Q + A with Chickie & Roo: Ep. 1
Today, we’re sitting down with the incredible Lisa from Wilkinsonnest to learn a bit about her experience as a home educating mother. Lisa is a true inspiration to me as a mother and a homeschooler. In the time I’ve gotten to know her, I have gleaned just a glimpse of her abundant wisdom and it is astounding. Having a relationship with Lisa, makes me a better mother.
I hope you will receive her words below as a gift: to identify with, to learn from, and to carry with you.
How many children do you homeschool and what are their ages?
I am a mama to eight. I am currently homeschooling the youngest five, an eighth grader, a fifth grader, a second grader, a Kinder, and a preschooler, but I am not sure they all know what grade they are actually in, nor do we care. These five work in multiple levels and grades for each subject and I love that flexibility and freedom of home education.
How long have you been homeschooling?
I have been homeschooling for 14 years. But I find that question always a challenge, as have we not always been educating at home, educating from the moment your baby is birthed, from breast feeding to talking and walking, to exploring their own interests and gifts? Home educating is really just a natural extension of parenting, isn’t it? And I have been mother-teacher for 21 years.
Why did your family choose to home educate?
We did not begin with home educating. It was something we were not in agreement with. And I let that be. I had to let go of my heart for a “better” plan. That plan included putting aside my first dream of home educating from the beginning, for becoming an active part of our local public school system and fighting for good education for my children within their classrooms. In the end we saw that lead us back to home. And after a couple of years, we saw, together, what I had thought in my heart all along, what we truly wanted was not in a building made of bricks but a wide open world welcoming my curious, active, kind humans, landing safely back into our own home.
“Breathing wonder and curiosity into our children is nothing less than extraordinary.”
Do you plan to homeschool until your children are adults?
I plan to educate them how it is best for them. I have graduated one child at home so far, another is being well-educated in the local public high school with our support and care, and I am thankful for both of those options. What I have found in two decades of parenting is that we can give them education best when we listen, offer, and let go.
But in the end my heart is hopeful to educate as many as we can through adulthood.
What is your purpose in homeschooling?
My hope is that by educating at home I am giving them more opportunity to grow into who they are truly meant to be, learn at a rate and in a way that is best for each of them individually, and give them the gift of together, connection, and community-both within our home and where we live, while allowing them a fuller, richer, simpler childhood.
How is parenting separate from home educating?
Is it, though? I feel like it is natural to be educating one’s child, but at the same time, it is important to find a balance as your children grow older to not extend your difficulties with learning or educating to your life and heart for your children’s needs and nurture. One cannot extend into the other, yet they work together. No hard lesson makes a hard day together, unless you let it.
What is the biggest challenge you face in this lifestyle?
I think it is hard to always give. Often we, as homeschooling mamas, have to meet so many demands and needs in one day and it can feel daunting, overwhelming at times. It is crucial to remember to give yourself grace as you walk through it daily. I often need to take a walk in the woods, letting my kids run ahead, while I take time to gather my thoughts, find gratefulness, and choose a few minutes of peace and reflection. Sometimes I sneak into the bathroom to drink a cup of tea with little fingers under the door waiting impatiently for a few minutes, too. *wink*
I also think often the days can run together, one day after another without much change, and it can seem so ordinary. But breathing wonder and curiosity into our children is nothing less than extraordinary. It is a daily gift you give, even if it seems simple, messy, or lesser some days.
“The truth is that no one loves and cares for your children’s needs as much as you do.”
What is your favorite thing about being a home educator?
I just love being with my children. I love that I have a front row seat to watching them grow up. I love learning more than they do as we study together, being challenged to be the answer finder and the fun giver. I love being the one who sees those “firsts” of reading, writing, math, and talents being uncovered. Sharing those moments and joys with each of them is priceless.
In what way has homeschooling changed you as a person or parent?
It has changed my person in ways I never could have imagined. My children have taught me far more than I have ever taught them on this journey. They have taught me to be gracious, curious, kind, generous, and thoughtful. They have taught me that no one curriculum is the answer, nor one way to educate. Home educating has transformed me into more than a mother-teacher, but a better learner.
What piece of advice would you give to someone else just starting down the path of homeschooling?
The truth is that no one loves and cares for your children’s needs as much as you do. Even in your hardest moment, on your worst day, you still love them most. You care for their individualized education strongest because you know them best: every memory, every heartache, every joy, everything that makes them excited or fearful. Even if you make many mistakes along the way, you will succeed many more times over the course of a lifetime of learning. Homeschooling is not a race. It’s not about textbooks. It’s not about anything but loving to learn. Everything else flows from that. As you begin the new year, remind yourself that you can just go outside, take a walk, go barefoot, find a rock, or find a bug, you can swim in the ocean, or roll in the mud, you can do anything you love, then find something that brought you joy or curiosity and journal about it, or read a poem about it, or find it in a field guide. And call that school. At least to begin. You need to learn to value learning together, and that takes a lot of time at first, even several years in. And you need to know that you will need to extend so much grace to yourself and your students. Especially when the year is new and the expectations are too high. Because you are together enough to mess up often, and it can feel heavy, so let those feelings go and seek the truth that you are enough, they are enough, and even more that God formed you to be enough together. And your togetherness will bring learning in ways you never knew it could. Embrace the grace. Embrace the joy. Embrace the mess. Embrace education.
Thank you Lisa, for sharing your thoughtful insight with us. You are truly an inspiration and I hope your words speak deeply to mothers everywhere.