Interview Feature with…is a favorite feature of myself and readers. Designed to encourage busy moms by sharing interviews with homeschoolers that are not only homeschooling but juggling other things as well.
Today I am happy to introduce you to Jodi.
Jodi, please introduce yourself to everyone:
“I’m a once upon a time public school art teacher turned homeschooling mama to my four kids aged 6-13. I started blogging to encourage other moms to take the leap and try this crazy homeschool thing. The art teacher in me has lots of practical ways to make that journey a little more fun (& messy!)”
Jodi has taken time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for us.
Question 1: Please share with us what made you begin the homeschooling adventure with your children?
I never, ever pictured myself as a homeschool mom. Although there were things I disagreed with in our local system I honestly never thought about walking away.
A casual friend planted the seed that they may homeschool the following year. What?? Walk away from all these problems and find our own way? That’s a possibility? How had we never thought of this before?
I started reading, researching, and talking to every homeschooler I ever thought about knowing. Once I opened my mind to the possibility we could see homeschooling had too many advantages not to give it a try! My husband and kids signed on for a one-year trial period.
Question 2: What is your homeschool guiding principle?
Oh my gosh if I could narrow it down to one my principle my brain would be so much calmer.
As much as I love education pedagogy it boils down to the fact that as a mom I know my kids. The fact that their path may look a little different than their peers does not make sad. They will be stronger for it.
I believe my husband and I know what is best for our family.
I believe my husband and I have the ability to teach our kids how to learn. Learning how to learn is pretty much the key to it all, right?
Question 3: How would you describe your homeschooling style?
As I mentioned we are only in year two of the homeschooling books. We have yet to it figured out and down pat. While changing things up can be difficult the ability to do so is one of my most favorite things about homeschool.
Leaving public school my kids honestly didn’t really know what they were most interested in or how they learn the best. It’s been quite a ride trying to figure out the ins and outs of each of our four kids. They are so unique in the way they approach life. They keep life interesting that’s for sure!
Question 4: What is the hardest homeschooling challenge you have had to overcome?
I’m a recovering planner. By nature, I like knowing what comes next, and next, and next. I like making lists and checking boxes. I make a mean to do list.
However, it turns out that best homeschool days are not the result of a to-do list fully “checked.”
I’m learning (in baby steps) to embrace the spontaneity of this lifestyle. There are so many unexpected benefits of this homeschool thing! We’re diving down rabbit holes and slacking off the to do list when we need to accommodate some of that “good stuff.”
Question 5: Share a homeschooling win with us that stood out to you?
My second son was the hardest to win over to the idea of homeschooling. The year we started would have been his fourth-grade year. He’s super social, active to the hilt, and craves peer approval.
On paper, homeschooling offered him the most benefits. No more getting in trouble for not being able to sit still. No more stink eye for thinking outside the box. He would finally have time to work on all his amazing, crazy ideas.
But he just couldn’t let go of the idea of public school. He would miss too many things.
He finally agreed to buy into our “family decision” to try homeschooling for one year. He would periodically remind me he was returning to “real school” next year.
We’re almost halfway into our second year. He hasn’t been to “real school” in many months, nor does he mention wanting to return. His spark, his curiosity is back with a vengeance. This kid has more projects than the day is long.
We have a four-day school week, every week. My kids have time to get their work done and be kids!
But the awesome thing is; he gets it. This lifestyle allows him freedom. He has finally let go of all the stuff he is “supposed” to do and can spend his time doing what interests him. Seeing the tides change took a long time for this kid, and a lot of changing things up on my end.
I love seeing him think about what’s next on his own agenda instead of what his friends think is cool.
Question 6: If you could go back and redo something in your homeschooling journey what would it be and why?
I would start sooner! I feel like I missed out on a lot of time, especially with my two older boys who were 12 and 10 when we began homeschooling. I see some habits and attitudes about learning that are really ingrained in them from their time in public school.
Honestly, though, I came to homeschooling when it was just supposed to be for us. I had four kids in seven years. I’m not sure I could have kept my head above water had I thought of starting sooner.
Question 7: 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?
Being a stay at home homeschool mom has it’s ups and downs just like any parenting gig. We’re all busy. I get stressed and impatient. Days get away before I know what happened to them. We try to enjoy the little stuff and just remember this is a lifestyle we chose! I don’t have to be home with my kids everyday. I get to be home with my kids everyday!
Starting to blog at The Kitchen Table Classroom is something I decided to do just for me. Being creative is such an energizing thing for me. I felt like I needed a “project” to work on that was all mine. While I do spend a lot of time working on my blog it brings me so much satisfaction! I look forward to that work. The extra hours are totally worth it!
And I also think it’s good for my kids to realize I’m not just sitting around waiting on them. For most of their lives I have been a stay at home mom. I love that they get to see me taking a chance, learning, putting myself out there, for something I love to do!
Honestly, finding the time to write is a struggle. I sneak in bits of time here and there. Carving out some dedicated time for blogging would be a huge boost for me. For now, I’m just winging it, like we all do in so many areas of parenting, right?
Our family also joined a homeschool co-op this year which we have really enjoyed. My kids enjoy the social aspect of it a lot. I teach elementary art there for an hour each week. While it does require some planning I have to say I enjoy having a little kick in the pants to jump start my creative juices. I look forward to teaching my lessons because the kids are so enthusiastic and receptive! Art class is easy to make fun!
Question 8: What do you wish non-homeschoolers knew about homeschooling?
Don’t be scared of homeschoolers. A lot of times when I mention to a new acquaintance that we homeschool there is an awkward silence and a hasty change of subject. Please, ask questions. I know it’s different. But I’m excited about what we do. I promise I’m not going to try to induct you into any kind of secret homeschool cult without your knowledge.
I wish people knew that homeschoolers are just normal people trying something different, searching in the best interests of their kids. We’re not judgy, or weird. (Okay, we’re a little weird, but the good kind I promise!)
Question 9: If you could give a piece of advice to a parent who is considering homeschooling, who is also working, what would it be?
Try it! Commit for one year. How bad can you screw a kid up in a short nine month period anyway?
Don’t dismiss the idea as too crazy, or yourself as lacking the patience, or that you yourself don’t have the education to be “the teacher.”
There are amazing resources available to help you be “the teacher.” But the real secret of homeschoolers is you aren’t the only teacher. Your kids are! The goal is for your kids to learn how to learn! Crazy stuff, huh.
Talk to every homeschooler you know. Ask them questions. Talk to their kids. Just being open minded and asking questions will go a long way!The real secret of homeschoolers is you aren't the only teacher #ihsnet #homeschoolmom Click To Tweet
Question 10: When children that are homeschooled are talking to you, what is the one thing you wish you could tell them?
One thing I can and do tell my own homeschooled children often is that homeschooling means their world is wide open. They have time to learn about anything that interests them, create whatever they can imagine, to start working on their dreams at an early age. Take advantage of that. Try everything that’s offered to you. Find your passion.
Question 11: You were in the education system for a few years. How did that influence your homeschool if at all?
Once upon a time I was an elementary art teacher in the public school system. It might seem that having a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Assessment would make teaching my own kids a piece of cake.
What I learned in college did help prepare me to manage a classroom, not cater an education to an individual. My years in a classroom did make it evident to me that no matter what type of overhaul our current education system receives it cannot compete with individuality of a homeschool education.
Spending years in the classroom left my brain imprinted with a lot of benchmarks and grade standards I wish I could forget. It would be easier to embrace the homeschool lifestyle if I could let go of those ideals.
The positive side of my education background was that it gave me some confidence to take the leap. I know the lingo. I have seen the system from the inside out and I am not convinced it is the only or best way to educate a child.
Question 12: Your website offers so much information for parents, can you tell us what your favorite parts are?
I wanted a place to share what we do in our homeschool and to encourage other homeschool mamas! I especially want to offer encouragement to the new homeschool mom or the mom considering taking the leap. This is only our second year of homeschool so I’m hardly a veteran. But I do have a passion for learning & teaching. I love the idea that I’m teaching my kids to learn on their own!
As an artist myself and a former art teacher I want to share my love of taking everyday materials and using them to inspire creativity in our homeschool day! Being creative with my kids comes naturally to me; it’s a stress reliever. Art makes my bad day better.
I’ve come to realize that not everyone feels that way. (Even one of my very children. Ahem.) I want to share ways to take the stuff lying around your pantry and junk drawer and make it into something. Make it a lesson, make it something your kiddos can do on their own while you check out Pinterest. Maybe my ideas can be a jumping off point for your own idea.
Art should be fun. I want to give parents new ways to have fun with their kids & make their homeschool journey even better!