Homeschooling goes far beyond choosing curriculum and planning field trips. It is equally as important to establish a firm grasp on why we are homeschooling and what our homeschool philosophy is.
I so enjoyed this conversation with Angela where we had a chance to get honest about the ups and downs of our homeschooling journeys. We chatted about important mindset shifts we have had to embrace along the way and old paradigms we are moving away from.
Are you considering homeschooling but you are fearful? Are you in the thick of it and need some encouragement to keep going? Join us for this inspiring conversation!
In this episode, we cover:
- Making schooling decisions based on each individual child’s needs
- Finding the balance between giving yourself grace and pushing yourself
- Tips for keeping little ones occupied while homeschooling older siblings
- Freeing yourself from expectations and embracing the flexible schedule of homeschooling
- Encouraging learning to extend beyond textbooks and worksheets into valuable life skills
- Recognizing perfectionism in our kids and helping them learn through failure
- Reframing our perspective about what is most important for our children to learn
- Math curriculum reviews for kids that struggle with math
- Protecting our kids’ mindsets around their ability to learn
- What if you are nervous to homeschool?
- How will homeschooled kids turn out?
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Angela is a Jesus follower, a wife, a mom of eight wonderful kiddos, homeschool teacher, photographer/videographer. She is also a super passionate coffee addict, adoption advocate, writer, speaker and a wandering soul. Her life and home is incredibly full, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
The constant taking off and putting on different hats is what has given Angela years of experience and knowledge that led her to create helpful homeschool, adoption and family-friendly photography resources for you. As a busy mama, Angela is wildly passionate about using and extending her skills and tools to help make your life a little easier in those areas.
Angela’s Homeschooling Course: Master the Art of Home Education
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Lisa Bass Welcome back to the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. Today I am chatting with Angela from This Gathered Nest. If you’re over on YouTube or Instagram and you’re in the homeschool world or the just mom world, you probably know her. We are going to chat about, well, all things homeschool, but kind of in a maybe unconventional way. I don’t know. We go on a lot of different tangents. So it’s two friends chatting about mom life, really. All right. Join me for the interview.
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 All right. Well, hey, Angela. Glad to have you on. It’s been a while since we’ve chatted.
Angela Braniff Yeah.
Lisa Bass So, yeah, I’m looking forward to chatting with you about homeschool. We can start with some introductions for those who don’t know you. I think a lot of people in my, like, the listeners probably do. You and I have collaborated before and then obviously we have a very similar niche and group of people following us. But for those who don’t know, can you introduce yourself?
Angela Braniff Sure. Well, first of all, let me just say I know nothing about sourdough and you know everything about sourdough, so don’t come to my channel and expect that because Lisa and I talk about the same things, you’re going to learn anything about sourdough from me. Though I love to eat it, I don’t know how to make it. But I am Angela, and my YouTube channel is just— well, I have two, but my main one that I’m using right now is just my Angela Braniff channel. And I make kind of all over the place content a little bit, but I just really like to talk about the things that interest me: motherhood, homemaking, homeschooling, and those kinds of topics.
Lisa Bass Yeah, and you have eight children ranging from high school down to preschool, correct? So that makes for quite a diverse age range for homeschool.
Angela Braniff Yes. Yeah. My oldest is— she actually just turned 16, and I’m still emotionally and mentally dealing with that. And then my youngest is three and he’s about the size of a 16-year-old, though, so that’s a little strange to reckon with as well. So we’ve just kind of got a little bit of everything, honestly, which is kind of—especially as it relates to homeschooling—an interesting and I don’t know how unique it is, I feel like there’s a lot of large homeschooling families, but it does give me a special insight into kind of all of the different categories of homeschooling over the years.
Lisa Bass Yeah, because you also have some that have special needs. You have some that probably learn at the whatever average normal pace, whatever that is. And so you just run like the whole deal here.
Angela Braniff Yeah. And I feel like, over the years, that’s also given me a special insight into and a heart for homeschooling moms very specifically because we can tend to ostracize ourselves because we don’t feel like we fit the mold or our kids don’t fit the mold and feel like you have to do everything just how you see others doing it, otherwise it doesn’t count or you’re not doing it right or something like that. And I have had children that I was homeschooling while others of my kids were in a public school, charter school environment. And trying to figure out, particularly with my kids with special needs, what is the right course of action for them, what’s best for them, and not what is going to hit my ego. And making decisions based on each kid and not on how I wish things to be, if that makes sense.
Lisa Bass Mm hmm. Yeah. Or which crowd you identify with or whatever. You just have to take it by each kid in some—
Angela Braniff Yeah, well, and there’s a lot of special needs parents who also homeschool their kids. And that is right for some families, and for others, it’s not. It’s totally acceptable to decide to place a special needs child into a different schooling situation because, while I fully believe that mothers are absolutely capable of educating their children and guiding them on their individual education journey, when you are dealing with a child that— there’s lots of different terms, but you know, neurodivergent or really doesn’t learn in the “typical” way, it’s going to often exceed your capabilities, and it’s totally okay. And maybe you’re just hearing me preach to myself right now, and I’m saying this because one of my kids went into a new school environment as of November of this past year. And actually, your podcast is the first place that I’m talking about it anywhere ever. I haven’t shared about this at all yet, so breaking news exclusive in case anyone cares. But yeah, and this is actually my son who doesn’t have an outward disability. So it’s not something that you see on the outside. Like my daughter with Down’s syndrome, you can look at her and know that she has a special need. But my son, his special needs that we’re just kind of uncovering, peeling back the onion right now and learning about what’s going on with him. Once you can push past the disappointment, sadness, all these other feelings that are wrapped up in having to make decisions that maybe you didn’t want to make— my intention was to never place him back into a different school environment. I really wanted to homeschool him. And it just hasn’t worked. And so I’ve had to fight through my own feelings about this in order to do what’s best for him. And that’s been something that is just ever evolving. You know, you do the best you can with the information that you have at the time.
Lisa Bass Yeah. And that’s the case with probably everything with raising eight kids. It’s such a wide range. You have, as your name suggests, this gathered nest. You have some that are adopted, some that are biological. And so there’s just— you know, there’s a lot going on with your family that you’ve had to make a lot of adjustments over the years, I’m sure.
Angela Braniff Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s true of any family. No matter how your family is put together, you have to be flexible. You have to be willing to kind of— you know, our philosophy as far as homeschooling goes, has always been that we evaluate every kid every year. I’m a little less that way now because my reasons for homeschooling have become a little bit more set in stone. And I also have learned my kids well enough that I don’t need to decide if homeschooling is right for them every single year. Unless something drastic has changed, then it’s status quo at this point. Like we’re still moving forward with it. But I gave myself that grace every year in the beginning to say— I think I did that so that I would know that I didn’t have to commit to this forever to commit to it for one year because there’s so much fear when you first start homeschooling and your confidence in anything you do as a mother, but as homeschooling as well, you have to build up that confidence like a muscle. And the more you use it, the more time that goes by, the more you get through, the more confident you become, and the less you need to fall back on that, like, “It’s all right. I’ll just evaluate at the end of the year and decide if I still want to do this.”
Lisa Bass Right. Maybe I won’t still do this.
Angela Braniff Yeah, you can kind of let that go at some point and be like, “Okay, I’m doing this. We’re doing this. It’s happening.” You know?
Lisa Bass Mm hmm. Yeah, I guess I’m totally in that spot right now. Well, there’s not really much to evaluate, but I could see how in some situations that would be the case. And especially in the beginning. It’s almost like when you’re first-time nursing and if it’s difficult, I’ve heard moms say like, “How long are you going to nurse?” And they’ve said, “Just like right now, I’m nursing. And that’s all I can tell you. Just to get through this, I’m just going to have to just say that I’m going to nurse this time, and maybe next time I will too.”
Angela Braniff Oh yeah, nursing is definitely one of those things that it was really hard for me with my first because she was born preemie and just kind of like weak at it and never really took to it. And it was hard. And so with my second, I did that very same thing, like, “We’re just going to see what happens. We’ll just go with the flow.” And next thing you know, she was two years old and still nursing and I was like, “All right, I’m kind of done now. Like you’ve got a fork and a knife and steak and I’m kind of done now. Like, don’t come near me with those chompers.” But yeah, you do. You kind of evaluate differently each time. And you give yourself that safety net. And sometimes that’s dangerous, though, right? Because it’s like this low expectation. And so we know that when we give our kids high expectations, they will rise to those occasions, right? We can call our kids up to be better, to be more successful, to do better. And sometimes in our effort to not be so hard on ourselves and not beat ourselves up, we give ourselves these safety nets instead of calling ourselves to be better, to be more confident and to fill those shoes and rise to the occasion instead of looking for the escape hatch all the time.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I do see what you’re saying there. They can also be— like, maybe this helps you to get through each year, or maybe it’s just something to fall back on. But nonetheless, we got a ton of questions about the topic of homeschooling with multiple age groups because we put up a question box on Instagram. A lot of people recognize that you have some skill or at least experience in that arena. So okay, with your little kids, do you include them or distract them when working with older kids? And I’m sure your oldest kids can pretty much homeschool themselves at this point, so that’s probably another thing. But yeah, how does that work?
Angela Braniff Yeah. So again, I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m trying to dance around answers here at all, but it does look a little bit different depending on the ages and through time. Right? Because remember that I have a 16-year-old and a three-year-old. So now, my 16-year-old can take my three-year-old outside and go play with them because my oldest two are doing a lot of their schoolwork on their own time at their own pace. So that makes them more available to help me with younger ones. And I know that that’s not everyone’s situation, so I am going to kind of revert back to answer this question for back when I had just a whole lot of smaller kids, a whole lot of kids that weren’t as capable of being independent or helping and that kind of thing. So for me, the juggling act was really a matter of evaluating what am I doing with each kid for each subject and at this time? And distracting the little ones for the amount of time I needed and being very realistic about what you’re doing with those older kids. Depending on what grade they are, what age they are, and what you’re doing with them is really going to dictate how much time you need. And being very realistic about that. Again, I think one of the biggest failures, one of the things that homeschool moms inevitably make themselves feel like they’re failing in is having way too high of expectations of how much schoolwork their kids should be doing every day at different age levels. I think it can get toned back a lot.
Lisa Bass Yeah, definitely. I have some extra kids here today right now. And so they’re being— I’m not sure if I should go tell them, like, “Hey, you need to be more quiet out there.” It’s really, really warm out here. It’s been very warm, and so everybody’s outside, which is fine. But I’m in my little cottage, and I know you’re probably in your little—
Angela Braniff Yeah, I’m in my little cabin, but it’s always cold where you are.
Lisa Bass Oh, yeah, it should be freezing right now.
Angela Braniff It’s actually warm here too, but—
Lisa Bass Yeah. It’s been warm almost all winter. It’s crazy. But anyways, hopefully they’re not being too loud and distracting. Okay, so whenever you do have little kids in the mix, I guess thinking back to when it wasn’t— like when you didn’t have 16- and 15-year-old girls and you had— let’s see here, maybe like a nine-year-old and then also— like a nine-year-old that you had to really hands on do school with but then also like a two-year-old. What are some of your tips for keeping little ones entertained while working with older siblings?
Angela Braniff You know, the beauty of the modern day and social media and everything is there are some really amazing accounts out there that do the busy tot things and ideas for that kind of stuff. So if you are—I want to be clear, because there’s two categories here—if you’re a crafty mom, go at it with all of those busy boxes and give your kids all of those. You can totally mix those things up. And some moms are just really fantastic at that kind of stuff. I will be the first to tell you that I am not.
Lisa Bass I’m not either.
Angela Braniff I am if I’m going to distract my toddlers and you are going to make a giant mess, then that’s just going to be a problem for me later.
Lisa Bass Yeah.
Angela Braniff So I just kind of was always like, how can I distract you with as little disaster to me as possible? So again, like open-ended play things. Lots of like, here’s some Legos, here’s some blocks, here’s some— I mean, again, we don’t get crazy. Here is some paper and some scissors. Cut. You know, because I can just sweep that into the garbage later. I’m not a big Play-Doh person. Somebody ends up eating that. And it’s just very messy, but trying to find little things like that. And I try to have them be things that they don’t have access to all the time to do. If I need them to be distracted, then this activity has to be exciting to you, too. As the kid, you have to be like, “Ooh, this feels special,” kind of a thing. Also again, just depending on what it is— you know, we live on a small farm, but even if you don’t live on a small farm, going outside. It’s amazing how much less needy kids are when they’re outside. So even if you’re sitting on the porch reading and doing something with an older kid, helping them with a handwriting thing, and little ones can be playing in the dirt or playing, you know, that kind of thing, To me, those distractions are the ones that will be sufficient enough for me to get something done with a slightly older kid. Obviously, the use of nap time. This is where the whole flexibility thing comes in because you might need to save a really tough— if you’ve got a kid that just really struggles with reading and you need 30 minutes or an hour of super undivided attention, then you might just have to wait till nap time. Up until really the last year or so, all of our kids have always had quiet time in the afternoons. Whether you are too old for a nap or not, you just go into your room, you sit in your bed, you read a book. Not electronics at that time, but a book. Or you can draw or you can play very quietly in your bed or with a small toy or something. But everybody needs to just rest their bodies and their mouths. And that’s also a time when I can pluck out a specific child to work with as well. So it’s kind of just knowing your family, knowing your routine, knowing your schedule and figuring out where you can pull out those pockets of intensity as you need them. But being very realistic with yourself about what that’s going to look like because there’s just going to be no such thing as completely uninterrupted when you have a baby that needs to nurse or something like that. I mean, I’ve so many times had a baby in my arms with a bottle or a boob in their mouth, whichever one. Some of my kids are adopted, some aren’t. So it’s like some had bottle, some had boob, but whatever they had. While I’m also over the shoulder of another kid reading with them, helping them with math facts, quizzing them on something. It is kind of this juggling, balancing act.
Lisa Bass Yes. And you’re on the other side of having kids who can read and write and are almost graduated at this point. And so I think it’s encouraging to hear that even when it doesn’t look perfect— because I think a lot of times when people ask this question— because I get this question. Any time I put up a question box about homeschool, this is the number one question pretty much is like, “Well, how do you do older kids and younger kids?” And I think they want a really good solution from us, when in reality it just is kind of messy and there isn’t this perfect solution. And it pretty much is always going to be a little bit chaotic. And like you said, you could do maybe some one on one reading practice after bedtime. I did that last night with one of my kids because there just wasn’t a pocket of time throughout the day. He was involved in the other parts of school throughout the day, but the one-on-one reading time that needs to happen for like 20, 30 minutes a day can’t happen during those other times. So that you’re on the other side of that. And the whole time there’s been little kids “in the way” of all of this, it’s still worked out for you. I think that can be pretty encouraging.
Angela Braniff Absolutely. And the other thing I would remind moms, too, is that remember that the reason— well, maybe not the reason, but one of the reasons and one of the great benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility that it provides you. And there’s no rule book. If you want to homeschool your kids in the evening when your spouse is home from work or— you know what I mean? There are homeschooling moms who work full-time and they homeschool their kids in the evenings. There’s not like a— well, it’s after 6:30 PM which means you can’t do any school work. The weekends. I mean, there’s been times that we’ve homeschooled— we don’t just homeschool necessarily Monday through Friday. If things get crazy or let’s say we have a really beautiful day when the weather’s been really crappy and all of a sudden we have a beautiful day and it’s like, it’s Tuesday, but we’re going to just go outside and play and have fun today. We might do school work on Saturday when the rain comes back. And also you can also alternate days with kids. So you might be like, you know what? I’m going to do my littlest ones who need a lot of intensity, the stuff that I’m going to do with them on these three days, and then my older ones, just these two. That’s how it is now for me is that with my oldest two that are 16 and 14—so middle school and high school—they actually only work with me for a handful of hours, about two days a week, and everything else they’re doing is independent. So those other days, I’m really able to just focus on the younger ones.
Lisa Bass Yeah, Once you’ve taught certain kids certain things, they can do a lot of it themselves. And so you’re really— even though people picture you having eight kids all sit down at their desks homeschooling, in reality you realize that there are certain kids who can totally— there’s just only a couple kids almost always that need one-on-one attention at any given moment. And then there’s always— like with the age ranges, there is a lot of flexibility in that. I think there was probably certain people— like I’ve definitely heard— have you ever been out and about during the day and had somebody be like, “Why aren’t you in school?” But a collective gasp from those type of people whenever you said, “You can homeschool in the evening.” Like, wait, what? Yes, it doesn’t have to look how the conventional way does. If you accomplish the tasks that you need to accomplish that this child is well-educated, it doesn’t matter what hours it happens in. And definitely also, I think people picture school happening like for eight hours a day and at school the entire time. And we all know that’s not really the case. So it doesn’t have to be like that for homeschoolers either.
Angela Braniff No, absolutely. That’s the one thing that I wish I could— it’s a lot of what I talk about in my homeschooling course, what I try to encourage homeschool moms is that you have to like— you kind of have to tear down the castle, right? You have to break down all of your preconceived notions and beliefs about the public school system, why it was created. What was it intended for? How did we end up with our kids in school from 8 to 3 every day? And then really, when you dive into understanding the average amount of time that is actually spent on school, like on education in that time frame if your kids are at a public school, you can very quickly ease your mind and not feel like— you realize how much more schooling your kids are getting in homeschool even when you feel like they’re not getting a lot because it’s just simply impossible for a teacher to be able to give that same kind of one-on-one attention when they’ve got 22 students in a classroom and they’ve got lines to stand in and wait for this and wait for that and go to lunch and then recess and then gym for Spirit Day or whatever. And I’m not knocking any of those things; I’m just saying that, statistically speaking, kids are doing about an hour and a half of actual education in a day at school, at a public school environment or setting, particularly like in elementary school years. So if you’re doing two hours of school a day with your kids, you’re doing great. Do not beat yourself up.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I think that’s where moms start to doubt themselves because you realize that with having multiple ages and having to cook dinner and do all the other things you have to do as a mom, you’re like, wait, we’re not schooling all day. And I’m depriving them because if they were sent to school, they would be doing school all day. I think that’s where, yeah, we definitely get into trouble mentally where we think that we’re not doing enough.
Angela Braniff Yeah. And reframing what you’re envisioning as education. Remembering that it’s more than rote memorization and that, likely, your decision to homeschool your kids was based on wanting to also be shaping their character, their hearts, who they become, what they focus on, what do they want to be as they grow up? What do they want to do? Allowing them in many ways to shape their own education. All of that. Learning how to take care of their home and other— all of that is part of the picture of education for your kids. It’s not just the math worksheet and the spelling worksheet. That stuff is great. Check that box and move on. There’s so much else that encompasses why so many moms choose to homeschool and the things that they want to pass on to their kids. The knowledge, the experience, the life experience, the life skills they want to pass on that will never fit inside a traditional school check box of, like, “Well we did this subject and this subject,” that you have to learn to recognize as a homeschooling mom. You have to learn to see them and see the value in them so that you can weight them appropriately against the other things that you’re feeling like you have to do.
Lisa Bass Mm hmm. Yeah. Because I bet we never give ourselves any credit for certain things because they’re not “school”. You know, like they’re doing something that’s actually really valuable, but they wouldn’t be a subject taught at school, and so we wouldn’t count that as toward the hours when, really, I like to think about what’s my goal here? What am I trying to raise? What am I trying to produce at age 18? And is this leading toward that? At least, you know, not in a perfect way, but in at least directing them. And I’m like, okay, no, being around real life all day is definitely going to lead to this.
Angela Braniff Absolutely.
Lisa Bass So you can rest assured with that.
Lisa Bass When you cook from scratch in your home, one thing that you might notice if you’re new to this whole endeavor is that you need a lot of salt. Whether you are simmering bones for bone broth, gotta add lot of salt to that because store-bought broths come with salts that make it delicious. You’ve got to add your own. Whether you are making ferments like sauerkraut, where you need a tablespoon of quality salt for each head of cabbage. Sourdough. Obviously you don’t feed your starter with salt, but every recipe calls for salt. I have 20 grams and my two loaf recipe. We use a lot of salt in this family because it is good for you and none of our foods come pre-salted. Now because I am trying to source quality meats, quality milk in our home—I take that very seriously; it’s a priority—I also want to make sure that we are sourcing quality salt. That is why I love using Redmond Real Salt. I can trust that I am getting a high quality salt for all of my from-scratch cooking, my ferments, my recipes. They all turn out beautiful with my Redmond salt. And one thing I really don’t want to do is run out. How many times have you gone to just make a simple meal and it’s all from scratch so there’s no added salt, you’re out of salt. You almost have to run to the store for it. I have been buying bulk ten pound bags of salt so that that does not happen to me. We don’t have to re-buy that very often, but it’s so nice having a large stash of that in the pantry that we can often pull from and refill the jar that sits by our stovetop so that we never run out. Redmond Real Salt is offering Simple Farmhouse Life listeners a discount. It will be automatically applied when you go to the link bit.ly/FarmhouseRedmond. I just clicked that link to make sure that everything still worked with it. I added a ten pound bag of salt to my cart and saw the discount, so make sure to head over to Redmond at bit.ly/FarmhouseRedmond. Get your discount and make sure that you never run out of high quality salt for your from-scratch kitchen.
Lisa Bass Okay. The next set of questions have to do with curriculum. I get this a lot. I’m sure since you have a homeschooling course and you do a lot of homeschool content on your YouTube channel and Instagram, I’m sure you get it too. And I have to be honest, I’ve been homeschooling the entire time and I have a 14-year-old and I still don’t really feel like I have a good grasp on curriculums. Okay, so people want to know some guidance on finding the perfect curriculum. That’s the first question.
Angela Braniff So, much like you, I’ve been homeschooling for a long time, and I have tried many a curriculum. I think over the years I’ve learned the first thing you need to understand is what is your teaching style and what is your child’s learning style? Because if you choose a curriculum that doesn’t fit those well, it’s going to just be constant head butting between you and the curriculum. You’re not going to like it or your kid is not going to like it. And it will only make your days harder and will only make you feel like a failure when you’re not and your kid’s not. It’s just likely that you’re just using the wrong curriculum. So it’s important to understand those things. Again, I promise I’m not trying to be like a sales plug for my course because you can find these things online as well if you search for them— teaching style quiz as well as a learning style quizzes for your kids that you answer questions for about your child, and to really understand those and then allow those to inform the different types of curriculum that you start to look at as you’re wanting to narrow it down. It’s a beautiful thing because homeschooling curriculum has come such a long way. There are so many options now. When I was homeschooled back in, I don’t know, like the 80s, I remember driving with my mom in a car up to the mountains of North Carolina to this little Christian store that sold homeschooling curriculum. And there was like five curriculum options and that was it. And now the options are kind of endless, honestly. But yeah, you’ve got to know how you teach. And again, I use that term loosely because I really believe that, as homeschool moms, we’re really more guides. In the beginning, we are teaching, but beyond that we become more of like a guide rather than a teacher. And also how does your child learn? And then you can kind of narrow down the different curriculums from there.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I have a few things to touch on. One, with the guide thing, I was just going to point this out that with my older kids, I make them do a lot of things that are like mom jobs beyond school. Like, for example, there’s a homeschool talent show in our area, and they wanted to do it so bad. And I’m like, “Okay, then you need to go on there, print off the form, figure out what’s required of us.” I made her fill out the whole thing, the envelope. That sounds like a lot of work. I mean, I’m obviously going to be the one bringing them and we just got done doing a practice for it and everything. But I try to make them do even that kind of stuff, like figure out how to print off the form, read the instructions. What do we owe? What all information do we have to write down? I try to push that off on them a lot because I do want to guide them even into, “Okay, you want to do this? Then you need to figure out what you need to do.” I know that doesn’t seem like a big thing, but there are a lot of little things like that that moms just handle. And I do try to guide them to do that themselves. There are so many opportunities like that.
Angela Braniff Yeah, I totally agree. And I think, like you said, it seems like a little thing, but it’s not. And here’s how I reframe these things in my mind. These are competency things. I want my children to be competent. And that means that you are capable of seeing something through from the idea phase to wherever you want the end to be, showing up at the talent show. That they understand everything it takes to get from here to there. Because as moms, we want to do things— and actually, we say “as moms”, but my husband is actually the one that is super guilty of this. I love him to pieces, but he’s the one that’s real guilty of this— that is, “It’s easier if I do it.” That is what he says all the time.
Lisa Bass And it is.
Angela Braniff Sure, it is. You could print off that form. You could fill it out. You know all the— but then your kids think that they just think up an idea and then poof, it’s there. And they don’t recognize or appreciate everything that it takes to get that to that place. And then when they leave your home and they’re like, “Hey, I want to do this. I want to fill out this job application. I want to do this thing,” they’ve got to know how to do that. And this current generation— you know, back again in my day, you know, filling out applications, physically going into a place you wanted to work, getting an application, filling it out, taking it back, talking to people, handing it to them face-to-face, coming back in for— there’s like so many steps that modernity and as technology increases, that get kind of obscured, that kids don’t have to go through some of those like fires and trials that we did, that you’re like, okay, how can I put my kid through at least a little bit of like the awkward gauntlet and all these different steps that you might have to do? Because I’m telling you, when you go out in public and you interact with some young folks who haven’t been through these things, it’s pretty apparent, right? It’s pretty obvious that the competency isn’t there. And that’s it because I don’t expect every one of my children to be geniuses. In fact, I think that genius intellect is sometimes debilitating towards happiness in life.
Lisa Bass They’re not going to be. They’re just not, no matter how good of a teacher you are. That’s kind of natural, you know? Yep.
Angela Braniff Yep. They’re not all going to be geniuses. And again, I don’t really care if you are or not. I just want you to be competent in making choices for your life that you can live with and that will help you succeed in life to take care of yourself and your family and be good to those around you and not sort of through laziness become a burden.
Lisa Bass Right. Yeah. And so many times kids will get an idea, and then I’m like, “Well, what do you—” and they’re like, “Well, can we do this?” And I’m like, “What do you think you got to do next?” And then they’ll ask me questions, I’m like, “What does it say? Why don’t you try to Google that question?” So many times, it might come off as I just don’t have time to do this, but really, I’m like, “No, you can figure this out yourself, and so I’m going to allow you to do that.” And obviously I’ll step in if they go wrong with it. But there’s just so many things that I’m like, “Yeah, that’s possible. Why don’t you just try. You know, let me know what you need, like add it to the Amazon cart and I’ll look it over and see if we can get that.” But I make them— like if they have an idea for something, I make them go into Amazon, add the items that we need for it—or Walmart or whatever it is—to the cart. Obviously I don’t tell them to check out because I need to make sure it’s like not— you know, it’s in budget and whatnot, but there’s so many examples like that. “We’re going to make this thing,” I’m like, “Okay, I guess, you can go Google it and then go on Amazon and figure out the supplies and we’ll see what it— you know, if it’s too expensive. But yeah, I’m going to make you think through that completely 100% from start to finish.”
Angela Braniff Yep, yep, absolutely. They’ve got to learn through those trials and errors. We can’t always protect them and save them from the mistakes that they’re going to make, but they’ve got to figure that stuff out in the real world in a very physical sense, in the real world. It can’t all be a concept that they’re sitting there thinking about, a philosophy class or whatever. That’s great, but they’ve got to have tangible hands-on failures so that they can figure out what can be tricked or gamed and what can’t. And that’s always my thing with my kids is like, “I want you to do things that I know that you can’t use any of your personality skills or anything like that to like trick or game.” This is just a simple, like, if you don’t build this table correctly, it will fall down.
Lisa Bass Right.
Angela Braniff Right? Like if you don’t— baking is a great one. That is a science, not an art, right? If you don’t use the exact amount of proper ingredients, this is not going to work. It’s going to either blow up over the sides of the pan or it’s going to burn or— you know, you have to have the right amount of ingredients. With baking things, it’s not just like a dash of this and a dash of that and see what happens. I mean, some things are a little more forgiving than others. But kids have to learn that. My daughters love to bake, and I will try to help them, but if they weren’t paying attention and they put in a quarter cup of something that was supposed to be a quarter teaspoon and they get all the way down and they’re like, “This tastes like garbage.” I’m like, “Yep, that’s what happens when you don’t pay attention.”
Lisa Bass Right. Yeah. Yeah, I have one that tends to— I think her, the natural what she wants to do is like get every detail. And so with everything, she’ll have a question. And I’m like, “I don’t know. I just can’t— I’m going to not answer that because I need you to try to figure this out without getting every last detail from me first.” And so I think that is what’s so cool when you’re around your kids so much is you can find those— maybe like an otherwise strong kid, like maybe some weak points that you can hopefully work through with them naturally by helping them to— like with the cooking example, I have another one who doesn’t care about details at all. And there have been some natural baking consequences of that personality trait that she also has to learn.
Angela Braniff And what you just said, I think is so important because when you have a child who is a bit of a perfectionist and very detail oriented, in the safety of home, in the safety of love and mom and family, they have to fail. They have to because it will cripple them with anxiety later if they never do anything that they’re not 100% certain of. They’ve got to know that failure isn’t the end and that they’re going to survive past it, because some kids get really— especially very perfectionist Type A kids, if they don’t get an A+++, they’re like, “What has happened? My whole life is over.”
Lisa Bass That’s my kid. Yeah.
Angela Braniff And then that can create sort of a neuroticism in adulthood that can be very difficult to manage and can lead to just life failure because they have a fear— of failure to start, right? A fear to try anything because of a fear of failure. So I always think it’s so important for those very perfectionist kids to learn that they can survive making a mistake. It’s going to be all right. It’s not the end of the world.
Lisa Bass Yeah, yeah, that is definitely what I’m talking about with this particular kid. And she tries— because of— I mean, there’s a lot of things that she tries that she does really well. But then there have been things where she really thought she’d win first place on this certain thing and then she didn’t. And you know, as a mom, it’s always kind of like, “You put a lot of effort into that,” but it’s good. Like that is all good. And I’m actually really happy for situations like that that we can put our kids into where they put their best effort forward and they still don’t win, you know? It’s okay.
Angela Braniff Yep. Yep. And I don’t want to, like, out my sister here. I know she’d be totally fine with me talking about this, but this is like the story of her as a kid and me as a kid. She was just an intelligent, bright, very smart, never made a mistake, teacher’s pet. And when she got to middle school and things got harder and she started to not get straight A’s naturally on everything, she kind of just gave up because she had never experienced any of that failure and it was crippling to her. Whereas I was always like, I don’t know, probably like eating my boogers or running around doing whatever, so I was so used to failure that, to me, for a long time, I went in with an expectation of failure. But I also never walked into a room and thought, “I’m the smartest kid in this room.” I always knew I wasn’t going to be. So I was just okay to try things and fail at things because I knew what that felt like. I was like, “We’ll see what will happen. You know, maybe this will go well, maybe it won’t.” And both of those things led— you know, were not great for us in the end. We both had to work through our own issues with what we thought about ourselves and our intelligence. But she would tell you 100% that that kind of intelligence and not knowing how to deal with it when it doesn’t come naturally or easy or when you don’t win and you’re not perfect, that can be very difficult to deal with. And it’s better, the younger, to just get it out of the way.
Lisa Bass Right. Right. Yeah. Those personalities sound so much like my two daughters. And then they also sound like me and my sister. So do your two girls have a similar dynamic?
Angela Braniff Yes. And theirs is expressed a little bit differently. It’s not quite as in your face as my sister and I were. But we definitely deal with one of them kind of just— it almost comes across as a little bit apathetic or just like, well, whatever, because if she doesn’t know she’s going to be great at it, then she doesn’t even want to try.
Lisa Bass Okay.
Angela Braniff And I can’t. I’m like, “Absolutely not. You get your butt out there and you fail at that and you fail hard. You will come to appreciate—”
Lisa Bass Yeah. Gotta get this over with.
Angela Braniff Yeah, because it’s just there’s such character building in that, and it’s just I see so much value in some of the really hard lessons that I went through and dumb things I did. And I want my kids to have those same experiences. I want them to do dumb things in a safe way in my home where Mom is still here to make sure that this isn’t detrimental to you. This isn’t— you know, you’re not going to die from this. But it’s tough lessons that you don’t want the first time they experience that to be once they’ve left the nest, you know?
Lisa Bass Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. I think that there’s so much value in that. And you can see it as a mom. You can see all these dynamics that other people just can’t see, even people who are fairly close. It’s almost like you have to be that close to really see it.
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Lisa Bass I know we branched pretty far from curriculum because I feel like all this stuff is just like the reason we do it.
Angela Braniff Oh, I’m sorry.
Lisa Bass No, it was me. I was the one who was like, “Speaking of guidance.” That’s right. Okay. But the other thought I had during that was you were talking about butting heads on certain curriculums. And do you feel like there’s a way to not butt heads on certain things like math? If the child hates math, are there certain curriculums that don’t make that happen? Asking for a friend.
Angela Braniff Okay, so this is the part where I become wildly unpopular in the homeschooling community, is to say that over the years, my philosophy on homeschooling and everything has changed greatly because I’ve seen the changes in my kids and how just the things that we value as education and where does that really fit, right? I think, as a society, we value things like rote memorization of math skills that we all know that we have this little phone in our pocket and most of us don’t do a lot of math in our heads on the every day.
Lisa Bass It’s true.
Angela Braniff So, I have chosen to calibrate my expectations with things like math and come to recognize that this world could use a lot more emotionally intelligent people, people who understand their own emotions and feelings and they don’t like, again, ruin the lives of those around them because they don’t understand themselves and why they’re being a certain way. So I’ve come to value making sure that my kids are emotionally intelligent people who are capable of existing in the world and not driving those around them nuts. Right? Being productive citizens and not just like, again, laying around all the time thinking about problems and woe is me all the time and stuff like that.
Lisa Bass Philosophy.
Angela Braniff Like I want my kids to be doers. Listen, I love philosophy, by the way. I absolutely love it. So I feel like I’ve said a few things that have made it seem like I don’t. I love it. My kids are studying it. We talk about stoicism, all that. I love it. But as someone I know that went to college got a philosophy degree said, when she graduated, she quickly realized that the philosophizing company wasn’t hiring. Most of us don’t get to—
Lisa Bass Yeah I always wondered that.
Angela Braniff Sit around and think.
Lisa Bass The philosophizing guy doesn’t have a whole lot of jobs for you.
Angela Braniff Right. Exactly. So that’s not necessarily a paid job. But my point in saying all of that is to say that I think that we need to ease up a bit. I don’t know the age for this person who shall not be named who might be questioning this. I don’t know the age of said child. But here’s what I’ll tell you is that there’s a lot of research out there. There’s particularly a math professor from Stanford, and my brain is slipping on her name, but she wrote a curriculum called Mindset Mathematics. There’s a really fascinating interview, podcast interview with her where she talks about the theory of maths because that’s apparently the technically correct term is “maths” with an S on the end.
Lisa Bass Maths. Okay.
Angela Braniff Didn’t know that until I watched that podcast.
Lisa Bass Mathematics. Makes sense.
Angela Braniff Yeah, she basically explains this idea that we expect children to just memorize things from a super early age with math. Think about how many people say that they don’t like math or they’re not good at math. That is a very common thing that we hear and that we hear a lot from women, women more than men. And we have to ask ourselves, well, why is that? Well, sure, it could be that something about men versus women means that men are naturally better at math perhaps or something? I’m going to probably get roasted for saying that, but I don’t necessarily think that’s—
Lisa Bass They are. I mean, it’s not for us, which is so weird. Like I’m definitely the more natural math person, but whatever.
Angela Braniff But this is what I’m saying is I actually don’t know that I think that it’s a gender-based thing as much as it is mathematics becomes kind of more of an applied thing for boys who are trying to figure out how to tinker with this thing or do this thing and make it work, that more engineering mind. It becomes more applicable to them. Whereas women typically have more of— you know, they have a more caring, caregiver type mindset. We’re thinking in a different way often— not always, but often. And so if we’re being told at third grade to just memorize, memorize, memorize, and it’s of no value to you, you have no—
Lisa Bass Right. Like, what’s the point of this?
Angela Braniff There’s nothing intrinsically in it that says, “I need to know this.” It’s just memorization for memorization’s sake. It’s retained long enough to pass the test and then it’s forgotten. Again, how many times when you talk to homeschooling moms or moms who are interested in homeschooling, do you hear them say, “Oh, I can’t homeschool my kids cause I don’t know—”
Lisa Bass “I don’t know math.”
Angela Braniff “I can’t help my third grader with their math now.” Well, then, why— I say this with all the love…
Lisa Bass Why do you think it’s important? You’re like 35 and successful at something.
Angela Braniff But also, why are you putting your kid back into the same system that failed you?
Lisa Bass In the same— I’ve always said that.
Angela Braniff I don’t understand. I’m not saying that you can’t or whatever, but don’t use the reason that you could never homeschool your kids because you don’t remember fourth grade math in the same breath if you are— you’re like, but you’re trusting the same system to educate your child? No, because they’re going to teach them long enough to remember to pass the test and then it’s gone because it hasn’t made enough connections in your brain to stay because it doesn’t have a value to the child yet, which is why this professor teaches this whole mindset mathematics. So instead of teaching the whole year about one math concept, a whole year about algebra, it’s taking larger math concepts and teaching them throughout the year in different ways that are applied so that they have some kind of tangible sense to the child. And so with that said, also, as I have been teaching my kids math, I have been relearning math myself because I was terrible at math in school. And I always thought I was just bad at math until I started redoing it with my kids because I thought, “Well, I can’t help them with this if I don’t learn it.” So I basically was sort of like pseudo taking their math classes with them and discovered that I actually really enjoyed it. My kids have come out here into my cabin before and found me doing—I’m ashamed to say this—algebra worksheets by myself for fun.
Lisa Bass That’s hilarious.
Angela Braniff I would print them algebra worksheets for them to do for practice, you know? And I would print an extra one for myself to do it because I found that like, oh wow, when I’m learning this now, when I care to learn it, I want to learn it, now it makes sense and I can retain it.
Lisa Bass It makes sense.
Angela Braniff I would say if kids are really struggling with math, the ones in the younger years, just try— I mean, even this Stanford professor, this isn’t just me, the Stanford professor says very, very basics until middle school.
Lisa Bass Okay. Yeah.
Angela Braniff Your third grader does not have to memorize multiplication facts. If they are so inclined, if they are interested, follow the interest. But you can kind of hit pause until you get to—and by the way, you could do that with a lot of topics like science and history as well—wait till you get to middle school to really drill down on these things, because the truth is they’re not going to remember it from before.
Lisa Bass No.
Angela Braniff You typically have to learn something three times to retain it for the long term.
Lisa Bass Yeah.
Angela Braniff Especially if you’re learning it when you are six, eight, and nine or whatever. Right? But as far as actual curriculums go, there are three that I really like for people who are not naturally or don’t feel naturally inclined to math or their children don’t feel naturally inclined to math. There’s one that is a series of books called Learn Math Fast. You can buy them on Amazon. There’s I want to say like five different volumes. They are meant for anybody who wants to sharpen their math skills. Maybe you’re an adult who doesn’t remember anything; you could do these books. Or if you’ve got a kid who is just behind and needs to kind of relearn some things— and there’s actually a great little test in the beginning that they ask you to ask the child to answer this math question. And if it takes them more than a couple of seconds to answer it, then you know that they need to essentially start from the beginning of this curriculum because essentially the foundation of how they understand math isn’t good, so they need to start back at the beginning. But Learn Math Fast is great. Once you get into middle school, high school, Shormann Math, I think is fantastic. If you have a kid that is college bound, if your kid is wanting to go to college and you’re wanting them to go to college, Shormann Math, I think, does a very good and thorough job. You can have physical books and stuff, but it’s online classes that you can watch the videos and self-paced and stuff, but very good job of explaining concepts and making it easier. And one of the newer ones that we have just started using with one of my kids is called Denison Algebra. This curriculum has two different volumes, if you will, two different— I guess I mean, it’s technically both algebra, but one is for— I don’t know that he actually says “for special needs kids”, but just for kids who really, really are struggling with algebra, who really need it broken down. Very, very basic, basic, basic. And then one is like— both of them are meant for kids who don’t love math and who are not naturally inclined to it and need the wins, right? Kids need the wins along the way. And if every lesson feels like “I’m a moron, I can’t do it,” then they just never build the confidence to keep going. And I’m really pleased, really pleased with the Denison Algebra right now. Really pleased with it. So those are kind of my recommendations for struggling math, and I have a lot of input on that. Ask me how because math I feel like is just a tough one.
Lisa Bass Yeah. Well, and what’s funny is you were talking about the applied thing… I personally understand math. I’ve always liked it, but I’ve also had a inclination toward certain, I guess, like business-y things and whatnot. So whenever I’m sitting down doing Abeka math with this child, I am constantly pulling her out of the book and being like— like if she has to find 27% of this certain number and she’s like— let’s say it’s 27% of 150, and then she’ll say, like 612, I’m like, “Okay, if I said I’m going to give you 27% of $150, would you expect me to give you 600? No. Okay. So what I’m trying to do is get you out of this random little book and into the real world, because I know that you understand what 27% of $150 is. Like if I gave you that, you’d probably run some quick math. It’s about a third. You’d expect 50 bucks from me, right? Yes. Well, then why did you think the answer would be 600? Well, because it’s so random. What’s the point of this?” And she even articulated it to me, kind of how you said, like, well, you know, she’s probably— or you didn’t say she, but whatever, this is a she. So you guys now know who this is. But she’s like, “What’s the point of this? I could be playing with Theo or making lunch.” And I’m like, “But you have to learn your math.” But she’s like, “This doesn’t make sense because I could be doing so many more productive things right now.” And I’m like, “Yeah, but you also have to learn your math.” So it’s just funny because it’s like she can articulate what’s the point of this? And I’m trying to pull her out of the stupid Abeka book into the real world. I’m like, “Well, how could 27% of 150 be 600? You know that’s not right.” But she just starts plugging numbers in and they feel very random to her and not applicable in any way, and so she’s just like, “Well sure, it’s 600 because I plugged it in and I got that.” You know?
Angela Braniff Listen, this is exactly what this Learn Math Fast— in fact, that exact example you used, when he talks about percentages, he talks about money. He talks about thinking about numbers as— money is one of the categories to think of them as, and it’s exactly that. Like if your brain feels discombobulated with these numbers, stop and think about 100% as $1. And you know, the way he explains it, it really does take it off the page and right into like, oh, okay. Because the truth is that, yeah, she could be doing something else, but that is helpful because if you go to the store and this shirt you want to buy says 30% off you, you want to be able do that math pretty quickly in your head to figure out how much this item is going to cost. And yeah, you could pull out your phone, but—
Lisa Bass Run some quick numbers.
Angela Braniff It’s easier and faster just to do it in your head. Yeah, really quickly. And with baking, I mean, it doesn’t surprise me at all that you are good at math naturally. There’s a lot of things that you do that I could see exactly why those things go hand in hand. And I’ve had to learn those just like as I’m doing DIY projects and building. Honest to God, I’m embarrassed to tell you this, but I will just shame myself for the sake of the listener who might feel the same way, is that when you gave me a measuring tape and it was like the fourth little tick, I was like, “I don’t know, it’s like five and four little ticks.”
Lisa Bass Five ticks. Yeah.
Angela Braniff And my husband’s like, “That’s not a measurement.”
Lisa Bass I do that, too, actually though.
Angela Braniff But it was like I kind of had to finally go, “Okay, I need to know this.” Because, again, building something is just like baking something. You can’t— if it’s a quarter of an inch off, the darn thing is not going to stay together. It’s not going to hold up. You know what I mean?
Lisa Bass Won’t be level.
Angela Braniff Exactly. So there’s definitely— to me, that is real life applied math. That’s where I have my kids help and do things and take measurements. And then they get to see around the farm as we’re putting up fencing and we’re spacing boards or we’re putting something on the wall or whatever. Like this is why this stuff matters. The bridges you drive across every day— you know, those kind of things. If math wasn’t valuable, we would be floating in the Savannah River instead of driving across this bridge. So somebody needs to know math.
Lisa Bass Well, and this particular child, my point is that I know she does get the numbers. I know from experience that she would understand that in the real world. But when it’s on this page, to her, it suddenly is meaningless and she can’t grasp it. And so I have to bring it back to something that she understands. If we’re doing like pints and quarts, I’m like, “Now if I said this took a pint, would you expect to…” “Well, no.” “But you understand it in the real life, but whenever I go and put it on this worksheet, it just loses all meaning to you.” And so I’m like, maybe we just need to get out of Abeka for this particular child. Because I just think it’s just not working out. It’s just annoying.
Angela Braniff I’ve never used Abeka, but I do know that a lot of people who’ve got kids that think differently, that’s been like the one curriculum I’ve heard to avoid for kids who need to— you know, I don’t know. I mean, it’s like when you’re a kinesthetic learner and you need something tangible, then it’s like, well, yeah, you could just pull those things out physically and say, “Okay, well then answer the question physically here and I’ll check it that you got it right. As long as you don’t have to read it.”
Lisa Bass Yeah, then they can get it.
Angela Braniff Yeah, than just, you know, physically. But again, I also understand that we struggle with like, but we need them to be able to take tests for certain things.
Lisa Bass Right.
Angela Braniff And again, if they are college bound, that to me is always where like if this is a college bound kid, then you do have to follow more of the norms in order for them to be able to take entrance exams and stuff like that. But I also feel like a lot of that can be sharpened up in high school those last couple of years in high school and just not killing their love of learning and before they get to the really hard stuff. Right? Like when stuff is supposed to be pretty lightweight, easy, fun, I don’t want to just completely snuff out your love of learning before you’ve had to learn about the hard, hard stuff where you’re like, “Oh my, forget it. I’m a moron, and I will never understand.”
Lisa Bass Right. I’ll never get this.
Angela Braniff I don’t want them to go into the hard stuff with that. Yeah.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I’m always telling this particular child that. I’m like, “You really do get these numbers. It’s just whenever we’re doing this that suddenly you don’t.” And so I’m trying to have one foot in the “I’m not going to destroy all of her confidence in math” and the other foot in like “but we have to get this.” And I’m like, “Why am I beating my head against a wall on this?” Like I know my homeschool philosophy and this does not fit into it. I know that. But there are certain things that you just start to buy into.
Angela Braniff I’m not being the mom I want to be when you’re doing this.
Lisa Bass Exactly.
Angela Braniff Yeah. I always hate it when my kids don’t let me be the kind of mom that I want to be.
Lisa Bass Yes. They really get in the way of that.
Angela Braniff It’s all your fault. I was such a nice mom in my head.
Lisa Bass Yeah, before all the actual hard stuff happens, which I know that we’re not even there in life, as moms say, like, “Oh, yeah, you think this is hard? Wait till they move out or they’re driving at 10:00 at night because they’re 25 and they can do whatever they want and they don’t text you when they get home,” like, you know, that kind of stuff. That should be fun.
Lisa Bass Did you make a New Year’s goal this year of cooking more from scratch, maybe going around the exterior parts of the grocery store, focusing on whole grains, meats, dairies, vegetables in order to make your meals more simple and learn those from-scratch techniques. Maybe you even want to start buying your grains in bulk. Something that has been a game changer for us and our family is milling our own grains. When you mill grains from scratch, you get the most nutrients out of the grain as they start to break down very quickly after they’re ground into flour. Milling at home means that you can buy grains in bulk so that you can buy large quantities and have a food storage. And for your health, I love using whole grains in my recipes. Sometimes I don’t always do them all whole, but mixing in a little bit of whole grains gives it color, flavor, and of course, nutrition. Our favorite mill in the farmhouse is our Mockmill. It works beautifully and it looks so lovely on the countertop. It’s beautiful and bamboo and it sits out and I can quickly and easily make flour for our recipes. You can get 5% off the Mockmill by visiting bit.ly/FarmhouseMockmill. That brings you to my website where you can click the link. The reason you have to do that is that’s how they track you for the discount. So there isn’t actually a coupon code, but whenever you go to check out, that is where you will see the 5% discount. They had a lot of coupon scraping sites that were making it to where people were getting the discount that didn’t have a link. So again, go to bit.ly/FarmhouseMockmill. That is where you can click the link and get 5% off and check out the Mockmill we love so much in our kitchen.
Lisa Bass Okay. Before I let you go, I have a few homeschool philosophy questions. So one would be, were you nervous or scared to start homeschooling? And then ultimately, what made you decide to do it, even though maybe you were or weren’t?
Angela Braniff I was absolutely terrified to start homeschooling. I was not— I was scared to. As somebody who was homeschooled on and off, I was terrified to homeschool because I felt like I wasn’t smart enough.
Lisa Bass Hmm. Yeah.
Angela Braniff But my ultimate reason for wanting to do it was basically exactly what I said earlier was that I struggled a lot in early education and my mom ended up pulling me out to homeschool me, and come to find out, I wasn’t a moron. I just needed the information in a different way.
Lisa Bass Right. Yeah.
Angela Braniff However, the damage that that did to my psyche as a little kid, believing that I was just stupid, it became something that took me 30+ years to get over and to shake and to see beyond and to not feel like I was always having to prove something to myself or to other people. And I didn’t want that for my kids. I didn’t want my kids to hate learning. I didn’t want my kids to hate reading because I hated reading as a kid. I love reading now. I read 50, 60 books a year. I tried— I mean, my goal is always 100. I never make it there. But I read a ton of books. And I wanted my kids to love it, too, and not hate it. I didn’t want the school system to beat the love of learning out of them. Not always intentionally, but just by nature of not being able to be individualistic in the way that sometimes is necessary, not to snuff that love out for kids. So that, to me, was more— like that weighed heavier for me more than my fear in the beginning. It let me at least get started.
Lisa Bass Yeah. I don’t remember how fearful I was of it, but I do know that some homeschool kids— like you know that “grass is greener on the other side”, sometimes they think, “Well, maybe I struggle in this certain school area because I was homeschooled.” And the kids who went to school maybe know that that’s not the case. And so you have that insight that, for me, in my mind, made me a little bit more confident to homeschool. But yeah, I guess the encouragement is people who do feel scared, you stepped out, did it anyways, and now you’re— you know, you have some kids— you’re still in the thick of it in most ways possible, but you do still have some kids on the other side that you can be like, “Okay, we actually got through most of this so far.”
Angela Braniff And the other thing is that people will say things to you that you have to learn to block out. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves these days is if you have a quiet child or a shy child, again, people will chock that kind of stuff up to being homeschooled, right? Well, like, “Oh, your kid just might be like a weird homeschooler. You need to get out more.” It’s like, but there’s quiet and shy kids in public school as well.
Lisa Bass Yeah.
Angela Braniff So it’s important to remember that your kid is going to be whatever it is their personality type and stuff is going to be. And just because your kid is homeschooled, doesn’t mean they have to be a genius. I think there’s a pressure that every homeschool child should appear like some prodigy because they’re homeschooled in order to— as like this defense of homeschooling. That if you’re going to make this just wild decision to homeschool your kids, then your kids should have to prove that it was the right decision by their great intellect that just blows everyone else out of the water. And listen, I have books up here about families that have these kids that are like in medical school at Harvard at 13 or whatever.
Lisa Bass Yeah, like, that does happen.
Angela Braniff That happens for sure. For sure. But is that your goal? Is that what you’re trying to do is to raise a prodigy?
Lisa Bass No, not mine.
Angela Braniff Maybe homeschooling isn’t right if that’s the only thing that you care about. But for most of us, it’s not. And you have to block out the noise of that stuff and understand that people are often uncomfortable with things that they don’t understand and don’t have any experience with. And for a lot of people, your decision to homeschool feels like an indictment on their decision not to. And you can’t let that attitude— they’re going to have a natural— they can have a natural attitude of needing to defend their decision not to homeschool their kids in ways that will often appear as though it’s an attack on your decision to homeschool or looking for some kind of proof that you’re worthy of being able to homeschool your kids or that your kids are prodigies or geniuses because of it. And that’s not the goal with homeschooling. So the sooner that you can get out of that, not fall into that trap to begin with, but if you’re in it, get out of it— the sooner you can do that, the more peaceful, smooth and just smooth sailing your homeschooling journey will be.
Lisa Bass Mm hmm. Yeah. I couldn’t agree more because you’re going to get it no matter what. Even if your kids appear successful. It’s still going to be something people do. So. Okay. Tell us about your course and the best place to follow up and find you for those who aren’t already following along.
Angela Braniff Yeah. So my homeschooling course is a six-week self-paced course. I say this not as a sales pitch, but it’s something that I poured my heart and soul into. Wanted it to be really like A to Z. You know, if you’re completely new to homeschooling and totally unsure where to start, or maybe you’ve been homeschooling for six years and you’re like, “I feel like I’m doing this wrong. I don’t feel like this is working how I wanted it to. I’m not happy. I don’t feel like my kids are happy,” and you just want to like, reboot, reevaluation, kind of starting again from the ground up and making sure that— it doesn’t mean you have to change everything, you just might want to be evaluating things along the way. So that’s what this course does over six weeks. There’s 40+ video lessons in them. I did them based off of outlines, so I don’t wax poetic in the videos like I do in interviews like this. It’s much more concise. And there’s a workbook and all of that. So hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of students have taken it. And I’ve heard from first-time homeschoolers to former teachers to veteran homeschoolers or varsity homeschool moms, as I like to call them, who have really found value in the course. So I’m very proud of it. And it’s one of those things that I’m really happy with how much it’s helped other people, and that was my goal with it. So that’s available. You can go to my website ThisGatheredNest.com. There’s a little link at the top.
Lisa Bass Okay.
Angela Braniff It’s called The Art of Home Education. But then otherwise you can just find me on YouTube. My personal channel, Angela Braniff. Our family channel, This Gathered Nest. And Instagram, @ThisGatheredNest. And those are kind of the only places. I avoid all the other places of the Internet.
Lisa Bass Can’t find you on TikTok doing dances or anything?
Angela Braniff Nope. Nope. Nobody wants to see that. Nobody wants to see that. I’m nearly 40 years old. Nobody wants to watch me dancing.
Lisa Bass Awesome. Well, thank you so much.
Angela Braniff Thank you so much for having me. I was totally honored to be a guest.
Lisa Bass All right, well, thank you so much for listening, and I will see you in the next episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast.