Meet the Evans family from Arkansas: Lavonda 36, Rodney 42, and their 5 children: Their daughter, 18 Year old KR who is a homeschool graduate and currently attending College, 3 sons: 15 Year old KE, 11 year old KD, 10 year old KW and Their youngest daughter and newest addition to Evans Homeschool Academy, 4 year old KM.
How long have you been homeschooling?
We began homeschooling in 2013 – this is our third year. Oh my, no – It’s our 4th year! Wow. It doesn’t seem that long ago!
Time has a way of sneaking up on us! What made you decide to homeschool?
Yes it does! I know why, in my heart, but let me see if I can put it into words. I wanted more for my children. I want them to learn at their own speed, in their own way. My hope is that they will learn more about who they are, and not so much what the world wants them to be. After bullying, bomb threats, suicide notes, and other negative impacts, I wondered, “How are they learning anything in an environment filled with stress?” After speaking with my husband, I began researching success rates for homeschooled children, and that is when I knew.
How did friends and family respond to your decision to homeschool?
My family was concerned that I had taken on too much at first. With being a college student in the Master’s Program, they were a little apprehensive. But, after seeing how well it fit our lives, they decided it was a great choice. Our friends were fully supportive. One particular friend, whom I attended public school with, chose to homeschool her girls prior to my decision to homeschool. She has been an absolute doll in her support. We also have a family friend who we attended church with, and who started homeschooling her granddaughter – she introduced me to one of the supplemental curriculum’s that we use.
What methods or curriculum (if any) do you use?
I love the natural or organic approach to learning. I make our own curriculum and use online supplements. Primarily, I use Treasures for reading, language, and writing. We use Saxon math and Khan Academy for our mathematics. We use history from a variety of textbooks, websites, and activities. I love unit studies, so we incorporate a lot of those for our history and science. We love Easy Peasy and use it as a supplement to keep us fresh on topics we have already studied or on those we may be struggling with. This year, we are using more Easy Peasy because it is so simple to follow. I also enjoy it because the reading is remarkable! My now 4th grader was struggling with reading in the 2nd grade. By the time he was promoted to the third grade, he had dropped to a 1st grade reading level. Then we started homeschooling. He is now reading at a 5th grade level.
What does a typical “school day” look like for your family?
We have our 8 o’clock list completed and we are ready to learn at 8:00 am. We do our spelling, reading, grammar, and Xtramath from 8:00 to 9:50. From 10:00 – 11:55 we complete our Easy Peasy Lessons and Math. We have lunch and clean up from 12:00 – 1:00. From 1:00 – 2:00 we have our group lessons (unit studies, additional work in trouble areas, brain breaks, etc.) Outside play from 2:00 – 2:45. Quiet time from 3:00 – 4:00. Dinner is from 4:00 – 5:00, clean up from 5:00 – 6:00. Family time from 6:00 – 8:00. Bath time from 8:00 – 9:00… at 9:00 – BED!!! I really like that last one, but mostly because I’m dragging by then! Thankfully, my husband helps with the house when he can and I have some awesome kids – together, it works!
What has been the biggest challenge when beginning or at any point during your homeschool journey?
I would say the biggest challenge was accepting the notion that I CAN do this. I felt a tremendous amount of anxiety during our first few months of homeschooling – then I hit that February ‘burn-out’ that many experience. In March, we took a week off, got real with the outdoors, refocused and came back much stronger. Nearly all of the anxiety I had been feeling dissipated – we grew together – and learned things together. Now, my only challenge is staying stocked up on printer ink!
How about the best thing about homeschooling?
Our oldest is at work, and dad is out at the moment, but we can certainly give some perspective:
Mom: “I love seeing the look on my children’s face when they ‘get something’. That “ah-ha” moment when something clicks. I love that I can help them right at the moment they don’t understand something, rather than waiting until they would get off of the bus. I love that we can go where we want, when we want, and learn in our own way. If something doesn’t interest us much, we can learn the basics of it, and if something does interest us, we can study it more in-depth.”
KD: “The best thing about homeschooling is I have my own computer, I have my own area to work in and having games that help me learn at my own pace. I love all of my classes and people don’t yell in homeschool.”
KW: “You get to learn fun things like math and vocabulary and science. They are more fun to learn at home because you don’t have to worry about bullies. I don’t like bullies. We also get to go on awesome trips like museums.”
KM: “I like it because my teacher is my mommy and I can eat stick cheese (string cheese) while I work”.
If some reading this were to visit your area, what are the places you would tell them are a must see?
There are two really special places for our family that we simply love. The first is Crowley’s Ridge State Park. The walking trails are great, the wishing well and waterfall is beautiful, and the camp sites are wonderful. The second place would be the ASU Museum on the Arkansas State University Campus in Jonesboro, Arkansas. They have wonderful memorabilia from years past and the facility is really nice.
Is there anything else you would like somebody considering or just beginning to homeschool?
If I could tell anyone anything about homeschooling it would be a quote from John Holt: “What children need is not new and better curricula, but access to more and more of the real world…” I think this is really the most literal manifestation of a homeschool mother’s (or father’s) desire for their children. And when you have embraced that thought, felt it burn in your soul, then you know you have chosen what’s best for your child or children.
Thank you so much! And I agree I think that is how many of us feel!
You are most welcome!