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Q&A with Kay at Cultivate My Heart

What style of homeschooling does your family follow?

I call our homeschool style “Heart-to-Heart Homeschooling”. I came up with the term when I was creating my blog. It is a natural, common sense approach to homeschooling based on the ideas and methods of Charlotte Mason, Dr. Ruth Beechick, and Debbie Strayer.  I call it “Heart-to-Heart” because it is grounded in relationships—with God and each other—and emphasizes educating the whole child: heart, mind, and soul.

I only have one I’m schooling now, and he is graduating! This hasn’t been a typical year. He takes two dual-enrollment classes at a local junior college, and several of our core classes are done through our co-op that a friend and I started 12 years ago. We have been doing history, writing, and literature discussions with our co-op the last couple of years. Most of his work is pretty independent. I’m here to offer feedback on his writing, help get everything ready for college, and be ready anytime he wants to talk about life—at this point in life, that is really important.

When my boys were younger we typically started the day with a read-aloud and then did math. Math wasn’t a favorite of either of them and I found that it was best to get it over with early in the day. Each year the routine varied after that and included homework from our co-op classes. In elementary that was usually a science class (we used Jeannie Fulbright’s elementary science books) and in high school several of our core classes. My favorite full curriculum that we used was the Trail Guide to Learning series that my youngest used from 5th through 8th grades. I now write for them and wrote the Middle School Extensions for the curriculum.

What state do you homeschool in, and what are the laws like there for homeschoolers? How does this affect the way you homeschool (if at all)?

We live in Texas which has very homeschooling friendly laws. We are considered a private school and there are just three state law requirements.

  • The instruction must be bona fide (i.e., not a sham).
  • The curriculum must be in visual form (e.g., books, workbooks, video monitor).
  • The curriculum must include the five basic subjects of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and good citizenship.

Because of that, we have a lot of freedom in how we homeschool, the curriculum we have chosen, and the subjects we have studied. I love it! For high school, I looked at the Texas Education Agency’s recommended curriculum, as well as universities my sons were interested in attending, to help decide what courses they would cover in high school. I’m happy to say, neither has had trouble getting into their chosen university.

Why did your family begin homeschooling?

Short answer: We really feel God led us to homeschool.

When I first heard of homeschooling, I hate to admit I thought “Why would you do that to a child? And of course the standard “What about their socialization?” But we had the privilege of getting to know some wonderful homeschooling families and they changed my mind. I had a more positive view but resisted the idea of doing it ourselves. We even began the process of enrolling my oldest in a private school, but God seemed to keep bringing this idea of homeschooling back into our paths.

We chose to homeschool because we believed it was the best fit for my oldest son and eventually for our entire family. That’s what I tell others: do what is right for your kids. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to education.

What do you wish you knew when you first began homeschooling?

Enjoy your kids as much as possible while they are young. Don’t worry about textbooks—get your hands dirty, do fun science experiments, take walks, learn math concepts in a natural and fun way, read, play games, and ENJOY EVERY MINUTE YOU CAN! And then when they become teens, still have some fun and enjoy them. Yes, their workload will change, and yes they may have to approach some subjects more “academically”, but don’t try to replicate public school just because they have become teens. Nurture a love of learning no matter what age they are!

Another thing I wish I had known: you don’t need to let others tell you how you should homeschool your children. Pray for discernment, learn from others, but don’t try to replicate anyone else’s homeschool exactly. Use Scripture as your guide as you evaluate all the choices out there.

What are the hardest and easiest parts of homeschooling?

We had difficult days, times when the kids whined about doing anything and everything, and days when none of us were motivated. That was obviously hard, but I think those days happen whether you homeschool or not.

For me personally, it was the self-doubt and fear I wasn’t doing enough, that somehow I was going to fail my kids. It is hard to take on the responsibility to educate your children knowing that you are responsible—there isn’t a school or teacher you can blame. (Although I truly believe that children’s education is always the parents responsibility. Some just choose to delegate more of that responsibility than others.)

My favorite part of homeschooling, which was also the easiest, was reading aloud together on a regular basis. We loved it! Sharing stories, and talking about the books brought us closer together. I had the joy of seeing both of my boys develop a love of reading. Through our read-alouds we were able to talk about life and character issues in a non-threatening way. We often picked up phrases from books that became a part of our personal family vocabulary. (Now we do that with TV shows and movies. Teens!). Those times reading together will always be special to me. It was such an easy and relaxing way to start the day.

First you should know I am completely imperfect, but perfectly loved by Jesus. Married to my best friend for 23 years, I’ve been a homeschooling mom for 15 years (20 if you count the years before kindergarten). My nest is about to be empty. For me this is sad and fun and scary and exciting, all at the same time.” {Read more here}

To learn more about Kay and her family, or to explore her resources visit: cultivatemyheart.com

To see more interviews like Kay’s follow this link:

Homeschool Diversity: Five Common Questions Answered by Real Homeschooling Moms

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