Eliminating Homeschool Overwhelm – Jennifer Elia, Part 1
Join Yvette Hampton and Jennifer Elia, Founder of Sound Foundations Homeschool, as they discuss how to eliminate homeschool overwhelm, find support, and nurture a love of learning in your children. Schoolhouse Rocked Backstage Pass members have access to this full interview, which includes over an hour of content, including the video, “Nurturing a Love For Learning” and the 30 minute Bonus Video, “10 Steps to Homeschool Success.”
You can get a free copy of Jennifer’s program, 10 Easy Steps to Transform Your Homeschool and Home! on the Sound Foundations Homeschool website.
Jennifer Elia, homeschool consultant, blogger, and Amazon best selling author, is Founder of Sound Foundations Homeschool which is dedicated to giving homeschool moms the tools they need to thrive in their home education career. Jennifer is leading the Sound Foundations Homeschool movement, equipping moms to provide an education that celebrates her child’s unique and special gifts without burning out. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four children whom she has been educating at home for the past 10 years. When Jennifer isn’t busy researching the best curriculum solutions, she enjoys gardening, crafting, and writing.
Connect with Jennifer Elia:
Jennifer’s website: https://soundfoundationshomeschool.com
Read Jennifer’s books:
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Interview transcript (this is an automated transcript. Spelling and grammar errors are guaranteed!)
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hey everyone, this is Yvette Hampton. Welcome back to The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. I am so glad that you are with us today. It is always such an exciting thing to just know that there’s someone else on the other end listening and hopefully being encouraged by this podcast and by the guests that we have on. It is my greatest desire to encourage you in your homeschool journey.
Speaker 1 (01:04):
Whether you have been homeschooling for a really long time or you’re just thinking about homeschooling and trying to figure out what this whole home education thing is all about. And so it is always my pleasure to bring exciting guests on the podcast with me. And today is no different. I have a really great homeschool mom. She’s a blogger. I’m, her name is Jennifer Elia. She is the founder of sound foundations, homeschool and she has a homeschool mom. It’s been even homeschooling for how long? I’m trying to share this for our 11th year. Your 11th year. Okay. So you’re in this for awhile. Yeah. So Jennifer, welcome to the podcast. Thank you. Thank you. It is an absolute honor to have you on. Tell us briefly about your family and what you do.
Speaker 2 (01:51):
So I have four children. My oldest is 15, my youngest is almost three, so we have like the team can hot spring going on. And I was originally a public school teacher. I got my masters in teaching and so my whole thesis was based on how to teach in reach all children so that they can reach their highest potential. And I realize I’m doing that, but the school room was not the place to do it. And so that’s what started my journey, looking at homeschooling with husband. And I actually started researching it before we even married. And then when my daughter got my oldest started getting close to school, we kept going back and forth and back and forth and we finally took the leap and said, we’ll just do it for kindergarten and here we are 11 years later still homeschooling.
Speaker 1 (02:41):
That is great. I love that you were a teacher in the classroom. You also were a university or a college professor. Did you college you taught at it? Community college. Okay. Okay. And then you also, you taught, what did you tell me? French. Spanish.
Speaker 2 (02:57):
I taught French at the college for 12 years. And I also, when I was in public school in public school for five years I did a mixture of French and Spanish. But then I also did the math and reading resource room. So I worked with students who had special needs, which was part of what, through my my study for my masters though, like learning how to really help them. And that’s, that’s where I realized that these children are being labeled by what they can’t do and we’re in the system. We’re not focusing on their great gifts and giving them the tools to really shine because they were special, just as special as the kids that were at the top of the class. They just weren’t getting the opportunity to show everybody that.
Speaker 1 (03:40):
Yeah. Which is one of the great benefits of homeschooling is that we get to focus on the gifts that God has given to each one of our children, antichrist as well as moms because each mom is gifted in a specific way. And so we get to teach our children according to the gifts that God’s given us as well. Yes, that’s a blessing. So I want to talk about a few things with you today because you have a wealth of knowledge and information and experience with homeschooling. And one of the things that you talk about a lot on your blog mean that you’ve spoken on is homeschool, overwhelm, and just eliminating that overwhelm and moms. So let’s, let’s talk about that because that is something that I know every mom experiences. It does not matter how long you’ve been homeschooling, whether you’ve been homeschooling five minutes or five years or 15 years. We all get to that point where we are completely just overwhelmed because homeschooling is not just sitting down doing curriculum with our kids and a few activities and then it’s done. It’s life. It’s everything around us. It’s the academics, it’s the care for our homes, it’s the care for our families. It’s any activities we have outside of that. And it can become very overwhelming to where it becomes almost burdensome sometimes. And I’m so, so let’s talk about that.
Speaker 2 (04:59):
Okay. So when I was leading up to starting to homeschool I’m a researcher, so I read everything I could get my hands on about homeschooling. And I remember in one of the books I read, it said like don’t make any decisions. In February it was talking all about how February is like this really hard month and you want to quit. And I kept thinking as I’m reading this, and I hadn’t homeschooled yet, but I had taught for several years. Like this woman obviously just didn’t have our act together. Like if she’d just planned better and then we hit our first February and it was so overwhelming and we were halfway through a year and things weren’t going as I had planned, you know, wasn’t the same as being in the classroom. I figured I had classroom experience, I have a master’s, I have all these material, like this is gonna work.
Speaker 2 (05:46):
And the longer I went into it, the more I realized that it’s not about school. Like it’s not school at home. Right. It really is a lifestyle. And trying to, the school within your life and within your home was just completely overwhelming because while you’re doing math, there’s still laundry piling up and there’s dishes and there’s phone calls and there’s dust bunnies and you know, you need to try to find a way to balance all of that. And I was trying to just, you know, this is school and when school is over, then I’ll be, you know, like the housewife. And the mom and whatever and it just wasn’t working. So I realized very quickly that I needed to find a way to make this work. And I’ve realized that one of the problems is that we’ve all grown up with this school mentality.
Speaker 2 (06:35):
Like that’s what we know. We know going to school, we know sitting in a desk, Mmm. We know like going through marking periods and having homework and then when we come home, all of us want to escape the school in some way, but we don’t know how to do it. Like we don’t know how to have our children at home because in society they’ve always gotten on that bus. Well they haven’t always, but like in our recollection in, in our, you know, what our family has passed on to us, that’s what’s happened. And so we need the kind of step back and reorganize our priorities and learn how to live together and learn while we’re living. Or it does get completely overwhelming because the laundry and the dishes, no matter how organized and I’ve tried, like every system there is no matter how organized you are, it’s going to be there.
Speaker 2 (07:24):
And the fact of the matter is that you have children in your house like living and working and playing there all day long. It’s never going to look like better homes and gardens. And I think that that is one thing that people get caught up in because I know before it was a blogger, I loved reading blogs and that’s how I got into it. And often on blogs we put the, this fantastical version of our life out there. And so then you think, well, I need to do it like her and I need, you know, if I could just buy this curriculum get this schedule, you know, whatever it is, pray this many times a day, then, then my life all fall into place. And what I know now, like being on the other side of the blogosphere is that most of that is marketing. There are some people that are extremely put together and they ha they manage to keep their house beautiful all the time. But the reality is the bed is very stressful. And so eliminating overwhelm is really accepting like your own humanly limitations and relying on grace on that. What you’re giving your children is enough. And if your house isn’t perfect, it’s okay because you really need to weigh what your priorities are within your family, within your homeschool that you can’t do everything. You just need to find a balance.
Speaker 1 (08:47):
Yeah. Let’s take a really quick break and then we will come back cause I want to talk a little bit more about this. The home grown generation expo is here. You’ll be encouraged by Kirk Cameron, Heidi st John, Sam Sorbo, Andrew Patois, ginger Hubbard, Lee borns, and many others. You can still register and have lifetime access to the replays of the entire event. Don’t miss out on this exciting expo. Register today for only 20 firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s homegrown generation.com.
Speaker 3 (09:24):
Hey guys, this is Brooklyn Hampton, daughter of the host of the schoolhouse rock podcast. Do you love this show than stop listening. That’s right. Pause the show right now and go leave a review on iTunes or in your favorite podcast app. Let others know how much you love it. Don’t worry. I’ll wait. Did you do it? Great. Now back to the show.
Speaker 1 (09:46):
We’re talking about how to avoid homeschool overwhelm, and before the break we discussed how sometimes we expect things to look a certain way, but it can never really look that way because that’s not reality. And you know, we, I think we have this idea that we need to look like this. Pinterest, perfect homeschool mom, because we see it on Pinterest recently on Facebook. We see it on all the blogs and it looks like all these other, these other moms have it together. And then we start to feel guilty and feel poorly about ourselves because we think, well, why don’t I have it together? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get my act together? Yeah. And I think oftentimes that guilt causes more overwhelm in our minds because then we’re, we’re trying to do even more so that we can, we can be these other be like these other perfect homeschool moms.
Speaker 1 (10:36):
And as you mentioned before, that’s just not a reality. We can’t, we can never do that. And I forget who I was talking to. It was some time a while back and it was a homeschool dad actually, and he said, I’ve realized that I will never, as long as my children are home being homeschooled, I will never have the perfect clean house and have a perfect my, my children, perfectly educated and, and have it all because you cannot have it all. It’s not possible. It’s still, so then because we come in with this idea that we’re bringing kind of the traditional school as we know it into our home, get overwhelmed because it’s not working. And then we just at times feel like just throwing up our hands and saying, okay, this, I’m done. I can’t do this homeschool thing. Clearly I’m not good at it. That is never where we want moms to be. You know, we exist as a ministry schoolhouse rock to encourage moms and say, you, you’ve got this, you can do this. You can do it through the strength and the power of the Holy spirit. And he’s gonna he’s gonna fill in all of the gaps, but give some very practical advice to moms who are feeling really overwhelmed and they’re just feeling like, I, I just can’t do this another day. Everything’s a mess. My life is chaos. How in the world do they move forward?
Speaker 2 (11:58):
Well, I first want to start with news, mentioned the gaps. And I think that that is something that we get caught up in because when I started homeschooling, like I wanted to do cover everything. I wanted to give my kids the best education ever and there was not going to be a single gap anywhere. And what I realized after years is that every education has gaps. I mean, you could spend $150,000 a year for the best prep school there is when your child will still have gaps in their education. So, as a homeschool mom, we need to not fall into that trap of feeling like if we don’t teach them everything, then we will have, then we’ll fail. You know, because learning is a lifelong process and what we need to really do is give them the roots and the love of learning so that they can become lifelong learners and become well educated as a matter of practice, not just when they’re in school.
Speaker 2 (12:55):
So I think that’s the first place to start because I know that when I started kindergarten, like I was trying to teach her everything there was to ever teach, you know, and at one point I had like 12 different subjects on the roster and now that we’re coming towards the end and she’s, you know, probably about a year or two away from finishing because she’s just rapidly wants to get through it. I realized that there’s no way that I could have taught her everything. And every once in a while I think, Oh, there was this and there was that and I realized all I can do is give her that foundation, like that sound foundation, which is where I came up with the name and the wings and you know, set her free and know that I did the best that I possibly could. Was it perfect? No. Could I have done something better? Yes. But at the end of the day, I did everything I possibly could and I gave it my all. And I just let God do the rest. So I think that’s a first place to start to eliminate overwhelm.
Speaker 1 (13:54):
Yeah. Let me say something on that really quickly too, is I feel like if we push our kids so hard because we feel like we have an agenda that has to be met, we’ve got all these boxes that we need to check off. Oftentimes what I’ve seen happen is that it really puts us, puts a strain on our relationship with our children because then it becomes so much about the academics and checking off the boxes instead of building that relationship with our kids. And like you said, and we’re actually going to talk about this in the next episode, is nurturing a love of learning and teaching our kids how to learn. And so I, I think building that relationship with them is so much more important than the academics because when you have that, then they’re going to be more willing to learn anyway. You know, I hear about moms who their kids are kicking and screaming and throwing tantrums and they’re like, you know, they don’t want to learn.
Speaker 1 (14:46):
They don’t want to do anything with school. And oftentimes I’m like, just take a step back, drop for a little while. And by school, I mean the academic part of it, but drop the academics for a little while, build that relationship with your kids and then slowly bring it back in. You don’t have to do everything at once. I mean, you said no, you, you know, you had a list of 12 different things you had to do and you realized that there’s just no way that’s going to work. But building those relationships with our kids and then slowly bringing in the other things that you want them to learn and teach them how to love learning those things.
Speaker 2 (15:22):
Yes. Yes. And I was, when I was caught in a very bad season of overwhelm and struggle with my homeschool, I went to a homeschool conference and Andrew kudo, I happened to be there, go. I didn’t really even know who he was before I went there and I went to all of his conferences and at the end I got to actually speak to him and I kind of poured my heart out and he’s like, it’s okay. Like you’re doing okay. I’m like, but she’s not. He’s like, it’ll come. It’s like, just keep reading and you know, it’ll be okay. And he said, and one thing that he said in one of his conferences that I kind of live by is when nothing is working, just read good books. And so that’s one of the, you know, like that’s really what it comes to him. And that’s where learning comes from, right, is books, not textbooks and workbooks and tests.
Speaker 2 (16:08):
So if it’s all holding apart and you’re overwhelmed, just find a good pile of book and your kids will be learning. Even if it’s not on your schedule, even if it’s not like something you can check off on the curriculum, they’re learning and it gives you a chance to decompress. So we have regular reading week built into a year when everybody just read. And so if they’re behind on their academic reading, then they read that for the week. But otherwise they just find something to read and it gives me a chance to kind of catch my breath in between trimesters, but it also lets them just chase their own interests and not just be stuck in a list of what they have to read.
Speaker 1 (16:47):
Right, right. Yeah, totally. I love, love good books. And there’s there are few better ways to build relationships with our kids than just sitting down with them and just reading a really good book with them. So the other thing that I know you’re passionate about and I have found to be very, very important in homeschooling, especially when we’re feeling overwhelmed, is finding support. And I always, it’s so funny cause when I think about finding support, you know, oftentimes people, especially kind of that millennial crowd will think, well, I’ll just go on Facebook and I’m going to find people there to help support me. And there are a lot of great resources on Facebook and there are a lot of really well meaning people and a lot of really wise people on there who, you know, oftentimes I’ll read comments, questions and comments and I’ll think, yes, you’re right on. And then other times people will put questions on there and there will be answers. And I’m like, no, you are so you, no, no, no, don’t do it that way. And so there’s that social media and of it, but then there’s also of course, local support that people need. So how have you found ways to find good support in your homeschooling and then how do you suggest other people to do that as well?
Speaker 2 (18:00):
It took me a long time to find that because I really had to get out of the school mentality and out of the circles that were connected to the school I came from a long line of public school teachers, so everybody that I knew was somehow, you know, connected the school. And then when my mom friends, like all their kids went to school, I just lost that whole safety net. So there are more homeschoolers out there than anybody realizes. And I realize that some people live in very rural areas, but I guarantee you there’s somebody who’s homeschooling there. And I wish I had known that from the beginning that I hadn’t just pinned, falling, like blog all across the country because I never realized we lived on a little Lake and there were actually three other homeschool families that lived on that Lake.
Speaker 2 (18:44):
And it took me years to find out that they even existed. Wow. So now with social media, it’s easier to find them though, I feel. So if you’d go on Facebook and you put in like your local town or your state and homeschoolers, something will show up. And we are tapped into a very wonderful group of homeschoolers that I actually found randomly to a blog that I followed. There was a spinoff local Facebook group of people who followed it and I actually connect, most of them were homeschoolers. It turned out and I kept it with them and that’s how we got involved with them. And it’s amazing resource because even though we’re spread out pretty far, I mean I’m on the Northern reaches of it. Some people are up to like two hours South or West of here. And we try to meet in central locations.
Speaker 2 (19:32):
It really is wonderful cause our kids have that support and I know that they understand me and they speak the same language. Because I think that’s a big thing when you start homeschooling and people don’t understand it. It’s hard to get that support and you don’t want people to know they are struggling because you don’t want them to say, well see, I told you it never works. Or obviously you just can’t do this because that’s already in the back of your mind. Like, I’m not qualified. I can’t do this. I’m never going to succeed because of the fear. And you need to shut that out. Like don’t let the devil get your year because you know that’s not the truth, but it’s already there. And the only, the last thing you need is for someone to actually say it to you and then it makes it like it’s real.
Speaker 1 (20:15):
Right, right. Yeah. Finding that support is so, so important and people who will will really encourage you and your walk you know, just finding those like-minded families who will say, let’s do this together. Yes. So we are out of time for this podcast, but will you come back again? Yeah, let’s, let’s do a part two because I actually want to talk with you more about nurturing that love of learning in our kids. And then we have a few other things that you have some ways to transform your home and homeschool suggestions on that as well. So, okay, so let’s come next time we will talk more about that. Thank you guys for listening today. Jennifer, where can people find out more about you? If you go to the SoundFoundationsHomeschool.com or you can find me on Pinterest and Facebook at Sound Foundations Homeschool. Okay, great. And we’ll put all of those links, of course, in the show notes that people can find them there. So thank you guys. Have a fantastic day and we will see you back here next time. Bye.