Today I’m talking with Karen Loutzenhiser, a homeschooling mom from Utah who took time out to chat with me about her homeschooling journey. Karen, how did you know that homeschooling was the right choice for you?
I have wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl, and the only thing that could top that career in my heart and mind was being a mommy. By the time I got my degree in education, I already had two kids in tow. I knew that they were my absolute joy and my #1 priority. Why would I drop my own kids off at daycare to teach other people’s kids? Instead, I taught my own. I started a mommy pre-school co-op and did that for several years until my husband’s career brought us to Florida. Our school system there was frightening and it was time for my oldest to embark on kindergarten. Yikes! It felt like a crossroads – a knot-in-my-stomach kind of crossroads that wouldn’t ease no matter what rose-colored glasses I tried to put on when I looked at his “future school.” After much research, thought, and prayer, my husband and I knew that homeschooling was the answer. After all, how different could kindergarten be from pre-school? And so we began…five years later we are still at it and enjoying the ups and downs of the adventure. My husband’s job has since brought us to Utah, but we so fell in love with homeschooling that we haven’t wanted to stop even when we left the former scary school district behind. Now that it’s so much a part of our family and our life, it’s hard to imagine us choosing to educate another way. My husband is an airline pilot, so our “field trips” also can’t be beat!
So your decision-making process took a three-pronged approach – a career you loved, the desire to spend time with your children, and a necessity brought about by a questionable public school situation. It sounds like you used love and logic together in making this choice. Now, will you tell us a little bit about your homeschool philosophy? Are you a structured schooler, or more of a seat-of-the-pants schooler?
I am definitely a structured homeschooler. Not necessarily the same structure you might find in a public school, but structure nonetheless. I am a list maker and checker-offer, a planner by nature, and a bit of an organization freak. We have a cute little schoolroom in our basement with our alphabet chart and little desks and a table. Sitting at my desk is joyous to me. (I think that’s the spot I sit in to hold on to my childhood dream of being a teacher!) We have a big wall-sized whiteboard and we spend the first couple of hours of the day doing what we call “written work,” even though it isn’t all actually written–math, reading, writing, scripture study, poem memorization, handwriting…all the things I consider to be the daily essentials. Then after lunch our real adventure begins. We learn about everything under the sun! We do unit studies primarily. I love hands-on projects and utilizing great, great literature, and that is our focus. Among other things, this year we mummified a hot dog we lovingly named “Pharaoh Frank,” made our own version of Munch’s The Scream, turned our basement into a latitude/longitude grid during our map studies, and invented our own magical candy based on Mull’s The Candy Shop War.
Wow. That sounds like a lot of fun!
We’ll continue our talk with Karen in my next blog. In the meantime, here are some other blogs you might enjoy: