Lisa Wilen is homeschool mom and teacher at Joyful Journey Christian Homeschool where she is homeschooling 2 of her 3 children, all girls. Ashlynn age 17, and Holly age 11 both are educating at home, while Jenna age 13 is attending their local public school.
When Lisa’s first daughter, Ashlynn was 4 she was already able to read fluently. Lisa was concerned that kindergarten in the public school would be too boring for her. Lisa realized that she had invested time and energy teaching her at home, she wondered, Why not continue? Deciding to take it one year at a time, they proceeded with home education as their educational choice.
She loves the flexibility that homeschooling affords. Having the ability to take breaks as needed, or schedule field trips or even run errands allows for a more natural flow to life, not one constrained by the schedule of others.
When the Wilen’s added 2 more children, it was natural to continue homeschooling for all three of the girls, although there were times when it was challenging. Knowing that they always wanted to approach home education one year at a time and determine annually what was right for each child, they made the decision in 2014-2015 to allow their middle daughter to attend the local public school. They’ve found that this choice is working well for her so they have decided to continue that this year as well.
“Right now it is the best option for my middle child. She is very athletic and can participate in all the sports at the small local public school. We tried some homeschool groups for sports, but many fell apart recently or aren’t offered for the sports she is interested in.”
The Wilens also recognized that the public school option has been a better choice for their middle child, academically. Lisa shares that the key to having a child in the public school is the friends that they surround themselves with. She said that helping your child to develop friendships with friends whose parents have a similar mindset to your own, and are active and involved in their child’s education, has made this transition easier for the whole family.
That’s what has been the most important to the Wilen family in their homeschooling journey, being able to tailor a customized education for each child but also one that focuses on spiritual and character values.
The Wilen children school all over the house, as is true of most homeschooling families. They enjoy lounging in their own rooms, or on the couch, and of course projects can be completed easiest at the kitchen table. But, they do have a dedicated space as well.
“We have a loft area in our home where the kids have desks and we have maps on the wall and a couple large bookcases that house our schooling resources. It has big windows and lots of natural light and I love that, [plus] we do read-alouds in the loft while sitting on the futon.”
Lisa finds that when the whole family is learning together the same subject but at various levels, she finds that the family engages in some great discussion. That’s why they tend to use unit studies but gather their resources from an eclectic mix. But, admits that her favorite curriculum resource is My Father’s World.
“I love lapbooking especially for the younger grades – we did a lot of lapbooks and the kids still enjoy looking through them and showing them to others, whereas they don’t do that with workbooks! We’ve moved into more notebooking with some lapbooking pieces thrown in occasionally as they have grown. I like the independence of thought through summarization, the ability to draw pictures, and to keep it all together as a portfolio of what was accomplished through the year.”
Since she doesn’t think that science and art are her forte she utilizes those classes in the homeschool co-op. This is a great way to round out a curriculum plan and ensure that all areas of learning are being taught. Outsourcing is an excellent option for moms who either don’t feel confident in an area of teaching, or perhaps, just don’t want to personally teach a subject.
Lisa’s husband is a great support for her. He sometimes helps grade the children’s work or offers emotional support when Lisa want to give up. She shares that he addresses discipline both as father and principal of the school whenever there are issues that may arise, such as kids not listening or being disrespectful. She told me he often does grocery shopping on his way home or even steps in to do the dishes when things with school are busy. He has even attended a couple of homeschool conventions with her.
The Wilen family lives in small town America, a town of about 500 just outside Lincoln, Nebraska, a town of 250,000. In their town, they are the only homeschooling family and in their nearby church congregation, the there only 1 other person who homeschools.
But, she did not let that dissuade her. Instead she embraces the homeschooling and wanted to encourage others in doing the same. So 3 years ago she decided to start a homeschool co-op. The co-op brings together homeschoolers from many of the small surrounding towns as well as some from Lincoln.
“We have had anywhere from 29 to 50 families participate each 12-week-long semester and have been a great support to each other. Some of those folks drive almost an hour to get to co-op each week.”
In addition to the in-person community that she has built, she is also active in an online community through an email list for members of the church of Christ who homeschool.
“I have received much advice and also given encouragement to others, and we buy and sell used curriculum sometimes.”
This online email community hosts a homeschool family encampment that has grown to over 450 people. It is there that Lisa feels that she is most connected to like-minded homeschoolers and a place where both she and her children have made friendships that she believes will last for years to come.
For the Wilen family the biggest struggle is financial. Lisa works from home as a medical transcriptionist, but that presents some difficulty with the school schedule, and as the industry changes, she finds that her income is going down instead of up. Most recently she has begun to consider a part-time job outside the home, but that is not the most ideal solution. Having a tight financial budget means it is more difficult to afford the activities they would like for them to be able to participate in.
In her quiet time Lisa likes to do crafts including quilting, cross-stitch, latch hook, crochet. Her homeschool mom friends also do a couple of times a year. Which I think is a great way for moms to connect, share in a common fellowship, vent and unwind.
Lisa knows that the best way to educate her children is to seek what’s best for each child. She’s wise enough to know that the method for meeting that need might look different and home maybe best but it may not be. She also sees that the best choice might change as a child’s needs change. That’s why Lisa is a real life superhero homeschool mom, because with wisdom she seeks to provide a custom education for each child’s needs.
This post is part of my Real Life Superhero Homeschool Moms Series.