Tina Robertson is a homeschool mom of three boys, blogger at Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus. And she’s also one of our super-duper guest contributors here!
Have a glimpse into Tina’s life and her homeschooling journey in this exclusive interview.
Tina, tell me a bit about yourself and your family.
My husband and I both are native Texans and we have 3 boys. Mr. Senior 2013 graduated last year. Mr. Awesome will be graduating this next year and Tiny is the youngest, in middle school.
I have a passion for unit studies, lapbooks, history, geography, organization and details.
Too, much of my homeschool journey, I have served in various forms of homeschool leadership whether it was on a formal Board or just as homeschool mom leading a field trip. Though it has been a lot of hard work, it has served to propel me to keep on homeschooling.
Sigh, I wish at times that I was soft-spoken, but I am neither shy, soft-spoken or reserve. It may be the double cup of coffee in the morning, but I am comfortable talking in a group swinging my hands wildly as I talk fast.
When you first heard the word “homeschool,” what went through your mind? Did you ever think you’d eventually homeschool your own children?
My mom homeschooled my younger sister, but I was already a teen in high school.
I remember riding with my mom and sister as we drove to homeschool meetings in various homes. Each week the meeting was at a different home to throw off suspicion to the neighbors that the homeschool kids were truant.
Too, the homeschool kids had to play inside until 3:00 p.m. for fear that the local neighbors would call the police.
One time, we were driving to one of the meetings and my mom told my sister to quickly duck down in the seat because the local police was driving by.
Homeschooling has changed so much since then. And thanks to those homeschool pioneers who went before us, homeschooling is not in the shadows anymore.
With all that empowerment, you would think that I would have all the conviction to homeschool.
I started off homeschooling Mr. Senior 2013 in preschool teaching him how to write his name and to read before entering Kindergarten. Then I turned a big scaredy-cat when Kindergarten approached and fell victim to the he-will-always be-behind syndrome and I put him in public school.
It didn’t take long before I realized that my son, in all my hesitation and being unsure of myself, was way ahead of his Kindergarten class.
I took him out of Kindergarten, dug deep down for determination and never looked back.
What approach(es) have worked best for your family?
Like a lot of new homeschoolers, I felt comfortable using a text book approach because it was the only one I knew at the time.
Then I ventured off down the classical approach, but realized that it did not have enough hands-on activities for my crew of only boys and that there had to be a limit to the superfluous amount of language arts work that we were doing.
Knowing that kids learn best by hands-on and because I wanted a more rounded out approach to covering subjects in a more balanced way, I finally found that unit studies satisfy my sons’ desire to learn until their interest has been piqued.
Too, by adding other topics around a central theme, I find that learning for us is not disjointed. When we cover one topic and fold in science, history and our writing around it, my boys make a learning connection that sticks.
I still like our classical roots, but now, I call us a unit study family with a classical bent.
You’ve just recently moved to South America. What’s it like homeschooling in a foreign country?
At first I was hesitant because unknowingly I had a vision of each of my sons’ homeschooling journey looking somewhat the same.
Because we had a big homeschool co-op and field trip that I formed in Texas, I feel that my older two sons have received a lot of unique experiences and made life-long friends.
Fearing that I would not be able to give my youngest son the same unique experiences, in the short time I have been here, I have learned that his homeschooling venture will be just as unique and enriching but different.
It will be a challenge but we have already met other homeschoolers here from not only various part of the states, but from other countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
We had lunch the other day with a family to tell us about their culture and the geography and living experiences in New Zealand. This is not something my other boys will have.
Quickly, I have realized that there will be no limit to the number of field trip and educational opportunities that my youngest son will have unlike the ones my older set of boys experienced.
We will be planning a field trip to the Galapagos and to the Amazon this next year.
Stay tuned because learning at the equator in Ecuador will be elevating (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun).
What’s the most unique experience your family has had due to homeschooling?
Blessings overflow the longer we have homeschooled. Forming and being involved with our local field trip group nurtured my boys need for friends and it has been such a precious contribution to the lasting memories my boys have.
Certainly the success of having one homeschool graduate is one of my most treasured moments as a homeschooling mom.
Too, with our recent move to South America, we have met one of our goals as a homeschooling family, which is to dive into the adventures of homeschooling in a foreign country.
But with all that being said, having life-long friends who have also homeschooled their children from the beginning is our most priceless treasure.
Your blog, Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus, seems to be a hopping place. Tell me about your passion to help other homeschoolers, and what inspired you to start blogging.
When I started homeschooling, I had an unquenchable desire for details. Many articles I read were too broad for certain questions I had. So many of my blog posts may be
informative long, but I strive with giving you very specific details of a topic I write about.
Too, many homeschoolers struggle not just with the how-tos of homeschooling, but with organization and finding hands-on activities. There are so many topics that affect us when we start to homeschool because of the many hats we have to wear.
Because homeschooling is always changing as I have learned in my journey, I love that the word dynamic in my blog name. It reminds me of the fast changing pace of homeschooling.
Plus, (another pun, I know corny) I love free printables like lapbooks and also organization.
My free 7 Step Homeschool Curriculum Planner was born out of the desire to help others. Unlike a lot of planners that throw one big huge collection of forms that may or may not work for your particular journey, I take you step by step on my blog to choose unique forms for you.
This way you choose and print off the curriculum forms that you need and not forms that stress you out.
So the word plus in my blog name gives me freedom to create unit studies, lapbooks and organizational forms to share for all homeschoolers.
What advice do you have for that homeschool mom out there who’s just too frazzled to keep doing this?
I believe from struggling comes empowerment. Nobody looks forward to tough times in homeschooling, but we will experience them if we homeschool for any length of time.
But when we confront head on the challenges of homeschooling, we emerge more self-confident.
Slowly, as we meet more challenges of homeschooling through the years, we form an impenetrable wall against anything that tries to sabotage our homeschooling efforts.
Simply, we hold dear our struggles because we made a commitment to homeschool. We see the positive changes in our children and in our family and we should place a high price on those things.
I have learned that it’s not the decision to homeschool that should be questioned any longer, but it’s the lack of dedication.
I encourage you to put in as much tenacious effort as you can to make work any circumstance you have been given in homeschooling. Always remember that circumstances are temporary and will change.
Sometimes it’s the people around us we have to change, like the nay-sayers that we might need to either cut-off or curb our association with. Sometimes it can be the need to change and actually be around other homeschoolers who have the same goals as you do so that you are infused with dogged determination.
Homeschooling is both challenging and rewarding. Resist the urge to second-guess your decision. Feed your conviction to homeschool and you will go from frazzled to savoring homeschool freedom.