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An Interview with Lisa Whelchel

Elizabeth Kanna, Homeschool.com's Editor-in-Chief, recently caught up with Lisa Whelchel at her home in Southern California where they talked about homeschooling, the amazing diversity of the homeschooling community and Lisa's new book, So You're Thinking About Homeschooling, which we are proud to say has just been included in our Top Ten Homeschooling Books.

Editor:
Currently, there seems to be a glut of books out on homeschooling. However, your book's premise is so original. I have often thought that if families new to homeschooling could just sit down and have several heartfelt conversations with other homeschooling families they would gain tremendous insight into the challenges as well as the joy and passion that are all part of homeschooling our children. Your book provides that. What inspired you to think of this premise for your book?

Whelchel:
I can't tell you how many times people have come up to me and said, "I'm thinking about homeschooling." Sadly, many of them never get past the thinking-about-it stage. Usually that is because they have a preconceived picture in mind about what a homeschooling family looks like and if they don't fit that stereotype then they think that precludes them from homeschooling. Not that I think homeschooling is the right choice for everyone, but I do believe that it is too good of an alternative to discount without looking into it further. I invite the reader to "knock on the door" and peek inside the homes of fifteen families in unique situations who each homeschool for different reasons. My hope is, that by observing how homeschooling can work for anyone, that the family considering home educating their children can gain the confidence to give it a try.

Editor:
All homeschooling families have one thing in common (we all homeschool our children), but we are an incredibly diverse group of Americans with many different approaches to learning, different religious beliefs or lack of and different family structures. Were you struck by this diversity when you researched this book?

Whelchel:
I don't know that I was that surprised. The truth is, one of the reasons I chose the distinctive format for this book of storytelling versus "how-to" is because I wanted to show the diversity and flexibility inherent within homeschooling. I didn't want to just tell people that homeschooling could work for them, regardless of their background, approach or personal goals. I wanted them to see for themselves through the lives of these unique families.

Editor:
I believe So You're Thinking About Homeschooling is a good book for veteran homeschooling families as well as newbie homeschooling families. I really enjoyed reading the stories in the book and I finished the book in about two hours. Do you agree that every homeschooling family will gain something from reading it?

Whelchel:
Absolutely! I've been homeschooling for eight years and I have always received the best advice and encouragement from other homeschoolers, rather than a book or lecture. This book allows the veteran to check into the latest homeschooling methods, curriculum options and teaching styles by seeing how it works and hearing about it firsthand, rather than simply reading about it.

Editor:
I think you have the best idea for chronicling (documenting) your children's lives. Can you tell our readers what it is? And how you keep it up?

Whelchel:
I don't how brilliant it is, but I am addicted to scrapbooking. I document just about everything my kids do or have done, either in photos, journaling or memorabilia. I even use scrapbooking as a pseudo-portfolio for homeschooling. I can't keep every book report, arts-and-craft treasure or creative writing assignment but I can take pictures of them and scan them to preserve in their scrapbooks.

Editor:
I love what you said about the scrapbook being for your kids not just for you. You want them to remember all the wonderful things you did together as a family. As many of us were a bit older then our predecessors when we started our families (not me of course!) you have made an important point. We all might have some age-related memory loss... The idea of having scrapbooks could be a great backup, right?

Whelchel:
Yes, and it is also good insurance in case they think about going on "Oprah" when they grow up to complain about their childhood and blame everything on their mother. I can whip out the scrapbooks and show them all the birthday parties, field trips and slumber parties they had as a child.

Editor:
Lisa, you love writing. What are you currently working on?

Whelchel:
Well, I'm writing a book entitled, The ADVENTure of Christmas to be published for the 2004 holidays. But what I'm most excited about is a new venture called "MomTime." I started a group almost ten years ago, inviting a handful of moms over to my house to play games, eat lunch, talk and laugh. It has been a lifeline for me and my objective is to encourage other moms to make time for themselves once a week. In conjunction with the kits I've created to resource moms to begin their own groups, I'm hosting weekend retreats all over America. It is like a 24-hour slumber party for moms. We laugh, eat, play games, get massages, win prizes, talk about parenting and even cry a bit. My purpose is to refuel, refresh and rejuvenate moms.

Editor:
Okay, the really hard question. What do you want for your children as they grow up and go out into the world?

Whelchel:
My goal is to help my children discover the unique gifts placed within each of them and let that discovery guide them to their purpose in life. There is a verse in the Bible where God says, "I know the plans I have for you, to give you a future and a hope." I believe that God has a specific plan and reason He created each one of us. My job is to pay attention to my children's "genius" as you call it, Elizabeth, and allow those leanings to lead them to their future.

You can find out more about MomTime at: http://www.lisawhelchel.com

 


   
 

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