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Interview Feature with…is a favorite feature of both myself and readers! Designed to encourage busy moms and dads by sharing interviews with homeschoolers that are not only homeschooling but juggling other things as well.
Today I am happy to introduce you to Dawn Garrett who lives in Ohio with her husband Jason and their three always-homeschooled children, ages 12, 10, and 9. Dawn has blogged at ladydusk for 15 years and is the author of the free ebook: I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will: Charlotte Mason’s Motto Explained for Upper Elementary Students.
Dawn has taken time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for us.
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Question 1: Please share with us what made you begin the homeschooling adventure with your children?
While I enjoyed the learning parts of public school, and had a good education in a good school district, I strongly disliked the social aspects. I was also unimpressed by the secular nature of the public schools. While I understand the necessity in a society such as ours, I felt the call to provide a Christian education for any children I might have. I had friends who homeschooled – something I had never heard of – and I observed their family, liking what I saw. When I started to date my husband, his mom was homeschooling his younger brother in middle school, and he saw all the benefits as well.
We talked about homeschooling before we were engaged – it had become a deal-breaker for me. I was so glad Jason was in agreement.
Question 2: What is your homeschool guiding principle?
In our homeschool, we learn about God and His cosmos by studying the seven liberal arts in order to know Him better, imitate Him and His ways, and share about Him with others.
Question 3: How would you describe your homeschooling style?
While we do homeschool partially for religious reasons (as we think this is the best way for our family to talk about these things), I do love that Andrew Kern of The CiRCE Institute defines education as the cultivation of wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on truth, goodness, and beauty and goes on to show how that the means of that are the seven liberal arts and the four sciences.
Karen Glass, in her book Consider This, shows how Charlotte Mason’s principles are truly classical in nature. Because I believe Classical Education is the best means of teaching diligently and walk along the way with our children, we follow AmblesideOnline and try to use CM principles as our entree into Classical Education.
Question 4: What is the hardest homeschooling challenge you have had to overcome?
Trying to do too much. For a long time, I tried to follow two philosophies – WTM-Classical and CM-Classical. I followed one because I needed outside approval for our homeschool and it was so academically rigorous. The other was the one that had captured my heart and soul. This dis-integration caused me to suffer a bad case of burnout.
By giving up the approval-seeking and following my instincts, we have had a much more peaceful and enjoyable homeschool. I blogged through the burnout and my thinking on the issues in this series.
Question 5: Share a homeschooling win with us that stood out to you?
My then eleven-year-old came in this spring and said, “Mom! I got my hands muddy on purpose!”
Question 6: As a homeschooling mom, how do you find time to fit all the moving parts of homeschooling your children and your website into your busy life?
We have pretty set hours for homeschool – 8:30 am to 2:00 pm. We also use the “Sabbath School” type of schedule, schooling year round with six weeks of lessons then one week off. Sometimes that one week is a vacation, sometimes it is a catch-up week, sometimes the children go away for camp and I build 7 bookshelves. It’s a great time to do things like plan out menus for the term, do the seasonal clothing swap, schedule doctor appointments, etc.
It helps that my children are mostly older and can help with some regular chores – straightening up, emptying/loading the dishwasher, their own laundry, wiping down bathrooms, and occasional vacuuming. I won’t say that we are the tidiest or best homemakers, but we muddle along.[bctt tweet=”Chatting with Author, Blogger, and Homeschool mom! #Homeschool #ihsnet @a_ladydusk” username=”PracticalByD”]
I try to walk the dog and listen to podcasts for my own homeschool professional development. My Fitbit keeps me on track. I also read a lot – I’d rather read than clean and haven’t made myself change that, although I’m working on returning to a higher quality of books.
I fit my blogging around everything else. Because my blog is not a business – I blog for the love of it and as a ‘thinking aloud’ record for our family – if I miss a time, I don’t feel too much stress. Books occasionally become book reviews, I used to be better about this and hope to improve – again with the quality of books I’m reading. I think through what’s upcoming with Daybooks, and what is passed with a series I call “Our Weekly Amble” which isn’t written as weekly as I would like.
I do work very part time for a friend as her Community Care Coordinator. Basically, that includes helping with her site’s email and Facebook groups. That’s a lot of fun. I try to work on those things also at set times – early in the morning or soon after school hours. If more is needed I try to be flexible.
Question 7: What do you wish non-homeschoolers knew about homeschooling?
I’m not sure how many times I’ve been told, “I’m not patient enough to homeschool.” I wish they knew you don’t have to be patient to homeschool. Homeschooling is a means of growth in many areas from knowledge to practice. I hope my patience, compassion, and understanding grows more and more day in and day out.
Question 8: If you could give a piece of advice to a parent who is considering homeschooling, who is also working, what would it be?
I don’t work very much, but I would say follow your instincts, set general hours, and have reasonable expectations for your school and work and home balance. Homeschooling is, in itself, a full time job; especially if you have multiple children. You may not be paid, but looking on it as a profession will help you – time to do your job, time to develop your knowledge and skills, time to build relationships with your children: your clients. So, one full-time homeschool job; an extra job; and keeping up your home.
That’s a lot on your plate! You cannot expect to have a spotlessly clean home, highly academic children, and do some other work perfectly. You must sleep, you must eat, you must have down time. Set reasonable expectations for all of your roles and get the help and advice of your husband.
Question 9: When children that are homeschooled are talking to you, what is the one thing you wish you could tell them?
Listen to your mom. She has your best interests at heart. She wants you to succeed.
Question 10: Your website offers so much information for parents, can you tell us what your favorite parts are?
My totally free ebook (no email required!).
I wrote a post about how we schedule our homeschool year: Aligning Your Academic Year with the Calendar Year. For those, like I was, who always intend to homeschool but have all young children I wrote So You Think You Want to Homeschool. And, as mentioned above, the Homeschool Changes series is helpful for those who are struggling with burnout. I also wrote about how to stay sane if you’re a sports family – or any family with a lot of extra-curriculars: 31 Days to Surviving Sports Seasons Sanely.
I host a weekly link-up for readers called “Wednesdays with Words” where we share words with beautiful phrasing, intriguing ideas, or everyday encouragement. We’d love to have you join us!
I choose a “Word of the Year” and think through its implications in my life. Last year, I wrote about the word *Revel* and this year I’m thinking about Attend!
My very favorite form of Professional Development is, as I mentioned, listening to podcasts. I’ve had the honor to be on both the Homeschool Snapshots Podcast and Your Morning Basket Podcast. I also wrote a series about some of my favorites called “Podcast Addicted.”
You can find me at the links below and thanks for having me!