Welcome to another Interview with a Homeschool Mom ~ A Year Long Series: 25 Different Homeschool Moms answering the same 10 questions about homeschooling.
I would like to introduce you to Janelle Knutson. Janelle is another homeschool veteran of 12 years with 7 children!
How many children are you currently homeschooling? How long have you been homeschooling?
Our family has been on our homeschooling journey for 12 years now. We started homeschooling when we only had one child (and another one on the way) but we’ve added to our family over the years and now have seven children.
Have your children always been homeschooled? Why did you decide to homeschool?
Our oldest daughter went to public school in kindergarten. We had already decided to homeschool her when we put her in public school but I wanted a year to research homeschooling before I jumped in and started. Looking back, I wish I had just homeschooled her from the start. While it was helpful to do my research, I ended up spending way too many hours searching the internet and reading books when much of what I needed to know was easily learned during the process of homeschooling.
We knew homeschooling was what the Lord was calling us to do but we weren’t really sure why! I had heard about the academic benefits of home education and figured the Lord just wanted me to raise a genius! Over time my husband and I began to see many benefits to homeschooling including academics, spiritual growth, positive social experiences, flexibility in our family schedule and an increase in family unity but we soon realized that the Lord had called us to homeschool our children so that we could disciple them. Discipleship, to us, means the training of our children’s hearts and minds through ongoing interaction. Homeschooling definitely provides the time needed to disciple our kids for the glory of God!
How would you describe your style of homeschooling?
My homeschooling style goes right along with my personality. That means that I want everything to be organized and structured but I’m learning to be more flexible and spontaneous. My daily schedules and charts help all of us to know what is expected and what we should be doing at any given time but my kids are helping me learn how to add some spontaneous fun (and chaos) to each day.
What does a typical day in your homeschool look like?
A typical day starts with morning chores for the kids and some one on one time for me and my toddler. Then the older children help me juggle caring for and educating the younger ones. Afterwards, we all come together for Bible time and snack time. After snack the younger ones head off to play while the older kids work on their school work, asking questions when needed. Next comes lunch, more chores, rest time and then finishing up with history and science while the youngest are napping. We try to stick to our homeschool schedule as much as possible but sometimes a little spontaneity is needed. And other times chaos just reigns and I have to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing!
What kinds of tools or curriculum do you use to homeschool?
When I started homeschooling I longed for a space to turn in to a classroom. Then we moved, had a spare room and created my dream homeschool room only to realize that a designated classroom for homeschooling didn’t fit our family. Now my greatest tools for homeschooling are the dining room table, four large bookshelves and a couch for snuggling up in.
When it comes to curriculum, I like to steer away from boxed sets and find what works for each child in each subject area. It takes a little more work (and sometimes some extra stress) but I am always happy with the results in the end. There are two curriculum choices that I can’t imagine homeschooling without though. They are Math-U-See for math and Spell to Write and Read for phonics and spelling.
Do you have a motto, quote, or scripture for your homeschool? Why did you choose that one?
Early on in our homeschooling journey, my husband and I attended a homeschool convention where a speaker encouraged us with Deuteronomy 6:4-8 which says, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” It has become the scripture I come back to time and time again for our homeschool and our family.
Is your spouse or other family members involved in your homeschooling?
We live in California where we homeschool by registering as our own private school. My husband is the principal of our school and takes care of filing the affidavit with the state each year. He offers a listening ear when I need to vent and encouraging words when I am discouraged. He is also great at allowing me time alone to refresh and regroup when I ask for it. My father is a high school math teacher so he has become our math tutor in the junior high and high school years. My mother-in-law loves art so she and my father-in-law drop by often to do crafts and art projects with the kids. I am blessed to have a very supportive family!
What is your favorite part of homeschooling? What is your least favorite part?
My favorite part of homeschooling is being with my kids and watching them grow academically, socially, spiritually and physically with my guidance. What a great honor we have as homeschooling moms to be able to experience so many milestones with our children because we are actually with them when they happen!
My least favorite part of homeschooling is the daily struggle to balance homeschooling with the rest of life. I find that I can only juggle so many tasks at one time and inevitably something doesn’t get accomplished. Thankfully, God doesn’t ask me to do accomplish every task every day. I often forget to ask God what His priorities are for my day but when I do, I find it easier to rest in the accomplishments of the day (no matter how small they are).
What is the best piece of advice you were given about homeschooling? What advice would you give to someone who is considering homeschooling?
The best piece of advice I was given when I first started homeschooling was to commit to two years of homeschooling.
Most families find that the first year is full of challenges as the entire family adjusts to homeschooling. When you commit to home education for two years you can take the challenges of the first year and turn them around into successes in the years to come! Look back at the first year and make a note of what did work for your family and keep on doing those things! Then make a list of the challenges that you faced and look for ways to improve in those areas. Pray that the Lord would show you how to overcome the hurdles you faced in the first year. Ask other homeschool moms for advice. Attend a homeschool convention to gain insight from homeschool veterans. Don’t give up on homeschooling after the first year. Give it a second year and see if things start getting a little easier!
I also like to encourage homeschoolers to think carefully about what their goals are for their family. Homeschoolers have a wide range of curriculum and activities to choose from. We can often fill up our bookshelves with curriculum and our days with activities that actually hinder us from accomplishing the goals we have for our children and our families. Take some time to consider what your goals are for your kids. Then when it comes time to choose curriculum or sign up for an activity ask yourself if it helps or hinders you in meeting those goals. There are a lot of great opportunities out there for homeschoolers but not every opportunity is going to be a benefit or a blessing to your family.
Finish this sentence: Homeschooling is…..a lifestyle! It is easy to think of homeschooling as one more task to check off of your to-do-list but it really is a way of life. Making learning a lifestyle is one of the benefits of homeschooling that your children can take with them into adulthood.