Made for This: with special guests from the Made2Homeschool Contributor Team

Made for This homeschool conversations podcast with special guests from the Made2Homeschool Contributor Team

Y’all have been hearing me talk about the brand new online community Made2Homeschool, and I am so excited to tell you that it is officially OPEN to the public! Over 20 creators have come together to create a one-of-a-kind space just for homeschool parents like you.

Eight of my fellow contributors agreed to join me for little micro-episodes of the podcast… short conversations to get to know them and their homeschools. Each of them shares either a challenge of homeschooling or a favorite thing, and they all brought some GREAT practical tips you can implement to keep your homeschool running smoothly today.

In fact, the conversations were so great that some of them turned out to be, well, not quite so micro. So instead of trying to fit them all into 1 gigantic episode, I’ve split them into 2 parts in the podcast feed.

The complete transcript for all 8 Homeschool Conversations is below. Each individual interview will also release sequentially on YouTube if you prefer to watch your content.

You may also enjoy: Start the Homeschool Year Strong: 9 Strategies for Successful Homeschooling

You were made for this.

made for this Made2Homeschool podcast homeschool conversations part 1

{This post contains paid links. Please see disclaimer.}

Meet Homeschool Mom Abby B

Abby and her husband have homeschooled their four boys from the start. Currently the children are 5,7,7, and 9. She met her husband in 2009 at a Bible College where Abby double majored in Psychology and Christian Studies as well as receiving a minor in History. Her husband currently serves as a Pastor in Minnesota where the family resides.

made for this Made2Homeschool podcast homeschool conversations part 1

Amy: Welcome, Abby. I am so glad you’re here today. Could you please briefly introduce yourself, your family, and your homeschool?

Abby: Yes, sure. I’m excited to be here too. My name is Abby. I am a homeschool mom to four boys between the ages of five and nine. I have twin seven year olds in there. My YouTube channel that is primary is Family Style Learning, and that is the style that we go with for our homeschool. We try to learn together as much as possible.

Amy: That is great. My youngest son is seven, although he’s about to turn eight. Probably by the time this comes out he will be eight. It is such a fun age and you have double the fun with those twins.

Abby: Oh, they’re so much fun, yes.

Favorite Part of Homeschooling: Co-Learning Alongside Our Kids

Amy: Could you let me know, what is your favorite part of homeschooling?

Abby: My favorite part of homeschooling is definitely that like co-learning part. I think like most homeschool moms, when we get started, we’re so nervous about, do I know enough? Am I going to be able to teach my kids? But what I’ve really found is that, I do know the basics for these young ages, but I’m learning so much and I am learning at a higher level while they’re learning at this core spot for their age, I am learning more. I continue to be educated high enough, but next time we revisit this topic, I will be able to help them more and more. 

We get to do so many activities as a family and I’m not missing out when they go on a field trip and do something else. I get to experience all of those highlight moments like when reading suddenly makes sense, or when they come up with a story that they want to tell.

I get to be part of that and I’m not missing out on those things. That’s something that my husband and I have both really valued and treasured in our homeschool also, the part of adding so much about God into our curriculum, and not actually adding it because he’s not the elective. He’s what we really want to be teaching our kids, and so everything else is coming alongside of that, and we get to focus on our hearts and our priorities for our kids through homeschooling. I just think that that’s so beautiful.

Amy: I love that. I love that you say God is not an elective. I sometimes say like, we don’t just sprinkle some Bible verses in our curriculum or add it in as a separate subject. It is definitely foundational to the way we think about everything we’re learning, everything we’re learning ought to drive us more and more to worship of God. That’s why my channel and my website is Humility and Doxology. That’s the real end of learning.

Abby: I did steal that from like a meme or something, that’s not core to me, but I loved it so much and I think that a lot of us do hold onto that of like, that makes so much sense that God is not an elective.

Made2Homeschool: a safe community for homeschoolers to connect

Amy: Abby, you and I are part of an exciting new venture that we are all going to be discussing about on this podcast episode, Made2Homeschool, this new online homeschool community, so tell me a little bit about what you’re most looking forward to about Made2Homeschool?

Abby: The community of it. That’s really like how it got started too, was Brandon, the founder of it and his wife Brigitte, they heard so many of us homeschool moms talking about wanting a safe community, a place to connect with others, because I think a lot of us, the reason that we do YouTube and podcasts and things are because we want to be there for homeschoolers that don’t have a local community, and who need that extra encouragement. The best we can do really is YouTube and podcast and social media on some level, but we don’t get that interaction.

We don’t really get to know their story and their specific situation, because we all come from such different situations. Here on Made2Homeschool we’re going to be able to actually answer those questions and do it live on our workshops, or in meetups that we can offer. There’s so much potential there to really uplift and encourage homeschoolers.

Personally, I’m going to be one of the coaches on Made2Homeschool, and that to me is my highlight, because I will be able to have so much one-on-one interaction in just encouraging homeschoolers as they’re getting started, and making sure that they have that firm foundation so that they don’t burn out, so that they don’t feel lost and confused, but that they can be going strong in the journey that they are taking for their family.

Amy: Just to have someone who can look at you in the eyes through the computer screen and say, “You’re not alone, we’re here with you. Let’s hold hands together and do this adventure.” I think it’s so valuable and I’m so excited every time I think about it.

Abby: I know, it is so exciting, and to see the hearts behind all of the creators that are getting in on this. They haven’t been concerned with what they’re getting out of it. They’re so concerned about, how can we make this the best? How can we serve others to the top of our ability? Nobody’s talking about what they get from it, and it’s just mind blowing to just see all of these moms who are giving so much time, because we’re giving a lot of time to this project, and just their real genuine hearts behind it has been so beautiful.

What Abby is reading lately

Amy: Abby, even though this is a little bit of a different episode and we’re just having a brief introduction to you, I do want to ask you the questions I always ask my podcast guests, and the first is just, what are you personally reading lately?

Abby: Thanks for asking. I love talking about books. In fact, you and I are going to be doing another thing later on about homeschooling books. Currently I am finishing up, I’m on the last chapter of Mother Culture, which has been great. Then I am reading, I actually pulled it over here because I knew I would forget the name Knights in Training by Heather Hopped, I think is how you say it. I have been loving this book. We’re doing a middle ages study right now with my kids and it’s really been good in teaching my kids how to be chivalrous and have a good upbringing in their manners and how they treat others.

Amy: I haven’t read that book, but that name sounds so familiar. I feel like maybe I heard the author on a podcast episode awhile back or something like that.

Abby: Sure. She has her own curriculum too, which I’ll be doing a review of really soon. It looks like the best curriculum in the world. I’m really excited about it.

Amy: I have to just mention here, I know this is totally a rabbit trail, but my youngest son has been a bit of a struggling reader, and is just really persevering and working so hard and I’m so proud of him. We were at a thrift store recently, and he had brought his own little $1 bill in his pocket and he found this Knights and Castles book, like picture book and bought it with his own money.

I will tell you, I have not had to fight with him like I normally do every morning we practice a little bit of reading aloud to me, and this book has like six syllable words in it. It’s not an easy reader book at all, but he’s so excited about reading it that he is more willing to work hard, and that makes me super, super happy.

Abby: I think little boys have that desire to be bold, and courageous and to be necessary in their society, and to help others, and so there’s just something about this Knight’s idea that really clings to them and they want to know more and go on those adventures. It’s been really good for my boys and I can see how just finding that, but like you brought up there, seeing your kid light up with his reading and start taking on these extra things. That’s what I was talking about with the excitement of homeschooling. It is so exciting to see these things happen with our kids.

Abby’s best tip for helping the homeschool day run smoothly: rhythms and habits

Amy: Abby, what is your best tip for helping the homeschool day run smoothly?

Abby: We have created rhythms for our family and made them habits of what we just do, and it just comes naturally, and everybody knows what’s expected of them and I will say like, it didn’t run smoothly when they were little, things looked different then, and they’ve had to change as we’ve gone, but those rhythms have just helped us so much and that’s creating a lifelong learning style in my kids too, which I’m really excited about, but creating those habits and rhythms is a key thing.

Find Abby online

Amy: Habits and rhythms. I love that. Such a great tip. Abby, where can people find you all around the internet?

Abby: Sure. I have two YouTube channels. I have Family Style Learning, which I post on very regularly. Then I also have Bear Hill Adventures. It’s our school name and it talks about how to teach your kids about the world from home, and so I upload book resources and things there. Then I’m also on Instagram with Family Style Learning as well. You can find me as a coach on Made2Homeschool.

Amy: Thanks for being here, Abby, and I look forward to seeing you more in Made2Homeschool.

Abby: Absolutely. Thank you Amy.

Meet Homeschool Mom Anna Jill

Anna is a second generation homeschooler who has been married 22 years to the boy next door. She and her husband have graduated 2 of their 6 children and are in their 15th year of homeschooling. Their children range in age from 19 down to 3.

Anna has an Eclectic, Wonder-Schooling approach in their homeschool. She prefers to pull resources from various publishers to fit the needs of each child, while also giving space in the flow of the day to go down rabbit trails of “wonder” and pivot as the seasons change. There is also a strong emphasis on character concepts and teaching life skills. Answers in Genesis-God’s Design Science, Spelling You See and Right Start Math are some of their top curriculum picks. Carrying out Deuteronomy 6:4-7 in a tangible way is the why behind their homeschool.

made for this Made2Homeschool podcast homeschool conversations part 1

Amy: Anna, I am so glad that you’re joining us for this episode. Could you just tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, and your homeschool?

Anna: I am a second-generation homeschooler, which I think you are as well. We are in our 15th year of homeschooling our six children. Actually, I’ll take that back. We graduated our two oldest a year ago, so we just have four right now. Let’s see, our children’s ages are 19, 18, 15, 10, 7, and 3, so a huge wide age range. That’s just a little bit about us.

Amy: Tell me a little bit about your style of homeschool.

Anna: It goes a little bit like this. We are eclectic wonder schoolers. I like to have a little bit of structure with our homeschool. I want to have a little bit of a framework, something that I can go off of. I like to pick and choose curriculum based on the season that we’re in. I’m eclectic in that way. I’m finding publishers here and there and creating my own, but I leave space in our day to go down rabbit trails of wonder. I use our curriculum, lightly cover what the curriculum has laid out for us.

Then I leave enough space for my children to wonder how something works or wonder who this person is and give space to look some more into that. It’s interest-led in that way.

Amy: One of the things I encourage people when they’re planning their homeschool is to make sure there’s white space in the homeschool plan. It’s really easy for us to try to plan out to the very edges of our homeschool day. One of the reasons why white space is so valuable, of course, is that it keeps mom from getting completely overwhelmed and exhausted and go, go, go, always feeling behind. Like you were just saying, it also leaves space and time to just explore and have curiosity and go off on a little rabbit trail that wouldn’t fit into your day if you had it planned to the minute.

Anna: Since I have learned, I had to learn that, that didn’t come naturally, but since I have learned that, they know that they can ask the questions. I’m not just trying to get through the lesson, we want to give the opportunity to learn and, and to learn more about what we’re talking about. They can’t wait to be like, “Oh, can we go back to that? Can we look that up now?” It’s really instilling in them that love of learning and different ways that we can research different things.

That did not come naturally to me, but it’s something that has really allowed us to not only get those lessons in because we want to get those in but to also allow that interest-led aspect to work as well.

Challenges of Homeschool: Feelings of Inadequacy

Amy: I love that. Anna, what have been some of the challenges that you have faced in your homeschool and how have you thought to overcome those?

Anna: This is a great question. I don’t think I’m alone in this, but I have felt inadequate to teach my children. I didn’t get a degree, I didn’t even go to college at all, and so I’ve had this negative playlist in my head that I may just not be adequate to teach my children. 

When those lies start circling in my head, I always go back to scripture. In scripture, it tells the parents that they are to train their children up in the way they should go and they are to teach God’s truth when they rise up and when they walk along the way and when they lie down.

Those are commands for the parents. The public school has never given those commands so I have confidence that God has called me to homeschool and I am more than adequate to homeschool my children. 

There are subjects that I don’t feel comfortable teaching and that’s okay. I’ve learned that even though I might not feel comfortable teaching that subject, I as the homeschool parent can find someone else to teach that subject. Maybe someone loves teaching a specific subject that I don’t feel comfortable in. That’s okay.

That’s not a failure on my end. I don’t have to teach all the things. With these subjects that I don’t feel comfortable teaching, I can outsource them. We have used co-ops, we have used online classes, we have used single-subject classes. My husband has taught several classes. Grandparents can teach classes as well. There are so many options out there if you truly feel like somebody else could do that better. That’s 100% okay. That’s something I’ve learned in our 15 years of homeschooling that I as the parent have the ability and authority and full confidence I can outsource what I need to outsource.

I’m fully capable of teaching my children, 100% adequate, but if there’s maybe something I don’t feel comfortable with, it’s okay to outsource it.

Amy: With outsourcing too, if you have someone who is passionate about a subject that maybe you secretly don’t care for as much, it gives your children a chance to learn from someone who can communicate that passion for the subject.

Anna: I agree with that. That would be writing, that’s a writing class for us. All through high school, our children have those single-subject classes where they’ve got a 50-minute class with somebody that loves to teach writing and they are getting instruction from someone else. By that age, they are completely communicating back and forth through e-mail and face-to-face conversations with somebody else. It’s wonderful for so many reasons like you pointed out. 

Amy: I’ll actually put in the show notes, so if you guys are listening or watching, check the show notes. I will put in a link I have to How to Know When to Outsource Writing in Your Homeschool. Then another resource, which I have learned some of these rules the hard way, but some tips for equipping your children to take online classes successfully because it’s like a whole different skillset to learn, for sure. 

Made2Homeschool: Face-to-Face Interaction Workshops

Well, Anna, what are you most excited about being a part of Made2Homeschool?

Anna: This feels like a trick question because you said, what am I most excited about? I’m excited about so much, but I narrowed it down to the face-to-face interaction like we’re having right here because we are offering workshops where creators get the opportunity to have face-to-face interaction with other homeschoolers from all over the entire world.

That is one thing that I see missing with the YouTube platform is what happens is we create a topic that we want to cover.

That’s good and all maybe for several people that are looking for that specific topic, but I know so often that brings up more questions for homeschoolers because their situation may be a little different than mine and I maybe only covered it from my perspective. I think there are so many specific questions that homeschoolers are going to have based on the dynamics in their home that get to be brought up in these workshops. We get to hash all that out and we each get the opportunity to get clarity on what somebody was meaning.

Or be able to go down rabbit trails of, “You mentioned this, but this is my situation. What would you do in a situation like that?” The Made2Homeschool platform is going to foster that communication back and forth, whereas I don’t see that anywhere else. I think that is what I’m most excited about.

Amy: Often we’re used to watching a workshop online or reading a blog post, listening to podcast episodes and we have these questions we’re like, “Wait a minute, I need to ask you about that thing you just said.” Normally we don’t, but here in Made2Homeschool, we’ll be able to go on there and after the workshop is over, ask the questions by video or text if you’re nervous. I love that though, there will really be a back-and-forth community aspect.

Anna: Yes.

What is Anna reading lately

Amy: Well, even though I’m just doing little short snippet interviews for this episode, I have to ask everyone the questions that I ask all of my guests. The first is just what are you personally reading lately?

Anna: Ah, I brought the book because I’m super excited to show you. I am reading M Is for Mama by Abbie Halberstadt. I’ve heard amazing things about it and it is so amazing. About halfway through and at the end, she’s got actual steps that you can implement. She’s got scripture, she’s helping you rewrite the narrative in your mind. It’s just packed full of scripture and that step-by-step actual steps to have that professional mom mindset so really enjoying it.

Amy: I follow Abbie on Instagram, but I haven’t read the book, but it has looked like it would be a wonderful encouragement. I love the way she always talks about things just because they’re hard doesn’t mean that they’re bad and just the difference there. 

Anna’s tips for helping the homeschool day run smoothly: a 3-ingredient recipe!

Then finally is what would be your best tip for helping the homeschool day run smoothly?

Anna: I’ve got a recipe for that and I’m just going to run over it super quick. It’s got three ingredients and the first one is evaluate, evaluate, evaluate often. The dynamics in our home is always changing, ever-changing, season to season, year to year. Evaluating looks like what are my commitments right now? What are my responsibilities? What circumstances are we in? What am I holding? Just having an awareness of the plates that we’re spinning.

The second ingredient is dream. What do you want the atmosphere to look like in your home? What do you want your kids to say about their childhood? This is just where you get to have some vision of the atmosphere in your home. 

Then the third ingredient is this is where you’re going to make an action plan. For the atmosphere in my home, I want to be present. I don’t want things to be so rigorous that I can’t be present and we can’t enjoy homeschool family life.

Knowing that tells me it gives me a good idea of the type of curriculum that I want to use and the flow that we want to have to our day. It also helps me know what plates to keep spinning. If I want to be a present mom do I keep spinning and do I keep committing over here? Or do I need to let that one drop so that I can carry out the vision and the dream for my homeschool? The three ingredients would be evaluate, dream, and then thrive.

Find Anna online

Amy: Oh, that is such a great tip. I know that that will be an encouragement to the moms who are listening. Anna, where can people find you all around the internet?

Anna: All right, so you can find me on YouTube and Instagram Facebook and it’s @Just Makin’ It Work- with Anna Jill.

Amy: Perfect. I will have those links in the show notes and I will see you inside Made2Homeschool community.

Meet Homeschool Mom Jen Gray

Jen is a homeschooling momma to one child, age 11.  She has a master’s degree in Educational Communication and has been homeschooling for 3 years.  Prior to homeschooling, Jen was active in her daughter’s education, including substitute teaching and spearheading fundraisers for increased technology and hands-on resources in the classroom.

On her YouTube channel, Homeschool with Jen, she loves to share their homeschooling journey in hopes to encourage and provide ideas to homeschooling families.  She is a self-proclaimed “curriculum junkie” so she enjoys researching and sharing various curricula. 

Even though her daughter wanted to be homeschooled from an early age, Jen resisted until the middle of 3rd grade, when it became obvious to her and her husband that God was telling them that homeschooling was the right path for their daughter. Jen is an eclectic homeschooler as she follows Traditional Homeschooling for math, Charlotte Mason for history, Project-Based studies for science, and Unit Studies in general. Jen has a hard time sticking to a specific curriculum schedule as she loves supplements and always is looking for more hands-on activities. God has blessed Jen with the opportunity to learn alongside her daughter while deepening their bond with each other and God.

made for this Made2Homeschool podcast homeschool conversations part 1

Amy: Hello Jen. I am so glad that you have joined us today. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, and your homeschool?

Jen: Absolutely. Thank you so much, Amy. My name is Jen. I have a YouTube channel called Homeschool With Jen. I started my YouTube channel because I had an upper elementary child at the time and I couldn’t find the curriculum really that I was looking for. I started the YouTube channel in order to get out the curriculum that we were using and hopefully help people answer questions because I have an only daughter. She is in sixth grade right now, which means that I didn’t have the experience of a previous child for different curricula.

That was, really every year is, trudging new paths and figuring out what’s going to work that year. I do have an only child and then I have an absolutely amazing, wonderful husband. We have been married for 17 years and he is truly a gift from God. I’m very thankful for him. He is an answer to prayers and we live in a very extremely rural area, which means there’s no co-op. There’s very few opportunities for some outside enrichment other than nature walks. We can take quite a few of those. As far as a lot of organized enrichment, that is very much lacking from where I live.

It has been an interesting journey in order to get to where we are with homeschool, but I am loving mostly every minute of it.

Amy: I sometimes joke that homeschooling is the best hard thing I do. We don’t necessarily love the hard parts, but it is worth it even in the midst of the challenge. You’re going to have such a good perspective to share as well with parents who are homeschooling only, which may mean homeschooling an only child, or I know friends who are homeschooling one child and other child or children are in other academic situations. That’s a unique challenge but also unique opportunity. I’m so glad that you’re here in the community and can provide that perspective and experience.

Jen: Thank you. I have really noticed that with the people who comment on the YouTube videos, I was actually pleasantly surprised at how many people are homeschooling an only. That is something that you don’t hear about nearly as much. Large families is something that people can really search and find a lot of information on but there is a whole different aspect and different challenges and different opportunities when you have an only. It has been very much part of my journey is really talking to people about the differences between having an only in your homeschool and then having the larger family.

Jen’s Homeschool Favorite: Helping Child Find Their Passion

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

Jen: Watching my daughter grow, watching her hone in to the things that she is interested in. Because when she was younger, you introduce her to so many different things. There was a time where my husband and I were like, “Oh no. Did we introduce her into too many different things because she can’t find anything she really likes?” I was actually concerned about that. I was like, she’s got to have some passion because people will talk about, “Oh, my child loves this subject, and I can’t get them to lay down this book,” or whatever, and we just didn’t have that.

Now that she’s in middle school, I’m watching her come into her own and I’m watching her find what some of her passions are and what she wants to research on her own. It was one of those things that I really thought, “Oh my gosh, I am failing as a homeschool mom because my kid won’t sit down and read a book, because my kid won’t go off and do all of these independent subjects.” 

Then I just noticed it just wasn’t time for her yet. It wasn’t time for her to be there. Then when the light bulb goes off and she discovered chemistry, then we are blowing things up all the time. We’re mixing things together. That is just so much fun for me to have that front-row seat for her to find her passions.

Made2Homeschool: connecting creators to specific individual’s needs

Amy: That is going to be such an encouragement to many moms who listen to this, I know. Jen, what are you most excited about the Made2Homeschool community?

Jen: Oh, my gosh, so many things. I’m excited about so many things. My primary excitement really goes back to what I said about why I originally started my home school, my YouTube channel. That was to connect with people in an area where I didn’t feel like there was that much information. The way Made2Homeschool came together and the way it is designed are for people like me who have an only, there’s going to be resources there for you. For people who have a large family, there’s going to be resources there for that person. For people who have two children, three children, four children. 

You’ve got creators who can relate to so many different individuals and so many moments. If you have kids with special needs, there’s people there who have been through it and are going through it and can help you. If you have somebody who is in a large city and there’s so many extracurriculars and you don’t know how to balance it all, there’s somebody there who can help you with that. You have somebody who lives in a rural area, there’s somebody there who can help you and give you some ideas about what to look for.

On top of all of this, and I was going to say this is the icing on the cake, but I don’t even think that that is the right thing, but I think this is the meat of it, is that we all love God. The reason that we got into and the reason we signed up for Made2Homeschool is to help people is to show God’s love by helping others, by helping other homeschool moms. That community that is founded on the love of God is just so exciting to me.

Amy: Yes, it is really exciting to me as well. I love what you were saying that people can find a place there no matter what your background, what your family looks like, or your geographical location. You can find people who are going to understand and can come along and encourage you right where you are. You know better than many of us know. It’s hard sometimes if you’re in a place where there just isn’t a built-in local in-person homeschool community. We’re made for community. We’re made to be here together and to help and encourage one another.

What Jen is reading lately

I know that this is going to be a really exciting adventure. I’m excited too. Well, even though this is a different episode and everyone is just having a short piece of the time, I have to ask everyone the questions I ask all my guests. The first is just what are you personally reading lately?

Jen: I am actually binging on Isaac Wayne. I was introduced to him at the homeschool convention last year, and I love his books. I am all about anything that I can get in my hands on homeschooling by him. I think he has such an amazing perspective. Then also, we are reading the Cliff Notes of The Odyssey with my daughter. We’re studying Greek history. I’m leading that one as well. Finally, the other one, we love Gordon Korman in our homeschool. Like I said, my daughter is in middle school and Gordon Korman writes novels for the middle school age range. For our fun, read-aloud, we are reading Supergifted by Gordon Korman.

Amy: I am not familiar with that one, but I have some middle-grade middle school kids I’ll have to check out at our library, that author.

Jen: Yes. If you get a chance, our very favorite one is Restart by him. It packs a punch on the choices that middle schoolers make in their lives and how it impacts other people. That is one of our favorite books by him.

Jen’s Best Tip for Helping the Homeschool Day Run Smoothly: Have a plan!

Amy: Awesome. My final question for you, Jen, is what is your best tip for helping the homeschool day run more smoothly?

Jen: My tip for the homeschool day is basically revealing my personality. I have to have a plan. If I go into the homeschool day without a plan, we get nothing done. We really don’t. If I have at least some form of a plan, then our day runs so much more smoothly. Also, without a plan, we can both get a little bit more off track. My daughter and I, we can watch a documentary a little bit too long, or we can say, “Hey, it’s too nice outside. Let’s just scap all of the books.” We do that sometimes and that’s fun days. There’s no question, there is a lot of benefit in that.

To actually get some of the curriculum done I need a plan. That’s just who I am.

Find Jen online

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

Jen: I primarily am on YouTube at Homeschool with Jen. I do have an Instagram account which is homeschool_with_Jen. On that Instagram account, I’m much more of our day-to-day and little snippets of what we’re doing. The YouTube channel is really where I focus on the different curriculum reviews, and curriculum plans, and some of the things that I am truly passionate about which I am a self-proclaimed curriculum junkie. You’ll see a lot of curriculum on there.

Amy: Awesome. Of course, people can find you inside Made2Homeschool. You can find me there as well. I look forward to talking with you more.

Meet Homeschool Mom Morgan Tillman

Morgan is a wife and mom of 3  daughters, ages 11, 9, & 6,  Morgan has 2 bachelors degrees, one in biology and the other in nursing. She has been homeschooling for 5 years following a 10+ years career in nursing. Morgan has always had a passion for teaching however never imagined she’d be doing it through homeschooling. On her free time she enjoys any opportunity to explore something new both indoors and out, loves cooking, and a good book when she gets a chance. You’d never know this but she is an introvert at heart. 

made for this Made2Homeschool podcast homeschool conversations part 1

Amy: Morgan, I’m so glad that you are here today. Could you please briefly introduce yourself and tell us about your family and your homeschool?

Morgan: Awesome. Thank you, Amy. I appreciate the opportunity. My name is Morgan Tillman. I will be married, it’s coming up on 14 years to my amazing husband, Brandon. We have three girls and they are 11, 9, and just turned 6. We are busy family of girls over here. We have been homeschooling now for five years, which has been amazing. Love it. Best decision we ever made, hands down. A lot of people will ask what’s your homeschooling style. For me, like it is for a lot of people here, it’s eclectic. I recently just got on the internet and started researching: everybody can’t be eclectic.

Let’s dive in more about what we do in our home. The multiple intelligence homeschooling came up and I was like, this is us because it really focuses on finding what your children’s strengths are and really pushing them in that area and I say not focusing at all, but not as much emphasis on the areas where they struggle. You still do it, you still encourage them, but it really helps to build their confidence knowing that like, “Hey, I really like to write. I’m great at grammar. Let’s go in that direction, ” which is just my exact household.

I have one who excels at all things math and science and I have another one who excels in all things ELA. We really just gravitate to those areas and it’s been awesome. I love homeschooling. We basically got started because I wanted more time with my girls. It has transitioned over the years of course with various focuses, but time, the relationships, and just freedom being able to do what we want to do, learn how we want to based off of us. That is the intro to the Tillman household.

Amy: I love that. I love the way you’re able to focus on their strengths and use that as a jumping-off point for the things you’re learning. I had a previous guest on Shawna Wingert from Different By Design Learning. I don’t know if you know her, but she talked a lot about the importance of strengths-based learning in our homeschool, but I’ve never heard– or say again what the multiple intelligences?

Morgan: Multiple intelligences. Yes. It’s a whole thing. I was researching I said a couple weeks ago and I’m just shocked. I’m like, this is us. This is exactly what we do. Of course eclectic comes in there, you’re choosing curriculum all the things. I’m like, I really try to focus on the areas where they excel really great because I think that’s what’s going to pull them through being adults and that’s where they are. Especially with my older two. Now, my youngest, we’re not quite there yet, she’s kindergarten, but my older ones, you can see where your children are gravitating to and just really help them excel in those areas.

It’s been interesting. Check it out.

Challenge of homeschooling: distractions

Amy: I love hearing this idea about the strengths and this joy that can come in the homeschool when you focus on those areas, but you and I both know there’s a lot of challenges in homeschooling as well. What have been some of those challenges you faced and how are you guys working to overcome them?

Morgan: One of the things that pops into my mind is distractions. I can be easily distracted with certain things. We are in our home a lot now. We do go out for extracurricular activities, but when you’re schooling, a lot of times we do our schooling within our home. I’m sitting here Amy, and I’m like, “Oh, that needs to be fixed, or maybe we should clean that, or maybe we could do this.” I really have to ground myself. I’m like, “Focus.” One way that I’ve overcome that is I schedule it.

I really have to be on a schedule to say, this is a project that I want to tackle today that has nothing to do with our homeschool so I’m going to give this some of my time, 30 minutes today after we finish schooling. That really helps me to be able to focus. I know it may sound how can you not focus on your child’s education, but there’s just things, there’s things all around us. The planning and being a mom and a wife and all the things. That has really helped me to say, “Okay, once we’re done with school, you have 30 minutes you can go and work on this project.”

It really brings me joy because naturally I like things organized and I like to clean so it just falls right in line with what I do and I love fixing things. That’s been a really huge help. We also have distractions of people in our lives because I think sometimes people think, “Oh, you’re homeschooling, you’re at home. Let’s just pop up and see what you’re doing.” Setting boundaries, which a lot of people, they’ve been really receptive to that. Setting those boundaries to minimize the distraction so that we can really focus on the flow of our homeschool day.

I would say at the moment, that is one thing that pops up as the biggest thing is just the random distractions that go on in my head as we’re going throughout our day. I could definitely come up with a lot more because as you know this journey is not easy at all. I think when we’re able to really recognize some of the struggles and really actively come up with ways to work on them, it just makes it that much better.

Amy: What I hear is this common denominator between both the distractions of people and the projects is you are fighting them with purposefulness. You’re being purposeful to plan the time to see the people. To plan the time to do the projects. Sometimes if we just go with the flow too much, we’re so scattered instead we can build in those boundaries for ourselves and there’s real freedom within some boundaries.

Morgan: Absolutely. I 100% agree with you. Definitely. I am not an everyday go-with-the-flow because it’s all over the place and that flow looks like, oh, you didn’t really get much done today.

Amy: Yes, my flow might turn into a landslide. I was going crazy.

Morgan: Yes. Absolutely.

Made2Homeschool: community

Amy: Oh, Morgan, what are you most looking forward to about the Made2Homeschool community?

Morgan: Amy, I’m sure you’re going to hear this over and over again, but you just said the word: community. I did a description of it the other day and I’m like, when you can just connect with someone and that best friend that you have and you can talk to that person and they just get it. I think one of the biggest things that is missing within the homeschool community is a place where you can go and really talk with people and get just a different environment and vibe than what you would get on say YouTube or Instagram, Facebook groups.

Made2Homeschool is going to provide that opportunity. There will be someone in that community for everyone. The fact that there are so many amazing contributors there who are willing to be that connection point for so many others, it just really makes me excited about it. We’re talking all of the resources and workshops and all the things. I’m super excited about that because that’s been something that I’ve always desired within our homeschool and you have to actively seek out to build those relationships.

I know that this is going to help form some amazing relationships with people. Even just in their local area, everyone may not be in your state, but we’re going to find a way to make them connected with people where they live. Community is a big thing. I don’t think you can be in the homeschool arena and not have some form of a community and support. It is imperative.

Amy: Yes. Oh, I’m so excited about it too. Every time I’m talking to another lady on this episode, I just get more and more excited.

Morgan: Communities everywhere so yes, I’m excited about that. Just being able to chat, you can message somebody and say, “Hey, how’s your day going? What’s going on?” Encouragement and get that. I’m excited to get those things as well. I love it.

What Morgan is reading lately

Amy: Oh yes, definitely. Morgan, even though these are little micro episodes, I’m still asking each of you the questions I love to ask all of my guests. The first is just what are you personally reading lately?

Morgan: Okay, so my husband and I are currently reading a book called Married for Life. It is inspirations from couples who have been married for over 50 years, which I think is amazing. There’s definitely tons of nuggets to gain from that. Learning and reading what they have said. It’s just something that we enjoy doing with each other. Whenever he’s home from work, we’ll catch a page in there, read, talk about it, that type of thing. That’s where I’m reading personally. Outside of that, we’re doing read-alouds which is awesome.

I get to experience that with my girls and I get a little jealous when they get to read books that I don’t get to read. I really insert myself into their read-aloud. That’s where my reading is at the moment.

Amy: Oh, that’s fabulous. I’m going to have to check that marriage title out. It’s always an encouragement to hear from people who have stayed the course and persevered and can share the way God preserved them through their marriages.

Morgan: Yes. I love it. So.

Morgan’s best tip for helping the homeschool day run smoothly: rhythm

Amy: Well the final question is, what would be your best tip for helping the homeschool day run more smoothly?

Morgan: Get in a rhythm. Get that rhythm and stay in it and whatever that rhythm looks like for your household. I don’t subscribe to timestamps just because I feel it adds an additional stressor within our household, but we have a rhythm and my girls even know like, “Oh, I’ve been doing this a little long, or we’re a little out of sync.” Even with their waking in the morning, it’s just a rhythm. I really don’t have to wake my girls there accustomed to waking up at a specific time, their body just knows. That rhythm is something that we’ve created that really works for us and so find your rhythm.

That would be my biggest advice. Of course, anytime we’re looking to do anything, God first. I pray about our rhythm every day when I wake, Lord, let this plan be according to your will because, at the end of the day, he has control over everything that we’re doing. When we step into it thinking, “I got this,” that’s when the problems arise. I’m always like, leave me so that I can leave my girls according to his will. That rhythm is something that he has provided for us over and over and over again.

Amy: Such wonderful tips, especially the reminder to pray, not just to set up the routine and the rhythm and think it’ll just run on its own. It going to be exactly fueled by the Lord’s grace for sure.

Morgan: Absolutely. Yes.

Find Morgan online

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

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Morgan: I am at Life of Tillmans on YouTube and also Life of Tillmans on Instagram. Those are my places where I frequent. I would love for you guys to come and check me out, say hi, visit with me, all the things.

Amy: Awesome. Thanks so much, Morgan.

Morgan: Thank You, Amy. I appreciate it.

made for this Made2Homeschool podcast homeschool conversations part 2

Meet Homeschool Mom Katie Waalkes

 Katie is a second generation homeschooler married to her high school sweetheart for almost 15 years. Together they have 6 kids ages 13,12,11,10,5, & 4. She has been homeschooling for 9 years and has experience in homeschooling children who are neurotypical as well as kids with Autism, ADHD, Auditory Processing Disorder, Dyslexia, Hearing Impairments, & Other Medical Needs. Her own ADHD diagnosis has helped her understand her kids better & allows her to adapt and pivot as needed for her chaotic life.

made for this Made2Homeschool podcast homeschool conversations part 2

Katie Waalkes: Thanks for having me on, Amy. My name is Katie, and I am a second-generation homeschooler of six kids, married to my high school sweetheart who also grew up homeschooled, so that’s really fun to have those shared experiences, and we homeschool six kids with varying special needs, and so it’s definitely been a journey for sure figuring everything out, and yes, it’s one of the things that led me to being on YouTube and being able to help and share with other people on my channel Life in the Mundane and just being able to share with other parents that you’re not alone in this, that it’s okay, we can get through this.

Amy Sloan: Katie, I’m so excited to get to chat with you again today. You and I have had a full-length podcast episode before, and I’ll put that link in the show notes for people to go back and listen to more, but here, I would just love to ask if there has been a challenge of homeschooling and how you have sought to overcome that challenge.

Challenge of homeschooling: balancing everyone’s needs

Katie: Yes, I think one of the challenges that I have had is with having so many kids with special needs is really balancing everybody’s needs, and it’s very easy as a homeschool mom to feel like you’ve got to be all things for all kids and to see very quickly that we are human and very incapable of doing that, and so we just kind of get down on ourselves, and so what I’ve learned is I’ve learned to choose to do things that are the best thing that I can do in that moment for that child and understanding, looking at what is best for our whole family as a whole.

Obviously we want to tailor things to our specific child, but I’ve learned that sometimes with speech therapy or other therapies, taking the summer off is okay, and I think that’s something– A mom told me that one time when I was a younger homeschool mom, and she said, “It’s okay. It seems like therapy should be around the clock, early intervention is necessary, and it is, but it’s okay sometimes for the mental sanity of your family and for you to be able to seek other people’s needs, other kids’ needs to just take a break for a second,” and that was a huge relief to me to hear that.

We just learned how to look at the family as a whole and say, “I’m going to do the best I can for you right now, but it may have to be adjusted a little bit because I also have to think about the other kids and the family as a whole.”

Amy: That’s really encouraging I think to hear because as moms we can kind of globalize, like all of a sudden this one thing becomes the urgent that takes up all the space in our brain, and to be able to hear that perspective is really encouraging, I think, to those of us in many different stages of parenting and homeschool life.

Katie: Yes, absolutely. I think just realizing that when you talk, especially when you have special needs kids, you talk to different therapists or doctors, they all want you to do certain things, and in your mind, you add each of those things to your to-do list and think, “I can’t do anymore” instead of realizing I can incorporate this here, like we could totally do these therapy exercises while we’re reciting multiplication, or we can combine these things together.

This can all of a sudden become everybody’s PE instead of having to be something we have to add in, and I think that was just really helpful to me to be like, “Okay, this doesn’t have to be another thing on our to-do list. Just how can we integrate this the best we can into our life?”

Made2Homeschool: cheering one another on

Amy: That is so smart. Well, Katie, you’re kind of special because you’re the one who first introduced me to made2homeschool, got me roped into this fun adventure.

Katie: My fault. My fault. I’ll take credit for it.

Amy: Well, I’m so glad you did, and I would love to hear what you’re most looking forward to with made2homeschool.

Katie: I think just being able, like this kind of stuff, that mom sharing with me that it was okay to do that is the kind of thing that I’m looking forward to more of in the community, of being able to say like, “You know what mama? It’s okay. If you just need to take today off, you can, or you know what? Keep going. Press on. You can do this,” and just the cheering one another on and getting to come alongside each other I think will be huge because so many people don’t have an in-person community when it comes to homeschooling and being able to connect you to people all over the world, not just the US, is huge.

Amy: Don’t we all kind of want just somebody look at us and be like, “You’re not crazy. You’re not the only one, like you’re not alone.” I have so often wanted that in my life, and when I found that on occasion, it’s been such an encouragement. I think that’s going to be something that’s going to be really special, to have this huge group of people from all these different perspectives that can say, “You’re not crazy, you’re not alone. I’ve been there. Let me help you and hold your hands through it.”

Katie: Yes, absolutely.

What Katie is reading lately

Amy: Well, at the end, I will ask you the questions I ask all my podcast guests, and the first is, what are you personally reading lately?

Katie: I just finished Becoming Free Indeed. It is amazing. It’s Jinger, I can’t remember her maiden or her married name now.

Amy: Is it Vuolo?

Katie: Yes. I don’t even know how to pronounce it, but Jinger Duggar, and it was phenomenal. It was beyond my expectations. I kind of picked it up, just curious, and I was so impressed by how the gospel is literally entangled into every single page of that book, and I just keep thinking about what’s neat is that so many people are going to pick it up thinking that it’s a tell-all book and they’re going to get the juicy details and instead they’re going to get the gospel presented over and over and over and over again. I just think that’s so cool how God works.

Amy: Yes. I’m getting goosebumps hearing you, and I know as a fellow second-generation homeschooler, you and I both have a lot of peers who have left the faith or left Christianity who maybe were hurt in many ways, and that’s real and hard as well. I mean, there are certainly bad ideas that I am still disentangling out of my own brain, but to be able to hear someone who rejected error but didn’t reject the gospel was such a delight and an encouragement. I hope it does, it keeps spreading the truth of the gospel as people read that book.

Katie: Yes, absolutely.

Katie’s best tip for helping the homeschool day run smoothly: easing in to school mode

Amy: All right. Final question. What would be your best tip for helping the homeschool day run smoothly?

Katie: One thing that I do is kind of a false start to my homeschool day, if this makes sense. We’ll all gather together, we do breakfast, we do our chores, everyone is kind of running in opposite directions, and then my kids– Our Alexa goes off with an announcement that it’s time to start school. That’s my mental cue of anything I’ve been doing, if I’ve been answering emails or whatever, I need to start shifting into school mode, but what that start of our school day actually looks like is they go downstairs and they do WORLD Watch News and they do a workout, like some kind of YouTube video workout.

That gives me about 15 minutes to fully transition into that school mode. If I’m doing something, doing the dishes, I can finish that up real fast, or whatever, and that has really helped me. It’s not just like this hard start to the day, and I am all of a sudden very open and receptive to receiving my children and being excited about starting the homeschool day instead of being frazzled and overwhelmed, and that 15 minutes just makes a huge difference.

Amy: It’s brilliant because we talked about like with our toddlers or small children, like okay, give them the little warning like 15 minutes till you have to put your shoes on, and then sometimes for ourselves, we’re just like, “All right, mom, jump in, do this thing.” Maybe sometimes mom needs the 15-minute warning too.

Katie: Exactly. At least it makes for a happier mom, that’s for sure.

Find Kate online

Amy: Well, thanks Katie. Where can people find you around the internet?

Katie: You can find me on YouTube at Life in the Mundane or on Instagram, but obviously you can find me in the coolest place ever, which is going to be Made2Homeschool. I hope you guys will come join us and get to hang out with me and Amy and all the other amazing women on this podcast.

Meet Homeschool Mom Christina Franco

Christina resides in upstate NY with her husband Seth and their five children—ranging from preschool to teen. She has a relaxed style of homeschooling, inspired by Charlotte Mason, with a strong focus on discipleship. While she believes her family is her most important ministry, she loves supporting other moms in their homeschooling, motherhood, and faith journeys. 

made for this Made2Homeschool podcast homeschool conversations part 2

Amy Sloan: Christina, I am so glad that you are here on the show today. If you would take a minute and just introduce yourself, tell us about your family and a little about your homeschool.

Christina Franco: Of course, thank you so much for having me, Amy. I’m really excited to chat with you. I’m Christina, I’m a mom of five. I’m married to my amazing husband, Seth, who I’m so thankful for him, I don’t know what we would do without him. I have a three-year-old, a four-year-old, a seven-year-old, and an 11-year-old, and a 15-year-old, so quite a wide range.

We live in upstate New York, so it is just starting to get nice outside and springtime, and thank goodness because the kids are able to get out of the house. We’ve been cooped up quite a bit. However, it does also come with the seasonal allergies, so there’s that. Homeschooling, we started a little over three years ago, so we started during COVID. I am always hesitant to say this but I’m very thankful for COVID in that regard because it was definitely an eye-opening time for our family.

Amy: What style of homeschooling or how would you describe your approach to homeschooling?

Christina: I have a really hard time with this one but I would say wild and free because we do our own thing. I would say we are very Charlotte Mason-inspired and then really eclectic which I feel is such an umbrella term because there’s such a wide range of what could fall under that and what people even think that is but we are really inspired by good books and nature.

We’re very gospel-centered, even just as a family it’s just a big priority for us to be really focused on disciplining our children well and working out our own salvation in front of our children which can be sanctifying and humbling and convicting and all of those things at the same time. All that stuff carries over, indoor homeschool, because that’s just our family culture.

Amy: I love how unique each homeschool can be, just as unique as each individual family. My friend Pam Barnhill calls it us-schooling which I like. Sometimes it’s hard to find just the right label for your particular family’s approach to homeschooling. I think, us-schooling, we’re doing it our way, is a fun way to think.

Christina: Yes. I feel it’s different depending on the season. I’ll notice we’ll get into a mode where we are outside a lot going on adventures, doing a lot of nature study, and then there’ll be seasons where we’re more into literature and it flows and changes I feel like with the natural seasons because we do get a true four seasons here in New York and then also just life seasons. There are some constants, and then there’s some things that ebb and flow we do more or less of depending on what’s going on.

Favorite parts of homeschooling: freedom, flexibility, and time together

Amy: That flexibility, that ability to flow is definitely a gift of homeschooling. Do you have any other favorite parts of homeschooling?

Christina: Other than freedom and flexibility, definitely the time together. I realized when COVID happened and we were all together, how much I was missing and how much I realized we need to make some changes. I didn’t necessarily know right away that it was homeschooling but it had been bothering me for years that I wasn’t with my kids more and for whatever reason it just never clicked of, well, you could be.

You could, that actually is a choice but I think it never even crossed my mind as a choice. I’m thankful that now we get that time together, redeeming back the time that I feel like I lost with my two older boys who were in school for years and then also just really soaking up the time with my younger three who have been home.

Amy: It probably makes you appreciate those moments you have now with your older kiddos because you know how precious it really is.

Christina: Yes. 15 is like– I’m starting to be like, “Oh, okay. You’re 15, you’re going to be 16 this year.”

Amy: Yes. It starts getting real. My oldest is graduating from our homeschool this spring, and it’s simultaneously wonderful and exciting and also a little bit sad. You’re saying goodbye to a season, so I guess maybe not sad but you’re saying goodbye to a certain time and season and that’s hard a little bit.

Christina: Yes. I think probably bittersweet. It’s probably beautiful to see the fruit of your labor after all of these years but then also like, oh, I don’t want to let go of it either.

Made2Homeschool: connection among moms and contributors

Amy: Yes. It definitely makes me appreciate the time I’m having now with my younger kids, for sure. Well, Christina, you and I are both a part– as everyone in this episode is, we’re a part of the team at Made2Homeschool. What are you excited about the Made2Homeschool community?

Christina: I’m excited about so much of it, but I think the connection between moms, not just through like the contributors, but the contributors with the members that will join the community and even people that have been following us on other platforms whether it be a podcast or YouTube or Instagram, just being able to connect more, in a more organic way as opposed to just like a comment and an answer response. Really being able to come together as moms, it feels more like a real community, so I’m really excited about that.

Amy: I like that it’s not just one voice that we’ll be hearing. It’s not just the one person that like, “Well, I guess I’ve paid for this community. I just hear this one person.” There’s such a wealth of wisdom and a plethora of experiences and perspectives to be able to come one place and hear from all of these amazing moms. I’m so excited to get to know each of you better and to learn. I think we can learn a lot from one another. We can learn just as much from people who homeschool differently than we do sometimes as we can from people who homeschool in the same way. I’m very excited too.

Christina: It’s true. It really is true because I find that I am really inspired not only by people who inspire me because they are living out the type of homeschool style that I enjoy or that feels natural to me but also when I– I follow a mom on YouTube, one of my favorite moms that I watch, she is totally different than me in homeschool style. She is much more organized and scheduled and structured and it’s entirely different. Not that I don’t have a structure, that we don’t have a rhythm, but it is very different and I am really encouraged, inspired by her too and sometimes it’ll challenge me.

This might be an area that I want to grow a little bit more in a different way, and just like really honoring what you said earlier about how it is us schooling, being able to honor the fact that her way isn’t the right way, her way works for her family and there might be things that I can learn from it and my way isn’t the right way, but it’s also not the wrong way just because it’s not her way. That maybe there are some things that– we’ve actually had a chance to connect on Instagram before and she said, “I love how creative you are and free-spirited you are.”

I was really encouraged that she said that because sometimes you can almost feel judged and it’s not even real. I would think that she would think like, “Oh my gosh, she needs to get her act together,” and she was like, “No, I’m so inspired by you. That’s just not my personality. It doesn’t come naturally for me.” It is really cool to be able to have a place where we can be doing that with each other all the time, learning from each other and inspiring one another.

What Christina is reading lately

Amy: Yes. I’m looking forward to it as well. Well, here at the end, Christina, I’m going to ask you the questions that I love to ask all of my podcast guests and the first is just what are you personally reading these days?

Christina: I should have had it next to me because I have a stack, I’m not even exaggerating. It is this high and it has ones that I’ve started and ones that I’m going to start because I am a chronic not finisher of books before I start new ones, so the list is really long. I can say that I just finished Mere Motherhood which I really, really loved.

There was one thing that I didn’t agree with but it was like a growing thing for me because I’m like, it’s okay to love something and not agree with everything.

Then every month, leading up to the month, I read the monthly chapter from Sally Clarkson’s, A Lifegiving Home. I’ll add one more because I’m really loving it and that’s Modern Miss Mason. I’m really, really loving that and I love her approach to talking about the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling because I am super inspired by it but I’m not rigid really in any method because I just feel why.

She really does such a beautiful job as someone who is super knowledgeable in that philosophy, but she does a beautiful job of saying it’s really about how it fits into your homeschool, not how you can fit into it. It’s been really encouraging and inspiring. I just got to see her speak at the Wild and Free Conference a couple of weeks ago and that was like– I got to hug her.

Amy: Oh, that’s awesome. I haven’t gotten to hug her but I did have Leah on the podcast in previous seasons. That was really fun, and Cindy Rollins as well, who’s the author of Mere Motherhood. It’s really great-

Christina: That’s awesome.

Christina’s tip for helping the homeschool day run more smoothly: flexibility

Amy: -to get to learn from those amazing ladies, so much wisdom. Well, Christina, the final question is what is your best tip for helping the homeschool day run more smoothly?

Christina: I would say being flexible. I feel like it’s a cliche answer, but it’s also finding the balance. Where do I just let go and be flexible and go with what seems like is making sense for the day, and where do I need to maybe push back a little bit and say, “Okay, this is an area where we do need to be a little bit more diligent, be a little bit more focused or push through a little bit more.”

I’m still learning that every day, up until this very moment of this very day of figuring out those times where I’m like, “Okay, just let it go and trust the process.” Other times where I’m like, “No, I need to reel it in.” I would say just finding that balance, that it can’t just be completely a free-for-all, but not feeling like you have to hold the reins so tight that you’re exhausted, they’re miserable and it’s just not working anyway.

Find Christina online

Amy: Yes, totally. Oh, Christina, this has been great. Thank you for chatting with us today. Can you tell us where to find you all around the internet?

Christina: Yes, so rooted_homelife on Instagram and Rooted HomeLife on YouTube. I do have a little Etsy shop where I have some of the resources that I create for mostly teaching multiple children, so multiple agents, so resources that can be unit study style. I always create it for my family, [laughs] so I try it out, we’re like the guinea pigs and then I just put the things up there. It’s just a little fun thing that I share with other moms.

Amy: Of course, as always, all these links will be on the show notes for this episode. Thank you so much, Christina, and I look forward to seeing you in Made2Homeschool.

Christina: Thank you, Amy.

Meet Homeschool Mom Anna Bruce

Anna is a wife and mom of 4 living in South Carolina. Her children’s ages are 10, 7, 4, and 2. Anna, along with her husband, Zach have been homeschooling for 3 years and are enjoying the experience tremendously. Most of all, they enjoy all the extra family time and the flexibility that homeschool provides. Having been homeschooled for most of her life, then also private schooled, and public schooled, Anna has a unique take in her eclectic homeschooling style and approach to learning. Anna has enjoyed sharing her homeschooling journey (the good and the hard) through social media, blogging, and Youtube for the past 3 years.

Anna has chosen to homeschool her children to ensure their Biblical worldview, to equip world-changers for the Kingdom, and to produce intelligent, confident contributors to society. Having different children who learn in different ways, Anna has developed an eclectic style of homeschooling with a heavy lean towards the Charlotte Mason approach. Lots of family time, consistency, time outdoors, and discipleship are all pillars in their homeschool.  Anna is incredibly passionate about homeschooling and helping other parents realize their God-given potential as a homeschool parent. Anna’s heart’s desire is to equip homeschool parents by encouraging them in their homeschool journey and in their Christian walk and providing them with practical and unique ideas, tips, and tools. Homeschooling can be a lonely place, but with the help of this community, Anna hopes to bring a sense of belonging and community to homeschool families everywhere.

made for this Made2Homeschool podcast homeschool conversations part 2

Amy Sloan: Hey Anna, I’m so glad that you’re here with us today. Could you please just introduce yourself and your family and your homeschool?

Anna Bruce: Thank you so much for having me. I have been so blessed by your podcast and I have really just been enjoying it, so I feel so honored to be on here today. My name is Anna and I’m a mom of four. I have a nine-year-old, a seven-year-old, a four-year-old, and a one-year-old. We live in South Carolina. I’m married to my husband Zach. We’ve been married almost 14 years, so we were high school sweethearts and we have been homeschooling for three and a half years now. We started at the tail end of 2020.

The Lord really called us to homeschool. I tried to fight it for a while and I actually grew up homeschooled. I actually was homeschooled most of my life and then I went to a little bit of Christian school, a little bit of public school, so I got all of that in one. I had professed that I was not going to homeschool my kids, like that was not something that I was going to do. The Lord slowly worked in my heart and it took me many, many years of praying and many, many years of asking God, are you sure this is what you’re telling me to do?

Many sleepless nights and many close godly women in my life who came alongside me and said, you can do this, you can make it work and you’re going to be good at this, to give me that push and that confidence that I needed to be able to feel like I could take that step and do that. We did it and we have been loving it. It’s the best decision we’ve ever made. There are really hard days, but the good days far outweigh those hard days so we have really been enjoying it.

Amy: I am excited to hear that you are from South Carolina. I currently live in North Carolina, was born here and have spent most of my life here but I have a few precious memories of years that I spent living in Columbia, South Carolina, so there’s a little soft spot in my heart for South Carolina.

Anna: We love Columbia, we go there often to the zoo. We’re only an hour from there.

Amy: Oh, that’s a great zoo.

Anna: Yes, it is.

Anna’s Homeschooling Challenge: Homeschooling with Infants and Toddlers

Amy: Anna, could you let me know if there has been a challenge you’ve faced over these past few years of homeschooling? You said you weren’t ever going to homeschool and then the Lord changed and worked in your heart and now you’ve been at it for a few years. What have been some challenges you’ve faced and how have you sought to overcome those challenges?

Anna: I think the greatest challenge for us so far has been having infants and toddlers while we’re trying to homeschool our older two. I’ve never not homeschooled without having an infant or a toddler or both. That’s probably been the biggest struggle and just something that I wasn’t really prepared for. Having to manage the feedings and the diaper changes and the play times and the nap times and all of that while also trying to homeschool my older two has been a huge challenge.

I don’t know that I’ve actually overcome that challenge because I still feel like we’re in the thick of it right now, but a few things have really helped me. I feel like there’s three things that have really helped me and that’s give yourself tons and tons of grace because it’s a short season. I just have to keep telling myself that it’s a beautiful season and you have to give yourself lots of grace.

And then teach your kids to play independently and that has saved my sanity. I would not be able to do homeschool with the older two if the other two didn’t know how to play by themselves. Even my four-year-old, she still knows how to play by herself even when her little brother is not awake to play with her so that has been huge. 

Then just make good use of nap times. That’s like go time, that’s your golden time. That’s when we get the majority of our school done is that precious nap time hour, two hours. Those are my little tips for that on how we’ve overcome it if you can overcome that while you’re still going through it.

Amy: It’s such a challenging season. I had five kids, 10 and under, for a period of time in my homeschool and definitely such a challenge in so many ways but now I look back at those times and I’m thankful for the relationships we built, the sibling time together and just being present for those moments, not missing out on them. There will be a time one day when you get to leave kids at home and go to the grocery store by yourself. It’ll be magical

Anna: Oh, I know. I cannot wait for those days. My sister homeschooled, she’s 12 years ahead of me and that’s what she just keeps telling me. She’s like, just enjoy these little years because when they get in high school and they’re all in their own rooms you’re going to miss it so bad.

Amy: It’s so true. I’ll just mention here for the show notes to check those out because I will put some links, I have some great resources from other mamas who are right there in the trenches with you, with homeschooling with babies and toddlers who can share their experience. I think it’s good for moms to know you’re not alone and other moms are doing this and it’s worth it.

Anna: Yes, I think so too.

Made2Homeschool: a like-minded homeschool community

Amy: Anna, what are you most excited about or looking forward to with Made2Homeschool?

Anna: Oh, there’s so many things. I don’t know if I can narrow it down to one thing, but I guess the most exciting thing probably to me is the community aspect of it. Just having that place of like-minded homemakers and homeschoolers. Not that they’re all going to be homemakers, but a homeschooling like-minded community that I can run to when I’ve had a hard day when my child is struggling with something and I need answers and I need support and help with that.

Just someone who can encourage me when I’m having that hard day and just say, you got this, keep going. 

I guess I’m also really looking forward to connecting with my YouTube audience where I haven’t been able to in the past. There’s only so much on YouTube that you can do. There’s only so much you can respond to in a comment and now I’ll really be able to connect with my viewers and more on a deeper level than I have been able to on my YouTube channel.

Amy: That community, that connection, that encouragement… I’m already seeing it even before we launched, and the other ladies who are collaborating together, just true encouragement and being there for one another and that’s exciting. I know that’s just going to continue to grow in the years out.

Anna: Yes, it’s so exciting.

What Anna is Reading Lately

Amy: Even though these are little micro interviews, I’m still going to ask you the questions I love to ask my podcast guest. The first one is, what are you personally reading lately?

Anna: A lot of my reading looks like audio books, but right now, it’s For The Children’s Sake by Susan Schaffer McCauley. I’ve never read that before and I think I heard it from your podcast actually a couple of weeks ago and so I’ve been reading that and it’s been so good. Then on my nightstand, I have Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch and I haven’t got too far into that yet, but those are the two I’m working on right now.

Amy: Both excellent ones. Yes, I have joked at times that there should be a drinking game on the Homeschool Conversations Podcast. How many times will someone bring up For the Children’s Sake?

Anna: Yes, I hadn’t heard of it before. I guess I’ve been living under a rock, but I was like, I got to check out this book because I think one of the people you had on your podcast said it was like the most influential book she had read or something like that and I was like, well, I need to read that then.

Anna’s Best Tip for Helping the Homeschool Day Run More Smoothly: Prayer

Amy: It’s a classic for sure. Anna, what is your best tip for helping the homeschool day run more smoothly?

Anna: Oh my goodness. I had to think hard about this because there’s so many things, but the number one thing for me is to pray, prayer, pray over your day and pray over your children before the school day even begins. It’s so important and just invite the Holy Spirit into your home and into your homeschool and ask him to just fill you with his Holy Spirit and that way you can be an outpouring of Jesus to your children through the day.

Find Anna Bruce online

Amy: That is such a good encouragement. Thank you, Anna. Where can people find you all around the internet?

Anna: They can find me on YouTube at Anna Bruce Blog and also on Instagram at Anna Bruce Blog and I have a website,

Amy: Perfect. I’ll have links to those things in the show notes for this episode and I’ll see you in made2homeschool.

Anna: Sounds good. Thank you so much.

Meet Homeschool Mom Ashley Weaver

Ashley is a homeschool mom to 3 kids, currently elementary and middle school age. She is a former English teacher, but knew quickly she would rather homeschool and has been homeschooling since 2013. She loves encouraging homeschool families on her YouTube channel and sharing research and practical tips and favorite curriculum and Biblical resources.

     Ashley is passionate about God’s Word and knowing Jesus through the Bible, so she knew her kids would not get that kind of education in a public setting. She loves to train her kids in memorizing scripture. She was also captivated by the Charlotte Mason Method when she first started homeschooling and bases her style off of that. She is not very rigid and loves adapting to her kids’ styles and needs and appreciates “flexibility within a framework” —since she is an “easily distracted homeschool mom” and needs at least a little bit of structure.

made for this Made2Homeschool podcast homeschool conversations part 2

Amy: Hello, Ashley, I’m so glad to have you here today. Would you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your family and how you guys got started homeschooling?

Ashley: Hi, Amy. I’m so happy to be here with you today. I have been homeschooling for about nine years now, when I did the math. I am actually a former English teacher and I taught in the public school, not very long, but I taught there long enough to know that individual attention and one-on-one instruction with kids is the best for child’s education.

I knew right away when I started having kids that I wanted to homeschool. I started homeschooling my daughter. She was two and a half years old. I just got so excited to just jump in, do it. It was mostly crafts and reading and stuff, but that’s when I started homeschooling. Now I have three kids. My oldest is 12, my middle kiddo is 10, and my youngest is 7, almost 8 now. I love doing a share of the mason inspired style with a little bit of classical as well. That’s why I listen to your podcast with some of your classical info. I love living books. That’s probably the best part that has drawn me to homeschooling.

Amy: There is nothing so fun as sitting with your kids and reading a book out loud together or looking at a picture book together and then having that shared family vocabulary, those stories that really become such a huge part of your family life.

Ashley: That’s definitely one of my favorite parts about homeschooling.

Favorite parts of homeschooling: the books and adaptability

Amy: That segues perfectly into my question, which is what are some of your favorite parts of homeschooling? Obviously, the books. Anything else?

Ashley: Definitely the books

The other thing is being able to adapt to my child’s needs. I’m a very flexible person and I love seeing, what are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What do you need right now? What’s your best curriculum? What rest do you need or out of the house extracurricular activities? I love being able to adapt and roll with what my kids’ needs are in their current state. That’s what I love about homeschooling.

Made2Homeschool: live workshops

Amy: It really is amazing how customizable things can be for unique children and challenges and seasons. Ashley, what are you most looking forward to or most excited about with Made2Homeschool?

Ashley: Oh, yay. Made2Homeschool. I was so honored that I got to join this team. I never imagined there’d be something out there like this. The thing that I am most looking forward to is the live workshops, actually. I am a huge fan of attending live workshops myself. I love to interact with the speaker, ask questions at the end, and I love watching them and gleaning from their wisdom. I know there’s going to be amazing ladies that I can attend and watch these workshops with.

I myself also love giving live workshops. It’s just a lot of fun just to be able to interact live with the people who want to hear from you and share with you. I get a lot of energy and feedback from doing live workshops and that’s definitely what I’m looking for about Made2Homeschool.

Amy: It’s going to be so much fun because we have all of these different people with different gifts and experiences who can come, and really just getting to have a chat with this person you’ve always wondered like, “How do you do this?” We’re going to be able to come and talk live and answer questions and then to have the library of the past recorded workshops is going to be great too, for sure.

Ashley: For sure.

What Ashley is reading

Amy: Ashley, I do want to ask you the questions I ask all of my podcast guests. The first one is just, what are you reading these days?

Ashley: Great question. Actually, I start and stop so many books. I looked at my audiobook list right now and I think I have seven or eight books that I keep bouncing around from. I told myself just yesterday I need to pick maybe two and finish them. One of them I’ve been listening to is Order From Chaos, which is learning how to organize and live with ADHD. I myself am a self-diagnosed ADHD. I haven’t done it clinically yet, but I’m an easily distracted, scattered person for sure. This book has been huge in helping me just help figuring out my systems and what go well.

Then in physical book form, I picked it up and brought it down here for you to see. This is A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elizabeth Elliot. I am a huge fan of anything Elizabeth Elliot. Do you read Elizabeth Elliot, Amy?

Amy: Yes, our family read aloud Through Gates of Splendor last year. That was a great read-aloud.

Ashley: Oh, that’s one of my favorite books ever. I love anything Elizabeth writes. I haven’t finished this one. I started it back maybe 10 years ago and then kids and life and everything happening. It’s a thick one and the words are small, but I can’t put it down right now. I finally picked it back up and I’m loving hearing about Amy Carmichael. She’s very inspiring to me and just how she’s chosen to lay her life down because she’s going into missions knowing it may cost her life.

That has just been like, “Wow, this is such a message and a testimony for people today.” We are not one to do something if it costs us something. It’s all about self-care today. I’m like, “Amy was not thinking about self-care when she went out on the mission field.” Her self was the last thing on her mind. That has been just really inspiring to me reading this one. I highly recommend this one to anybody who wants to read it.

Amy: I will piggyback that with a recommendation for a children’s biography of Amy Carmichael. We have my ragged copy from my own childhood. It was one of my most reread books. As you can imagine, I thought it was very cool that we shared the same name. I was very into Amy Carmichael as a child myself and have given the same book to my kids and they’ve also really enjoyed it. In fact, I think one year I actually did read it out loud, but that’s been a few years. It’s called With Daring Faith and I can’t remember the author’s name off the top of my head, which I’m sorry author, wherever you are, you matter. It’s a fantastic book, really accessible to all ages. Just to hear of Amy’s faith and courage is really inspiring.

Ashley: That’s awesome. I’ve not heard of that one. I need to go look that one up.

Ashley’s best tip for helping the homeschool day run smoothly: block scheduling

Amy: Add that one to your list. It’s a good homeschool book. We can always fit books into the homeschool budget. It’s another book, but it’s really for school. It’s fine. Ashley, what would be your best tip for helping Homeschool Day run smoothly?

Ashley: Oh, yes. Because I’m easily distracted, scattered homeschool mom, the biggest thing that has helped me and changed my life, really, is block scheduling, and not having no schedule because that doesn’t help anybody. At least I found in my home not to have any routine throws us all off and nothing really gets done. Having a really rigid structured schedule, where at 8:00 AM we do this, at 8:25, we do this and so on and so forth. That is just way too rigid in my mind as well. When I think of my time and block scheduling, that has helped my day run really smooth when I know, this is my morning time block.

Then we only do morning time. I only focused on morning time. I don’t worry about the dishes or the text message I have to respond to. I’m only focused on our morning time and family subjects. Then later in the day, I have my cleaning the house block. Maybe it’s 30 minutes, maybe it’s an hour, maybe it’s only 10 minutes that day. It’s a block of time that I’m only focused on one thing and I’m doing that one thing well. Again, I’m not perfect in it. We all struggle with being focused all the time, but having a block schedule thinking has really helped me organize my days and run the days very much more smoother.

Amy: It sounds like block scheduling would make a great Made2Homeschool workshop, How to implement your Homeschool day.

Ashley: It’s actually coming. It’s actually coming.

Amy: Oh, yay.

Ashley: You got a little sneak peek of it, I guess.

Amy: Guys, you heard it here first. Quick, go join Made2Homeschool so you don’t miss that one. Oh, Ashley, where can people find you all around the internet?

Find Ashley online

Ashley: All around the internet? No, not all around. Just at Joyful Noise Learning. Youtube is where I’m mainly at. I’m also on Instagram sometimes at Ashley W. Joyful Noise Learning. Then I had one more thing and I forgot– Oh, I have my website at for some principles and info there about how to get started homeschooling.

Amy: Fabulous. Thank you so much, Ashley. I look forward to hanging out with you in Made2Homeschool.

Ashley: Thanks, Amy. I appreciate you.

You may also enjoy: Start the Homeschool Year Strong: 9 Strategies for Successful Homeschooling

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