homeschooling interview with lea

i will be posting a series of interviews this week. as part of the journey to becoming official homeschoolers, i have been seeking the wisdom of veterans. those families who have chosen to take on the responsibility of educating their littles. there is so much good advice out there! i thought it would be neat to share what they had to say. check out my interview with kim here.

ii is such a privilege to bring this next interview.  j.d. and lea norcross are an amazing couple and their beloved family is such a blessing to our church and community.  they are generous and hospitable.  their love for God and people is evident.  i could really go on and on.  i am so thankful for the time lea took to share their life with us - i felt like i got to know her so much better and am thrilled to invite you to as well.

tell us about your family.
My amazing husband and I met when I was I was 10 and he was 22, but didn’t marry for another 21 years! So, we got a later start than most. Because of our ages we began trying to have children right away. After going through the heartbreak of several miscarriages, we finally were able to carry a child to term, and were blessed with a beautiful baby girl, Valerie Ruth. I never knew I could love someone so much. It was actually kind of scary to me to love someone like that. Well, in a fairly blurry but happy few years, she was joined by a brother, J.D. III, a sister, Amanda Rose, and another brother, Timothy Thaine. And now they are ages 11, 10, 8 and 5. We are so blessed.

why have you chosen a home based education?
So when I’m asked this while waiting in line to pay at the grocery store (which happens fairly often, actually) I usually just say, "Lots of reasons, but basically we just want the time with our children. They grow up so quickly." Who can argue with that, after all? And even though it’s a pat answer, it’s really the overarching reason. There is so much that we want to instill in them - so many skills and values and desires. It’s not something that’s going to happen in an hour or two a day, which is about all we would have with them if they had any after-school activities. Also, as followers of Christ, we look to the Bible for direction in how to parent. It instructs us to raise our children "in the discipline and instruction of the Lord". Certainly home based education is not the only way to do this, but for our family, we feel it is the best way right now. We want our children to have a Christian world view, to be confident of who they are, and why they are here.
Besides reasons I would put under the spiritual category, there are also what I’d group as scholastic reasons and practical ones. Practically, we love the flexible schedule. We are involved as a family in a campus church, where activities often run late into the evening. It is nice to have the flexibility of starting a little later the next day if we’ve been up late the night before. If grandparents come to visit we sometimes take time off, or do a short day so we can spend time with them, etc. I’ve had to become more rigid with our schedule as I’ve added in children and their schoolwork has become more involved, but it was so nice when they were younger to just snuggle in bed in the morning and hear about the dream they had, and not have to rush around and get out the door. Another practical plus for us is that a lot (not all, mind you, but a lot) of the pressure to have the latest, greatest whatever has been avoided thus far. My kids get so excited about a new box of hand-me-downs from the cousins, and I LOVE that.
Scholastically, I know I’m not the best teacher in the world, but no one cares more about the success of our children than my husband and me. I can immediately catch mistakes and help them correct them before they become an issue. No guarantees, but I hope to instill a life-long love for learning in them. For my husband and me, school was all about getting the top grade. Cram it in, spit it out on the test, and promptly forget it. (I forgot it anyway. He has a better memory than me.) It’s sad how little I retained of what I learned in my K-12 years. I’m getting to learn it again, though! So far, our children have voracious appetites for books. I just want to do all I can to fuel that natural thirst to learn. I don’t have the energy to do some of the really cool hands- on projects that many home educators and classroom teachers do, but I do get to spend 2-3 hours a day reading wonderful and inspiring books to my children thanks to a fantastic curriculum called Sonlight. There are so many wonderful curriculums out there, but I am not high energy nor super organized, so Sonlight has been fantastic for us. And by having read all these books together, we have these shared experiences that create a bond that’s difficult to describe. So much more I could say, but one last reason I’ll mention is just the flexibility to pursue a topic further if the child shows a great interest in it.

what is the best advice you have received about homeschooling?
My older sister home schooled all four of her children at some point, and amassed what my bro.-in-law called the "curriculum museum". She changed her approach a number of times. Her advice to me was, "If it’s working, just stick with it." There are so many new and wonderful sounding curriculums coming out all the time, and I’ve been tempted to switch to the latest cool thing I hear about, but then I remember her words. What we’ve started with has worked well for us, so why spend lots more $ and energy with a new approach. I may change at some point, if it really seems like it would be beneficial, but I try to not be swayed too easily.
what advice would you give to someone starting out?
As for advice to someone starting out, I would highly recommend attending a regional or state home education conference. The speakers and workshops are fabulous, and I learned so much and came home so encouraged. I’d also recommend getting involved in some type of co-op or support group. We’re really blessed to have a number of co-op options in our area. My children really enjoy co-op day and we get the sense that we’re not alone in the endeavor. Lastly, don’t fall into the comparison trap. It’s great to learn from others, get ideas, share ideas, but each child is uniquely created, each family is different. There will always be someone doing something "better", but that doesn’t mean you are a failure. No way.

what are your favorite tools/supplies for teaching?
I’ve already talked about Sonlight curriculum. Besides their curriculum, they put out a forum/blog that is so helpful and encouraging. We use our wonderful local library to the hilt, thanks to my wonderful husband taking the kids every weekend. For preschoolers, is a great website with educational games. Rainbow Resource is a great place to get so many educational books and games and toys. Certainly the Usborne books, especially the ones that have internet links in them.

any final thoughts?
Have a plan/schedule, but don’t hold too tightly to it. If you have a day where nothing is going right, and you will, don’t be afraid to throw the plan out the window and go for a nature walk, or declare it Art Day and pull out the art supplies, or go to a museum, or just call friends and get together and play. You get my point. It’s O.K.

that was pretty much amazing, right?  isn't it so great what we can learn from others.  i think anyone, homeschooling or not, could be encouraged by these women.

(oh and if you have any questions for me about homeschooling, remember to post them sometime tonight or tomorrow morning.)


Egana said...

ok - so I am loving your new camera!!!

And you got some REALLY good stuff here from Lea!

annalea said...

oh i wish i could take credit for the photos but lea provided them. :)

(not sure who took them)

Egana said...

welll.. they are still great - i thought you took 'em with your new fancy camera!

Ann Boyd said...

Thank you SO much for publishing this interview! I love Lea's response about "why homeschool?" -- to spend more time with our kids. That is exactly how I feel, and I'm glad others do, too. This has been really inspiring to me -- maybe I'm just feeling emotional today, but it's brought on a case of the weepies. Or it could be (and probably is) that God is talking to me. :)

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