:
Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S - Meet Sandi
Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S - Meet Sarah
Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S - Meet Tracy
Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S - Meet Sarah
Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S - Meet Tracy