Thanks to the current pandemic, many families are homeschooling their children for the first time. For this episode, we met with Paul and Sarah Kelly, parents to three kids in Massachusetts. Sarah runs a local farmer’s market and Paul is an English and rhetoric teacher at an all-boys Catholic school nearby. Together, they’ve also started a homeschooling group to helping kids grow and connect outside the traditional classroom setting.

For Sarah and Paul, the unique advantage of homeschooling starts with the ability to focus on what matters most at the right age. The Kellys didn’t want their first grader stressed about hitting state-wide testing metrics — they wanted their heads and hearts to be formed as individuals. They structured their children’s early years with plenty of outdoor exploration, reading, and close work with their parents so they could learn the important emotional lessons of childhood based on their own values. And with that strong, family-based foundation, they now feel that their oldest children are well prepared for a more rigorous and structured high school environment.

“As a high school teacher, I think of the high school student I would like to inherit best, what would their traits be?” Paul said. “What kind of academic experiences should they have? They've done some reading, they've done some writing and they've learned some things about discipline, in what it takes to sit down and get through a book.”

When it comes to hitting all their children’s intellectual goals, they go for outside help on certain topics, such as music, math, or reading. It frees up Paul and Sarah to lean on their personal strengths and emphasize lessons of character, faith, wisdom, and service at home. Even just by bringing her kids to the farmer’s market on Saturday, Sarah sees how the interactions of local neighbors sharing something as simple as vegetables has shaped her kids’ perspectives.

“Who's going to teach them to be people to live in society, to contribute, to be a functioning member?” Sarah said. “You see all of that on display on the Saturday morning at the farmer's market, having to be relational and transactional and all those things, it's amazing to see it.”

Over the course of their children’s educations, they’ve used whatever resources they had at their fingertips: public, private, and home-based. Their mixed approach brings a level of peace and balance to what could be a stressful job. And by focusing on leveraging the strengths of each family member, they’ve found how to direct their homeschool environment in a way that works for them and their children.

“The pleasure of teaching your own children is really a unique thing … you go through all of the emotions that kids go through when they're trying to learn something beside their parents. They're proud, they're embarrassed, they're frustrated. And to experience all those emotions with your kids, is very compelling, a great experience,” Paul said.

We hope that Paul and Sarah’s perspective is helpful for parents who are facing homeschooling for the first or tenth time. Check out the full episode here!

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