A Family Devoted: Homeschooling with the Bible at the Center with Kimberly Steenbergen

Kimberly and I discuss family learning, unit studies, homeschool schedules and more in today’s episode. But one thing that comes through so clearly is Kimberly’s desire to keep a Biblical worldview at the center of their family and homeschooling life. Read, watch, or listen to today’s Homeschool Conversation and leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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Meet Kimberly Steenbergen

Kimberly is a wife, homemaker, and homeschool mom of 3 who loves Jesus and loves encouraging moms to cultivate their homes with joyful intention through Biblical motherhood, homeschooling, artful homemaking on a dime, and family discipleship.

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Watch my Homeschool Conversation with Kimberly Steenbergen

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Amy: Hello, friends. Today I am joined by Kimberly Steenbergen, who is a wife, homemaker, and homeschool mom of three. Kimberly loves Jesus and loves encouraging moms to cultivate their homes with joyful intention through biblical motherhood, homeschooling, artful homeschooling on a dime, and family discipleship.

Kimberly, I have followed you online for several years now. I’m so excited to finally get a chance to chat with you in person. Can you just tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, and how you got started homeschooling?

Kimberly: Yes, sure, Amy. It’s also good to finally talk to you in person. I’ve also, just kudos to you, have been following you on your website for many years. Excited to finally connect together here.

My husband and I have been married for almost 13 years. We have three beautiful babies and one in heaven. I’ve been homeschooling. We always knew we wanted to homeschool. My husband homeschooled up until middle school, I think seventh grade. He homeschooled up until then.

I was public schooled. When we got married, we both agreed that homeschool would be the choice that we would do for our children. It’s just been something we’ve always wanted to do. It’s been quite a journey, an exciting one. One that’s worth it. I would do it all over again.

Amy: I don’t know if you knew this, but my husband was also homeschooled through seventh grade. He went to public school eighth grade through graduation. Then, of course, I was homeschooled all the way through. It’s really fun to have a spouse who was also homeschooled.

I’ve talked to a few moms who have that as their background, but it’s not quite as common to hear someone whose husband was the one who was homeschooled. It brings a unique perspective there.

Kimberly: Yes, definitely, for sure.

Biblical worldview at the heart of home education

Amy: How has your approach to homeschooling or just your thoughts about education, educational philosophy, grown and changed over the past few years?

Kimberly: We knew we needed to start with God’s word. A biblical worldview was something that was a no-brainer, and just something that we did not want to compromise on. We did a lot of research on different homeschool methods, different types of curriculums.

In the beginning, we narrowed it down to a classical education type of thing. We started out using that method and bought very expensive curriculums. We did that for several years. It just got a little overwhelming with all the textbooks and all the strict scheduling and things like that.

We did a lot of praying and a lot of even deeper research saying, maybe this is not really working for us. We loosely still do a classical education type of field, but we’re a lot more relaxed with it. We just make sure we focus on math, writing, and arithmetic. Make sure those core subjects are covered.

Of course, we throw Bible in there every single day. It’s not heavily focused on my textbook, hours, and hours of textbook learning. That works great for my children. It started out really strict. Now we’re more flexible, more relaxed, and it’s a lot better for our family dynamic.

Homeschool Conversations podcast family devoted homeschooling with the bible at the center kimberly steenbergen

Unit Studies and Family Learning

Amy: Instead of being so textbook-focused, do you do more unit studies or interest-led? What does that look like? What does that mean when you set the textbooks aside?

Kimberly: A lot of unit studies is what we do. Then also some interest-led learning, especially with my oldest. She’ll be going into fourth grade.

As long as we cover those main core topics, everything else is like okay, let’s do everything as a family. We do a lot of family learning, especially in subjects like science, which we don’t do every week. We try to maybe do once a month, cover a week’s worth of science, and just cover things like that.

It’s not heavy like that. We just say, hey, we’ve had a tornado season, unusual for this time of year, for June, and we study tornadoes for a week and how the weather works. Then it led into rainbows and he started asking all these questions.

We spent a week learning about the weather and different types of studies we can do with that. It’s not like everything has to be on the schedule, oh, this week we have to do this. No. We just play it by ear as time goes by.

Amy: I love the way that sometimes, even when you least expect it, there can be a topic that spurs one child or the other’s imagination, or sometimes my own imagination as a mom.

It’s like, hey, let’s just take a day or two and really deep dive into this. Let’s go to the library and get all the books and do a field trip.

Sometimes even just, I’ll find that, in God’s providence, multiple things. Like a poem we’re memorizing, a field trip we already had planned, this random book we’re reading. Suddenly, they’re all talking to each other and you’re like, I think this all relates and it wasn’t even intentional on my part.

Kimberly: Exactly. That’s so funny that you mention that because we’re new to Alabama. We just moved here a little over a year ago. When we first moved here, we learned about the boll weevils in Enterprise. We went on a field trip to Enterprise, we looked at all the boll weevil statues.

Based on the research after our field trip, we just dove into all these boll weevil issues that they had and how they destroyed the crops, and how their cash crop was destroyed, which was cotton. Then they had to figure out a new cash crop, which ended up eating peanuts.

It just came into this realization of how God’s providence just was such a huge story with the whole boll weevil. Then we just started studying on God’s providence. That led to a couple of weeks of studying God’s Word with his providence.

All three of my kids were just so amazed to see that there with the boll weevil story. Then we started looking at God’s providence in our own lives and how God led us here and there and all these different things. Things like that, I just love. I just love when things like that come up.

Amy: I love that too. Oh, my goodness. That’s definitely one of my favorite parts of homeschooling is just being able– Humility and Doxology is not just the name of my website. That’s my goal of education. I want all of the things we’re learning to drive us to praise.

When you study history or science or really any topic, as a believer, it’s so easy for that to just drive you to praise because you’re like, wow, look, God was at work here too. It’s very exciting.

Kimberly: It is exciting.

Character building in homeschooling

Amy: What have been some of your other favorite parts of homeschooling?

Kimberly: A couple different things, but the number one thing I would say is watch my children grow in their character. Just character-building with them has been such a reward and a challenge sometimes. My kids aren’t perfect.

It’s still just every day just see them grow in certain areas and teaching them how to trust in God with their emotions and things like that, and pointing them to Christ any opportunity that I can.

Educational-wise, I have really enjoyed teaching my children how to read.

That’s just been a joy to see my kid love books. They grab a book a lot of times instead of grabbing a toy, which I’m like praise the Lord, hallelujah. I want my kids to learn and enjoy reading as a lifestyle to carry them throughout the years. I really enjoy seeing them grow with their education and especially in character.

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Figuring out the homeschool schedule

Amy: What about some of those challenging parts of homeschooling? It’s great when we see our children grow, and when they pick up the book instead of the toy or instead of screen time or whatever but it’s real life. We’re sinners, our kids are sinners, and things can be hard sometimes. Are there challenges that you face in your home school? How have you guys sought to overcome those challenges?

Kimberly: One of our first major challenges was figuring out the schedule of how we will homeschool. First, we did a traditional school year and then take summers off. That didn’t work so well in the beginning because I have a very stubborn daughter, my oldest, she’s very stubborn.

That long summer that we had, we had a very long summer one year. She did not want to get back into the routine of doing schoolwork. That was a big challenge getting her to transition from summer’s off, lots of fun to getting back to school.

It was a couple of months worth of getting her back on level, back on track for the routine. Because of that, we don’t do traditional school year anymore. We do school year-round. We take breaks as needed. If we have a vacation or a doctor’s appointment or whatever. We just take a break as they come. We try to do school consistently more often.

We’ve been doing that maybe four years now. Schooling year-round. That’s just helped so much. We don’t have those struggles anymore with we’ve been off school, I just want to play, I just want to do this and that. Now I have to sit down and do school?

Those challenges with meltdowns and things like that, we don’t deal much with that anymore. That has been a lifesaver switching to year-round homeschooling for us.

Amy: Do you plan ahead certain weeks that you’re going to take off so that everyone knows, okay, get through the next three weeks or whatever and we’ll have a break? Or do you just go until everyone is tired and then say, “Okay guys, surprise it’s a break.”

Kimberly: Yes, like that on a ladder. We just plan it as it comes. For example, my husband just had a surprise five days off for the holidays. He had Thursday, Friday, and then Monday off. We were like, “Okay, we’re not going to do school this week because daddy’s going to be home. We’re just going to spend some time with daddy.” and the thing.

That helps us with, if someone gets sick, we can just take the week off or however many days they’re sick off and not worry about missing or we have to keep up with this schedule, that schedule. We don’t really have to work on that.

That also for us, it’s good because sometimes we like to be spontaneous. We want to go to the beach for the day. We can just be like, “Okay, no school, let’s go to the beach.” We try to keep the flexibility there. It’s great for the days that we want to be spontaneous too.

Amy: I love hearing that perspective. I think a lot of times we hear from people maybe more like my personality where it’s like, “Okay, I need to know what’s coming ahead.” I have children who also aren’t big on surprises or spontaneity.”A little bit of structure, a flexible structure works best for us.

I love hearing the way your family operates, where you guys are able to make the spontaneity work for you.

Because you’re consistent on the other days, you have that freedom to not feel like, “Oh no, we should probably do school today,” because you are consistent. Then you also can just be like, “Hey, surprise kids, today’s off.”

I hope that encourages a mom who’s listening, who that’s more their personality. That’s the way God’s made them, to learn how you can make your homeschool fit with your family’s personality, right? We’re all unique people the way we’ve been made. There’s not just one right way to plan or schedule and operate or homeschool. That’s awesome.

Kimberly: Just to go back to that for a second, it brings so much freedom for me. Like I said in the beginning when we had to stick to the schedule, so textbook-heavy, like, “Oh, we are a little bit behind on this, we have all this to catch up on,” that was overwhelming for me.

If we didn’t finish all the curriculum because we got sick– Or like in one year my daughter had to be in the hospital because of her asthma was so severe, it got overwhelming for me because I was looking at the schedule, we have all this we haven’t finished yet.

Now that I’m not dealing with all that and we’re a little more flexible and we school year round and we’re not focused on all these heavy textbook curriculums, it frees all that weight off of me, honestly. Homeschooling is more enjoyable for me because I don’t have to worry about that.

teaching your child the bible in your homeschool

How can homeschool families give children a solid Biblical foundation?

Amy: That’s awesome. Kimberly, I know that you mentioned earlier, and I know from following you, that a really important part of your homeschool and family life is giving your children a biblical foundation. I know that something that a lot of homeschool parents would say, that’s our primary goal as parents and educators.

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What are some ways that you think homeschool parents can accomplish that goal? Our families, our homeschools, really giving our children a solid biblical foundation.

Kimberly: One thing I strive to do is to keep Deuteronomy 6 in my head, even in the back burner as a reminder that God instructs us to teach our children and to teach them diligently and to wear it on our forehead and things like that.

God wants us to, as parents, teach and train our children in the way of the Lord. That’s a big task for parents, especially in the culture that we live in today. It can be so anti-God, anti-Bibilical, and things like that.

I and my husband, we make sure that we catechize our children so they are learning questions and answers about that because those are going to be important to know and to be able to answer boldly when they come up when they’re older.

Even now today, someone can ask them a question. They need to be able to answer that and to defend their faith. Things like that is really important to us as well. One thing that I do daily is we catechize. We sit down at breakfast and we make sure we read our bibles.

We also have bible study together and then my husband leads family worship and things like that. We are making sure we give our children a gospel-centered home. That’s very important to us. We want to also teach them to love our neighbor as we love ourselves and things like that.

We have to remember that God gives us these tools and we need to be able to learn how to use the tools, to reach the world, to reach our families, and things like that. Also, setting a good example, right? Like you said, we are all born sinners. I’m not perfect. We struggle.

To also model that for our children. If I do something wrong, model repenting and asking for forgiveness and loving one another, and the Spirit. That’s a constant reminder in our home, to the Spirit. We have to remember we need to be sanctified through part of the Holy Spirit. Those are things that we try to make sure they hear on a daily basis.

Amy: I think a lot of times it’s easy for parents, maybe especially if they didn’t come from a Christian background to think, okay, all I have to do is go make sure I buy curriculum from a Christian publisher. Then it’s that makes it a Christian education, right?

I’ve done my job. I’ve picked the Christian curriculum. There’s a bible verse at the top of the math page or whatever. That makes it Christian. Not that bible verses on your math page are a bad thing. That’s not what I’m saying.

I’m just saying that’s not necessarily what you were describing, which is this gospel-centered foundation where everything that the family does, our top priorities, are flowing out of a love for the scripture, a love for God, a repentant heart, even as parents modeling that to our children.

It’s something that’s so much so simpler in one hand because it’s breathing. It’s just the way our family lives life, and yet so much harder in another sense, so much deeper. It’s easy to just pick a book, say, Oh, that’s a Christian textbook. I’m going to check…Now I’ve done that. I’ve given my children a biblical worldview, or I’ve done that apologetic scores. Okay, check. I’ve done that. It’s not that simple. It’s something that’s so much deeper. It requires a whole life perspective, I think.

Kimberly: Exactly. It’s so important. That’s one thing I want to make sure my children understand, is you can call yourself a Christian, but are you living that out in your life? Like you just said, modeling that for your children. It’s more than just textbook stuff. That’s how it works, right?

You want to be able to have that fruit too. You have to model that. We have to correct when things come up, we have to help them build their character. These are all things that help build a gospel-centered home, and that’s important for us.

Amy: If you have some resources or links to things you’ve shared about, catechizing kids and family devotions and things, send those to me and I’ll put them in the show notes. I’ll also include in the show notes an interview I did with my husband about getting started with family devotions.

John and I had our first family worship together on our wedding night. It’s been just about every day since. That’s something I’m really thankful for. Definitely, if you’re listening or watching, check the show notes and I’ll put those links in there.

How to start family worship and why family devotions are important

Finding balance as homeschool moms

I want to transition a little bit and talk about a question that I know comes up a lot. People ask me this a lot. Like me, you are a wife, a mom, a homeschool mom, and you’re an entrepreneur, right? That’s a lot of plates that you’re juggling, a lot of vocations.

It can be really hard to balance all of those things, to figure out how to meet the needs and meet the deadlines, and the requirements at any given time. People are often asking me like, “How do you do all this? How do you work and be a wife and a mom and homeschool?” Tell me, how do you do it? What would be your tips or advice for other moms?

Kimberly: Right. Balance is so important. It’s so key. My family, my home comes first. Being an entrepreneur, it’s not the back corner, but that’s not the first priority. I make sure my home is taken care of, my family, my husband. Make sure they have everything that they need,

Entrepreneurship, at times, it’s hard to balance with family life. I often pray, Lord, I have these deadlines coming up. I have this, I have that. I need to be able to have a moment in my day to focus on X, Y, Z. Lately, that’s been a floating flexible thing.

Sometimes I like to get up early in the morning. I’m talking 4:30 in the morning to work a couple of hours before my early risers get up because they get up between 6:00 and 6:30. Sometimes that works for me. Other times, it’s after they go to bed.

That could be a struggle for me personally because I get tired at night and I want to go to sleep, but I have deadlines that I need to meet. Right now, my five-year-old, she is just wanting to get up in the middle of the night and sleep with mommy, so I can’t get up at 4:30 right now like I want to, so I have to do my work at night.

I find that I’m constantly switching between working in the morning or working at night. I try not to do too much during the day because I want that time focused on my family. Sometimes, we’re having a meeting right now, my kids are watching movie, just saying. Sometimes you have to turn on the TV.

Then today is one of those moments where they’re watching a movie while I’m doing this call with you today. We can be flexible for times like that. I typically like to give up my time during the day for them. That’s how I balance things.

Amy: I think that’s helpful to hear too because I can so relate to that. There have been seasons where it’s been like, yes, getting up early. Generally, I’m a 5:00 to 5:30 AM, so not quite as hardcore as 4:30. It’s like, great, this is my work time. It’s perfect.

Then having to just come up against the reality of other seasons where you have family commitments in the evening or even physical limitations, like different seasons of life where you’re like, “My body is telling me that I am finite and I cannot get up that early anymore.”

Having to know, just because it always used to work this way doesn’t mean it’s going to keep working that way. It’s a lot of flexing. You constantly having to be like, “Okay, well, let me try a different way of juggling these balls.” As long as we know the ones that we don’t want to drop, those top priorities, that makes a big difference.

Kimberly: Yes, definitely.

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Advice for the new homeschool mom

Amy: Well, Kimberly, if you could go back and give advice to your new homeschool mom self, what would you say?

Kimberly: I would say don’t get caught up in the hype of curriculum. There’s so many choices out there. You don’t need to have all the curriculum. In the beginning, I thought whatever I thought would work for my kids.

It was a madhouse. I had a lot of curriculum that I didn’t even use that year because either it didn’t work out or I just never got to it. I would say don’t get caught up in the curriculum hype. Start simple, keep it simple.

Again, just stick with the basis, like what we’re doing now, math, writing, arithmetic, reading. Stick with those, and then in time, you’ll find the right curriculum. You’ll save a lot of time and money if you do that.

Amy: Especially if you’re starting with all younger children, do not spend all that money now. You’re going to want to save it for later on. Speaking as a mom of teens.

Kimberly: Exactly, for sure.

Amy: We need fewer things sometimes than we think. It’s so shiny. We see the new thing on Instagram where we’re like, “Oh, maybe if I picked that curriculum, everything would go perfectly.” Just remember, that’s not the way it works, right?

Kimberly: Right. You have a shiny curriculum syndrome.

What Kimberly is reading lately

Amy: Exactly. Here at the end, I would ask you the questions I ask all my guests. The first, one of my favorite questions, because I love when people bring me a new book stack, is what are you personally reading lately?

Kimberly: Yes. Currently, I’m working through a book called Biblical Womanhood by Laurie Alexander. She also wrote The Transformed Wife. Those two books are my thing right now.

Amy: Okay. I’m not familiar with that author. Has there been something in particular that stood out to you?

Kimberly: Yes. Titus 2:3-5, she really focuses on that. That’s what my vision is for family devoted as well. My personal life is really trying to be that Titus 2 woman. I found a lot of encouragement with those two books from her.

Amy: It’s definitely been a transition for me over the past few years to realize that now I’m turning into the older mom because I got married early and had a lot of little people for a long time. I always was the young mom.

Now I guess I’m not really the young mom anymore. I’m moving up in the Titus 2 times. I still have a lot to learn from my own mentors. It’s really an exciting thing to be able to share. The faithfulness that God has shown me, to be able to share that with other younger moms.

Kimberly: Right, yes. That’s so important for me just to remember that God has these things in place to help encourage and build us. I need to rely on the older women in my life of the faith and take their encouragement, take their instructions and really use it how God wants it in my life.

Then I can be available to that for other younger women as well. God has all these things in place for a reason. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to seek help when you need it or pursue encouraging other people because God has that designed specifically in place for that, things like that.

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

Amy: All right. The final question for you is, what would be your best tip or tips for helping the homeschool day run more smoothly?

Kimberly: Routines. That has been a lifesaver for us. We stick with a routine. Not necessarily a schedule, but my kids know what to do during their day. We don’t necessarily do checklists, but they know what’s expected and what’s required of them.

I’ve been training them on these things. It’s finally running very smoothly lately, which I’m very excited about. They know the routines, they know what’s required of them. That helps smooth out the day. It limits questions of, “Okay, what do I need to do now? What’s next?”

They work independently. I’m training them to be independent learners. The routine, sticking with the routine helps with that.

Amy: I think just having kids that when they know what is expected of them, the clear expectations is so helpful. That might be something detailed for some families or even just knowing, okay, here’s the flow I expect you to do or the things I expect you to focus on before free time.

However detailed any particular family gets, just having clear expectations is so helpful. It’s helpful for me as a grown-up. Of course, it’s helpful for our children.

Kimberly: Absolutely.

Find Kimberly Steenbergen online

Amy: Kimberly, where can people find you all around the internet?

Kimberly: You can find me on afamilydevoted.com. I am also on Instagram @afamilydevoted. I have a Facebook group called Biblical Worldview Homeschoolers that you can type in the search and it should pop up for you that I would love for you to join. Also, my Facebook page. Primarily my website, Instagram, and my Facebook group, you can find me.

Amy: I will have links to all of those things in the show notes for this episode over at humilityanddoxology.com. Thank you to everyone who is watching or listening today. If you enjoyed this episode, I would love for you to take a screenshot and share it in your social media stories.

Tag @humilityanddoxology, tag Kimberly. Share the podcast with a friend. I’m so glad that you are here and have given us a little bit of your time. I hope it is an encouragement to your homeschool. Kimberly, thank you again for chatting with me today. I look forward to talking with you again soon.

Kimberly: Thanks for having me, Amy. It was a pleasure.

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

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