Exuberant, Joyful Homeschooling (with Kia Roy)

Homeschool Conversations podcast interview Kia Roy Exuberant Joyful Homeschooling

Y’all are going to absolutely love this Homeschool Conversations episode with the effervescent Kia Roy! We get a little giddy and a little excited, but what is more delightful than discussing the joys and challenges of homeschooling? I can’t wait to hear your biggest takeaways; leave them below in the comments!

Be sure to check out all the other interviews in our Homeschool Conversations series!

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Homeschool Conversations podcast interview Kia Roy Exuberant Joyful Homeschooling

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Who is Kia Roy?

Kia Roy is a homeschool mom of five, raising her kids in the desert of Arizona with her husband, Courtney, of 13 years. She loves the colors purple and green, organizing hacks, planners, and burgers. She is an extrovert who enjoys encouraging others. Together, Courtney and Kia strive to raise their kids in their Christian faith, which is the foundation of their homeschool.

She loves the educational philosophy and methods of Charlotte Mason and mixes some classical in with it. Kia loves reading parenting books, watching homesteading, and organizing videos on YouTube. She dreams of living on a small farm with a home that has a basement someday, but basement homes are rare in Arizona. Every year, when October rolls around, Kia excitedly counts down the days until the new Hallmark holidays movies begin, which is one of her favorite holiday traditions.

You will love following her over on Instagram because she has a fun and friendly neighborhood there in the Instagram hood!

Kia Roy homeschool conversations podcast interview

Watch my Homeschool Conversation with Kia

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Amy Sloan: Hello, everyone. Today, I am joined by Kia, who is a homeschool mom of five, raising her kids in the desert of Arizona with her husband, Courtney, of 13 years. She loves the colors purple and green, organizing hacks, planners, and burgers. She is an extrovert, yay, who enjoys encouraging others. Together, Courtney and Kia strive to raise their kids in their Christian faith which is the foundation of their homeschool.

She loves the educational philosophy and methods of Charlotte Mason and mixes some classical in with it. Kia loves reading parenting books, watching homesteading, and organizing videos on YouTube. She dreams of living on a small farm with a home that has a basement someday, but basement homes are rare in Arizona. Every year, when October rolls around, Kia excitedly counts down the days until the new Hallmark holidays movies begin. One of her favorite holiday traditions.

You will love following her over on Instagram because she has a fun and friendly neighborhood there in the Instagram hood. I really enjoyed following you over there over the past year or so, and I’m so excited we get to chat today.

Kia Roy: Yay, I’m so excited.

Talking about homeschooling makes us giddy!

Amy: At the beginning, I know I already give everybody a little bit of a bio, but if you want to tell me a little bit about yourself and your family, and then how you began this adventure of homeschooling.

Kia: Yes. That is probably my favorite question. I’m like, “Okay, don’t go too far, Kia, you’ll just throw up all the excitement. Reel it in, reel it in,” but it is the question that gets me super excited.

As you said, my husband and I are college sweethearts. We’ve been married for 13 years. We have five very spunky kids. We love them. This is something unique about– We decided as newlyweds that we would give our children our initials. It’s a weird rotation because we said the first girl would have my initials. The first boy would have his initials. Then we would rotate back and forth from there.

As it stands right now, we have Cohen who’s our oldest, he’s 11. Then Kendall, who is 9.5. Then Kyle who’s seven. Clara, who is five. Then Conrad, who is 2.5. We really enjoy them. Parenting is mine and Courtney’s jam. If you ask us, we will tell you, “We love parenting.”

Born and raised out here in Arizona. Over time, I had been exposed to some homeschool families. Never really gave it any thoughts, hard-thought before I had kids.

There was one family at my old church, we do this big Christmas production. We were getting ready backstage during our makeup and the mom was quizzing her daughter in Spanish. This girl was so fluent, I love talking to her. She was maybe 10 at the time. I was like, “Wow.” I was like, “So what school does she go to?” The mom’s like, “Oh, I homeschool her.” I was like, “Really?” I was in college at the time. That was my first interaction positively with a homeschool family that I was like, “There might be something there.”

Fast forward a couple of years, my husband and I had gotten married and everything. The church that we had moved to at that point had a number of homeschool families. I was newly pregnant and we were like, “Hmm.” My husband started asking a lot of questions to the dads like, “What does this look like?” Because as the head of the household, “How do you make those work financially? Give me your secrets because I’m liking this idea but I also– I don’t know.”

Because the other thing that we had considered was, would we do charter school or private school. In private school, we realized we would probably be calling up our family members like, “Hey, do you want to donate some money into the education of your grandchild?”

Amy: Give Christmas presents.

Kia: Yes. “Don’t give us any Christmas presents. Give my children an education.” It was just so funny. We were hoping it was going to work. My husband started asking a lot of questions that then turned into having these dinners with these families and then both of us asking questions. The first thought that I had in thoughts of teaching was– I remember my husband laughed, I was like, “Do I need to go back to college to get a teaching degree?”

He was like, “No, I already asked that.” Then he said, “No, not even.” The moms are like, “Are you kidding, Kia? This is what you can do.”

The best advice we got from a very large homeschool family, they have seven kids and they said, “Hey, come with us to the homeschool convention that happens annually in Arizona in the summer.” They’re like, “Just come. You can have all this time to just hear from speakers in the homeschool world, but also, you can just walk around the exhibitor’s hall and see these different curriculums because you will be very surprised that you can pick up a curriculum. It’s open and go, and you don’t have to stress.” I was like, “Wait, what?”

Then they are talking about ways to save money and all these things.

Courtney and I mind you, Cohen, our oldest was a baby at this time. We were like, “We’re homeschooling.” I came home from the convention and I was just telling my husband probably a 100 miles per minute, telling him about my positive experience at the convention and he was like set, done. “You’re good, I’m good. We’re excited. We’re homeschooling our kids.”

From there, while I wasn’t homeschooling yet, and I was having the kids to homeschool, a lot of them, a good majority of them before I started homeschooling. I was just pouring myself over reading different books and philosophies and taking that whole thing out and getting excited about when the time came, how would we launch ourselves into homeschooling.

So far, I would say it has been the absolute best parenting decision I’ve ever made. It has been so life-giving to every single person in my family. All of us love it. We love the benefits of it. Man, we were a super giddy homeschool family.

Amy: I love your enthusiasm. I love the passion that is so evident in what you’re saying. Sometimes older homeschoolers can be like, “Oh, those moms would get so excited about homeschooling when they’re little ones or a baby or a toddler and can roll their eyes.” I think it’s a good reminder like don’t discount that. That young mom is so excited and just wants to learn and want someone to come alongside them and be like, “Hey, come to the convention. Let me show you this, my homeschool books. Let me talk to you about it.”

That’s a real gift that we can give these young moms. We’re super excited and not poopoo them, and be like, “Oh, you don’t really know what you’re thinking about yet” because they– I mean, they don’t, but neither do we so let’s be real.

Kia: We’re all learning as we go along, so really get a nice, good group think going on.

Homeschool Conversations podcast interview Kia Roy Exuberant Joyful Homeschooling

Changing phases of homeschooling

Amy: Over the years, as you did, you started getting excited when your oldest was so young, and then you’ve been implementing homeschooling now for several years. How would you say that your philosophy or approach to education has grown or changed or developed over those years?

Kia: That is a superb question because it really does change. I think that was the thing that I couldn’t see as a new homeschooler. I was like, “I need to pick one path and stay on that path until they’re through high school. I can’t be here. I can’t go left, I can’t go right. I just have to go straight.” I boxed myself in and even with that, I was still as– One of the homeschool dads that we know says, he says, “You’re peeling that onion, those layers off of having more of a traditional school path mind.”

For me, that was my struggle was, “Oh, I need to basically,” as a lot of us in the homeschool community say, “replicate school in my home.” Then I was like, “Okay, I need to get this, I need to get that,” and I was still hung up on that stuff.

Reading different philosophies, it was really helpful because it was challenging me.

I first had heard of Charlotte Mason from a friend of mine. We were part of this mom’s group. We were part under the umbrella of MOPS, but we did our MOPS a little bit differently. I like to think our MOPS was the best MOPS in all the land because it was really edifying. We did not do a craft. MOPS is very well known for doing crafts as moms, and we were like, “We will not do a craft at all, please. Thank you. We want to wrestle with motherhood ideas and everything.”

In that group, I had made some homeschool friends and we were playing on the playground and my friend says, “Hey, so have you ever read anything from Charlotte Mason? I just started digging into this Charlotte Mason lady.” I was like, “No. Tell me more.” She’s like, “I’m sending you the link, get this book, let’s discuss.”

We were taking time looking at Cindy Rollins, Karen Andreola, and different things. Obviously, if you’re going to dabble in Charlotte Mason, you’ve got to hear Charlotte Mason speak herself. You’ve got to get her volumes. From there, she had told me about a book group that literally did this thing. I was like, “You’ve got to be kidding. This is great.”

I felt very drawn to Charlotte Mason in educating the whole child and spreading the feast and all of that. I was like, that sounds beautiful.

The thing about it was that getting started was like, “What do I do?” Then I turned to Instagram and I was like ooh. It was so overwhelming. I was like, “Maybe, is this for me? My spread doesn’t look that beautiful. I need a tea set, honey.” All these things.

When I got into this particular women’s school group, they really calmed my fears. They’re like, “No, you need to implement this slowly.” I feel like in a lot of ways, I’m still getting in my stride of the Charlotte Mason philosophy where it’s like we started adding nature and nature notebooking. Then later on down the road, we had added in our tea time. We just gradually were doing these things in spreading the feast. My favorite is our morning basket.

Then from there, there were some things, because one of the ways I’ve grown is I have become confident in the fact that I don’t have to be glued to one philosophy and be a purist, because I’ve encountered with my fair share of purist on a lot of sides. I love what they have to say because they can help me see the particular philosophy in a much more rich way.

Cindy Rollins Interview homeschool

I grew in my own personal confidence in educating my own children where I was able to say, okay, maybe that bit isn’t for us yet or right now, or maybe even not at all, but I can also pick from other philosophies, which is why for us, my husband, this is a little secret. He would be like, “Did you tell them that?” “I’m going to tell you anyway.”

He is a total fan girl of Sonya Shafer, because one of the homeschool conferences that we went to a couple years back, she was there. He sat in on all the sessions with me. He had started listening to her podcast and stuff. He loves her. He’s like, “I do like the Charlotte Mason philosophy.” He does also like the classical methods. He’s like, “I just want to mix in just a little bit of things.” We have taken that time to mix those things in and cherry-pick a little bit because it does suit our family.

That was the thing: taking that stuff and then learning about it, but then saying, how do I implement that in my home in a way that’s life-giving to my individual home?

That’s how I’ve grown in my homeschooling, whereas at the beginning, I was like, “I have to do it this one way.” Then I was like, “I can do it whatever way I want in whatever season I’m in because it’s always changing.” It’s always changing. I would even say this year alone, we have implemented a little bit more of, I guess you could say unschooling or child-led learning, just given certain circumstances.

I was like, “That’s okay. We can do that. We can totally do that. You guys, this is your education and we could tailor it however we want to.” It feels so good that we didn’t have to stay on one strict path, which that’s the thing that gets me so excited about homeschooling is, you can change it up to suit the needs of your children, however that looks.

Amy: I like to say that you’re not married to your homeschool plan. This is not marriage, you’re allowed to change your way through. That’s one of the joys of homeschooling too, that we can learn the principles, we can be inspired by ideas, and then we have the freedom and the authority to apply them in a way that best suits our own families and in our own season of life. It could change year to year, and that’s okay too. I love hearing that from you.

Kia: Oh, man. Yes. So much.

Things Kia loves about homeschooling

Amy: That right there is a pretty great part of homeschooling, but has there been something else that’s been a real favorite part of homeschooling for you?

Kia: Oh, man. [laughs] I just love so much about homeschooling. I think that my kids would probably say, very quickly, we squashed that very outdated stereotype of homeschoolers of, “You guys don’t socialize. How are you going to socialize your child?” I’m like, “No. My children are so oversocialized. I have to rate it back, actually.”

Homeschool provides schedule flexibility

To that point, I love that we are able to school anytime we want to. There’s sometimes that we have play dates or a museum visit or something in the morning. Then we do school in the afternoon, or even into the evening.

Homeschool provides learning in the context of relationships

We’re schooling around the dinner table, or vice versa, or whatever, but we’re able to not miss out on the life education that homeschooling provides in that relational aspect of being able to go out and be with our friends and make these memories and even learn there.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like a lot of learning happens at play dates because inevitably, there is a spat between two children, sometimes even six. It’s a great relational lesson and you’re like, “We want to think about sharing.” You could just wrap in these life lessons that I would like to think is going to make these children just really great friends and better siblings, and hopefully in the future, really great spouses.

I really love that aspect that we’re able to have that because I know me, homeschooling would’ve probably been great for me when growing up because of how expressive I am as an extrovert to be told, “Just sit in your desk and to be quiet.” My report, all of them read, and it was funny because my dad had found some of them a couple of years ago and was laughing and sending me pictures where it said, “Kia is a great student. Kia is bright. Kia is this, but she tends to talk a lot.” Or they would try to put it nicely, like, “She is a social butterfly. She is head of the hospitality committee.” The teachers got really creative.

Now they would basically say, “Can you tell your daughter to pipe down in class?”

Amy: I love that, but I have to interject because my mom, you need to meet my mom. You have to come over to North Carolina sometime. She would always tell us the same story. She’s an extrovert as well like I am. She said the only bad grade she ever got in school was she would always get a terrible grade on her, whatever it’s called, basically class behavior or whatever because always she was talking because she had things to say.

Kia: I have so much to say, I just want to talk to everybody. It was so hard. I’m just like, I’m so glad that my kids who tend– Both my husband and I are very extroverted. I’ve given birth to a bunch of extrovert children. It’s so nice because they can talk as much as they want and go through that. That’s one of my favorite things about homeschooling.

Homeschool allows us to tailor education to each child

I would say, paired with that, just being able to tailor the education to each of my children because not each– They don’t all learn the same. They just don’t. My older two, because they’re 17 months apart, they school in tandem, as far as the curriculum levels go, but I have to teach this same idea or concept to one child this way and to the other child the other way.

I love that we’re able to do that because I have one kid that is just an auditory learner. We can go through audiobooks. That is their bread and butter. That narration back to me, amazing. I’m like, “Wow, you picked up things in that book I didn’t.” Incredible. Then my other one tends to be more of a reader. You got to pull open the book. They want the physical book.

I like both. This one wants the physical book and they want to thumb through it, dog-ear it, everything, to be able to have that and in there highlighting the book, so I find that it’s really cool to be able to tailor the education the same thing that they’re all learning but in different ways.

I already know that some of my younger kids coming up, one of them is very kinesthetic. I already am gathering up as I see things pop up on my Facebook marketplace from other homeschool moms. I’m like, “I’m going to need that for my kinesthetic learner, and ship that to me, please.”

Because you kind of see that and recognize that in them because we have that time to be able to do that. It’s just such a blessing to know that they’re learning and deeply learning to the point of mastery because they’re learning in a way that they can absorb it and not being told, “No, you need to learn it this one way,” and kind of making it almost or else you haven’t learned it at all. I just love it. I just love it. I told you I pretty much love everything about homeschooling.

Challenges Kia faces with homeschooling

Amy: Okay, let me follow up with a question here. You love pretty much everything about homeschooling. Has there been a challenge of homeschooling? How have you sought to overcome maybe a challenge? Maybe not quite so fun part.

Kia: Okay, well. I’m laughing because I feel like we’re in a time– The biggest challenge I foresee for this upcoming year is we love to be with our friends. Our co-op is immensely, I mean, just so very special to us. That is one of our deepest relationships.

Since we moved to a different part of the greater Phoenix Valley, we are about 45 minutes away from our co-op.

It’s all freeway. It’s all freeway, thank God, but we’re watching the gas prices go up and I’m like, “This is going to be a challenge. Oh, this is going to be a challenge.” I laugh because it’s kind of funny but truly, we’re going to overcome whatever obstacle we need you to be able to be at our co-op. I think one of the– Because we’ve had a few challenges and it’s funny because now when I look back on those challenges, I’m like, “That challenge wasn’t quite as big as I thought it was.”

One of the things I like about Charlotte Mason’s philosophy is that she recommends starting kids in formal education at about six or seven, right? I have seen that be the fruits, the fruit in that, the wisdom in that but I really struggled because I tried to pull– The firstborn child, you just kind of experiment and they have to be so flexible with what you’re doing.

My son Cohen, he is so gracious. I love that boy. When we started, I was like, “He’s not reading yet, but all of his friends are reading. This is terrible. I’m failing as a mother. He’s never going to read.” My husband always calm my fears and he’s like, “Kia, he’s going to read. Maybe try not stressing him out.”

I think that letting that comparison sneak in was the biggest problem in the beginning of our homeschool journey because I was trying to rush him to be at a certain point that he wasn’t ready to come to. Does my 11-year-old devour books now? Absolutely. Absolutely. Because he’s more of an auditory learner, he could listen, but when it came to looking on the paper and stuff, it took him a little bit longer. When it clicked–

I remember I have a friend with 10 kids and I would just cry to her and I’ll be like, “He’s never going to–” because she was using the same curriculum I was using for language arts.

I was like, “He’s never going to get it.” She’s like, “Kia, it is going to click, and when it clicks it’s going to take off.” I remember the moment where I realized it had clicked and taken off, I text her I was like, “You were so right. I love you so much. You deserve all the roses and applause and hugs and kisses and all the good gifts because you just kept encouraging me and surely it took off.”

That was really so awesome. I think the biggest challenge that we have faced in our home school has been this last school year, where I mentioned earlier that we kind of have done a little bit of unschooling because I rolled into the fall with a very well-laid plan because I like planners. I like organization. I rolled into the new school year and I’m like, ” It’s going to fabulous.”

Homeschooling in the midst of grief

I think it’s funny because I feel like a lot of my friends would say the prior year when we’re going through 2020 and everything was their biggest challenging year, but this past fall was and we were in the midst of finding a new home, moving, and then abruptly in the middle of our actual physical moving week, I found out that I lost our son Keegan, who’s our sixth kiddo but he’s in heaven.

He had passed away about between 17 and 18 weeks, and I ended up miscarrying him at week 21. In that time, I had mentally prepared for the interruption of moving and all of that and so I felt like I had a plan to overcome that but you really don’t have a plan to overcome tragedy and death and grieving, and then holding up your whole family while you’re grieving.

We had to just shelve our curriculum and there was some guilt in there, because I was like, “Oh my gosh. Oh, my goodness, we’re going to be behind,” but I have a really great friend in co-op, and she always anytime any of us utter the words “I’m behind,” she’s like, “Behind who? Tell me. Who is it that you’re behind? What’s their name? I want their name. Give me their address. Tell me.” I’m like, “No one.”

She’s like, “Exactly you are behind no people. Zero.” I’m like, “Oh, gosh,” but at that time, I just felt like, “Oh, gosh, there’s no learning happening,” but my kids were picking up books off of our bookshelf, and exploring different things in the midst of it and they were finding comfort and reading because they were also grieving.

My kids, they love being siblings to one another and they were so excited to be expecting another sibling and they actually because it was a later miscarriage, I had to go through labor, I birthed my son’s body, and my kids actually wanted to see his little tiny formed body and everything.

In the midst of it about a month removed from all of that, birthing him, we buried him a couple of days later. We had a funeral for him and everything. I realized that there was such rich learning that I could never get in any curriculum ever where my children learned grieving at a very real point. They saw their mom and dad cry and talk out loud about how we were feeling. They came to us all different times of the day, sometimes two o’clock in the morning, and just needed to cry with us or to just say how they were feeling.

Even one of our kids wrote letters that we ended up burying with our son of saying, how he had hoped to play with Keegan and all of that, but that he was looking forward to heaven where he could see him again. When I looked back at that, I was like, “My kids are probably going to be way more emotionally intelligent than I was at that age or even was in my 20s.”

I think it was such a huge challenge because you’re always in the back of your mind as a homeschool mom thinking are we getting enough done? Am I coming on so much? Am I really fostering a good atmosphere for education and all of that, but here it was really hard.

And then we had gotten back into the swing of things in the new year, when I miscarried twins and it was just another round of grieving after coming out of a season of grieving, coming back into a season of grieving, and my kiddos were just like, “Okay, we don’t understand why, but we trust God,” and just to have them sit with this.

Homeschool Conversations Podcast interviews Homeschooling with Confidence in Times of Crisis with Vicki Bentley

Even now, they still openly talk about Keegan. My miscarriages of twins were much earlier so we actually don’t know what sex they were, they were identical, but that led us to different books, to talk about different things that they had an interest in. We had this season where we have kind of picked up our curriculum here and there and we’ve kind of gotten back in the swing of things but we have had a little bit more peace about putting it down and being able to respond to what it is that our kids have wanted to learn, and our kids have wanted to learn more.

It’s really funny my daughter Clara, she kind of became really interested in the development of babies in their mother’s womb. We took to Amazon, I bought some beautiful books about the nine months that a mom is pregnant and everything. She just loves for me to read those to her. She found that very comforting. She found that comforting for her. We went there.

My older two wanted to read a book about heaven. We went there. That’s how we overcame that challenge. It was you feel like you’re thrown into the deep end and you’re like– I don’t know how to respond to this. You don’t know how to. When your kids are old enough to understand death and everything, you’re like, “How do I walk this line? ” Intuitively, I knew that we needed to be open about it. Then it just transformed what I thought was a very well-laid curriculum plan for the year. It transformed it in a way that was really beautiful. I think I’m actually better for it, watching them process all of this and seeing where their little minds have gone, and what they’ve craved learning in that.

Even just picking up– When they’re sad, just picking up other things. My kids were going to start gardening because they liked it, they want to cultivate some life, they want to see something sprout and all of that. How this tragedy has given their minds these other ideas is really sweet. It was certainly the biggest challenge that we have encountered, and it was definitely unforeseen.

Amy: Thank you so much for sharing that story. I think it’s going to be really helpful and encouraging to I’m sure many of the moms listening because all of us are living our real lives. This is just ordinary family life while we’re also homeschooling. Homeschooling can’t be separated from the things that we’re just going through on a day-to-day basis. Unexpected tragedy or other hardships come up in the midst of the homeschool year.

I appreciate the way you shared about how the processing and the healing actually just homeschooling on this was a gift in the midst of that because you were already all together. You could be very in tune with where your children were, and take, I don’t know, approach things at a pace and in a way that was helpful and healing to all of you as a whole. That was a real gift.

Kia: Oh, yes. My husband actually said basically the same thing that you said. He was like, “Homeschooling right now, it’s just such a gift.” He said, “I couldn’t imagine having to have either force our kids on the school bus and then pack it away. You need to go to school.” Or saying, “Okay, now you’re going to take–“

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Amy: Get yourself together.

Kia: Yes, pull it together, put a smile on, out the door you go, or even being like, “Now you’re going to take a month off the process, but you’re going to be behind on all your schoolwork.” He recognized very much the blessing in homeschooling to be able to just totally change the pace of how we were doing. It served to be so good for all of us.

Amy: I’ll mention here before I move on. I wanted to say because of the way I record, I’m not sure if this will be coming after your episode or before. I’m going to say this, and then I’ll clarify in the show notes for this episode. I actually interviewed Vicki Bentley from HSLDA. The big theme of our conversation really was homeschooling in the midst of things not going as planned, whether that’s something really serious, like a tragedy or a death or even things like a new baby or a move or financial difficulties, things like that. Some practical tips about homeschooling in the midst of hard times. I will put that link in the show notes for this episode, too.

Kia: Oh, man, I can’t wait for that episode. I think that should be– If I were to give any new homeschooling mom or prospective homeschooling mom, here are the things that you should consider listening to, I think that would definitely be one of the top things. Like you said, it’s ordinary life while homeschooling. If you can already have that frame of thought, then it’s so much easier to shift and change with where life is taking you.

Like you said, because I have homeschooled with a new baby, and that looks differently than what we’re doing when I don’t have a new baby and we’ve also had some financial hardships and different things. All those things, I can’t tell you how excited I am for that episode because as a planner and a lover of organization, I love practical things. I love check, check, and check. Perfect.

Amy: Then somehow like our beautiful best-laid plans, something happens and throws them off. I think I have to like give up to this point and try something new.

Benefits of homeschooling with a co-op

Oh, one of the things you’ve mentioned as something that I can tell that you love, and you mentioned what a great gift it is to your family is your local co-op. I would love for you to share your perspective on the benefits of homeschooling with a co-op. If you think there are any potential downsides, and if there’s a mom who wants to find a local community or support. Do you have any advice for going about to find your people?

Homeschool co-ops provide opportunity for community learning

Kia: I believe that the benefits for me have been that– I think this is another one of those really outdated stereotypes of homeschoolers is that, what about the collective learning? I think there’s something really beautiful about that. I do because I have seen my children be stretched by their fellow friends in their co-op class. It’s wonderful. I think that’s one of the great positives is that you do have that community learning.

Homeschool co-ops provide accountability for Mom

For me, it also holds me accountable.

They hold me accountable to be on a good trajectory of learning because I know that I have to have them prepared in this particular way so we have to– Even if only briefly go through, or begin these lessons that will help us when we get to the co-op because everybody’s expected to come there, and even though you’re doing a lesson there, there’s some background that you’ve got to prepare with. I find that to keep me accountable so that I don’t just go and be like, “We’re just going to do whatever we want,” and then oops, it’s co-op day. That really helps keep us on track and keep us accountable.

Homeschool co-ops provide relationship and support for Mom and kids

For me, it’s a lovely time because you have lunchtime with the families, and it’s a lovely time to catch up with my fellow homeschool moms and even ask them questions like, “Hey, this child wants to explore this. Do you have any books I can borrow on that and stuff?” I feel like it’s really great touching base kind of thing built in there. Also, I think that co-ops, they really help you have those lovely relationships that you can sometimes feel like, “Why aren’t there any other kids that homeschool?”

If you don’t have that right away, you feel like you’re on an island. It’s lovely to not feel like you’re on an island. Man, I love my kids learning from these moms that I trust so much that are really gifted in particular areas.

One of my friends, man, she is just brilliant at science. I’m like, “Great because I would love something off my plate.” I’m not going to lie, I’m not going to lie. Will I do it all myself? Absolutely. It’s so nice to be able to share that load and to be able to be like, “Great. She’s going to teach you. She’s going to do this really great science lesson with you.” She loves preparing those big science experiments. It’s great because I don’t– I find that that’s really great too, is being able to come together with moms and use your talent and then them use their talents and the kids are getting a deeper learning in whatever subjects or what have you.

Potential drawbacks to a homeschool co-op

The drawbacks I think of homeschool co-ops can be that for some, depending on your personality, I think it can feel overwhelming. You have to really think through which co-op you want to get into– I visited a ton of co-ops because I was like, “I need to see how they run. Will this be good for our family?” If there’s too much expected of me to prepare for that and we don’t have any wiggle room, I’m going to crumble under the pressure and it’s not going to be enjoyable.

If it’s not enjoyable for me, then the kids are going to feel that. It’s not going to be enjoyable for them. It’s going to be just not anything what we intended it to be.

I think really figuring out how you work and how the co-op works and does that complement each other, is so important.

Then like I said earlier, I think the funniest drawback this year and we all joke about it in co-op chat, is the price of gas. We’re like, “Whoo, I love you so much. I’m still going to fill up my gas tank and come see you weekly.”

I think another drawback that I think could be an unforeseen one is not preparing your children well for the co-op and just being more easy-going through the week and then just showing up. You don’t want to be the family that shows up. This might prick the hearts of some people, but you don’t want to be that person that shows up that has not prepared your children for whatever it is you’re to do there, whatever that looks like. Because if you roll in with your kids and they’re kind of just there, but they’re not tuned in to the learning, they can disrupt the learning atmosphere. You only have so much time because we don’t want co-op to take up all of our time anyway. You only have so much time and so you want to make sure that when you’re committed to a co-op, you are committed. You’re committed to what they are asking, which is why you need to visit and see if that gels with you.

All pride aside, if you enter a co-op and it is not working for you, be okay with saying, “You know what? I really like you guys, but this particular learning style or whatever isn’t working for my family so I think we should leave and open up space for any other family that really wanted to do this.”

Amy: Yes. Again, you’re not married to your co-op. There are different co-ops that operate differently and you can find the one that’s the best fit for your family.

Check in with your local state homeschool organization

Kia: Yes. Oh, and you asked how to go about that. Here in Arizona, and I don’t know if it’s like this in North Carolina. I always ask people when they ask me this question, I say, “Hey, is there an organization, a local homeschool organization in your state?” For us, it’s the Arizona Families for Home Education, and we often, us cool kids, call it AFHE, which is the abbreviation. They have a really great website where you can go, and under their resources tab they have co-op. All the co-ops that want to submit their information to the website. It’s put on there, it’s on a map so you can see what part of the valley it’s in. What they do, is it religious, is it secular, is it just P.E, is it just enrichment or whatever it is. You can go and then you can go down that list.

It’s so convenient because that’s how I scoped out all of the co-ops in my area. I was like, “I’m going to try this one this day. Oh, and they meet on a different day, I’m going to try that one.” I was able to test the waters and see what worked for our family. I think if there is a local organization, that I would start there and then check their website or ask somebody. I’ve even said if you’re not sure, if you’re on Facebook, check if there’s a local homeschool Facebook group. Usually, you ask in there or you use the search function you can find people talking about co-op, and you’re like, “Oh, perfect.” I think in our technological age, that is such a benefit that we can take to the internet if we’ve just moved to a new state or whatever. There are those things that we can do to check that out.

I would say even the HSLDA if you get in contact with their local office, they might have some insight on the different co-ops around the area. There’s plenty of avenues to do that.

When in doubt, just start asking around. Put yourself out there if that is something that you want to pursue.

Homeschool Conversations podcast interview Kia Roy Exuberant Joyful Homeschooling

Homeschooling with multiple kids

Amy: Those are really great tips. I would like to just ask you before I get to the questions I’m asking everyone this season. I would love to just pick your brain a little bit as a fellow mom of many. What are some of your strategies for keeping homeschool running when you have many ages, many children? Sometimes mom is tired or sick, or you’re just pulled in a million directions. What would be some of your tips for moms of multiple kiddos?

Kia: Step into my office. As a mum who loves to plan and organization, I’ve got to start there, okay? I’ve got to start there. It is the place that I think a good home runs from. Sometimes it might look like taking inventory of what’s going on in your family and such. Where are your pitfalls? Where are your strengths and everything and first visualizing, what does a good homeschool day look like? How does that run?

Then being able to visualize that and jot that down. I am such a pen and paper person. I know we’re in the technological age, that’s not the coolest thing, but I actually don’t like for it to get lost in my phone. My phone is too cluttered. You’re always reaching for your phone for something. I’m like, “No. Let me put that bad boy down. Let me get the paper.” Keeping it old school.

I feel like when you visualize what a good homeschool day looks like then you see– For me, it’s very in-depth visualization. I am a former athlete, and my dad, he would have me out in our driveway at our basketball hoop visualizing my basket going in. I had to visualize it. He would be coaching me and I had to visualize. I was a club competitive player, all of that. That visualization, it’s very big in the world of athletics. Visualization is so huge. I have seen in other parts of my life how helpful that is.

Specifically, here, what does that homeschool day look like? Helps me say, well, we have an easy-going meal, and we have our morning basket. Then you look at the reality of your morning and you’re like, “Breakfast is chaotic.”

Well, what do you need to do to make that breakfast more mellow? For me, I think that goes back to meal planning. Keep breakfast simple so that then you can work that in. I like to put the pen to the paper, first visualize what a good homeschool day looks like, where are the places that we need to improve to make that happen. Often, I have found that having a decent cleaning schedule and good meal prep. Then, with that cleaning schedule, what chores am I able to train my kids to do? What can I have them do to have them be part of the family– the household economy, right?

Then, organization. Do we need to declutter some? If I could, if I could be like The Home Edit I would travel, and not even for a huge price. I’m sure The Home Edit is so expensive because they do celebrities’ houses and everything. If I could be like them I would totally travel and help homeschool moms exclusively, like, “Let’s get this place organized.” Truly, how can you declutter your home if you’re finding that you’re getting taken away? You’re like, “I can’t find our books because they’re underneath all of this.” It’s just chaos. Well, maybe there’s some decluttering that needs to happen and then some organization that needs to come into place so that it’s easy, you can grab the thing. Because that, for me, helps my homeschool day go well.

We have certain places on our bookshelf where certain curriculum lives, or certain story books and stuff so it’s easy to grab so we don’t have that rough transition time that then gets everybody out of their learning space, and then they’re like, “I don’t want to learn anymore. I want to dig in the sand, mom.” You’re like, “Well, I guess we’re not going to get that done today,” which is totally fine here and there but if that’s generally how the day is going then it’s really hard. I think when it comes to having organization, meal planning and a good cleaning schedule in line, all the other things just fall into place. Then your house is more peaceful and you can go from thing to thing.

You can even go to random things. My five-year-old, she loves a lot of sensory bin, and she’s like, “Can we do sensory while we do this?” I’m like, “Oh, I can go grab it because I know what shelf it lives on. We can do that.” You have that flexibility when you have that organization in place.

Homeschool Planning

To that point, you did say that I love planners. I do. I do. When it comes to the planner I would say– some moms feel like they want to start there, and they need to have this pristine planner, and they need to stick to the letter, to the planner. As you said, we are not married to it, okay? There’s no ring on this finger from my planner. I think when it comes to that, it’s so important to keep the planning simple and whatever works for you.

Even to the point, there have been seasons even– I think we’re still in the season where I’m planning in arrears so I jot down, here are the things I want to get accomplished this week. On a separate sheet of paper, but in my planner, I actually write down what we got accomplished. I’m not putting it all in my planner every day, and I open my planner and I’m just instantly overwhelmed and like, “No.” I get to go back at the end of the week and look at my planner and be like, “Oh, we got this, this and this. Oh, maybe we could’ve did a little bit more of that. We can pick that up next week.” It gives you some freedom in that.

It’s so funny because a lot of my friends are like, “You’re so extroverted, Kia, how are you so organized?” I’m like, “It’s work.” It’s work. You’ve got to develop a system that works for your family that you can maintain and see where the pitfalls are in your family, and then execute how to improve that.

Otherwise, then you don’t want want to infringe on the learning atmosphere, if you have. I feel like the more organized we are, and I love, some moms do morning menus. I don’t know if you do that but on our morning menu, on the back of it, we have like the responsibilities. The morning rhythm that my kids have to do and check off and then their evening rhythm.

That helps also to all of us have these checklists of a rhythm that we need to get through so that our house can run smoothly, then I can also make time for my toddler to interrupt because he’s going to interrupt. He’s going to come, he’s going to get into all of our supplies and all of that, but when we’re more organized it’s like, “Okay, he can mess it up, it’s fine, it’s fine” because we can focus over here or whatever.

Amy: I love that and I think too sometimes when I think of planning, I automatically envision, and I’ve seen some of your planning and it is gorgeous, so I’m not speaking about yours but I’ll speak of mine. I can feel– I’m actually like you. I’m an extrovert but I like to be very organized and planned out but I don’t do it pretty. I use no washi tape, no fancy pens. I’m using lined paper and pencil and so if any mom is feeling overwhelmed like she has to get a beautiful planner or it doesn’t count. The plan is actually what you put on there, it’s not the decorations so if you don’t feel moved to be crafty, it’s okay with just pen and paper. [laughs]

Kia: Yes, please, please don’t. It’s so funny because I’ve had, through my planner spreads and everything, I’ve had people message me and be like, “Okay, so what planner do I need to buy, what accessories do I need to buy?” They ask all these questions. My response is, how do you usually plan? They’re like, “Well, right now I’m just in this lined notebook” and I’m like, “Is it working?” they’re like, “Yes,” I’m like, “So then why are you going to switch?”

Amy: It doesn’t look as pretty on Instagram, Kia.

Kia: I know. I know but I’m like, listen, if that’s going to overwhelm you, and I tell them before you drop any money on that stuff, is it going to serve you or is it going to be an evil taskmaster? Because if it’s going to have you have sticker books in the corner, collecting dust and you’re riddled with guilt and stuff and it’s paralyzing you from actually putting the plan into practice, then don’t add all of that extra. It’s so funny because I love doing beautiful planner spreads and stuff but even mine by standards of the planner community, are pretty simple.

They’re pretty pedestrian. I truly don’t spend more than five minutes putting them together. I’m like, “What color am I feeling? Great.” Throw some stickers on there I’m like, done. Then I do use colored pens to draw my attention to certain things but it’s like, really simple.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. People typically see my life planner, my home organization planner on Instagram. What they don’t see is my school planner.

My school planner is typically written in, in just pen or pencil and I don’t even bother with stickers and stuff because I need more room to write. I need to write what actually got done, so that one I keep really simple. I don’t even have the mental capacity of how I’m going to make this sticker fit here anyway, so I’m like, “Nope we’re just going to write in what we got done.” Sometimes, like I said, I’ll throw in a nice purple pen in there but that’s it. Keep it nice and simple.

Amy: I’ll try to find a link to one of your Instagram posts with one of your planners and put it in the show notes, so people can see what you’re talking about and visualize it.

What Kia is reading lately

Here at the end, so I want to ask you the questions I’m asking all of my guests and the first is just what are you reading lately?

Kia: My favorite book of the year so far is Habits of the Household. The funny story behind this book is, we have a book group which is most of the moms in my co-op and then some other homeschool moms, we do a book exchange for Christmas every year.

Amy: I like that.

Kia: It’s pretty controversial because you don’t want to be the person who brings a terrible book, and it’s for a book that everybody’s read so literally nobody wants it, but then you bring– You feel a little good when you bring the hot book of the year. My friend [laughs] she brought this book Habits of the Household and I was the last person, the last number to be able to pick the book so I stole that book. However, that book had one more steal to it and I– Because the person in our rules, everybody picks a number, number one at the end because they probably had their books stolen a bunch, can steal one more time, so shocked.

I was the last one I got Habits of the Household, I was so excited. Then my friend who was number one took the book and I was like, “I still love you.” I literally felt so salty that I got on my phone instantly and I was like, add to cart, buy now, buy now. Get it to me tomorrow, I’m so salty I need to start this book because my friend, it really speaks to all the things that I love in life, like organization and stuff but the beauty is, it’s by Justin– Oh gosh Justin– I’m so sorry. Justin, what is his last name?

Amy: Justin I’m sure, is listening right now and his little heart is broken. [laughs]

Amy: We’ll find it and I’ll put it in the show notes.

Kia: We will find it, but Habits of the Household it’s talking about turning all these aspects of your life into liturgies and keeping it organized too and it’s so wonderful that I’m actually reading it a second time. I love the book so much, I’m like I needed to go back and read it a second time to really digest some of these concepts to continue to put into place in my home. It just takes you through these ways to really be intentional about meal time, about screen time. I know some people are like, “How can I be intentional about screen time?” It’s actually really beautiful.

The way he tells stories in his book, because he has all sons. The way he tells stories are absolutely engaging and hilarious and really relatable, that it doesn’t make the book dry. You’re like, “Yes Justin, I feel you, parents unite.” But then he also says some really great truths that are convicting as a parent, to be like, “I could do better in that.” It is literally my favorite book of the year right now. I haven’t found anything to touch it yet. I love it but also I am currently going through– Because I don’t know about you but I always have a book stack going. [chuckles]

Amy: Of course.

Kia: Always got a book stack going, so the book that I have been so excited to dig into and have just started digging into is A Place to Belong. I don’t know if anybody follows Amber on the Heritage Mom blog, if you don’t, you should. She is so sweet and she in a way, has become like an Instagram friend to me and she’s such an encouragement. Her book is talking about creating a more diverse library for your family and things.

a place to belong book heritage mom amber o'neal johnston homeschool conversations podcast

I think that’s really helpful because we are like, where do we start when we want to talk about certain aspects of cultures and history and stuff like that. We’re all asking each other, what books do you own? Do you have a book for this topic? I feel like history is one of the hot topics of checking everybody, like what books are on your shelf? Her book is really this encouragement to parents and even suggestions of, here are ways that you can add some diversity to your bookshelves.

I just think it’s so beautiful. I know that’s such a deep passion of hers and so she’s taking it up. She’s taken on that load for the rest of us and then put it into this book so we have this lovely book to be able to refer to, to help us in that journey. I’m really loving those books right now. I can’t recommend them enough. [laughs]

Amy: Amber is just fantastic. She’s actually been a guest on this podcast twice and most recently she came on and talked about A Place to Belong and so yes, I’ll link up those episodes. She’s a great follow, definitely recommend her book as well.

Kia: Oh yes. She was definitely worth having on your show twice, for sure.

Kia’s best tips for helping the homeschool day run smoothly

Amy: Definitely, definitely. Well, Kia what would be your best tip for helping the homeschool day run smoothly?

Kia: Be flexible. [laughs] Be flexible, the end. No, I think yes, being flexible because, again, we’re not married to our plans. This year has definitely been a test in my flexibility of the days.

I feel, figure out what’s the win. What is the win? What exactly, if you get this one thing done, what is that win for you? For a season, for me, it was read aloud. If I can just get a chapter of our read-aloud done, I feel like that is a win and we’ve had a good homeschool day because we’ve all come together and we’re enjoying this book.

From there, it just goes into conversations about the characters or whatever, right? Sometimes you’re just at that point where it’s like “Okay, things are a little bit different or season is a little bit busier,” or what have you so what is the one thing I’d like to get done? I think about that probably every week. I look at the week ahead and I say, “If everything goes awry, what is the thing that I really want to get done?”

Heather Tully Pam Barnhill Gather Book Homeschool Conversations Morning Basket Morning Time Gathering

One of my favorite things to feel really successful in my homeschool day is getting my morning basket done.

If I get my morning basket done, I’m just like, “Hey, we got some learning in around the table. All of us. It’s great. It’s wonderful. Boom.”

If the rest of the day we do nothing, nothing else, or we are called away for an emergency or impromptu shoot play date or whatever. We got our morning basket done, rock on. We are good.

I feel like being flexible really lands me in that spot. If I can be flexible, things can go well, because if I’m too rigid, my children feel that and they’re like, “Are you okay, mom?” I’m like, “Ouch, ouch. Thanks for checking in.”

Amy: You’ve already set yourself up for failure if you’re like, “Success only means if we do all 200,000 things.” Then you’re going to never feel successful. Always be stressed out.

Kia: Oh man. Yes. You will probably have a lot of tears on your pillow. Your pillow’s probably drenched. “I fell today again.”

Amy: You only got 198,000 things done. Not 200. It is so close.

Kia: You’re just like, “No, no, no, no. What is the win? Where can you get that quick win even?” I feel like a quick win sometimes is the thing. Get that quick win in and then the rest of the day is your oyster.

Amy: Today there was this big pile of swimsuits that were too small for people. They weren’t even swimsuits we were wearing or they were too big. The ones that didn’t fit anyone this year. They’ve just been in a pile in my room and I just kept thinking the magic swimsuit elves would put them away. I don’t know where those swimsuit elves are, but they have not been coming and helping out. I’ve been getting more and more agitated every time I look at it. “Oh, I really need to deal with that.” I haven’t actually stopped to deal with it.

Today I had that thought come to my mind and I was like, “Amy, just take a minute and put the swimsuits away.” Now the pile is gone and it makes me so happy. That was like a quick win. It took like three minutes

Kia: Yes. Sometimes, truly, it’s just those quick wins. I feel like those quick wins can really energize you. You’re like, “I can do more. I have energy. That took three minutes. I got more in me. Let’s do it.”

Amy: Look out for the rest of the piles.

Kia: I’m still searching for the random pile elves. I need those elves to come and dwell in my attic. I will feed them well, and I need them at night to just go and put all of the random piles that my kids make away. Even that my husband and I sometimes get out of step and make like, “Just go put those random piles away for me. I will feed you generously. I will love you. You can dwell amongst us. I just need you to appear at night and take it away.” They haven’t shown up yet.

Amy: Did you ever read the story as a child? The Elves and the Shoemaker?

Kia: Yes.

Amy: That little fable. I think that really set me up for a sad life, because I was like, “There will be elves that’ll come and do my chores in the middle of the night.” They just don’t.

Kia: No, they haven’t come.

Amy: Not yet. I’m still waiting

Kia: Still a wonderful story though.

Follow Kia Roy online

Amy: Kia, this has been so much fun. Thank you so much for chatting with me and sharing your family and your stories with us. Where can people find you on the internet?

Kia: Oh yes. On the internet of the world. The worldwide web. Does anybody call it the worldwide web these days? Nope. Nope, we don’t.

Amy: I don’t know. We can.

Kia: That’s so 1997 of you. On the internet, you can find me @kindly_kia on Instagram. The very same on TikTok. I’m a little silly on TikTok. That’s the place to be silly. Some of the stuff goes hand in hand and it goes on both platforms, but I mainly love to chit-chat about homeschooling and all the things @kindly_kia at Instagram. I love making friends there. I have made a lot of friends there actually.

Amy: Yes. I will put links to those in the show notes for this episode over at www.humilityanddoxology.com. Thanks for chatting today.

Check out all the other interviews in my Homeschool Conversations series!

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