This is the second installment in an on-going series of interviews with homeschooling moms. For more information about this series please see the page entitled “Interviews.”
Today we are hearing from second generation homeschooling mom, Kari Patterson. Kari blogs over at Sacred Mudane and I encourage all of you to give her a visit and say, “hi.”
Suzy: First tell us a bit about your yourself and your family.
Kari:We are church-planters, my husband is a pastor, and I’m a writer, Bible teacher, and speaker at women’s retreats and conferences, which means that our life is rarely “normal” anyway, so doing something weird like homeschooling fits perfectly with our lifestyle. We’ve been loosely homeschooling for almost 3 years, but my son is just now in 1st grade and my daughter is in preschool. I began very “unschool” — I just wanted to teach my children to read, give them a love for learning, and train them in godly characteristics so they had the tools and self-discipline to teach themselves. Now we are more structured in our daily routine (Reading, Writing, Grammar, Math), but I still give them lots of free time to learn on their own. My 6-year-old son reads encyclopedias for fun. I see my role as walking them up the steps of a diving board each morning, teaching them how to dive, and then letting them dive into the wonder of learning and wisdom and knowledge and swim around on their own, while I provide whatever support or help or guidance they need along the way. I classify myself as a “Classical Unschooler” — a fun mix of both. Books that have most influenced me: The Well-Trained Mind, Educating the Whole-Hearted Child, The Christian Homeschool
Suzy: You are a second generation homeschooler, how did you feel about being homeschooled as a child? Was it something you appreciated or resented at the time?
Kari: I loved it! We lived on 3 acres out in the country, and my brother and I had a wonderful time homeschooling. We explored the forest every day, planted gardens, built things in the shop, did science projects, played games. You name it. I loved it. We had a great support group of friends through our church, and we played sports, so we never had a lack of social interaction! My parents were both public school teachers, then made the rather controversial (at the time) choice to homeschool us, (we entered public school around jr. high). I had a great experience at home!
Suzy: The myth that homeschoolers are “unsocialized” is a driving force behind our society’s fear of homeschooling. Can you summarize your experiences regarding making friends and interacting with associates in your day to day life both as a child and as a parent? Were you lonely or socially awkward as a result of homeschooling?
Kari: Interestingly, I was painfully shy as a toddler/young child … and now I’m an outgoing public speaker. Ha! I don’t think homeschooling set me back socially. We had a great support group, lots of friends, we played sports, we were involved in church, and, most importantly, we had a lot of interaction with adults. The “peer socialization” push is ridiculous. Children do not need to be influenced primarily by other small, foolish, selfish children … they need to be primarily influenced (socialized) by adults and their siblings. Friends are great, but we overemphasize their importance in very small children’s lives.
Suzy: When you had your own children, did you know that you wanted to homeschool them or did you first consider other options?
Kari: At first I considered other options. Because we’re passionate about living “missionally” (sharing the love and hope of Jesus Christ), I thought that putting my kids in public school would give more opportunity to interact with non-Christians and perhaps share the love of Christ with them. But the more I prayed, read, and considered, I realized that the young years are not the best time to put kids out on the mission field. We wanted our home to be like a greenhouse. When our children are young they belong in our home where it is warm, protected, and an environment where little sprouts can grow without the damage and danger of wind, freezing, bugs, drought, etc. Once they are bigger, they can go out into the elements. But at the tender little age, they need protection and nurturing. We knew we wanted our children to have precious little years at home, before sending them out in the world. The little years are so short! We concentrate our time at home and take our children WITH US as we go out on mission in this world.
Suzy: During the difficult times in one’s life, it can be easy to focus on the current situation rather than on the bigger picture. Many homeschooling moms (and probably students) feel defeated after a bad day. Looking back on your years as a homeschooled student and now as a homeschooling mom, is it worth it?
Kari: Absolutely! The thing is, even if you or your kids have a “bad day” … guess what? You had a bad day TOGETHER! And every kid and every mom has bad days, not just homeschooled ones. The difference is, we get to have our bad days together. We get to teach and train our children through their bad days. Every moment is a teachable moment. When you are with your kids through highs and lows, thick and thin, they get to watch and learn from your responses, your prayers, your resolve, your joy. You can model maturity for them and patiently teach them through the hard days. Will you ever blow it? Absolutely. But then you get to model humility as you ask for forgiveness and together start over. Every bad day is an opportunity to experience grace and a fresh start. The most frustrating days have proven the most fruitful for me, because they led me to change, to prayer, to breakthrough.
Suzy: If you could say only one sentence to a new homeschooling mom, what would that sentence be?
Kari: It’s worth it.
I want to thank Kari for her time and for her insightful answers. Again, I encourage everyone to head on over to Sacred Mudane and say, “hi.” She writes from the heart and I suspect most of you would enjoy her site.
If you are a seasoned homeschool mom or a second generation homeschooler who would like to be interviewed for this series then please feel free to get into contact with me.
If any of my readers have any questions that they would like to see in future interviews then please let me know in the comments.