Being a parent often entails wrestling with FOMO, the fear of missing out, particularly when it comes to our children's experiences and opportunities. This sensation can stem from the constant comparison to others, where we might believe that other families have it better or that we're somehow falling short. Homeschooling, in particular, amplifies this feeling as the responsibility of education rests heavily on parents' shoulders. The grass can appear greener on the side of traditional schooling, with its social activities and structured environments. However, homeschooling requires constant evaluation and adjustment to what is best for our families and kids. It's a path demanding patience, introspection, and a willingness to embrace the uncertainties that come with making educational choices. Join Janna and her guest Sarah Hercules as they discuss all of the above and more.


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Podcast Transcript

Janna  00:00 Welcome to Homeschool Your Way. I'm your host Janna Koch and BookShark’s Community Manager. In today's episode, I am joined by Sarah Hercules. She is the founder of Herculean homeschoolers. If you haven't seen any of her videos, you're going to have to check out her YouTube channel. Sarah is a former teacher in the public education system, who has had a recent adventure in going back into the workforce. And she's here to tell us about what she missed about homeschooling, and why she came back so quickly. So let me introduce you to Sarah. Hi, Sarah.  

Sarah  00:32 Thanks so much for letting me join today. For those of you who haven't seen my channel, Herculean homeschooling, I'm Sara Herculis. I'm a homeschool mama to six kids, three of them have some kind of special need. And we joined the homeschool world. 789 years ago, when we first started, it was nine years ago. And we loved homeschooling, it was going really well, then 2020 happened and COVID happened. And you know, the craziness there. 

And at that point, my oldest was going to be going into eighth grade. And it was kind of that year when everybody did have a virtual half in school who knew what the school was doing. And so we figured if he wanted to go back to public school, and the other kids were starting to ask to go back to public school as well. And my husband worked in the public school system for 15 years, I was a public school teacher and I grew up going to public school. And I thought that that YouTube has its ups and downs, right? Just like everything we have are pros and cons to it. And I had a great high school experience. I was a drum major in the marching band, I was tennis captain, National Honor Society, you know, all the things that I was thinking like a lot of homeschoolers do that maybe my kid is missing out. Maybe because I am homeschooling and depending on your state in your country, the different laws in Texas where I live, we cannot participate in any of the public school activities as a homeschooler. So my kids couldn't do bands, they couldn't go to prom if they wanted, they couldn't do National Honor Society or anything like that. So in a lot of ways, I was feeling like, am I holding my kids back in some way from being able to participate in these activities and have their peers and get to have these experiences that I had growing up? And so I was starting to really doubt our decision to homeschool in that way. Especially also having children with special needs, am I really giving them everything that they need? I had a 12-year-old who was still reading at a second-grade level. And would he do better if he had these resources that are not available to us in the public school system? And so once my kids started asking, hey, could we go back and try public school again, you know, it was like, Great, then you're gonna have all these things open to you. And it was totally like, the grass is greener, right, you're gonna love it, you're gonna have these social activities, you're gonna have teachers that are specialists in their field, and you're gonna get to enjoy the fruits of public school. And it's all glorified and glamorous and in my eyes, and so we go to school, and being a public school teacher, I was able to get a job at our local middle school, and I taught English there to middle school. And it's a very different world, you know, they say, the grass is greener for a reason. Because you get there and you realize it's not always as green as you expect it to be. And so we're getting in school, and the kids do really well with their teachers. And I was able to teach and having that dual income again was super helpful. And I thought that everything was going okay. 

However, I noticed, at the end of our days, there would be days where I didn't see my kids, maybe an hour by the time they got done with all of their stuff, and then home and getting their homework done. And then dance lessons or music lessons and, or a sports team and things that they were just gone all day, and we probably wouldn't even eat dinner together. And then I see them really quickly that it's bedtime, and then going to bed and after days turning into weeks turning into months, I was realizing I never saw my kids. And I didn't become a mom to not see my kids, right, especially six of them. And the attitudes were changing. The order of who was important to them was changing. It was a lot more about their friends and what their friends thought instead of the values and teaching that we were trying to instill in them at home. And then our home environment was changing to meet what the school's demands were instead of the other way around. And then I was stressed out all the time with my job because I think most of us can agree that teachers are overworked and underpaid. I will say most of the teachers I worked with, they really did have a love for students. They wanted to be there, they wanted to help. And I love that there's just so much red tape as an educator and the testing the amount of, of class time that's devoted to just being focused on a test. And, and that's not real life, right? 

Once we get out of college and think, how often are we really testing and yet, that's what's being drilled all day, every day, the attitudes of kids and some of the public schools, the apathy that was happening, it was just not the green grass that I expected it to be. So after talking with our children, and going over our ultimate goals, I think that's a big reason why homeschoolers choose to homeschool is what is education. What does that look like? We all have a different idea of what education is and what education should be. And the public school has their version of what education is, and even they can't agree on it. And each family has to decide what is education to you and to your family? And so with discussing with our family, what are our education goals? What do we want to get out of our life? And what are where do we want to go, and our children decided, I will say totally on their own, that they would like to homeschool again, except my oldest, he would have to keep going to school. And he was going to be doing classes, and bands and everything. And we were super supportive of that. And that was his decision. And I was really grateful that it also meant that I would be able to come home again, and not have to work outside of the home all day and be able to be with my children. And so it was actually just about three weeks before this school year started that my oldest came to us and said Mom and Dad, I've been really thinking about it. And I think I want to homeschool again, too. And we're all like, what, okay, great. And he was telling us that he's just so much happier homeschooling than he was going to public school and the things that he was seeing and hearing is not what he wants to fill his life with. And that he would prefer to homeschool again. So we're super supportive of that decision as well. And that is how we can bring everybody back home.

Janna  07:32 You know, it's so interesting that we parent, from our own experiences that as humans, that's all we have, right? We can only go off what we know. And you only knew your experience from your time at high school. But that was decades ago, right? So like, sometimes I hear panic. I mean, a decade ago, but sometimes we hear parents, I hear parents I hear in the homeschool community. Well, I don't want my kids to miss out on a, b, and c, because they did a, b, and c. But a, b, and c is not the same today, as it was when they went through it. And your child is not you. So I wasn't excited about theater like I love theater, I was excited to be a part of it. But that doesn't mean that my kids have that same desire, they don't have the same drive. So for some of these parents who are starting to think like, Okay, I have enjoyed it, this has been a good thing for our family. But they start having that FOMO for their own children, which is not even possible because your kids don't know what to fear that they're missing out. But I think it comes from a place of love in parents for their children. 

But we have to have a realistic view of what that actually looks like. Because like you were willing to let your son continue your oldest son continue in high school, and he was the one who was like, yeah, no, it's not what I thought it was gonna be. And I'm sure you know, for parents who aren't there yet. It's hard to believe that that's that children can come to that conclusion on their own. But I've seen it I mean, in our daughter, our youngest daughter was the same thing. It was like, Okay, where do you want to go? What? And my husband finally looked at me and said, I think she's stressed out about making the decision. I think she wants us to make it for her. And I was like, no, no kid wants their parents to make a decision like that for them. But that kid did. She really did need us to just tell her, at least for this year, like this is what you're doing. And once we made the decision, most of her anxiety went away. Because she was like, Okay, I have a guide. I looked to my parents for guidance. I needed them to tell me what to do. Now granted, maybe next year she'll have that. That's not going to be the same case. And if you would have asked my oldest she would have told you exactly what she wanted to do. She did not need you to tell her what to do. So it's knowing when it's knowing our children, first of all, it's knowing what like you said what, why, and what you're doing. But then including your children in that is paramount to making it a holistic choice for everybody.

Sarah  10:17 Yeah, I love that you mentioned including your children in that decision, because people will ask me, Well, are you going to homeschool forever? I'm like, tell me one thing you're gonna do forever that you know for sure. It's going to change it, it's going to vary by child and what your family circumstances are at that time. And so we decide each year we take each child individually, we talk with them, we find out what they're thinking we a lot of times, we'll make our pro-con list for each kid. And what do you want to do? And some of them need a little bit more guidance and support and some of them know right away what they want to do. And depending on your kids, some of them need to be voluntold. Right? What they need to do as well and kind of help guide. But I think the ultimate goal is we want our kids to be able to make their own decisions thoughtfully. And so being able to support them in this safe space and help them make those decisions is a life skill that they will be able to use forever.

Janna  11:20 When you were back in the public system, so a lot of times we talk to people on this podcast, and their experiences were previous right, so their homeschool parents, they've been out of the system for a little while. So you're like fresh meat. Sarah, you were just in it? What were you seeing that you can kind of encourage parents who maybe this is their first year, maybe they're trying to decide if they're going to continue that you saw some major deficits in public school that most parents don't necessarily see. And so they don't know what the pitfalls are actually avoiding?

Sarah  11:56 That's a great question. There are a lot of people who have no idea what's even happening in the public schools, and we just trust and assume that the schools doing what they should be doing. And I would like to first of all, encourage every family that even if you're just doing okay, as a homeschool parent, you're doing far better than what they're probably getting at school. So it's really tough, because the curricula that the schools use, it's kind of turning everything into sausage, right, you have to get the kids that are at the lowest of the low and try to bring them up. But then you can't have the highest of the high because you have these done here. So you have to kind of bring them down, and everything just gets turned a sausage in the middle. So being able to really let your students shine is difficult in that way, just because the classrooms, if you're in a smaller school district, you're lucky to have 15 to 20. In a classroom, a lot of classrooms throughout the country have 30-40 plus students, all with varying needs. And there's very limited training. When I got my certificate and even just having taught there was very limited training on what to do and how to handle situations. And it's just here's a bare-bones curriculum and do with it what you can, as English teachers, we were not teaching grammar at the middle school. My son who was at the middle school has autism, and is a struggling reader, we were told that he would not be taught to read. And as a parent, I was like, what Wait, what, like you have these programs and you have reading specialists. And we were told what those reading specialists are for kids with dyslexia and your child doesn't have dyslexia. And so I responded with it. So if my child can't read, and doesn't have dyslexia, you're just not going to teach them to read? And they responded that they would give him a headset and that everything would be read to him. So that was really shocking to me, as a parent, and as an educator, that these gaps that kids have, we're not looking to fill the gap, we're looking to what band-aid can we put on it to just push them through? I was really surprised to see that a lot of the kids in middle school have never written any kind of paper, I think a lot of parents would be surprised that their kid has maybe written a paragraph and that's all, and specifically, I bring up English not just because being an English teacher, but I know a lot of BookShark users have some concerns with our the English program that book shark uses and what they've written, is it enough? Is it enough because it kind of builds on each other and it's small little chunks, and that it's 100% enough the way that it builds? It's not logically laid out. And your kid is going to be learning to write an essay. Whereas a lot of the public schools are not teaching that anymore. They're not teaching spelling, they're uploading because a lot of public schools have Chromebooks and other computers and stuff. And so they'll just put upload like Grammarly and things. And so the probes are the kids are not learning to edit their work anymore. They're not being taught spelling, because there's going to be AI and a program that will do that for them. So what's the point of using our time, if that's not going to be on the test 100% of everything that's part of the curriculum is based on what's going to be on that standardized test that the kids have to take. And it's really unfortunate that as an educator, if I wanted to introduce something, I would be told, like, well, that's not on the test. So we're not going to teach that. And, but But it's poetry, you know, whatever it is, if it wasn't on the test, we couldn't teach it. And that's really limited and a lot of ways and leaving out so much, because they're just focused on this one test. So I think could be really shocking to parents, the amount of time in the schools that's just wasted with elementary school, having to walk them to specials, and walk them to recess and walk to the bathroom. And so you could get everything done in like two hours. But because of having 35 Kids and having to walk to the bathroom in these different places, that's why they're having to be there for eight hours. And then as you get older, you know, in between your class periods and things that kind of shift, but still a lot of time that's used for nothing other than getting kids from one place to the next. So there's a lot that really surprised me the attitude of the kids, I'm not sure how much you want to I could talk for hours. Kids there, but it's a different attitude than when we went to school. You know, we were very respectful, I felt like to teachers, and they were the educators. And some kids made stupid decisions, but you know, they’re kids. In today's world, it's amazing how parents, a lot of them feel like it's the teacher's fault, it's not their students' fault. And so a lot of blame gets put on teachers today. And it's a lot of the kids can't do anything wrong. And it's very different from how we grew up where the adult was correct and in charge and now it’s almost switched, where it's like the kids are in charge and just doing the best of what they can. So it's definitely a different world and very stressful. And the apathy of just kids not caring about their education, and they don't care if they fail, because they're gonna get moved up anyway, which is true up until high school, they'll just, they don't fail kids anymore, that No Child Left Behind and everything and so they'll just move them on up. So there's no real reason for kids to do better. Because there's no consequence, which is different, again, than a lot of people realize. So those are a couple of things that stand out.  

Janna  18:22 Coming up with those are just off the top of her head. That's just what's pouring out of Sarah at the moment. I do connect with this idea of that, the blame, and nobody can be wrong. If you have homeschooled or been at home for any length of time with your children. You should be the first one to throw them under the bus. I know my kids, I know what they do. And I'm always like, ‘Was it my kid? Did my kid do it?’ That's it. Um, you know, and I actually had spoken with an individual at my twin’s school they are, they are outsourced this year, I just outsource some, it's great that they're finishing up high school, and I had a call from one of them. And I started to go immediately, what did she do what she this was she that that's not how we are. And he was like, not at all, ‘She was not disrespectful in any way.’ Like, and I was like, Oh, thank God because I was you know, I didn't necessarily agree with the interaction that had happened with her and this adult at the school, but I was not going to stand for finding out that she was disrespectful to somebody in authority in any way, shape or form. So I hope that most parents, whether you homeschool or not if you spend any amount of time with your kid, you would know when they were they you know they're in the wrong when they're with you. So how could they not be in the wrong, you know, in other situations, but it's disheartening and my heart is really heavy for the teachers, you know, for the people who are in public education who really do value education and stay because they love the students and they're really trying to make a difference. And so I hope that those who are listening, hear our heart when we say, you know, we are not trying to blame anybody. It's a systematic failure. And I don't have the answer, Sarah, I don't. But I know that I'm responsible for helping my children become producing members of society. I have felt that the only way I could do that is if I took their education back and put it into my own hands. And, yeah, at times fail miserably. But I am so grateful for the BookShark curriculum that does lay it out there for me. So I know at least, even if I'm doing a portion of it, it is definitely more than you know what they would maybe get somewhere else and when they are one of many. I think our audience would love to hear some of the key things that you really missed about homeschooling.

Sarah  20:51 Definitely, I will if the number one thing that I missed was just being with my kids, like not seeing them all day was so hard, and I just missed being with them. And I felt like I didn't know them as well anymore with the story you just shared Janna, if I know my kid, you know, and she gonna do this and or not. And when you're with your kids all day, you do know those little nuances and the things that they would say or what it says, and having been gone from them all day, I felt like I was losing that, would my child do that? Would they not do that? So that was probably the number one thing I missed just the time with them. I also missed knowing what they were learning. A lot of times when we send our kids to school, we just trust that the school is doing the best thing and teaching them what they need to learn. And we have no idea what they're actually alerting even if the school district because some states require that schools post their schedule and their curricula and everything. So you should have access to that. But that doesn't mean that that's what the teacher is doing in the classroom. And so we just don't know, so not knowing what they were learning and whether they learning in the way that is best for them to learn. You know, some of our kids are more auditory learners, some are more kinesthetic, and, are they learning in the best way for them to remember that? So that was really difficult to not share with them. And so that was one of the things I miss. I also miss the flexibility. It'd be beautiful weather outside, and I'm stuck in this building. And my kids are all stuck in this building. And by the time we're all finally released, there's like an hour or two left of sunshine. I love the homeschooling flexibility of if it's a beautiful day, let's go to school outside or let's go on this field trip outside. And that's going to be our science for the day and everything else can be on the backburner. So I love the flexibility that homeschooling brings. And I really missed that. I also missed diving down deep into the things that interested my kids. So if we were learning about the Revolutionary War, and we had to follow this curriculum that we could, we just had to keep moving on even though my kids are really interested in it. And we didn't have that freedom to do that when they were in public school. And so I love homeschooling. If we're loving this, then let's keep learning about it. Let's watch some more videos about it. Let's build the Lego creation to reenact it and everything and have the time and flexibility to be able to really dive deep and explore my kids' interests and their hobbies and stuff having time to work on those two. So I think those are probably the top three things that I missed most about homeschooling that I just didn't have time for couldn't get to, or wasn't didn't have the opportunity to do working full time and my kids in public school.

Janna  23:59 Would you think that most parents would be surprised to know that their children actually need time in between learning to digest what they were just given? You know, I had heard it, it's like when you're consuming food, your body takes time to digest it. And when kids are learning they're going from one thing to the next without any time in between. You and I have talked before about your kids being able to play and all the sudden they're reenacting something, but that's because they had the space to digest it and then act it out as opposed to you know when you quickly eat a meal and then you move on and then you know you're exercising and they say don't swim after until 30 minutes or something like there just isn't. That's not really taught. I don't think to parents, that the importance of pausing in between those really aha moments to let them soak in it. There just isn't time for that. If you don't build it in and that can happen even in homeschooling.  

Sarah  24:57 It can I think that in our culture today If it's a big thing of just go, go, go, go go, what's the next thing? What else can I squish in? What else do we need to do? And and I think we've pushed that onto our kids, I've Okay, you've learned this, now we need to do the next thing. Now we're going to do the next thing without taking that time to step back and really internalize what it is that we're learning. I'm a musician. And a lot of times when I drill with kids, like their, their piano, or vocals or whatever, it's like, when I practice with you, the best thing to do is when you wake up the next morning, do it on your own, because doing that, that second time within 24 hours is really what ingrains it into your head and helps, it doesn't just have to be music, it's sports. And you know that muscle memory, we do the same thing as a tennis player as do the same thing over and over and over to get that muscle memory. Well, our brains work the same way with our education, right? So giving good learning, and then taking the time to understand it to process it. And then kind of reviewing in a fun way, well, that's going to stay with you a lot longer. We did Level D with BookShark years ago, like five, or six years ago, my kids still talk about George versus George, because of the Lego thing that they created, like two days after we had learned about that. And that's like, that's five-plus years. And they're still talking about that, because we gave them the time, because we took our time and weren't rushing to what's the next thing, what's the next thing, and in all areas of our life things, even especially as homeschool parents, you know, taking a step back for ourselves to not feeling like we need to cram all the things in is good.

Janna  26:43 And rest assured it will be repeated, repeated, repeated it, you know, like, I hear parents say like, I don't think they're retaining anything. And it's like, they might, you don't think they are, but it's going somewhere in their brain. And it's somewhere that when they hear it again, it's the groove in the brain is gonna be a little bit deeper. And then when they hear it again, years later, they're gonna have a reference for it. Oh, yeah, I think we did talk about that, or I do kind of remember or have some kind of connection with it. We are so focused on achievement right now, I think not only in education, but as you pointed out our society, we're not giving ourselves or our children time to think about what we're thinking about. How did you feel about that? What, did you feel when you heard about that? Or how do you see it, you know, what would you have done? If it was you, it's like, we don't have time for reflection. And I think, in my own experience of education, reflection is when it really became real, to me, it's like, oh, it's not just a fact, it's not just a piece of history, it's not just a scientific theorem, like, that's what oh, that's what it is, or this is how it works in life where I start to see the connections. But if there's no time to do that, it's just like, you keep pouring into a saturated sponge. And it's not taking it anymore. It just can't.

Herculean HomeschoolHerculean Homeschool

Sarah  28:04 You're right. It's kind of the the idea of in public school, I felt like we covered so many topics, but it was just surface level of so many different topics. Whereas with homeschooling, you maybe cover fewer topics, but you go way down deep into it into the depth that you're getting. And when you go that depth, that's when you're able to have more of like that pondering time and that processing time and reflecting. And that is where I feel like true leaders are born when you can discover what you think about a topic or a situation and form your own opinion. And then to be able to voice that opinion, is a true leader, right? And compared to somebody who's just a follower, and just doing the surface topics. And that's all I'm going to get. And that's all I need to know for XYZ. And so now I can move on. And then I forget that a year later. So So yeah, I feel like being able to go down deeper, is really important. And maybe that does mean that we cover fewer topics. But that doesn't mean that my education isn't as well-rounded as anybody else's.  

Janna  29:19 Yeah.  Now, I know this is going to seem slightly biased. But you did choose to come back to BookShark, you you had options of all things just like everybody else. What were some of the reasons or what were some of the things that just drew you back to? I mean, we'll cross off that it was obviously familiar because I know you personally and you are not the type of person who does things because they're easy. So tell our listeners what drew you back.

Sarah  29:47 Well, the first thing that drew us back where my kids, they're like, Okay, well we're gonna be doing BookShark again, right? Of course we are. The number one thing we love is the literature and getting to do all of our read-alouds together They're some of our funniest family memories and best family memories are all when we're circled around, doing the read-alouds together. And so there was no way that I was willing to look at something else and miss out on those memories. So the the literature base was really important to me and our kids just because it has so many good memories tied to it. I also really appreciate that it is a secular curriculum. And so that BookShark I feel like really well rounded, they're not trying to hide anything, quite a few of the books, especially in the high school levels are on those banned books lists that a lot of schools are not allowed to have in their school buildings anymore. And I love that the BookShark is not afraid of that. And I'm not afraid to discuss it with my kids. And so being able to have those discussions, and to have that introduced in a safe space in a good environment here. I really appreciate that BookShark does that. And of course, the schedule. I mean, even as an educator, I didn't want to have to write all my lesson plans. It's I love that it's just open-and-go. And it's already planned for me. And that takes so much off of my plate as a busy homeschool mom that I love BookShark for those reasons.

Janna  31:27 I love being able to focus on the learning and not on the admin part of it. Because I get just as excited about things as my child is aged up and we're not doing read-alouds anymore. You certainly can I know we have a friend Candace Kelly homeschools on the Hill that wish her boys were going through high school, they continue to use those readers as read-alouds. And you can do that. And I think it's beautiful. It's not how we're set up. So she independently reads, but I like to independently read alongside of her. So that even though as busy working parents, you don't have to BookShark we'll give you know, a general answer. So that if you can't, or you fall behind and your kids are moving forward, you can still be a part of those discussions. But even if we're not necessarily sitting down and discussing it, I know what she's reading, because I've read it too. And then if she does have a question, I have a reference to what she's asking me. And so we can still have maybe not daily organic conversations over the literature, but it's, it's still there. And I have the ingredients that the recipe calls for so that when it does come up, I feel confident that you know, okay, I know what you're talking about. We're like you said, in other arenas, that's not necessarily possible, because they might not be following any prescribed or what's put out there. And you don't have that same connection that you would if you didn't have it in front of you.

Sarah  32:55 That's true. It's so true. And I really liked that while we have the schedule, it doesn't mean it's set in stone, like as a public educator, I had to cover these things. And so I love having the schedule with BookShark and we still have flexibility with it. If we're not going to get to that optional activity, then we're just not going to do it. Or if my kid is having a really hard day that day, and the copy work is out of the question, because I don't want to fight that battle. We're going to skip the copy work that day. And it's totally fine. And if there's a book that maybe isn't resonating the right way, close it and move on. Like, we still have that ability to make the decision on what part of the curriculum we're going to use. It's all there for us if we want to use all of it. But that doesn't mean that we have to. So we get those options, which I love having options.  

Janna  33:52 So there is a mindset shift for parents who come into Homeschooling with an open and go-a-set schedule. And in one sense, if you choose to homeschool, you are thinking outside of the box, right? You're going outside of social norms, although it's becoming more normalized than it has ever been. I feel like we come into it and we just start doing the very things that we are trying to get away from which is follow the guide. And the book says I have to do it this way. Are my kids not enjoying the book, I've got to push through. It's like you don't. You chose to homeschool for a reason. And while it is all of like you said all there and all great. If it does, it's not working stop like it's okay. And the amount of new homeschooling families that I hear get stressed out about skipping something is not unusual. Like it's a pretty high amount. But we just have to keep saying like, yeah, it's okay. It's okay. And I think the more comfortable you get, the longer you do it, the more maybe rebellious you feel or more free, then it does become easier to start to start either replacing eliminating or just really making it your own?

Sarah  35:03 Yeah, I think the last podcast we actually did together was homeschooling doesn't have to be public school at home. So I'm sure we can link that if somebody would be interested in listening to you don't have to recreate public school at home for your homeschool, to be successful. And it is a lot of following your kids and what's working and what's not working. And I think sometimes with the books, a big part of me is like, but I spent money on this. And so we're reading it. But then you're just forcing things that aren't wanting to fit together. And it's okay to just you learn to let go as a homeschooler. There's a lot of social norms that are put onto us. And we just have to let them let them go. And it's all going to be okay.

Janna  35:49 Yeah. And in representation for those who are watching this, Sarah. And if you're not, Sarah is in front of a bookshelf, full stack, I mean, like, fully full overflowing with books. And if you don't feel like a book is a good fit, it may not be a good fit today. But it could be a good fit. A couple of weeks from now, a month from now, a year from now, like you still have that. So don't feel as though you are wasting your money. Because you do have it, no one's going to take it away. And you can pull it back down on another at another time. And then all of a sudden, you'll start reading it that happened to us. And I pulled it back out and I was like, oh, maybe we should try again. Because I do kind of want to figure out what happens in the story. And we ended up loving it. But when we were reading it when it was scheduled, it was like, like pulling teeth so definitely making things your own. Sarah, what do you think the future holds for your family? So you've already decided for this year? You know what, what you guys are gonna do? Do you have a projected goal for homeschooling even after this year?

Sarah  36:57 Well, as of today, we're still fully planning on homeschooling, like I shared earlier, we take each kid each year and see where we are. There's, I would like to share to definitely know your laws in your state or your country. Like in Texas, when in high school, nothing we do in homeschooling transfers to a high school credit. So my son would have to restart High School basically. So for him, we're kind of set because we've started this homeschool journey in high school, and he's going to need to finish that. So know your state's laws and things as you make those decisions. But as of right now, we are fully committed, we're homeschooling. And there's some potential for some travel in the future. And I love that we can take our home school with us no matter where we go. And so that's our that's our plan for now. Janna, we'll see what happens and what's in store.

Janna  37:55 And I'm excited to be able to follow you on your YouTube channel to kind of see where this journey lends you or leads you throughout the year. Before we go, Sarah, do you have a homeschool hack you can share with our listeners?

Sarah  38:08 So my homeschool hack is I love getting my kids to read I had some really reluctant readers still might have a couple there. And that might scare a little few people away from BookShark because there's so many books. Don't let it scare you away. My two oldest boys were very reluctant readers and have grown to love BookShark. And so getting my kids to read more. One of the hacks that I do is I get picture books, my youngest is seven. So he selects picture books. And then my oldest is 16. And I will get them from the library or from my bookshelf. And usually it has to do with holidays or seasons or whatever's going on in that time. And I just leave them in a stack on my dining room table. And I don't say anything about them. And it's really fascinating how breakfast time the 16-year-old is reading a picture Halloween book or Christmas book or whatever the 13-year-old is reading it. And they're just sitting there at lunch and they're reading books sometimes out loud to each other. Sometimes they're just reading it on their own. And it's just magical. Like I don't have to do anything. I don't have to push anything. And it's just really fun to see them open a book and read on their own.

Janna  39:18 Statistically they have said that for families who have books available to children, they have more avid readers and I on the surface. I'm like, Well done, right? But I think that your hack is really proving that if you do have reluctant readers they will gravitate if you're modeling reading as well, like you and I are avid readers you way more than me. But if you're modeling that and you're giving them access to things that aren't necessarily involved in their homeschool I had one BookShark customer say she was grieved that her child didn't have time to read for fun anymore. And I thought, Oh, you got to build space for that. Because there's, you have to always make time for fun reading, you still go to,  we still go to the library, we still although now my oldest have jobs and so they always buy books and I'm like, There's a library for that too. But they'll have to learn on their own, you still need to encourage your children to want to delve into their interests and find things that interest them. And I love the idea of having picture books on the table, I'm actually kind of want to go to the library right now and get some just so I can read a few, and those feel-good feelings are those bright colors. And you know, just a few words on the page. And, a lot of times those are silly. They're kind of written for parents as well, to you know, enjoy as they're reading those 100 times over to their kids. So thank you for that hack. That's a great one.

Sarah  40:51 Yeah, no problem. I'm excited to hear how it works in and what books you guys like to have your kids reading because there's some really funny ones, like you said, Janna and some new ones that as my kids have gotten older, I just haven't heard of them yet. So it's been fun to, to dive back into the picture book scene.

Janna  41:09 So go to your local library, and find out what fun you can have with your kids. Sara, thank you so much for being on today. We always enjoy having you on the podcast. I really appreciate your perspective, and your encouragement for homeschool parents.  

Sarah  41:24 Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. And yeah, just want to encourage everybody that no matter how much or how little you feel like you're doing, you are the parent of these amazing kids. And you know what's best and you know how to help them and you're doing great. So keep it up. And thanks again, Janna. I really appreciate your time and it's been fun to be here again.

Janna  41:47 For those who are listening, we're gonna link all of Sarah's information in the notes so that you can check her out on her YouTube channel. And also the previous podcasts that she did with us years ago. Don't recreate public school at home. All right, until next time, bye-bye.