A homeschool season

EPISODE 169 |  The homeschooling journey involves not only academic endeavors but also the cultivation of life skills and parenting strategies. Navigating through the intricate terrain of homeschooling, parents often encounter challenges that become invaluable lessons in the realm of both education and life. The homeschooling journey is a dynamic process that requires adaptability, patience, and a willingness to reassess approaches and expectations. Homeschool conventions provide a platform for sharing experiences, addressing challenges, and learning from the collective wisdom of the homeschooling community. Ultimately, the homeschooling journey becomes a profound exploration of not just academics, but also the continuous evolution of effective parenting strategies, life skills, and the realization that challenges are stepping stones to growth and success. Join Janna with her guest Vicki Miller as they discuss homeschooling, conventions, family, and more.

ABOUT OUR GUEST |  Vicki Miller is the wife to one and the mom to 5, with four living children.  She has homeschooled all of her children from beginning to end...In May, her homeschool journey will end.  Transitioning out of homeschooling brings mixed emotions, but it's also a new chapter filled with opportunities for growth and new experiences and she is here for it ALL! While it seems like a flash, it was, in fact, a flash.  Learning and exploring alongside her children was her greatest gift. She is like all the moms/wives out there who want the best home environment for their family and LOVE to prevail in all situations.  

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Podcast Transcript

Janna  00:00: Welcome to Homeschool Your Way. I'm your host Janna Koch and BookSharks Community Manager, and in today's episode, I am joined by Vicki Miller. She is a homeschool mom of three graduates. And the fourth is almost there. She's also the director of exhibitors and vendors for the Great Homeschool Convention. Today we are just going to be talking about Vicki's journey, accomplishing some homeschool successes, and seeing an end to her season. But also, we're going to give you guys some tips and encouragement about homeschool conventions this season and what you can expect if you choose to attend one. Vicki, thanks so much for being here.

Vicki  00:35: Thanks for having me.

Janna  00:37: For those who don't have the pleasure of knowing you, why don't you go ahead and just introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about how you entered the homeschool world?

Vicki  00:47: Sure. So I'm wife to one and mom to four. I was in Dallas, Texas at a Bible school with my husband when our son was ready to go to school, and didn't want to send my son to the local public school. And so I decided he would go to a charter school, he found that it not going to work for us financially or just the time commitment that it was going to take for that. And with another two-year-old along the way. I just didn't want to be in Dallas traffic for hours a day. So I decided how hard could it be to teach someone to read. So I picked up homeschooling and never looked back. That's just how we got started. I mean, it's it doesn't it's not dramatic, or this long, foreseen dream come true. It just fell in our lap. It was something that we needed to do. And we did it.

Janna 01:39: I do have a hidden jealousy for those families who have had this passion from the beginning. If this is what we want to do, we know we're going to do it it sounds and maybe I'll romanticize it in my brain. But I think oh, well, you know, that's so beautiful. And, like you, I wouldn't even say we fell into it. I've admitted all the time, I was a reluctant homeschooler even though I was homeschooled as a child. So you know, everyone's journey starts and ends in a different place. And it's so encouraging to hear other stories to know that Oh, okay. Yeah, I don't maybe necessarily fit in with those people who knew from the beginning or felt like this was what we wanted to do. It kind of just happened. And, and I think that typically, both of those beginnings end in the same place, which is gratitude for the time that they had at home for their children. Speaking of having four, their age ranges are pretty stacked on each other. What is the age difference there? 

Vicki 02:40: So our oldest will be 25 next month, and our baby is 17. So we had a seven-year gap for kids under the age of 10. And trying to school was quite interesting is the word I will use but like like you said, I mean, I think we can romanticize homeschooling all day long and just have this beautiful picture of picnics and, and beautiful, beautiful days. And although there are those and there are so many of those. A lot of times it's just like pulling up your shirt sleeve and going we're doing this and we're committed to it. And this is why we're doing it. And we're going to keep doing it even on the hard days. Because I can't tell you how many moms I've talked to along the journey of homeschooling. So now it'll be you know, over 20 years for us, when our daughter graduates this May that we've heard just people say like, I've told my kids I'm putting on the school bus tomorrow, you know, and it's like, Yes, we all get that, that to that point where we all get to that day of just like, oh, you know, I've done they don't listen, they don't care. And then to get to the other side of it like we are as parents now is just as beautiful. I mean, absolutely beautiful. We were talking about like thank you and how a lot of parents don't see it in your 123 Forever down the way and not that our kids didn't say thank you they did said they say thank you to us for the great opportunities they had that most people don't get to do like, literally getting to see the arches and you know, hiking canyons that you know getting to see the North and South Rim of the Grand Canyon in person and hiking it you know, and and being in state parks or national parks, you know hikes for 15 hours. I mean, just the things we've gotten to do and see are amazing. I taught all my sons to cook and clean. I've taught my daughter we've taught our daughter how to change a tire and do her gas and oil. I mean like we wanted to teach our children. My husband's always been the provider for our family and I've always been the stay-at-home mom, maybe done some stuff on the side, you know to help out here and there. But we always want to show our children that you need to be a self-sustaining individual, right? So, yes, it might be great that you provide for your family and, your wife stays home or or you both work or whatever you choose to do, but be able to do all the things so that you are a blessing to whoever you end up marrying. Or if you're on your own for a long time, well, then you can feed yourself, you know, I mean, like, so it was, it was beautiful, because we included Home Economics, you know, in our homeschooling, and so we had, we had, like, you have to, you have to be able to cook this, this meal on your own, you have to make a grocery list a menu first and then a grocery list and go buy the groceries and stay in your budget. And so we just incorporated life skills into our homeschooling. And so I can't, I can't say enough how great the homeschooling journey is, or was for us. I mean, we're at the end, like we're at the very, very end, I mean, I'm holding on, you know, the graduation gown, you know, as tight as I can, but it's happening, and it's gonna be here before you know it. And yeah, and so it'll be the end for us, too. And I'm excited, you know, I'm excited. I'm excited that my kids are as different as they are and as many struggles as they've had because some of them have had some really big struggles in life. They know who they are as people. And I think that as a homeschooling parent, and just a parent in general, that's a blessing. I mean, my kids are confident people. They're not perfect people by any means. And I would never want that for them. But they know who they are. They know what they like, they know what their gifts are, and their talents are. And I can honestly say that all of them are living that out. Are they making the best decisions all the time? And what I would choose? No, but I didn't do that for my parents either. You know what I'm saying? Like, I think I think the beautiful thing that happened for my husband and I was that we finally let go of expectations of our children that we had, and probably projecting because you want your kids to do better than you. I mean, you want your kids to go further than you you want your kids to have a happy, successful, easy life. Well, newsflash, that's not reality, right? It's not I mean, they need to, they need to know who they are. They need to know their struggles, their weaknesses, and their strengths, you do the best you can with the information and knowledge you have at the time. And so I would say like, stop being so hard on yourself as a parent, you know, I have some friends and I had that we had a homeschool group and we homeschooled we had a home, we had a homeschool group, and we did all the home things, you know, we were the home people were great. Well, it was great. And then when it wasn't, it wasn't, and there was a lot of hurt. And there was a lot of turmoil that happened at that time. But we all came out alive, right? And we came out learning so many things. And so, you know, we think that as like, parents, when our kids are small, like when they can just do this, you know, when they can just dress themselves, when they can just, you know, be self-sufficient in schooling, when they can just, we get in this mindset, which is it robs us of when they can do this. And when they can do that. I promise you, you're going to blink and you're going to be going, our kids going to be 25. And our last one is graduating, like how did that happen?

Janna  08:44: But Vicki didn't so many people tell you that at that moment, and you couldn't see it? Because I know I was there. It was like I had twin toddlers and I had another baby and I was like, What did I get myself into? You know, and then and then as they're going into school age, and then you know what? It's home school, and it is so hard and people say like, oh, it's gonna go in a flash and I was like, can't come quick enough. And I'm like you now I'm here. And it's almost like a phenomenon. There's no way you can. And you could try you have to I guess if you were incredibly intentional to be that young parent who was heading the wisdom of their elders to maybe pause and enjoy. But I think some things in life, you just don't know. Because you don't know. And it isn't until you've gotten to the end and you turn around and you say, Ah, you were right. They were so right and and I can't go back and they agree with you. It's like now that we're here we're looking back and it's like please enjoy that. Enjoy that nap enjoy that you had toys on the floor. You know and and I remember being in that moment go aren't you crazy? The toys have to be picked up. homeschooling is no different than parenting. You have that firstborn, you're going to do it. All right, you're going to do it by the book, then the second one comes, and the third one comes in. Sometimes you forget, there's a fourth one. Right. And I think it's very similar with homeschooling, I think we all come into it. And we're like, we're going to do it by the book, we're going to, it's going to look a certain way. And it's only with time and experience that we loosen up that

Janna  10:22: Yeah.

Vicki  10:22: Yeah, and I think it's right Hindsight is 2020. On all things life, I think I think that one things you could do to help yourself is to probably remove yourself from social media to compare, right? Because somebody's homeschool journey is going to look so much more beautiful than you are so much more excellent, and like praiseworthy than you. And the reality is, it's, it's it's Facebook worthy, right? It's a Facebook picture or a Facebook. I mean, I remember putting on Facebook, years ago, in my homeschooling room, and I literally had a desk for each child, their name printed on a thing, their supplies in a backpack. I mean, like I like, what was I thinking like, the time and energy I spent on that to create this thing that we didn't use, not that some people don't use it or that it is not a successful tool. For some people, it wasn't for my family. That's not how we how we did things well. And so I think the unfortunate way that we compare ourselves robs us of so many great things, the little moments, not to mention, it doesn't just rob us of little moments, it also robs us of time, right? I remember being an overwhelmed mom who just grabbed Facebook and checked out. And I remember my kids talking to me about it later. Like you, you checked out. And I'm like, bawling, you know, I do know you do. And I'm so sorry. You know, I mean, just the other day, my son, my oldest called and he was asking me something, and I was busy with work. And so I was I was talking to him, but I was working. And so I called him back and I was like, I'm so sorry, Colin. And he's like, why? What's wrong Mom? And I'm like, I am so so desperately seeking to be in the moment, with all the things of with my work with my home life, with my friendships with my family, and I was busy. And I didn't give you and he was like it. So I literally was crying like I just because I just, I want to be in the moment I want to be in the moment. I want to go back to those moments. I know I can't, and I don't, I don't live in that regret. But I do want people to know that like, whatever means you have right now in this in this moment is enough. You know, you don't have to have the $2,000 curriculum, because it's out there. You know, I'm working for the great homeschool conventions.


That was something we went to like 14 years ago, or 12 years ago as a family just to go to Fort Worth when it was important with Texas and I like to be busy, I don't sit well, I don't just relax, like my husband, can I just need to be moving. And so we were sitting there and there was a need at the convention. And so I was like, I'm gonna volunteer. And my husband's like, Of course you are. So I volunteered. And then the next year they they asked me like that weekend like, Hey, would you come back next year? And I was like, Sure. And so I went back and for like nine years I worked for them in Texas when they were in just here in Texas. And I just worked and it was it was the greatest thing. It was it was great. And then I came on with them almost two years ago now full time. Finding that like convention like I had been to other conventions before like with with moms, it was like always on mom's Mother's Day weekend. So we would like there to be this homeschool day at Six Flags in Arlington. So we do Six Flags with our kids for the homeschool day. And then the husbands would come and take the kids away. And that's moms would like four to six, you know because finances were limited, share a room and then go to the convention right go to this other convention. And it was good for the time because it was mom time. But what I found with the great homeschool conventions was It was a family event. And I loved it that there was something for the dads and something for the moms and something for the families and something for the teens and so so that that was a beautiful thing to find, and then connect and get connected with and still be with all these years later. What I love about it is that because I try to tell so many families that they may not have the way to buy the $2,000 curriculum and not that, that that's not knocking it because they are available. But go to a convention and like put your hands on it, put your hands on it and see like, oh my gosh, my kids would dig this. My one kid who loves to read would eat this place up. And, you know, so find the things that you can and that will work for your family. And don't be afraid to get something and then it and then it is a flop. I mean like, that's like yeah, like Yeah, failure, right? That's the first attempt in learning like, yeah, and when that's failed, go, okay. It didn't work, don't don't cry, don't get on a pedal just be like, it didn't work. It might maybe bless another family, maybe saying, hey, this didn't work for us. But you know, let somebody try it. And if they're like, oh my gosh, that's the greatest thing ever. We'll just do it. Just it's okay. Like, that's the beautiful, most beautiful thing I feel like about homeschooling is I'm not anti-school, or public school. But when you can tailor your kid's education from the beginning till the end. I mean, like we, we had a kid that had a hard time learning to read. I mean, I'm talking double digits and wasn't reading. And I remember going to a friend and like, will he ever read? Like, is this kid ever gonna read? Like, what am I doing wrong? And they were like, it's okay. Like, instead of being like, you have to read these books. Because back then I was like, you have to read just these books. They're like, give him literally somebody said, give him Diary of a Wimpy Kid and see what happens. Yeah. And I was like, Okay, I mean, that's not, that wouldn't have been an acceptable book in my group of, you know, a living, right? But I was like, I mean, I have nothing to lose, like, right? Nothing to lose. So I gave it to him. And I am not kidding. My husband and I stood outside the boys' room when they shared it. And we both were crying because he was laughing. He was like, like, he wasn't reading the books. He was devouring the books. And he read every single one of them multiple times. We couldn't buy them off Amazon fast enough. The next one to have for him. And just the light went off. And he was reading and then he was reading like, eighth-grade material. And we were like, what just happened? Well, what happened was we gave him what he needed. Yeah, right. We took the pressure off of you to read the Charlotte Mason book. Those are wonderful. And we read them all the time. You have to read this. And we gave him what somebody would have considered twaddle. And he and it. It opened his eyes. And yeah, it ignited his passion for reading, which I'm telling you. This kid is young. He's married. He is like blowing our socks off with what he's doing in his job. And it's just it's beautiful to see their journey, though. I mean, it really is beautiful. We have our second son, he's the brains of the operation. I mean, he's so smart. He didn't get it from me. Okay, we're just gonna put that on the table. But he taught us so many things along the way. Like we were so dependent on him for things like, well, Tanner can fix it. Well, Tanner can fix it, Tanner. Tanner attended. And finally, he sat us down with a PowerPoint. And was like, so when you're having trouble with your computer on this, I need you to I mean, we laughed, but it was so good. Because he was he was letting us know, hey, you're being a little too dependent on us on me. And he just showed us his skills. And so it? I don't know, I just go. I mean, so many people knock unschoolers, which I think is silly, because I think I've kind of become an unschooler, which is hilarious. I mean, hilarious for where I started, because now I'm just like, You know what, it's all gonna work out. I mean, I had a friend that was so rigid, and like, the kids were miserable. Not kidding. And another friend who was like, I just decided when my kids learned to use Google, they could graduate. And I remember being like, wait, what, what did you say? And she's like, Yeah, like, I mean, if they can use Google, they can figure anything out. I figured they could graduate. And I remember going I'm not sure if I just heard the most offensive thing or the most genius thing you know. Like it was, it was such a  moment for me to stop holding on so tight, like,

Janna  19:33: Right?

Vicki  19:34: Not the same thing doesn't work for everybody. And that's everything in life. So why do we expect it to be that way?

Janna  20:17: Yeah. And I think back to the convention side of it, being in a place where you can explore different ways to do it. I know that it's easy to get caught up in a homeschool group that does it a certain way, especially when you come into it. And that just seems like that's the way to do it. Why would we deviate, right? But then all of a sudden, if you see that there is something's not working, because maybe for your first child, that way works great. And you go with it. And it's like, but then all of a sudden, your second child throws a wrench into things and it's like, wait a second, you're supposed to be able to reuse this curriculum because that's how it works in this group. But when you show up at a convention, and you see different schools of thought, you see different ways to do the exact same thing with the same result. But a different formula. It is really, I think, eye-opening for parents to understand that we're seeing education through the lens that we were brought up in. And so then we're introduced to this, you know, the rogue idea of homeschool, and we're into it, we're like, okay, we can embrace it. But even within homeschooling, there are just so many different avenues. And I think a convention is a beautiful place to go in and see the different materials, the different schools of thought the different ways to do things like, oh, this, I never thought of it like that. And I have found myself more than once saying, Man, if somebody would have taught me math like that, oh, yeah, I could have been an engineer. If somebody had shown me science in that way, I probably would have been a doctor, like I'm not I don't have regrets. I love what I get to do but I love sharing that information with people that it's like, if something's not working, if your child is in tears, if you're miserable with your choice, and you kind of have this idea, I made my bed, I have to lay in that, right. It's like, we're permitting you to step out of that you do not need to be stuck in that you don't need to make your child miserable. Because you feel like you've made a decision that you can't deviate from it's like, but again, I think if people can heed the wisdom because I'm eight years in, and you asked me now my daughter's my older two who are graduated, almost graduated, they'll be like, what is Cortney doing these days, and I'm like, I would have never been able to do that. True. Like, she's a different kid. I'm letting her explore her talents. She is doing some theater stuff and some dance stuff. And now we are getting some core curriculum done as well. We are BookShark users, but it's not the same as I was at the beginning, where it's like, the pressure of this has to get done. Because then you get comfortable, you know, it's like any relationship, you get more comfortable. And you're like, Oh, it's okay, if I don't have my shoes on, you know, alright, I like to have my socks off now. Like, it's just like a level of comfort that I think does come with time. But if parents who are just starting out can hear us and just say like, you can, it can look, however, you need it to look, again, like the podcast Homeschool Your Way. Like, it may have worked for me this way. I tried to replicate that in my children that did not work. We were all miserable. I mean, so life is so short. And like you said, I love I would love to meet your friend with the Google idea. Because, well, I don't necessarily ascribe to that point. I do like the concept that it's like, you know, we're learning now that more than ever, kids need to be able to think critically, and be able to problem solve more than they need to know certain data.

Vicki  24:09: Yeah, 100%. And I think I think that I remember, I remember getting to a point where I was just like, I'm starting to I'm letting go like I'm letting go of the timeframe I'm letting go of we have to have all these things because I'm a list I'm a list maker and enlist checker offer and so when those things get checked off, man, I'm feeling I'm feeling like oh, I can do all these things, you know, but but I also I also was a mad mom sometimes because I am a a doer. And so I love a clean home. I love a home cooked meal. I love for my kids to look presentable. I like to wear mumus but I do I do make myself presentable when need to be so but I had so many expectations and demands on me that I, I couldn't enjoy all the things because I, I you know, yes, their school was done great. But what's for lunch? What's for dinner? What's you? What am I doing next? And so I remember when I was like, Okay, I'm gonna make a menu. And you're responsible for this day. You know, Colin gets this day Tanner gets this day. Owen gets this day. And Lucy and I get this day. And this is this is our lunch menu. And this is we don't have a microwave. We've never had a microwave in our home. And so we use our stove all day, we mean that we do things together as a family. But I remember when I came to my kids, it was the end of the year, one May. And I said, so I'm changing things up. We had a family meeting, we had family meeting often, and they were like, okay, and I said, we're not finishing school. We're literally starting, like you're starting 10th grade, you're starting seventh grade, you're starting. And they all just were looking at me. And I said, Because guess what? We're going to school through the summer, we live in Texas, okay? We don't do a lot of things outside. We're going to we're going to school, we're going to take off June, and we're going to travel and camp because we were huge camping family. But we're going to school July and August. Because guess what, next year, we're done in March. We're done in March, like when people are getting off for spring break, we are done with school, it rocked their world. And, and then they were like, Can we do that every year. And it just made sense. And so I guess I'm saying that for just like, make do what makes sense for your family. You don't have to be at school eight hours a day, like they are in public school, you don't have to have a certain curriculum, you don't have to your kids don't have to do all these things. I mean, my mind and my husband's goal, when we started homeschooling our children a long time ago, was we wanted them to be decent human beings. And we wanted them to serve others. I didn't have a goal of somebody becoming a lawyer or a doctor, I didn't have a goal of you have to get into this school, or else like those were, none of those things mattered to me, and they still don't matter to me. So I think finding I think we talked about earlier like finding your why. And finding our why of what we were doing this because it was something I went back to sometimes 10 times in a day, I would close my door and lock it and be like, why am I doing this again? Because I don't think anybody cares. And I'm not sure that I still care. And so what am I doing, and just going back to my why which my husband and I would write it out. And we would talk about it together because there's inevitably going to be days where I'm done. And he's encouraging me, or he's like, Yeah, you need to be done. And I'm encouraging, you know what I mean? So we help each other in that. staying balanced. But I mean, it's, it's been the greatest journey, I would do it again, all over again, I would do it again. Sure, I would, I would incorporate I would like to think I would incorporate things I've learned. But the reality is, we're humans, we don't always get it. Right. But the journey along the way, and the blessing that it's been, I mean, it has, I can't I could probably make a list of 10,000 Reasons Why You Should homeschool, you know, and at the start of it being, I got to do things with my kids, and experience things with my kids and walk through things with my kids, and have conversations with my kids that they weren't necessarily having with their peers, that they we got to vacation together on the offseason and enjoy all the things that we got to do in nature, and they got to learn and one point my mom was really sick and and she had to come and live with us and and we we didn't school for three solid months. And I had some people go like, are you just not going to finish the year, I think somebody was real concerned. And I'm like, you know, we're not like, we're now doing life skills. And we're learning how to take care of somebody who's bed bound. And we're learning schedules of, you know, this medication had to be at a certain time and we're learning hospitality skills, and we're learning service skills and and we're doing you know, all these things that that happened in life. And so it's, you know, it's important and so I did I just, I was like, we're done, we're closing the books, and we're done with school. And, and we're going to do this and I just remember now that I'm talking to you about it, the journey, so many things that were done well, and and that's that feels good because I've beat myself up quite a bit about the things I did do wrong. But it feels good to think about the things that we did do. Maybe maybe, you know, subpar but we still we still did it and we weren't terrible, and our kids aren't terrible. And our kids are thankful for the things that we taught them. So So yeah, I, I'm thankful. I'm thankful for the journey. And I just think, if you're gonna do it, do it, you won't ever be prepared enough you won't ever have enough finances or time, just do it with the resources you have the time you have. And, and, and let go of expectations from everybody else around you. I remember when we first decided we were homeschool my in-laws were educators and had been for over 30 years. And I remember we went to them. And we were like, so we're gonna homeschool. And they kind of both, you know, tilt their head a little bit like, wait, what? You know, like we had, you know, a third eye right here staring at us. And I cannot tell you the support we gained from them, then, and now and the difference it has made. And they could not be more proud of their grandchildren. And I remember them taking the kids and then being little and that they came back and said, the kids can have conversations with adults. And I was like, Excuse me, and they said, like, your kids don't just talk to kids. Like they literally can have conversations with adults. And they became our probably biggest cheerleaders and supporters of homeschooling just seeing the seeing it lived out. You know, they've been there through the whole journey. 

Janna  31:29: Well, Vicki, I'm so glad that we got to take you know, this journey with you, as you kind of have reminisced about your process and how things have started and now have come to an end for you and your family. Thank you so much for coming on. And we're going to make sure to link in the show notes for a Great Homeschool Convention. And hopefully, there is something near to those who are listening and they can go check it out. Stop by the volunteer booth or make sure to say hi to Vicki. And as always, BookShark will be at all of the Great Homeschool Convention. So make sure that you come and see us there. Vicki, thank you so much for being on today.

 Vicki  32:08: Thank you so much. Have a great day.

Janna  32:09: Thank you guys. Until next time, bye bye