Interview Feature with…is a favorite feature of 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 Amy Dingmann of The Hmmmschooling Mom. She lives on a small farm in Minnesota with her husband and their always-been-homeschooled sons.
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Amy is the author of The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick. She is also a speaker at homeschooling/family/parenting/homesteading conferences. Amy runs two websites: The Hmmmschooling Mom and A Farmish Kind of Life. Oh. And she also drinks a lot of coffee.
Amy has taken time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for us. So grab a cup of coffee and join us.
Question 1: Please share with us what made you begin the homeschooling adventure with your children?
This should be the simplest question to answer, right? I didn’t really have a moment where I just knew we had to homeschool. I’m not anti-public school, I’m not on a mission to change the world, my kids don’t have food allergies, we didn’t choose to do it strictly because of our faith…I don’t really fall under any of the common reasons that are given.
Honestly? I just thought it sounded like its own kind of awesome and I wanted a part of it.
My hubby works in law enforcement so his schedule is pretty wacky, and my hope was that the flexibility of homeschooling would give us more time together. But that wasn’t strictly why we chose to do it. I think for us it was just an adventurous, different sort of available option that hubby and I both agreed on.
We decided to jump in with both feet and thankfully it ended up working out. (I have more thoughts on this in Letter to My Sons: Why We Homeschool.)
Question 2: What is your homeschool guiding principle?
I want my kids to know stuff, to know how to learn other stuff, and to be responsible, kind, happy people. We fit that into our homeschooling in many different ways.
Another of our guiding principles is that homeschooling is really a family thing, and if at any point it doesn’t work for one of us, it doesn’t work for any of us. I mean, we don’t *have* to homeschool. There are always other options. So if it really throws a wrench into someone’s style, and isn’t fixed by changing how we approach homeschooling, we will re-evaluate. I think that’s maybe why things are a little less stressful for us because we aren’t holding homeschool as the be-all, end-all option that we *have* to make work.
Question 3: How would you describe your homeschooling style?
I think we’ve run the gamut of styles and methods since 2007. Sometimes those styles and methods were determined by where our family was or what we were going through, sometimes those styles and methods completely depended on whatever looked shiny at the time.
For quite a few years now, we’ve been comfortably settled into what I suppose most folks would call eclectic. My kids like to call it “float school”, which basically means we float from one thing to another with lots of breaks. There is a decent mix of things I think they should know and things they are passionate about and interested in.
Question 4: What is the hardest homeschooling challenge you have had to overcome?
Oddly enough, it’s been Me, Myself, and I.
I think the biggest thing that gets in the way of someone’s homeschooling is when they worry their kids aren’t learning enough or that they suddenly need to be doing things differently. I’ll be honest—while this happens far less often than it used to in our early years of homeschooling, it still happens. That doubt and oh-my-goodness-am-I-doing-enough creeps in. Usually it’s when I haven’t had enough sleep. Or coffee.
Question 5: Share a homeschooling win with us that stood out to you?
I think the biggest win recently has been watching the kids learn tons about things I haven’t taught them.
When my kids want to build a computer or are interested in graphic design or war strategy or music theory or can play the electric guitar better than I ever dreamed of doing myself, I know that we’ve a) set up a home where learning is important and natural and just part of life, and b) made the concept of “I want to know how to xyz or more about abc so I’m going to go ahead and figure that out” a real thing.
At this point in the game, I feel like I’m more of a guide than a teacher. It’s fun to see them taking over and me being able to step back. It’s fun to be able to sit back a bit and see that this whole homeschooling thing works.
Question 6: If you could go back and redo something in your homeschooling journey what would it be and why?
I would have calmed down from day one.
It took me many (many) years of homeschooling to figure out that my homeschool doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) look like anyone else’s homeschool. You have to get to a certain point where you can read another homeschooling mom’s blog or book or sit with them in co-op and listen to how life works at their house and not immediately think the way you’re doing it at yours is wrong. It takes a while to get to that point, but it’s a liberating point to get to.
Trust the process and the journey. Trust that what you’re doing right now is perfectly okay to do even if it looks different compared to everyone else around you.
Question 7: As a homeschooling mom, how do you find time to fit all the moving parts of homeschooling your children, running your farm, writing books, and your website into your busy life?
I wish there was a magic secret to it, but it’s really about getting up early and/or staying up late, being wicked organized, and not disappearing down any internet rabbit trails. I’m pretty good at 3 of those 4 things. 😉
Everyone has 24 hours in their day and how you spend those 24 hours is full of choices. Set goals. Get organized. Be realistic about what you can fit in. Learn to say no. Figure out what matters and scrap the rest. It’s all things we know in our head but we need a lot of reminding to make them happen.I would give them the same advice I’d give any homeschooling parent @hmmmschooling #ihsnet… Click To Tweet
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 would give them the same advice I’d give any homeschooling parent: in order for homeschooling to work in your house, it has to be set up for your house. Not your friend’s house, not your sister’s house. Your house.
Every family is dealing with different situations, and homeschooling can usually be modified to work within those situations—but you have to let it work. If you’re trying to make your homeschool run like someone else’s homeschool you saw on Pinterest or Facebook, it’s not going to work.
A work-from-home or a work-outside-the-home parent obviously has some different things to deal with than someone who is not trying to run a business from home/work outside the home. Tweak homeschooling to work for you and be okay with the tweaks that are necessary.
Question 9: When children that are homeschooled are talking to you, what is the one thing you wish you could tell them?
Your mom and dad are mostly punting at this, but they are trying so very hard. Seriously.
Question 10: Your website offers so much information for parents, can you tell us what your favorite parts are?
I really like to help homeschooling mamas (and dads!) feel encouraged and supported in their journey. When I write, I want folks to feel like they’re just sitting across from a friend having a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine) and having a real chat about real life. That’s why I wrote my book, The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick. You can read more about what’s in the book and what people have said about it in this post: Homeschooling can be hard. Here’s how to deal…
A few of my other popular posts are:
I also get a lot of visits to What Kids Think About Homeschooling – a post where my always-been-homeschooled sons answered several questions about homeschooling that were sent to them through my social media channels.
Oh! And if you’re interested, I run a super real, super supportive Facebook group for homeschooling moms called The Hmmmschooling Hangout. It’s a closed group, so you have to request to join, but I’ll make sure you get in there. ☺
Thanks Amy for sharing an inside peek at how you work and homeschool.
Amy Dingmann lives in Minnesota with her husband where they have been homeschooling their two sons since 2007. Her hobbies include filling up her sons’ bottomless pits, drinking a lot of strong coffee, and smiling. Her least favorite subject is math. Her favorite subjects are everything else. She likes talking to other homeschooling parents and assuring them that even though they worry they’re totally screwing things up, they actually totally and completely rock. Amy blogs at The Hmmmschooling Mom, and works as an author/speaker on homeschooling and parenting/family topics. You can connect with Amy on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. You can find her book *The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick* at Amazon, available for Kindle and in paperback.