An Interview With A Veteran Homeschooler (My Mom!)

Today I am excited to be kicking off our Back to School week here on the blog with an interview with my mom. My mom began homeschooling in 1978. At the time, it was extremely uncommon, resources were limited, and she was doing it in Africa, with no internet, and unpredictable electricity. I cannot even imagine doing that! Twenty-two years later, her 5th and youngest child (that’s me!) would graduate from high-school. I would say that is a successful teaching career in anyone’s book!

The face of homeschooling has drastically changed since my mom embarked on the journey. Resources, curriculum, and entire educational philosophies have been created in the last 30 years. However, there is still much encouragement to glean from someone who has been there, done that. And if you have been wondering where I got my love for reading, I think you will find out by reading this post!

I am so grateful my mom agreed to answer a few questions. I know it has inspired me, and I hope it does you, too!

1. What was your favorite thing about homeschooling?

Without question, the thing that I loved the most was watching the “lights
come on” when my children learned to read. That first realization in a child when he sees that all those individual words really do say something is priceless. I loved being surrounded by my own children and helping them learn to treasure the gift of learning—each different, but each equally a gift from God.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss


2. What was your least favorite thing about homeschooling?

Juggling my time between the big kids and the little kids. Between teacher
and mom. I tried to separate being “teacher” and being just plain “mom.” I
was teacher until noon and that was it for the day. Then I loved being just

3. If you had it to do over, what is one thing you would do differently?

This is almost impossible to answer. We are all the products of our time,
our backgrounds, and our circumstances. If I were homeschooling today I
would have to do many things differently. Laws have changed as well as
just the availability of materials and ideas. When I started to homeschool,
it was almost unheard of. We lived in Africa—our only other option was boarding school. But I do believe that I would challenge my children to reach out to their greatest potential. I would not give in as quickly because someone didn’t like “geometry” or “Latin”.

4. What advice would you give to homeschooling moms today?

Homeschooling is not for everyone. It takes time and commitment. It
also takes some teaching ability. Today there are so many options. Each
family is different. Each family has their own set of circumstances. If
homeschooling is for you—great! Make a plan and stick to it. Help your
children understand that it is important. Don’t be indecisive about it or
they will be, too.

5. Did you have a strict homeschool schedule or did you have a more laid back approach?

Probably somewhere in the middle. I would like to think it was more
scheduled. We had a starting and stopping time. But Dad always quoted:

“Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.” ~Mark Twain

Sometimes interruptions were more educational than finishing a page in a workbook. (Also, I hear that I was much more strict with the older kids than with the younger).

6. How did you cultivate a love for learning and reading in your children?

In my experience, if the parents love to learn, the children will. If books are
important in the family, the child will learn to treasure them, too. Children
will catch from their parents that,

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” ~Walt Disney movie

When we were in Africa, we read so many books aloud as a family. After
we came to France, we continued to do so. Is it possible today to turn off
the TV, close the computer, and actually read a “chapter book” together as
a family?

“No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.” ~ C.S. Lewis


So start reading together!

Thank you, Mom! Your dedication in teaching me has made me who I am today. I hope to be able to pass on the same thing to my children.

Now it’s your turn! With the new school year starting, we would all love to hear either a piece of advice or a word of encouragement. Please share in the comments.


  1. “(Also, I hear that I was much more strict with the older kids than with the younger).”

    This made me laugh. I can almost hear your older siblings, Johanna. :) I’m the oldest of four (and we were all homeschooled through 8th grade) and have definitely made this comment before.

  2. Thanks for a great interview. It made me grateful for my Mom. She started homeschooling me in1986 a little after your mom and while not quite remote we were living in Canada at the time, and didn’t have all of the resources that are available today and like you said it sure wasn’t popular. My youngest sister graduated from high school in May. My mom has home schooled all 6 of us all 12 years! 26 years of home schooling!! I am exteremly grateful for the sacrifice my parents made to home school us. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Thanks for sharing your story! And kudos to your mom for her homeschooling life! It’s such inspiration for us younger moms!

  3. Andrea Cavanaugh says:

    As I prepare to begin my tenth year of teaching, I have come to believe that it is the parents and the priority of education within the family that makes all the difference. I appreciated what your mother said about kids catching a love of reading and learning from their parents. While I may have some preferences on style of education, my students have (perhaps unknowingly) proved to me over and over again that the real key is the attitude of the family towards education. My most successful students have come from families where learning, reading, and a curiosity about the world around them is a priority for the whole family. I think this takes some of the pressure off of the “homeschool/public school/private school” debates that run round and round in our heads sometimes.

    • Couldn’t agree more, Andrea. Ultimately, it’s all about the home! Thanks for sharing your teacher perspective.

  4. Love the Mark Twain quote. :) And I totally agree about the loving to learn being contagious. In my experience, whatever I am passionate about, the kids are too. When I have an “I don’t care” attitude about something, they adopt that attitude as well….except for baseball. My kids are all Red Sox fans and I am not. :) Thank you, Mrs. B for your words of wisdom!! :)

  5. Susan McCurdy says:

    Your mom was a homeschooler when “homeschooling wasn’t cool.” Thank her for me. My older kids say I’m too easy on the youngest too….maybe we are just too tired. : )

  6. I agree that “homeschooling is not for everyone.” And the best part for me is also watching the lights come on. When you cross the threshold in learning to read from work to them really loving it. It always makes me happy.=)

    • Can’t wait to get there with Stefan…we have had a few light bulb moments, but he hasn’t taken off quite yet! I’m looking forward to that, though. :)

  7. I agree so much with what she said about reading great books. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I love these wise words from a woman who’s been there! Thanks so much for sharing, Joanna! (And Joanna’s mom!)

  9. Great idea for the interview. As I enter year 10 of homeschooling, I am in awe of your mom because I can’t imagine doing it without all of my “props”. I feel quite spoiled with all of the support we now have through groups, an overwhelming amount of curriculum to choose from, or just plain old larger amounts of friends/families home educating alongside us. Your mom had none of that! One of my favorite aspects of homeschooling is the tremendous talks we have while reading together – whether it’s Bible lit “regular” lit. Another thing is that I love learning alongside them stuff that I was never exposed to or wasn’t paying attention or something! It has all been an incredibly bonding experience, we are all so close, and I’m so thankful that I gave it a try all those years ago.
    Thanks to your mom for sharing :o)

    • “an overwhelming amount of curriculum to choose from” –That is very much what I am feeling right now as I begin the process of choosing…aaahh!!!

      Thank you SO much for sharing your thoughts. Some of the things you mentioned are exactly the things I am looking forward to most.


  1. […] Monday I shared with you a veteran homeschooler’s thoughts on educating our children at home.Today I am excited to continue our back to school week […]

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