I have begun talking more about homeschooling on the podcast lately, and it is a topic that you all seem to really enjoy and ask a lot of questions about. In this podcast, I am chatting with Lyndsey of Treehouse Schoolhouse about homeschool methods and philosophy, and we are also answering your questions! If you’ve ever wondered about schooling with the seasons, socializing your kids, and managing it all with multiple children, this discussion is for you!
In this episode, we cover:
- What it means to homeschool with the seasons
- Determining the right age to start homeschooling
- Priorities for learning in the early years
- How homeschooling requires an entirely different mindset than other types of schooling
- Top tips for homeschooling older siblings with toddlers in the home
- Encouragement for tough seasons of homeschooling
- The powerful impact of prioritizing the parent/child relationship in education
- What shifts we make in homeschooling as the seasons change
- How homeschool families excel in socialization
- What to do if you don’t have a homeschool community
- Involving your husband in your homeschooling rhythm
- How do you know if your child is actually retaining what they are learning?
- Making homeschooling possible on a low budget
Thank you to our sponsors!
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Lyndsey is a homeschool mom of four and the founder of Treehouse Schoolhouse. Before motherhood, Lyndsey had a career in children’s ministry and special needs education. Her home education centers around living books and ideas, hands-on learning, nature exploration, and biblical discipleship. She shares experiences and home education inspiration through her Instagram and blog, as well as creates curriculum and resources for families around the world. Her most popular curriculum titles are An Expectant Easter, A Connected Christmas, and Treehouse Nature Study.
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Lisa Bass Welcome back to the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. A lot of you have been enjoying more discussions lately on homeschool. I get a lot of questions about that in my inbox and DMs on Instagram. Something that I don’t talk about that much, but there are a lot of people that I’d love to talk about that with and share it with you. Today’s guest is Lyndsey from Treehouse Schoolhouse. She has amazing resources that go with homeschooling with the seasons. So she has—like she’s telling us about in the interview—an upcoming Easter resource that sounds really cool that you can walk your kids through almost like Advent is for Christmas. There’s something that she’s created for Easter. She has book lists. Anyways, if you’re interested in homeschooling or you’re a homeschool mom that wants some encouragement, this is going to be a wonderful interview for you.
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 Thanks, Lyndsey, so much for joining me to talk about homeschool. This is something I get asked about a lot, and I’ve been bringing on more and more people to talk about it because I get a lot of requests. But I don’t talk about it a ton just because I guess, in some ways, we all feel like, as homeschooling moms, we’re still figuring it out as we go.
Lyndsey Mimnagh That’s for sure.
Lisa Bass I’m not an expert. So I love having other moms to talk about that. So, okay, let’s start with introductions. Tell us about you, your family, your homeschool experience, and your mission to homeschool with a focus on seasonal rhythms, biblical truth, and family connection.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Yeah. So I’m Lyndsey. I have four children. We live in North Carolina. And I have four children, ages two, four, eight, and nine. When you start getting lots of them, you kind of forget their ages.
Lisa Bass Yeah.
Lyndsey Mimnagh And we’ve been homeschooling since the beginning. I actually have a unique story because, before I was a mother, I was hired as a nanny and fell in love with homeschooling. I was first their nanny, and they decided to take them out of school, and they asked if I would homeschool.
Lisa Bass Oh. Wow.
Lyndsey Mimnagh And so I was actually in a career as a homeschool person before I ever had children. Yeah, so they had some special needs and it was just a lot for the mom to handle. So anyway, I ended up homeschooling one child, took a little break, homeschooled the second child. So it was my full-time job. And I was also in children’s ministry. So those two things were really my passions. And so going into motherhood, I knew I just wanted to homeschool for sure. And that was kind of a non-negotiable with my husband when we were dating. I was like, “Just so you know, that’s my vision.”
Lisa Bass Yeah, we’re doing this.
Lyndsey Mimnagh So we’ve been homeschooling since the beginning. So for us, we don’t really do any formal education until more like age six or seven. So just sort of setting up that lifestyle in those early years when my kids were four and five. So yeah, now we’ve been full-blown into that for a few years. So as far as the things that I really focus on, family discipleship is a really important factor to our home. And so incorporating the Bible, incorporating what we believe about God in all of the subjects is really important to me. And then we love nature. We are big nature people. We are always hiking and camping and outside. I really believe it’s important for us to just engage with creation, with what God made. And so really my passion for seasonal living and using seasons in our education is really just to expose our children to this rhythm of life that God gives us through creation. And so we actually lived in Florida and moved to North Carolina so we could have more of an experience of the seasons.
Lisa Bass Interesting.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Yeah. So for me personally, I love cooking with the seasons. I love just our schedule kind of going in the rhythm of the seasons. And so when I started homeschooling, I thought, “Why not incorporate what I love about the seasons really into our education?” And so that’s been a really big, important thing for us, something that I really love to do in our homeschool.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I’ve heard of families moving to Florida who like, “Oh wait, we work from home. We can live wherever we want.” Because of you being able to not really have to deal with any extreme temperatures. And I think about things like that—not that I would move because I’m too attached to like my whole network—but I’ve thought about would I miss the seasons? And it’s really hard, especially in the winter, to contemplate that. But I’m like, I know I would. I would 100%. And maybe if you grew up that way, that would be your familiar place and so it would be comfortable for you. Yeah, but I’m with you. I’ve always said I just love that I live in a state that has very, very defined seasons. It’s hot in the summer. It’s cold in the winter. It’s just got it all. So I agree with you. There’s a lot to be said for— there’s a lot of ways that the seasons branch into every area of education. So we’re going to talk more about that. One thing that you said—and I guess we’re going to skip way ahead, but we can go way back again—is you talked about how you don’t start anything formal till they’re six or seven. And I got this question— it’s probably the most frequently asked question that I had on Instagram whenever we put up a question box saying that you and I are going to be talking about homeschooling. A lot of moms who have younger kids—two, three, four—want to know what curriculum and how can they start now. And I’m sure you have a lot to say about this, and you probably already maybe didn’t make that mistake when you started homeschooling because of your experience with the kids that weren’t yours before you had your own. I don’t know. I definitely wish that I hadn’t worried at all about homeschool with my first and just enjoyed—my first couple of kids—just enjoyed the freedom that having toddlers should be. And it is. Looking back, it’s like, “Oh my word, that was freedom in so many ways.”
Lyndsey Mimnagh Exactly.
Lisa Bass And you had it, but yet you didn’t recognize that you had it. So I guess talk about why you don’t start and then what you do, because you said you also do build a foundation for your homeschooling lifestyle when they’re that age.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Yeah. So I actually jumped into homeschooling with the students, but when they were, you know, first/second grade. So I didn’t actually have to think through, you know, what does preschool look like. And actually, I love that age. And so before all of that, I went to school to be a preschool teacher. Completely different than what a homeschool atmosphere is. So teaching, writing, teaching phonics and everything at an early age. Trying to get them ready to read before they’re five and all of that stuff that’s happening, especially in America, those pressures at that young age. And so it was really a shift for me to have to figure out what do I actually believe about education at this age. And so it was kind of a de-schooling, an unraveling in my own philosophies. I also was a public school student as a child. So I kind of was raised in that system. But I kind of went down that road for maybe six months with my older children, like we are doing school and here’s our schedule and here’s all of the things. And it really just did not bring joy, peace, or life to my home. And so I really asked the Lord about it, and I really started reading some books and blogs and just took some time off to really dive into like, what do I believe about education? And that’s when I kind of fell into the Charlotte Mason philosophy. And I started reading a lot of books about not starting formal education til six or seven. And so I kind of worked backwards from there and I said, “Okay, if we’re going to start school at age six or seven, what are the things that I want my children to— the character traits, or what kind of atmosphere do I want in my home? So that when we start, we’re setting ourselves up for success.” And so simply put, it’s things like my children loving books, good quality literature. And so I sort of went through this season where I purged all the junk books out of my home, started like—as a mom—learning how do I find what a good book is? And how do I fill those good books in my home and get my children’s appetite ready for the good literature? So that was definitely one big thing. And then just establishing rhythms in our home and habits, because you’re not just going to turn age six and then they’re ready to sit and listen to you or they’re ready to follow these— you know, we do a lot of narration, which if people are unfamiliar, narration is basically you’re reading aloud, they’re listening. So the habit of attention. And then they’re able to tell you back what you read to them. So how do you do that when they’re little without it being stressful and formal? Well, we did a lot through play. So I would read them a story and then I would give them toys or costumes and we would play back the story. So it’s just sort of baby steps to getting them ready for when they are six and seven to sit down and do formal lessons. So those are just some of the examples that we did to kind of get them ready.
Lisa Bass Yeah. And did that also involve a lot of unstructured time, too? Just kids just doing whatever they come up with?
Lyndsey Mimnagh Oh, definitely. I mean, that was like, 10 hours of their day was more letting them just explore. And of course, lots of nature. There’s a quote out there— Charlotte Mason really believes that before age six, children should be spending most of their daylight hours in outdoor play. And so whether that would be us on a trail with no agenda, just sort of slow living, discovering what we discover, talking about everything or them just running around in the backyard. But basically the agenda for my children before age six is lots of good books, lots of unstructured play. And then life skills is a really big one for me, too. Just inviting them into cooking, inviting them into gardening, and just being available to talk to them about everything. And they’re soaking everything up at that age. They’re just so hungry to learn and you don’t have to push it on them, really.
Lisa Bass Yeah, definitely.
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Lisa Bass So you were talking about how you grew up in the public school system, you were a preschool teacher, and you had to do some unlearning about what school is. So in what ways is homeschool different from school at home? I actually asked the same question to the last guest on homeschooling that I had because it’s something that I see happen a lot with new homeschool moms is a lot of times I notice that they become very overwhelmed when they try to recreate a classroom setting and not thinking about homeschool as a different philosophy entirely. So how have you seen this? And what is your take on how homeschool is different than school—what we’re used to seeing—at home?
Lyndsey Mimnagh Well, I think a good place to start is to think about why is school the way it is in a public education. Okay, so it’s one teacher with a classroom of 30 students. So there are certain things that they have to do that you don’t have to do. There are certain ways that things are taught, because when they’re developing this philosophy of how to do education, they’re developing it for 30 children.
Lisa Bass Right. Yeah.
Lyndsey Mimnagh For example, a couple of things. Number one, grade levels. My children don’t really have grade levels. You can take you know, you might look at their math and you go, “Okay, so that’s second and fourth grade.” But then you look at what we’re doing at language arts, and collectively we’re doing that together and it’s actually maybe fifth grade. Or my fourth grader technically is reading sixth grade books or whatever. So they know what grade they would be if they were in a public school. But grade levels are really important because you’re trying to group all of these students together that are a certain age and you kind of have to label them as something, not to mention that you’re not one on one, so you actually don’t know how much is the student retaining. Are they ready to move on? Even if they are ready to move on, you can’t really leave the rest of them in the dust. So we’re going to sort of just truck along together as this big group. And I don’t blame the system because that’s what they have to work with. You know, that’s how it works. But when I’m with my student, and for example, in math, there’s six pages practicing the same concept. And after the first page, I see that my son totally gets it. I’m not going to waste the next six days just continuing to do it because we’re doing busywork. I’m going to say, “Okay, he understands this. We can move on.” Well, you can’t really do that in a classroom.
Lisa Bass Individually, yeah.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Because you kind of need to keep everybody sort of together. And I know they’ve really tried. I know they’ve tried gifted programs and all of these things. But when you’re at home, the other thing is your schedule. I feel like it’s so hard for me to say, “This is how many hours a day”— because that’s always a question I get. How many hours a day does this grade do school? I feel like when I look back at my kids’ days, so much of their day, I would consider school.
Lisa Bass Yes.
Lyndsey Mimnagh And it’s not necessarily us sitting down and us doing this lesson together. Like, I can tell you how many hours that is, but then there’s the hours where my kids are watching a YouTube video about how to crochet. And then they’re learning it on their own. Or my one child is an avid reader, so he knows more about history than I do because he will not stop reading. Well, that’s considered school. There’s so much that school is just our life. And even the weekends and all these interactions with other people and conversations and things like that. So that would definitely be. And then the atmosphere, for sure. I think having a homeschool room is cool because you can have all your stuff there. But honestly, I want my kids to have this philosophy ingrained in them that school is outside, school is in your living room, school is everywhere. All the time and everywhere is an invitation to learn.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I completely agree. And I think that’s so important, too, just talking about the mindset shift. Not that everybody needs to homeschool, but if you’re going to homeschool, I think it’s important to consider this because so many moms— and actually this question came up so often, “How do you teach the different grades?” And that’s when I’m like, you’re approaching this from a perspective of “I need to recreate school at home.” And that’s going to be hard because you’re picturing yourself being a third grade, fifth grade, seventh grade, and ninth grade teacher all at once.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Exactly.
Lisa Bass And so wrapping your brain around this is not the same thing. This is a whole different philosophy is really important. So I love to encourage people in that. Earlier you mentioned starting them off with good books. Now do you have book lists on your website and resources for that?
Lyndsey Mimnagh I do.
Lisa Bass Okay, can you direct us to where that would be?
Lyndsey Mimnagh Yeah. So TreehouseSchoolhouse.com. They’re all freebies. I have a bunch of different book lists. We’ve been starting to build that out. I just put out a Valentine’s Day book list. One of my favorite book lists is 100 Books for the Early Years. So specifically talking about that age before formal education, so before age six, I’m really passionate about good children’s books and those younger years. And so I have a 100 Living Books for the Early Years on my website that you guys can get for free at TreehouseSchoolhouse.com.
Lisa Bass Okay. Yeah. We will also be leaving— there’ll be all of these kind of links in the show notes.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Okay. Yeah, I have other books, like Easter book lists. And so I’m always constantly sharing what book lists we’re using on my website for free.
Lisa Bass Cool. Lots of good resources there. Okay, So one question I get— this is sort of similar to what we were talking about, but also a little different, because at school they don’t have toddlers running around.
Lyndsey Mimnagh That is true.
Lisa Bass So for large families or younger moms who are thinking about having a large family, even if your family’s not large or whatever, there’s usually some years between the older ones and the younger ones, the age ranges. So how does homeschooling older children with little ones in the home, how does that work out? Or what are your tips for that?
Lyndsey Mimnagh So I created a curriculum that’s family-style learning because that was the hardest thing for me to find. When we started homeschooling, I really wanted things that specifically geared towards children that were in those early years that would draw them in, invite them in, that would have those things that I talked about that are important, but then also could branch out into these older ages. So the best thing that I figured out— because I have a two- and four-year-old right now and an eight and nine.
Lisa Bass Right, you have kind of the toddlers.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Yes. As much as you possibly can, for the subjects that make sense, to figure out a way to include everybody at the same time. Because family connection is also really important to me. I didn’t want my entire morning to be me with my big kids constantly pushing my little ones away and them feeling like they’re a bother. I mean, you have to do a little bit of this where it’s like, “Okay, here’s an activity, and then we’re going to do this thing.” But I try with as many subjects as possible to figure out ways to include everyone in my family. And so finding curriculum, finding resources that you can do family-style learning that really was developed for that purpose has really been helpful to me. So we do morning time every morning where we have songs and hand rhymes that are specifically geared towards those little ones. Art and poetry, things that all of my children can enjoy at different levels. So it’s the same content, but you just sort of tailor it for the ages is kind of what we’ve done with most of our subjects. Really, the only subjects that that doesn’t really work for is like math. And then things that the kids can do independently. So even just setting up our schedule where it’s like all of us are together doing this thing, we all have a piece to play, we all are invited in, and then my bigger kids can do their independent work with a little bit of help. So then there’s really just a little bit of time where it’s like, I have to be dedicated with just them and I try to make that as minimal as possible so that the little ones feel included. So is that what you’ve done? Because you have seven, right?
Lisa Bass Yeah, I do. I feel like we’re in a difficult season with homeschool right now, so all the things you’re talking about is how I set out to homeschool. And then this year is completely different because we have two, maybe three of the four school age kids who are at a new skill that is difficult for them and it’s all at the same time. And so it’s— you know, when you talked about, okay, well, math is this way or reading’s this way, right now we’re going through a season where at least three kids are finding that next step very difficult and all need one-on-one attention. So I’m like, “What do we usually do?” Right now, it’s a mess. I can tell you that.
Lyndsey Mimnagh I totally understand, especially when kids are learning to read. Before kids can read, it’s very hard because once they read, it’s like, you can do a lot alone.
Lisa Bass Yeah, my first two were easy to teach to read, and the others after that are not. And I want to blame it on gender, but obviously I don’t have that much to go off of. And so I’m just going off the fact that the two girls were easier, and the two boys were harder.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Right.
Lisa Bass But I’m like, I’m sure that’s not always the case. It’s personality. And I can see where the challenges are with the particular kids. So anyways, it’s— right now I feel like the toddlers are very much what you just described, like not in the way, but they’re definitely not getting— they’re just playing Legos and we’re just trying to keep everybody okay.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Surviving?
Lisa Bass So I guess the encouragement in this is if you’re going through a difficult season with homeschool, that does happen, too, and that’s— I don’t know.
Lyndsey Mimnagh No, for sure. I was actually just pondering this how—now that I’ve been in it a while—I’ve really settled into being okay with rhythms in our life with homeschooling, where it’s like— just like any relationship or really anything in life as a woman, as spiritually in your marriage, there are rhythms and seasons where sometimes they just feel really exciting and passionate and like you’re motivated and you’re energetic about it. And then there are other times where it’s like, we’re just kind of doing this thing. We’re just trudging along and there’s nothing sparkly about it, but we’re doing it.
Lisa Bass Right.
Lyndsey Mimnagh And I feel like the first year of homeschooling, I was like, oh, it needs to always feel magical. And I, as a mom, need to always feel like this is my ultimate dream and calling in life. And honestly, sometimes it’s not that way. Sometimes you just do the bare bones. And you know what? The kids are still learning and they’re still— like, you look back at your day and you go, “Wow, they’re still learning so much, and I don’t have to be on. I don’t have to be the best of the best.” And so, yeah, I just want to encourage you, too, Lisa— your kids are still learning, the little ones are still feeling that love and that connection, and really that’s the best thing they could have right now. Because sometimes the lie will come in that like, “Would they be better off if they just went to school? Or if they were just off at preschool where someone could actually give them attention?”
Lisa Bass Yeah. The rhythms, and would they be better off? So actually, because of one of my children that’s struggling with the reading, I actually brought him into a special tutor for a while, and she didn’t have anything magic. Like it did not change anything. So, I know. I know there is a certain amount of we’re trudging along. And I think this is just a year where we’re learning really hard things. And some years—this year in particular—I have a few main goals and a lot of the fun homeschooling stuff that we’ve relied on in the last several years of homeschooling aren’t going to work while we’re getting through a few very difficult things that we need to master. So yeah, I think there are seasons like that and I am sure any person who has homeschooled for a very long time and very many kids has come across this at some point. I feel like it was really easy up until basically this year. So yeah, right now I do feel the toddlers are kind of just— we definitely don’t have this beautiful system going on, for sure.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Yeah. One thing I’ve also heard with families that have a lot of children—and we’ve started to slowly work on this—is assigning the older children to some younger children and kind of rotating through, taking turns where it’s like, “Okay, you’re going to go read aloud to them or you’re going to play with them outside while I work with this child,” and sort of do that rotation. So that’s an idea that I’ve heard. We haven’t actually utilized that because we’ve figured it out with— and I mostly try to keep my big kids together. They’re so close in age that it’s easier for me to just knock it out. But that is another idea that I’ve heard works pretty well.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I like that idea. And there is still so much unstructured time throughout the day where they learn in the way that they learn best. And if— for one child, it’s not reading information but listening. We do that, too. So that way it’s not all like, “We’re going to do this, we’re going to learn this, and you’re going to sit down for five hours a day until you get it.” I know that that kind of force isn’t going to work.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Right. No, definitely not. And I think it’s really important to keep our children challenged. But like, I don’t know, I kind of do an 80/20 where it’s like, I 80% want my kids to feel like this is fun and it’s inspiring and it’s manageable. And then like 20% a little challenging, but enough fun where it’s not scary and overwhelming, you know?
Lisa Bass Yeah. And I’ve always been very hesitant to do anything that would make learning not something that they want. I do want them to feel like learning is a lifelong pursuit. And it’s not all just we’re sitting down doing math worksheets. And yeah, this year is a lot of math worksheets, even though I never thought I’d be that mom. There’s like, “Okay, now, we got to master this skill now.” So I already told them that certain skills—the ones that I have as the main goals for three of those children—we’re going to go through the summer with those because we got to get it before next year so we can go back to our— we’re learning together as a family. We knock out our hard subjects and then we do a lot of reading together, which is what we’ve done all the other years. But there’s a few things that—
Lyndsey Mimnagh You just have to knock out.
Lisa Bass Yes. Yeah, exactly. So it’s working. Like you said, the commitment to homeschooling has never wavered. It was never like, “Oh, we’re going to try something else.” It’s just— there are certain challenging parts along the way, too. So if that’s happening, it doesn’t mean— it’s okay.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Yeah. Just like anything in life.
Lisa Bass All right. I want to take a quick break to tell you about the Modern Homestead Conference. If you are trying to learn all the things when it comes to homesteading, from gardening to having a family dairy cow to figuring out pastures and all of the nitty gritty details that go into it, then it’s important that you build a community around that endeavor. I know the times that I’ve learned the most about something has been whenever I talk to other homesteaders, whether it be the community of people I’ve built in my area— I have some friends and we send each other the dimensions of our cow milking stanchions. Or whenever I met some friends when we first got our dairy cow and they came over and showed us everything we need to know. I’ve also built so many great connections and community through the online world, like when the Homesteading Family came out to our house last spring and we shot a vegetable fermentation video. I learn so much from those in-person interactions and that’s why going to conferences is so important. I know this from my own experience with blogging. In the early years of my blogging journey, I went to every conference I could. It took a lot of investment for me to travel there, but I made connections that I still talk to every single week. We bounce ideas off each other. I learn the most from those relationships, and that’s why these kind of things are so important. So the Modern Homestead Conference is held in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. It’s a live two-day event with expert speakers, including Joel Salatin. If you’re in the homesteading world, you’ve definitely heard of him. The Homesteading Family, which, like I said, I’ve met in person. Melissa K. Norris, we’ve been on each other’s podcasts and we chat all the time. So she’s a connection I made. Anne of All Trades, Farmstead Meatsmith, and many more. Not only will you gain valuable knowledge and skills to help you live a more self-sufficient lifestyle, but you’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy a concert by Grammy Award winning farmer and filmmaker Rory Feek. Classes include raising a family milk cow, onsite live butchering and curing, talking about homestead income, four season gardening, cheesemaking, homeschooling, sustainable agriculture, so much more. It’s a whole lifestyle and they are going to be experts in all of those. Plus, you’ll probably learn a lot just from walking around and running into the other conference attendees. I know that happens to me. I go to the speaker sessions, but then I actually meet people who become fast friends that we actually communicate after that. You don’t want to miss out on this unique event. You can get your tickets now at ModernHomesteading.com. They have their early bird pricing through February 13th, so this might be a last-minute decision for you, but if you want to get on the early bird pricing before February 13th, again, go to ModernHomesteading.com. I know that you will learn so much. I know sometimes this kind of thing can be scary to embark on, especially if you go by yourself or just you and your husband. But I have never come away from something like this without more value than the investment I put in. So I highly encourage you again to go to ModernHomesteading.com to learn more about the Modern Homestead Conference that is coming up this summer in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Lisa Bass Okay, so now that we’re approaching springtime—at least here where we are in the Northern Hemisphere—in what ways are you looking forward to a shift in the seasonal homeschool rhythm? And what are some resources you have for the season ahead?
Lyndsey Mimnagh So one of the things that changes for us as the seasons change is kind of our daily rhythm, our schedule. I try to maximize our time outside and so we do a lot of schooling in the winter because it’s colder and we don’t want to be outside as often. And so that’s kind of when we pick up a lot of extra baking, a lot of extra crafts, a lot of audiobooks. But as soon as that warmth comes, we are doing the minimal amount that we need to and then we’re spending a lot of time outside. And we also just really like to do our schooling outside. So we’ll bring our books out with a blanket and let the little ones play in our mud kitchen and we’ll read. The curriculum that I developed is a nature study curriculum, and it’s seasonal. So it’s called Treehouse Nature Study. So we have one for every season. It’s 13 weeks and we go through different themes that you would study in that season. So for spring, we have like you’re learning about seeds, you’re learning about snails and worms, and you’re learning about bees. Spring Equinox. So every week we go through a different theme, and this is our morning time where the kids are singing, and we’re reading picture books, and we’re doing art, and we’re learning poetry, and we’re also studying pictures from famous artists that have to do with the themes. And so all of that is something that we all do together. So in the spring, it’s really fun because we’ll start a little garden and we’ll learn as we’re doing that. And all of these things that have to do with spring, but incorporating the beauty subjects with nature, with creation, and with spring. So I’m really looking forward to more time outside, more nature walks, and more learning through nature in the spring. We’re doing it in the winter, too, but it’s not quite the same.
Lisa Bass Yeah, it’s just harder. And thinking back to the toddler discussion, I think right now in February— my friends and I were talking about this because the other day we were all just kind of— we realized that around February, this happens every year, so we should remember it. But you kind of forget that there used to be sunlight and that kids were out frolicking about in the grass that was green. And so it’s like it slowly happened because it started getting dark in November. It started getting gray in November. And by about February, you forget that life’s ever anything but that. You’re not like riding on the high of it used to be sunny and the grass used to be green and there was leaves on the trees. They just fell off. Now it’s like, this is life. This is life. So I’m pretty sure this is always just hard. And so like the toddler discussion, you’re outside, they’re in your mud kitchen, I’m like, “Oh wait, probably just right now I’m feeling a bit negative about things in general.”
Lyndsey Mimnagh Right. Because it’s February.
Lisa Bass It’s February. And that’s how you feel in February, because it’s been so long since you’ve spent— and we spend a lot of time outside, but it’s just such a deal, you know, you got to get everybody ready.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Yes. It’s different.
Lisa Bass And it’s really is cozy and fun and nice for a while, and then it’s kind of like, okay.
Lyndsey Mimnagh I’m over this. And I personally am really affected when there’s not a lot of sun.
Lisa Bass Oh, I am so affected.
Lyndsey Mimnagh So even if it’s cold, I need sun. Like I will just bask in the sun in my winter coat if I need to.
Lisa Bass That’s why I’m so glad it’s February, because whenever you look at the daylight charts— my dad has this deer hunting chart in a magazine or whatever. It shows the number of minutes you gain per day and you lose earlier in the fall or whatever. And February is awesome. I forget what the number of minutes is, but you gain so many minutes of daylight.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Nice. Yeah. It’s coming.
Lisa Bass I’m like, it’s okay. February is on the up and up, but it’s not there yet. And so it’s just been so long.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Now, what state are you in?
Lisa Bass We’re in Missouri.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Okay. Yeah, we’re not quite that north, so I feel like it’s always a surprise here. Like you might get a freezing, snowy winter or it feels like you’re in the 60s/70s and you’re like, “What’s happening?” So you just have to keep all of your clothes available at all times.
Lisa Bass Yeah. Okay. See, we always put—in October—we fully switch over. All swimsuits go away, all the coveralls come out, and then around May—which usually can’t expect it any earlier than that—is when you are safely able to swap that all out again, like late May.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Gotcha.
Lisa Bass It’s not really that bad here. It’s just the light. The light really gets ya. My friends and I decided that we needed to write this down, put a note in our phones so that we could have a little alarm go off and be like—.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Everything is okay.
Lisa Bass Hey, are you feeling bad? It’s okay. It’s going to be okay.
Lyndsey Mimnagh It’s just February. That’s why.
Lisa Bass It’s just February. Yeah.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Right. Exactly.
Lisa Bass Okay. So the most—I know I said a lot of these are like, “These were asked a lot,” but this really is the most common question. And I don’t know, as homeschoolers, you get sick of even answering it.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Yeah, I know what it is.
Lisa Bass Yeah, our oldest is 14. And so I feel like I have a lot of proof now. Like I see what children— you know, how it turns out. And it doesn’t have to be the conventional way for them to be socialized.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Yeah. I knew it.
Lisa Bass Yeah, so okay, everybody always asks about socialization, which really, honestly is a very funny question.
Lyndsey Mimnagh It is.
Lisa Bass Over time, whenever you think about like back in school, how you weren’t allowed to socialize, and also you were lumped with all the same age group.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Right.
Lisa Bass Okay. So the question was like, “What do you do about socialization? And then how do you deal with judgment from people who say you’re sheltering? And how to make kids confident and capable in the real world?”
Lyndsey Mimnagh I feel like it’s—same as you—like this one doesn’t actually catch me off guard because I get it all the time. And it’s always just the same mentality of taking public school and putting it at home in a way where it’s like you’re still trying to think about public school. And the difference is you’re living your whole life differently as a homeschooler. So my children, they have so many social interactions. And actually, I feel like the relationships that we have with people as a family because we’re always together as a family, we have family relationships, not just my children having relationships with kids like if they went to school and they had a best friend in second grade and then you move to third grade, but you don’t see that friend anymore if they don’t happen to be in your class. So they might have this deep third grade friendship or many friendships, but then what? Well, at least in our family, we have relationships as families with other families. So, families at church, families at our homeschool group where we go. Once every Friday, we go and we get in nature with our homeschool group. So I’m meeting the moms that my kids are friends with their friends. And so then, of course, that’s going to give a better chance of this relationship being longer than if it was one school year. So now we’re going on vacation with these friends. And so my kids are getting deeper relationships. They’re joining our church. So then we’re seeing them on Sundays as well. They’re coming over for dinner. So these are like relationships that are deeper and they’re longer than if they were getting their friends from school. Not to mention that my children are interacting with all types of people in all types of ages, in all types of situations by being with me all day. So we go to a restaurant, we go to the post office, and I encourage my children to not just shy behind me, but speak up. “Can you give this to the man? Can you look in his eyes? Can you ask him?” So it’s really up to the parent. I mean, you can have a very un socialized homeschooler. You can. You can have a very unsocialized public school child. It’s more about the parents and your training with them. And also you’re exposing them to things, getting them involved in groups, helping them maintain good friendships. So that’s kind of the socialization piece that seems silly to me at this point. Like you said, I see zero problem with socialization as a homeschooling parent. Not that it couldn’t be a problem. As far as feeling confident and capable in the real world, I have to say that I really believe that children that are homeschooled and their parents are engaging in the real world—
Lisa Bass And they’re with them.
Lyndsey Mimnagh And they’re with them and the parents are intentionally training them to be confident children—people who know who they are and know how to find information and know how to speak to adults properly,—that they are being more confident and capable than children that maybe are stuck in a classroom with only children their age, and their parents aren’t doing the work after school or on the weekends because it can happen, of course.
Lisa Bass Because there’s ways to do that.
Lyndsey Mimnagh There is.
Lisa Bass But it’s funny that we’re the ones on trial about it. Like, okay, what’s the—
Lyndsey Mimnagh Right. Because we have more time. It really is about what the parents are doing with their time. Just because you’re homeschooled or public schooled, doesn’t mean you’re going to produce this type of student or child. It’s more about what you’re doing with the time that you have with your children. And so because producing children that are confident and capable is important to us as a family, we’re doing that. Homeschooled or not, it’s something that we’re making an effort to do by teaching our children social skills and how to be respectful and how to engage with children and people of all walks of life and all of those things. So it’s more about that. How to deal with judgment from people who think we’re sheltering— I mean, I feel like you’re going to have people who come against you about your choices in life. And I treat it like anything else in life that I have made a decision to be a certain person, to have certain ways of life, to have certain belief systems, where if you’re confident about it, then you’re just going to live your life and the fruit will come out. The fruit will come out in your children when— as they’re growing and as they’re socialized and as they’re intelligent and they’re kind and they’re contributing to society, then people will see like, okay, this isn’t what I thought it was. So just being confident in your choices. I’m not really worried about someone saying I’m sheltering. I don’t mind sheltering my children a little bit from what’s going on in the world. And actually that’s kind of what I’m trying to do in some way.
Lisa Bass Yeah, exactly.
Lyndsey Mimnagh You know, a lot of people are asking these questions and I give them the benefit of the doubt because when we were children—like we’re probably similar in age—when we were children, kids who were homeschooled were unsocialized.
Lisa Bass Yep. It was a different—
Lyndsey Mimnagh A lot of them were. It was a different time. So when my great aunt is giving me these questions or judgments, I just kind of think of it as like they don’t understand what homeschooling is today, the resources that we have. They don’t understand. And so I’m not going to be defensive and be insecure. I’m just going to keep moving forward with what I know is right for my family.
Lisa Bass I also think the motivation to homeschool today might be a little different because of the state of the schools and whatnot. And so I think like 20, 30 years ago when you chose to homeschool, it was definitely a more extreme choice to make. And so maybe a certain type of person— not that, I mean, I hope that I would have chosen that, but who knows? Because it was so different, it was so extreme that maybe it was just a very select group of people. And so then they have this stuff in their head. I don’t know. I had zero exposure to homeschoolers when I was a kid. I don’t think I ever met a homeschooler, so I really didn’t— I wouldn’t have had anything to base that off of. But like you said, I found it really interesting that you said this is a really similar topic to trying to do school at home and taking your perspective of the way social situations work whenever you’re in a school environment and then thinking that that exact situation has to translate to home because you don’t realize it’s a whole different thing. That was a very good point. I’ve never really thought about it like that. Okay, maybe the reason you’re asking me this question is your perspective is how are you going to get your kids around 30 kids a day so that they can be socialized? Well, I’m not. I’m going to do a whole different thing. And so if you’re thinking of socialization as exactly this, we’re not going to get to— we’re not going to do that. This is a whole different thing to wrap your brain around entirely.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Right. Not to mention, when in your life are you around only people that are your age? As soon as a person graduates and they get into the workforce—
Lisa Bass Yeah, that’s over.
Lyndsey Mimnagh That’s over. Like, you need to learn how to interact with someone who’s younger than you, but is your authority, you know, as a boss or something. Or you need— all these strange interactions. Or you need to learn how to care for the elderly or you need— you know, all of these things. And so I find it to be really enriching for my children to be involved in a multi age homeschool group, church group, friends that have children of different ages. I’m not out to find the perfect eight-year-old girl to be my girl’s best friend. I don’t really care how old they are. I would rather them be friends, have kids who, you know, they connect on whatever thing. That’s the commonality is they have the same interests or something. And so even getting that out of our own children’s minds because it’s kind of conditioned, like in our culture, that we need to be friends with people that are the same age, the same status, the same all these things. And even as a woman, I’m like, no, I can befriend a 60-year-old woman and she doesn’t have to be my mentor. Like she could be my friend. And I think that’s beautiful. Or a 20-year-old. So I try to also see it that way.
Lisa Bass Yeah. That is interesting that we have to get that out of our head, too, because that is— where do we even come up with that idea? Like I need 37-year-old friends only. I need to make sure that I have a bunch of 37-year-old women around me. I know a lot of women, and I think the closest in age to me that I regularly interact with is my sister, who’s obviously younger than me, or obviously years apart from me because we’re siblings. So, yeah, it’s weird because I don’t think most people go through their entire life maintaining exact age people to them because you go in different directions. The closest person to me is my sister because she’s a homeschooling mom of six, and we’re in the exact same stage of life. Our philosophy on life is the same. We have the same career. And so therefore, it makes the most sense for her to be the person I interact with the most even though a lot of my peers from school— you know, we are the same age but we might not have much in common right now. So just removing— like, why do you think you’ve built this certain group as an adult, but yet when they’re kids, they have to have this certain thing? So yeah, that’s something to shift your mindset around. When I first mentioned homeschooling— because I’m the oldest of my siblings and we didn’t really have any interaction with homeschool whenever I said I was going to homeschool ours. When I was pregnant with my first was when I told everybody I was going to homeschool. My dad was like, “Well, what about socialization?” And he doesn’t ask me that anymore because now we have all of these proof kids who are normal, you know? So I don’t think he worries about that. And it wasn’t something that— you know, you don’t have to explain every choice in life to everybody. They don’t have to understand. That’s just going to be a normal part of life. And if that’s going to be your motivation for your choices you make, there’s going to be a lot that you’re going to run up against throughout your life.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Yes, definitely.
Lisa Bass Okay, I want to take a quick break from this episode to tell you about our home-based business. This isn’t something I talk about a lot, but I get a lot of people who say they want to hear more about the entrepreneurial side of what is behind the podcast, Simple Farmhouse Life, my blog, my YouTube channel, and all the components of the business that brought my husband home from his job almost five years ago. Now, the first thing that I started with my business was my blog. And still to this day, when people ask me where I would start, where I would put my attention if I was starting over now and the favorite aspect of my business, I always respond with blogging. There’s a misconception out there that blogging is dead, and I find that interesting that we think the best place to put our efforts are some of the most popular places where everyone is doing that when there really is a— almost like the best kept secret over in the blogging space. It is far from dead and my favorite way to earn an income because I’ve built something there. And it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve realized just how beautiful it is to have built something that is so passive when everything else feels like a content treadmill. There is something that I’ve built that I now have in my blogging business. Now there are things that I would have done completely differently if I was starting from scratch today, things that would get me to success and earn an income that I definitely did not know in the beginning. I made lots of mistakes. I created a one-hour masterclass where I talk about these things. Some of the common misconceptions about blogging and earning an income with blogging and some of the things that I would most certainly change to get my blog monetized a lot faster. You can find that information in that masterclass over at bit.ly/FarmhouseBloggingSchool. Whether you are simply curious, like how do you even make money on a blog? Or you’ve been thinking about it for a while, but you need some guidance. That is a great place to start. My free one-hour masterclass is packed full of information. Again, you can get that at bit.ly/FarmhouseBloggingSchool.
Lisa Bass Okay, so you mentioned getting a group. Can you tell me what that looked like for you to find a group? Is it a co-op? Is it just something you put together? How does that work?
Lyndsey Mimnagh So it’s actually part of the Wild and Free community.
Lisa Bass Oh, okay. Yeah.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Are you familiar with that?
Lisa Bass I am. And they’re all over the place, right?
Lyndsey Mimnagh Yeah. So Wild and Free started on Instagram as an encouragement site. And then the founder started doing conferences. And then from there— I don’t know which came first, but they basically— if you go to Wild and Free’s website, they have places where you can search for a community that’s registered under them. There’s really nothing formal about it except that you just sort of are registered there so you can be found if you’re trying to build this community. So back when my kids were five and six or something, I looked for a community group and basically it’s just getting out in nature with similarly-minded homeschool people. There’s no structure to it. It’s not a co-op where you’re doing any sort of studying together or anything like that, as far as Wild and Free goes. There are a lot of co-ops out there. That’s not something I’ve chosen to do with our kids. But basically I saw that there was one group, but it was about 45 minutes away and I thought, well, that’s kind of far, but I’ll try it. I tried it. It was too many people. I felt like a lot of the kids were older. And so I’m the type of person that if I want something, I just start it.
Lisa Bass Start it. Yeah.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Yeah, I just said like, “Hey, we don’t have one close where I am. I would like to start this.” I had about three or four friends who had preschoolers that were also thinking about homeschooling at the time that I had met through church and various places. And so I just started a group with those three or four friends, and we met once a week. I just chose different locations around our area that had good hiking trails, and we all brought our lunch and it just sort of started baby steps. I think we started every other week or something. And then eventually people started finding the group through Wild and Free’s website and I made a Facebook group. And so now we have over 30 families. We’ve closed our group because it’s just gotten so big. We do annual camping trips. We have Christmas parties. These are literally my kids’ very best friends that I really feel like are going to be their forever friends.
Lisa Bass Lifelong, yeah.
Lyndsey Mimnagh We meet every Friday. A lot of the men have now started to get together and do hikes and shooting days and all of this stuff. So it’s really become this community that’s like our ride or die. We go every week. We have to be there. It’s a really beautiful thing. And what I love— because I started this group; now I have other friends that help me lead the group and pick locations. But it’s super low maintenance. We’re all very low maintenance people. We’re just like, all we want is every week to get out in nature, let our kids run around, connect as moms to be able to say, “Hey, what are you struggling with? Hey, how can I pray for you?” You know, give advice. But then if people want to do fun things— like this one mom said, “One thing I really wish my kids had was an opportunity to exchange Valentines, and we don’t have that because they don’t go to school.” I’m like, “Start it. Do it.” So we’re doing a little Valentine’s exchange. So things that you might miss in the public school system, you can create them. You can— you know, like I want my kids to have public speaking skills. So we figured out a way where they can present what they’ve been learning about a certain country. You just do it. Just get in there, see a need, fill a need, do it. That’s what I’m always trying to tell people that are like, “I don’t have a community.” I’m like, “Girl, make it.”
Lisa Bass Get one.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Get one. Go after it. If you need it, find it.
Lisa Bass Yeah. Recently my daughters really wanted to do a talent show because we have a group similar to yours. It’s a lot smaller, but I think that’d be fun to have it be even bigger. But we get together on Fridays. And we pieced it together. It wasn’t an official thing. But they always— like right now, we’re meeting at parks for the most part because kids are in school and so the parks are empty. It’s great. Yeah, that’s what homeschoolers know. You can take over the parks. And they’ve been bringing their gymnastics mat and making up routines. And my daughters were like, “I really want to have a talent show.” And so they told us, and my sister said she’d organize it because she’s just better about stuff like that. And then we found out that there was already a homeschool group in the area that has a talent show, and so we signed them up for it. We are going to make one up, but I was really happy to pay the entrance fee for the one that’s already a big thing. But there’s also— they have this market thing in our area that they do.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Yep, we do that.
Lisa Bass The kids make stuff and sell it. The kids love that. I mean, right now, homeschooling is so common. I don’t even know what the percentage is, but like everybody I know homeschools. It’s just so common that you’re going to be able to find people who have the same interests as you whose kids want to do certain things— exchange Valentines, talent shows, whatever it is that you’re thinking, public speaking. It’s going to be there and available for you to do.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Yeah. And I’m sure it depends city to city, but at least in our city, if I want my kids to do an art class or a sewing class or anything, I can find a studio or like the dance studios, all those types of places around have specific homeschool classes now.
Lisa Bass Oh yeah. Ours do too.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Because they have a need in the morning or in the early afternoon. And so then you go there and then your kids have friends there and then you’re chatting with the mom at pickup and then you exchange numbers and then it’s like— so I feel like we actually struggle with getting our school done because all the homeschool people want to do is like meet up and play and socialization.
Lisa Bass Yeah, we have to limit stuff. It’s too much socialization.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Right. That’s definitely not a struggle whatsoever.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I agree. That’s probably the bigger boundary we have to set is making sure that we’re not doing too many things. So if you’re a really outgoing, extroverted person and you almost want to— like you want to do homeschool, but you want to send your kids to school because you want to meet all the other moms at school, that’s not a problem. You will find people.
Lyndsey Mimnagh You will. Yep, you’ll find your people for sure.
Lisa Bass Okay. I have a few more questions that were listener questions. I know we’re getting short on time, but— okay, these can even be rapid fire, but people asked how involved are the husbands? How involved they need to be? How involved are they?
Lyndsey Mimnagh Totally up to you and your family, of course. My husband works a full-time job. He is transitioning, but he worked a full-time job, so for a while, there was really no involvement besides at dinner time the kids kind of telling him what we learned. Then it transitioned to where he took over some Bible time over breakfast. So that was kind of his contribution was like he took over family devotions and that was during breakfast. And now he’s also doing that and doing our school read-aloud at night because sitting down and reading an hour with the toddlers running around is nearly impossible. So whatever we’re supposed to be doing as a read-aloud, now he does that at night. So he kind of has the morning shift and the afternoon shift. So really, it’s just— you could be really creative. You could even do weekend things or whatever really works for your family. We want my husband more involved and we’re working towards that lifestyle. But it’s just whatever your family wants.
Lisa Bass Yeah. And even if they work an eight-hour job or whatever, that’s a lot of time still. Like you said, he has morning, he has nighttime. It does not have to all fall into the traditional school hours. If he can pull aside a couple of kids, read them something ongoing that’s a really good book that’s maybe more difficult, that is something you can do.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Yep.
Lisa Bass Okay. Another set of questions are how to get your kids to listen. I know people are worried, okay, I’m the mom. They listen to the teacher better. And then how to make sure that they’re actually retaining the information that you teach them.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Well, how to listen is a parenting discussion because I feel like homeschooling is not a separate entity. Homeschooling is an extension of your parenting. So if you’re having parent connection, parent obedience, child and parent relationship struggles, that is a place to start. So I also encourage parents, like if you’re taking your child out of school and you have a relationship breakdown where they’re not respecting you, they’re not obeying you, they’re not— you know, you’re not in this connected relationship, don’t even think about trying to start schooling yet. Like work on that, work on friendship, connection, respect, love, the relationship first. And I feel like it’s going to overflow from there. So if you feel like you’re in a good place with your kids in other areas of your parenting, then school is just going to be an extension of that and they’re going to want to learn from you. Just like if you’re teaching them how to do anything in life. It’s just the same. Teaching them to read, it’s just like teaching them to tie their shoe or to cook or anything else. It’s not this extra special thing. Do you agree with that as a mom?
Lisa Bass I do. I do think that some things are easier to teach some kids than others, in my experience now. Some kids will tie their shoes more easily than others. Some will read more easily than others. But yes, it’s the same concept. Yes, it’s not like a magic formula. That’s like whenever I went to that tutor, I was like, well, this child is struggling with this, so maybe she has a magic answer. And she’s like, “I went through these flashcards and we did this,” and I’m like, “I can do that. That’s what we’ve been doing. So just more of that? Okay, cool.”
Lyndsey Mimnagh Yeah, exactly. One of my kids went through OT, and we were spending all of this money.
Lisa Bass Mm hmm, yeah it was expensive.
Lyndsey Mimnagh And the same child went through speech. And so instead of just expecting the other person to do all of this work and me give them money, I’m like, I’m going to sit in. I’m going to take notes.
Lisa Bass See what they’re doing.
Lyndsey Mimnagh And I’m going to do it at home to save money and then just to build that relationship and that connection because they were struggling and I felt like I needed an expert. But really, you can become that in whatever area if you just do the work.
Lisa Bass Yes, absolutely.
Lyndsey Mimnagh And more importantly, I really believe it’s the relationship with your children that’s going to make them want to learn from you. So working on that. What was the other question?
Lisa Bass How do you make sure that they’re actually retaining information? And I’m assuming maybe because homeschoolers don’t have tests, that would be probably what they’re challenging. I’m not sure.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Yeah. I mean, if you’re giving your child a textbook and you’re walking away, then you’re not going to know if they’re learning anything. But if you’re reading aloud to them and they’re telling you and you’re discussing great ideas and you’re stopping in the middle— like today, we were reading something and I stopped and I said, “Do you guys even know what a fugitive is?” And so we talked through this word, and then we moved on. Well, I know that they’re understanding because they’re responding to me. We’re doing this as one-on-one, basically. So every day I’m basically giving them a quiz without them realizing it, without it being formal. I’m kind of evaluating as we go on if they’re understanding, I don’t need a quiz. You know what I’m saying?
Lisa Bass Yeah. I think that’s another one of those mindset shifts. You’re missing that homeschool is a very interactive process, and so you’re going to know how that’s unfolding because of your constant feedback that you’re getting from the kids that maybe right now you’re not seeing that that’s going to be something different when you homeschool.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Right? And that’s, again, one of those things where it’s like one teacher, 30 students, they can’t possibly know if they’re understanding everything they’re learning because you can fake it a lot. I remember faking it a lot in public school.
Lisa Bass Oh yeah, I was good at tests. I was real good.
Lyndsey Mimnagh I learned how to test. I was so good at testing, but I don’t know my history at all.
Lisa Bass Nope.
Lyndsey Mimnagh I taught American history to my kids last year and I was like, I did not know any of this stuff. This is embarrassing.
Lisa Bass Nope. Same.
Lyndsey Mimnagh But now, I feel like my kids blow me out of the water with what they know because it’s been this beautiful process where they’ve enjoyed learning and I can constantly review things with them as we’re talking through it because I understand like, oh, they didn’t really understand that. Okay, let’s talk about that again. You know?
Lisa Bass Yeah. I completely agree. Okay. What do you wish you knew before getting started?
Lyndsey Mimnagh I definitely think—like you—not taking it like early going, oh my gosh, I need to do all of this upfront. Even starting at age six, it was like, really we need to do the essentials, which is starting to learn to read, doing a little bit of math, reading some good quality literature and learning their handwriting. Even that’s like an hour a day. And then the rest of their day is discovering things on their own. So I would say don’t put so much pressure on yourself early on. And then just being okay, like I said earlier, the rhythms of life. That every day doesn’t have to feel magical and crafts and like all of this stuff. Like it can be pretty basic and your kids are getting a really quality education.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I think that’s really good encouragement. The last one is homeschooling on a low budget.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Gosh, I feel like if you have a library and if you have basic tools, like good pencils, some good art supplies, and I would say if you’re going to invest in anything, it would be a home library just to build your home library with living books. And there’s a ton of resources out there for really low cost curriculums or free curriculums that I’ve seen lots of resources from different sites that give a free week of this, a free week of that to try to figure out what— it really doesn’t have to be expensive at all. And then I would think the number one thing would be family-style learning, because then you’re buying one curriculum and you tailor it to all of your children rather than—like you said before—I could not imagine four different sets of school curriculum. That’s crazy to me.
Lisa Bass Yeah, exactly. And not necessarily effective. I mean, you don’t have to do it that way. And I mean, you could do homeschool probably free, like you said, with a good book list and a library. It would not have to cost hardly anything.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Definitely way less than putting your child in a private school because we’ve gone around and around before where we’re like, our options really are either a private school or a Christian school. We wouldn’t probably do public school at this rate. And so we’re like, okay, well, we’re saving so much money by me homeschooling them, working part-time from home, which we’ve made possible because we don’t have to do school 8 hours a day when you’re homeschooling. And then just buying what we need and using it year after year, passing it down from kid after kid as well. You’re actually saving quite a bit of money.
Lisa Bass Yeah, definitely. I used to always say that homeschool was the only private school I could afford, so that was the option.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Right, exactly. It’s so private.
Lisa Bass Yeah. All right. Tell us about your resources, your Instagram, your website, anything else you want to share for people who would like to explore some of your resources.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Sure. So I started Treehouse Schoolhouse when we first started our homeschool journey, kind of using my experience as a children’s ministries director and as a previous homeschool teacher. And so I just really went into it sharing biblical encouragement for mothers. I’m all about slow living, motherhood, and home education. And so after that, I have a blog where I share our experiences. I’ve been blogging for about five, six years now. And then from there, I started developing curriculum that I wanted to use with my own family. So the first one I made was A Connected Christmas. It’s three weeks of really gathering your family together and studying scripture together. And a lot of the pieces that are really important to me are poetry, art, living books, and hands-on baking and crafts and things like that to kind of bring all of those ages together. So we created A Connected Christmas, and then we created An Expectant Easter, which is kind of its sister product. So that’s coming up. A lot of people are going to be starting that in March. It’s the three weeks leading up to Easter, just because I felt like we do all of this emphasis on Christmas Day, but as believers, the most important part of the story kind of gets kind of lost just because our culture doesn’t celebrate it like they do Christmas. So in our home, I wanted Easter to feel just as exciting. So that’s what An Expectant Easter is. And then I really wanted a morning time curriculum for incorporating the seasons and incorporating nature, kind of killing two birds with one stone, getting in those good books, getting in those art experiences, and the poetry exposure and bringing in all those ages together. So that’s why we created Treehouse Nature Study, and we slowly kind of did it. I keep saying “we” because my sister-in-law joined me. Just like your sister, I’m really close to my sister-in-law and my sister, so now they’re on the Treehouse Schoolhouse team.
Lisa Bass Oh, cool.
Lyndsey Mimnagh And they’ve kind of helped me develop these resources. I’ve been the writer and the face of this company, but my sisters are behind the scenes doing design and website and stuff like that. So anyway, we have all four seasons of nature study are out as well. And so those really bring all the ages together and do like a beautiful way to kind of start your day doing nature study. Yeah, so those are the things that we have. We also have a YouTube channel where I share hand rhymes for the little ones that are seasonal and other things. So yeah, we’re kind of growing that space as well.
Lisa Bass Oh, cool. So that’s just Treehouse Schoolhouse over on YouTube?
Lyndsey Mimnagh Yep.
Lisa Bass Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Lyndsey. This has been very encouraging. Lots of moments where I’m like, oh, I hadn’t thought about it that way. So really appreciate you coming on and sharing your experience, and I’m sure the listeners will love it. Thank you.
Lyndsey Mimnagh Thanks, Lisa.
Lisa Bass All right. Well, I hope that you enjoyed this interview with Lyndsey from Treehouse Schoolhouse. Make sure to check out all of the resources down in the show notes if you’re listening on one of the podcast apps or in the description box if you’re over on YouTube. She has a lot of amazing things to offer if you’re new or if you just need something new to switch it up. I really am looking forward to some of the spring resources. As we talked about, I think the winter time is getting us down a little bit in our home and I’m really looking forward to some of these sunnier, nicer days upcoming. Thank you so much for listening and I will see you in the next episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast.