It had been awhile since our last interview and my attempts to reach out to individual homeschool moms weren’t panning out so I made a post on the new Hip Homeschool Moms Facebook Community asking if there was anyone willing to take part in the series. Several women responded and those I’ve spoken with so far have been just lovely. Today I have the wonderful task of sharing with you the wisdom of Laurie Wilhelm.
Laurie is a mother of two with two decades of homeschool experience under her belt. She blogs over at Green Ginger, so when you’re done reading what she has to say here, head on over to say “hi” to her at Green Ginger.
Suzy: First tell us a bit about your yourself and your family.
How many years have you homeschooled? How many children do you have and what ages are they?
Laurie: I have two daughters and I have been homeschooling for 20 years. My older daughter is 24 and my younger daughter is 16.
Suzy: How would you classify your teaching style? Has it changed since you first started homeschooling?
Laurie: We have an eclectic blend of curriculum, always have. We used a LOT of literature based curriculum when the kids were K-7th grade, with unit studies for history. As the students get older and prepare for university it becomes necessary to change styles because colleges want to see specifics from curriculum they are familiar with, such as “Apologia Biology w/ labs.”
Suzy: Despite its rising popularity, homeschoolers are still in the minority. How did you respond if/when family, friends, or even complete strangers would make negative comments?
Laurie: I didn’t get much grief from people, probably because they know i don’t back down. However when people asked questions it was usually in an honest curiosity so I just answered them honestly. If there were negative comments I reassured them that my kids were learning well above their levels, and I would describe some of the things we were involved with that typical public school kids wouldn’t get a chance to do. It’s best not to get defensive, that just adds fuel to their fire. I expressed our freedom to go visit grandparents and take our schooling with us. I let them know that my kids are the ones who go next door to take care of our neighbor who has cancer, that they visit people in the nursing home, play cards with senior citizens and work in the nursery at church
Suzy: Stay at home moms, both homeschooling and not, often feel lonely and isolated due to the long hours spent alone with small children. Did you ever struggle with this? And if so, what helped you through it the most?
Laurie: This is a hard one – it’s important to find a home school support group, and I also HIGHLY suggest two days/nights per month – one for girls night out (or lunch or whatever) and one for you and your husband! Also set reasonable bedtimes for the kids so you have an hour yourself to unwind. (With a baby that isn’t so easy.) If you’re a morning person, then get up an hour before everyone else – enjoy the rising sun, a cup of tea and a good book! But honestly my home schooling friends are the ones who kept me sane through the years
Suzy: As moms we wear many hats and homeschooling is a very time consuming matter. Did you ever struggle to take your “teacher hat” off and reconnect with your children or your husband or even yourself- away from homeschooling? What advice, if any, would you give to women regarding this balance?
Laurie: Well I feel that we never quit teaching our children, and you don’t need to stop or switch hats. I have a 24 year old and I’m still teaching (giving advice) her how to handle life’s situations. Our vacations have always seemed to revolve around education, even a trip to the beach we did a shell and ocean depths study before we went. As for turning off the teacher when you’re talking to the husband… yeah this is a big necessity. He has one mom, he doesn’t need another. He needs a wife.
Suzy: Many people are curious about the results of homeschooling. Questions plague them like, “will my homeschooled child succeed in college?” “will they resent being homeschooled?” “will they be especially close with their siblings?” In your experiences, has homeschooling hindered or benefited your children?
Laurie: My girls have a relationship that doesn’t usually happen with public school children. They are 8 yrs apart in age and very protective of each other. I’ve raised them both to not take guff from others (guff… thats my granny word for the day). As for college – my older daughter took the SAT as a sophomore in highschool and scored in the 90 percentile of graduating seniors. She did “shadowing” with our veterinarian sinnce age 13 and the college was so impressed with this that they guaranteed her scholarship. She scored high enough on the SAT to qualify for $15K in academic federal scholarship and the other $20K was put forth from the college because she impressed the head of the pre-vet dept. So in that aspect I think homeschooling benefited her, she wouldn’t have been able to do the shadowing if she had been in school. She did well in college, although she changed to Mortuary Science. She is 24 now, has 2 jobs and is getting married this summer. Neither of my girls resent being homeschooled but they have both said they aren’t sure if THEY will homeschool their own kids
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 feel defeated after a bad day. Looking back on your years homeschooing, was it worth it?
Laurie: We have a saying: “Sometimes life just gets in the way of school!” Sometimes it is necessary to take a day, a week or even a couple months to deal with bigger issues than math and reading. Especially behavior or spiritual issues. If they can do algebra but they are hurting inside, the math does them no good. We have plenty of messed-up geniuses out there. It was SO worth it. I have been able to spend ample time with my girls, watching them grow into strong, lively, intelligent young women!
Suzy: If you could say only one sentence to a new homeschooling mom, what would that sentence be?
Laurie: RELAX!!!! You know your child the best and you love your child the most, and you should take time to enjoy your time with them!
I want to thank Laurie for her time and consideration in answering our questions. Once again, I encourage my readers to head on over to her site, Green Ginger and say “hi.” She has quite the sense of humor about her so I’m sure she’ll have you cracking a smile in no time.
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.