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The Write Perspective: Interviews with Homeschooling Bloggers

October 13–17, 2014   |   Vol. 121, Week 3

A lot of us have favorite blogs we like to follow. But did you know that some of their authors are also homeschooling parents? This week on Home School Heartbeat, four homeschooling bloggers explains how they tell their stories to a wide-ranging audience.

“I’ve been thrilled by the optimistic feedback! People are curious about who homeschoolers are, and that has fueled my fire to continue to bridge this gap.”—Andrea McKenzie

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A lot of us have favorite blogs we like to follow. But did you know that some of their authors may also be homeschooling parents? This week on Home School Heartbeat, we’ll explore how these bloggers are portraying homeschooling to a wide-ranging audience.

Mike Farris: My guest today is columnist and homeschooling mom Andrea McKenzie. Andrea, welcome to the program!

Andrea McKenzie: Thanks for having me, Mike!

Mike: Andrea, you often write about your homeschooling experience for Patch in Ledyard, Connecticut. It’s a community-specific news site, and this is introducing the homeschool experience to lots of people for their first time. Why did you decide to write about homeschooling for Patch?

Andrea: Well, we’ve homeschooled for six years in four different locations, and I’ve noticed that there is a great disconnect between the homeschooling community and the rest of the world. There are too many stereotypes on both sides of the aisle, and I want to bridge that gap, and I want to do it with humor. And humor just always disarms people.

In my column, I elaborate on the positive and the negative sides of the homeschooling lifestyle, in an attempt to open the eyes of people who’ve never been exposed to homeschoolers. But I also do that in an effort to encourage my fellow warriors in the trenches.

The response has been overwhelming from both homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers alike. If I can’t convince people to join us—which is always my ulterior motive—at least I can help them in some way understand who we are. And I believe this is a vital time for homeschoolers to have positive public relations.

Mike: Andrea, that is great.

Mike: Today I’m joined by Heather Sanders. She is a contributing writer to the very popular blog, The Pioneer Woman. Welcome to the show, Heather!

Heather Sanders: Thanks, Mike!

Mike: Heather, The Pioneer Woman has been featured in major newspapers like the New York Times. What’s it like writing aboust homeschooling for a worldwide audience?

Heather: Well, when I write my posts, I don’t really think about the fact that I’m writing to a worldwide audience—that would be a little bit overwhelming! But homeschooling is a personal conviction for our family. And so my posts are all about sharing how we live out that conviction. Sometimes that might mean I’m writing a post about how I organize our weekly binders, and other times it might be about a particular product that we like.

But there are advantages to working on a blog that has such a large audience. Because when we were getting ready for a three-week adventure across the Central and Western U.S., we asked the bloggers to tell us where to go in their states. And they did! But I do think that my posts are just as relevant for a worldwide audience as if I was sitting and talking with one of my girlfriends over a cup of coffee about homeschooling.

Mike: Thanks so much!

Mike: Today I’m joined by Kerry McDonald. She’s a homeschooling mom of three, and lives in the city of Boston, Massachusetts. Kerry, welcome to the program!

Kerry McDonald: Thanks for having me, Mike.

Mike: Kerry, a lot of your blog focuses on your experience of homeschooling your children in a big city. What made you decide to share your journey with the internet audience?

Kerry: I started writing my blog, City Kids Homeschooling, because I think there’s an increasing number of urban parents who want to remain city dwellers, but who are not interested in the city’s public or private school offerings. For a growing number of these parents, homeschooling can be a great option.

In my blog, I try to showcase how urban homeschooling involves using the city and its many resources as our primary learning tools. I hope really to show current and prospective city homeschoolers that they can build a robust and engaging curriculum using the city’s museums—many of which have homeschooling-specific programs—and other city resources, like libraries, universities, public spaces, numerous cultural events, and interesting and knowledgeable neighbors. So City Kids Homeschooling really encourages urban parents to give homeschooling a try!

Mike:  It’s always enjoyable to hear about different ways families approach homeschooling. It’s important to show the public that there are a lot of different ways it can be done!

Mike: I’m here today with writer Danielle Bean. She’s the mother of eight and the editorial director of Faith & Family. It’s both a magazine and an online presence. It’s great to have you here, Danielle!

Danielle Bean: Hi! Thanks Mike, it’s good to be here.

Mike: Danielle, you’ve been involved with some very successful blogs, including the National Catholic Register. How do you find time to write and edit while you’re still homeschooling a small number of kids—eight?

Danielle: Well some days are certainly a challenge. But for the most part, I’ve been surprised to find that my working from home is actually a natural extension of our homeschooling philosophy and lifestyle. We put God, and then our family’s home life, first in all things. And as a family, we tend to look at every day as an opportunity to learn and grow and contribute to our community together as a family. So the way that we’ve always worked our schooling around a schedule that meets everyone’s needs and makes sense for our family—we bring that same attitude of flexibility to my working at home.

Our family, we consider ourselves a team, you know? Whether it’s school or it’s Mom’s work, we cooperate and we compromise to make it fit into our home life. And that way we can be part of society on our own terms without ever having to compromise our family-first values.

Mike: I’m so grateful that there are mothers like you who can represent the privileges and the joys and the opportunities of raising a large family. Thanks for doing that, Danielle.

Mike: Today I’m going to be asking our blogger guests from this week how they’ve been impacted by writing about homeschooling in their blog. Let’s start with Andrea.

Andrea McKenzie: I’ve been thrilled by the optimistic feedback! People are curious about who homeschoolers are, and that has fueled my fire to continue to bridge this gap.

Mike: Heather, what’s your response?

Heather Sanders: We have several who are reading there to supplement their children’s education. We have others who are trying to decide whether or not they want to homeschool, as well as public and private school teachers, and even school administrators. So there’s a challenge—but it’s only that I don’t get lazy in the content that I post.

Mike: And Kerry, what would you have to say?

Kerry McDonald: Well, I really enjoy meeting current and prospective homeschooling parents at park days and other homeschooling activities and hearing, “Hey, I really enjoy following your blog, City Kids Homeschooling.” I hope that it’s encouraging some parents to remain city dwellers and homeschool their kids!

Mike: Finally, Danielle, what are your thoughts?

Danielle Bean: Well, my readers have responded with generally an overwhelming sense of gratitude that someone is putting a personal and a positive face on homeschooling in the media. And I, in turn, have been encouraged by my readers, because it’s through them that I can see the wide variety of ways that families find success and happiness through homeschooling.

Mike: Thank you so much for joining us this week, and thanks for putting a real face on homeschooling for your readers! I’m Mike Farris.

Andrea McKenzie

Andrea McKenzie attended Gordon College, receiving a BA in English Language and Literature with a minor in Secondary Education. She has been married to Glenn—handy-man/pastor extraordinaire—for 17 years, and they have four children, ages 15, 13, 10 and 8. Andrea loves to read, cook, garden, is a terrible housekeeper, and wrote a bi-weekly column about the homeschooling lifestyle for the Ledyard, Ct., Patch for a year and a half. She blogs about curriculum and loves to lend a helping hand to newbies in the community.

Kerry McDonald

Kerry has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Bowdoin College and a Master’s degree in Education from Harvard University. She is a secular homeschooling mom with three young children. Kerry blogs about urban homeschooling at City Kids Homeschooling. Prior to motherhood, Kerry wrote Your Unique Wedding: Say ‘I Do’ With A Twist.

Heather L. Sanders

Heather is a leading homeschooling journalist who inspires homeschooling families to live, love and learn. Married to her husband, Jeff, for 20 years, Heather lives in the East Texas Piney Woods where she currently still home schools two of her three kids. She blogs weekly about homeschooling at ThePioneerWoman.com's Homeschooling blog and on her own blog at www.HeatherSanders.com

Danielle Bean

Danielle Bean, a mother of eight, is editor-in-chief of Catholic Digest. She is also the author of My Cup of Tea: Musings of a Catholic Mom, Mom to Mom, Day to Day: Advice and Support for Catholic Living, and (with Elizabeth Foss) Small Steps for Catholic Moms: Think. Pray. Act. Every Day. Danielle is available as a speaker on a variety of subjects related to Catholic family life, homeschooling, marriage, and motherhood.

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