Marvelous Mamas – Andrea

This week’s Marvelous Mama is Andrea, a mom who is also a teacher–to her own children. After spending some time in the classroom as a public school teacher, Andrea and her husband decided to homeschool once they had their own children. Her enthusiasm and organizational skills are unmatched. She’s one of my best friends, and I am awed by her.

Andrea is a Christian, wife, and mother of three daughters. A former public school teacher turned passionate home educator, Andrea loves homeschooling her lively trio from the comfort of home. In her spare time, Andrea spends time with family and friends and searches for bargains in thrift and antique stores. Here’s my interview with her:

EARL GREY AND YELLOW: How and why did you and your husband decide on the homeschool option for your children?

ANDREA: When our oldest daughter was three years old, my husband and I did what everyone else around us had done and what we thought was best; we enrolled our daughter in preschool. The preschool we selected was a local “Mommy and Me” preschool cooperative right in the center of town.

At the end of the school year, my husband and I had a parent/teacher conference with our daughter’s teacher. The teacher noted that our daughter had done well throughout the school year. When we asked what she would be learning the following year, we discovered that our daughter already knew most of the concepts because I was already teaching her those things at home.

It was then that I realized I could give my daughter a great educational experience from the comfort of our home. My husband and I felt led to homeschool so we prayed about doing so. God confirmed our desires and we began our homeschool journey in 2008 just before our oldest daughter turned four years old. We’re now homeschooling all three of our daughters.

EARL GREY AND YELLOW: How did working as a teacher shape your practices as a homeschooling parent?

My teaching experience has been both a help and a hindrance to my homeschooling.  While in the classroom I gained a solid understanding of different student learning styles. Since each of my girls learns differently, I have been able to select specific curricula and devise unique lesson plans that meet the girls’ educational needs.  

On the other hand, the traditional classroom experience limited my mindset. In the early years of homeschooling, I tried to recreate school at home and found this approach did not work.  Trying to mimic the tightly structured school setting, including specific start and end times, frustrated my children and me. Once I abandoned the traditional and embraced the personal, I was able to create a homeschool flow that worked for all of us. I taught more effectively and my girls enjoyed learning much more.

EARL GREY AND YELLOW: In what ways has homeschooling challenged you and your family?

ANDREA: Homeschooling is not something my husband or I ever imagined we’d be doing. Consequently, one of our greatest challenges has been to fearlessly walk a path neither of us has ever traveled. However, each day we decide to continue to trust that God will fully equip us to provide a quality education for our girls.

One of my greatest personal challenges was stepping away from a career I loved and being content with the results of doing so. When I left my job, our family went from a two salary household to a single salary household. In addition, I had to adjust to the new role of homeschooling mom.

EARL GREY AND YELLOW: What have been some of your greatest successes in homeschooling?

ANDREA: Our homeschool success stories are spiritual, educational, and relational.

One spiritual success has been learning to trust God’s provision and timing. I used to worry about what my girls did and did not know. I used to fret about how to successfully teach a challenging  skill. I’d stress about how to teach multiple children at once. But God is faithful! Every single time we’ve encountered an educational obstacle, God has given us what we’ve needed exactly when we needed it!

One of the educational successes I often remember is teaching each one of my girls to read. I can recall the joy and excitement I experienced as I listened to each girl proudly read a book to me for the first time. Another great homeschool success has been helping my oldest daughter complete her first year of high school.

I’m excited about relational successes as well. Homeschooling has helped solidify the sisterly bond among my girls. Because they spend so much time together, they’ve learned how to help one another out and when to give each other space. In addition, homeschooling has encouraged my husband and me to better work as a team. As principal and teacher, my husband and I both offer input about and share responsibility for the girls’ education.

EARL GREY AND YELLOW: What does a typical homeschooling day (or week) look like?

ANDREA: Each school week always includes lessons in all major subjects, classes at our homeschool cooperative, instrumental lessons, and fun group activities such as tennis, skating, or soccer.

However, there is no such thing as a typical day for us. Each day offers a unique set of activities, lessons, and opportunities. That’s one of the things I most love about our homeschool lifestyle. You never know what the day will bring!

Sometimes we’re schooling on the couch from the comfort of our home, but other times we’re working at the nearby library, or doing science labs at the local homeschool cooperative. On any given day, we may decide to take an impromptu field trip or join fellow homeschooling friends for a lunch meetup.

EARL GREY AND YELLOW: Since homeschooling is demanding and time-consuming, how do you like to recharge?

ANDREA: After spending the busy day as mother, teacher, counselor, chef, and chauffeur, I’m definitely ready to recharge. One of my favorite ways of doing so is by taking a long walk by myself. I pop on my headphones and listen to my Nature’s Melody playlist as I walk a few miles around the neighborhood. That bit of solitude allows me to exercise, clear the clutter in my mind, and talk to God.

Another way I like to recharge is by taking solo shopping trips to thrift and antique stores. After I bring home some fabulous finds, I love to spend quiet time arranging them in my home’s decor. Pursuing this personal interest reminds me that I am a multi-faceted woman, one with interests that fall outside of motherhood and homeschooling.

EARL GREY AND YELLOW: What books or resources would you recommend to those who want to explore homeschooling as an option?

ANDREA: There are three things I recommend to potential homeschoolers or to those just beginning their homeschool journey. First, check out the homeschool laws for your state, as these laws will impact how you homeschool your children. Next, look up local homeschool support groups and activities. Members of these groups will be able to answer general questions and direct you toward local resources. Finally, read the book The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias. This detailed book defines learning styles and describes how parents can best help their children learn.

EARL GREY AND YELLOW: You’ve started your own specialized resource for African American homeschooling families. Can you share a little bit about this and how it came to be?

ANDREA: While homeschooling, I wanted to incorporate educational materials that included an African American focus. I also wanted to meet other African American homeschool families. In 2014, I started a Facebook group for African American Homeschool Moms. I thought I’d only meet a few moms, but the group has grown tremendously and now includes over 2,000 knowledgeable, helpful, and encouraging moms! Later that year, I launched the African American Homeschool Moms website, which provides information for African American families who are interested in or have chosen to homeschool.

EARL GREY AND YELLOW: What’s your favorite passage of scripture and why?

ANDREA: Because the Bible is such an awesome book filled with so many fabulous verses, it’s always hard for me to choose a single verse as a personal favorite. I’m inspired by many different verses throughout the year, but the verse I’ve been holding on to this year is Isaiah 65:24 which says: “Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.”

I love this scripture because it reminds me that God knows me and pays attention to me! God is sovereign, so He knows exactly what I need or want well before I even bring my request to Him. Even when I haven’t finished verbalizing my request, He already knows. How amazing is that?

EARL GREY AND YELLOW: What’s your favorite family activity that isn’t related to school or extracurriculars and why?

ANDREA: We’re Jersey folks, so we enjoy spending time down the shore. A perfect beach day always includes walking the boardwalk, shopping, and treating ourselves to a *few* less than healthy, but oh-so-delicious snacks. Our youngest loves to play in the sand and splash in the waves, but the rest of us enjoy reading books, listening to music, and taking in the ocean breeze from the comfort of our beach chairs. Beach time gives us time to relax and bond.

EARL GREY AND YELLOW: Rainy morning with nobody else home–coffee or tea?

ANDREA: Most definitely tea!

EARL GREY AND YELLOW: Where can people find out more about you and what you do?

Join me on Instagram @andrea.thorpe. To learn more about homeschooling, please visit African American Homeschool Moms. To learn more about my spiritual journey, please visit Every Single Verse, my new website which features simple and easy to follow Bible study tips for everyday people.

Thanks to Andrea for sharing about her journey as a homeschooling parent. She’s even developed and published a journal for parents and children. You can find it here on Amazon: Sharing Our Thoughts.

Next week is our final Marvelous Mama, my very own sister. She went from a suburban teacher to a farmer (and teacher). I can’t wait to share about her journey of faith that led her to the farm.

Hi! I’m Tracy…Christ-follower, wife, mama, writer, blogger, speaker, teacher, dreamer. I love Earl Grey Tea and quiet mornings. Here at Earl Grey and Yellow, the focus is striving to be faithful and appreciate the small things. So glad you stopped by. Please have a look around and subscribe to our newsletter and social media to stay connected.

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