When my eldest was in the fourth grade, and we initially began homeschooling, we met a family at one of our weekly activities who told us about a wonderful homeschool co-op in Arcadia. At the time we were plugged in to a few groups in Pasadena, so I did not get the chance to visit. Five years later — after leaving and coming back to homeschooling — I did check out the co-op, and loved it! My sixth grader took classes in both robotics and gameology.
During that year, I met the co-op director, Carrie De Francisco. (Somehow she found out I wrote a California history curriculum.) Last year she approached me about teaching a California Out of the Box history class at the co-op. As I got to know her during that year of teaching, I found a kindred spirit within her. She is not only a speaker, blogger, author, and certified IEW instructor, but a credentialed teacher in the State of California. She is that rare left and right brain person — one of the only teachers I know that teaches writing, math, and science — and is awesome at all three!
Already in the works even before the current Covid-19 crisis, her homeschool consulting business — Coffee with Carrie Consulting — provides support and resources to keep families going. What follows is a recent interview I had with Carrie.
1. Why did you jump in and provide the services you do? What led you to provide them?
I am very passionate about homeschooling. I know not everyone is called to homeschool, but I do know that moms who have a desire to homeschool should not let fear or doubts keep them from starting this journey. My heart is to support, encourage, and edify moms who have chosen this alternative form of education. I love helping new moms get started. They are always full so many great questions. However, I think my favorite part is helping current homeschooling moms who are overwhelmed, exhausted, and/or ready to thrown in the towel. Sometimes they just need someone to come along side them that has “been there, done that” who really understands what they are feeling and thinking. I love helping them figure out a new course and igniting that fire in their belly again for homeschooling.
2. What services are you most excited that you offer?
I love our annual Special Weekend for Homeschooling Moms! [Follow this link for more information on this special weekend.] Most homeschooling moms put everyone else’s needs before their own 24/7. It is important for them to have at least one child-free weekend where they can fellowship with other homeschooling moms, be encouraged, and maybe even laugh a little. I also love our new podcast. Since we can only plan one weekend a year, I feel like I can encourage and help homeschooling moms on a weekly basis through our podcast.
3. What are some of your favorite informal homeschool resources?
Games, Read Aloud books, Nature Studies, and field trips! There is a game and/or literature book for just about every subject and topic. You can’t go wrong playing games and/or reading aloud as a family. We also did a ton of nature studies and experienced historical events or scientific principles through field trips. You can teach so many life (and science) lessons while exploring and observing nature, and there is no better way to make history or science come alive than through field trips. Our family usually spent our most of our homeschooling budget on purchasing games, quality literature and picture books, and family membership passes to different gardens, zoos, and museums.
4. If you could talk to yourself during your first year of homeschooling, what would you tell yourself?
Just chill! I was so worried about meeting standards and “not getting behind” that I made Kindergarten a chore for my first born. My husband and I also had a lot of critics and nay-sayers in our family when we started so I felt like I had to “prove” what we were doing was “good enough.” When we finally stopped doing “school at home,” my daughter really started to blossom and we had a lot more fun. I made sure when my son came along, I didn’t stress so much about critics, comparisons, and standards, and we enjoyed the Wonder Years by playing, reading, and exploring.
5. What piece of advice do you have for current homeschooling moms?
Just breathe! You can do this. There is no one better equipped to love, teach, and encourage your child than you. You will make mistakes, but you won’t ruin them for life. Be humble enough to admit when you are wrong, flexible enough to try new things, open to learning new things right along side your kiddos, and extend grace to yourself and to your kids.
Do you need support? Reach out!
If you need support in continuing to homeschool, contact Carrie! She offers reasonable packages. I often wonder, if I had signed on with her four years ago, would I have stopped homeschooling? If you want to continue, but are finding it difficult, connect with her through her website or on Instagram.
*[Incendio: fire in Italian]
(And—just in case you are interested in a California history class for 2020-21, I will be teaching at FUNdamentals again next year. Follow this link for more information!)