S9 E1 | Top Ten Reasons to Homeschool, Pt. 2 (Jeannie Fulbright & Shiela Catanzarite)

S9 E1 | Top Ten Reasons to Homeschool, Pt. 2 (Jeannie Fulbright & Shiela Catanzarite)

Show Notes:

In this first episode of 2024, Jeannie and Shiela share the last five of their top ten reasons to homeschool, focusing in on what an excellent education truly means and how homeschooling stimulates strong character and allows children time to develop their unique interests, passions, and skill sets, shaping them into the person God created them to be. Homeschooling is a gift. One that builds beautiful memories and allows our children to have a peaceful and purposeful educational experience.

About Jeannie

Jeannie Fulbright, a 24-year veteran homeschooler, is the author of the #1 best-selling, multi award-winning Apologia Young Explorer science series: Exploring Creation with Astronomy, Chemistry and Physics, Botany, Zoology, and Anatomy & Physiology. She is also the author of the action-packed historical time travel book series Rumble Tumbles Through Time, as well as preschool science books and activity kits, the Charlotte Mason Heirloom Planner, and many high-quality Charlotte Mason based products. Jeannie and her husband Jeff became empty nesters in 2019. All four of their children all went to the University of Georgia on scholarship (homeschooling works!). For more than 20 years Jeannie has traveled around the country speaking to homeschoolers at conventions, covering a plethora of topics from Charlotte Mason to marriage and prayer.

About Shiela

Shiela Catanzarite is an author, speaker, editor, and communication coach. She's a 20-year Charlotte Mason veteran homeschooler and has worked as Jeannie Fulbright’s editor and designer for 20 years helping develop Jeannie’s award-winning Apologia science curriculum and most recently her Charlotte Mason products published through Jeannie Fulbright Press. Shiela is the author of the newly published Living Verse Language Arts in Poetry and is finishing up her second book in the series Living Verse Language Arts in Scripture, to be released spring 2024.

Earning a bachelor’s degree in Special Education and a master’s degree in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary, Shiela has been teaching language arts in some capacity for 40+ years. Her passion remains helping students understand the elements of language and how to use these elements artfully to communicate effectively. Shiela is currently a language communication coach, working one-on-one with students who have language learning and communication challenges. She also writes curriculum for her private middle and high school English language communication classes that focus on writing and speaking.

Both of Shiela's and her husband Bruce’s daughters attended private universities on scholarship and went on to pursue graduate studies in medicine and global business. She attributes their love for learning and academic achievement to homeschooling with Charlotte Mason’s philosophy and methodology.


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Show Transcript:

Jeannie Fulbright Welcome to the Charlotte Mason Show, a podcast that is all things Charlotte Mason and her tried and true philosophy of education designed to help you homeschool with more confidence, joy and success. It is our hope that you'll find golden nuggets that will transform the way you think and the way you homeschool. I'm your host, author of the bestselling Charlotte Mason science curriculum, Jeannie Fulbright, and I am so glad you joined me today.

Here's a riddle for you parents: Homeschoolers love them. Enemies of freedom hate them. What are they? It's the Tuttle Twins books. With millions of copies sold, the Tuttle Twins helps you teach your kids about entrepreneurship, personal responsibility, the Golden Rule, and more. Get a discounted set of books with free workbooks today at TuttleTwins.com/Homeschool. That's TuttleTwins.com/Homeschool. And now on to today's show.

Jeannie Fulbright The 2024 Charlotte Mason Show. I am so excited that we are starting a new year and we can just put everything behind us and start fresh. This is going to be a great year and I love that we are starting with the Top Ten Reasons to Homeschool Part 2 for our first podcast of the year, because there's so much great stuff in these next six...these next five reasons, starting with reason number six. And we did one through five last time, and Shiela and I are here today to share the next five reasons that we feel are the top ten reasons to homeschool. And hopefully this will encourage you and give you some ideas on some things to focus on for the 2024 school year. So, Shiela, thanks for joining me today.

Shiela Catanzarite Hey, Jeannie, I am looking forward to it and happy New Year!

Jeannie Fulbright Happy New Year! Okay, so top ten reasons to homeschool. Let's just dive right in. Number six was: it stimulates character development. Homeschooling stimulates character development, I believe, over and above when you put your children in school. And one of the reasons that is, is because you get to see your child all day long, every day, and you get to nurture and nip in the bud issues that you see that you wouldn't see if your children are in school all day long. When your child is in school all day long, and then they come home for that brief period, they've got activities, they've got homework, they've got their friends, there's things going on where you actually don't get to really see what's going on in their character. You don't see that every single day. And I've had so many homeschool moms tell me, Wow, I didn't realize how little I actually knew my children until I started homeschooling them. And then I was spending every day all day long with them and I realized, wow, this is a totally different person. I see the beautiful things in their character, and I also see the issues that we need to nurture, that we need to work on. And I feel like that has been probably the most powerful thing that homeschooling did for really all the kids I know and including my own children, is just seeing how strong their character is when they left home. And I will say that just to encourage you homeschool moms who are...who have your teenagers and you're just you're not seeing the fruit of all that you've poured into them over the years, you will find a lot of times that fruit needs room to grow. And a lot of times that happens once they leave the home. Then you will actually see all of those things you poured into them, all the things you talk to them about. All of that becomes who they are when they are out in the world. And sometimes you just don't really see it very much when they're home with you. So just persevere, keep going, keep believing and trust and have faith that the process is going to...it's going to work. It really does. It's going to bear fruit in your children's lives. And I know I've told this story before, but I'll tell it again how I had one son who had a tendency to fabricate stories, and he just was very imaginative and so a lot of it was just his imagination. But in some ways, it just was kind of habitual to tell these fantastical stories that were not true. And we were always talking to him about, you know, being honest and how, you know, integrity is so important. And then when he got to college, we saw him bear fruit that we didn't see when he was home. He had not turned in an assignment...his first college professor, he had not done the assignment because it was just overwhelming for him, and so he ended up emailing his professor and just admitting I just didn't manage my time. And the professor was so impressed with him telling the truth that he actually gave him a job in his research development lab. And so...and I've told that story before, but I have to say that for me, it was such a huge blessing to see that, yes, he did learn those things. These things that we taught, we talked about and the scriptures that we've memorized, and the stories that we told. And that's the thing that children's character can be really, truly developed through stories. We had a beautiful book that William Bennett had curated called The Moral Compass and in it were all these short stories that my husband would read to the kids at night...he was the nighttime reader. He would read them really long books or, you know, The Hobbit or we would read from Moral Compass. But these stories were impactful because they were about character, and children truly do...when they hear stories about somebody's character, somebody walking in a certain way, doing things, getting in trouble, or choosing the hard path that hits them in their hearts. And that's why Jesus told stories. That's why Jesus gave us truths in parables, because stories connect with our spirit and our soul, and it does truly develop our children's character. And if you aren't homeschooling, then you're not going to have as much opportunity to give your children beautiful stories, to talk to them, to notice when you're seeing character issues with your children. And we can, as homeschoolers, we can focus on their hearts over the curriculum. And I think this is so important. We sometimes feel like we've got to focus so much on this curriculum, we've got to get all this education into them, forgetting that really the most important thing is their hearts and their character. And sometimes we need to put the books away and we need to focus on what's going on in their hearts. And I think that that's probably the most important thing that we as homeschoolers can do for our children's lives and for their future is to never put the curriculum above their character. If you see a character issue, the curriculum needs to be pushed aside. It's not as important to finish that lesson. It's not as important to stay with that agenda that you wrote out as it is for us to say, okay, let's talk about what's going on with your heart today. Let's talk about why you treated your brother this way or why you're talking to your parents this way, why you have this attitude, what is going on in your heart. That's more important to focus on their character. And as homeschoolers, that should be our priority over the curriculum. So that's my contribution to stimulates character development. And what do you think, Shiela?

Shiela Catanzarite Well, I agree with all that for sure. And I think again, going back to the freedom we have in homeschooling and the amount of time that we have available, we get to design our children's days and experiences for the most part. They're always a few surprises in there. But like you were saying, Jeannie, we're there for the teachable moments when they're not with us. We don't have control over who might speak what to them in a moment when they need to hear truth or when they need to hear encouragement. And so just the fact that we're with our children, we're there for those teachable moments, we can be looking for them, we can be praying for them, we can be partnering with the Holy Spirit as He works in their hearts throughout the day, stepping in in those moments and talking to them about a specific character trait, praying with them in the moment for that character trait to be developed in their life, speaking scripture, having them look up a scripture and talk about it—there are many, many different ways to stimulate their character development. But again, like you were saying, Jeannie, when they're away from us in a school setting, we don't have that opportunity. We lose that opportunity. And so that's one of the wonderful things about homeschooling. And I think just being intentional about building character development and in stimulating character development, like you were saying, through reading different stories. We did that. And also just looking at, okay, at this age, this year, what do we want to grow in? what do we want to work on? And thinking about planning for developing certain character traits and using the habit training. As I was thinking about building habits in our children, really thinking about what character trait is this habit really training? and what does this child need this year to be able to grow and develop in the way that we're hoping to see? Maybe they're moving in to another level of academics that requires more attention, and so you're needing to really develop the habit of attention and that character trait of diligence. So even looking at the curriculum that you're choosing or the materials that you're engaging with as a means of stimulating character development. So you've got the sight that's kind of....you're there in the moment when God is working and you're in that teachable moment stepping in for character development, but you're also planning for it based on each individual child's development...stage of development and what you want to see develop in them so that they can continue to grow in their character. And so I think it can be an informal and a formal type of character stimulation, but of course it's just the opportunity and the freedom that's available to us as homeschoolers. And this is huge, as we all know. It's everything. Our children leaving home with character is everything. It's setting them up for the rest of their lives and we have to make that the priority and the focus in our homeschool days, like you said, Jeannie.

Jeannie Fulbright Absolutely. It is so much more important than anything because that is the man and woman that they will be to face the world. And the world is a, you know, it's a challenging place. And so if they have strong character when they go out into the world, then they will be able to stand against the tide when it's flowing in the wrong direction. And it often is out in the world, especially when they go and enter college and they face all of that, we want them to just truly have spent their formative years learning what is good, what is right, what is the way that they want to present themselves to the world and think about the world. Okay, so let's move on to number seven. Number seven is that homeschooling imparts excellence in education. And obviously that is extremely important. And I think one of the things that is true about that is that we can educate our children in the way that is best suited for their personality, their learning style and their interests. And we can throw out those methodologies that actually have been shown to be ineffective, which they're using in the schools. And if there's any evidence that's very convincing, it's the fact that our American education system, we score at the bottom on international assessments. The way they do it in school doesn't work. That methodology that they're using, which is there are several things they do, many things they do wrong, and we as homeschoolers can truly...we can toss out methodologies that don't work and we can employ methodologies that do work. And that's what The Charlotte Mason Show is here to explore the different ways to teach our children, the different methodologies that will help our children to have an excellent education.

Shiela Catanzarite Yes. Well, I think first you have to define education. Everybody has a different definition of what education is. And of course, Charlotte Mason talked about the whole person. And remember, when we're homeschooling, we're developing a person. And it's such a simple idea, but it's so profound. We have to keep that in mind. So when you think about education and imparting an excellent education to your children, first of all, define what is education? what are you educating?

Jeannie Fulbright Yes. And that is...the word 'education' actually comes from the root word to bring out, to draw out. And so it's actually drawing out from the child what is already there within them. Rather than filling them with information, we're drawing out their own ideas. We're giving...we're imparting ideas and allowing them...drawing out from them, their thoughts and the way the Holy Spirit is working within them to make those connections.

Shiela Catanzarite Mm-hmm. Yes. And you can also think of it as in terms of unfolding. The unfolding of a child's potential and gifting and bringing that forth. Or the blossoming. There are a lot of different metaphors that help us understand that education is not academic. So I think sometimes in homeschooling we think I'm going to homeschool my children, which means I'm going to do school at home. And you, if you do that, you miss what education is about. It's the whole person, all parts of who they are and the development and the growth. I think once you define education, you have to define excellence. And so I was thinking about this—what does excellence mean to me? and what does excellence mean to you, Jeannie? and to those who are listening? Once you figure out okay, this is what education means in our homeschool, well, what is excellent? an excellent education mean in our homeschool? and nobody can define that for you, but you. You're the only person who can really define what excellence looks like. And it may look different for each child. You may have an overarching excellence is a godly attitude or excellence is diligence and work complete. I mean, there are many different ways you can define it, but I think it's important to define that and to come to a place where, you know, okay, in 2024, this is what education means in our home and this is what an excellent education looks like. And really every single curriculum or lesson or material that you purchase or consider needs to be filtered through what you believe excellence in education to mean for your homeschool. So that should kind of be like a banner a filter through which we view every activity and every single choice that we make for our children's education. That's going to, you know, protect you from getting caught up in trying to keep up with everyone else and buying every curriculum that everyone else...and the whole fear of missing out and all of that. That can really drive us to a frenzied homeschool approach rooted in fear and comparison, but if you have at the beginning of the year defined for you and your family what an excellent education means and what it should look like, I think that if you do that, you'll know exactly how God's leading you to flesh out what the education looks like in the home through your field trips, your children's activities, the materials you use, the curriculum. Everything's going to be more intentional when you've kind of thought about that. But I want to say here, too, that when you look at education and some of the students that I have that are in school who I teach, they're working so hard for their grades, and of course we want our children to have the best test scores and grades that they can—if they're going to college and the college requires that—we want them to be excellent. We want them to do their best. But in the end, what even the schools are looking at is their personal essay. And their personal essay is a reflection of their character. So kind of going back to the character thing, so I've been working on these essays with my students and they're reading these prompts and every single college essay is about their character and maturity and growth. So it's just amazing to me how we focus so much on these school standards and these grades and everything, which are necessary and helpful only to a degree, but in the end your children are not going to get into college if they cannot write an essay that expresses how they've grown and developed in their character and how they've matured. That is what the schools are looking for. So even in an academic institution that's highly focused on standards, the colleges are like, that's great, but that's just the starting point. We want to know who you are. We want to see that you are a person of character and maturity, growth and empathy and service. And so going back to that, again, that even our educational system, with all its flaws, in the end, the higher education is looking toward the person's character.

Jeannie Fulbright Which I think is...that is so important. But I think what we missed there is that sometimes we overload our schedule with all of this heavy duty curriculum that takes an hour to complete a lesson and then we have to move on to the next thing that takes another hour...and we're taking all of this...all of our days are spent on all this academics then there isn't time to add in the beautiful things, to add in certain times of community service. There isn't time to add in the things that truly do develop your character. And that is education. You are learning if you are going to serve at a soup kitchen or at a, you know, a whatever it is that…a service project you're doing or going to the animal shelter and helping out there, whatever it is you are...that's part of your education. We always think about academics, like you were saying. We think of education is simply, okay, reading, writing, math and, you know, and social studies and science. That's not it. That's not education. Education is everything. It's all of the things. It's all of life. It's learning about living in this world and the beauty of this world and the people in this world and how this world operates and works. And we have to have time to do that. We can't be overloading our children with so much academics that there's not time to slow down and think about the world and think about life. Think about art, think music. There's so many, so many other things that our academic education system in the school system has missed. They've cut out everything, all the important things—learning to draw, learning to journal, learning...all of these things are just part of developing who we are. And they're so focused on getting the worksheet done, filling it out and getting that checkmark done, you know, getting it all finished so that they have been educated, but they haven't been. These kids are not being educated. They're being filled with information that they regurgitate and don't even remember when they leave college or leave school.

Shiela Catanzarite Yes. And we can give better and more excellent than that as homeschoolers.

Jeannie Fulbright Yes. Yes. And that leads me right into number eight, which is creates a relaxed atmosphere. Homeschooling should...you should give your children a relaxed atmosphere. One of my favorite quotes of Charlotte Mason, she says, the mother's first duty to her children is...in this time of so much pressure, she says, educational and social, our first duty to our children is to provide for them a quiet growing time spent for the most part in the outdoors. A quiet growing time. And in our world right now, anxiety is at the highest it's ever been. Children are so anxious, they're depressed. There's so much anxiety in your average child today, and I believe that is because we are so hurry, hurry, hurry, we have so much stuff we're putting on them and we're thinking that this is what an education is. And instead of just allowing them to relax and having a relaxed atmosphere where it's not super hardcore scheduled, I think that we feel like every day has to be so perfectly scheduled that our children are feeling so much pressure. And I think it's good for children to have routines and I think that's so important, but we need to create a quiet, growing time, a relaxed atmosphere that doesn't put so much pressure that we're not yelling at them to finish their work, we're not constantly like, did you finish? did you finish? We're not...what Charlotte Mason calls the...oh, what does she call it? She calls it the busy...the busy mom...the hurried mom or...I can't remember exactly the term she uses, but she just...she calls it...she just says we are so stressed out and we're stressing out our children and we need to be more like a madonna. Just very calm and peaceful and trusting in God that he's got it. I mean, can you imagine Jesus's mother being stressed out about how Jesus is, what Jesus is accomplishing and whether he's finishing his work? Jesus is doing exactly what he's meant to do. And she had faith in that and trusted in that because God is basically raising our children. He has promised to be their guide, to guide their education. He is the foremost and the chief educator of our children. We're just cooperating with him. And so if we can trust that God's got it and that we're not in charge, that he's in charge, and we give it to him...I love the scripture verse that says, "Commit your works to the Lord and He will establish your plans." We're committed to Him and allow him to establish our day. We may have a schedule that we want to follow, but if we commit the day to the Lord, sometimes that schedule can change. Sometimes you know what, we're going to put this away and we're going to go to the museum or we're going to go to the park or we're going to go hiking or we're...you know, we just have to allow the Lord to lead our days and not feel like we are slaves to the curriculum or slave to the schedule.

Shiela Catanzarite Yes, that's so true, Jeannie. And a relaxed atmosphere requires a relaxed mom. And how do we become relaxed? When we believe that God has covered it all. And I just want to bring out this is a long arc. Homeschooling is a long arc. You don't have to get everything in the second grade. They have to have everything for second grade or they have to have everything third grade math requires in third grade. And I see this a lot with moms getting caught up in this standard base where at this age we have to have this and this age...and that...just this constant feeling that what's here and right now in front of me is...if we don't get this, we've lost everything, we're failing. It is a long arc. And over the long arc of homeschooling, your children are gonna get every single thing that they need—way more than they need. And we have the freedom...if they're not reading until they're nine or ten, that's completely fine. That's okay. They have the rest of their years. I know you had a late reader, Jeannie. If they're going in another area, our children all have strengths, they have areas that are not as strong in. God didn't design all children to be perfect in everything. So you have to...part of the relaxing is that you have to relax and think, this is who my child is and this is where they're at in this stage of development. And you know what? They may not be what the educational system says every child should be right now, but we've got them for a whole homeschool journey. And God is going to fill every gap and God's going to work it all out. And so, you know, let go of this idea that, you know, every year has to be this amount of accomplishment and this amount...it's okay. They're going to become beautiful writers as you let them write, they're going to become amazing readers as you let them read, they're going to become beautiful artists as you let them, you know, study art and engage with art. And so just...I think part of the relaxing is realizing we've got many, many years to work on this homeschooling. And we're going to have to do it, so we want to enjoy it. We want it to be a fun journey, we want it to be a joyful journey. I saw an amazing example of this whole idea of atmosphere. Yesterday we were running in a race...a New Years race with one of the families that I...he's one of the sons that is my student and also one of my husband's coaching clients—he does health coaching with them. And the dad was telling me that they had gone to this big New Year's Eve party and every year they put on a wall a huge poster and they have all the children...there are like, I don't know, 75 people there.. and they have all the children write their New Year's resolution. Not the adults, but the children. And these kids are all in different schools. And so he was showing me the pictures of what every child wrote. And I notice...he goes, look what our kids wrote. And he was just commenting, he wasn't, like, evaluating it, but I picked up on the fact that the students were all like, I want better grades, that I have a better academic performance. It was all related to, like, personal standards and grades and achievement. And the dad who was sharing this with me, his children are in...are not in...they're in a different type of school that doesn't have those standards. It's a more relaxed school setting. Very relaxed, not putting pressure on the kids, not putting them under the grades and the test scores. So when everyone was writing about I want to be better and just very selfish...I want to get better...the daughter wrote, I want to be more helpful to my mom.

Jeannie Fulbright Wow!

Shiela Catanzarite And the son wrote, I want to see more people planting trees and other things in nature to help our environment. And it was just like...and it just made me realize the educational environment, even though they're not homeschooled, that is...even the school environment is more homeschooling and a lot more relaxed, and because of that, they're growing up to understand life in terms of serving and giving and loving and helping. Whereas the standard spaced was all about me. It was all about what I can do, what I can achieve. And it was just so stark, it was such a juxtaposition of just...and it went back to the school environment. Now, the parenting definitely, you know, is a part of that. But I definitely think these two children were allowed to grow up in a relaxed atmosphere that enabled them to see their role in the world.

Jeannie Fulbright The bigger picture.

Shiela Catanzarite Completely. It was so amazing. And so I just thought that was interesting. And I think with homeschooling, we don't want to take the stress of the kids who could only think of themselves in terms of their, you know, achievement and academic rating. We don't want to bring that into the homeschooler.

Jeannie Fulbright No.

Shiela Catanzarite It is possible to bring that stressful academic atmosphere into our homeschool and then it just becomes school at home rather than a beautiful, life-giving educational path.

Jeannie Fulbright And I think as homeschoolers, we have to remember that we are the master of the curriculum. The curriculum is not our master. When we see anything, if we see a lesson that doesn't...we don't really think that's an important thing for our child to learn, or we just don't want to do all the work in that, we can change it up. We can say, "Hey, just read this section here and then maybe just write a little bit over here." We can we have total control over the curriculum. The curriculum is not the master. It doesn't know you. It doesn't know what your child needs. The curriculum was created by somebody who is trying to cover all the bases for all the different types of children. But you, as the homeschool mom, you can tailor the curriculum to your family. And we always did that. You know what's so funny, when my boys were in high school, I actually hired a tutor for them for math. I just...that was their math. I had a tutor teaching them. He came once...he was a Georgia Tech student who had been homeschooled...he was in our homeschool group and he was a Georgia Tech student, and he would come to tutor my boys once a week in math. And he was a computer science major at Georgia Tech. Brilliant man...boy. And he went through their homeschool math book, their high school books, and he looked through it and he was like, Do you have any other? This is not...they don't need to learn any of this stuff. And then so I pulled another high school math book out and he looked through it and he was like, Okay, yeah, we could learn this, but this stuff here about these circles, they are never going to see that again. They're not going to see it on the SAT, they're not going to see it in college, they're not going to see it in anything. We're not gonna learn circles. I mean, he was just literally just picking and choosing through the math curriculum what they really actually needed because he knew what they needed and what they didn't need. Now, we as homeschoolers, not all of us will know exactly what our children need in the math curriculum, but my point is, is that we can't trust that everything in the book that we bought for our children must be learned. We need to have a relaxed atmosphere about it. We need to have a relaxed attitude about it. We need to say, okay, how much...do they really need to learn all of this? Do they really need to go through every single part of this curriculum? And I want to tell you that all four of my children went to the University of Georgia on scholarship, they all graduated and have great jobs and are doing great in life, and we never finished a curriculum. We never one time in our entire...all the years and years and years of homeschooling, we never finished a curriculum. And they never finished curriculum in public schools either. They don't have time to finish a curriculum. They say most of public school teachers only go through 40% of the curriculum of books that they have. They skipped chapters, they skipped the last....and that's why, especially in math, you'll see that math curricula, the first 30% of a math book for the next year is just review of last year because they know they didn't finish it. They know they didn't go through all of it. So they're basically kind of reteaching or teaching for the first time with the child didn't get. And I think we as homeschoolers need to let go of this idea that we have to do every lesson, we have to finish every lesson in the book, and we have to get it all done and we have to finish every assignment and...that is just not true. Even if it's a beautiful Charlotte Mason curriculum, you do not have to do it the way it was written. You need to release that need to check your boxes, release the need to to finish everything the way somebody else has decided or has created the curriculum, and just let the Holy Spirit lead you and guide you as you make choices about what you're going to be accomplishing or doing in each subject and in each day.

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Jeannie Fulbright Which leads us to the next one, which is another reason to homeschool, is that homeschooling gives us the gift of time. And that is such a powerful, powerful, important element of the homeschool is that our children have more time to develop interests, to grow in skills, to do things that are...they have time to do that they wouldn't have time to do if they were in school. I had this one friend, her son was obsessed with baseball. Just love, love, loved baseball beyond anything. He understood every single player in the entire major leagues. And so what he did is he started actually writing a blog when he was 16-years-old. He started creating a blog on every game, every player, all the stats and just...and this is basically where most of his math was done is through his stats in baseball, where all his writing was done is through his blog, what he was doing with baseball, all of his reading, what he was doing, he was reading only baseball stuff. It was all baseball for him. And ESPN, when he was 17, ESPN picked up his blog. They were constantly quoting him, they were always posting it on the ESPN site. No idea this was a 17-year-old because he actually developed such an interest in this, that he had so much time to actually become an expert in a field that usually you'd have to be 35-years-old to be as expert as he was, because most people don't have time to become an expert in their interest. And as homeschoolers, we can give our children the gift of time. We talk about that 10,000 hours...the 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. There's a lot of other little scenarios. There's the 100 hours to become better than the average person, and then the 10,000 hours to become an actual true expert. And as homeschoolers, they have time to put in that 10,000 hours in whatever it is that they want to become skilled at. And they have the opportunity without judgment, the judgment of their peers, to pursue interests that if they were in school, they might be ridiculed for.

Shiela Catanzarite Yeah, I think the gift of time as well, Jeannie, when I think about Charlotte Mason's short lessons. Because what we were talking about on the last one about creating relaxed atmosphere, I think time is a gift and it's how you steward it or invest it really that determines the value. So you can have all the time at home to homeschool and burden your children and load them up with curriculum and end up with no time.

Jeannie Fulbright Or create so many activities and so many things that you do after school or in...that your schedule is completely full.

Shiela Catanzarite Exactly. So the gifting of the time, I think, is that you get as a homeschool mom to decide how to invest it. Nobody's telling you, Here's the schedule for your children. They have to sit in silence for an hour. No one's telling you how to use your time, how to invest your time. And Charlotte Mason helps us understand that short lessons actually provide more time for our family. And I just want to emphasize this again, your children have their whole life to learn everything, so we don't need to be sitting down for 2 hours in first grade with, you know, with a math book, or we can keep the lesson short. And actually, the idea of just like micro lessons or mini lessons where you're really, like you were saying, Jeannie, getting rid of everything they don't really need and focusing on what is really going to help them. Is it going to be at this age really learning to read well, are we working on just the grammar in our sentences? Are we working on understanding foundational math facts? There are some things that you can...that are foundational in those young years that you can cut a lot of maybe what the curriculum is including and just really find those few things that are important at that time in their lives and have a short, smaller, deeper lesson on that. When you structure your homeschool day like that, and we just did very little. We just didn't sit down and do a lot of academics. We really didn't. We spent so much time going outside and going to the museums, we did the Science museum, we had a, you know, we went to the zoo, we were always out and about. All the different curriculum...and we didn't do a lot of classes out until the girls were older. So when the academics and we were working on college transcript, we did more classes, I feel like. But again, we had so much free time in those young years, so much free time because we kept our lessons short and we didn't even do...we did science a couple of days a week. Jeannie, we did your science. We did it a few days a week, you know, and we love it. I remember we had this map, charts and graphs we did...we were like, we got to get some people understand....we did it once a week. And we had this other little...I can't remember what it was we did on Thursdays with hot chocolate. I remember even one day a week, if you go deep enough in the subject, you can do one or two days a week in a short lesson. So you're really freeing up time for art, you know, artistic expression, time in nature, time outdoors, time traveling. So you really have to rethink just going back up to just how are you defining education? And if you're just strapping your children in with all the heavy academics, then there isn't...the gift of time is not even...there's no time left over and you really you lose that gift. So I think when you think about time, you're like, okay, nobody's telling us how to spend it, how are we going to? what's a wise way to invest this time? The pastor of our church in the New Year's Eve sermon, he said, Okay, you know, when you wake up tomorrow, January 1st, 2020, God is giving you the gift of over a half million minutes to invest. And I never thought about it's like 500,000 and something minutes in a year. I never knew that there were that many minutes, but he was like you were being given the gift of over a half million minutes in 2024 to invest. And it made me really think about, wow, okay. And then he was breaking it down this many minutes in the day. And I thought if we look at it that time that God has given us this gift, it's 2024, we're starting the homeschool year and you have this many minutes and this many hours, and as a homeschooler, nobody's telling you how to spend. You have complete freedom to make that choice and to make that decision. But again, when you look at what you're filling the schedule and the academics in the activities and the things that you're scheduling, make sure you're leaving that time for free time and that time, like you were saying, Jeannie, just let them explore out in the open air. It's really, really, really important. And as they get older, they have to have this gift of time for their service and to be a young entrepreneur and to develop their skills and passions and gifts. So in each season, you know, the gift of time, you might steward it in a different way. Maybe one year you have five family trips, and so that extra time is going to be invested in family relationships or travel. The next year it might be you're volunteering at the homeless shelter and you need to take that extra gift of time and steward it toward those people. So I feel like even the flexibility with time year to year or week to week, that's a gift as well. We don't have to do the same thing with our time every day or every month or every year. I remember at the homeschool convention, one family, they sold everything and they were just for a year traveling in their RV. And so they invested their whole time that way and they were getting ready to buy a farm and do something different. But I love it just that it's not only how you invest the time, it's the flexibility of the time that you have as well. So there's so much to say there, but again, if we look at our homeschool as repeating formal school at home, we lose that. We lose that gift.

Jeannie Fulbright Yeah, we do. We do.

Shiela Catanzarite We need to protect that gift.

Jeannie Fulbright My oldest daughter, as you know, was a ballerina and I really saw that that time, that homeschool time, that time she had as a homeschooler to develop her interests beyond ballet because she was going to ballet for so many hours during the day and I remember when we first started getting very involved in ballet and she was going every single day, and I remember it being in the parking lot and I would see these moms in the parking lot and they were all in the parking lot doing their children's homework because their children did not have time to even do the homework. They were in school all day long and then they were in ballet and then their moms were doing their homework because there was no way. They didn't have...it was just to me, I felt like, how stressful would that be? For my daughter to be able to go to ballet in the evenings and dance all night was not hard. She could still develop her art skills, she could still develop her photography skills, she could still write, she was writing a lot...she was writing her little magazines that she...she had published a little magazine and she had a subscription. She was selling a ballet magazine that she was selling a subscription to all her little homeschool friends and she was running contests through there. She just had all these other interests and these things that she was doing in addition to ballet, where as all these other kids that were in school, if they wanted to do ballet as seriously as she was doing it, there was no...there was nothing else for them to develop their interests or skills or passions in. And so she was able to develop herself as a whole person, even though she had a very intense, intense...I guess it's not really...it's not a sport, but a...dances…passion.

Shiela Catanzarite That's a great example though, Jeannie, of how the gift of time looked different for Heather than it might have looked for Calvin when he traveled to Europe because he had the time to do that. So it looks for all of our children. That's a great example of when they get older, really taking advantage of our older children, when they have more independence, letting them pursue their passions.

Jeannie Fulbright I think homeschooling in high school is such an important time to homeschool because it really does. It's the time where they can truly begin to develop their interest. God begins to move them in vocational interests that will one day probably become the vocation that they're going to pursue. And that begins to really, really be honed in high school. And if you put them in a school setting or even in a homeschool academic setting, that takes all their time, then you've robbed them of that really precious gift of time that allows them to develop into the unique person. Because in school settings there is no uniqueness going on, it is a cookie cutter education. Everybody has to spend this much time in history, this much time in science, this much time in language arts, and doing the exact same assignments. Which is ridiculous because they're all so unique and different, they should be able to focus on the things that they're truly interested in. They should be able to focus more time on the things that God has gifted them in, rather than spending the exact amount of time that everybody else is spending on each subject. So I believe this gift of time is one of the best and most important benefits of a homeschool education. And I would just recommend that you don't allow someone to steal that from you by putting your children in an academic setting that is cookie cutter and doesn't allow them to be unique and develop into the person that God intended them to be. And like I said, with Heather, she was creating her own magazine and she was, you know, had a publication she was doing when she was doing her ballet and then she didn't...she actually got an opportunity to dance professionally and she chose instead to go to college. And her first job out of college, she's the photo editor for CNN and is one of the youngest females to ever be hired in this editor position at...she was the youngest female to be hired in an editor position at CNN. And she had the opportunity throughout her childhood to develop the photography skills, the editorial skills, all of the things that she needed to have this incredible first job, and which she had for until she had a baby and is now a stay at home mom. But, you know, it's like, God...he will give our children...he'll move them in ways through high school that they begin to develop skill sets and knowledge that if you allow them time to do it, rather than putting them in a setting where they have to do what everybody else is doing, then they actually will be prepared for the life that God has for them when they...when He has them out in the working world. So whether it's a ministry or a vocation, God begins to develop and build them in their high school years and also in their elementary years as well. He gives them passions and interests and they have time to pursue those. And that's why I do think this is probably one of the most important gifts that homeschooling gives our children is that time to develop, time to pursue their interests, time to be bored and begin to figure out creative...creativity and genius come out of boredom and that time we give them. And children nowadays don't have any time to be bored. They don't have time to figure out genius ideas and new inventions and innovative things to do because they're oh so overscheduled. So let's finish up with our very last top ten reason to homeschool and number ten, and that is homeschooling allows us to create lifelong memories. And Shiela, do you want to start with that one?

SShiela Catanzarite This is one of my top. You know, as we go through these, Jeannie, they all kind of interrelate, don't they?

Jeannie Fulbright They do.

Shiela Catanzarite There's just, there's so much overlap with them. And I just look at these ten reasons and I just think this is a life. These reasons represent lives. These are precious children that God has given us and all of these reasons are just, you know, they're all come together to say this is...these are lives that are being developed on a pathway of time in years and we get to be with them. But this life long memories, you know, this means so much more to me now that our girls are grown and away from our home and we don't get to see them very, very often. We really don't get to see them together very often anymore because they've moved on, but when your kids are gone and they come back to visit you, what do you want them to remember? And I think it's really important to think about that now, even when they're young and to have vision for what are the memories, what do I want them to remember about being at home and homeschooling? And because really this is what matters most. If they don't have precious memories of their time at home, they may not want to come home. They may not be excited to return to the place where they remember what they did. And this whole idea of time, again, having time together as a family gives you the opportunity to create memories. And this really, I mean, I've known this, but this hit home to me at Thanksgiving. I came up with this idea last minute. The girls were home for Thanksgiving. We didn't go to my family this year, it was just the four of us and that's rare. I think we've only maybe done that one other time. So I thought, What can I do? And so that morning I'm like, okay, I'm going to come up with some type of a Thanksgiving thing that gets us all sharing, but I want to do something a little bit different than the typical "What are you thankful for?" I feel like that's kind of a little bit generic. And so I started writing out...there were like 20 of them...the book I'm most thankful for, the trip I'm most thankful for, the song I'm most...I just came up with all these that I'm just thankful for and I put them in a jar and we went around...this turned into like 3 hours. After Thanksgiving we moved from the table to the couches. So many of the song I'm just thankful for, the book I'm...were related to our homeschool years. It was just hours of enjoying each other, reminiscing, remember...thinking back...I think I had on there like the field trip I'm most thankful for. And some of them were related to school, but they were all...most of them related to our family and to memories that we had built as a family. Things I didn't even...I had never known. Things that nobody had ever really communicated, but the memories were stored there. And so a lot of these little questions prompted our...and we all did it, all four of us. It prompted us to to think back and to draw forth memories that maybe we cherished, but we didn't bring out to the open to share with anybody else. And I was just amazed through that at the impact that our homeschooling years had on our daughters and my husband and I as well. Our whole family. It was like we were together as a family, the way God designed and, you know, just sowing and sowing and sowing and reaping and just trying to figure it out. It wasn't easy all the time. Of course not. It wasn't perfect by any means, but we believed God. We kept going. We kept, you know, championing each other and our children's gifts and our children's, you know, what we felt like God wanted for them and all of these things. We've talked about the education and the time and the personal development and the growth and all of the things and all the reasons why we love homeschooling, I just didn't realize until we had this time of sharing how the impact that it made on our daughter's memories and their heart, their heart memories. I mean, we knew it developed character, we knew it developed their person, but I did not realize the deep, deep impact of the memories until everyone started sharing them. I don't think any of us remembered, "Oh, yeah, I had that too. Oh yeah, love that." So I just want to say, you know, prioritize that. And don't underestimate how memories, lifelong family memories build your children. It's so important. Home is just so important to our children and we want them to attach fond memories with being home and our homeschool. And nobody can ever take that. That's one thing that cannot be taken or measured. You can't put a value on that. And I don't think I really, really understood the depth of what those meant until we...just a few months ago, we sat around and had that time together. So it's fresh in my mind, but I want to encourage you that that's a really, really, really important part of homeschooling your children are the memories that you're building. And don't underestimate how God will use that in their lives in the future and how he will use it in your lives as well.

Jeannie Fulbright Yes, you're building a legacy. You are starting a legacy for your family that will last forever and it will impact your children beyond and your grandchildren and your great grandchildren because you're starting this homeschooling adventure. And maybe you're a second generation homeschooler so you're actually continuing the legacy your parents began, but what's beautiful about it is that it is creating an environment where family is the most important and most beautiful part of your life. And I don't know if you weren't...if you didn't grow up a homeschooler you probably remember your friends being the most important part of your life and most of your memories of your childhood are of things you did with your friends, but when you're a homeschooler your memories are your family. And it just builds a strong tradition that will...because friends come and go. And I always told my children that. Your friends come and go. They will come and go. And some of them have actually stayed for the long haul and they are still friends with today, but their memories, most of their memories are the things we did together as a family, the places we went, the adventures. And I just think it's so important that we invest in those memories. We invest in the experiences that we have. And also to remember that as a mom, we are...our personality...and, you know, we're not...none of us are perfect. And we all, you know, lose our patience and lose our temper and all of that, but we have to remember that we want to have a...we just want to have an atmosphere around our home of of repentance, of when we have lost our temper, that we tell our children we are sorry, that we are able to just be real and walk out our faith. Our children are watching us walk out our faith before them, and they're seeing us fail and they're seeing us get back up and say we're sorry and we're going to walk with God...we haven't been walking with God...we repent to our children when we haven't been listening to the Lord. And we show them that this is how we live. This is how life is lived. And our children are developing memories of us living life that way. And I just...I'm always amazed the things my children remember that I have no memory of. "Remember when..." And it's just the coolest thing. Every single one of them have different memories, but it's wonderful when you get together and everybody is sharing their thoughts and their ideas and their memories of what their childhood was like. But it's all us together. We work together as a team, as a family, and we did some really fun things and we did our regular hikes and our regular...we just had so many fun things that we did as a family and they have...those are etched in their minds, in their hearts as this is who I am. These are the people I belong to and this is where I belong.

Shiela Catanzarite Yeah, that's good.

Jeannie Fulbright And so I think homeschooling is an amazing adventure. It's hard and we're not perfect and we've made mistakes, but we have created a... the whole journey of it, it's a long journey, and as you said, it's an arc. You can't try to finish everything and get everything completed in, you know, one year, check the box. We want to just create a lifestyle for our children that gives them the character and the feeling of unity, the feeling of strength that they can take with them into life. And I think that's what homeschooling does.

Shiela Catanzarite Yes.

Jeannie Fulbright Okay. Well, that was our first podcast of 2024, Shiela! It's fun to see you again. I haven't seen you for a while, but I look forward to talking to all of you and please reach out to me. I love when y'all reach out to me and ask me questions and just send me emails about your life and your home and your family. And I love to interact with all of you. And thank you for listening to The Charlotte Mason Show. And we look forward to an amazing 2024. And let us know how we can help you have a better 2024.

Shiela Catanzarite Yes!

Jeannie Fulbright Have a blessed 2024.

Jeannie Fulbright Hey, a couple more things: Do you wish you had a Charlotte Mason mentor? Someone to keep you focused on the things that matter--the Lord, His word, and prayer, and habit-training, and living books, nature study, and, of course, the most neglected thing of all, self-care? Well, I have the perfect mentor for you: the Charlotte Mason heirloom planner. It is much more than a planner. It's a guide and a mentor and a place to chronicle your treasured moments and memories. All the things you want to remember and keep sacred and special from this homeschool journey. Check it out on my website at JeannieFulbright.com, and learn about that and so many of the other Charlotte Mason curriculum and tools that I have created to make your homeschool journey the richest and most fulfilling experience of your life. Thanks again for listening to the Charlotte Mason Show.

Jeannie Fulbright If you haven't already, please subscribe to the podcast. And while you're there, leave us a review. Tell us what you love about the show. This will help other homeschooling parents like you get connected to our community. And finally, tag us on Instagram @HomeschoolingDotMom, and let us know what you thought of today's episode. And don't forget to check out my friends at Medi-Share because you deserve healthcare. You can trust to learn more about Medi-Share and why over 400,000 Christians have made the switch, go to GreatHomeschoolConvention.com/MediShare.

Jeannie Fulbright Have you joined us at one of the Great Homeschool Conventions? I would love for you to come. On my website I have a special coupon code that you can use when you register. The Great Homeschool Conventions are the homeschooling events of the year with amazing speakers, hundreds of workshops to help you homeschool well, and the largest curriculum exhibit halls in the United States. People travel from all over the United States to Missouri, South Carolina, Ohio, California, and Texas to find encouragement, friendship, and curriculum. Be sure to go to my website JeannieFulbright.com for your coupon code. And when you're at the convention, please come by my booth and say "hello" because I love meeting homeschoolers in real life. It's always fun to have new homeschool friends. So thank you so much for listening and I do hope to see you at the convention. Have a blessed rest of the week.

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