second generation homeschooling joyfully homeschooling amy sloan misty bailey

Second Generation Homeschooler and Joyfully Homeschooling (Misty Bailey interviews Amy Sloan)

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The following audio content was originally published by Misty Bailey on her Joyfully Homeschooling Podcast. Misty has graciously allowed me to republish our conversation as a bonus episode on the Homeschool Conversations podcast, and you can also read the full transcript below.

Have you ever opened your mouth intending to say one thing, but then something else entirely comes out? Oops! That happened to me last fall while I was being interviewed for this episode of the Joyfully Homeschooling Podcast! Misty Bailey asked me, “How do you find joy in your homeschool day?” I took a breath and opened my mouth to deliver the answer I had prepared ahead of time. But what I ended up saying instead was definitely more vulnerable than I had planned to share.

shared a bit on Instagram about some of the things on my heart soon after we recorded that interview, actually. Here is an excerpt: “So if you’re also not feeling super peppy these days, it’s ok. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we are doing something wrong. It also doesn’t mean we don’t like homeschooling. I LOVE homeschooling, even though it is not currently a super happy time in my head. (Homeschooling can’t make me happy because it’s not my Savior.)”

Listening back to my chat with Misty was an encouragement and a reminder that my identity is in Christ, not my work as a homeschool mom. We discussed some of the changes I’ve noticed in the homeschool world as a 2nd-generation homeschooler, some of my struggles as a homeschool mom, one of my biggest homeschooling accomplishments, and of course that infamous “how do you find joy” question. You’ll just have to listen to the episode (or read the transcript below) to find out what I said.

second generation homeschooling joyfully homeschooling amy sloan misty bailey

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Misty Bailey: Hello everybody and welcome to The Joyfully Homeschooling podcast. I am excited today to have a Fess Up Friday interview with my friend, Amy Sloan. How are you today, Amy?

Amy Sloan: I am doing well and glad to have an adult chat.

Misty: Right. That’s what we were just saying before we started recording. We all need adult interaction from time to time.

Amy: Definitely.

Misty: Amy, can you introduce yourself and your homeschool to my audience?

Amy: Yes, my name is Amy Sloan, as you mentioned, and I am actually a second generation homeschool mom of five. My oldest is 15 and in the 10th grade. I have three daughters then in the middle, 13, 10, and eight and then my bookend boy is five and just started kindergarten. We’re kindergarten to calculus this year and my husband was also homeschooled through middle school and so it’s been really fun to get to just put our own spin on things with our homeschool. I write at humilityanddoxology.com and just have a fun time thinking about books and poems and sharing what our family is doing.

Second-Generation Homeschooling Observations

Misty: Second generation homeschooler, my friends Yvonne is also a second generation homeschooler. I like talking to her about these things. She’s been on the podcast a few times, but how have things changed do you think, since you were homeschooled yourself and to now? Do you notice the difference? Has your mom been like you are so much luckier than I was when I homeschooled you?

Amy: There are a lot of things I think that have changed. One just the immense amount of resources that we have available, which is of course both a good thing and sometimes a bad things because there are so many things to choose from. There was very little, we would often get the publishers, their pre-published raw form.

It was also I think really wonderful because my memory of my homeschool was there were a lot of homeschool support groups as opposed– we did some co-opy things, but it felt maybe a little bit more focused on like relationship and families getting together and not so much where it seems harder now to find that kind of support group. It’s more like you go for a day to a bunch of classes or whatever. I can’t imagine how they homeschooled without the internet, frankly.

Misty: Yes, I totally agree with that. I know when I started homeschooling, which is just a little sidebar that everybody can listen to before we dive into the interview, but when I started homeschooling, my homeschool mentor, Jamie Brown, who I’ve also had on the podcast, that’s what they did like exactly what she said. That generation seemed to have more of a support group.

I remember going and it just moms getting together once a month, letting their kids hang out and I, at that time was like, I want more, I want this, I want that and so we started our own group and started doing field trips and then now we have co-op classes and we have all of these things and now that my kids are older and I’ve been leading that and doing the classes, which I’m very grateful for, I’m starting to see why those moms used to just enjoy the simpler things, just getting the kids together and doing that.

You’re right, it’s harder to find those support groups because it’s like this new generation of homeschoolers, which would include myself, wanted more of the academic and the rigorous stuff. That’s interesting perspective because I’ve not heard people other than my Jamie say that before.

Amy: Yes and I’m so blessed because when my oldest was in kindergarten-ish age and I started in researching to find something like that, something that I remembered from growing up, I was fortunate enough to find a local small group and one of the things I love about it is we all homeschool in slightly different ways. It’s not just an echo chamber of people who just have the one right way of homeschooling.

We have moms meetings is the core of what we do like once a month, getting together to just share and have that relationship time. Then we can still do the field trips and fun things like that together but we have something that we share that’s different from just like all being in the same class together or following the same curriculum. I really love it. It’s really gift.

Misty: Yes, it sounds like it, that’s a blessing. That was like I said, it was a nice little sidebar in there before we dive in but I think it’s interesting to talk to people, especially when you are through that second generation about how things have changed because I don’t think that especially the people that are now being thrown into homeschooling with this whole pandemic, I don’t think they understand one, the difference from those who homeschooled 20 years ago to those who maybe started 10 years ago and then even just five years ago, how much things have changed since then.

It’s nice to get a little bit of a history there. We going to dive in with our fess up Friday interview all about our homeschool joys, struggles, fears, lessons, accomplishments and all of that fun jazz. Are you ready?

Amy: I’m ready.

second generation homeschooling joyfully homeschooling amy sloan misty bailey

What is one struggle or fear you have had regarding homeschooling?

Misty: Oh, right. The first question I have for you today, Amy, is what is one struggle or fear you have had regarding homeschooling? How have you overcome it? And if you haven’t fully, how are you still working on it?

Amy: It’s really interesting that we were just having the conversation about second-generation homeschooling because I think that my answer to this question really relates to my experience. I came into homeschooling my own children as a very young mom. I was married early and I was going to take all wonderful things that I remembered that my mom had done and, of course, do them even better and then I was also going to avoid all of her mistakes.

This is what I had in my head. I was going to be the perfect homeschool mom and the perfect parent and that was all going to work out just right. The Lord was very gracious to humble me and to really show the pride in my heart and to show that I had put my hope into my own work as the homeschool mom. That was an unfair pressure to put on my children, certainly to put on myself.

I still see that struggle in my own heart like wanting to pick just the right plan for the day or just the right curriculum or just the right book that if I could just do things the right way, if I could just push the right buttons, then out would come this product. Our children are not products, they are people made in the image of God. I’ve written before about how homeschooling is not a vending machine.

It’s not something where we just push the right buttons and get out this end result child or something and so I think that that struggle really is more of like a mindset or a heart issue has probably been the biggest struggle as a homeschool mom that I’ve seen the Lord grow through a lot of hard things through, well, I thought if I just did it this way, everything would turn out just perfect and that doesn’t happen.

That’s actually a gift from the Lord because it’s made me have to turn and put my hope back in the work of Christ. One of my very favorite hymns is upon a life. Let’s see, “upon a life I did not live and upon a death, I did not die” is the line. It just is always a reminder to me that it’s not just that Jesus died for me, but He also perfectly obeyed for me.

When I see my failures and my mistakes as a homeschool mom because we all have them. That’s part of human. I’m able to remember that God is perfectly pleased with me not because I’ve done all the right things as a homeschool mom, not because my kid is excelling academically, not because any other family would look at us and be like, “oh, wow, look at that! That looks so great,” because I’ll be like, you just need to come sometime when I’m losing my mind.

Misty: Absolutely.

Amy: Yes, so I think that that reminder just that my identity is in Christ and not in my work as a homeschool mom has been a huge shift.

Misty: I’m going to write that down. My identity is in Christ, not in my work as a homeschool mom. Amy, I love what you said there. My identity is in Christ, not in my work as a homeschool mom. Do you think that that is a lesson that you have learned from other homeschool moms in your community? You said at the beginning that you had this great community and this great support group.

I think that lesson, learning to separate our kids from our identity, I think that that is something a lot of moms struggle with. Whenever you decide to homeschool, you may be leaving a career. You may be putting your dreams and desires on a back burner to pick up this calling of homeschool mom. I think a lot of moms lose themselves in that process and they end up putting on this identity of homeschool mom and then lining their kids up or maybe it’s just me and you that have had this struggle, but they ends up, lining their kids up and being like, “Okay, you guys are going to be what everybody looks at to see my accomplishments.” If that makes any sense.

Have you found that as a common struggle in your community? Is that something that you talk with other moms about, as you have taken this struggle and worked on overcoming it, or is it something you just learned on your own?

Amy: I think it’s really a combination of all of those things. I think one thing was seeing the painful result of my generation of homeschool students. I think that a lot of families, not all but I think a lot of families in that generation, were really looking to homeschooling to save their children, not looking to the Spirit to do that work. That really failed for a lot of students who fell away or rejected the things that they had been taught.

I think that’s an important lesson to remember that homeschooling didn’t save those children. It didn’t save a generation. It’s not going to save our children. I think that was one thing. I think, definitely just being in community with other gospel-minded moms, as we’re preaching the gospel to one another all the time, because we all need to hear it over and over again. I think that has been critical in my church community. Then even in more recent years, just being reminded, it’s like, I say these things and I need to hear this again. I still forget. I still forget this essential truth.

I’m really blessed by the work of women like Kendra Fletcher, who emphasizes not shifting our hope on to anything other than the gospel. Then most recently, I really loved the book, My Divine Comedy by Missy Andrews from CenterForLit. I highly recommend that book. It’s definitely now one of my new favorite homeschool books.

Missy’s book is definitely one of my new favorite books to recommend to homeschool moms because she talks about this exact same thing. She’s graduated her five children from homeschool and really details that exact same experience of putting her identity in her good work in a sense and learning that that didn’t turn out so well. It’s a really excellent story.

Missy Andrews Center for Lit My Divine Comedy interview

Misty: I will add before I move on to the next question that I actually had Kendra Fletcher on the podcast. I have to leave a link to the show notes. I don’t know a number of it but we talked about that. We talked about the legalism that went along with homeschooling in just Christian communities for so many years. I love what you said and I think that you’re absolutely right. There’s so much truth in there.

I hope that that really encourages a mom who may be having that same struggle right now and needs that reminder that homeschooling is not our children’s salvation. It’s not our identity. Our identity is in Christ alone. He may have called us to homeschool but that doesn’t mean we need to bear this huge weight on our shoulders of how our children are going to turn out because ultimately, they are not ours, they’re His.

Amy: Amen.

What is one thing you have learned as a homeschool mom?

Misty: The next question I have for you, Amy, is what is one thing you have learned as a homeschool mom?

Amy: So many things, but I will just mention one. I have been really surprised it took me longer than it needed to realize that academic ability did not necessarily correspond with emotional maturity. Especially for those of us who may have a child who is academically precocious or gifted, it can be really easy to put a pressure on them to also act the age that a traditional child would be studying those subjects, for instance or if you have a child who is very gifted in being able to verbally communicate, to not be able to understand well, if you can communicate so clearly, why do you still have trouble regulating your emotions or whatever it may be.

Really learning to remember that my children were still children, especially the ones who were zipping through their academics at a crazy pace and even sometimes to realize that sometimes that advanced academic ability didn’t just come with a typical age, emotional maturity that sometimes would come with an emotional maturity that was maybe below age level. That’s been a huge thing I’ve learned and I try to be aware of more now with my younger children.

Misty: I can absolutely see that in some of my kids. That’s something that again, I don’t think is talked about a whole lot. I have a child, my middle has always worked a grade or two level ahead and is very, very smart academically, but her emotional maturity sometimes has been a little bit down. I love that you mentioned that because I can absolutely see that playing out as well. The next question I have for you, Amy, is what has been your biggest homeschool accomplishment so far?

What is your biggest homeschool accomplishment so far?

Amy: Brainwashing my children to love Shakespeare.

[laughter]

Amy: It is such a fun part of our homeschool day. We regularly include Shakespeare in our morning time memory work. Memory work is really important in our homeschool but not lists of facts and dates. We love to memorize poems and speeches and Shakespeare and scripture. It just fills my heart with so much joy. You cannot even believe when I see– like earlier today, my eight-year-old was just reciting something from Anthony and Cleopatra in the kitchen. I was like, “Yes.” My teens don’t think they’re too cool for Shakespeare and my littles love to just rattle off random stuff they don’t really understand what it means and it’s very fun.

Misty: It is a well if anybody has listened to every episode of this podcast or lots of episodes of this podcast, they’re going to know that my weakness in our homeschool has been poetry and the lack of Shakespeare and the lack of things like that. I tried to brainwash my children to love Little House on the Prairie. I tried through the years because that’s like, always been my dream to go to all the Little House on the Prairie sides is my favorite TV show as a kid.

I try brainwashing my kids in other areas and it didn’t work. Maybe I just made a mistake and I should have brainwashed them into Shakespeare or poetry or things like that. My ability to brainwash my children apparently is not very good. I laughed whenever you said that because I’m like, “I’m going to have to confess again, for anybody that’s not binge-watched this podcast that we are not Shakespeare or poetry people.”

Amy: Well, I think one of the problems is people try to read Shakespeare or read poetry and then it’s terribly boring. Instead, I have created a playlist of child-appropriate clips from various Shakespeare films because generally, the full things are not child-appropriate. We will just watch these genius actors and actresses portraying the scenes that we’re studying. Oh, they’ll just laugh and try to imitate the actors. It’s a lot more fun that way than if you’re just sitting trying to read it on your own.

Misty: Well, I will say that I did an episode with Dachelle McVey. I have to leave a link too in the show notes. I did an episode with her and we talked about poetry. She let me know, which I never knew this, that like Dr. Seuss would be considered poetry. It’s then like maybe I did like poetry better than I thought that I did. It’s not Shakespeare by no means but my son did really really love the Dr. Seuss books. That made me feel a little bit better as a homeschool mom, if you go back to the first question sounds like well maybe I’m not completely failing my children because we haven’t been introduced to some aspect of rhyming, I guess.

Amy: Definitely.

Misty: Anyway, I love that. Is there any recommended resources that you would say for anybody else who wanted to brainwash their children into Shakespeare?

Amy: Well, I would say you could head to my year of memory work where I have free printables and videos of us reciting poems and Shakespeare and things and some of them, we get a little goofy with so that’s always helpful. I really recommend Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare, we always start by reading that retelling of the story first because otherwise, you’ll get totally lost in what’s happening. Then I also really love the book by Ken Ludwig, I think it’s How to Teach Your Child Shakespeare or something like that.

That would be an excellent resource for someone who feels completely like they have no idea what’s going on, and they’re not even sure they want to do it, he just leads you step by step in explaining what’s happening in short memory passages and even gives you tips for how to help your children memorize those sections of Shakespeare.

Misty: That is awesome. Can you send me a link to your memory work printable too so that we can make sure we leave that in the show notes?

Amy: Yes, sure. Thanks.

second generation homeschooling joyfully homeschooling amy sloan misty bailey

How do you find joy in your homeschool day?

Misty: Okay, awesome. The next question I have for you is how do you find joy in your homeschool day?

Amy: I think, well, recently… in fact…I haven’t been finding much joy in my homeschool day! [wild laughter]

Misty: It’s the whole 2020 curse. I swear all of us are like that.

Amy: Really you should cut that out.

Misty: No, we can leave it. That is the truth. That is the truth right there.

Amy: No, I do have joy in my homeschool day but there have definitely been probably more tears not just from the kids but actually from myself the past few months. For any mom who’s just thinking, “Why am I not happy, I like homeschooling and I want to homeschool and I don’t understand why I’m feeling so down.” Just to be patient with one another, to love each other. Just to be real.

Misty: Yes.

Amy: I’m not rolling around with rainbows and unicorns all the time, Shakespeare or not, but what does bring me a great deal of joy in my homeschool, I think really would be as far as the actual homeschool part would really be our Morning Time routine because, with five children, 10-year-age span, my older kids have a very rigorous schedule this year and so there’s not as much shared family homeschool time that there used to be when they were all younger.

To just know that we have that time in the morning where we come together, we read together, we pray together, we recite together and we still have that precious time of shared memory, shared culture, that just brings me so much joy. It’s definitely one of my homeschool must dos.

Misty: What are some of your favorite morning time resources, do you think?

Amy: We actually do a lot of things just on our own. It’s pretty simple. We’ll start with prayer, then we have a printed memory work of some passage of Scripture which generally we’ve actually realized that when we alternate versus light print and dark print, when I print them, I alternate with bold print and light print, we actually will recite it responsively together so I’ll read the light print and they’ll read the dark print or take turns and that has been really helpful in memorizing longer scripture passages.

Then we just generally read something that has something to do with what we’re learning in history. A lot of times our memory work has to do with that as well, although not always, and the kids will then pray and the new thing this year has been WORLD Watch News. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that.

Misty: No, we watch CNN 10. Is WORLD Watch News similar to that?

Amy: WORLD Watch in 3 started earlier in the Summer and we got hooked on it and then they released their full program, so it’s done by the same people who do World Magazine and it’s about 10 minutes every weekday and it’s appropriate for all the ages and my family are all engaged and interested in it. It has been really fantastic. I probably am more up on the news this year than I ever have been.

Misty: Yes. Well, that’s how I felt with CNN 10. CNN 10 is very non-political so I’m thankful for that. Even though CNN is probably a more liberal news company, the CNN 10 is very non-political. While it’s been current events, it’s not been what the actual news is like. For that I’m thankful, I would recommend it for lots of adults that just want to stay away from the bias that’s on the news, which is a whole other podcast episode but it is mostly United States news so is WORLD Watch more worldwide global?

Amy: Yes. Oh, that’s one of the things I love about it is it will bring in stories from all around the world, all different topics not just political, but also cultural and scientific.

Misty: Awesome.

Amy: It’s really well done and then one thing I do love is at the end, the closing, the sign out is, “Remember, no matter what the news, the purpose of the Lord will stand.”

Misty: Wow, that is awesome.

Amy: I know, I love it so much because the news can be a scary place no matter if you’re a child or an adult and just to remember who is in charge of the news, ultimately is very helpful.

Misty: Yes, I will definitely have to check that out. Although my kids love CNN 10, so I’m like, I don’t know if I can get them to switch. They really liked it but I will definitely have to check that out and so that is an awesome resource because I didn’t know there was a Christian alternative out there so that is great. Amy, this has been so much fun and I do want to say one more thing going back to what you had mentioned that we can edit out not being able to find joy.

If there’s moms out there who feel like that, believe me, I have been in that season, Amy has obviously been in that season. If you’re ever at the moment where it’s like, “Hey, how do you find joy in your homeschool day?” You’re like, “I cannot find joy in my day at all.” That’s one of the reasons I have this question on this podcast is because I think that so many of us have been through those seasons where we’re just burnt out or it’s just really, really hard and heavy moment, and don’t beat yourself up over feeling that way.

You can find joy and goodness and everything no matter where you’re at in all honesty, you can find a way to find joy, but it can be little things. We all go through those seasons where things just feel heavy and I just want to say that. Don’t feel guilty, we’ve all been there at some point.

Amy: Yes and just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong.

Misty: Exactly.

Amy: It doesn’t mean that the Lord is not full of grace and truth and mercy and I think maybe we just need more moms who are willing to not pretend, I guess.

Misty: Yes, yes that’s why I’m not editing it out. Yes.

Amy: All right, let’s just leave it in there. It is, after all, I write humility and doxology, so there’s a lot of humility happening right now.

Misty: Yes, absolutely and I think especially with 2020 right now, there are so many moms that are just like, hey, this year just sucks. I really don’t want to get up and do this day after day after day after day. I think that when you do struggle with those joys, you’d have to go back and listen to all my fess up Friday episodes to listen to every episode has somebody at the end saying how they find joy and it can be in little things, but it can also just be just admitting, “Hey, I’ve had a really crappy day.”

Call a friend and tell them what kind of mood you’re in and I think that that can really help encourage each other right now. You’re not alone, is what I’m getting at so in that big long ramble. This episode’s going to end up being a ramble fest. I’m sorry.

Amy: [laughs] It’s the best kind. The rabbit trail is the point.

Misty: There we go. That’s totally it. Amy, can you tell everybody where they can connect with you and about your podcasts because you have one as well?

Amy: Yes, thank you. You can find me at humilityanddoxology.com. I’m also humilityanddoxology on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and then I have a weekly interview podcast called Homeschool Conversations and I talk with real-life homeschool moms, dads and other educators about all sorts of different topics so that’s been really fun.

Misty: Yes. you said your podcast is called Homeschool Conversations and is that on Apple and all of the podcast apps, on your website? Can you get to it from your website also?

Amy: Yes. It should be in your favorite podcast app, it’s in all the places and you can also find a roundup of all of the previous episodes at humilityanddoxology.com/homeschool-conversations.

Misty: All right and we will leave links to all of those as well. Amy, this has been so much fun. Thank you for rabbit trailing and rambling with me today. I have really enjoyed it.

Amy: Thank you, Misty, it’s been really a pleasure.

Misty: You have a good day, friend.

Find Misty Bailey and Joyfully Homeschooling online

A huge THANK YOU again to Misty for allowing me to share this content here with you all. Her blog archives and past podcast episodes are a great resource for your homeschool encouragement!

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

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