Lee Binz is a veteran homeschool mom with two grown kids. You might know her from The HomeScholar. She happens to also be one of our super-duper guest contributors here!
Recently, Lee agreed to do an interview about her homeschooling experience. I’m excited to give you a glimpse now into the life of The HomeScholar!
Lee, tell me a bit about your family.
I’ve been married to my husband Matt for 34 years, and we have two grown children. We homeschooled our children from 3rd until 12th grade, when they both received full-tuition scholarships to their first choice university. Now we have our business helping other parents homeschool high school, and we also take care of our elderly parents who live just a few houses away from us.
What made you decide to homeschool? Were there any challenges when you first began?
When we were doing public school, my children were in the gifted education program. We began homeschooling when we recognized the inability of the public school system to meet the needs of our children. I clearly remember the dawning realization that I could do better with both hands tied behind my back, rather than this poor over-whelmed and highly-qualified teacher in the gifted education class. It was a huge stretch and challenge for me. I quickly realized, though, that homeschooling was so much more fun and fulfilling than being a stay at home mom with children away at school. I’d always been committed to staying home with my children, but I sure enjoyed it more, once we began homeschooling.
What homeschool approach did you use, and why?
We used a literature based curriculum, mostly because that’s what my children had used in the gifted education class, and it was the only positive thing about the entire public school experience. My children LOVED the books we read, and were always begging for more books. They enjoyed school so much we often laughed about how wonderful it was. I still have bookshelves full of literature for all ages that my children want me to keep for my grandchildren.
Was there a “typical” homeschool day for your family? What did it look like?
A typical day began early, compared to most homeschoolers. We started at about 8:00 in the morning, with my children reading independently for much of the day. We read books aloud, did science and foreign language together. Our homeschool mostly looked like a child, laying on top of a dog, reading a book in a sun-ray. I suppose that most often they were surrounded by piles of laundry!
Any triumphs or challenges you’d like to share about your journey?
Our biggest triumph was winning the full tuition scholarships to college! They competed with over 100 applicants, and my two children were among the 10 winners. We found out later that winners were evaluated to see how they interacted with the other applicants, when they thought nobody was looking. Or in other words, they were chosen based on socialization! So when people ask me questions like “what about college, what about scholarships, and what about socialization?” I have a great story to tell!
What’s the most unique experience that’s happened to your family because of homeschooling?
We always homeschooled 4 days a week, and used the fifth day to develop the unique passions and interests of our children. That day was filled with piano lessons, swimming, and park days in the younger grades. By high school, my children were filling that spare day with real, meaningful work. My older son taught chess classes to public and private school classes. My younger son worked at a public policy think tank, researching economics and intelligent design.
Did you have any hesitations about continuing your children’s education through High School?
When I first started homeschooling, I was scared and decided to take it year by year, but once we got a couple of years under my belt, I knew it was the perfect decision for our family. I learned to plan ahead, and take “how to homeschool” classes for the future. In elementary school I was learning about how to homeschool high school, so by the time I got there, I really wasn’t afraid of it. That’s why I encourage people to start learning about high school early, so you don’t have a panic attack when 9th grade comes around.
What inspired you to start reaching out to help others homeschooling High School, and start The HomeScholar?
I’m a registered nurse, and I loved being a nurse so I could care for people. I still love to care for people, and this is how I do it now. I help parents homeschool high school, and come alongside other parents to help as much as I can.
What are a couple of challenges facing homeschool families with teens these days?
I think fads are the thing that concern me the most. There is a fad to join a co-op, when that isn’t necessary or even appropriate for some families. There is a fad to do dual enrollment in high school, even though it’s often a “Rated R” environment that is not always a good fit. And I see a fad of excessive use of online classes, and digital media curriculum, even though the problems with technology are growing and becoming more dramatic. It’s okay for families to homeschool at home with books, choosing curriculum that fits your own unique child
What’s one of the best pieces of advice you were given, that you’d pass along to a mom homeschooling High School?
Your goal is to keep your children challenged, but not overwhelmed. Know your child and trust yourself – you have what it takes to get this job done.