Welcome to the 20th Interview with a Homeschool Mom post!
I am excited to share with you, an interview with homeschool mom, Erica Johns. Erica has 19 years of homeschooling experience!!
How many children are you currently homeschooling? How long have you been homeschooling?
I started homeschooling back in 1997, so this is our 19th year since the beginning! Our two oldest children are grown now, and I have four remaining children being homeschooled. They are currently in grades 8, 9, 10, and 12.
Have your children always been homeschooled? Why did you decide to homeschool?
We started out homeschooling when we just had two little kiddos, and eventually took a partial break from homeschooling 6 years in when I was struggling to do all things well after having babies 4, 5, and 6 in under three years! 🙂 The three older kids went to school, the babies stayed home with me, and from there we had a more hybrid system where we evaluated the needs of each child per school year and decided what would best meet their needs.
My oldest son spent a few years in public school and ultimately decided to return to homeschooling at the end of 10th grade and finished high school at home. My second child preferred a more traditional classroom setting and active teaching style, so she went to public school from 8th grade til graduation. The younger four boys that are still at home have all chosen to be homeschooled and so far all seem to be planning to graduate from homeschool. We have seen positives and challenges with each educational option and have found that one size does not fit all, and that’s ok. Our kids are encouraged to be active participants in designing an educational path that works for them.
We decided to homeschool because it seemed like a fit for us. We were happy with our kids at home, they were happy, and it seemed like it would be fun. And it was! 🙂
How would you describe your style of homeschooling?
Our early years were largely a relaxed approach that included a lot of books. Sonlight has been our most enduringly favorite homeschool approach. Several years ago I was introduced to Classical Conversations and eventually became a Foundations tutor for two years. Although I would not consider us to be classical educators, we enjoyed our three years in Foundations and I learned a lot of good things that I believe have helped me be a better educator for my children. Now with the boys being in junior high and high school, we are still somewhat relaxed, but I am pretty actively teaching, tutoring, and mentoring through a full school day with all of them.
What does a typical day in your homeschool look like?
The planned typical day has everybody getting up around 8:30, having breakfast, doing chores, and then jumping into school work. We spend a little time on some brain training games and exercises that we have found beneficial, then work our way through math, science, history, literature, writing, and everything else. We’re usually gathered around our large kitchen table, or snuggled into cozy blankets on the couches while we read and discuss great books. It generally takes us from 9-3 to do a really good job on everything to stay on track for meeting our goals.
The unplanned day that sometimes happens after a late night sports event has us getting started on school a few hours later than ideal, cutting out some optional items from the schedule, and spending our focused time on the essentials.
We stay flexible, but also have to work at being disciplined so that we can do what we’ve decided to do. (like getting those high school credits met!)
What kinds of tools or curriculum do you use to homeschool?
We love Sonlight for history and literature, Brave Writer for writing and language arts, Life of Fred and CTC Math, and many more. Probably the best tool I use is that I keep my four guys on the same track for a lot of things. We all do the same Sonlight core. We work on the same Brave Writer projects or concepts or activities. We all do science together. We do our labs together. It’s more effective, efficient, and fun to do these things together as a group. (and I consider myself part of the class as well! I usually facilitate the leadership of the things, but I’m also learning right along with them.)
Do you have a motto, quote, or scripture for your homeschool? Why did you choose that one?
In general our family values are LOVE, and that covers a lot, but we don’t have a set theme or motto for our school.
Is your spouse or other family members involved in your homeschooling?
My husband has always been very supportive of our homeschooling, and there have been times when he handled some subjects. Right now I do all of the teaching and planning myself.
What is your favorite part of homeschooling? What is your least favorite part?
My favorite part of homeschooling is having my kids with me every day, and all of the good stuff that goes along with it. We have so many funny memories and inside jokes, good conversations, and they work through many things together–nothing can beat the years of togetherness and fun we’ve had!
My least favorite part of homeschooling is that it’s hard work! Actively leaning in to meeting the needs of my kids and helping them reach their goals means that I am often not meeting or reaching mine. I give this willingly because I know how quickly these years will go by, and I want to be able to look back and feel satisfied with how we’ve spent this time. I do look forward to the day when I can work on other projects without any other priorities competing for my attention. 🙂
What is the best piece of advice you were given about homeschooling? What advice would you give to someone who is considering homeschooling?
I’ve been given so many valuable bits of guidance from other homeschool moms, particularly ones that were a few years down the road ahead of me. Relax, trust, keep going. Those are the messages that have resonated with me the most.
The advice I would give to someone who is considering homeschooling is to put love first. While you are homeschooling, your children are experiencing their childhood and their education. Try to keep in mind the type of life you want to give them, the happiness you want them to experience, the safety and acceptance you want them to feel. Keep home a place that is full of love, care, protection, and joy! If you find yourself cross and exhausted, you may need to consider making some changes to take care of yourself so you are filled up with some good stuff that you can turn around and give. The years that we decided to have the kiddos go to school allowed me to regroup and heal in many ways, and I was able to return to homeschooling much better for myself and my children. I have no regrets.
Finish this sentence: Homeschooling is…..
Homeschooling is paradoxical: terrific, terrible, joyful, and just plain hard at times. It has been worth it.