Meet my friend Jackie! Jackie and Brandon live in Arkansas. Brandon is a production manager at Keto Brick, LLC. Jackie stays home with their kids. They have five children and have been homeschooling from the beginning.
In this interview, Jackie talks about what attracted her to homeschooling, her philosophy of education, and how to push through the hard spots that are sure to come.
Hi! My name is Jackie Clark. I have been married for 15 years and have 5 kids. My boys are 13, 9, and 7. My two girls are 11 and 4. We have been homeschooling since the very beginning.
What attracted you to homeschooling?
In the beginning I just wasn’t ready for my firstborn to leave me and go off to school all day! So I decided to keep him home and try homeschooling. Homeschooling was not foreign to me. My husband and I were both homeschooled on and off and my sister was homeschooling her kids. However, you need more of a reason to keep it up as the hard days will come, and that school bus starts to look like a nice trip back to sanity. A few years went by, our family grew, and my husband and I realized how important it was going to be for us as parents to lay down a firm foundation for our kids. A strong foundation in Jesus Christ and His Word. We felt that for us the best way to do that was through homeschooling. We really see it as discipleship. We are sharpening our arrows to send them out into the world.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Every year is different. This is how a typical day went this year. I’m not an early riser but I still need some mom time (coffee, Bible, and morning walk) so that means school usually won’t start until 9. All kids need to be dressed and ready, rooms cleaned, & had breakfast by this time. My older two will start their independent work at this time while I start lessons with my younger two. I usually read to them from a history book, and also a devotion book. We then transition to their seat work. There is a lot of back and forth during this time and they sometimes have to wait on mom to answer their question or to move on to the next thing. After that is over it is time for them to play and I will see if older ones need any help. We then take a short break and all go outside. Then it’s lunch time. Next, everyone has a quiet time on their
bed reading a book, looking at books, or resting. Afterward, we meet for family time
which includes, but not all everyday: geography, poetry, music, hymn, verses, our read
aloud, and usually a youtube video on a subject or person we are studying. The last
thing we do together is Science or nature study together. My little one is right there with her two older brothers as I read to them and I bring things out for her to do as they do their seatwork. I have found it’s so much better to just include the young ones. We usually finish up at 3.
What is your favorite thing about your family’s way of doing school?
I love when we read aloud together. It brings us closer as we travel to
distant worlds together in a book.
Have you made mistakes and what did you learn from them?
I had in my mind that if I homeschooled, my children would be super smart. They would excel academically. When it came time for the end of year testing in the early years I would just be crushed when the assessor told me all the areas that my children needed work. This led me to push way too hard on my oldest. We could just feel the pressure in the room as he just wasn’t getting math concepts and didn’t want to sit for long periods doing grammar lessons. What I should have done is realized he was not ready for certain things and put the books away. Eventually, the light bulb will come on and when it does it makes learning so much easier and more enjoyable. I learned it is more important that they love learning, not what some test tells me about their percentile. By the way, that same son loves learning now and is thriving in so many areas.
What would your experienced self tell your newbie self?
I would say focus on the 3Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic)! There is so much great curriculum out there with fun history and science included to teach in the early years. However, when you are pregnant and have a toddler running around you can’t get it all in everyday. Don’t get distracted on making Egyptian costumes and lapbooks for everyone or you will get overwhelmed. Keep the 3Rs going everyday and if by God’s grace baby sleeps longer than normal or grandma is over to babysit, throw in those fun activities or learn about some famous Greeks and Romans.
Can you tell a little about your philosophy of education and how does it practically look in your day to day life with your kids?
I think choosing your homeschool philosophy is very important. It helps you sort quickly through the many curriculum choices. It helps you decide which co ops you will join. It helps you stay focused and it also helps you when you fall into the comparison trap. Early on my mom gave me the book For the Children’s Sake. I loved it! I then read A Charlotte Mason Companion, Teaching from Rest, Mere Motherhood, and now am working my way through Mason’s own books. All of these resources helped shape the direction of our homeschool. This means we don’t do a lot of workbooks and do not use many textbooks. I really see my job is to lay out a feast for them to digest. I’m not cramming food down their throats or chewing it up first before they eat it. Sorry, that was gross, but you get the picture!
What is your social network? Do your kids have friends?
There are so many extracurriculars out there for homeschoolers to get involved in outside of the home and to give them the opportunity to make friends. In fact I’m learning to say no to things because we get too busy and are not getting enough school done! I’m learning the best thing to do is just to invite another family or families over to hang for an afternoon at your house or park. That is when you really are able to develop friendships.
What is one last thing you want people to remember?
With all things in life you are not going to see the fruit of your labors till closer to the end. I heard Cindy Rollins say and she could be quoting Mrs. Mason, “Short lessons everyday, every year will add up to a most beautiful education.” Also, don’t forget to lean hard on your Maker and Sustainer. If I’m drained or wanting to give up my Heavenly Father, when I ask it of him, will give me the strength to keep going. I can’t tell you how many times when I’m at my worst the baby takes a 3 hour nap or my older ones stay outside for hours engrossed in playing pioneer days or someone offers to watch all of them so I can regroup. I know that is all HIM! He always comes through when I ask and believe.
Jackie’s Favorite Resources
amblesideonline.org If you want to really do the Charlotte mason method all the ways for your school this is the way to go. They have great resources and amazing books.
Beautiful Feet I highly recommend the Medieval Ages. My kids pretty much loved all the books we
read, even my child who does not like history!
Math Mammoth She gives your kids several ways to learn a concept, which I think is great.
Masterbooks Math Lessons for a Living Education
Institute for Excellence in Writing We have done the theme books for years now and it has made writing simple and easy for us. I use their PAL program to teach my kids how to read.
Science books by Jay L. Wile
Cold Case Christianity for Kids is a great book for older elementary and middle school.
I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist video series for when they enter high school.
Jackie’s Favorite Read-Alouds
Have questions for Jackie? 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!