Monday, April 13, 2009

Interview With a True Nebraska Homeschool Pioneer

My first homeschooling interview was with Janna Ryan. I have known Janna through our local homeschooling group and was thrilled to have a chance to find out more about her family and their homeschooling life.

HP: How long have you been homeschooling and what grades do you teach?

JR: I was homeschooled myself starting the year it became legal in Nebraska, we were one of the original families. I was in 4th grade and homeschooled all the way through high school. I have 6 children of my own now, the oldest is 12 and they have never schooled anywhere but at home with me.

HP: Janna, since you were homeschooled as a child how has that affected how you homeschool? What do you do differently? What methods that your mother used do you currently use with your children?

JR: The biggest thing it did for me personally I think is that it blew the argument "What about socialization?" out of the water for me as far as my own kids were concerned. I learned first hand that socialization is all up to you, if you don't want your child to socialize - they won't. If you want them to socialize - you will find ways for them to do so. My siblings and I were some of the most socialized people I knew when I was in high school.

I strongly encourage reading to my kids and I lead by example just like my mom did with us. My 3 oldest (12, 10, 9) are all very good readers and nothing makes me smile more than waking up in the morning to find my 10 year old son sitting at the dining room table reading a book because he has finished his worksheets for the day (he's a morning person :-)

Good or bad, I'm not quite as stringent with the curriculum as my mom was. That may change over the next couple years.

HP: What is your all-time favorite curriculum or homeschool book that you have used in teaching your children?

JR: Abeka's 3rd and 4th grade history books are the best history books of all time. The 3rd grade is biographies of great Americans which helps build a love for learning about people's lives and the 4th grade is a fantastic American history book.

HP: What is a curriculum/book that you tried but were not happy with or did not work with your children and their learning styles.

JR: My Father's World is a great program that works wonderful for many families - it was so not right for me! The 3rd grade math book did NOT work for my oldest daughter when she was that age - the format of the book was very unfriendly to her mind - I think we got through 12 pages of math in 2 months, amid many tears and much screaming. I changed math curriculum and life went on. Now my 2nd daughter comes along and picks up that same book (minus the 12 pages) and zips right along no problem. Just goes to show that it is not a particular book as much as a particular child.

HP: If you could give a first time homeschooler or a mom thinking about homeschooling one tip or resource to get started what you tell them.

JR: My #1 tip: You are not teaching in a public school - don't run it like a public school. You don't have to teach from 8-3 and make them sit in a desk all day and flexibility is the biggest advantage homeschoolers have - so be flexible!

HP: Do you operate a home business or work outside of the home?

JR: I own a Christian Dance Studio that is actually connected to our home (or vice versa). I teach classes 3 days a week from 4-9, but I get to have my 5 oldest children in class with me periodically through the days so that is fun and I love what I do. I am fortunate that I can supplement our income doing something I love without ever really leaving home.

HP: I know like many homeschoolers you get the socialization question. How do you respond to those questions?

JR: I kind of answered this at the beginning of the interview, but to elaborate... I have 6 kids - they are each others best friends, if we never left home they would still be socialized beyond what many children are. But they also go to Children's Church on Sundays and Wednesday nights, dance classes with many other children 2-3 days a week, 2 of them are in gymnastics, my oldest babysits, they have many friends (homeschooled and public schooled) that they spend the night with (our house or theirs) and they make friends everywhere they go. I simply don't see that as a problem in our lives :-)

HP: Anything else you would like to tell other homeschoolers or those that are thinking about homeschooling? ;-)

JR: If you are even considering homeschooling then chances are high that God is putting it on your heart. Who better to teach your children than their mother - the person who knows them better than anyone? Don't underestimate yourself or your kids!

Janna Ryan is an excellent mother and homeschooler and is one of the many families that inspired me to start homeschooling my children. She is well known for her wonderful dance instruction and I absolutely love her blog. She features various authors throughout the year and has amazing book giveaways!!

Visit Janna's Sites Below:

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