Episode 2: Michele Holmes on Homeschooling

business home Feb 16, 2021
Michele Holmes knows Homeschooling

Michele Holmes is the founder of Homeschool Directive where moms can find guidance, encouragement, and support to help them get started homeschooling with confidence and clarity.

Michele's offer for you: 30% off her courses and coaching at Homeschool Directive. Use the code TMKDiscount to receive 30% off any courses and coaching.  (Expires 5/31/2021)

Connect with Michele at her website, on Facebook, or Instagram.

Michele's favorite gadget is... her Instant Pot

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This is a transcript of the This Mom Knows Podcast - Episode 2

Jennifer Uren
Well, I'm excited.  Today we have Michele Holmes with us. Michele is a veteran homeschool mom of 30 years with a desire to see moms move from feeling overwhelmed by the abundance of available homeschool resources to becoming confident in their ability to discern the best choices for their family. So welcome, Michele.

Michele Holmes
Thank you, Jenn, for having me here. I'm so excited to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me.

Jennifer Uren
My pleasure. So let's take a few minutes and just get to know you. Tell us a little bit about who you are, where you're from, maybe something about your family and your how many kids you have.

Michele Holmes
All right, well, I am a veteran homeschool Mom, I'm defined by that because I've been homeschooling for 30 years. I have eight children. And I'm actually down to my last two. Yay for me. And, and I have let me see, I'm up to nine grandchildren. So some of my children are married, my adult children are married and have kids. And so it's just an exciting time for us here. And, um, let me see I I just started a business called Homeschool Directive. And that's a direct result of helping coaching hundreds of women who wanted to homeschool confidently. So I created an online course and with coaching, so I have that going on. And so just you know, kind of busy over here at the Holmes house. That's a little but about everything that we're up to right now.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah, well, and that's why you're here because you're a mom who knows about homeschooling. And so we want to talk about that today. So 30 years is a really long time and you said you're at the the last two - Did it ever feel like it would end? Did you think this day would come?

Michele Holmes
You know, I actually set the 2020 year mark as the time that I get to retire without a pension. I've always had that end goal like oh, I get to retire without a pension. Yeah, you know, I when I first started homeschooling though, I was like, "Oh, I can do this for a year. I'll try it." You know, I have one kid, she education came really easy for her. It's like, oh, "I'll do it." One year. One year became two, two years. Three, and we just kept on it became our family lifestyle. It was homeschooling, it's just part of what we do during the day.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah. So why did you get started that first year?

Michele Holmes
Oh, so it's, you know, I, when I'm coaching, some younger moms, they feel like they have their whole world planned out for them. I I'm like, Oh, I was gonna have one child and I was going to run a business. And she was going to go to private school because I was only going to have a girl too. So you know, I had big plans for things. I did have my first child - was a girl. And we did send her to public school for a couple of months. And I'm just to back up the story. I had met somebody that was homeschooling. But homeschooling was never ever on my radar, on my radar. But we got into a private school situation. And like, you know, my education just really came easy for my first daughter. And so she had just turned five or birthday was in July. And she started school in August, we were all excited. And quickly, within a few weeks, we realized that, you know, she was way past kindergarten. And so we had to start having these like parent teacher meetings, like what are we gonna do with this kid, she's reading and she's, you know, working, actually at a second grade level. And, um, they're only the only thing that they can do for her was to put her in second grade. And I have to say, you know, having a five year old with second graders just that didn't seem right to me. It was like, you know, it might be okay right now, but what about high school? You know, when all their friends are in puberty and dating, and she's two or three years younger than them, it was just one of those things that I just didn't feel right about. Well, I had met somebody that summer. And she was homeschooling five kids. And I had a conversation with her and she's like, well, you should try homeschooling like how bad can it be? This is true. Can I really mess her up? Right? She's already three years ahead. Can I really mess her up?

Jennifer Uren
Right? You had some margin work with

Michele Holmes
I did! That gave me a little bit of confidence. Yeah. Um, so I did exactly what that bond did. Right, that mom that was advising me, I picked the same curriculum she did. And, and that's how we began. And it just went really, really well. For us. Um, we've had a lot of transitions in the way that we do things because obviously, I started off homeschooling in the way that other mom is homeschooling. And I had to change that to fit our needs. But that's how we got into homeschooling.

Jennifer Uren
That's great. Well, and I noticed you said, I can do this for one year, and I and it's, it's funny. Those of you who know me may know that Michele has mentored me in my homeschool journey and that's all she told me is one year at a time. So when you're at a time and 30 years later, here she is, with the business that she always thought she would run. So...

Michele Holmes
It's not like my, you know, my early 20s business was, but I love what I'm doing now. And so Jenn, what, how many years have you been homeschooling now?

Jennifer Uren
This is actually my ninth I've been telling everyone it's my eight. I counted them last night. Holy moly. So. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So tell us in this 2020 environment where learning has become virtual, and everyone's doing it at home. And I hear a lot of people saying, Oh, we've all become homeschoolers. But really, they're e learners. What is the difference between elearning and homeschooling? What's the difference between and I'll tell you what I tell people. So I tell people that elearning is taking the worst of public school and the worst of homeschooling and mixing it up together and saying, do this, and it's it's hard. That's that's kind of my perception.

Michele Holmes
Yeah, that's exactly the right perception. That is, that is exactly what it is. And I'm, you know, my heart goes out to those moms who are, are having to do this whole elearning thing. You know, I, I think the biggest difference between the two is that, you know, with eLearning, everybody else is dictating everything to you. They're telling you, we're going to use this curriculum, your kids have to report at this time. And even though you're completely responsible to make sure that those things happen, you have to do it on their time and on their schedule. And I think it's like this competing thing, like, Oh, I have to get my kid and they need to sit still. I mean, I had some friends tell me that their first grader is sitting in front of a computer for four or five hours. I mean, you know, that could be really hard for that mom to navigate. Right? She's She's probably still working. She's probably trying to get all of her other things done. And, but she, she's still got to make this other thing happen that everybody else is dictating to her. So that's the biggest problem with the eLearning. I think for why people feel overwhelmed by it. And what with homeschooling, you get to have control. And not that I'm a control freak, I do have some rules, right? The State tells me that I have to have so many days of school, I need to teach the educational branches. It needs to be in English in the state of Illinois, every state has their own homeschool requirements. And every state most every state believes, positions homeschoolers at private schools, right? So basically, in the state of Illinois, I'm just a private school with a tiny, tiny budget. My homeschool budget is small compared to big gigantic private schools. But where I differ from a private school, if you're going to send your kid to a parochial school or charter school is that I am completely responsible. I pick my vacation days. I pick when we're going to we're going to do schoolwork. When we start school, I'm going to pick if we do anything on the computer or not if we're going to spend some time on you know, going on field trips. So um, so when you have the two worlds right, so eLearning and and homeschooling, the parent is responsible in both cases, but the homeschool parent gets to control a whole lot more of the responsibility than just being dictated to. That's the biggest difference.

Jennifer Uren
Okay, and that kind of leads into some of the pros and cons of homeschooling. You're talking about, you know, one of the pros is you get to manage your own day and curriculum. But that's kind of a con, you also have to figure out what curriculum is going to work. Is that is that accurate?

Michele Holmes
Yeah, it doesn't even start stop there. Think about it. eLearning you get to tap into text dollars, right? You don't have to buy that curriculum, it's free, and it's being sent to your house. Homeschooling, I have to be proactive. Not only do I have to pay for it, now I have to pick pick it, you know, also eLearning. They're saying, here, here's a curriculum, this is what you're using. And there is like, some beauty in that right, like, just tell me what I have to do, and I'll get it done. And, but when you're in the homeschooling arena, it becomes your responsibility. And so there is that mixture of I gotta pay for it, and I have to pick it. So.

Jennifer Uren
So with eight kids that you are homeschooling? Did you pick one curriculum for everyone? Or did you tailor it for your child?

Michele Holmes
Oh, you know, this is a great question because with being in the homeschooling community for so long, and having so many children, I have been exposed to a ton of different options. You know, I think the biggest thing for people when they're thinking about homeschooling, or if you've been homeschooling for a while, is to remember that curriculum is a tool that you use, this is to facilitate what you need to accomplish. And, you know, I can use four different curriculums with one child if that's what I need to do. And so what was more important in my journey with curriculum was me discovering when I thought about education. So I started with a box curriculum, very, very traditional. And I've moved into being more of eclectic where, you know, I can, I can pay for an online course for one student, and buy another curriculum for a different student, because I'm really focusing in on each student, not necessarily that I'm running a school and everybody has to do the same thing. So it just helps those my children to rise to the occasion, because I'm picking the right tools for them. Because I have some visual learners, I have some kids that need to touch things, and it just kind of helps to be able. And it's a beautiful thing, right? Like, with eLearning, you have what 30 kids in a classroom, and everybody has to use the same type of curriculum, where within homeschooling, I can shake things up a little bit and try different things. And, you know, I even advise homeschool moms to not spend a lot of money when they're trying to figure out what works or not because - I have a three month rule, three months, if it's not working, I need to find something else for them to you. So if I don't spend a lot of money on it, it leaves a little room in the budget if I do if I need to get rid of something because it's not working. Remember curriculum is just our tools.

Jennifer Uren
And there's so many resources now local and national for buying and selling used curriculum that you can try something out inexpensively, but you can also often recoup your investment if it doesn't work for you. So yes, I've become pretty proficient at recycling those dollars. So one of the things that I always heard, before we started homeschooling was, oh, you'll have so much flexibility. And from the outside, I think people look at flexibility as lack of structure and availability, which it's not. So how do you in your homeschool, how do you balance the structure, but with that flexibility to do the other things? Because I know at one point, you ran a food pantry, and now you're doing some traveling for for your husband's business. How do you balance those things?

Michele Holmes
Balancing is a tricky word, isn't it? Right? Like what seems calm to one person seems chaotic to another. Like having a balanced life really can look different for each of us. I really believe in this philosophy of checking my schedule and making sure that I haven't overscheduled over scheduled my children. So um, the first thing that I do within my schedule is I'm making sure that the time that I have allotted for my children, they can actually accomplish that work. So once I get rid of that, like oh, they're not getting their stuff done. And I'm not sure if I've over scheduled them or they're just being sidetracked or procrastinating like that. That's a big hurdle for Once I have that security, then I can move on to all the different parts of our lives. And, but you know, I'm still in, I'm still legally responsible to educate my children, they're not past, you know, attending school, so I'm legally responsible. And so that has to become a priority in our schedule. So I start with that, and then I just move out to deviate. But you know, there's only so many hours in the week. Sometimes, during this journey of homeschooling, when I had more children, like, you know, I'm only homeschooling like, two children, and they're in high school, this is like, I've never had it this easy.

Jennifer Uren
Right, like, you're a lady of leisure.

Michele Holmes
So as my children got older, or there became more self efficient students, then my responsibility and my time with them became less. But I have to tell you, there was some times in, in my life, especially when I had all eight children, and I had like six of them in school at one time. You know, in my school at one time, I had to outsource, like, and that's what I tell a lot of parents, especially if they are feeling really, really stressed. Their load is just really, really heavy. You know, don't feel guilty about outsourcing. I mean, the principal at the, at the public school is not mopping the floors, right? It's like the principal at the school is not, you know, cooking food in the cafeteria. So to really embrace this idea and add this to your school budget is like, if you're feeling so overstressed. You know, maybe have your your groceries delivered?

Jennifer Uren
Yes, I just started doing that. And it is, every week, it's like "you've now saved 10 hours, you've saved 12 hours." It makes a difference. Yeah.

Michele Holmes
I mean, I remember saying to my husband one day, I'm like, I don't have even time to go grocery shopping. I mean, I had a daughter that was doing special therapy, because she's hard of hearing. And I'm like, I don't, I can't even go to the grocery store, like, and so I think that's really important is that you're one person, and to keep things balanced, you need to think about you and how you're fitting as the mom is fitting into this whole whole school homeschool world, and how like, what do I need to facilitate everything. And again, don't feel guilty if you need to outsource, because maybe it's just getting a teenage mommy helper to come for four hours a day to play with your toddlers while you're teaching phonics to your older children. And you say to that, I've actually said this to my mommy helpers, like, don't come and talk to me at all, unless the house is on fire. And I remember one time saying this to you, Jenn, and you're like, "but they can always call 911"

Jennifer Uren
That's right, "you still have to bother me."

Michele Holmes
Like don't like your job is to do that. And you know, my toddlers loved it. They I made them do all the messy work like you know, play with glitter and paint puzzles, and they were happy. And I was happy because I met the needs of my toddlers while I was the needs of my middle school kids. And that's that's a really good way to help keep balances is to outsource if you need to.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah. So tell me some of the ways with you the your Homeschool Directive, your business? What are some ways that you help moms get started and become skilled homeschoolers?

Michele Holmes
Get Started homeschooling?

Jennifer Uren
Yeah. And then become skilled at it. You know?

Michele Holmes
Yeah. And I have to say that, um, it doesn't matter if you're just new to homeschooling, or if you've been homeschooling a long time. I think there's some an expert, a homeschool expert has some skills that they have in place. And, you know, if you're thinking about homeschooling, your first job is to decide to do it. Right. Because sometimes, just not making this decision is paralyzing you. Yes, you need to move past that and just make the decision. It's not permanent. Remember, Jenn and I said that we took one year at a time. This is not permanent. We can always put our kids in another private school or in public school. And then what I'm trying to do with the Homeschool Directive is that I think, I mean, even our conversation started off, right, like, what kind of curriculum do you use? I mean, that's where everybody starts. And I have to say, that's the last thing you should even be thinking about. And so what I do is I take homeschool moms, and I have them kind of do some really hard work up front and ads from a lot a lot of questions. I actually help them create a filter where they can, they can use later on when they're deciding to pick out curriculum or classes for their kids that they can join, or, or different events that they want their family to participate. Because, you know, in the homeschooling world, there are so many good things out there. Right. Like, that's the beauty of the homeschooling community. There are so many, so many opportunities, and is, as homeschooling has gotten, I hate to say that, you know, I'm at the beginning of homeschooling for me was educational reform to now that it's just a way that people can educate their children. And but there's a lot more resources that are available to me now that weren't, you know, 15 years ago, just because the community has opened up so much. Yeah, so. So I hope those moms work through a lot of questions and things like working on their educational philosophy, like, it's one of those important things that you need to kind of work through. And so I helped guide them through that. So when they get to the point, and buy curriculum, it's the last thing that they do. And they can look through their filters and say, yes, this is the it's a good thing, but it's not the best thing for my family. And I think that's, you know, a homeschool expert has to do constantly, and say, "This is great. This is me, this is good. But I'm great for my family." Yeah. So I hope that explains what, but that's my goal is to help help homeschool moms do a lot of upfront work, so they can get rid of decision fatigue. Like there is so many decisions that a homeschool mom has to make. And I want to get rid of that, that fatigue that needs to go away. And they just need to be able to make decisions. And then once they make the decision, they're very, very confident in that decision. Because we have this saying in homeschool directive that you need to have an escape phrase. Because when you get confident, sometimes that makes other people feel like you're judging them. Like you're like, "Well, no, I don't want to do that curriculum. It's a great, it's, you know, it's a good curriculum. It's just that right for my family" That makes that other homeschool mom giving you that advice, feel a little like my husband should like my curriculum. Right? Right. And it's not like you're wanting to not take her advice you're like, it's just not working for me, just like I said, when I first started homeschooling, I emulated the woman who introduced me to homeschooling, it was a box curriculum. And I needed to get away from that, because we were consuming the box curriculum in a couple of months. We're like, this is not working for us. And so when you get that confidence, you're going to have to have an escape phrase, you're going to have to say, "Well, this is just the best thing for my family right now." Because when you get confident, it's very, very exciting. But sometimes, you know, it puts other people like second guessing their own choices. So that that's not the intent. But the intent is that I want every homeschool mom to be feel really confident in their choices.

Jennifer Uren
And that goes back to that one year at a time. I mean, that's part of that escape phrase, I think is "well for this year. This is what is working for our family." And it's not a I am always going to do it this way, or I will never try it that way.

Michele Holmes
Yeah, that's that's a really good point. Like you're saying this is just not right for my family right now or, right. It's a it's a really good thing. And, you know, if you don't have an escape phrase, get one.

Jennifer Uren
Well, and you've been alongside my entire homeschooling journey, and what I think is funny. Well, this is my ninth year, it's really probably the second year I've embraced homeschooling, I'm a reluctant homeschooler and never wanted to do it. Yeah. And still kind of wish my kids were all at school all day sometimes, but you kind of covertly did all this stuff with me. And so I I was one of your guinea pigs, I think but but it's it's made a difference because what you really did was you gave me a framework off of which to hang our homeschooling choices. And so it supports it in a way that, you know, now if my husband says, "Why did you choose to do it this way?" I can say "because..." and I don't feel I'm being questioned. I feel like he's inquiring and I have an answer. And if he disagrees, we can discuss it and go from there. But I just have a lot more confidence and ownership in what I'm doing. And I have toddlers I have a junior higher I have a high schooler and you know the college girl is on her own now but we have all these ages. So I can say what what you do works, because I would not be confidently homeschooling, if you hadn't covertly done this for me. So if somebody wants, thinks that they want to homeschool, and they're not sure, and they're like, well, maybe we'll try something over, you know, the spring or the summer? What's an easy way that they could test the waters to kind of see if it would be something they'd want to do or their kids would respond well to?

Michele Holmes
Oh, that's a, that's a great question. And I'm not sure you're gonna like my answer.

Jennifer Uren
Try me.

Michele Holmes
Someone wanted to test the waters, I think I would suggest to that person to take the time and really watch their children. Not going out and buy a curriculum, because the curriculum is just somebody's way, somebody's thought on how something should be taught, and spend some time watching their kids play, um, maybe do the things that you like, as a parent. So if like, if you're really enthusiastic about Fine Arts, and you love art, and painting and stuff, spend some time with your kids doing all the things that you love, right? Because if you love it, what's going to happen is that your children are going to be invested in it, because they see that it's bringing you joy, and they want to participate in that. And who knows the older your kids get somestimes. So you'll be like, Oh, you know, maybe I'll learn really fast that, you know, they're not going to do art, I have to say, I was crushed when I first started homeschooling, I'm very artistic, and I loved coloring and painting, like all of that, you know, I took mostly art classes when I was younger, and my oldest daughter was would cross out color on every worksheet. And she hated hated coloring. And she actually told me, it was a waste of time. Right. But if I had not grabbed that, I would have kept pushing coloring, I finally just said, you know, just circle like, you do not have to do these things. But I had to learn that about her. And so even though I was really enthusiastic, I learned more about her when I was doing these things. So during this exploration period, um, just have a lot of conversations, even if they're little, right. Like, if you're standing at the table, and you're making a recipe together to say to your kid, like, so tell me about beef. What do you know about beef? Mm hmm. And so, um, I had one of one of my homeschool moms did this. And she was telling me how amazed her son is in first grade. And he went all the way through, you know, beef if from cows, cows eat grass, you know, they have somebody, you know, two stomachs and went on and on and on. And I think that when you are in this exploration stage with your children, what's going to happen is you're going to realize that a lot of the information that your kids know, you've already taught them to them. Right, they might be glimpsing, you know, bits and pieces here from school, but they're going to be listening to the things that you say, things they hear on TV, things, they hear about other people, and it should start encouraging you that, hey, I've been teaching this child. Yeah, Mom, right. And that's the fear that you have, when you started off homeschooling, that you're not up for the job. But technically, you know, let's say that you, you brought it, you know, a kid is going to start school at what, five or six? Now, you, you've taught them a lot of things in those years, right? That like, Oh, I'm just responsible for that, you know, I taught them their alphabet. Oh, I taught them to count. So that's my suggestion about what to do. And I know, for me to say, don't go out and buy anything and spend a little time. But I think the payoff is huge. I just realized the payoff. And hopefully the payoff is to show the mom that she can do it, basically, you know, the mom has the confidence to take that next step in organize the school day, because the only next thing is going to be doing is organizing how she's going to become really intentional of how the educational branches are being taught because she's been doing it all time.

Jennifer Uren
And that's one of the ways that you can come along and help her and say, okay, given your you work full time, or whatever your time constraints are, let's figure out how you can homeschool in a way that meets your family's needs and checks all these boxes. Yeah. Okay, great. Yeah,

Michele Holmes
you know, can I just mention one thing about time? Yeah, I know, this is a big thing, right? I don't have enough time. And you know, if you're, if you're, you know, just kind of been looking at Jenn and I, we both have large families, we both run businesses, our husbands run businesses. It, you know, there, it does take a lot of time. But my homeschool schedule can look different each season. So you know, where we happen to be, you know, in a really strange time right now with COVID. But when we're full, you know, doing sports and music lessons, and these different seasons, I tweaked my schedule. So big volleyball family, girls love volleyball, well, but their volleyball practice starts at three o'clock in the afternoon. Well, like that's like, but they have to leave, like at 230. Right? So actually, I call it Sunday school, and on after church on Sunday, we do school. Like I move our extra work, because we can't get it done. You know, they're teenagers, you know, they don't get up in the crack. And that's, that's one of those flexible things my school day, and my school hours, do not have to look like public school. For instance, one more, one more suggestion on this or tip is that my husband was between jobs, he was starting a business and he still needed to work. And so he was taking temp jobs, and he was working third shift so that meant when he got home, he was sleeping while we are awake. Well, I just moved school to nighttime, right? I and I've done that a couple of times where I did school, like from seven to nine at nighttime. Like I put my little kids to bed and we just kind of set at the table for a couple of hours, two or three nights a week, just to get to get everything in. So that's really important is that your school schedule and the time that you do things can really be flexible.

Jennifer Uren
And yeah, I was gonna say that's the flexibility of homeschooling. Yeah, yeah. So. Well, our time is almost done. So one, one thing that I ask everyone is a little bit more lighthearted. But what is your favorite gadget?

Michele Holmes
Now, thisis a gadget like, Oh, yes, my favorite gadget. You know what I'm, I'm a kitchen person, gadget person. And so my instant pot is my lifesaver. So I know it's not fancy. But it really helps.

Jennifer Uren
Yes, that's a great gadget. I love mine, too. So and so how can people connect with you most easily?

Michele Holmes
Well, I would love for everybody to connect with its homeschooldirective.com homeschool directive, Facebook and Instagram. It's real. It's just homeschool directive. And wherever you want to find me, hopefully you will find us there.

Jennifer Uren
Okay, and I know you have a special offer. I'm gonna put that up there. So tell us about this special offer for listeners of the podcast?

Michele Holmes
Well, you know, for Jenn's listeners, I just I would love to offer you guys a 30% discount off of any of our services. And so I'm just so excited that you know, Jenn has given me this opportunity and hopefully that you guys, you know, heard something that you're like, hey, I want to have some more conversations with Michele. So, so that's my gift to you guys is this 30% off discount

Jennifer Uren
Well that's very generous and I hope you all go and check it out and take advantage of it so. Well Michele, thank you so much for joining me today and sharing the things that you know about homeschooling.

Michele Holmes
Thank you Jenn for having me on here. I really did enjoy it. Thank you so much.

 

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