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”?
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