“Don’t confuse the educational vehicle with the academic destination . In other words, it is less important whether you unschool or classically educate . Neither of these is inherently superior to the other . They are vehicles that you get to the end goal on the map- an educated , self- reliant adult. “ Julie Bogart
Today’s homeschool chat is with the lovely Judy Marie, a mother of 2 girls . She is of Chinese descent, but has lived most of her life in the Philippines. She is classically trained with a master’s in music in vocal performance and opera. Judy is still actively performing, mostly singing in a choir for the city’s symphony orchestra. She currently has her own private music studio teaching piano and voice, occasionally coaching a church choir. She also works as a personnel & production manager for a local symphony orchestra. Judy Marie can be found on Instagram @angeltots147, where she shares glimpses of how she home educates her girls and she also writes about their Montessori homeschooling adventures at https://followthechildwithwonder.wordpress.com.
1. Tell us a bit about your family and your child/children
I have two girls, whom I call Jiejie on social media, meaning big sister in Chinese Mandarin, and Meimei, meaning little sister. They are currently 5 and 3 years old. This 2019-2020 is our third year of homeschooling. We live in Massachusetts.
2. What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children?
When I was younger and without kids, I used to teach a little music class at a local primary Montessori school once a week. I fell in love with how respectful the directress and the guide were with the children. That was my first exposure to a Montessori school, where everything is child-sized, and the children were able to follow their own interests and choose their own work. Every week, I come home from the class feeling so light and happy, thinking that is what I want for my children.
Unfortunately, we do not live in an area that has a public Montessori school, and the ones that are close to us are not within our budget. I know a few people who homeschool and thought that homeschooling my children using the Montessori philosophy is a pretty good compromise. So, after reading a lot and educating myself on how to bring Montessori into the home, here we are!
3. What does a “typical” home school day look like for your family?
I keep a list of things or presentations that we need to do/plan to accomplish, and when the opportunity arises, we do it. Unless it’s a fixed appointment or a class with another teacher, we are flexible.
With Montessori in the classroom, the children have a three-hour work period where they work uninterrupted. At home, their “three-hour work period” is in the morning most days, and for some days, in the afternoon. They have their morning routine of getting dressed, brushing, making breakfast, and then doing some “work”, which could include practical life, sensorial, math, language, the current theme, or outdoors for gross motor and nature. Jiejie practices her piano sometime in the morning before lunch. Once a week the children have Catechism of the Good Shepherd, dance, and art classes.
4. What type of a home educator are you (structured, semi structured, unschooling, classical, Charlotte Mason, Steiner, Montessori etc.)?
5. What do you love the most about home schooling?
I love many things about it. But the best thing I love about homeschooling is how flexible we can be as homeschoolers. I personally find deadlines and rigid scheduling stressful, so I love the fluidity of homeschooling.
6. Do you do morning time/symposium/circle time?
During breakfast, we either read books or listen to podcasts/audiobook. I’m not a morning person (see #8), so they listen to something in the morning while my brain tries to wake up. We recently got a tape/CD player and the girls have quickly learned how to use it for their library audiobook CDs.
7. What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one?
I like doing practical life with them. My least favorite one is geography.
8. What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children?
I am an introvert at heart, and I like spending A LOT of time with myself. With two children constantly with me, it is challenging to find peace and quiet, so I compensate for that by staying up way too late to recharge myself after they’ve gone to bed. Also, patience. I think many can relate when I say we need a boat load of patience as parents.
9. How do you find time for yourself/self-care, etc.?
My other jobs. It may sound like work, and yes, it’s most definitely work, but simply being able to step away from being a mother feels like self-care to me. I can do other things I enjoy and love, and be someone else other than “mom”, “Mommy!”, “MAMAAAAA!!!”.
I have a loving husband who encourages me to go out with friends, or even to just sit in a coffee shop (and he’ll put the children to bed – the most challenging thing for me as a parent) when I’ve had a rough day. Sometimes I choose to simply be alone by hiding in the bathroom with a face mask and sit in the tub watching Netflix. Most of the time, my self-care is a delicious meal that I didn’t cook myself.
10. What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?
I currently don’t have a favorite homeschooling-related book. I mostly read parenting books on respectful/gentle parenting, and books explaining how a child’s brain works. I’m still in the process of cranking through books written by Montessori herself on the child and child development. I just received the book of Maria Montessori’s lecture from 1946, and I can’t wait to dive into it!
11. How do you deal with unsupportive family, relatives and friends?
It shouldn’t, but it does bother me when some relatives do not understand. Thankfully, most of my family, relatives, and friends support the choice that my husband and I have chosen. In dealing with the few who do not understand, I usually talk it out with my husband, and he always makes me feel better.
12. Where do you see your homeschooling journey in 5 years’ time?
When people ask me how long I’ll be homeschooling, I always tell them that I am taking it one year at a time. Maybe that’s just what I say to protect myself from others’ judgement, because thinking about it ending does bring a little ache to my heart.
But back to answering the question..in 5 years’ time, if we’re still homeschooling, I am hoping that the kids will still find joy and excitement in everything around them. I would like for us to get to know each other better and build on our relationship as a family. I hope to see us in a more solid routine, with reading books (either individually or together) as a way for us to decompress and recharge.
13. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children?
Be confident in yourself and believe in your child. You’ll see lots of posts online of how “perfect” everybody else’s something is, and you start comparing. It is inevitable to want to compare, but don’t do it. Use the “perfect” things you see online only as an inspiration. Once they start stealing your joy, it is a sign that you’ve started comparing. You are on your own unique homeschooling path, as homeschooling is all about following your child. Your child is unique and there’s nobody else like him in the world.
14. Imagine your children 20 years into the future, what do you want them to say about their homeschool experience?
I want them to look back and say they really enjoyed those years that we homeschooled, and they are proud that they were homeschoolers.