If you are currently homeschooling or have ever considered homeschooling, this episode will be such an encouragement to you! As a homeschool mom who has graduated two children, Leigh lends her homeschool coaching voice to this fascinating conversation about homeschooling as a lifestyle.
Make sure you stick around until the end of the episode to hear us address some of the most common fears we hear about homeschooling. While it’s not always the easiest choice, homeschooling offers so many beautiful benefits to the entire family. Join us for this discussion!
In this episode, we cover:
- How homeschooling as a lifestyle differs from other school approaches
- What it takes to adjust your mindset to a new way of schooling
- The practicals of what deschooling looks like
- How homeschooling strengthens family relationships
- Recognizing and embracing your family culture within your homeschool
- How homeschooling supports the unique personality of each child
- The importance of free time and boredom for children
- How homeschooling as a lifestyle makes space for children to access self-motivation
- What your kids can gain from living a natural, simple lifestyle even in the suburbs
- Some surprising ways homeschooling impacts the parent/child relationship
- Why you are qualified to homeschool and other common fears about homeschooling
- Letting our kids’ natural curiosity drive their education
Thank you to our sponsors!
Toups and Co Organics uses nourishing, organic ingredients to create simple and safe skincare products. Toups and Co is offering my listeners 10% off any one purchase with the code FARMHOUSE. Visit ToupsandCo.com to order today. And check out my interview with the founder of Toups and Co, Emilie, to find out more about this amazing company and their products.
In my free Blogging Success Masterclass, I will teach you my 4-step framework for going full-time with blogging, how to avoid the most common mistakes new bloggers make that I learned the hard way, and how to make it all work with just a few hours a day. Visit bit.ly/FarmhouseBloggingSchool to find out how you can earn a full-time income by sharing what you love!
Leigh is a kingdom-minded wife, homeschool mom of three children, and homeschool coach. Through her podcast, Little By Little Homeschool, and her online course and membership, Leigh helps homeschool moms create and embrace a homeschool lifestyle that reflects their unique family.
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Lisa Bass Welcome back to the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. Today I am chatting with my good friend, Leigh, from Little by Little Homeschool. We are going to talk about homeschool, obviously. She has already graduated a student. She’s still in the thick of homeschooling, but she’s on the other side of it in some respects as well. And so she’s going to offer her encouragement for moms who maybe doubt their ability to homeschool. But then also for those of you who are in the thick of it, why it is so important, why we value it. As you all know, I’ve been homeschooling with my kids from day one, and I am very, very into homeschooling. I probably don’t go into it even as much as I should. Mostly because, like Leigh and I—we just finished the interview—we were just chatting a little bit afterwards, and we were talking about some of the things I feel like I’m not allowed to say that I’m sure some of you are like, “I wish you would just say it.” But it can be a hot topic because not everybody has the same opinions on it. Mine are strong, but whether you are interested in homeschooling or just curious, join us for a very inspiring discussion.
Lisa Bass My name is Lisa, mother of seven and creator of the blog and YouTube channel Farmhouse on Boone. Join me as I share with you my love for creating a handmade home, from-scratch cooking, and a little mom and entrepreneur life along the way.
Lisa Bass Hey Leigh, thank you so much for joining me to talk about homeschooling. This is something that I don’t really talk about on here a whole lot, but when I do, I get a lot of moms who are happy that I talked about it because it’s something that a lot of us are in the trenches of doing daily. So let’s start with introductions. Tell us about you, your family, your homeschool experience, your podcast or whatever else you want to share.
Leigh Nguyen Sure. Yeah. So I am Leigh Nguyen and I podcast over at Little by Little Homeschool. So I got into homeschooling— this is— I’m in my 12th year right now, and I have two graduates, and I’m down to one kiddo who’s in ninth grade, which I feel like is the reward for all the years that I’ve kind of done and put in. And so kind of got into homeschooling not planning on it. Kind of a reluctant homeschooler and just really felt God calling us to do so. So here I am at this point now, and you and I connected years ago over home DIY, decor. And about a year and half ago, I felt called to just kind of move away from that a bit and really focus in on homeschooling and encouraging moms that are coming into homeschooling because I didn’t have that when I started homeschooling.
Lisa Bass Yeah. Did you mention the name of your podcast as well?
Leigh Nguyen Yeah. Yeah. So it’s Little by Little Homeschool.
Lisa Bass Okay. Yeah. That’s your blog and your podcast.
Leigh Nguyen Yeah, yeah. When I was like, all right, I’m going to do this homeschool stuff. What am I going to name it? And I just kind of was thinking about it for a while and I was like, nope, we’re just going to stick with Little by Little. That’s the theme we’ve got going on.
Lisa Bass Yeah. So what is your philosophy on homeschool? You mentioned homeschool as a lifestyle. Can you explain that idea to anyone who is new to it?
Leigh Nguyen Yeah. So a lot of us come into it with a mindset that we grew up with public school, basically, and we think of it as two separate, different things. And really it just can be an entire way that we do our life. And I see you and your family do that as well. So it really is just an opportunity. Homeschooling as a lifestyle is an opportunity for us to do life with our children and to lay that foundation of— I like to say, “Who are the adults, who are the people you want to put out in the world? Let’s lay that foundation for those people.” So that’s really what I kind of think of as when we think about homeschooling as a lifestyle. I guess really the basis is we have this time with our children at home and let’s lay that foundation well and be intentional about it.
Lisa Bass Yeah, it sounds really obvious when you say it like that: “Well, we’re just going to educate through the lifestyle.” But I find that this is actually a really hard thing for moms—especially moms who have done the traditional school system for a really long time—to wrap their heads around. So you go from something that’s very separate and structured and then it’s supposed to naturally integrate into your life. So how do you see this being something that’s hard to grasp whenever someone maybe pulls their kids out of school? And then how do subjects like math, history, science, some of those things, tie in to a natural homeschooling? And I guess I forgot to ask this question— did your kids go to school before you started homeschooling as well? So is this something that you also dealt with?
Leigh Nguyen Yes. Yeah, exactly. So my past education was all public school and my husband went to private school. So homeschooling wasn’t anything that was on our radar. My daughter went to public school up through second grade. My middle kiddo, my older son, he went to kindergarten. And then my youngest went to one year of preschool and then pulled them all home. So when I started homeschooling, I had a third grader, a first grader, and a preschooler.
Lisa Bass Okay. Mm hmm. Yeah. So the question’s kind of about, like, how do you shift your mindset—even though that sounds really straightforward, we’re going to teach through a lifestyle—how do you shift your mindset from that? And what distinctions are there from this very different model?
Leigh Nguyen Right, mostly because of my background of making that shift, I give a lot of grace to homeschool moms because I really think that it is a journey that we go on. And I’m starting to see, though, more and more homeschool moms that already have done this mindset shift when their kids were little and babies. But a lot of us that are further down the road and have older children haven’t had the opportunity, haven’t had that spoken into us. So it is really something that we learn as we go through it and as we do this life with our kids. And so I think we really— the first thing is to give ourselves grace and understand that there is a mindset shift and it’s not going to happen right away. And that’s why— I don’t know if you’ve heard of the term “deschooling” at all. Are you familiar with that?
Lisa Bass Is it similar to unschooling?
Leigh Nguyen So yeah, so unschooling is more of a homeschool style, the way that you actually homeschool. Deschooling is described as that period of time that you take— especially if you have kids that have been in school and you take them out of school— and sometimes often with older kiddos, it’s harder for them to acclimate. They’re like, “Wait a minute, you’re mom and teacher and we have to do math here at the kitchen table?” And they don’t really know how does that look? What is that like? And so deschooling is a time where— basically it’s like a decompression, and you just kind of let go of all of those preconceived notions that you have of school and education and also that you might have of homeschool. And it just kind of gives you some time just to live as a family and really get to know each other. Depending upon how long your kids have in school and how long you’ve been separated and kind of fragmented out as a family, it can take a while to rebuild those relationships. So really a great thing to do is deschooling. Some people are more hesitant about it and that’s okay. Not every family wants to jump in and do some type of deschooling, which you could take a very unschooling approach, and a lot of families look at it as unschooling. So yes, deschooling can take an unschooling model—a style of homeschooling. But then you can also, after that, if you want to get to be more traditional homeschoolers, you can. Or if you want to move into the unschooling model that you enjoy that, then they can do that as well. But really there’s just this mindset shift of separating out because we’re so used to school academics and this is the way that we do school is the kids go to the building and they do school and then they come home, we have our snacks, we do homework, sports practice and all those things. And it’s really a time of learning how to be a family together. And at that point, you can kind of decide what kind of style of homeschooling. What do you feel most comfortable with? Like I mentioned, traditional homeschooling. A lot of homeschoolers tend to go to that first because that feels comfortable. It’s like a safe place in order to feel like you are educating your children because it can feel scary, like, my kids aren’t going to be prepared for the future if I don’t do it this way.
Lisa Bass Yeah. So could this look—for a lot of families—like a year that you don’t buy a formal curriculum and you spend a lot of time maybe going on field trips? Or how does that process look? Because the reason I’m asking you this is I’ve seen a lot of families who really desire to homeschool, really feel that God has led them to that, and then they do it for about a year, and because their mindset hasn’t shifted around it being school at home versus a whole different thing, they quit because if you are actually trying to be a teacher to five different grade levels and do all the things that a teacher does at a regular school, it is going to probably set yourself up for failure. So how does that look so that way that doesn’t happen?
Leigh Nguyen Yeah, it can be a personal choice. And I have worked with families that have different takes on it. Some are willing to give it a few weeks. Some are like, “That’s all I can do. It just is too hard to do to let go too much.” I’ve heard around the homeschool corners, they might say to give a month for every year a kid is in school. But that’s really hard if you have like a ninth grader, like nine months. I don’t know if I can let go that much. I suggest to people that if it’s too hard to completely let go of things, to maybe just focus on reading and math and let the rest of the— let the history and the science become a bit more natural. Like you said, field trips— go to the science museum, go out into the world into nature. And there’s so many— I mean, when it comes to science, it’s so easy to be able to find those things. And then history, if you live especially in a area that has a lot of historical sites and places, you can go and visit those. So it really can be a time that is personal to a family. But I also encounter sometimes a wife really wants to homeschool and the husband, the dad isn’t really quite sure about it. And so when she presents, like, how about deschooling, he’s like not into it. I’m like, “Okay, let’s just stick with more of a traditional approach.” But back to your question about quitting after a year, it can, it can feel so overwhelming. So when we think about public school and say you have a third grade teacher, so this third grade teacher is going to teach, yes, different children every single year. It’ll be a different group of 20 kids. But she’s basically doing the same thing every year. When it comes to homeschooling, it’s not the same. As you know, it’s not the same every single year. Every year can be very, very different depending on the ages you have and the personalities and what your focus is on those years. What are your lessons that you want to take time to impart to your kids and where you want to spend your time? There are years, there are going to be years— and I won’t lie, there’s years I wanted to quit, too. And it just goes with when things get hard, we want to quit. But I’m so glad I didn’t. Here I am on the other end after graduating two high school students, and at this end, I’m like, wow, it was worth all that time. It was worth those times of not quitting and telling my husband beforehand, “Don’t let me quit. No matter what, don’t let me quit because I know that there is a reward to this. I know that there’s a benefit and a blessing to this.” Especially if God’s called you to such a thing, it can be hard to keep pushing through, but just keep leaning on him. And maybe that’s a year where you feel like quitting. Maybe that’s the year you step back from some very rigorous academics and you just take that year and do a bit more of an unschooling approach if you’ve been doing something that’s more of a traditional approach.
Lisa Bass Yeah. Yep, I totally agree. Usually whenever we get criticism from anybody that’s not in the homeschooling world who has a lot of questions about why you might be homeschooling, it usually is because they’re thinking of it as you trying to do school the way school is done in public school at home, and they’re just like, “How could you possibly do that?” And I’m like, “Well, it’s a little bit different. It actually looks a lot different than that.” You talked about it being worth it. What benefits have you noticed from homeschooling your kids, particularly homeschooling as a lifestyle? Now that you have a graduate, what kind of encouragement from the other side can you give us?
Leigh Nguyen Yeah, I would say the biggest benefit for us has been relationships. And we just have had time. It just sometimes would make me teary eyed when I’d look over and I would see one of my children maybe struggling with math and I’m like, okay, I’m not ready to quite step in. I want them to feel this a little bit. And then I’ll look over and I’ll see their sibling just kind of tap them on the shoulder and just kind of give them a smile, just like a nod, like you’ve got this. And so I’ve seen the three of my children have such strong, close relationships, and I think that’s because of the time that we’ve had together. And that doesn’t mean that if your kids go to public or private school, they can’t have those. But I really think there’s a different level of relationship that comes with the time over years. And we go on field trips, like that’s your buddy for the field trip. That’s who you’re going with. I would say relationships is the biggest thing that we have seen as a family is that we’ve got this bond that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Lisa Bass Yeah, that’s been our driving factor, too. We made the decision to homeschool whenever I was pregnant with my first child. So this was never even a question for us that we were entrusted to this child and we will spend time with this child. And it’s looked different over the years. It’s taken many different forms. We’ve had more kids since then. My husband came home to work with my blog and my business over four years ago, and so now he’s here. So in the beginning, obviously, it was just me for eight years and four kids. It’s looked different over the years and we have different challenges. Certain kids are so easy to teach math and reading to. Some kids are so not. It’s just been a night and day difference. But like you said, there’s really nothing that can replace that time together. And I know in some ways we want to sugarcoat it and be like, “Well, but you still— you can do these certain things.” But really, the more time you spend together, those relationships are just going to be easier to develop. And that’s been our experience, too. This family culture that we’ve built around— with learning together, spending all of our waking hours together. And that’s not to say that we don’t have separate times, like this in the afternoon, we have kids over there and kids over there. This is usually a time that we do more of that kind of stuff, but there’s a lot of time to work on those relationships, good or bad, you know?
Leigh Nguyen Yeah. Yeah. And I felt that growing up. I had three younger brothers and didn’t really form solid relationships until we were older and in college because we were just kind of fractured and out. And that was really the time— and they’re awesome. I love our relationship now. So it doesn’t mean that you can’t get that time or anything, but yeah, just homeschooling, by being there day in and day out, by seeing each other in the high moments of when they’ve accomplished something, working on their typing program and learning how to type on their computer and “Hey, I passed this certain level,” or something, and they can all cheer for each other. And yeah, not that we’re not separated out and don’t do separate things sometimes, but just having that overall we just keep coming back to each other.
Lisa Bass Mhm. Yeah. I always think about how, now, my best relationship is with my sister, but we spent all of our grade school and high school years developing relationships with other people that— not that they’re not still people that we talk to every six months or so, but my everyday person that I talk to, that we get together, that has been the most lasting relationship through it all. Like the other ones didn’t end up— not that they can’t. I’m not saying that they can’t, that people don’t have lifelong friends. But the person that has understood the most about my life situation, that relationship has been the most meaningful, is that relationship as a child. And so I’m like, man, I wish I had spent more time just working on that one when I was a kid and my other sisters versus like— I don’t know. You know what I mean? And I’m not trying to say that there’s not value in that. And my kids have friends, too. But the most valuable relationships they’re building are within this family culture.
Leigh Nguyen Yep. I completely agree. And we run into that with kids, especially as they get older. Friendships become really important to them. And there were times where friends were kind of pulling kids, and I would get them together and I’d be like, “Look. Look at this person right here. This is who you’re going to be doing Christmas with in 20 years, not that other kid or something.”
Lisa Bass Right. Yes.
Leigh Nguyen This is who—when mom and dad are old and having trouble—this is who is going to be by your side to walk you through those times. And so just kind of pointing that out to my kids. They have different personalities. Some kids I have to speak like that a little bit more to and a little more straightforward.
Lisa Bass Oh, yeah. We have certain ones that buddy off, too. It’s not necessarily based on age, it’s not necessarily based on gender with who ends up being the best of friends. But ultimately, I’m like, “These ones are going to still be here for you later no matter what,” you know?
Leigh Nguyen Yeah, exactly. Mm hmm. I feel the same way.
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Lisa Bass Okay. With homeschooling as a lifestyle, how have you seen— you work with a lot of homeschool families. How have you seen this look very different for different families? Can you think of a few homeschool moms that you’ve personally met as examples of how different homeschooling as a lifestyle can look?
Leigh Nguyen Yeah, it’s actually been really fun. When you asked me this question, then, prior, I was like, “Oh.” I actually knew right off the top of my head who I was thinking of, a couple of different families. And just in my personal life, I have some families that— I’m thinking of one specific family that is very science-focused. And they have gone to every science museum that they possibly could ever go to. They do experiments. They do high-level science is what they’ve done, not that they haven’t done the other subjects as well. And the neat thing is to watch— their kids have all gone on to college and into science, technology, engineering type of future jobs and courses of study.
Lisa Bass Right.
Leigh Nguyen And so then there’s other families that you’ll see that are more focused on the arts and music and maybe the humanities. And then other families, and think of your family and you guys—from what I see—is focused on the homesteading and family time together and just creating this family culture together and learning how to work and take care of animals and what does that all look like? More of an integrated— so it’s actually been really neat to be able to work with families. Through my course, I’ve been able to directly talk to different families who are just getting into homeschooling or have been homeschooling and just watch them realize that they have a family culture and to figure that out with their husband and then to embrace that and be like, “That’s okay.” Because we can oftentimes— especially with social media, you know, you’ll see families out there, and we’ll often think, as homeschool moms, like, “She’s doing so well and she’s doing it this way, so I need to do it that way.” But maybe that style of homeschooling doesn’t really jive with you, or it might not jive with you in this season of life. And we can really compare instead of just embracing exactly what we’re supposed to be doing right now in this season with our children at this age and as far as homeschooling and just our entire lifestyle. So yeah, I can specifically think of families that are very focused on specific areas and some that are very academic and rigorous. Other ones that they raise like biblical theologians because that was their focus. And not that we don’t include the Bible, include scripture and those kinds of things, but these children have gone on to become pastors and leaders in the church. And it’s just a way that we kind of can focus. But that doesn’t mean that just because a family focuses in on that, that your kids definitely have to go down that path. I’ve kind of taken more of an approach of looking at my children individually—especially during the high school years—and creating a high school curriculum, I guess you could say curriculum loosely, or just experiences that will meet the gifts and the abilities that I see in them as well as their interests, and then just kind of steer them in that path. Because as you know, when you have kids, they all can be very different. And so that’s kind of a bit more of my approach when it comes to the older grades.
Lisa Bass I think it’s important, too, to talk about different people being better suited to do different things because that is what’s so beautiful about homeschool, that you can tailor to someone’s individual personalities. Like nobody in our family is going to be one of those super rigorous academic type. They just don’t come from— like, it’s just not going to happen. We just aren’t— you know, I admire people like that, but there aren’t going to be children from me and Luke who end up like that. We’re definitely going to have more of a creative approach and very experimental with a lot of things. And so that’s what we’ve witnessed with our kids. Now, of course, there’s differences within the kids. There’s certain ones who are better at some things than others, but I really like what you said about observing some people, and they go all in on science. Their kids become engineers or doctors, and they were able to tailor the education to those leanings, which is what is so, so beautiful about homeschool. It doesn’t require everybody to be the same. And that’s something I had to learn very early on. I had to be okay with the fact that our homeschool, just based on our personality types, is going to look different from some other person that I maybe know in real life who is a very different type of person. It’s okay. I don’t have to compare myself to them. I don’t have to think maybe my kids would be better off if I force them to be like this, which in reality, they’re not. Because there are natural leanings for things. This isn’t just something that is a result of how you are educated. You send all the kids to the same school, and they all come out very different. And that’s because there’s personalities that are innate.
Leigh Nguyen Yeah. And I like how you said a person. Like us as moms are all very different. You get together just ten different homeschool moms, we’re going to be very different. For all of our homeschools to look alike would not make sense. So, of course, our homeschools are all going to be very individual, too. And I really think we need to— my tagline from my podcast is “create and embrace your homeschool lifestyle.” And just the fact that there is a lifestyle for your family, and we just need to embrace that. And I think that comes down to also us as moms, as women, just embracing who we are as people and realizing that God has given us specific gifts and talents and abilities. And those can come out when it comes to homeschooling. And sometimes if we don’t know what those are in our life, it’s always good to ask somebody. What do you see in me as my— the way that I am and my gifts and my talents? What does this look like? And you can get some insight. And children, you can ask them as well. And they’ll just very honestly let you know what they see. And they also are a reflection of us. And as you’re saying, our kids aren’t going to possibly be like this. That does mean they’re going to be anything less. We just all have a place to fill in this world. And we all have gifts and all have ways that we can minister and to be and to be with people. And yeah, it’s just a beautiful thing to realize that we’re all can be very different and it’s actually really a good thing.
Lisa Bass Yeah. And it’s fun being able to give your kids opportunities to do things that they’re going to thrive in. So some people are very naturally athletic. So maybe you give that kid the access to do a lot of athletic pursuits. Some kids need craft supplies. Some kids might need building materials. I love that freedom with homeschool that you figure out what it is that your kids are naturally drawn to, you give them everything they need to do it, and then you give them time that’s very unstructured so that they can actually pursue those interests. That’s something that—in the last maybe five years, since we now have 14-year-old, 12-year-old, 9-year-old, that I’ve noticed more and more is, oh, these kids can actually do real stuff. Like they can make a real meal and pie or dress from scratch. I’m actually looking out the window on the line hanging a dress that my daughter just made for my other daughter. That’s because around age seven or eight, she started experimenting with stuff. And then over time, she’s just had a lot of time to just kind of fiddle around with sewing endeavors. And I love that. I love that kids who are homeschooled just have so much time and freedom just to try stuff.
Leigh Nguyen No, I completely agree. And the time is a huge thing. And there’s been times where my kids are like, “Well—” you know, they’re kind of giving me a little bit of a hard time. And I’m like, “You see the bus out there? Just wait.” You know, it’s like 8 hours later, “There goes the bus again. You would have missed— look at all that you have done.” And that took me a little bit of time to realize, too, as a new homeschooler, that time is actually a really good thing. And once I kind of embraced that, I was like, “Okay, in the morning we’ll do our formal academics and our formal curriculum.” And depending upon the age, that might not even take the entire morning, but then definitely giving them the afternoon. And even as high schoolers, people will say, “Well, how long does it take to do homeschool high school? Probably like 6 hours.” I’m like, “No, probably maybe like three or four at the very most.” And their afternoons are free, and the things that they are able to create— it’s bigger. Like you were saying, introducing her to some sewing and now she’s actually making a dress. So where it starts off maybe just drawing, sewing, making a little square pillow, and then it grows into being able to make an entire dress. And yes, I’ve seen the same thing with my kids. So time is a huge thing that I think that we downplay or that we think isn’t as important as it really is.
Lisa Bass Or even that it’s bad in some ways. We live in a culture that every moment is very segmented out. And I know when I first was a mom and— well, first I was married, then I was a mom, there was this time and I didn’t know what to do with it because my entire life, my every waking hour was scheduled out. And so I like that homeschoolers— like we don’t give our kids phones or anything. And I have noticed— and I’m sure this is not true across the board. You could implement certain restrictions and whatnot so that this doesn’t happen even if your kid goes to school, but I have noticed just from some kids that have came over who go to school or who have phones, in particular, that as soon as there’s a down moment, the kids don’t know what to do with themselves. They have to get on the phone and occupy their mind. And so I love that there’s just time to be bored. And they have all this time to try to figure out something. We don’t like being bored as humans. And so with that time, they end up figuring out something good to do with it because they don’t want to be bored, whether it’s play or they’re actually doing something productive. Our schedule looks a lot like yours where we get everything done in the morning, and then we have lunch and then we have a lot of time to do those kind of pursuits that— I don’t know, I feel like I just didn’t have time to explore. And if I would have had time, I probably wouldn’t have known what to do with that time. And so I love being able to teach kids how to be self-starters in little pockets of time that— I don’t know, I think it’s a lost skill.
Leigh Nguyen Yeah, I completely agree. I think back to my own self. Just like you, I didn’t have free time. There was school, snack, homework, maybe sports practice or something, club, and then heading to bed. And my kids have had time. And I think back to like where would I be in life if I had had that time? So giving my kids time— my kids have specific interests, and my daughter has really dived into natural health and gardening and just all that goes into that. She’s had freedom to read books and to explore things. We started a book club with some friends, and that was just her interest was that and the arts. And she’s self-taught herself how to watercolor and just all these artistic pursuits. And then my now 18-year-old, I graduated him after three years because he was just done. He is an entrepreneur at heart, and he started off with just chopping up some firewood and selling like in front of our house and progressed then to a little lawn mowing business. And now this past year he is running a six-figure lawn care business that pretty much was his homeschool for his 11th grade year. He did do some stuff, but that was just— I found by giving him time that he caught the entrepreneur bug. And whereas I couldn’t get him to read other books, he wasn’t interested in fiction anymore, and so I was like, “Okay, maybe we’ll try historical books or biographies or historical fiction.” He didn’t want that.
Lisa Bass Not so much.
Leigh Nguyen And somewhere he came across Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. Read that and he was like—
Lisa Bass This is it.
Leigh Nguyen “That’s what I’m going to do.” And I’ve been chasing him ever since and helping him figure that out and to work on that. And then my youngest, he’s 14 now, and so watching him just kind of figuring out what exactly is he interested in. He likes more of the computers and the technology, and so giving him access to resources and taking him to library programs. And he built a whole computer. We went to a library program and they were offering them to build a whole computer, it was like a grant program or something. He came home with a whole computer which is something that my other kids wouldn’t have been interested in.
Lisa Bass Right.
Leigh Nguyen Okay. So it’s just really neat to be able to watch and give them time to be able to hone those skills so that when they’re done with their formal years of high school, they’re set up to go on to whatever it is, whether it is college or whether it is they’re running their own business or whether it is my daughter stepping into a position with a ministry and doing what she really wants to do. So it’s really giving them that time to figure that out. And so I think to myself, where would I be if I had that free time? But then you end up feeling, like you said, we as people need to fill that time and we find things that interest us and fill it up.
Lisa Bass Taking a break from this great conversation to tell you about my free blogging masterclass. The way that Luke and I are able to stay home on our homestead, milking the cow every morning, raising our kids side by side, baking sourdough bread, the way that we are able to have all this time to do this is because of my blogging business. And of course, there’s more than one way to be able to homestead, but this is what has made it possible for us to do this together. I started the blog in 2016 and by 2018 it was our full-time job. So not very long after. Now I made a lot of mistakes along the way. I feel that I could have gotten there a lot faster if I’d known what I was doing. In my free one-hour masterclass, I will show you my four-step framework that I use to become a full-time blogger. I’ll also share the most common mistakes that new bloggers make that I learned the hard way so that you don’t have to. And I still see bloggers making these mistakes constantly. And how to make it work on just a few hours a day. I have office hours so that I can separate my life from blogging, and I also share that with you. Now, over the years, I’ve also added on a few more aspects to the business like this podcast. But blogging remains my favorite way to connect with my audience and earn an income because it requires me to be less personal. I can share things that really help people, like recipes. I can focus on my photography. The house doesn’t have to be quiet. After recording this podcast, I’m going to go inside and do some blog work, which means I’m going to put in my earbuds, listen to a podcast or something I enjoy, photograph a recipe that I’ve been working on. It’s the most laid back part of my business and sometimes I want to quit everything and just be a blogger. I recently got an email from somebody who was thinking about becoming a blog course student, and she said that she had been doing some research online and learned that blogging is dead, and so she would like to learn other things like how to be an Instagrammer or be a podcaster or YouTuber. All great businesses. I’m not knocking any of them because I do all of them. But I do want to let you in on a little secret: my blogging income still surpasses all of those, and it requires the least amount of my time. I know some of you are probably thinking, well, why do you just quit everything and make more blog posts? Honestly, I’m thinking about that a lot of times, to be completely honest, but I do love connecting with you in this way. If you want to check out my Free Blogging Success Masterclass, you can get that at bit.ly/FarmhouseBloggingSchool. I’m also working on the new 2023 planner, so that will be out soon. It’s a very robust planner with all kinds of checklists and goals and practical tips and places to actually make all that work within a planner. So that is a bonus that you’ll get to check out over there as well. Again, head over to bit.ly/FarmhouseBloggingSchool to learn about my favorite business in all of this online craziness by far, blogging.
Lisa Bass What I think is so cool about all those things you just mentioned is you didn’t really have to make your kids do any of that stuff. They kind of just had these certain interests. And I always tell my kids that. They’ll do things— like the other day, my daughter, they had a game night at church, and she got this idea that she was going to make her own game. She came out on her Cricut and she made all these pieces and she used a 3D doodler pen to make little pawns. And I told her that that would have been an assignment when I was a kid. Like, we would have had this big looming thing where you have to make a game by next Friday. It’d be like, “Ugh, how am I going to get that done?” Whereas with these kids, they always are doing things that I’m like, “That would have been an assignment, but somehow you’re just doing it because it’s fun for you. But okay.” I don’t know, they’re always doing things like that, like your daughter wanting to look into natural health and the garden. Or like your son starting that business. I went to college and I got a marketing degree. We had to have a business plan for a fake business. I had next to no interest in that. But I’m like, why would I not just have started a business? Clearly, I’m entrepreneurial. Why did I have to go to school, they had to tell me to make this fake business that now I look back, I got an A on it, but like, that was a bad idea. That wasn’t going to make it. But anyways, I don’t know. I just like that you don’t have to actually make them.
Leigh Nguyen Yeah, I think it’s why homeschoolers are sometimes they’re called weird because they do things that— whereas other places would be an assignment, they just do it on their own. I remember my daughter was in fifth or sixth grade, and she asked to write a research paper. And I was like, “Really?” I was like, “Okay.” So I gave her the resources to know how to write a research paper because that’s what she wanted to do. And she wanted to write. She’s an excellent writer. And that’s something else she does on the side is write short stories and things that would have been— that I would have been like, that would have been assigned and I would have hated every moment of it. But she’s chosen to do that and wants it.
Lisa Bass Exactly. Why does it—when it becomes an assignment—why, then, do you hate every moment of it? But I totally got my wings when I got out of school and I’m like, “Oh, now I can do whatever I want.” And I’m like, turns out, I actually liked this all the time, but whenever you made me do it, I hated it. Maybe that’s a personality thing, and so maybe that’s why I’m like, wait, this doesn’t work. Unless you let people come up with the idea themselves, they don’t want to do it. But that could just be my own personality. I’m not sure. But I find them doing stuff all the time. And I’ll say, you are such homeschoolers. And the other day my daughter was like, “When you say you’re such homeschoolers, is that like a bad thing?” I’m like, “No, no, no, not a bad thing.” But it’s when they do things like make their own game that I’m like, “You’re such a homeschooler.”.
Leigh Nguyen That’s so funny you say that because my kids made their own games, too. It was this huge board, and they tried to explain the rules. And I was like, “Let’s work on this a little bit more.”
Lisa Bass Yeah, well, my 14-year-old—she’s almost 14, I guess she’ll be 14 when this episode comes out—she made up a game that actually people could play, but then my 9-year-old was like, “I want to do that.” And then he brought down this thing with all this, and he was like— he was explaining the rules for like 25 minutes. And we were like, “Buddy, this is not going to work. Nobody can follow along with your game here.” But yeah, that’s kind of how the second rendition went. But the first rendition, it was actually a pretty good little game. People enjoyed playing it.
Leigh Nguyen That’s so fun. Did she bring it to the church game night?
Lisa Bass Yeah, yeah. They played it.
Leigh Nguyen Good. That’s awesome.
Lisa Bass I know. That’s those moments where I’m like, “Oh, man, you’re such a homeschooler.” I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s just that they get to come up with the idea themselves that makes it more fun. I’m not sure.
Leigh Nguyen I think it’s funny you say when “you’re such a homeschooler.” My kids, too. And now they’re older, we can have conversations, and I’ll be like, “Oh, those are really homeschooler homeschoolers. Like, they really are homeschoolers.” So we can have jokes and stuff because they understand at this point. When they were younger, they didn’t understand those types of things. But yeah, it’s fun when they’re older and they’re like, “Yeah, I get what you mean.” But that’s also been a huge benefit to homeschooling, is that my kids were all taught to be weird, but like literally every single person in the world is weird in some way.
Lisa Bass Yeah.
Leigh Nguyen And when we’re in school, we’re just felt to like we have to hide that weirdness. We all want to fit in. And as homeschoolers, I’m like, you’re just around your siblings all the time. Every day, all day. I mean, we do things, obviously. I don’t keep them sheltered in my house, but they kind of have that freedom. And then if they do go to co-op, everyone else is being weird in their weird way too. And so they kind of feel comfortable to just be weird in their weird way. And it’s just freedom. Freedom in that way, too, to just kind of be themselves is what I’ve seen as a huge benefit to homeschooling.
Lisa Bass Yeah. Yeah. Okay. On your social platforms, you talk about living a more simple, natural, homemade life in the suburbs. How has this taken shape for you and what learning opportunities has it afforded your kids as you homeschooled them in the suburbs? I think you moved. You haven’t always lived where you live, right?
Leigh Nguyen Right. So we were in the suburbs, moved states, moved to the country. About three years, we lived in an old farmhouse. That’s when you and I connected way back on Instagram. So lived in that farmhouse, kind of fixed it up. We weren’t necessarily meaning to flip it, but then we ended up back in the suburbs, but different suburbs in a different state. And so that time, that couple of years that we had there and just felt a little bit more kind of sheltered, but in a good way. It was a good way for us to kind of get our wings underneath us or our feet or whatever that saying. Just to kind of really lean into who we were. And so moving here and just especially in the past couple of years have been like, I’m done with all the craziness of trying to keep up with everything and keep up with fashion or the latest trends in decorating. I’ve always kind of had a heart towards simplicity. I’m like, okay, so how do I do that here in the suburbs? I can’t have chickens in my backyard. I can’t have a cow. I can have a dog and a cat, probably a couple of them. But I can’t, as far as town code, have these types of animals and I’m like, okay, so how can I simplify things? And we had already moved towards just a more homemade— you know, I cook all three meals— well, lunch, we have leftovers. I make big dinners, really big dinners, so we can have leftovers for lunch. And just how can I do that in a way that is simple? And just also, then for me, supporting the community that we live in. So we get our raw milk and our eggs and our meat from local farms. So between that and I do a lot of ordering from Azure Standard. I don’t know, I think, do you order stuff from them?
Lisa Bass Yes, yes, I do. I have to pick up an order tomorrow.
Leigh Nguyen Okay. Good. Mine comes next week. And then whatever I don’t— whatever I forget to order, I just kind of supplement with Aldi or something like that. So we just really, as far as simple, natural, and homemade, is just us just trying to just be us and just kind of cancel out the noise of the culture and the world of telling us that we need to keep up with all of these latest gadgets. And we’ve made different changes to just kind of keep those sort of things out and not really focus on those. We do a ton of DIYs. We do pretty much most, most things. When my husband and I got married, the funny thing is that he didn’t even own a hammer. And I even think he knew how to swing a hammer. I think the first thing we— I think we bought a hammer so I could hang up some pictures in our apartment that we were living in. And so he didn’t know how to do any of those things. And at this point, we’ve gotten 20 plus years of marriage and four different houses, and he’s pretty much almost built additions and been able to build a shed and build all these things that he didn’t know how to do before. And so we’ve really— when it comes to that kind of stuff, as well as cooking and the kitchen and cleaning and everything, I’ve included the kids in everything because really my goal is how can I equip them to step out into the world and what do I want them to know? Just practical stuff of how to do that. And they know so much more than—at this age even as they are—than I did when I kind of stepped out into the world and even when I got married. I didn’t know a lot of these things. I couldn’t cook. I couldn’t boil an egg at that point when we got married. But make sure my kids at least know how to do that.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I love that you don’t have to. I think sometimes people are like, “Well, you know, you live on a farm.” And I haven’t always. Obviously we moved here less than four years ago. But you can teach all of those things no matter where you live. We were doing all of that stuff in our last house that we’re doing here. The only difference is we have a dairy cow. Everything else is pretty much the exact same anywhere. And those are such valuable things to teach your kids, just life stuff that ends up coming up just by nature of being around you while you have to do certain things just to keep the family fed and keep the house renovated or whatever else you’re working on. Having the kids around to teach them all that stuff is super, super valuable. Just being around adults, you know what I mean? Not that kids can’t be. It’s very valuable to be around adults who want to teach you certain things on a regular basis.
Leigh Nguyen You probably have gotten it, too. I’ll get things, I’ll get comments on social media about how your kids are so sheltered or— I’m like, “You obviously haven’t met my kids.” Or “They don’t know how to socialize.” I’m like, “My kids know more people in town than I do. Like, if they’re not socialized, then I’m a hermit.” They’re out there doing things and they know how to. And that’s another benefit of homeschooling is being able to walk them through all kinds of different social situations on a daily basis even. Taking them to the grocery store. Not that you can’t do this if you don’t homeschool, but it’s just over and over and over again walking them through how to live in the world because they’re doing it with you. And then showing them and taking them. When it comes back to the projects I was mentioning, we just include them in everything. And it wasn’t always easy, especially when they’re little and you’re trying to teach them how to empty the dishwasher or to teach them how to cook something or probably for you teaching them how to sew, sometimes it can feel painful, and you know that you can do it faster and more proficient if they weren’t doing it with you. But that’s not how they learn. That’s how they learn is by doing it with you. And I figure what better people for kids to hang out with than their parents?
Lisa Bass I have to agree.
Leigh Nguyen This is the downside to homeschooling, though. Maybe it’s just my kids, I don’t know. But they don’t get embarrassed by us. I will try to embarrass them and they are like, “Whatever, that’s just who you are.” They’ll say, “That’s no reflection of me.” I’m like, “Okay.”
Lisa Bass That’s no reflection— yeah, right.
Leigh Nguyen Whereas my parents mortified me all the time just by breathing.
Lisa Bass Yeah.
Leigh Nguyen My kids don’t— they don’t care. I can’t embarrass them.
Lisa Bass Is that like a interaction with peers thing? Because now that you mention it, I had the same kind of stuff. And then now my kids— like my daughter’s always like, “Mom, can you get me those same jeans from Carly Jean in the size 00 and cut them off so we can match?” And I’m like, “Wait a minute, I don’t think you’re supposed to want to match your mom, but thanks.”
Leigh Nguyen That’s awesome. Yeah, maybe that’s what it is. Maybe we’re just cool moms, so we’ll just go with that.
Lisa Bass I mean, yeah, that must be it. That’s got to be it. I don’t know. I don’t know. My mom’s pretty cool. Like now I think that, but I think as a kid, I’m pretty sure certain things embarrassed me. What’s up with that?
Leigh Nguyen Yeah, and I think maybe it’s the time that they spend with us that they see our hearts and they see our why for— so, say the reason I dress the way that I do is to dress maybe a bit more modestly and tell my daughter and talk to her about, have those conversations with her as to why do I choose this clothing over that clothing, or why do we not watch these movies, or why do we not take part in these different things is we have this opportunity to give them the reason why. I think I was missing that. Didn’t know why we did some of the things that we did or why we didn’t participate in some things. And I mean, it’s just from the time that we get to spend together, our kids think— they realize we’re cool.
Lisa Bass That’s got to be it. All right. I have a couple more questions, just a couple like homeschool questions. What are some false beliefs about homeschool that hold a lot of people back? And what encouragement would you give to moms who don’t feel qualified to homeschool?
Leigh Nguyen Yeah, I think the first one is that we don’t think that we can do it. We think there’s this magic formula that the school does. And they went to— and we’ll hear this from people who speak negatively about homeschool— “Well, they have a degree.” Like, okay, they have a degree. And there’s wonderful teachers out there. They have a degree in teaching 20, 30 kids at the same time. I only have to teach one. Or even if you have multiple kids, it doesn’t matter. I’m just teaching this one third grader third grade math, and I’m teaching this one fifth grader fifth grader math. I don’t have to teach a ton of kids. I don’t have to worry about managing a bunch of kids that aren’t mine either. So I think that the first one is that we think that we can’t do it. We think there’s some magic formula and we can’t compete with that. And it just comes with time to see that we can. And I would say that probably the greatest achievement in my homeschooling— because my older two learned how to read in kindergarten in school. And so my youngest was the only one that I had to teach how to read. I was terrified. Even with having older kids, I was like, I’m not going to be able to teach how to read. I would say that’s probably my greatest achievement. Doesn’t matter that they graduated high school. That I taught a child how to read and he loves to read. I think it’s important when we get those wins, to recognize those wins of, yes, I taught them how to add. I taught them how to read. I taught them how to do these different things. I can impart that information into them. And then they can go up to high school and people say, “Well, how are you going to teach them advanced mathematics or something?” Like, well, there’s a lot of resources out there for that type of stuff if they need to get to that. Not all kids need to get to a high level math. And just recognize there are a lot of resources. So I would say that the hesitancy saying we can’t do it, just our self-doubt. And that’s when it’s really important to surround ourselves with other homeschool moms to realize that they’re doing it. I can do it as well. Another one I would say is a huge one is like, “Well, kids can’t go to college.” Yeah, they can go to college if they homeschool. Like those couple of families that I mentioned earlier whose kids are doing really well in college. And the benefit to homeschooling, when it comes to college, is that the kids oftentimes are used to being independent learners and know how to prepare for tests and how to prepare for papers. And they’re just used to being a bit more independent. So yeah, and I think the last one maybe I would say is that we’re really worried about being overwhelmed and not getting any time to ourselves. And this is a big one. Like some of us are more introverted than others. And my husband just the other day was saying something about somebody being alone or something. I was like, “Oh, to be alone.” He’s just like, “You’re so weird.” I’m like, “No, I love to be alone.” And maybe it’s because I don’t get that time all the time. I wouldn’t want years of being alone or anything, but just because I don’t get that time. But I really would say that, for me specifically, that I’ve come to realize it’s okay. It’s okay not to get that alone time. And I’ve come to terms with that, that that’s okay. And now as my kids are launching and they’re getting out in the world and I finally find myself a little bit of free, alone time. I’m like, okay, I can do this, too. I can do this season in life as well. So I would say those three— like that we can’t do it. We don’t feel like— we’re not equipped to do it. But there’s great curriculum out there, and that’s why a lot of homeschool moms, families will jump into just traditional homeschooling with curriculum and sticking to the curriculum because we just don’t feel quite ready to steer away or not to do everything with curriculum. And then the whole college thing. And then just not feeling like we have time to ourselves.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I feel like something that—when you’re talking about a lot of those worries that people have about kids learning certain things in certain years—I think we forget about the human drive that each person has. And it’s almost like if we don’t force you to learn this certain thing, then you won’t learn it. But what I’ve found is that a lot of times—like we were talking about earlier—the kids do have a drive to learn certain things. And so a lot of times you just have to be there to answer their questions. And another logic type thing that I’ve always thought is, okay, people who’ve told me I’m not qualified because I haven’t gone through school to be a teacher. I’ve been through school. I’ve been through 12 years of grade school and high school. I’ve been all the way through college. So if I’m not qualified, what are you saying about the system that you want me to send my kids to if I didn’t come out on the other side able to teach my kids what they need to know from, you know, I learned to know. You know what I mean? Like, it just doesn’t make sense. Of course, I know what to teach them because I’m a functioning adult who has also learned all of those things through all of those years. And so, yeah, I’m sure we have lots of questions, but we can find places to point our kids when they have that desire to learn certain things. And we do underestimate how much a lot of people, most people have the desire to succeed. And so you forget that, that these little humans, you don’t just have to necessarily make them do stuff. They’ll have a desire for their own personal success.
Leigh Nguyen Yeah. Like we were saying earlier with the time, when something is an assignment, if I assign something to my kids, they’re like, “Ugh.” But if I just let them write whatever they want, they’ll write something. Whereas sometimes writing can be a huge thing that kids don’t like to do. But you want to write a commercial? Let them write a commercial. Who says they have to write an essay about a Longfellow poem or something? They don’t have to analyze something. Let them write a commercial. If they like to write poems, let them write poems instead of writing a research paper. And just giving kids the time and the space to do that and giving them the love of learning. I mean, so cliche, love of learning. And then teach them how to learn.
Lisa Bass No, but that’s what I’m trying to say. Like letting that innate desire and process be a little bit more natural has greatly benefited us, personally, our family. I can’t speak for every family, but like you said, having the love of learning and then knowing what to do with that love, like where to go and learn things, that has been more valuable to me than anything I could like try to— which there’s been plenty of things that like, “All right, we’ve got to learn this long division,” and there are those moments, but there are so many valuable things that just the culture of loving to learn and knowing where to find the answers, that goes a really long way.
Lisa Bass Right. Yeah. I mean, you think about anybody that loves to learn, there’s no stopping them. And again, we can get caught up— I think about my 18-year-old, I could not get him to read any Shakespeare. I was trying. And I was like— I gave up. I was like, “Why? Why make him?”
Lisa Bass Yeah. That’d be like me reading Shakespeare. That’s not going to happen.
Leigh Nguyen He’s got this stack of books that he’s in the middle of reading about entrepreneurship.
Lisa Bass That’s what I would do.
Leigh Nguyen Yeah. There you go. You and him can hang out.
Lisa Bass Right. Yeah, there’s just certain— you just can’t make everybody the same. You just can’t. And there’s just something to be said for trusting the process of people like to learn certain things. I think there is something to be said for that.
Leigh Nguyen Yeah, yeah. No, I think that’s key. Just trusting the process of kids, their curiosity. When you think about any little kids, you take them for a walk and they’re like on the ground staring. You can’t even see the bug that they’re looking at and that they’re analyzing. And they want to learn. They want to know about those things. And the beauty and the amazing thing about nowadays is that kids could ask— my 14-year-old asked me the other day, “How fast does a bee fly?” I’m like, “Well, we don’t have encyclopedias anymore, but I can Google it on my phone and look that up.”
Lisa Bass Right. Praise the Lord.
Leigh Nguyen And then they can go find out. Go from there. And we have so much information at our fingertips that we can answer all those questions. And sometimes kids will get hung up on something and they’ll pursue that for a while, and then they feel like they’ve accomplished that. They’ve learned as much as they can about that, and then they move on to the next subject, whatever the next fascination that is, whether it’s reading or poetry or something, science, they’re interested in tree— I don’t know, whatever it is, they just kind of can move on to the next thing. And once they accomplish and feel like they know enough about that, they move on to the next thing.
Lisa Bass Yeah, like you said, curiosity drives so much. And I think— whether you go to any school, that will eventually happen. For me, I feel like curiosity drove me into learning an insane amount of stuff all through my twenties and thirties, like sourdough and fermenting. All of that stuff, I suddenly was so curious. Something sparked my interest, and then I kept pursuing one thing after the next, but that happens for everybody. And so just leaning into that has been really valuable and I think it’s just underestimated.
Leigh Nguyen Yeah, it’s just that learning is a lifetime process. It’s lifelong. I think that that’s also what we get hung up on as homeschool moms, that we have to teach them everything. There’s no possible way we can teach them everything.
Lisa Bass And they have a lifetime for it.
Leigh Nguyen But then the thing is that you were interested in sourdough. Like you were interested in that. You wanted to learn more. You wanted to take the time to read the books, read the blog posts, watch the videos. And so when they want to do something, they’ll take the time to do it. And sometimes you’re like, “Okay, we got to— it’s time to go to bed here. We got to shut this down here. Now, you can get back to it tomorrow.” That’s just the curiosity and just the drive and not having it assigned and told you have to do something. Just let that kind of lead. I think we underestimate that ability that kids have.
Lisa Bass Absolutely. All right. Tell the listeners where they can find you, the best place to follow up and continue to receive whatever encouragement you have, whether they’re thinking about homeschooling or are already in the thick of it.
Leigh Nguyen Yeah. So if you’re listening to a podcast, I assume that you like podcasts, so you can head over to Little by Little Homeschool, and I speak specifically about homeschooling and what does that look like? I throw in some homemaking and some motherhood kind of stuff because it’s all integrated. We don’t just homeschool and then clock out and then just sit around and do nothing. It’s all a part of how we live. So I would say head over to the podcast Little by Little Homeschool or you can go to LittleByLittleHomeschool.com.
Lisa Bass Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Leigh. This has been a very encouraging conversation.
Leigh Nguyen Yeah. This has been fun. Fun to connect. Thank you for having me today.
Lisa Bass All right. Well, thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. If you have not yet checked out Leigh’s podcast, make sure to check it out. She also invited me to come on, so I think I’m going to be going on in January. We’ll be having another discussion—the two of us—over there. That’s the Little by Little Homeschool. As always, thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you in the next episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast.