Meet Kathy

Kathy lives in Lancaster County and has started homeschooling all three of her children together for the third year now. Her husband, Steve, is an electrical engineer. She loves to find ways to save money and take unique field trips in the Lancaster County area and share them on her blog and YouTube channel. She is also a local director for Classical Conversations.

Three years ago Kathy pulled her children out of school to try homeschooling. What she discovered in this experiment was that she LOVES learning alongside her kids!! She shares what drew her to the classical model of education and their involvement in Classical Conversations. Kathy and her three children love to visit local attractions! She shares their experiences on her blog, and YouTube channel, Frugal Lancaster.

Hi, I’m Kathy. I’m a wife to Steve, and a mom to Caleb, Kaylee and David. I live in Lancaster County and I started homeschooling three years ago.

-Did you always want to homeschool? What attracted you to it?

No. My husband and I both grew up in public school families and we were very adamant that our kids would go to public school as well. We’re not sure when, but at some point before my oldest turned 4 years old, we discovered classical education and fell in love with it. For us, we loved how students would learn world history and Biblical history together. It always confused me in school to think about how Greek gods fit into the Bible, probably because it was always studied separately.

Anyway, we then decided to send our kids to Veritas Academy, a classical school in Lancaster County. I had two other little ones at the time, and since my husband and I didn’t agree completely on homeschooling, we thought this was the best option. Two years later, God brought us both on the same page, and we started homeschooling all three of them at Pre-K, 1st and 3rd grade. 

I think the main reason I wanted to homeschool was so that I could learn with them. Not just seeing them learn (which was cool in itself), but me learning with them. The classical method captivated me and in a sense I felt like I had the opportunity to go back to school again and really get a deeper education. Suddenly topics like history and science were enticing to me and exciting and my love of learning was reignited.

I loved that in homeschooling, I knew exactly what my kids were learning and since I was learning it with them, if we were at a museum or listening to something on the radio, and my kids heard a historical name and connected the dots, I knew what they were talking about because we had studied it together! 

We were also able to see God’s fingerprints all over our days. One time I remember my 4 year old was learning something in math, that then appeared in my 6-year-olds English assignment, and then we heard the same thing in a book we were reading later in the day. My 4-year-old yelled, “Mom, that’s what we talked about in math today!” I can’t tell you how many times God connected our academics like that, which makes learning fun. We’d laugh and say, “God did it again!”

What advice do you have for people who are homeschooling temporarily for this year? 

Keep it simple! If I have learned anything since I started homeschooling, it has been that schooling your kids is something that takes time. Don’t stress about them accomplishing a certain academic skill at the right age. Just model loving to learn and find ways to capture their wonder and instill a love of learning in them.

Especially for the elementary years at least, which is the stage I am still at. Here are three ways to keep it simple. 

  1. Have them practice reading, writing and math every day. This can literally be as simple as getting a cheap workbook at the Dollar Tree for math and phonics and spelling. It does not need to be fancy. As you talk through things with them in everyday life, they will be learning. For math, they can practice the facts but then as you cook together they’ll learn measurements, and as you leave the house and look at the clock you can slowly teach them time (just take two minutes to show them the hour hand to start), and have them practice handwriting by copying paragraphs from books or Scripture or poems. As they get older, they can copy historical documents like the Constitution!
  2. Read aloud to your kids as often as you can. I heard someone say once, that if you have 10 minutes til you need to leave the house for an appointment or an errand, sit down and read til you have to go. Short increments add up, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you finish books. This has been my absolute favorite part of homeschooling!
  3. Study history and science together, no matter what your kids ages are. If you have more than one kid, it would be ridiculous to do separate curriculums for these subjects with each of them. I have heard of several families who will be studying the United States this year—geography and history. All age kids can study together and it will build unity in your family as you cook recipes from each state, research the state flags and flowers and birds, make crafts, do coloring sheets, reenact battles, memorize the Gettysburg address or whatever your family is interested in! Start with Columbus in 1492 and work your way to modern day current events. And for science you could pick the human body and study that all year—just learning about the parts your kids (or you!) are interested in and wonder about. So many fun crafts and experiments you can do while learning about bones, cells, and human anatomy.

-What is your favorite thing that you do with the kids?

Read aloud. We have had SO MANY good times and memories with read alouds, starting when my kids were very little. When my youngest was 2 and the others were 4 and 6 years old, I started learning about Classical Conversations. One of the mentors in the program mentioned a piece of classical literature, The Princess and the Goblin, and spoke so highly of it, I decided to borrow it from the library and read it with my kids. It was the first non-picture book I read to them, and I was a little skeptical. It wasn’t the easiest book to read because there was a lot of old English, but I had fun with it—reading it every evening before bed. I was amazed at how well even my 2-year-old listened, and now at age 6, he’s the first one to beg me to read a book. Don’t get me wrong, we still read picture books too, but chapter books are always on our to do list too.

I actually hated reading when I was a kid, and in third grade I remember every day at school we were given the choice to either read or write during a quiet time. I always chose to write my own stories, instead of read. I wish I would have loved reading, but I feel like I’m making up for it a little bit now. 🙂

Some of our favorite books have been Charlotte’s web, Stuart Little, The Trumpet Swan, Anne of Green Gables, White Fang (be careful with the age of your kids with this one—I skipped some parts), An Incredible Journey (be sure to watch the movie after you read this book, and then watch Homeward Bound too because that’s the newest production based on the book), Pollyanna, Carry On Mr. Bowditch, The Bronze Bow, The Door in the Wall, all the chronicles of Narnia books, and the Secret Garden.

Last year we also enjoyed Old World Echoes (by classical conversations). Every morning at our morning time we read a short story of a classic ancient piece including portions of Shakespeare, Cinderella, Robin Hood, and many other classical tales from around the world. If there was a movie about the story we then watched it and compared and contrasted the differences. In every case my kids thought the book was WAY BETTER than the movie. Movies leave out too many details, they would say. 

-What has been your biggest challenge? 

My biggest challenge has been comparing myself to other homeschool moms and families. I know this about myself, and so I work hard to guard it, but it is just SO EASY for me to slip into the comparison world and think I’m not doing enough with my kids, or I’m not good enough, or I’m doing things the wrong way. It has been an ongoing process to remind myself that God has made me the perfect mom and teacher for them. By choosing to educate them, I’m just continuing the purpose He has for me in training them and raising them up.

Do you have any favorite hobbies? 

I feel like my main hobby is learning about classical homeschooling, ha! But in all seriousness, a lot of the things I do, and am learning about, are opportunities for my kids to see me loving to learn new things. I love trying new things and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone—usually!

One hobby I picked up on this year more was gardening. The kids and I started seeds inside, and planted some extra garden beds and space around our house because we didn’t know what would be in the few months ahead and we wanted to make sure we had plenty to be generous with! As the year went on we learned how to make a raised bed, transplanted our strawberries, learned how to cut basil and mint at the stem and let the roots grow in water and then transplant it to a pot or the garden. We watched YouTube videos on how to excel at vertical gardening and made our first cattle panel arbor for cucumbers and butternut squash! We also grew potatoes in a container and in a side flower bed. I know that sounds weird, but it is working out really well so far. We’ll be harvesting them soon. 🙂

I also love to play the piano, but it is just for fun. I never really took lessons so I just play around on the keys and I think of it more as exercising my fingers. 

If you count traveling and enjoying the outdoors a hobby, then those are on my list too! My husband and I love to travel with the kids, whether its for longer vacations or short day trips. We’ve been camping quite a bit more too, as we also enjoy kayaking together.

What is your favorite thing that you do together? 

Traveling. It is fun, we see new things and we can point out God’s amazing creativity in nature, as well as His order and structure. Through it all, we learn more about Him. We especially enjoy kayaking, boating, swimming, hiking, camping and finding local hidden secrets, like the 300 year old sycamore tree right in the heart of Lancaster County that we never knew about!

Any interesting projects or experiences?

When I was a kid my parents led tours to Europe, to show people where their ancestors lived and numerous Anabaptist sights. Each year they would take either myself or one of my siblings along with them, and two years ago, we had the opportunity to take our family along with them. Our kids were only 4, 6 and 8 at the time, and I’ll admit I was a little nervous at first when considering the idea of spending 10 days in Europe on a tour bus with 40+ other individuals, but it worked out very well! I would not trade anything in the world for the opportunity to experience what we did through the eyes of children. Such a rewarding experience and I know they will remember it forever too.

Kathy’s Favorite Read Alouds

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery | Audiobook | Audible.com
E.B. White loved animals, including spiders. Lucky for us: this week in  books - oregonlive.com
White Fang - By Jack London (Paperback) : Target
The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford
Pollyanna (Sterling Unabridged Classics): Porter, Eleanor H., McKowen,  Scott, Pober Ed.D, Arthur: 9781402797187: Amazon.com: Books
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch - By Jean Lee Latham (Paperback) : Target
The Bronze Bow - By Elizabeth George Speare (Paperback) : Target

Kathy’s Must-Have Homeschool Products

Farberware Luna 2.5 Qt Tea Kettle, Aqua
AKAGO 3-Tier Rolling Utility Cart Storage Shelf Rack with Wheels and Mesh Baskets

Have questions for Kathy? You can contact her at frugal.lancaster@gmail.com. Remember, though, moms are busy! Response time may be delayed, but she will try to reply as soon as she can!

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