How to balance homeschooling and working from home
Transcript – Episode 8
This podcast is about our experiences with being self-employed, entrepreneurship, and bootstrapping it. Sometimes I have a spectacular guest that join me and share their stories. Also it’s about connecting to our soul, our inner selves to unwind and chill. My name is Lourdes, and I hope you enjoy this episode!
Hello! I am very grateful that you are taking the time to listen to my episode today! Parents unexpectedly had to homeschool their children because of the current situation with the pandemic. Today’s guest is Mimi. Mimi is an online business manager, and owns her own business, and she has been homeschooling her kids for over 20 years. That’s right, over 20 years! She has eight children, and a few of them already attended college and are successful adults today. She is still, however, homeschooling her younger children, and she shares her experience as a homeschooling mom.
Lourdes: Hi Mimi, how are you today?
Mimi: Hi, I’m fine!
Lourdes: Great, thank you for joining me on my podcast show. I’m gonna go ahead and start if you don’t mind.
Lourdes: So, Mimi, what made you start homeschooling?
Mimi: Well actually, it wasn’t my idea, it was my husband’s idea. When we were getting to know each other and engaged, he wanted to homeschool our kids, and I’d never really heard about that before, and so when he wanted to I was like, oh ok, I guess I’ll look into that. It was basically, we didn’t like the way the schools were going in our area, and that it was best to teach our own kids, and so that’s what I decided to do, was look into how to homeschool.
Lourdes: That’s weird you mentioned your husband, I never knew that. How do you think he knew about it, do you know?
Mimi: I think just he subscribes to different magazines, and those kind of things before, so just learning about it. They also had support groups in the area, so I started attending some of those, multiple different kinds of homeschool groups, so I checked them all out and decided on the one that we wanted to attend.
Lourdes: Are you a “unschooler,” or what types of homeschooling styles are there?
Mimi: There’s a lot of variety of homeschool styles and philosophies, and things like that. I did research on different ones, but we ended up doing a mix of all the different ones, because each kid is different. Even curriculum wise, we also had to tailor it per kid. I was thinking at the very beginning that, I’ll buy one set of curriculum and it will handle all of them. But, nope, that’s not the case! I think the curriculum I originally picked out only lasted two kids, and then the third one I had to change it up a bit, and then all the kids after that I had to adjust for the different learning style and teaching style for each kid.
Lourdes: That’s a lot of trial-and-error, but I guess, I don’t know if anybody ever teaches anyone how to homeschool, and you had to adjust. So when you invest in these curriculums, are they expensive?
Mimi: Yeah, I started off with some free ones too. There’s a lot of free curriculum plans online where you can just use library books, so they had some really good ones there. Some even made up their own worksheets and things like that for all the different subjects. There’s a lot of resources out there if you just wanted to use a bootstrap method and start off with that. Because it does get expensive, picking all the different curriculums and finding out oh, that doesn’t work for me, and then you wasted all that money and now what’re you gonna do with it? You can resell it, but y’know, you really have to find the right families to do that with also. Or online now. Nowadays you can sell all the curriculum online now, even used ones.
Lourdes: Yeah, I think I like that library method. It seems like it’s the most frugal or free way to go to start with. How did you realize that the curriculum that you used for one or two years did not work out for the other kid, and how did you know to adjust?
Mimi: Well, the first couple kids had the same kind of learning style. The third one just didn’t like to read, the other ones were readers, third one didn’t. So I was like, I wonder why he can’t pick this up. I was thinking maybe he’s dyslexic or something like that, so I started looking into that too. Cause y’know, as a parent you’re worried about if something’s wrong, what should I be doing extra. And so after, I think we were doing different activities, and then we also participated in a Bible quizzing tournament, and that was all oral because all the questions are answered verbally. I found out he was able to answer those pretty quickly, and did really well in those tournaments, so I was thinking maybe he’s more the auditory type person. And so, since he didn’t like to read, we did some audio books, everything audio versions, and so he was able to pick some of those things up. So I think that helped out a lot, knowing those kind of things and how your child learns.
Lourdes: That’s pretty nice, audio learning. Were your first two more visual, I guess? They read a lot of books.
Mimi: One challenge that I did have to look into more is when they’re taking tests, everything is written. So for him being auditory, how’s he gonna read the tests and be able to answer that? Cause y’know, when you go into college, you’re gonna have to do that. There’s no one there that’s gonna read you the questions and you have to answer it. So I looked into some books on how audio learners take those written tests. So there are different methods out there, I don’t remember the book, I think it’s Learning vs. Testing or something like that, and it showed you how to teach the audio learners how to take a written test. So there are certain memory methods or memory recall that they can do, and other different tips and hacks and things like that in order to get the audio type learning to take the written tests.
Lourdes: You also mentioned activities, what type of activities do homeschool kids do besides learning at home?
Mimi: So, since we aren’t able to do a lot of sports at that time, we signed them up for swimming lessons year-round for all of them. So I’ve been doing that even till now, through 8 kids just non-stop swimming lessons until they get to a certain level. We also joined 4H. 4H is like a club that does all different activities too. People think it’s more for farm type kids, but they also have other activities, like there’s a cooking one, there’s a public presentation, they have a lot of tech stuff now, they also have a shooting sports program, and so we also get them involved in that. Besides those activities, we also do like martial arts. We thought the martial arts would help in terms of self-defense, same thing with the shooting. More defenses, especially for the girls, and of course the boys enjoy that kind of physical type activities also. And then that helped in terms of grouping all the kids together without being separated by all the different sports that they also get involved in. And then the other one is Civil Air Patrol. So that one’s another volunteer organization there that helps people with leadership skills.
Lourdes: Wow, well there goes my next question! I was gonna ask you about social skills, but it sounds like your kids are so involved in many different activities that they have actually a lot of social skills in these different activities that you have them involved in, that’s kinda nice! You started researching homeschooling since before you had kids, you’ve been homeschooling for 20 years. With this pandemic going on, a lot of parents were forced to sorta homeschool their children at home. And of course, some of these parents have full-time jobs, and they might also be working from home because of the pandemic in the last year and a half or so. What could these parents do to manage, and not go crazy? And so, if the parent is on a Zoom call, that’s part of the internet access or bandwidth that they’re taking up, and the child has to be at school, what do you tell them? What kind of advice can you provide?
Mimi: I think just setting the expectations. Sitting down with the kids and saying “ok, I’m gonna have to work, you also have to do your schoolwork, how’re we gonna do that?” Setting up the expectation, setting up the schedule on when things are happening. Like for my businesses, there’s different meetings at different times of the day, then letting them know ahead of time that hey, I have a meeting and so you all need to be quiet, or they need to get their schoolwork done. That kind of thing helps out a lot. With the younger ones, I usually try to spend more time with them at the beginning before doing any of my meetings or before starting any work related stuff, just because sometimes they need some of your attention first, and then they’re fine after that, so I try to recommend that you work with the younger ones first before doing more work related stuff.
Lourdes: Some homes have more than one kid, and they both have to be in school but only have one computer. Do you talk to the school? What can these parents do?
Mimi: Yeah, I think some of the schools would help out with some of the computer equipment, it really depends on their budget and whether or not they have the ability to do that. Otherwise, if you just have one, you’re just gonna have to again, set the expectation, set up a schedule, who’s gonna be on the computer at what time, and what’re the other kids gonna do while they’re waiting for their turn to get on the computer. So one of them is they work on their homework, if it’s book related stuff they can work on that. Another thing is there’s always chores around the house, that they can always do, there’s always something like that. So, assigning them different chores during different times. I recommend that the chores be anywhere between like 10-15 minutes. I made the mistake of giving them like one hour of work, and that didn’t last very long cause they just got bored, or it was too hard and they just gave up, so I try and make the chores pretty small, and then take a break, and then get back into doing another one. Another one I’ve done with some of the younger kids sometimes is pairing up an older sibling with the younger sibling, and they get to spend time together, whether it is school related or they can go outside and play, or they can play somewhere on their own. One other suggestion that I have also is, sometimes we set up learning areas or learning centers in each part of our house. And then we can say, for example if I have a meeting, split up the kids into different rooms or different areas of the house and have them work on a specific activity. So sometimes I’ll have a tub with some toys that they haven’t played for a while, and that can be like two or three tubs, and then I’ll only take those out during this time, calling it like a learning… What do they call it? Circuits, I guess you call that? Like they do with the workout, like learning time, learning circuits, so then you just rotate every 15 minutes working on those different activities. So they each have a tub in those different areas, and then they get to play with those for a 15 minute block. And then after that, they go switch it to another area, and now they get to play with something different. So that’s another thing that has worked for us, because it’s always a new toy for them whenever we do this activity.
Lourdes: Oh, I like that! I like hiding the toys and they can only play with it at certain times, that’s good. So, again with the curriculum that the schools are providing, and the kid might have a homework to do, what if that child doesn’t do homework, and the teacher gets in touch with you? What do you suggest, or some kind of consequence that the kid that you can discipline with, or how do you manage that?
Mimi: Yeah, that’s always a difficult thing. Because you come up with different rewards or activities like that that they can do. Sometimes we do computer time, they get extra computer time if they get things done. It’s gonna vary based on each kid, and so you have to find out what that is. And when you do find out what that is, it’s gonna change again. So it’s a trial-and-error kind of thing, you gotta find out what gets them motivated, and then use that. And then if that changes again, then you have to try something different. So I have no real answer to that, other than you gotta try different things for different kids.
Lourdes: Ok, and you mentioned different things for different kids. You started out with curriculum, and the third child was an auditory learner. How many kids are you homeschooling currently right now?
Mimi: Three right now.
Lourdes: Ok, so do they have different styles for each one of them?
Mimi: Ok so, the ones that are left, one is a sophomore in high school, and the other one’s a senior. So during our high school years, we do a lot of CLEP exams, CLEP tests. So that’s College Level Examination Program, where you can take tests and then if you pass it, you get college credit for that. So during our high school years we do a lot of studying for the different tests, and then also they have for the junior and senior, they have the Edulla Enrollment School, which is tied to the school district, where you can take a college course online or in-person up to like three classes per semester, and then also get college credit that way too. So we have different options for that. And then, I have a third grader. So I just spend some time with him and doing the basic math, reading, writing. So that doesn’t take long for him, cause he can pretty much do a lot of reading on his own, it’s just the math and any of the writing.
Lourdes: About how much time do you spend with your kids homeschooling? The younger one first?
Mimi: The younger one, I would say not long, actually like a couple hours or so. He is a reader, so he loves history and he will read all the history books and things like that. I just focus more on the subjects that he’s not as strong in.
Lourdes: And the high schoolers?
Mimi: They are on their own, I just check on them to make sure that they are getting the classes that they need done. And so, during the high school years too, we have them learn how to manage their time. So we give them, here are the courses that you need to take. For the whole four years, they know what they need to take, and so they get to schedule when they wanna take those tests. So they could take a certain class, say Algebra or English, any time. So once they get those CLEP exams done, then I don’t usually bug them after that, so they really get to schedule it. And then they also have them responsible for managing their transcript too, the high school transcript. So whatever subjects that they’re working on, once they pass it, then we look at the transcript together and base that on the grade, on how well they did.
Lourdes: Your older kids that are finished with homeschooling, do you think – And I don’t know if you’ve ever asked them – do you think that they enjoyed being homeschooled, or they have no regrets being homeschooled?
Mimi: Yeah, I ask most of them, and they said that they had a good experience with homeschooling, and at least a couple of them said that they would probably homeschool their own kids.
Lourdes: And so, just again managing stress for the parents, they’re overwhelmed working from home, their children that are home that they’re not used to dealing with, what can they do?
Mimi: Take a break? [Laughter] Sometimes you just need to relax and breathe, sometimes just going outside and going for a walk would help. Even having a support group also. What helps too is going to our homeschool co-op that we go to every week, and talking to other moms. Things like that helps out a lot. And then getting back into the homeschooling part back at home, you just need a break too.
Lourdes: Oh, that’s a good idea. The parents that are homeschooling from home because of the schools being closed, or the mask or the pandemic reasons, and for them to get together through lunch moms or school moms, they can get together and just take a break like you said. Maybe go out and do something. Where can they get resources to learn more about homeschooling, managing stress, y’know? Cause they’re all new at this.
Mimi: I have some resources that I have that I could give your audience access to. I have a website here, https://yourvirtualservices.com/8thlevel. If you go there, I have a PDF, an e-book, that gives you some tips and tricks on how to do that. I even give you an example of our daily schedule and our chore list, and what that looks like and what we’ve used, and you can adjust it to whatever works for your family. In that, I also compare your business, if you have your own business, and how that is similar to managing your family and homeschool at home.
Lourdes: Awesome, that’s great! I’m glad you can provide that resource, and of course I’ll put that in the show notes, and we’ll have a link to that resource. And Mimi, before we go, I’m gonna ask you a weird or funny question. Are you ready?
Mimi: I hope so!
Lourdes: So Mimi, if you had a superpower, what would it be, and why? Like Superman or Wonder Woman, you know, superheroes.
Mimi: Let’s see, that’s a tough question… Do I mention superhero or just like a power?
Lourdes: A superpower.
Mimi: I would say being able to… I guess, those superpowers who just never dies, they just keep going and going, so no matter what happens to them they still come back again. So it’s almost like endless energy.
Lourdes: You’re an immortal.
Mimi: Whatever gets me down, I can just get back up and keep going. I feel like I don’t have that, but I want to continue doing what I need to do.
Lourdes: Great, well thank you so much for answering these questions for homeschooling! I think it’s gonna help a lot of the parents today in the situation that they did not expect to have, I’m glad you were here to answer some questions.
Mimi: Well thanks for inviting me Lourdes!
And that’s it for today’s episode, join me next Wednesday and learn about market research, and creating a customer profile!
I hope that you enjoyed this podcast and please share this episode with your friends! Please subscribe, rate, and review this episode! And as always, the show notes will be available at 8thlevelpodcast.com. Thanks for listening!
Mimi’s Free E-book for Homeschooling Parents: https://yourvirtualservices.com/8thlevel
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