Hello! And welcome to another great Interview with a Homeschool Mom!
Our homeschool mom today is Misty Newsome from Worthy of Our Calling. Misty and her husband have been homeschooling their four children for 5 years.
How many children are you currently homeschooling? How long have you been homeschooling?
I am currently homeschooling my 4 children, ages 4 (preschool), 5 (kindergarten), 7 (2nd grade) and 9 (4th grade). We have been homeschooling since the beginning. My oldest is in 4th grade now, so that makes 5 years of focused homeschooling, with many, many changes along the way. We adopted our youngest son from Uganda in the fall of 2014. We enjoyed living in Uganda for 3 months during that process and homeschooling is one of the key reasons we were able to do so.
Have your children always been homeschooled? Why did you decide to homeschool?
Our children have always been homeschooled, except for a little church preschool for my oldest two. My husband has been a junior high band director for 11 years, so we are still a ‘public school’ family, even though our kids school at home. Actually, we are totally stepping out in faith and he is resigning after this school year to start a homeschool band or two in our local areas! He will also add online classes soon, so watch for that on his website, SoundFoundationAcademy! I had always considered homeschooling, as I had many friends from church growing up that were homeschooled. When my oldest was 4, I committed to pray every day for a year about our choices, so that God would give us a peace about which way we should go. In March of her pre-K year, since my husband does teach, we could have applied for her to go to one of his feeder elementary schools, which was a better school than we were zoned to. Yet, we kept putting it off. By the end of the month, when the forms were due, we both felt completely at ease with not filling them out and homeschooling the next year. So many other factors went into this decision, but that is the journey of how we got to where we are.
How would you describe your style of homeschooling?
I’d say I’m a very laid back, Charlotte Mason homeschooler. This is the complete opposite of how I started. When my poor oldest was in kindergarten, we would do Primary Arts of Language (from IEW) and Singapore Math, and Science (two different curriculums!), and read alouds, and bible, and handwriting, and that poor girl did 3 good hours a day. At a young 5! Now, my current 5 year old does 15-45 minutes 2-4 days a week! What a difference a few children and years make! We read lots of living books and love our Life of Fred math, but we also have 26 chickens, 2 guinea pigs, 2 barn cats and a dog, and are adding 2 dairy goats next month. I run a non-profit to serve women in Uganda through education, empowerment, and encouragement, Heshima Ministries, and so our days are busy with many types of activities.
What does a typical day in your homeschool look like?
Every day is different! Tuesdays we have an enrichment co-op in the next town that I helped start and run. Our kids take classes like Lego Public Speaking (middle elementary), Happy, Healthy bodies (kinder/1st), Event Planning (upper elementary), Music and Movement (preschool), Shakespeare (upper elementary), ARTists (kinder/1st), and THINK – a cooperative learning and design class (middle elementary). And in the afternoon they take spanish. On a normal at home day, I begin trying to wake up between 6-6:30 for some quiet time, coffee, and prayer. Sometimes however, like today, my kids woke me up at 7:30 after a late night. But, I shoot for 6:30. I aim for an 8 am breakfast, and so the kids trickle out during 7-8 ish and I urge them to get dressed and make their beds while they usually veg on the couch and wake up. When we sit down for breakfast, I typically have our memory work, bible/devotion, and history ready to go. We review memory work, then read our devotion or what book we are reading out of the bible, then I typically do history. Throughout the week I disperse Artist study, composer study, or some other fine arts into our breakfast time. If I’m on the ball, I have written out in a spiral notebook my oldest two’s independent work for the day, so after breakfast, they brush teeth and get busy. However, sometimes, I run go do that while they’re clearing the table and brushing teeth. They usually have about an hour of independent work including Life of Fred Math, history and/or fiction reading, copywork, critical thinking, and my oldest also has grammar. If they have projects they need to finish, I’ll list those as well, or things that pertain to nature study, like go outside and draw me a picture of the prettiest leaf you see, something small, our chickens, etc. While they’re doing this (my oldest is a great self-starter and will get it all done fast, my 7 year old boy does not – there are many re-directions and sometimes frustrations, but if he focuses, he can get it done quickly. 5-10 (sometimes 15) minutes on each subject), I try to load the dishwasher and then pull my youngest two in for All About Reading and handwriting. We do read alouds typically in the afternoon, so their morning works is short and sweet. I also have many busy bags from a swap years ago, so we play those type of games as well together. When my oldest two are finished, it’s usually snack time (or lunch if they have have drug their feet) and I split off to do one-on-one work with them, like spelling, health, or something they didn’t finish and they’re struggling with. I also use this time to check their work they’ve already done, otherwise I’ll forget! We might do a project once every few weeks (currently we are studying the middle ages, so my oldest two were assigned to make their own personal crest and they’ve been tweaking those recently) or a science experiment (those happen much less frequently than I plan), but we are typically done by lunch. Afternoons I typically do 20-40 minutes of reading aloud of our current fiction book (Wind in the Willows) and History or Missionary book and then they’re free! We have some land so they go explore, play outdoors with the animals, or come inside and draw, read, play legos, tear apart their rooms, whatever! 🙂 We have chores but it’s not set in stone like I prefer. We moved last June and for some reason that is the one thing I really haven’t gotten a good habit with. They are great at taking care of all the animals, so chores usually look like ‘go unload the dishwasher’ or ‘let’s get these clothes folded.’ I need to re-do my system for bathroom cleaning and others!
What kinds of tools or curriculum do you use to homeschool?
We switched to Life of Fred Math this semester and absolutely love it!! We used Singapore in the past and my oldest completed Teaching Textbooks 3 last year (which she also loved), but we are enjoying the ease of LoF right now. My 7 year old is the one I’ve noticed has really jumped ahead in mental math and is asking questions regularly about things I didn’t think were on his level. We are giving it a go this whole semester and through the summer (we typically take Fridays off and occasionally other days for field trips, so we school year round) before I decide to stick with it totally instead of just as a supplement.
We use Easy Grammar and love it, starting in 4th grade. We love Critical Thinking Company. In the past we’ve used Mind Benders. This year my first grader finished Visual/Perceptual Skill Building Book 1 and my oldest is working through The Basics of Critical Thinking. I also use a lot of Simply Charlotte Mason tools, like their artists study and their living book history curriculum. I loosely follow the booklist for Ambleside Online, but very loosely :).
Do you have a motto, quote, or scripture for your homeschool? Why did you choose that one?
Well, my kids know our student motto is I am, I can, I ought, I will – which derives from Charlotte Mason herself. But scriptures we have memorized and hold dear are Ephesians 2:8, Phillipians 2:15, and Micah 6:8. These are verses I chose that give great guidance on who we serve and how to live. We are saved by grace, it is NOT our own doing, it is the gift of God. We are to shine as lights in the world. We are to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. I hope to impart deep faith and trust in the Lord to my children, so these verses came naturally.
Is your spouse or other family members involved in your homeschooling?
Well, I’m the CPA (accountant) and he’s the music guy, so yes, he is! During the summers previously when he had off, he would even take on a lot of the work and I would work part-time. Now that he is resigning in 2.5 months, we plan to co-teach/co-work. To replace his income he will be teaching homeschool bands 2-3 afternoons a week and I will take on a few more accounting clients. We hope it will give us more time together as a family as we grow some online tools for residual income as well, as opposed to him work 90+ hours a week.
What is your favorite part of homeschooling? What is your least favorite part?
For me, one of my favorite parts is sitting on the couch with all my kids around and reading a great book! I love re-learning history and so many things I have forgotten in my schooling. My least favorite part is the parenting, if I’m being real honest! It’s such a hard line of wanting obedience and also wanting them to love what their learning – even when they don’t. And the diligence that is required is exhausting!
What is the best piece of advice you were given about homeschooling? What advice would you give to someone who is considering homeschooling?
When my oldest was 3 I went to a friend’s house as her children were homeschooling to talk about what it looks like. They were sitting at their desk working independently and I was a little taken aback. She said, that’s the goal! To get them to love learning and to do it for themselves while you supervise. The naive me in my mind thought, “Oh no! That’s not homeschooling, I want to actually teach them everything!” Glad I learned my lesson :).
Advice I’ve given before is: don’t hurry the younger years! Let them play. Don’t feel guilty for doing less. Read a lot! Now, if only I could plan ahead. My friend who is a year ahead of me (her oldest is a 5th grader) is already prepping for JH and HS and transcripts. I’m over here like, let’s just get through the math book on time, ok?
Finish this sentence: Homeschooling is…..
Exhuasting and Empowering at the same time!
Misty Newsome is the author at the neglected Worthy of Our Calling blog and a homeschooling mama to 4 amazing kids. She has been married to her husband Eric for almost 15 years. They spend their days tending their flock of chickens, schooling, and currently – racing 4 kids to little league games and practices most nights. Misty is the Executive Director of Heshima Ministries, a nonprofit serving women in Uganda, where they adopted their youngest son. It is the intent of Heshima to serve, restore, empower, and strengthen the women of Uganda, and therefore, the children in their care, and the families they represent, through education, mentorship, and job creation. Her husband Eric is stepping out in faith and resigning his junior high teaching gig to start local homeschool bands (near Houston) next fall! He will be doing online lessons soon with Sound Foundation Academy as well, so check them out! They live up to their ‘famous’ hashtag on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter #NewsomeCrazyFarm!