Monday, June 29, 2009


If your high school student is socially & academically mature, an option you may want to consider is to supplement your homeschool curriculum with what colleges call a "dual credit class."

This process can be intimidating for homeschooling families beginning this journey. I would highly encourage you to visit NCTC's Website for accurate & up to date information on dual credit classes; however, here is some beginning information for those interested.
*Keep in mind when visiting the NCTC Website that you will need to view parent information as well as any links for COUNSELORS.


What is a dual credit class?

A college-level class offered at community colleges in partnership with schools (for us, that would be our own home school) in which students receive both high school and college credit concurrently.
*Classes are limited to core classes that are normally required for high school graduation.

Who is eligible to participate in a dual credit class?

Students must be at least 16 yrs. old & considered a junior in high school.

How do I prepare to enroll in a dual credit class?

1. Students must take a college placement test, called the THEA ( See below for those with SAT or ACT scores in hand), and pass before enrolling in dual-credit classes.

There are 3 parts:

  • Math
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Essay

All 3 parts must be passed before enrolling in a dual credit college class.

These THEA tests are given throughout the year. Visit NCTC - Testing information or contact Ann Janette Martin at NCTC for Gainesville Campus or Amy Klohn at 940-498-6416 for the Corinth NCTC campus to find out what dates are available or ask any other enrollment questions. The tests are given at NCTC.

The following list details what to bring in order to take the THEA

  • Picture ID (they will even take your yearbook picture)
  • $29 in the form of check or money order
  • Your social security number

Five hours is given to complete the whole test. Whether the student takes all 3 parts, or just 1 or 2 parts, the fee is the same - $29. If a student fails a part, he or she must return at another date, pay another $29, but only have to retake the portion not passed. This student still has the full 5 hours to complete whatever portion he or she needs to retake.

2. A notarized high school transcript is required for admission.

(Your bank will have a notary if you don't know someone who is a notary. There is usually no charge for using a notary where you do your banking.)

*Click HERE for NCTC's COMPASS information.

The COMPASS is a test similar to the THEA test; however, it is a computerized test given at the college.

How do I enroll in a dual credit class?

Once ready to enroll as a dual credit student, only 9 college hours per semester are allowed.

*A core class is a 3-hour class. Some classes, such as choir or P.E., are only a 1-hour class, and may be taken.

To enroll:

  • A completed admissions application (gotten at NCTC or printable online)
  • completed dual-credit application (not available online)
  • The THEA, SAT, or ACT scores
  • Current notarized high school transcript.
  • Always bring picture ID any time the student needs to go to one of the campuses for anything.

The other campuses of NCTC besides the Gainesville campus offer services, too. If you live closer to one of those campuses, you might want to give them a call to see what their campus can provide for you so you won't have to make unnecessary trips in to Gainesville.

Credits are accepted by all Texas public universities and may be accepted by other colleges. (Each college has its own criteria, so if your student has a private college already in mind, staying in contact with that college as far as what it will accept from a community college - whether we're talking about dual-credit or regular community college classes - is a potential time and money saver.)

Virtually all 4-year degrees require one semester of college Algebra, at least one full year of Freshman English, two semesters of a P.E., and one semester of Speech. It is completely doable to get these requirements met as a high school student taking dual credit classes while still finishing up the high school years at home.

Scholarship applications are due before April 15 for the fall semester and October 15 for the spring semester. Again, each campus should have scholarship applications for the student to pick up.

The information provided in this post is just a small portion of a wealth of information for families preparing their high school students for college. The NCTC website is continually being updated & is a wonderful source of information extending way beyond just "dual credit" information. On the NCTC website you will also find information such as: dual credit, complete testing (THEA, COMPASS, ACT, & SAT), CLEP (testing out of a college level class), tuition, scholarship, and much more. The staff & counselors & NCTC are homeschool friendly, willing to answer any questions, & help you in any way they can.

PLEASE Visit The NCTC Website OFTEN!!

That's all, folks!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Meet Kari: Part 2

More about Kari's Homeschool . . .

When we don't have extra activities going then a typical day starts between 8 and 9. This year we start with algebra since Gary is doing that with Liberty before he goes to work. After algebra then Liberty usually does her Bible study, shower and then we continue with the rest of her subjects. From the time I started homeschooling until this year we always started the day with prayer, pledges to the flag & Bible, then Bible study and Bible memorization. After that we start working our way through the different subjects. The order we do the subjects changes from year to year. This year we knock out the most difficult subjects or the ones Liberty is the least enthusiastic about at the beginning then go on to the rest. Of course we still start the day with prayer and our pledges. I always felt this was important because I felt like it set the time apart, made it more special. We ring a bell and then it all starts. We never ever have done school in our pajamas in the past. The kids were to wake, do their chores, eat, dress, etc. and be ready when the bell rang, which for most years was between 8:30 and 9:00. I always felt like every hour before noon was worth 2 after noon. I don't know why but it just seems that way to me. Anyway the past year or two things have been a bit different and we started sleeping in a little later and it got to where we were starting at 10:00. That was not as productive for us. So now Liberty gets up and does her running and work out & gets all her animal chores done, then we start. After Gary finishes algebra then she goes on to finish her morning routine before start ting the rest of her subjects. So, on days that she doesn't do her work out first she is still in her PJ's when they do algebra so we can say for the first time that we do some school in pajamas.
Now, when we have other activities going on, which in many cases are an extension of our school then we hit the subjects that we can and try and catch up with the rest.
I like to try and follow a schedule, even though loosely at times, is because it gives structure. It helps create self-discipline, for the student and the teacher. And it shows the kids that their school is important, a priority. When they know you believe it is important then it is easier for them to feel like it is important. I always wanted the kids to be proud of their school. And if they don't feel like they are doing as much as they should or being challenged intellectually I believe it is easy to be discouraged and lazy about their school.

I have always tried to stay on a Sept. - May schedule just because I need the time off. But this year because we had so many other things going on we got behind and so we are playing catch up with a few subjects this summer.
I have an opinion about getting too busy. I find that some homeschooling parents feel like they have to compensate in areas because maybe their children are missing out. I used to feel that way but that is a deception. Of course we want our children to have all the opportunities that we can afford them but you must be careful not to overdo it. Your kids do not have to participate in everything that comes along. I have found us so busy running from one activity to another that I hardly had time to do school. I told my husband 'this is supposed to be homeschool but we are never home'. So I found if everyone is stressed because of crazy schedules then you need to just step back and re-evaluate, prioritize. Just because something is good doesn't mean you have to do it. Find things that your child is truly interested in and develop those areas. Sometimes it takes a while to find what they love but it is better that way.
Think and pray about where you want your children to be when they are 18 and finished with school. What kind of character do you want them to have? Do they have a heart for God, do they see less fortunate people and reach out to them? Does your child seek to hear the voice of God in making daily decisions? Are they servants? Are they willing to sacrifice their own desires for the good of others, for their country, for their God? Is their faith solid? Do they really know what they believe so they can stand against all the voices in the world that will try and pull them away and not only stand against them but be influential to lead others to Christ? When you know where you want your child to be, then work backwards from that and ask yourself every year, "Am I doing things with him or her to help toward achieving these goals?" Everyone's school will look a little different because we are all unique and trying to follow the path that we believe God has for our family. That to me is the beauty of homeschooling.

Everyone has chores. I think it takes everyone pitching in to keep the home running. I also believe that having responsibilities whether it be your chores, an outside job, etc. are character building. Our job as parents is to prepare our children to live in society as productive adults. It has to start somewhere. I think it causes children to be selfish and self-centered if they are not given duties in the home. I believe it also helps build their feelings of self worth.

The cost of homeschooling depends on the curriculum you choose to use and how many you are buying for. Many families are able to use the same text books year after year for all their children so their initial expense is quite a bit higher than their continuing expense. Our current algebra curriculum runs about $250.00 a year. A friend of mine is using the same curriculum and bought it for less than half that through eBay. There are lots of websites you can go to and buy used curriculum.
No one should let the cost of homeschooling stop them from trying it. You can homeschool for very little if you put forth the effort. Between the library, internet and used books there are lots of options.
Anyone can homeschool if they really want to...and if they are willing to work hard. I don't ever let anyone think it is easy because it isn't, but the rewards more than outweigh any hardship they might encounter.

What is it like homeschooling a teenager?
I have a different answer for each of my teenagers. But the one word I could use to describe the experience with each one is HARD. It is hard to stay ahead and I'm not sure I really do in many areas. I have seen each of my children excel past me in some things. On the one hand it is wonderful seeing who your young children are becoming. On the other hand you know in the back of your mind that your time with them is growing short, which is where Gary and I are right now, and that can be a little sad.

One of my greatest rewards in homeschooling is just being such a huge part in the lives of my children & seeing things through the eyes of my children and learning all over again and again and again. I loved teaching the kids to read. That has to be my favorite. I think that is one of the most rewarding parts of homeschooling.

Do you think your children will homeschool their children?
My two grown children have homeschooled their children at different times. They are not homeschooling now and don't think they will in the future but you never know. They are both really pleased with the school in their neighborhood. They are very involved with the school and every aspect of their children's lives. My youngest daughter, Liberty, seems the most likely to homeschool her own children in the future. I will just have to wait and see.

Do you have bad days?
Yes. Some days start out hard and you just want to stop before you start. Fortunately that is the exception. I think you handle bad days like you would handle any situation in life, turn it over to God. That is, of course, after you have gone to your room and cried, wondered if you could get away with running away from home, called your husband at work pleading with him to come home NOW, screamed, thrown your book down on the table... Then you stop and think it through, remembering that you are in charge, they are just children and immature and that it is up to you to take hold of the situation, deal with it and move on. I don't separate from being the mom & the teacher. I am their mother giving them an education.

My biggest challenge...I have a few. One was overcoming a mindset of fear. That took years. I was arrested the first year I homeschooled. In the early 80's there just weren't that many families homeschooling and it was common to hear of different families battling the courts for their right to be able to homeschool their children. I used to not go out during school hours because we were always challenged and questioned. I have had people walk up to my kids and basically give them the third degree because they were not in school. One woman went up to Liberty when she was about in second grade and told her how sorry she was that she couldn't go to school. Then the woman clucked her tongue at me, shaking her head as she walked away. Fortunately, Liberty wondered what was wrong with the woman. Another challenge for me was overcoming my own feelings of inferiority. I did not finish high school and have struggled with doubts about myself being able to offer my children all they would need for their future. I do better with that now but I look forward to going to school when Liberty graduates. My other huge challenge was with Jessie and Hiedi. When they were teens they did not appreciate the homeschooling experience as much as Liberty does.

Yes, I have experienced burn out, if by burn out you mean thinking you can't do it another year or struggling with putting your 'all' into as you once did. I think when you get to that point you get help. Talk to your husband, if he is supportive, visit with a friend, go back to your reasons for homeschooling and see if any of those reasons have changed, pray for renewed strength, shake things up a bit. Do things a bit different, if possible. Just don't keep it to yourself.

I think the single most important thing to remember about homeschooling is that your child is just a child, to remember they are not finished yet. Try and be patient and see their hearts through the eyes of God.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


If you are a part of the Enrichment Group or new to it, you may here "ask Kari" or your e-mail inbox may have a new message from time to time from sweeteralsothanhoney. Who is Kari aka. sweeteralsothanhoney? I had the pleasure of interviewing the other Co-founder of our EC Group (who also happens to be Nicki's Aunt), Kari Davidson.


My name is Kari Davidson. I am happily married to Gary. He is my partner in life and yes, even in homeschooling. We have one daughter still living at home. Her name is Liberty and she will be 16 this summer. Liberty loves the Lord, enjoys writing, acting, playing piano, basketball, her tambourine and dance team, politics, spending time with friends and serving the Lord on the mission field. She will be spending part of her summer in Guatemala doing just that. She also will be performing in "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf", as the grandmother, in June with Butterfield.
Our oldest son is Jessie. My homeschooling story starts with him, but I will tell you more about that later. Jessie is 32 years old, married to Melissa and they have three children, Shea-13, Jordan-10 and Maya-9. Jessie has his own Directional Boring company, W&W Construction. His family resides in Paloma Creek in Aubrey, Texas. His son could be his twin if they were the same age and it is fun watching him father him and his two daughters. Jessie is all about fun, excitement and living on the edge. He enjoys playing sports, coaching and watching his kids play. He also enjoys deep-sea diving, motorcycle racing with his kids and everything scary that helped turn my hair gray before it was time. Fortunately, Melissa isn't a scaredy-cat like I am and she can actually enjoy these things with him.
Our second child, actually the baby for her first 14 years, is Hiedi. Hiedi is married to Dwayne and they live in the same neighborhood as Jessie. Hiedi and Dwayne have two children, Taison - 8 and Madison - 7. Hiedi also has a step-daughter, Dynasty - 14, who doubles as Liberty's best friend. Hiedi served in the Marine Corp, which I am very proud of her for and where she also met her husband. ( She is also responsible for some of my gray - all you military moms know what I am talking about) She is now busy raising her children and going to school. She is very involved in her kids' school and has headed up committees every year and has just been voted in as a vice-president of something at her school for next year. Hiedi is one of the most practical-minded people you'll ever meet. She knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go for it. She is also a great motivator and organizer. Her kids are also very involved in sports so when Dwayne and Hiedi aren't busy at their jobs or school, you'll find them at a basketball court or baseball field, along with Jessie's family. And I have to say the Lady Rattlers are very blessed to have had Hiedi's husband, Dwayne, as their coach for the past couple of years.

As a homeschooling mom you don't always have a lot of time to indulge in your hobbies but what little time I have had through the years I have enjoyed sewing, playing guitar, reading a good book, and mostly just spending time with my family. When we do things together as a family it is usually outdoors things, like hiking, etc. We really enjoy learning about God's creation.

One thing people don’t know about me???
I would love to learn how to dance really well. I wish I could sing great and I really would love to act.

My favorite meal that I like is grilled salmon, squash and a huge salad. That is not a favorite for the whole family. They like lasagna, melties, my hamburgers, etc. I cook a lot. I make most things from scratch and don't like a lot of packaged food.

Our dream vacation I have always wanted to go to Prince Edward Island. I also want to go somewhere where I can see whales swimming by and just let time stand still while we take it all in. We all enjoy traveling. Liberty enjoys cruises and would also like to visit Europe and explore the castles, etc. Gary says he would love to do it all.

About Kari's Homeschool . . .

I have homeschooled my 3 children and also helped homeschool 4 others at different times. I started homeschooling in 1983. My son was in kindergarten in public school in Nocona, Texas and I was very unhappy about some things I was seeing. I was a new Christian and a single mom. My husband, Jessie and Hiedi's dad, died in July of 1979. I had never heard of homeschooling at the time. I had a business and a couple came in one day and started visiting with me and we started talking about school and they told me they homeschooled and I asked questions about it and I knew in my heart then that it was something I was going to do. As I started seeking the Lord I felt like He told me that this was the way I was to raise my kids. It was just something I knew in my heart. I got to know the couple over the next few months and they shared more with me and when Jessie started first grade, I started homeschooling. That couple was J. and Candy Gaston. They now have a daughter, Jennifer Howard, who attends Enrichment Classes with her own children. I have different reasons why I am glad I do it from year to year but the bottom line is I believe that is what God called me to.

The benefits of homeschooling are many. I am sure many of these things can be accomplished whether you homeschool or not, depending on how involved you are in your children's life. And I am sure there are many benefits that I will continue to see through the years. I think my children were never as peer dependent as many children are. I don't feel like they are cookie cutter versions of all the other children their age. I think we were able to focus on their strengths and interests and make the most of their learning experience. I love knowing that all my children have a good working knowledge of the Bible and have committed so much of it to memory over the years, which is always something that we made a part of our school at the beginning of each day. It is up to them to choose to draw from that resource through their life but at least it is there to draw from. Also, our curriculum in general is a cut above since it uses the Bible as its foundation and establishes the fact that God is the Creator of life. Since Jesus is the center of our lives and we believe all knowledge comes from Him, we teach every subject with Him as the foundation. I feel like my kids have had so many opportunities to participate in things that public schooled children might not be able to. We have had the freedom to go to places that we are studying on a regular basis and explore things more thoroughly due to the fact that we are not limited by schedules.

We have always made costumes and acted out our history studies and interest in different time periods through the years. That has always made school more fun. Eating supper by candlelight during colonial studies, gathering with other families for spelling bees, and academic competitions, traveling to revolutionary war sites and acting out battles, participating in EC., the list goes on and on. I'll never forget after reading the Little House books going to Laura and Almanzo Wilder's home in Missouri and seeing Pa's fiddle and Ma's china shepherdess. I cried. I also loved going to Helen Keller's home and putting my hand to the pump where she first was able to grasp the idea of signing. It was great going to Disneyworld with Jessie and Hiedi when they were younger, in October when there weren't crowds and getting special attention from the pilot on the flight since they were the only children on board. I don't think Jessie and Hiedi will ever forget that. We could choose when we wanted to go since we were not limited by someone else's schedule. I think if you make the most of your learning there can be many fun times in homeschooling.

I don't feel like you can teach about life and all things pertaining to it and leave out the Giver of Life. I believe the most important thing in the world is our relationship and walk with God. I never could reconcile myself to the fact of sending my kids to a place that not only would not nurture that but that would teach things completely opposed to my belief in God and where God was mocked and asked to leave. I don't think you can teach about history or even understand the history of the world and the decisions men and women have made throughout history without knowing what their faith was or wasn't and that it is the very thing that led them to make their decisions. God created language. How can we teach language without acknowledging that and helping our children understand the importance of our responsibility with using the language God has given us, whether it is through the written word, spreading the Gospel, speaking words that are meant for encouragement and edification. And science...we lose so many kids with the false teachings just regarding science and how God is not involved at all. He put the world together, created us, made the universe work so perfectly. It was all done by His Hands but most school kids are taught that that is all fable and when they sit in a classroom day after day, hour after hour hearing this some might not be able to help but be doubtful of the truth. I don't believe in dividing things by secular and spiritual. If God is true then that is to be the center of all my decisions. I do fail but I try to live by that.

When the kids were young I always enjoyed A Beka for spelling, learning to read, math and science. I liked knowing all the phonics rules given and the colorful workbooks and all the activity suggestions that made learning fun for young ones. As they got older we branched out to things that were more suited to each child's learning style and strength. We have used Beautiful Feet and enjoyed that immensely but that is partly due to the fact that we enjoy reading and learning history through living books. We have tried many different curriculums for science and can't really say that we have a favorite there. For Algebra we use a DVD program called Video Text Interactive. My husband does all the algebra with Liberty and also helped with my older children. We like this program the best of any we used.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shakespeare Club Dates - Upcomong Events

June 28th is when we are planning to see Shakespeare's first folio at the Down Town Dallas Library. We are planning on meeting after church at 1:00 at the New Life Bible Church, driving down there and will most likely be back at around (give or take) 5:30.

July 7th is are next scheduled meeting, it will be from six to eight and we will be reading the first part of Hamlet and discussing details for `Taming of the Shrew', at New Life Bible Church.

July 11th is are scheduled day to see `Taming of the Shrew', time will be given at a later time, estimate around seven to eight dollars for a adult, you are allowed to bring food, recommended to bring light food, nothing that will be real messy or sticky, and bring a cooler for cold foods. Time for play is about three to four hours. It is a Saturday night.

July 14th is are following meeting, again from six to eight to read the second part of Hamlet at New Life Bible Church.

August 4th is the first reading of `Twelfth Night' and from six to eight at New Life Bible Church.

August 11th is the second reading of `Twelfth Night' and from six to eight at New Life Bible Church.

August 22nd is are scheduled date to see `Hamlet' in Oklahoma City. Unknown of times, is a Saturday night. Details will be posted and discussed on the 11th. Estimate time is three hours long

September 5th is are scheduled date to see `Twelfth Night', again in Oklahoma City. Unknown times, is a Saturday night. Details will be posted and discussed on the 11th. Estimate time is three hours long.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

File Sharing in CCTX Home Educators Yahoo Group

Many of us are members of the CCTX Home Educators Yahoo! Group, (If you aren't & would like more info on this please visit the CCTX Homepage); however, few of us are utilizing this group in all aspects.

First, sign in to your Yahoo! Group account.

Once signed in you will be directed to your My Groups page. This page will list all the yahoo groups you belong to. Find CCTX under Group Names on the left & click on the link. Now you should be at the CCTX Homepage.

On the left hand side of your screen there is a blue box. From this blue box you can message the group (*NOTE: At this time, the group does not accept attachment files in messages). You can also upload files for file sharing with other group members.

Click on the FILES link in the blue box. You have now arrived at our file sharing page! To view files, just click on them. To add files: Look at the top right hand side of the page & you will see "ADD FILE/CREATE TEXT FILE/ADD FOLDER." Simply click on whatever action you are wanting to execute.

What kind of files would you want to add? you ask?
Well, I took the liberty to add a few folders, now I want you to go fill them:

Subjects: Add sample lesson plan you've created for particular curriculum. Ex. "SCIENCE -- 'Apologia Botany with God's Creation lesson plans' " Show examples of projects or give outlines & directions for projects you may have done in this area. You may also consider adding book lists for in-depth or special reading time.

Co-op: Add information about classes you have taught or give a list for future class ideas. Give lesson plans for classes you've taught & would like to share for someone else to teach in the future.

Literature: Book lists, share your favorite books by themes (boys, girls, teens, special interest, subject pertaining, adult, etc.)

Notebooking, Timelines: Add pages you have created for notebooking or lapbooking. Share timeline figures you have used. Ex. "Middle Ages"

Planning, Schedules, Record Keeping: Share your schedules & any planning sheets you've created. Add helpful record keeping pages - report cards, transcripts, etc.

Now I challenge you to go add a file! Or go check out the files I've added for examples.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cooke County, Texas -Home Educators Yahoo Group

Cooke County, Texas -Home Educators

For Homeschooling families in and around Cooke County, TX(Gainesville, western Grayson County, etc..). The purpose is to provide a way to connect with each other, share ideas, discuss curriculum (or buy/sell), plan and announce field trips and just plain moral support :)

While this list is not limited to Christian home school families, I would like it also to be a means of Christian fellowship and support. Most members of this list belong to the Red River Christian Homeschool support group. There are currently no dues or official membership requirements for this group, so if you live in this area, feel free to join us for the announced field trips etc.

Click here to join CCTXHomeEd Once you are directed to the group homepage, click on JOIN THIS GROUP! on the right side.

*Your subscription to this list must be approved. We are no longer accepting subscriptions from anyone outside of our support group region.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Getting to know Nicki

Hello Homeschoolers. My name is Tiffany. I will be conducting the interviews here at "RRCH." My first guest is a good friend of mine, the co-founder of EC, & the co-editor of this blog herself, Nicki. We decided this would be a good way to help everyone to get to know each other a little better. Now run along and get yourself something to drink & let's get to know Nicki a little better. And please, no talking or interrupting. Thank you.

Getting to know Nicki . . .

Me: Introduce your family please . . .

Nicki: I am Nicki, my husband is Randy & we have 4 children: Claudia, Chloe, Nicholas & Nathan. Randy is a mail carrier for the Postal Service. I am a full time mom. The kids range in age from 1-12. We live in Gainesville.

Me: What are some of your hobbies Nicki?

Nicki: Reading, crafts, & sewing

By the way, Nicki is an EXCELLENT quilter!! Click Here! to check out the blankets she made my boys. To see more of Nicki's FaBuLoUs quilts or to ask her about making you or your babes a blankie just Click Here!

Me: If one wanted to butter you up for, oh say 2 more blankets, what would be your favorite meal to seal the deal?

Nicki: Chicken fried steak with gravy, mashed potatoes and gravy, with Texas toast dipped in gravy…did I mention gravy?

Me: What is your dream vacation?

Nicki: Traveling the USA in an RV for as long as we like.

About Your Homeschool . . .

Me: When did you start homeschooling with your kids?

Nicki: I’ve been homeschooling since birth! I am a 2nd generation homeschooler, starting in my 6th grade year.

Me: What have been some benefits from homeschooling?

Nicki: Time to develop relationships with my kids, free time together, & older and younger siblings developing deeper relationships.

Me: Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

Nicki: I really enjoyed teaching my children to read, especially at that moment when they “get it!” Most of our fun isn’t what necessarily happens “in” school, but as a result of spending our days together, like walks in the woods, feeding ducks in a pond, etc.

Me: How many children have you homeschooled?

Nicki: 2 officially, but I have 4 children altogether.

Me: What initially caused you to decide to homeschool your children?

Nicki: My parents did the same for me, and I absolutely loved it! I enjoyed the flexibility even as a student. My days consisted of chores, school, playing outside, field trips, vacations, riding horses, playing with goats, playing in the creek, lots of time to read and read and read, exploring a subject that loved as far as I wanted to take it, gardening with my Mom, building model rockets with my Dad, being tutored in science and math by my Uncle Gary, learning to sew and cook, having the flexibility to take part time jobs, and much, much more!

Me: How would you describe your homeschooling philosophy?

Nicki: I believe that school is just one part of life. I definitely don’t want our homeschool to be an extension of public school. My children have lots of things to learn, including math, reading, spelling, writing, Scripture, character traits, practical skills like cooking and cleaning, relationships, and more. I also want to be aware of their talents and gifts so they can be encouraged and trained in those areas. It is interesting to note that throughout most of history, parents taught their children the majority of what they needed to know. Schools were few and far between, mostly for boys, and were geared for specific vocation. The writers and thinkers of history were educated with simple, straightforward methods. Public schools are a relatively new concept. I believe I am raising the next generation of Americans. What can I do to make the future better? I can raise my children to be people who are well read, can think and write coherently, carry on conversation with people of any age, think for themselves and communicate their opinions and beliefs clearly, serve others, and so much more.

Me: Which homeschooling method best describes your homeschool style?

Nicki: Definitely eclectic and relaxed! I use whatever works for our family at different times. If I see a problem with one child in a certain curriculum, I’ll change to something that works better. We normally school year round. This is the first year we are taking a real summer break. Year round school gives me the flexibility to take breaks when it’s best for us. Again, I don’t want to be an imitation of public schools. I lean toward Charlotte Mason, but not strictly.

Me: What curriculum has worked best for your children?

Nicki: We use Math-U-See for everyone old enough to do math. Other curriculum we use and like: Easy Grammar, Beautiful Feet History, The Well Trained Mind, and the library.

Me: What does a typical day for your family look like?

Nicki: A typical homeschooling day changes with our family’s needs, but for the most part, we do: chores, breakfast, school from about 9-12, lunch, and then little ones nap while older kids finish school. I like to leave afternoons free for many reasons: unstructured free time leads to creativity in many areas.

Me: Do you follow a schedule?

Nicki: Oh Yes! I love schedules. I use Managers of Their Homes by the Maxwells for inspiration.

Me: Do you have planned “school” time?

Nicki: Yes. Usually in the mornings, and maybe a little in the afternoon if necessary.

Me: Do the kids follow different schedules?

Nicki: Somewhat. I have 2 older daughters and 2 younger boys, so we alternate subjects, playtime, babysitting, etc.

Me: What is it like homeschooling a teenager?

Nicki: Just getting started with that, but I can say that it requires more time in our/her day!

Me: What has been your greatest reward in homeschooling?

Nicki: The little things, like teaching them to read, tell time, or finally get multiplication. I also enjoy sharing my favorite subject, history, with them. I like being the one to share the excitement of the American Revolution, Ancient Egypt, or Medieval Times. I like reading all the exciting books and stories from history with them.

Me: What are your favorite subjects to teach?

Nicki: All of them! I love school.

Me: What advice do you have for someone beginning their homeschool journey?

Nicki: What kind of PEOPLE do you want your kids to become? When you know that, you will have a better idea of how you want each day to look. School is just one part of the equation. Character training, God's word, and relationships: they all go together to form the whole person.

Since you are starting at the beginning, I would recommend starting out slow and easy. Some beginners want to do EVERYTHING! Start with the basics like math and language arts (spelling, reading, grammar, etc.) and slowly add in your history and science, as well as any other electives you want, as you discover your teaching preferences and your children's learning styles. It's very disappointing to purchase lots of exciting-looking curriculum only to discover it was not the right fit at all! Read to your children! My kids all love to be read to, even the 12 year old! Wear out your library card!

My last piece of advice: don't try to make your home look like a public school classroom. You are their teacher now. Design a school experience that you know will appeal to YOUR family. Imagine it's 200 years ago on the American frontier, and you are solely responsible for your children's education. You've never even HEARD of a public school. What do they need to know? How will you accomplish that? That's all you need to start with!

Keeping it Real . . .

Me: Do you have bad days?

Nicki: No, never. Of course I do! Everyone does. It usually doesn’t have to do with school; it’s a character issue that needs dealing with.

Me: How do you handle bad days?

Nicki: I’ve done several things. If the bad day is because of bad behavior, I have to deal with the behavior before we continue with the schoolwork. Character is way more important than spelling or science. If the bad day is because MOM is having a bad day, I will stop everything and try to deal with my problem. If that means no school today, then so be it. I don’t have a problem missing school to deal with life. I think that is very realistic. If I think the kids OR mom are getting burned out, we will do something fun.

Me: What has been your biggest challenge in homeschooling?

Nicki: Encouraging reading for pleasure was hard with my first child. The key was finding a subject she enjoyed AND letting her read books that would have been considered “below” her reading level. In about the 3rd grade, she picked up a book on King Arthur that was probably a 1st grade level book. She read it 2 or 3 times, asked for more and took off from there. Now she is in 8th grade, loves to read, and reads on an adult level. Challenges come anytime a concept is new and hard to grasp. You just have to find a new or interesting way to teach it until your child can get it!

Me: How do you separate from being the mom & the teacher?

Nicki: I don’t think you do. I am their mom, and I oversee their education. There is no dividing line there for me.

Me: Do you have family chores?

Nicki: Yes. Chores must be done in the morning. If they’re not done right, they will be done over. My girls wash the dishes, sweep, clean the bathroom, do their own laundry, and make all the kids’ beds. The other housework we do as a team. I do my own room. My 3 year old is just getting started with helping. He likes to set the table, and he picks up toys and books.

Me: Do you ever get “burned out”?

Nicki: Sometimes.

Me: What advice do you have for moms experiencing “burn out”?

Nicki: Take a break! If you need a day or a month off, take it. Your kids can continue learning without “school” so don’t panic if you haven’t finished a workbook by the end of May. Remember: You are not a public school. It’s YOUR homeschool. If you need a break from burnout, spend time watching good videos together, visiting museums, go to the lake, read some books that are just for fun, do bird watching, learn about wildflowers, learn to knit, take a road trip, camp out in the back yard, visit Grandma. There are lots of ways to spend quality time together. Burnout happens to everyone at some point. Just take a break, have some fun, pray, ask God for new direction, and refresh yourself!
o We also re-evaluate our schedule. Too many outside activities can wear out the whole family. This year we’ve had to decide to drop many things and spend more time at home. We will do Enrichment Classes and piano lessons. That’s it. That’s the limit for our family to keep the “home” in homeschool.
o Also, don’t feel like you’re the only one with difficulties! Ask your friends and fellow homeschoolers how they handle situations similar to yours. You’d be surprised at the families you thought had perfect school days who also deal with their own difficulties. You never know what great idea another mom has that will be the perfect solution for you!

Me: Thank you for being our first interview. I REALLY enjoyed interviewing you.

Nicki: I had fun doing it!

If you'd like to ask Nicki any questions just leave a comment & she will be happy to answer them.

To get to know Nicki better or for a closer look into her homeschooling check out her blog, 400 Things