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
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?
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
Lisa, you love writing. What are you currently working on?
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
Okay, the really hard question. What do you want for your children as they grow
up and go out into the world?
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