What is your name and general location?
My name is Laura Stroup. We live in the Missouri Ozarks.
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
3 kids – 9, 6, and 6 months. We have adopted all of our kids. Being a multiracial family has its challenges, but they are such a blessing to us. Our family is perfect just the way it is.
What are the main reasons you chose to home educate?
We want our kids to have the freedom to be themselves and learn in ways that best suit them and our family as a whole. We also like that our kids can explore their own interests more deeply.
Do you follow a specific method or style of teaching?
We are kind of eclectic in that we don’t subscribe to one specific type of teaching, but we pull from many different styles. We spend a lot of time studying nature, both outdoors and indoors.
What is your favorite aspect of homeschooling?
I love being able to take the kids outside on a regular basis and to take them on field trips at the drop of a hat. Exploring with them brings me joy.
What is the most challenging thing about home educating?
Spending day in and day out with someone is bound to cause a little strife from time to time, but overall the relationships grow stronger.
What is your family rhythm like?
We can be regimented when we need to be, but overall, I want my kids to enjoy a relaxed atmosphere where they have the freedom to make mistakes in a safe environment.
How do other people react to your choice to home educate?
There are a lot of homeschooling families and resources around this area of the country. So it’s fairly commonplace. Some of my friends from back home think we may be a little crazy.
How do you plan your homeschool year and what curriculums do you use?
I make a general plan for the year over the summer and then plan a couple weeks in advance once the year starts. We want the kids to be self-directed, so I don’t get too bogged down with planning the minutia of day to day. We are using Masterbooks for formal math, The Good and the Beautiful for language arts and nature schooling for most of our science and to reinforce other subjects. Of course, we save room for kid-inspired selections like learning about a new country or animal. We have a co-op that we attend one day per week to take classes with friends. World cultures, art, more science and math games are on the list for the first semester. We also do a lot of field trips. Learning happens when kids are exploring, and we try to make sure they have the chance to do that regularly.
How do you make time for yourself?
It’s not easy, especially with a new little one. I try to get up early so I have some time to myself to start the day and prepare for whatever we have going on that day.
What insight or advice can you share about being a home educator?
I think one of the most important things is to remind yourself each day how much you love your kids and focus on choosing to be joyful no matter the circumstances. It’s easy to get caught up in a lesson or project gone wrong, one of the kids being under the weather, or the house looking like a hurricane went through. Try to shift your focus back to your kids and setting a positive example for them. Everyday won’t be picture perfect, but there is always something good to be found there.
Thank you Laura for sharing your journey with us! You can find Laura at fireflynatureschool.com or on Instagram at @fireflynatureschool. Be sure to check out her incredible nature lessons for little naturalists of all ages!