Christine Zell Homeschool interview

Stress-Free Homeschooling and Rabbit Trails Through Literature (an interview with Christine Zell)

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Don’t miss this conversation with Christine Zell, fellow homeschool mom and picture book aficionado! We discussed the joys of choosing what works best for our family and children, tips for stress-free homeschooling, and strategies for pursuing delightful rabbit trails from the books we read. Christine’s joy and enthusiasm is contagious!

Be sure to check out all the other interviews in our Homeschool Conversations series!

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Stress-Free Homeschooling, Rabbit Trails Through Literature, Christine Zell (This Bit of Life) interview

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Who is Christine Zell?

Christine is a homeschooling mom to four, wife to her high school sweetheart, and author of Rabbit Trails through Literature. She believes homeschooling adventures can happen anywhere: within a book you get lost in while in your school room, while gathered on the couch, or out on a grand roadschooling trip. Come experience this bit of life with her over on her blog or connect with her on social media!

Stress-Free Homeschooling, Rabbit Trails Through Literature, Christine Zell (This Bit of Life) interview

Watch my interview with Christine Zell

Show Notes {with video time stamps}

Christine Zell’s family and homeschool history {1:00}

Christine and her husband (who is in the Marine Corps) married very young. When their oldest son was about 3 years old, they were living in California when the legislature passed some laws about their public education system that didn’t jive with their family. They decided to homeschool through a California homeschool charter school.

They homeschooled through that charter school for the first few years of homeschooling, but then began branching out on their own.

When they began homeschooling they didn’t know other homeschool families, but they made many new friends and connections through a homeschool park play date group.

Now that they’re in NC, they’ve started their own homeschool park play date group based on that same model they had loved. On average they have about ten families that come every week. The kids play at the park, and the moms sit and chat.

You can create something like this yourself! You don’t necessarily have to join a co-op to find homeschool community.

Stress-Free Homeschooling, Rabbit Trails Through Literature, Christine Zell interview

Eclectic Homeschooling {6:10}

The Zell family has a 2-year-old, 7-year-old, and 11-year-old… and a new baby on the way!

They started with a very traditional approach to education, following the recommended curriculum from the charter school. But recreating school at home wasn’t working very well and was creating stress.

Over the years, when things weren’t working for them, Christine realized that they could change things up!

Now, she says that they are relaxed homeschoolers, eclectic, with a Charlotte Mason flair, who pursue roadschooling whenever they can.

I love how much variety and freedom we have as homeschoolers to change things over the years!

Ways to include adventure in our homeschool {8:50}

Even while we’re staying at home, there are lots of fun things we can do without leaving our couch. The Zell’s have recently been enjoying the live animal encounters from the Cincinnati Zoo!

Books are another way to bring adventure to the homeschool day. It’s so fun to take a book and follow a rabbit trail!

You can also do nature topics, local museums, craft projects, and other fieldtrips. You never know what might be local to you; have fun exploring your local community, even if you can’t travel across the country. Christine recently discovered a local museum for the Underground Railroad. (You can check out their Underground Railroad unit study here.)

The Zell family plans full-time RV life with roadschooling after Christine’s husband retires from the military. What a wonderful way to learn and study on the road!

I learned something exciting in our conversation! Did you know that the Junior Ranger program is not only available at national parks? There are actually many Junior Ranger programs you can do from home.

Stress-free homeschooling {14:47}

Christine explained that when it comes to feeling stressed as a homeschool mom, a lot of times it has nothing to do with the actual “school” part: “There are so many outside stressors. Being a mom is stressful, and that is something a lot of people confuse with homeschooling.”

Knowing what works for you and your family lowers that stress,” Christine noted. Rather than trying to fit someone else’s model or curriculum plan, stick to what you know will fit your own family and children best.

Christine also noted that you can even talk to a curriculum company and explain that something didn’t work for your family, and they will often give a refund or a partial refund. She encouraged us not to let the sunk-cost of what we’ve spent on curriculum to force us to continue with something that is not working!

We also have the freedom to pick and choose a few lessons from a curriculum. We don’t have to finish the textbook or program.

Sometimes changing things up and doing something new and exciting can also help everyone have a more pleasant experience.

I noted that the hardest part of homeschooling is the parenting. And we’re just parenting all the time. It’s both the biggest challenge and the biggest blessing of homeschooling.

There’s not just one right way to homeschool!

Christine recently deep dived the topic of stress-free homeschooling:

Favorite picture books and Rabbit Trails through Literature {21:22}

There are so many fascinating topics that come up as you read a wonderful picture book. Rabbit Trails can flow from the story or even the illustrations!

I share some of our family’s favorite picture books here, with an additional round-up of new favorites here.

Picture books are also a wonderful way to introduce your children to literary analysis!

Find Christine Zell online

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

Homeschool Conversations Video Interviews


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