Monday, June 29, 2015

Homeschool Veterans: Meet Helen!

Today I'm excited to introduce you to another veteran homeschooling mom! I have actually known Helen since I was a little girl and she's one of BFB's very first customers. Helen has homeschooled eight of her own children and now those children are beginning to homeschool their kids. What a cool legacy. Helen brings a great perspective on how homeschooling. Enjoy reading her story!

BFB: What originally drew you to homeschooling?
Helen: Many of my friends were, and had been, homeschooling for a number of years–it was the beginning of the homeschool revival. I began first with just my oldest daughter when she was in 7th grade, just to see whether or not I could handle it, and what were the benefits and possible disadvantages. With three preschoolers and three others in public school I felt like I was testing the waters. My daughter Carolyn did fine but I mostly checked in to see if she was completing her assignments or needed help, not totally involved in what she was learning. It was a little frustrating to me but I could see benefit in the process despite my lack of total commitment. She decided she would rather go back to school when the next year rolled around. My next attempt was with my son Bobby in 5th grade. I knew he was struggling with school and soon discovered he has a form of dyslexia. Working with him really brought to light the benefits of homeschooling and after that I began pulling out some of my other children to homeschool.

BFB: How long have you been homeschooling? 
Helen: I have been homeschooling for 22 years. Now that my children have grown I am tutoring homeschool children–I just can't get enough! My son Stephen, and daughter-in-law, Faith, will begin homeschooling this fall, so I am very excited about that!

BFB: What is one thing you wish you had known when you began homeschooling? 
Helen:  I really wish I had known that I could teach my children - all eight of them - all the way through high school. I didn't have enough faith in myself, enough support, or encouragement back then. It has taken a lot of years and experience for me to realize that it is not only possible, but the best way to go.

BFB: What has been your greatest joy and greatest challenge of homeschooling? 
Helen: I think my greatest joy came first in finding a true love for learning. I grew up with textbook history lessons...boring! When I began teaching with the BFB program I discovered that history is really interesting! Who knew? This fueled my fire for learning and teaching. Now I can say that my greatest joy is to work with a child and see "the light go on" when he/she understands something and becomes excited about learning. One of my greatest challenges was to overcome curriculum confusion–there is so much to choose from! I think it's something you have to grow into, or out of, depending on how you look at it. Pay attention to the BFB philosophy! The next challenge would be in figuring out how to teach a child with a different style of learning and reach their understanding. It is a process and a goal to achieve. 

BFB: How did you discover BFB? How has the philosophy behind BFB influenced your teaching in other subjects? 
California History Through Literature
Helen: I discovered BFB upon it's inception. Russ and Rea were living here in our county, Tuolumne, and attending the same church as we were. Rea and I were involved in several groups together and so I naturally was drawn to her vision behind teaching history through literature. I first used the California History Pack, fell in love with it, and have just about all of the packs in my library. I feel that the philosophy of BFB has affected by teaching in giving me the insight and ability to pull subjects together and make a more cohesive structure to total learning. I use Spalding Language Arts (The Writing Road to Reading) which fits in really well with BFB; I love how one subject overlaps into another, how you can teach writing and reading structure with what you are learning in history, or history in reading, etc. Making math problems out of time periods, or really any information read, is another way to expand thought. There are so many ways to weave your lessons that it is amazing.

Thank you so much Helen! If you have any questions for Helen, just leave them below in the comments! We're going to be checking back in with our veterans over the next few weeks with your questions–this is such a great opportunity to glean wisdom from these women who have walked the path before us!

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