Learn what experienced homeschool parents have to say about homeschooling and their kids. What worked for them AND what didn't? Listen or read as Ximena, DeeDee and Janna discuss what other BookShark community members and parents shared about what they would do-over in their homeschool journey.
Hey friends, welcome to another episode of Homeschool Your Way. We're your hosts, DeeDee and Ximena, also known as the chips and salsa ladies from Chips & Salsa Homeschooling.
Today, we have a round table discussion with our co-host Janna Cook, and we're so excited to bring you some great advice and encouraging words for those new to homeschooling. Yeah. So welcome Janna, it's so great to have you with us today.
Hello Dee, hello Ximena. Thanks for having me.
All right. Well, we're going to talk about all that, but first we're going to share our hack of the week and DeeDee has one to share with us.
Well, I don't talk too much about my sons on the podcast because they're going to private school for high school. Ugh, that's a whole nother topic. But anyway, I had to learn how to be the mom that gets the kids out of the house early in the morning. And so I was trying to figure out a quick, easy protein rich breakfast, and I found the best solution. I really wanted protein to be the star of the breakfast. And so I started making them these super simple omelets that are super flat. And then I roll up a piece of bacon inside of it, I wrap it in parchment paper, and then I wrap that in foil so it's a to go breakfast. It's protein rich. The boys love it, and it's super easy to make in 20 minutes.
That's such a good idea. I think it's so important that we plan ahead, and do these things so that we can get into healthy habits. I think the moment we start looking at just convenience versus health is when we get into a little bit of trouble. So I love that you have both convenience and health.
Yeah. Because it's so easy to just do a burrito or a sandwich, but then they're already eating a sandwich at lunch and they're going to have some carb dinner. So I don't know. For us, I want to think of something that was a healthy way without so much bread and that they're going to like. Because obviously they would like a bowl of sugary cereal, that's not going to happen on my watch.
And they'd be starving an hour later.
Oh, exactly. And these guys eat a lot.
Yeah. I love that hack. Well, If you have a hack that you want to share with us, write to us at bookshark.com/podcast, and we might feature it here on one of our episodes. We asked homeschool moms that follow us on social media and are part of our community and the BookShark community to impart words of wisdom for new homeschool moms. Because I know that when I started, those words and that advice really helped me out. And we also asked them what they would do differently and what advice they would give their former self. So today we're going to talk about all that and I'm so excited to share.
The first contributor said, "Your homeschool does have to look like everyone else's. Go at your kids' pace, foster independence, it's okay to take your time." Perfect answer, and this is Homeschool Your Way podcast. Yes, find your family's rhythm. Find your way to homeschool, and that is going to really give you years of joy in your homeschool instead of that comparing yourself and trying to look like what everybody else is doing.
I love the foster independence thing because this takes us back to what we were discussing in the earlier segment, which we don't want to be spoonfeeding our kids everything and making sure that we're telling them what to learn, but teaching them again, to learn on their own because believe me, moms and dads, you're going to love the teenage years if you do this because they're going to be so much more self-driven and self-motivated. It'll take time, we were just talking about that this morning. Our 13 year old, not there yet. But my 16 year old, she's out there working right now, all on her own. I barely have to even help her at all.
I think that fostering independence is something that, again goes back to our parenting style. There's so much about homeschooling that really is about the parents and really it's us letting go of so many things. And so if we have a mindset to foster independence, we are going to have to let go of some of our own expectations and some of our own pre-programming from what we have had in our own experience as students when we switch to educator.
That's really important, the deschooling. All right. Well, another piece of advice that one of our community members wrote in was, "Breathe and follow your instincts. They are your children. Don't stress over the rough days. If your kid is having a really hard time doing the work one day, it's okay to do a little extra another day or you can go into the summer. A huge beauty of homeschooling is the flexibility."
That's so great.
Oh, my God. Yeah.
I've so enjoyed all of the interviews we've done here on Homeschool Your Way. And one of the questions we love to ask is what would you tell your former self? And so many of the great people that we've interviewed have said, "I would tell myself to chill out, to not be so stressed out and so worried about everything." So I love this, "Breathe and follow your instincts."
Hindsight being 2020 as it is, I think as much as we hear people reflect on the beginning of their journey, you won't know until you do it. Even about homeschool your own way. If you told me that six years ago, I'd be like, "I don't have a way." That in itself is stressful when you're like, "You got to find your way. But I'm lost. Quit telling me to do it my way when I don't even know what my way is, what my preference is." So really I love of that, breathe one step at a time, one foot in front of the other, because unless you start doing it, you aren't going to know which way is your way.
Another piece of advice that is a golden nugget that if you can really latch onto this in the very beginning, if you're halfway through or even that you're at the end of your homeschool journey, it is relationship over everything else. If you have a student that you have been able to get calculus by the time they're 13, but you don't like each other Anymore. If you have demanded or really created an environment for your child to read 13 novels in the 36 weeks of the curriculum, but they can't stay on the side of you because of what you had to do to push that to get done, it really it negates the entire process.
So if you're having a hard time, a rough day, a subject that you're just butting heads over, if you can stop and take a breath and say, "How is this improving our relationship?" Because when that child is 36 and they need you for something, they don't want to have these subconscious thought of you telling them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and just get it done and something I'm guilty of saying, and I found out you're not supposed to say this to your kids, "But what's wrong with you?"
There is nothing wrong with our children when we say that phrase. And so I've really had to take it out of my vocabulary. But if they're constantly feeling like we're not a safe place, then you may be able to get through your curriculum in a year, but I doubt you're going to have the experiences and the memories and providing a loving relationship. If that's not really one of the number one reasons of why you're doing this.
That's so good. And recently I was watching something or listening to something talking about the importance of our is and how that relationship really it's so, so important to the kids and their health and development and their emotional stability so much more than we even think they are observing us, they're watching. So if you're married out there to really remember that your marriage relationship is important to your kids and their life.
Yeah. I was trying to look up this quote because I heard it and it really struck me. It says, "We've been duped into thinking, I couldn't find who wrote it by the way. But it says, "We've been duped into thinking that school is the important part of homeschool. Home is the important part of homeschool." And so everything that involves a home, our relationships first and foremost, that's the most important part of homeschooling.
Academics will come, and like we talked about, children can learn in many, many different ways. Just like you said, if you're pushing your child to get through this math lesson in tears, I remember Julie Bogart saying, "When the tears come, the lesson is over." Your child is telling you that she's in distress. So tend to your child and to what's happening there versus trying to get through the math lesson.
I think that is so counter-cultural. Even in parenting, I think we have been, especially in our generation, it was demonstrated to us that you do what your parents say when they do it. There's no talking about it. There's no discussion. There's no trying to reason. And while there are certain times that yes, our children need to do what we say without question, whether it be for safety, different things. But now we know better, we can do better. And I think that can come over into homeschool. It's like, we can talk about it.
Yes, I'm the final say, but that doesn't mean I don't have to listen to what you have to say about it. Even my daughter, she was complaining about the read alouds. I said, "But listen, you may not agree with the books that are chosen, but they have value. And so if you can just put aside that you're displeased with this choice and try to make the best of it, I know that maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but years from now, this is building a foundation for you that could change your life."
And she was like, "Okay." Now, granted she wasn't jumping up and down. "Let's get reading, super excited." But she heard what I said because she knew that my heart was for her best. And so that's the kind of thing that I don't know that we were really taught that in our generation with parenting, and so it's this whole new world that we're trying to foster in our homes.
I think that segues perfectly into the next bit of advice that we received for new homeschool moms. And that is that you don't have to have it all figured out. You're going to change things anyway, right?
That was so good.
But knowing that relationship is the most important thing and fostering the love of learning, and if you have to mix up some things or change some things, do it because you're keeping the most important thing, the most important thing.
I think that you will change it anyway bit really, really resonates with me because I'm a type of person that likes structure. And I typically like to keep things the same way, which I learned very quickly in homeschooling that that was not going to work. And it's frustrating if you think that there is one way to do it and figure it out, "Oh, I got this. This is the way you homeschool. You do this and that and followed by this, and then you finish with that."
If you have that mentality, you're going to be frustrated because it changes every single year. Actually, sometimes it changes month to month because your kids are constantly growing and changes in life happen too. So you're not in the same season in life. So things are going to change, and that's the beauty of it.
I would say it could even change moment by moment, depending on your day. And if you think about the life that we really are living in that's reality. You could make the same dinner for so many years once a week, it's never going to be the same. Your ingredients may be a couple days older than they were another time. We have to help our children roll with the punches. And I think in homeschool, if we ourselves, again, back to changing our perspective, if we're willing to roll with the punches, we are showing and demonstrating to our children that they can also roll with the punches. And so it just helps for launching them into independence and adulthood.
Yeah. If you're a new homeschool mom and you're listening to this and you were like me when I first started homeschooling, I took weeks to decide which math curriculum to use because I wanted to settle in and not change. And I kept hearing people say, "Oh, well, you can try this and then, if it's not working, you could change it." I'm like, "No, I got to find the best one, the right one and then stick to it because math builds on itself. And how are you going to change curriculums? And then you're going to throw everything off."
But as I've matured along my journey, I did end up changing math curriculums. And it wasn't the end of the world, and the kids still learn their math facts eventually.
And then this year you just change like that with me.
I know, I was really wild.
We're getting wilder and more flexible as we grow. Imagine that?
So hopefully that helps you not get into the paralysis of analysis and just know that it's okay if you change down the road, it's going to work out.
And when it works for one child, or in my situation, I had twins that were my oldest. What worked for them does not work for my younger child, and that will throw a wrench into your plans
Your neat little package.
Yeah, for sure.
Right. And you've already done it. And then you're like, "No, this is how we do it." And then that child is like, "I don't understand what you're saying."
Well, our last piece of advice has to do with what you already mentioned, Janna is don't be afraid to outsource. You don't have to teach every subject to your kids every day. So two pieces of advice there, right? You don't have to teach every subject, one and you don't have to teach every subject every day.
Oh, yeah. I was, again, back when I was a new homeschool mom, I didn't want my kids on computer. And so I was against a computer-based math program. I didn't want to do classes online and now look at me now. I'm like, "Yes. Where is your Chromebook? You better log in."
Well, let's take a break. And when we get back, we are going to hear what homeschool moms have to say to their former selves. And we're also going to share our own advice for our former selves, we'll be right back.
Well, welcome back. Today, we're bringing you some encouraging words from homeschool moms to those who are new to homeschooling, and it's been a really great discussion so far. We're going to get into some advice we'd give our former selves, but first, we're going to have a reflection of the week. What do you have for us Ximena?
Well, I was thinking back to a memory that I shared with you before, where I was at the salon getting my hair done. If you guys have seen any of our YouTube videos, you might or might not see that I have little pink or little purple in my hair always. It's been something I've been doing for like seven years and, or maybe even longer. And so I've always loved doing something different with my hair. And one time when I was getting my hair done, there was a lady waiting and she kept staring at me.
And then I said, "Hi." I got up, and she sat in the chair and said, "Well, I don't need something that fancy. I'm just a homeschool mom." And it was my first year homeschooling, and I ignored that first comment and I got so excited and I was like, "Oh my gosh, I'm a homeschool mom too." And she did not really appreciate that comment very much. But then I realized, "Oh, okay. I see." But my reflection is that just a homeschool mom, oh man, that breaks my heart.
Because moms, you have such to value, whether you're a homeschool mom or a stay-at-home mom or a mom, a working mom, your value doesn't change. And I really dislike that we put ourselves down like that. I really dislike that society makes us feel like we don't have a place or that our title is not worthy of care. And not to say that everybody has to have their hair done or their nails done or anything like that. But if that's something important to you, you know that you're worth it. And I just think that we need to see ourselves in a different light in order to take care of ourselves the way we deserve.
Yeah. It's so true, Ximena. I think it's not so much how she wants to have her hair done, but more of not seeing herself as cool enough to do something different or special because she's just a homeschool mom, when actuality homeschool moms are the most amazing people.
I agree. So you're amazing mom.
If you have a reflection that you'd like to share with us, an aha moment or a quote that's really inspired you, share it with us at bookshark.com/podcast.
And so we asked a bunch of our Chips & Salsa community members to share what they would do differently, and then we're going to share what we would do differently.
So the first one comes from Patricia. She says, "There are many things I would've done differently. I would've used the curriculum I'm using now and not let cost stop me. I would've done less book work and more practical application." That's so good, Patricia. Because in the end, we want to have fun while we're learning. And sometimes we let roadblocks like cost or finishing a curriculum stop us from having fun.
Yeah. Really good advice.
Well, Fab five mama told us that she would say she needed to listen to her own advice and not push. "Learning will happen if you let it." She continues that she loved the decision that she made to get the kids self-motivated to finish their day's work. "They only use a TV when they watch something together as a family. They're self-motivated because they get one hour of personal electronic time once they're entire to-do list is completed, it includes tourists, PE and all things school."
Great advice. Fab five mama. I'm going to send my teenage boy to your house, see if he'll complete his to-do list there. Oh, we're trying to do the same thing, so that's really great advice.
All right. Well, Crystal wrote in two different hindsights, things that she would do differently. One is, "Stop spending so much time lesson planning, there's a better way."
Yeah. I think we talked about this in one of our hacks, not too long ago. But a lot of times you just do what you're going to do and then write it down later. What did you call that?
It's funny because I would take almost two weeks to plan before the BookShark days. I would build what I called mega desk from the office. And I had different laptops and all my curriculum and I planned it all out for the year and I loved it, but it did take a really long time. And then when I learned about reverse planning recently, and I told DeeDee, "Oh my gosh, reverse planning." She's like, "Oh yeah, that's what I do." I'm like, "Oh, well." The other thing she shared with us, Crystal is, "Don't try to do school at home like you would at school."
Yes. So we're homeschooling, not schooling at home.
Big difference, and we actually have a great episode about that if you want to check it out because it really is very different guys.
And I think it's something that you have to be intentional to learn. Because once again, you only know what you know. Even if you're not, like we said, a professional teacher, but you think school, your mind will immediately give you memories of what you did when you were in school. So you have to be open to looking at it a new way, and that is scary for a lot of people because that's opening a door with an endless abyss because there's so many options and choices and you don't know where to go.
And so just giving comfort to those new people coming in when hear advice like that, it's scary. Yes, we validate those feelings. It is very scary. And you don't know what you don't know, but there are so many resources to start to help you find out what you don't know.
And then finally, Danielle wrote in and said, "Relax, it's really not worth the stress and anxiety." Yes. I hear you, Danielle.
It really isn't worth it. And I think that goes for everything in life, right? Nothing's worth the stress and anxiety. Things work out, we're alive, we're Good. And I think it's always hard when you're in the middle of it. There's a lot of fear in homeschooling if we let it take over, but it is part of the journey to let go of that fear, to learn how to be confident as a homeschool mom, as a parent. You can't go to a class to learn that, you just got to live it and you got to get through it.
Then you have to cultivate a different mindset, a growth mindset. You guys have a great episode about that, I know BookShark we did a series on that too. It's okay to fail. And that maybe is something, one of the biggest things in hindsight homeschooling is that I was so afraid to fail my children. Not understanding that in those failures is teaching life lessons. In those failures is demonstrating to my kids, guess what you're going to fail too, but it's what you do once you realize you've failed.
Do you look at what you did and do it a different way? Do you let it defeat you and go, "Well, obviously I can't do that so there's no point in continuing." That right, that's the difference between the growth mindset versus the fixed mindset. Failure is just showing you another way not to do it. Okay. So we don't do it that way. Let's find a new way to do it. But if you don't have that mindset, that failure can really add to the fear that you already had that you weren't going to be enough or do enough instead of going, "Wow. Once again, I messed that up, but let's see how we can do it differently tomorrow." Close the books, there's always tomorrow.
Yeah. So good. And that's the outlook we should have in life in general.
I think for me, one of my biggest things in hindsight, I would change would be not to be so caught up in finishing the curriculum. I think I missed out on a lot of opportunities to go play outside or to play games or to ditch the curriculum for the day and do something because I thought, "Oh, we can't skip. We can't skip because otherwise we're going to get behind or we're not going to finish this book or we're not going to finish this curriculum." And man, now when I look at my four teenagers, I'm like, "Oh, I missed out on sometimes that I could have had with them just having fun."
Okay. Well, I think for me, I would read a lot of unschooling books if I had to do it all over again, instead of going the classical way, which I still love. But I think that reading unschooling books or books about deschooling I think would've really helped me to not be so fearful about what they should or should not know at their age. I would've been a lot more relaxed and I am that now, but it's been many years. So I wish I would've started relaxed or at least, the first couple of years figured that out sooner.
Well, that really makes sense because we have been indoctrinated by our own schooling, so we have that to fight against. So you kind of go to the extreme on one end in order to get you somewhere in the middle.
I think again, another a good piece of advice for maybe parents who are finishing up, this is their first year, they're starting to decide if they're going to re-up for the next year if they have it in them, if it's something they want to continue to do. It really is looking at what you're willing to change in yourself as the parent, as the educator to get outside of yourself, your box, what you think it should be and set realistic goals for your children, with your children in mind. Not about you, not about society, not what your parents think or your friends think, but looking at your children as individuals.
And that's something that I really didn't do when I started homeschooling. I didn't look at them and say, "Okay, what are some goals that I have for you?" Now, I do. Now, it's like, "Love learning, how do we get there?" But in the beginning, I stress so much about checking the boxes, about getting the curriculum done, about doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing, and I did lose a lot of precious time. And we shed a lot of unnecessary tears trying to shove each of my children into a box that they just didn't fit into.
But the great thing is that even though, we may regret some things or we would do some things differently, we still continue to grow and learn. And our children, like we said, as long as you're being vulnerable with them, apologizing, and you realize that this is a growth journey for all of you, as a family, things are going to be okay. Because when I talk to my kids and I'm like, "I'm sorry that I did this." They really don't even remember. They're like, "Really mom, no, it was great." You know?
So I love that because it's very forgiving. We do have ways of communicating with our kids now and just saying, "Hey, I messed up. I don't know what I'm doing. I'm trying to teach you guys to love learning and it took a few years."
Yeah. Well, this has been so great ladies. Thank you Janna, for joining us today. I have just love being with you, it's always great.
DeeDee and Ximena, I want to thank you guys for pouring your heart and soul into this homeschool community through this podcast. Your authenticity and willing to share the ups and downs of your journey, I know have not only helped me, but all of our listeners who've taken the time to share life with you. And we just want to show our appreciation for what you have given to this community. It can't even be measured with numbers, no words could even describe the amount of positivity and encourage that you have provided over these last two seasons with Homeschool Your Way.
Aw, thank you, Janna.
Thank you, Janna. We want to thank BookShark and we really want to thank you, our listeners. It's really been an honor.
Yes. This has been such a great season. We really appreciate this time with you and this opportunity. It's been amazing bye.