Meet my friend and cousin Lauree! Lauree and Darren live in Upper Peninsula, Michigan. Darren is Fish Biologist for the Department of Natural Resources. Lauree stays home with their daughter. They have been homeschooling for 6 years.
Lauree shares her travels, hobbies, and experiences homeschooling her daughter, Zoey. She has some great advice for parents who might be homeschooling for the first time.
Hi, my name is Laurèe Kramer. I have been married just over 13 years to my wonderful husband Darren and we have an incredible 9-year-old daughter named Zoey. We live in a community of about 13,000 in the Upper Peninsula of MI.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO HOMESCHOOLING?
I hadn’t given much thought to homeschooling before our daughter was born but once we had her I knew it was what I wanted to do. As she grew, it was clear she was intelligent beyond her years. She was always deeply interested in books. Even as a baby at 10 months she would hold her books and study them. The ladies at our credit union loved to see us come through and see her in her car seat “reading”.
At 2 and 3 years of age, she enjoyed having Darren read his astronomy books to her and she always was more interested in non-fiction subjects until this past year. Her first favorite book was Wizard of Oz and she could read that on her own by 5 years old.
We’ve mostly had a positive experience with people’s reactions to our decision to homeschool with the exception of my mom-in-law who “hoped” we would
send her to school when she reached high school. When Zoey was 3, a stranger overheard her talking about the Perseids and told us he hoped we were planning to homeschool. Homeschooling is a great fit for us because I can work on Zoey’s level and know she’s not sitting bored in a classroom. I also love the flexibility that comes with homeschooling. If it’s a beautiful day, we can head outside on a blanket or even head to the park. One thing I started doing last year was packing up our book work and heading to a state park or other outdoor location. We have several places within an hour of us where we can find a picnic table, do our work and then take advantage of our surroundings. We have Sugarloaf Mountain in Marquette, Kitch-iti-kipi (Michigan’s largest spring) outside of Manistique, Fayette (a historic iron ore mining townsite) on the Garden Peninsula, waterfalls in Munising, and the DeYoung
Family Zoo in Wallace among others.
WHAT DOES HOMESCHOOLING LOOK LIKE IN YOUR HOME?
I am a night owl and can be up until 2 a.m. most nights. Zoey is also a night person. We currently have a strict 9 p.m. bedtime with reading until 11-11:15 depending on where she might be in a chapter. She is usually awake between 9:30-10:30 for the day and we don’t start school until lunch time. She likes to sit at her pink desk for most of her work but we might do it at the kitchen table, the living room floor or on a blanket outside. I write up a schedule over the summer but it’s more for giving us a direction versus a strict routine. Unless we are behind in a particular area, I will let Zoey choose the first subject for the day and we can sit and get most of all the school work done before needing a break and then we are done, or finishing up (usually with math), by the time my husband is home from work. At this time, I do all the schooling with her but as she gets older daddy will be more involved with hands-on projects and life
skills (changing a tire, performing an oil change, woodworking projects, etc.). She also has some items that help to her focus during school like a wobble cushion, a balance board, thinking putty, etc.
WHAT KIND OF “SCHOOL” HAPPENS OUTSIDE YOUR HOME?
We participate in a local homeschool co-op where the classes are parent-led and it gives the kids opportunity to get together. We have organized field trips, swim classes, a year book, dances, talent/art show, cheerleading and basketball, etc. At this time, she’s been involved with field trips, talent show, swim, and cheerleading.
We have several performing arts centers within a couple hours of us and they offer discounted tickets for their education series. She has seen things like Pete the Cat, Daniel Tiger, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream, and Magic in Motion. There are also numerous museums, zoos and nature centers in those areas.
WITH ALL THAT IS HAPPENING IN OUR COUNTRY WITH COVID, DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR PARENTS WHO ARE PULLING THEIR KIDS OUT FOR THE YEAR?
Find a local homeschool co-op. Local support is the best support. Go on Facebook and search homeschool co-ops in your area. If you can’t find one, contact your local churches and ask if they have a homeschool family with which they could put you in touch. Give yourself lots of grace. None of us have it all figured out even after years of schooling. Be prepared for your patience to be tested and strengthened, to get aggravated, to maybe yell and shed some tears, to watch your child struggle but also to see that moment when it all clicks and they find something they love. When it’s all said and done, it will all be worth it and you’ll know yourself and your kids more than
you ever thought you would.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING THAT YOU DO?
I asked my daughter and she said science but for me it’s getting to spend that valuable time with her and build a strong relationship. My child is incredible. She’s funny, smart, sassy. She loves animals and Minecraft. I get to be a greater influence on her and the values I want her to have than I would if she was in a classroom at a desk all day and only home for a few hours in the evening. I wouldn’t trade this time for anything!
WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
I grew up in an abusive home and didn’t have the opportunity to finish school. I eventually got my GED and have an associate degree in medical office administration. So my biggest challenge is my own insecurities but I still felt I could give her more opportunities and experiences teaching her myself. We administer the Stanford test through Bob Jones University (BJU) at the end of every school year and it helps make sure she’s not lacking in an area. She hasn’t been below average in an area yet so that helps build the confidence.
ANYTHING UNIQUE TO YOUR FAMILY?
I became a beekeeper this year. I’ve always been fascinated by bees and so joined our local bee club in January of 2019, spent time in other people’s bee yards last summer and purchased two hives of my own this past spring. Zoey has a bee suit of her own but it has been so hot this year that she’s only been out with me once. My husband is training for a 210-mile bike race so I feel like a single parent most days right now as he’ll get home from work, change into his biking gear and be home by 8 or be gone for 10 hours for a long ride either Saturday or Sunday. We have fostered mama cats with kittens for the past two years and decided to adopt our last foster
kitten (which was our first solo foster) so now we are done fostering and will begin volunteering at the shelter itself. We enjoy camping and kayaking as a family.
Lauree’s Favorite Resources
Duolingo for Spanish
Local co-op group
Christianbooks.com for much of our curriculum
Local arts center where we have a homeschool art class
Great Homeschool Convention– in Cincinnati though there are 7 different locations country wide
IEW Fix It Grammar
Zoey’s Favorite Books
Lauree’s Favorite Books
…. anything else by Dr. Kathy Koch – I love her!
for my own personal reading enjoyment
Have questions for Lauree? You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org Remember, though, moms are busy! Response time may be delayed, but she will try to reply as soon as she can!