Freedom Schooling: An interview by Peggy Hall with Andrea Olson
Have you wanted to check out homeschooling but wondered how to fit “all the things” into your already busy days? Are you worried you won't be able to juggle multiple kids, or toddlers in the mix? Need help navigating your state's regulations (or even where to find them?)? You do NOT want to miss this JAM-PACKED interview!!
Peggy and I share how ANYONE, ANYWHERE can start giving their child/ren the gift of an empowering, engaging, life-long learning experience RIGHT NOW. (This is the SAME method I use with my kids, while also running three businesses!) And yes, we answer the socialization question!
PLEASE NOTE: I staunchly believe that parents are the best people to decide what's in their own childrens' best interests. Peggy (and yours truly!) touch quite a bit on FREEDOM in this episode, including how that relates to all the stuff that's been a huge part of everyone's life, lately. If those topics aren't your cup of tea, feel free to skip listening to the episode and jump right to the resource section for all the links homeschooling, curriculum, focus time, and work-from-home! No hard feelings, no judgment.
You will hear:
- Peggy's fire for helping parents start homeschooling
- Andrea's story of homeschooling her 5 kids
- why this topic is so important, even if your child is just an infant!
- how EC empowered Andrea to homeschool
- homeschooling's gift of independence and confidence
- how marketing, from diapers to other products, influences our choices for our children
- how EC (and freeschooling!) dissolves emotional distress, empowers children and frees parents
- what steps to take to form your own community so you don't feel alone
- why using a curriculum is totally ok, even if you're freeschooling
- what is a Morning Basket, and why it is the most awesome piece of your day
- how to use Focus Time to maximize your efforts while minimizing “schooling” time
- why this is not about stuffing your day with “things to do” (and how to combat that mindtrap)
- how to interpret parent overwhelm and child resistance and pivot for success!
- the big socialization question
- how to slow down and be present before the days fly by
- ...and so many resources for your toolkit!
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- Peggy Hall (website)
- Contact Andrea for freedom connection in NC (or start your own group!!)
- Freedom Learning
- Shope Creek School (now called Appalachian Academy of Therapeutic Arts)
- The Parenting Junkie
- Moving Beyond the Page
- Morning Basket (Pam Barnhill)
- Classical Conversations
- Tuttle Twins
- HSDLA for states’ homeschooling regulations
- Great Homeschool Conventions
- Dave Ramsey
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
Transcript download: Freedom Schooling: An interview by Peggy Hall with Andrea Olson
Hey, you guys. Welcome back. Last week we had an interview with Melissa Ambrosini. It was amazing. Check it out, episode 180, if you missed it. And this week I am going to bring to you the interview that I did with Ms Peggy Hall. She is the woman behind thehealthyamerican.org. And she is on fire about helping parents start homeschooling. She is an amazing freedom fighter. I turned to her for help with so many things. She wants to teach everybody about what she calls freedom schooling. I wrote in and I told her what we’re doing in my homeschool with my five children. She was so inspired she had me on your YouTube channel last year to share my story with her audience.
I know a lot of you are interested in homeschooling or are looking into it and could benefit from this interview. Now, I'm going to warn you. We talk about more than just homeschooling. In case you don't know me, I am a staunch freedom fighter. I absolutely think that without our freedom we have nothing else. Freedom to choose our paths in life, especially with our babies, is so important to me. Every decision I make for my kids is based on what I think, as their mother, is in their best interest. I believe that each of us were born with that inside of us. We were given these children, we have what we need to handle this, and we can guide their lives in the way that we feel best.
That being said, this interview reveals a few parts of myself (that I’m not ashamed to share!) that you may or may not have known before. If you’d rather just listen to EC topics, that's fine! Feel free to skip this episode. But, for those of you who want to take control of your child's education, (even if they're just still a baby), or you want a feel for what it's like homeschooling multiple children, or what it's like to freedom school (which is a type of homeschooling), you’ll learn all about it in this episode. At any point after this, you can reach out to Peggy Hall for more information on freedom schooling through her website, thehealthyamerican.org.
The show notes (the full transcript) will be posted over at godiaperfree.com/181. I hope you enjoy and learn a lot from this interview! If you have any questions about the way that I homeschool, please put those in the comments. Again, if any of this stuff rubs you the wrong way, I'm sorry. But I also feel compelled to share this because of the state of the world we're in. Our children are the most important piece of this puzzle, and we parents have the right to raise them according to what we believe is in their best interests. Your choice about your child is your decision and I honor you for that. There is no judgment! All I ask is the same from you. Take what you can from this interview and be inspired. If you're going to homeschool, take some notes from what I’ve learned and share in the interview today. Okay, let's get started!
Hey, there. Welcome to the Go Diaper Free podcast. I'm Andrea Olson, your host, author, and mom of five babies, all EC from birth, all out of diapers by walking.
Welcome, everyone. This is Peggy Hall from thehealthyamerican.org. I'm here Tuesdays and Thursdays at three o'clock California time for my Life Stream. You've heard of a “live stream”; this is a Life Stream because we talk about everything related to your life and keeping it healthy. I have Andrea Olson with me today. She is a healthy American, and she’s the creator of a business called Go Diaper Free. Andrea, welcome.
Thank you, Peggy. I'm a huge fan. It's an honor to be here and speak with your group today.
Tell me about your business.
I have five children ages 2 to 10 - five over an 8-year span. Some might call me nuts, but I love that. They're amazing. They are so independent. They are so prepared for the world already. It is literally because of the way I started them off. There are all these false studies saying children need to “wait for readiness,” and our potty training age has consequently increased from 18 months old in 1957 to an average of three years now.
I know. It's nuts. All because of “scientific studies” from experts who work for Pampers and other places that benefit from our prolonged usage of diapers.
“Let's sell more diapers!”
Diapers are expensive. Right?
Yes, they're very expensive. I've saved about $10,000 by getting all my kids out of diapers by 1 year old, by walking. None of them have really pooped in their diapers since they were born, because we do something called Elimination Communication. We just listen and respond to their cues. All mammals are born telling us when they need to go to the bathroom, telling us when they need to eat, telling us when they need to sleep. You just have to figure it out. That’s what I teach. It’s amazing. I've written four books on the topic. My kids never needed potty training. I've saved tons of money. I've also saved the environment - we haven't landfilled all those diapers that never biodegrade. In that way, I'm a freedom fighter for babies. This is their health freedom, and we're teaching it from the very beginning when we do EC with them. That's one of my businesses.
“EC” is Elimination Communication?
Elimination Communication, yes.
I love it.
EC is so much easier than some people think. Babies are built perfectly, they come out perfectly, knowing that they need to go and communicating that to us parents. It's just awesome to experience. It's freedom for parents. I've never had two in diapers and I've had five kids within eight years.
You know what I am hearing, Andrea, is all of the emotional distress is also dissolved. I have some friends who are young parents. I hear about their struggles and it just breaks my heart, because this miscommunication is stressful on a child. That’s where my heart really goes. The fact is, like you say, they're born knowing what to do. We just need to tune into those cues. You're saving money, you're saving the environment, you're saving the stress, the strain. It also seems like the children are very empowered and there's a sense of dignity in conducting themselves. I'm trying to put this delicately. Can you elaborate on the dignity part?
Yes. EC gives them the gift of their hygiene. This is why they cry and cry and cry and you'll say, "Oh my gosh, what do you want? Do you want some more breast milk? Do you want to be held? Do you want to go to sleep? I don't know!" Because we're new moms, we don't know. Then we figure out, "Oh, you're wet or dirty, that's why you were crying." No, they were crying for you to take the diaper off so that they could be listened to, and go outside the diaper, be free of soiling themselves. We have completely lost touch with our children’s elimination cues because of the global marketing of the diaper. And it's been this huge, another big thing that's based on false science that we're starting to unlearn, which is great. It's really hard to go up against these big money corporations, but we’re starting to unlearn the false science, which is great.
Now parents can say, "Wow, I really want an independent, empowered child with their dignity intact who never is forced to go to the bathroom on themselves because they aren't born wanting to do that." It’s amazing how fast you can poop-train a baby. Within hours. Within days. It is so easy.
Where can everybody find out about this? I don't even have little kids and I want to do it. I want to work with my dog and cat. I’ve got to do it with my dog!
I'm way worse with dogs and cats. I've got two puppies right now and I'm always saying, "Stop peeing on my carpet." You can find more information on my website, weekly podcast, YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram. My website is godiaperfree.com. If you want to look into it but feel like, "Oh my gosh, I could never do that," just know a lot of people do it part-time and it's still amazing. It helps you be a better parent, too. Which brings us to the long-term. We're going to put really good humans into the world who start off on the right foot. I’m not saying if you didn't do this, you're a bad parent or your kids are going to fail, but there are so many advantages to just having the keys to your own castle. Your child’s body sovereignty starts right from birth.
Let's take our conversation to homeschooling. Now, you’re so busy, Andrea, with all your businesses. And you’re doing this! I want to go back to the ages of your kids. Parents who are listening, there are remedies for everything. I understand. I've been a teacher for over 30 years in higher education, a lot of K-12 professional development. I do not recommend a child being in public school, not only because of the curriculum, but it actually holds the kids back. I want to help empower parents to know that regardless of their situation, whether they have special needs kids, whether they've never taught, whether they're divorced, single, a working parent, “school” does not have to be 8 to 5 while you're at work.
There're so many other remedies and opportunities. I'll give a little plug here to thehealthyamerican.org, hop over to “Freedom Learning” where we are about to launch an entire certificate program for people who want to run schools or run groups, or just want to learn, themselves. Many people now are struggling in the educational realm. So, take it away, Andrea. Give us the A to Z, how you got started, how the kids are doing, and some of your ideas. I looked at some, it just looks so fun!
It is so much fun. It wasn't fun, though, when I first tried it before kindergarten. In 2019, I tried for a month to homeschool because I met a mother of 10 who did it and ran her puppy breeding business. I thought, "Oh my gosh, if you can do this, I can do this." But I couldn't. I tried to bring school to home and it backfired. At this point let me mention, if you're in my area, there is a school forming called Shope Creek School (now called Appalachian Academy of Therapeutic Arts). They do what I do in my homeschool, but with structured grades and hired teachers. So not only is there a farmer's market, there's also a school that we are building.
I know. It's so amazing. This is what we've always wanted. In our Go Diaper Free community, I have a lot of homeschooling moms. They always said, "Oh, I assumed you homeschooled, too. What? You don't? You send your kids to public school?" I did. I sent my daughter to kindergarten for six months, then the lockdowns happened. We completely shut down, they switched to virtual school, and gave my daughter an iPad for kindergarten. I said, “No way!” We do not do screen time, except once a week for a movie. This iPad was like the moth to the flame. All my kids were going nuts. So I said to the school, "Hey, I want worksheets instead." They handed me a stack of worksheets, no instructions.
That was the tipping point. I thought, "Okay, I have a curriculum that I bought and tried at the beginning of the year, I'm going to figure out how to do this efficiently and effectively, which is how I operate my businesses. I only work 15 hours a week. I do have a babysitter while I work. Maybe I can figure this out." So I took my friend Avital's course, it's called Focus Time. It's at theparentingjunkie.com. It is inexpensive. It's a great compliment to homeschooling. I took your course too, because that came a little later and your Freedom Learning was amazingly helpful. Your webinar gave me so much permission that I needed to hear to do the things I wanted to do. Avital's course basically taught me that I could homeschool in 30 minutes a day per kid, at the most. Not four hours per kid! I was hooked.
My kids are ages, two, four, five and a half, seven and ten. My oldest is from a previous relationship. He is utilizing virtual school because he has Asperger’s and this method actually works really well for him. He’s thriving in his method, the rest of us utilize the garage I transformed into my studio and my work office. Work, ecstatic dance and now a homeschool space. I did buy a curriculum because I just needed some guidance. I think anybody starting off, it's a good idea to have something to guide you. As you go, you can empower yourself. We use Moving Beyond the Page. It's literature-based, and it's amazing. It includes all the manipulatives I needed and all the literature. I didn't have to buy a single other thing. (I also opted for their payment plan.)
So, back to our story. I made this happen. I got my curriculum. And then, in the mornings, I committed to something called Morning Basket time. I learned this from Pam Barnhill. I’m part of her Your Morning Basket membership and gives me ideas of what I can do. Eventually, I'll come up with my own ideas because I'm starting to get the hang of this. For us, a Morning Basket looks like: I light a candle at the table, we read or recite a poem, do copy work, and we say a prayer. We do singing lessons, too. I'll put on a singing lesson and we'll be like, "oo oo oo," all through breakfast. It sets us off on a beautiful pace for the day.
The other part of my homeschool that's really important is “free play.” We live on an acre with chickens, puppies and gardens. The kids get to do whatever they want. Yes, it’s safe out there; it’s fenced. I have found the more autonomy they get, the less they fight. They start to create. They’ve built all these exquisite fairy houses on their own. They'll say, "Hey, can we use the hot glue gun?" "Sure." They grab it and make amazing fairy houses.
Play with your kids!
Yes. I actually get to play with my children and not have to send them away all day. In the mornings, now, when we're not even rolling out of bed and the bus is flying by, I’m thinking, "Oh thank God, I don't have to do that anymore." So, back to our day. We do Morning Basket with the whole group and then we do Focus Time. I usually have a babysitter, but I'm about to not have a babysitter during this time. I'm going to utilize snack time, strap that two-year-old in a high chair, give her something that takes a long time to eat, maybe something messy. I'm going to focus on my daughter's language arts and math. Maybe we'll sew. We're making a quilt for her bed, together. It's so amazing I get to do this with her. After time with her, I go to my next one. Right now I have a first grader and a kindergartner. My kindergartner just wants to learn how to read. So we just do that. Now my four-year-old wants to be part of things and learn how to read, too! So I said, "Well, okay then." So we just started him on that.
After Focus Time, we'll do whatever I want to do. I’ll say to myself, “What would be fun to do with my kids?” Imagine the freedom to do that. “Let's watercolor today. Let's sit underneath the tree and get out the paints and just have fun. Let's just go on a hike.” We're in the Blue Ridge Mountains. “Let's go on a hike, bring a cooler full of sandwiches and just go exploring.” There's so much here. There's so many trails, even just down the road. “Let's just do that. Or let's go to Biltmore Estate and check out the animals and hang out and hike or whatever.” I do read-alouds. I’m reading the Chronicles of Narnia; we're on book three, already. These are little, little kids and they love it. We went to South Carolina and watched a theatrical production of Prince Caspian. I cried in the middle, because it was “normal.” The most amazing production by this - It's usually the Christian groups too that are totally-
Isn't that amazing? You're like, "Oh, God!" I know I sobbed at Christmas. I went to a Christmas performance. I sobbed.
Yep. I was sobbing.
It was also-
I just love it.
...at the Logos Theater in Taylors, South Carolina. It's was an amazing, world-class experience. So, we read the book, we saw the play, we watched the movie. I follow what feels right at the time or what my kids are interested in learning about. In that way we kind of have this little “unschooling” twist, but I have my core curriculum during Focus Time as a guide. In two and a half hours, I’m done.
In the afternoon when the baby's asleep, we do book baskets. They get a basket filled with multiple kinds of books and go to a special, quiet place and read (or look through picture books) for an hour. If you're working from home, this is a great way to get some quiet time to work, while teaching them to be independent.
They have to learn that skill. And we as parents love that! Every Tuesday, we go to Classical Conversations. (Side confession: we are terrible about practicing our “homework” during the week, but we still have a great time!) Classical Conversations is a co-op with thousands of groups across the world. They meet in person and are really supportive. I've made lots of mom friends through the group. The kids learn memorization utilizing the classical trivium. Once a week they come together with other kids and present what they’re learning, like a show and tell. They learn so many valuable skills through that. Having an in-person group for socialization has really been a lifesaver for me! I don't know how I would've done this last year with all of my kids' friends saying, oh, they can't hang out anymore until this is all over.
And I'm like, "Well, that's going to be never." So we had to make new friends. And Classical Conversations is amazing, even with not practicing regularly throughout the week. What I love is the time to be with other people who are on the same page.
I also have the kids cook and clean and just do the things that come along with life. My seven-year-old daughter can make lunch all by herself. The kids get paid for jobs around the house. This teaches them money skills. We had extra eggs from our chickens, so my kids sold 10 dozen eggs on Friday and got to keep the cash. They’re learning entrepreneurship.
It’s not like I'm trying to stuff our days with all these things I'm sharing; it's that we are literally living life together. I’m giving them the “basics,” (what you need to learn in kindergarten, first grade, etc), but we're living life together. Because of that, we are closer. We started out close because of EC. I really feel like it was significant bonding, between breastfeeding, EC, all the early parenting choices.
After all that nurturing, why would I want to just shove my kids off to school? It doesn’t even make sense, now that I have experienced another way. I am meant to be their mother. I am the one in whose care God placed these children. They are my responsibility to mold and put into the world.
Another thing I want to add is, we utilize the Tuttle Twins. I really want to teach my children how to love America, the real America. How to understand the Constitution, our medical rights, freedom, liberty. We talk about all this together. I’m not trying to brag that “I'm the best mom in the world.” I have my moments where I just lie on the floor and let them crawl on me because I can't do another minute of “stuff.” But, I have support and I've found a way to do this, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I've learned that it's just like your webinar says, you don't have to “do everything.” Kids want to learn the basics - when they’re not pressured. When they see you, the mom, wanting to learn, they go, "Whoa, I want to learn that, too." We’re going to learn to sing. I'm learning guitar. This is so much fun! Even when we don't “check all the boxes” at the end of the day, I'm just say, "I will write a list of the things we did and check that off."
I love it.
We do it this way because we are living life, together. It is that simple, and such a relief. Whatever you feel is right for your kids, whether it's something like this or something else, just try it. It’s okay. There's no wrong step in all of this. I believe this from the bottom of my heart.
That is so awesome. I just love it, Andrea. I'm so excited. I want to come to your homeschool there.
You're welcome to!
When people hear the word homeschool, they think that it's going to be mom or dad sitting at a desk with a textbook open teaching their kids arithmetic. And that might be a part of it if that's how you want to do it. But I wrote some notes as you were talking. You said, we are living life together.
You’re designed to do that, you're made to do that. It doesn't make sense that you've nurtured your kids in the early days [and then you send them away all day]. It's heartbreaking to me when parents have children and then even when they’re infants, they go into daycare. I would be at parks and see little babies, and I’d look at the caregivers and go, “Oh, wow. It looks like they must have had children later in life.” Then I’d realize, oh, that's not their children. That’s their grandchildren. Their parents will say, "Well, I have to work." Money, time obligations.
The beautiful thing about homeschooling is there's a remedy for everyone. I call it “freedom learning” just to remove that barrier for a parent thinking, "I need to teach my kids." It's the opposite. The kids are teaching you. I love the fairy houses your kids did. That was their own prompting. They had that free time. You're there to make sure that they're safe and clean and, well, maybe not even clean.
You're parenting, but the learning is really directed from the child's exploration and discovery. And then you made a list of these things that you've been doing. Sewing, cooking, gardening, painting, hiking, cleaning, cooking, all these are life skills. Even your two- and four-year-old could come up with an idea. If you were to say, what are we really learning here? They can tell you, "I'm going to design a new broom, a more efficient broom." Let's do that, kids. If you could design some type of house cleaning implement, what would it be? And maybe they can design it and draw it. Maybe they'll even market it and sell it as some kind of battery operated broom that picks up all the pet hair. Their imagination is going to run with it.
Every single thing you do is a lesson. Take cooking, for instance. I've talked about this before. You can talk about nutrition and calories, do an inventory of the pantry, and just a shopping expedition comparing and utilizing critical thinking about “which one should we buy?” Then there’s entrepreneurship. Why don't we start a restaurant? What would it be called? These can be staged as play, but they're actually learning opportunities. The point is that everything in life is learning. One of my monikers used to be “simply real life learning.” That's all it is. You and I are learning right now in this conversation. I'm learning from you. It never stops.
We as parents want to remove the restrictions that are imposed on kids in a public and private school. Even in many private schools, although they may have more of what you're looking for, the kids are still being subjected to the bell ringing, criticism, comparison, grading and standardized tests. Also “what am I going to wear to school today?” and “that kid bullied me.” I'm not saying kids shouldn't live in the real world, but they are going to be gaining assurance, confidence, competence and self worth by learning on their own with a self-directed approach. Yes, I think all these things you mentioned are absolutely critical and important.
Children learn in different ways. I'm the kind of person that actually liked doing the worksheets, because I like to fill in the blank. Not that it actually helped me learn, but there was satisfaction in checking something off. Some of your kids will be drawn to that style. Some of your kids will want the same schedule every day so they feel, "I've completed it; that's my structure and my routine." Then there are others who would just shovel up and die if they had to do the same thing every day. You've got five kids. They're all individual, with unique personalities, energies, talents and gifts. It sounds like they're doing incredibly.
I can't wait to look at some of these ideas you had about the Focus Time and the Morning Basket. I love this idea of having some regular components that will give kids a landing point, a sense of a routine - just like we like to have holidays. It's like, "Oh, let's bring out the tablecloth we always use." There's something reassuring about traditions. What’s the best word for that?
It's the same thing, yes.
Absolutely. And then within that, there's time for flexibility and play. Overall, though, there's no wrong way to do it. My main goal in all of this is to spark the curiosity in parents of, "Huh, there might be another way." Sending them to school isn't the only way. Also, there is no rush to commit to a certain homeschooling style. If you get your kids out of school today or tomorrow at the latest, just tell the teacher and the administration that you're doing a two week staycation or whatever. They've been telling all the kids to stay home. Then, within those two weeks you can figure out your next steps.
The next thing I want to talk to you about is, what type of legalities should people know about? What's going on in North Carolina? Do you just submit documents or something to the state? Do you get any money back from the state because you've paid your taxes? These are questions on people's minds.
I did get $300 this year, which didn't make a dent in anything, but it was a nice gesture. There is pending legislation to give us equal access to educational funds because we broke the system last summer with the amount of registrations for homeschool. They had to shut down their website and they had to limit it to a certain number of homeschool applications per day... The second largest school district in our state is homeschoolers. So, it's a tremendously quickly-growing population.
In North Carolina, you do have to register if the child's seven or over. So when you're doing kindergarten, you don't have to tell them what you're doing. You're supposed to submit or keep a file of your immunizations and your yearly testing. Personally, I think I will do annual testing for them just because I know my kids are actually at a gifted level because I'm able to customize what I do for them.
Moving Beyond the Page is a gifted program, anyway. I've also heard that the school system is so overwhelmed, they never checked any of the records, so I keep my own file. There are home homeschool advocacy groups, too. There's an annual homeschool event, the Great Homeschool Convention, that I just went to in South Carolina. It was totally amazing. They had kids' shows and everything. I got to look at all this curriculum. I met a woman who wrote books about mysteries in national parks and she took a picture with our kids and they each bought their favorite mystery.
My kids save their money doing jobs at home, then go and buy things like that. That's what my vision is for them. But the Great Homeschool Convention has a lot of resources too. It goes all over the US. Right now it’s traveling around. There are homeschool advocacy groups in every state. It's your right to be able to school your own children. Sometimes, when you pull them out, you get a lot of criticism. I’d advise a two week trial, so to speak, and then just notify the school system that you’re withdrawing. Keep records like the table of contents from your curriculum, so if you ever enter back into school, you have a list right there of what you’ve studied. I re-entered school and then pulled out again*, and I did get a lot of judgment, but I said, "Hey, what you're doing doesn't work for me. This virtual thing doesn't work for me." Once the decision is made, it’s so freeing, it’s amazing.
It’s really important to note that if you find you're doing more work than your children, then you're doing it wrong. Anytime I feel like I'm making way more effort than my first grader, I say, "Hold on, what's going on here?" and change what I'm doing.
Here’s another important concept: resistance. For example, today she was resistant to something and started getting all wild and antsy in her chair. I wanted to give up and I said, "Hey, which part of today's lesson did you not like?" She said, "Well, I don't like it when you read a book and then ask me questions about it. I understand what happened in the book." So I said, "Great, well, we will stop doing that." It was so simple it was amazing. That behavioral issue of squirming over questions, in a public school, would've been an issue. “Your child has ADHD.” Maybe even she would disengage because of the stress and stop loving learning.
The other thing I want to say is regarding work. I have three businesses. I have Go Diaper Free, I have Tiny Undies, which is six month old and up underwear. Then I have Mamaworx, which is where I teach moms how to have a passive income business (which is what Go Diaper Free and Tiny Undies are). I'm able to make money even while we're having this conversation. Passive income (where parents aren’t trading time for money like a traditional 9 to 5 work day) could be the piece that makes it possible for some to stay home and homeschool their kids. A lot of people are working from home anyway right now, so it’s a good time to start looking at homeschooling. You can look at it as free schooling or whatever you want to call it.
There’s another thing I’d like to point out to parents of very young children. A fellow from Best Buy came to install my internet. He said, “We're planning to homeschool, too. We just had our first baby." He explained, “Both my wife and I were both homeschooled. My wife quit her job and we redid our budget, cutting our expenses so we could live off one income.” Now, some of you know I follow Dave Ramsey religiously and he has helped me get almost debt free already. Changing our budget allows for space to do other things other than “working." These are ideas for those who might feel like, “I can never pull out my kid from school because we can’t afford it.” You can make it work, you just have to get creative.
I once met this homeschooling family with 10 children. What a saint, this woman; none of her young children had phones. The oldest child was twenty-one, the youngest one was two. And I asked the two teenage girls - because those are usually the problem children, right? - “Hey, what's your favorite part of school?” The 13 year old said, "Grammar. I love grammar." The 14 year old said, "I am writing a novel right now." Homeschooling is worth it. The relationship I have with my daughter is great. I didn't do the awful potty training everyone says is inevitable and I'm not going to go through the supposed “teenage rebellion” years, either. We're going to be more connected than that.
Andrea, you said so many things here. It's just a wealth of encouragement. I want to start with your last comment, first. You know, no one knows your kids like you do. No one loves them like you do. No one understands their personality, their behavior like you do.
You also mentioned going to some of these events where the kids would be socialized. My view is similar to yours; a little bit out of the mainstream. I believe parents elevate this concept of socializing their kids beyond what it really deserves. The kids are going to be socialized by interacting with you and interacting with all you do when you go outside. For example, when you go to the grocery store, why not have them give the money to buy the things and ask somebody a question, things like that?
So I want to put parents' mind at ease because one of the top objections is “how are my kids going to be socialized? They're going to be hermits, they won't know how to interact.” My experience has been the opposite. They are actually going to thrive. They will be less embarrassed, there's less comparison, less competition.
Another objection I hear is, “They won't be able to survive in the real world.” In my experience, homeschooled kids are leap years ahead. I know of an 11 year old that also published a book. She has such imagination, curiosity and self-assurance. I believe that when the kids are out of the public (and most private) school settings, that they actually thrive for the reasons you mentioned.
I want to go back to the comment your daughter had about the book. The most important thing that struck me about that whole scenario is that you asked her a question and that's the number one thing we need to do: have that communication open. That's actually the Socratic method. “What do you think about this? Did you like this book? Do you want to choose the next one?” Why doesn't she write the questions and ask you the questions next time? It would be hilarious and great. “Did you listen, mom? Did you understand?” Have her come up with her own questions.
Everything, the more that it’s student generated, the more they are involved, curious, engaged, exploring, it really serves them well. This was my ongoing theme as an educator. My career was professional development for teachers; how to keep the student at the center. How do you remove the barriers? Stop “teaching” them for heaven's sake; get out of the way and let them learn. And they were called learner-centered... It had all different names, but it was all about learning, not even about teaching. And so they are natural... I'm sure that two month old baby is going to be learning already.
Another point I want to go back to is the idea of having some curriculum that can be a jumping off point. You mentioned the Tuttle Twins. I want to point out that the Tuttle Twins is a curriculum; a series of books and it is based on…why don't you tell me?
It's based on the principles of the Free Market. They talk about the Fed, the Creature from Jekyll Island. I learn, I bring these to my constitutional rights groups. I'm like, "Can we just read this children's book together and actually learn how the Fed works?" They talk about the law. What's the law supposed to be? How are government officials supposed to behave as part of the law? Are they supposed to be different from us; follow different laws than us? The Tuttle Twins even have board books like the ABCs of Liberty, for the little ones. They have books for grade school level with curriculum guides if you want to do it that way. I just read to my kids and they go, "Wow!" They're learning about commerce, the free markets, things like that. Now the Tuttle Twins have books for teens now too, that talk about inventors and entrepreneurs and topics that are just fantastic. Connor Boyack is the author; I highly recommend all of his work and his email list. He is so encouraging.
Yes, it's fantastic. I get his newsletters and I just love it. Friends, I want to leave you with this: One of my mottos is, “there's always another way and I'm going to find it.” There's always another way. Whether you are a single parent, whether you're divorced and maybe your ex spouse wants the kids to be in school, even if you are working outside the home - everything that Andrea just explained can be done on the weekend. It can be done after you get home from work.
I especially want to speak to the parents that are keeping their kids in public school. You don't just wash your hands of them when they leave the house. This is your opportunity to help encourage them with their critical thinking. What did you learn in school today? What do you think about that? Is there another way of looking at it? Let's take a look at this author. Where did that information come from?
I have counseled parents that bemoan, "It's a no-deal. My ex spouse has the right and she's keeping them in school and I don't know what to do." So I say, "This is perfect. You get to go through the lessons with your daughter; you get to break down what she's learning and have this opportunity for her reflection and input and critical thinking. On the weekend, you're going to be doing everything you just described, Andrea - you're going to be doing the cooking, the sewing, the hiking, the exploration, or maybe when you've got the kids at the end of the day."
For parents that are working, your child could be involved in a group like a co-op, learning group, learning “pod, charter school or homeschool networks. It doesn't have to be just you doing this. It can be one other parent that takes the kids from eight to two, which is more than enough “school” time. Kids don't need to be doing structured learning for more than a couple of hours. It's actually counterproductive, like working out on the rowing machine for eight hours. You're going to break down rather than build up.
There are so many options. Even just half an hour of these freedom learning principles, even just on the weekend. So many things you can do to start to see the changes, the joy of learning return, the curiosity, the exploration, the growth. They're going to thrive. They're going to be leaps and bounds ahead of others. Not that I'm comparing, because everyone learns in their own way. However, schools can hold them back.
Finally, parents, I just want to have a little tough love with you. You can see beautiful Andrea, who's got a million things she's juggling, a large family, and community involvement. She’s also homeschooling four kids ages two to 7 (and keeping up with a 10-year-old doing virtual school). Parents, you are the parent and your child's education and learning environment is your responsibility. It grieves me deeply, when I hear from parents who I can pick up in the back of their mind that they just don't want their kids around during the day. They want to have time for themselves.
I used to be like that.
I understand it. Who doesn't want time for themselves, just to breathe? You need it. And that's where co-ops come in handy, and babysitters. I know homeschool moms that had their kids in homeschool co-ops three days a week. At thehealthyamerican.org, under the Freedom Learning tab, we are going to be diving into this in detail. I just want to give a brief overview and this might be something you're interested in as well, Andrea. You've got it well under control, but you might want to look into this.
Oh, I'll definitely look into it because I took your first course and I loved it. It literally happened at the perfect time. I really appreciate all the permission you gave in that webinar.
That's one of the most important things! We are creating a three-tiered program. The first level is for parents who are like, "I don't really know what to do, but I'm interested. Let me kick the tires of this idea. I'm still working. I'm not sure. The school's not that bad after all." We're going to go over why you need to get your kids out of school. We're going to talk about all the obstacles and then how to overcome them. We're going to talk about what a typical week looks like in this freedom learning, out-of-the-box experience. And then we're going to talk about the next steps and how do you really roll up your sleeves and get going? So kind of a deeper dive of what we did here. That’s tier one for parents.
You know, Andrea, there are teachers that want to depart the public school and start their own learning groups.
Oh, yes. We have a lot of them here. They're in our network and they've started a school down the street. It’s amazing.
I love it. We want to help educators with that. The second tier of our new program is going to cover, how do you get a group going? Where do you find them? How do you set it up? Where's the location? How do decide what to charge? How does all that work?
The third level will be about a brick-and-mortar location for people that want to have a place and put their name on it. We're partnering with a group that actually has a blueprint for starting your own business. We want to give elbow room for the group to make it theirs, too. There are people that want to get started and they say, "I just don't know what to do. Take me by the hand and bring me through step-by-step. I want to build something new that's going to be helpful for the community, helpful for myself." Many people are looking for new careers right now. I want to say at this point, you don't need to be a trained teacher to do any of this. Andrea, do you have a license as a teacher? Are you certified as a teacher?
Friends, you don't need any of that to homeschool. You don't need anyone's permission. For our program, we also will go through the legalities of this in terms of, do you need a license for a group? Do you not? How do you do this? We’ll cover all the bases. It's really thrilling. This is in response to thousands of people like you, Andrea, that went through the Freedom Learning seminar. Folks, you will see me in a way that you've never seen me, because I had an emotional event during that seminar that completely took me by surprise and it's near or the end of it. It just revealed to me the depth of my dedication to this. This is what's going to save our country. Not just that it makes your family life better and the kids are learning; this is the only solution in my humble view, to saving our society in the future. What say you, Andrea? I'll give you the last few words here.
I completely agree. I've had two free births - no medical establishment involved, birthing on my own, in my own bath tub, with just my husband present. It was amazing. Then I did EC so my kids were free from having to soil themselves. Now, doing homeschool on top of that, letting them teach me, while I’m guiding them and listening; it’s still more amazing. It's all about listening to our children and doing things as naturally and as synchronized as possible, where I get to have the influence, not just go, "Oh, what's going to happen at that school?" I was raised partially by my mom and grandparents to be patriotic, to love my country, to understand what it's built upon and how it's gone astray. Now I’m raising the next generation of freedom fighters.
It's all of those things from birth that we get the chance to influence. This is what makes us American. The fact that we have the freedom to do all the things I just named, is a huge gift. It's a huge blessing. I believe everybody needs to take advantage of it. Peggy, you’re going to reach a lot of these folks who are kind of on the fence. Homeschooling, or freedom schooling, is literally a leap of faith, but I promise there's something on the other side that's amazing and more beautiful than you could expect. Is it hard? Yes. You have to let go and trust the process. Because the experience is about being present and savoring every moment, life has slowed down. It's really fantastic. I hope those of you watching feel inspired to at least try just a little bit and see what happens.
Well, Andrea, you are just a beautiful picture of possibility and positivity, and I'm just so glad that we connected. I'll just leave on the final note friends, go to Andrea's website, andreaolson.com or godiaperfree.com and connect with her there. Now I want to do a road trip to North Carolina!
It sounds really fantastic, knowing that there are folks like you out there. Friends, I just want to kind of come full circle because, if you think back, and if you read the Tuttle Twins books you'll know how our country began. How we started in these original colonies. Yes, they were started by the British and we can go into all of that. But it's important to know the stories of people that really persisted, that survived and thrived as generations came on - because remember, this country was inhabited by the Europeans for at least 200 years before the “United States” was formed. I really love the idea of going back to these original colonies, where they were rather separate, where they had their own language, they had their own currency, they had their own trade within their communities. We are actually recreating what I feel is in our DNA, in our blood, in our heritage of this independence. We don't need this national approach to solving problems.
My goodness, as I've said before, I live in a community of about 300 and we can't even figure out the parking. We can't even agree on the parking and the landscaping. Three hundred people who share the same community who have the same goal of wanting to thrive and live healthy and happy. If 300 people can't figure it out, how in the world could 300,000,000, however many millions? It's just not possible. It needs to be done as local as you're doing it.
To bring schooling back to the families is actually progressive. I can't even come up with the adjective for it because it actually is light years ahead of what we've been experiencing.
Please meet me also at thehealthyamerican.org. Hop on over, get help and go to the Freedom Learning tab where there are videos you can dive into right off the bat. See you soon, everybody.
I hope you thoroughly enjoyed that interview with Peggy Hall. Isn't she amazing? I just adore her. You can find more of her at thehealthyamerican.org and follow her there and on YouTube. And then also be sure to come by the show notes and ask me any questions you have about homeschooling and freedom schooling over at godiaperfree.com/181. I cannot wait to talk to you there in the comments, and I hope you have a wonderful one with your baby (and your other children, if you have more!) Take care till next time.
Thanks so much for listening. This is the Go Diaper Free podcast at godiaperfree.com. We'll see you next time.
*Please note, this is Andrea's personal experience homeschooling in North Carolina, USA. Each state in the U.S. has its own homeschooling requirements (and some states have none!). Please consult your state's Department of Education for current requirements, or go to Homeschool Legal Defense's website, HSLDA.org/legal, to find the requirements for homeschooling in your state. (If you live outside the U.S., please check your own province/country's requirements so you know you're documenting things correctly for your situation!)
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About Andrea Olson
I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 6 children (all under 10 yo) and the rest of my time teaching other new parents how to do Elimination Communication with their 0-18 month babies. I love what I do and try to make a difference in one baby or parent's life every single day. (And I love, love, love, mango gelato.)
Not currently homeschooling (I’m a part time teacher in a small private school, actually!), but I AM a homeschool grad. If you are interested in homeschooling, don’t let anyone scare you into thinking you won’t be able to do a good job. I think I turned out ok. :)
Thank you for tuning in, and thank you for being an educator!
Loved this! I was one of those who thought you always homeschooled. It’s the crunchy mom stereotype. Shame on me! I loved hearing about your day to day and the resources and co ops. My baby is still really little, but this was amazing food for thought. I want to continue this bond we’ve made over EC and other things into the rest of childhood and life. What a great way to look at it!
Thank you so much for giving this a listen!
Wow!!! Andrea!!!! I had no idea you were on the same page with this!! Also didn’t realize you were spiritual too. I have an 14 month old, we’ve been doing verrrryyyyy loose EC (I catch about 80% of the poos) but I’m reinspired to go back over all your content and get her wrapped up asap. Thank you so much for putting this out there, speaking your truth, and fight this most important fight of our lives.
Thank you! I’m so happy this helped inspire you!
As a previous K-12 educator, I have really seen just how much public schools can hinder the learning of students. Many of the students I taught did not have a love of learning and that was just heartbreaking. And from personal experience, it took me a looong time to regain my love for learning. It was several years after I had graduated college. And I completely agree that you don’t have to be a licensed educator to be able to homeschool your kiddos. In fact, I have found it to be even a bit of a road block, as there are things I, myself, have to unlearn. Thanks so much for sharing this. Just what I needed. Thank you for your unapologetic beliefs.
Thank you for being an educator!