Interview with Bobbi Johnson
1. Tell us more about you and your family.
My husband and I just celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary. We have five beautiful children: Our oldest son is 10, followed by twin boys who are 8, our only daughter is 4 and our baby boy is 2. We love being outdoors, traveling, working and playing together. When I’m not busy with kids and household duties, I enjoy going to the gym, taking pictures, blogging, dating my husband and spending time with my awesome girl friends.
2. Why have you decided to homeschool? Was there any particular person who influenced you to choose homeschooling?
Short answer: I decided to homeschool because I wanted to simplify my life and spend better quality time with my children. I wanted to know my children better, and for them to know me as more than a drill sergeant barking orders at the beginning and end of their days.
Long answer: My decision to homeschool came about like a long conversion story–one of those where several people plant and nourish the seed along the way, but it takes a while for the “testimony” to finally sprout and grow. Many individuals over the years have slowly steered me toward homeschooling. I have three older sisters who at one time or another attempted homeschooling. One of them stuck with it. When my children were still very young, I visited a homeschool group in San Antonio, TX. I was so impressed by the mothers and children in the group. I never thought that I could measure up to the patience and enthusiasm of those women. I still don’t know that I ever will.
Three years ago, my family moved to Jefferson City, Missouri. My oldest was in 2nd grade at the time; my twins were starting kindergarten. We enrolled them in a brand new public school. It was a beautiful, HUGE campus, but had a very strict and stern principal. Parents were not welcome past the front office except for once a quarter for special parties, and the overall atmosphere was rather cold and unfriendly. My kids hated going to school, and I hated sending them. I felt like I was sending my kids to prison camp every morning. It was awful. My oldest son had a best friend at church who was homeschooled at the time. He kept asking me if he could be homeschooled. I kept telling him that I was not a homeschooling mom. My sister and several good friends encouraged me to consider homeschooling. I told them that I was not the homeschooling “type”.
That Christmas break, I pulled the kids out of the public school and enrolled them into a private Lutheran school. Everyone there was so kind and loving. My kids were happy; I was happy. Everything seemed great. I was a little concerned about the religious differences between the school’s doctrine and our church’s, but most of the Lutheran beliefs are similar enough to ours, and the people there were awfully welcoming and kind. Tuition was a concern, with three kids already in school and two more approaching, but if it was the best thing for my kids, I was happy to pay.
During our second year at the Lutheran school, life got really busy. My children were growing quickly, and the hours before and after school felt increasingly stressed and hectic. My two sisters-in-law and several families at church were involved with a local homeschool group, and through them, I heard about an informational meeting for new homeschoolers, or people interested in homeschooling. I thought I’d go find out more about the homeschool community in my town. The presentation was remarkably simple and powerful. I came away with a burning in my heart and tears in my eyes. I felt like homeschooling would drastically simplify my life. Instead of rushing my kids out the door every morning, and barking at them every afternoon to hurry up and finish homework, do chores, eat dinner, and get back out the door for extra-curricular activities, we could make more efficient use of our time at home, learning together, and enjoying one another. I felt that homeschooling would give us much needed flexibility in our schedule and help me be a better parent by providing more quality time with my children.
3. How long have you been homeschooling and how would you describe your experience?
I have been homeschooling for just one year. At times it has been great and wonderful, other times stressful and discouraging. I have learned a lot about myself and my children, and many other subjects as well. I have learned to listen to my children more carefully, and look for opportunities to teach them throughout the day. I do feel that actively taking on the full responsibility of educating my children is helping me become a better mother.
4. Where do you get support you need?
My number one supporter is my husband. I’m sure I would have given up homeschooling after the first week if it weren’t for his constant encouragement. I am also fortunate to have two great homeschool groups in my community, a co-op that meets weekly, and a sometimes overwhelming number of options for extra-curricular activities in the area. I have many dear friends and family members who offer their continual support, and enjoyed attending my first homeschool convention this past spring.
5. What do you believe is the greatest advantage that your children have from being home schooled?
A customized educational journey with the people who know and love them better than anyone else in the world.
6. How do you choose a curriculum?
This is possibly the toughest part about homeschooling. Unfortunately, like so many decisions in life and especially parenting, this one comes with a lot of trial and error. I buy a lot of books at used curriculum sales, and might keep one or two of them. I research and compare curriculum websites, or ask other homeschoolers I admire about the curriculum they use. I’ve tried some programs that I like for a while, but then find something I like better and switch. I’ve tried things that end up not working for us. I’ve tried things I love and decide to stick with. I worry about wasting time on so many different “trials”, but even with the inconsistencies, my kids are still learning a lot, and exploring the options together is education in itself.
7. What advice would you give to parents who are considering homeschooling?
I cherish the following words of encouragement I recently received from a dear friend of mine:
“All of ‘it’…the books, the programs, the activities, the sports, the gifted such and such or the more improved this and that….all of that…will never.be.enough. It goes on and on and it will never, can never be enough. But, you on the other hand, are always enough. Always. In all of your mixed up, confused, harried, glorious, beautiful, whirling dervish ways…you, my friend, are enough.”
Homeschool is less about what you are doing or learning, and more about who you’re doing it with. Never sacrifice your relationship with your children (or your spouse) in order to get through a certain number of subjects or lessons in a day. Homeschool is not like traditional school. Homeschool is life learning. Resist the urge to compare yourself, your kids, your classroom, your organizational style, or anything else to others. Someone wise once told me that, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. Find joy in your family’s uniqueness. Have confidence in your ability to love and teach your children in just the way they need to be loved and taught. God has sent your children to you for a reason. He has confidence in you. Have confidence in yourself. Trust that He will help you along the way.
You can follow Bobbi on her blog here: http://justinandbobbi.blogspot.com