Beth and her husband live in New Jersey. They have four kids and have been homeschooling for seven years. Beth is in the thick of homeschooling. She has two elementary-aged children. She just added a Kindergartner this year. In addition, she has an active toddler to entertain! She gives honest, but encouraging advice to moms who are starting out homeschooling for the first time. If you are juggling homeschooling and preschoolers, you will relate to this conversation with Beth!
Hi! My name is Beth Kline. I have 4 kids, two girls ages 10 & 8 and two boys ages 5 & 2. My husband is a sales manager for an energy software company. We moved to New Jersey from Pennsylvania 9 years ago and absolutely love it! We are pretty close to the ocean and spend a lot of time at the beach. We have been homeschooling since my oldest was 4 so this is our 7th year. I was introduced to Classical Conversations when I first started thinking about homeschooling and have been involved in our local C.C. community for the last 7 years.
What attracted you to homeschooling?
Before I had kids, I never would have thought that homeschooling would be something I would be doing. When my daughter was 3 or so, my mom, who was a kindergarten teacher, really helped me realize I didn’t need to send her to preschool, that I could teach her everything she needed to be ready for kindergarten. This in itself felt like a huge step because everyone I knew who had younger kids was sending them to preschool. At the same time, I met a family with 5 kids who homeschooled and they were a really great, well-adjusted family. Most of their kids had already graduated and were in successful jobs. I could see that homeschooling could be done well. Also, I should mention that my husband and his brothers were homeschooled. Although I don’t really think that effected my decision. He pretty much stayed out of the decision-making process because he knew that it would be my responsibility and he was willing to support me one way or another. He knew how hard it was and didn’t want to put that on me if it wasn’t something I wanted to take on. Now that we are about 7 years into it, we are both so grateful that this is our reality. I feel unbelievably blessed to be able to stay home and be with my kids and learn with them.
Can you give advice for new homeschool moms?
My advice for new homeschoolers is to keep it simple. Start with math and a language arts program and find great books to read together. As you get a rhythm and understand what your kids need, you can add new things. Simple is better. Getting outside every day is important for everyone’s sanity. Find a good book list and get to the library. Connecting with a community of like-minded people is vital. It is really important to have people you can connect with and run ideas by and ask advice from who are going through similar things. Be easy on yourself. Homeschooling can have some really rewarding days but there can be tough days too. Giving yourself grace and relying on the Lord for strength is so important.
My favorite Resources:
I love listening to podcasts in the car or when I’m folding laundry.
- The Homeschool Sisters has been a favorite lately.
- At Home with Sally
- Read-Aloud Revival
- The Boy Mom podcast with Monica Swanson
- Your Morning Basket by Pam Barnhill
- Wild & Free
I also discovered Nicole the Math Lady around the start of the pandemic last year. Her website has been incredible for my 5th grader to be able to understand math without my help.
Abebooks.com is my absolute favorite place to buy used books. Anytime I see a book I want to purchase I check there first and they usually have it. I save so much money shopping on this site.
I really appreciate Beautiful Feet Books for history. We are using their early American history curriculum this year. I absolutely love reading real books for history and using stories to capture our imaginations as it relates to the past. This year they updated their reading list to give more insight and different perspectives of historical characters. It has really led to some good discussions with the kids about empathy and compassion for people who traditionally have been left out of history books.
What’s your biggest challenge?
Right now I have two challenges. The first is trying to school with our 2 year-old. No place is safe and he is so busy! We all breathe a little bit during his nap time and try to get as much done as possible but it’s tough and I don’t really have a great solution. My husband works from home and is on the phone a lot so we have to be extra quiet. And my other challenge is giving a solid amount of time to each kid. The oldest, in 5th grade is thankfully very independent. She works on most of her work by herself and I check it all when she is done. The younger 2 need a lot of help still so it has been challenging to bounce back and forth between them.
My son just started kindergarten this year and man, boys are SO different than girls! I am learning that he really needs exercise and creative free time. My daughters (especially my oldest) would just sit for hours and we could read and do work without needing too much of a break. He is in constant motion. So I am learning to let him have many breaks. If I think of it, I have him do some laps out in our cul-da-sac before he starts work. I also let him build with blocks or Legos while I am reading so he is still moving but he can hopefully focus a little better. Another tip which I really think helps is I discovered an essential oil called that I diffuse while we are doing work that seems to make everyone a little calmer and more focused.
What keeps you going?
Coffee! I always have a cup of coffee in my hand. But seriously, even when it’s really challenging, I’d rather have my kids with me than not. I want my husband and me to be the biggest influence in their lives. I want them to learn how to be independent, life-long learners. I love the freedom it allows our family to travel when we want to. Remembering the overall purpose is really important.
Some of the chapter books we have read together
Some picture books we read often:
Some books for our early American history curriculum this year include:
Have questions for Beth? 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!