Today we’re featuring Quinn Curtis, one of Homeschool Chic’s fab Co-Founders! Quinn is a woman of many talents who has primarily been an entrepreneur while raising her small children. She has been successful as a branding expert, professional food photographer with work featured in numerous magazine spreads and cookbooks, as well as a wellness advocate with doTERRA. However, this year Quinn felt her heart leading her back home and shifted to setting aside business pursuits and instead focusing on being a full-time mom and homeschooler. Quinn has 4 children under the age of 6, with another sweet baby girl on the way to join their crew in July.
1. How many kids? How many homeschool(ed)?
I have 4 children (with baby #5 on the way). My oldest is Tate (6) who has the lucky job of being the big brother to 3 spunky girls – Claire (5), Norah (3.5) and Lena (18 months). All of my children are homeschooled, but my approach with each varies depending on their age and needs.
2. Why did you choose to home school? How did you know home school was right for your family?
When my son was a baby he had a lot of ear infections that led to him having a speech delay. As I watched him in playgroups, I noticed how older kids would sometimes laugh at how he said certain things and would make fun of him. However, the truth is that my son, Tate, is brilliant. I kept him home from Preschool, not believing it was necessary for him. As the deadline for Kindergarten drew closer, my heart sunk at the thought of sending him to school where his image of himself might get tainted by how the others treated him because of the way he talked. His speech had already improved significantly and I knew the rest would work itself out with time. I began to seriously consider homeschooling him, but wasn’t sure what that looked like or how to go about doing it.
Our first year of homeschooling was mostly a trial and error process. Since I was so busy with my entrepreneurial endeavors, I couldn’t devote much time to really being present with my children. I began to feel like I was just a babysitter and that I was actually doing a disservice to my children by homeschooling them. With the surprise of this latest pregnancy, at first I was very angry. It felt like another pregnancy and baby would get in the way of all I had worked so hard to create. However, through MUCH prayer and seeking, the Lord softened my heart and strengthened my faith. I let go of my entrepreneurial pursuits and our home of over 6 years so I would no longer be needed to provide income for our family’s survival. I’ve never felt so clear, nor so right, about doing anything in my whole life as I feel about homeschooling. It brings my heart fully home and my focus has completely shifted to nurturing, teaching and caring for my children. I love being an active part in their life and my children and I are thriving now!
3. What reservations did you have initially about homeschooling and how did you overcome them?
The top reservation I had was the stigma that my children could turn out weird by me homeschooling them. I never had problems socially in school. In fact, my entire motivation during my public school years was socializing. Every Parent Teacher Conference of my whole life led to my parents coming home to report that the teacher said, “Quinn talks too much; she’s very social.” I worried that by homeschooling my children would be missing out on the fantastically fun social world that I had enjoyed so much.
However, I asked myself a very important question: why should my kids go to school? I realized the answer was not for socialization; the answer was for an education. Because of this, I saw how my socializing pursuits had always gotten in the way of my education. The more I read and studied about socialization, the more conviction I had that homeschooling would be an incredible option for our family. One study in particular said that children who are primarily socialized with adults thrive in college, careers and life as an adult. It posed the question of why do we work so hard to have our children socialized by other children? I had to agree. I also read that children don’t necessarily need academics nor socialization with other children until their own sense of self has been developed, around the age of 8. When I researched the state requirements on what education is necessary prior to age 8, it shocked me how little children need to know and I thought: what’s the point of sending them to school for all that time every day? It made no sense to me.
The final point that swayed me on my reservation about homeschooling robbing my children of socialization was when I spent some time with an incredible homeschooling mom of 6 fantastic children. I asked her if her kids played much with the children in their neighborhood that go to school. She said that they try to sometimes, but her kids don’t enjoy it as much and even find it boring because the kids who attend school aren’t as interesting to them as other kids who are homeschooled. The school kids seemed so focused on what boy was cute and trivial pop culture things, while her kids were fascinated in the world, cultures, good books and so much more. I loved this example because I resonated completely with having been the school kid like what she was describing. I wanted more for my children. I wanted them to have a buffet of education and to develop a true love of learning, rather than having their whole life revolve around the social scene.
It’s still important to me that my children experience social situations with other children, however, I’m not dependent on their schooling being the primary source of socialization. Since my children are all together all of the time, they’ve learned to play well with each other. They are each other’s best friends now. They don’t even ask to play with other children much because they’re so engaged in playing with each other. Before I was actively homeschooling, it seemed like my kids struggled to get along with each other well a lot of the time. Now, they do really well together and I know they’re learning MUCH from their daily play.
We also have a lot of playdates and my children participate in some fun, casual team sports activities. We have thoroughly enjoyed connecting with other homeschool children at the Homeschool Chic monthly events. We are also very active in our Church, which gives my children plenty of wholesome socialization time as well. I love how homeschooling has empowered me to pick and choose what kinds of socialization my children get to have, especially at this early, developing stage in their lives.
4. What method(s) do you use?
I use a very organic approach, picking and choosing from my favorite curriculums and using them as I feel excited to. As a basis, I love the Charlotte Mason and Thomas Jefferson Education approaches which include a lot of reading. My children and I read a LOT together and love it! To layer on top of that, I have thoroughly enjoyed the faith and history-based education found through American Heritage School. I use many of their curriculums and techniques in my home. I also use Saxon math.
5. Favorite resources for homeschooling
The internet – can that count as an answer? I love that I can do SOOO much research from my iPad to learn more about all that is available to homeschoolers. I’m also a HUGE fan of just about everything from American Heritage School. Every time I have the opportunity to tour their school, connect with their inspiring faculty or research their curriculums I leave completely inspired and empowered to create a faith-based education in our home.
6. How do you balance homeschool & your day (schedule examples)?
When I was working on my businesses in every spare minute, my days were INSANE and my house was a total disaster most of the time. However, now that I’m more focused at home, it’s been SO much easier to balance homeschool, housework, meal prep and caring for myself.
Our day typically looks like this:
- Wake up around 6:30am to get myself ready for the day, including personal scripture and reading time
- Kiddos wake up around 7:30-8am
- We eat breakfast
- Kiddos get to play, play, play all morning with a break around 10am to read together. Then it’s back to more play time. While they play, I get housework done.
- 11:30am brings lunch time
- Around Noon my baby goes to sleep for her nap
- Then my kiddos and I come together for our homeschool time (reading, copywork and math are daily and science and art history rotate). Homeschool time typically lasts 1.5-2 hours a day at most
- After homeschool my kids are free to play lots more
- When my baby wakes up, we have a snack and then head outside for our nature walk and outdoor play time
- Dinner time is around 5pm
- Family time and more play time is after that
- Kids are in bed by 7:30pm with lights out around 8pm
- I have time for myself after this point, spending the time relaxing, preparing for the next day of homeschool or folding laundry while watching my favorite shows on Netflix (such as Psych – hilarious!!)
7. Favorite benefit of homeschooling your family
I love how it has brought our family so much closer together. It feels like we work together as a team now, rather than as a bunch of individuals who live together. It’s also been so fun to be the one who gets to see my children light up when I teach them something new. Last Sunday my son randomly came to my husband and I with the book “Green Eggs and Ham,” saying, “look! I can read this whole book!” It was so exciting to see his confidence and enthusiasm soar as he read to us, knowing that I had been the lucky one who got to teach him how to read. It’s just so fun to be such an active part in their lives!
8. Most surprising thing about homeschooling you’ve found
It still amazes me – probably at least daily – how quickly my kids learn and retain information through homeschooling. What could take MUCH longer to learn in school they pick up quickly and are ready to move forward with. Just amazing. Because of this, we’re able to be flexible with our schooling. I found very quickly that homeschooling doesn’t have to look like a typical school year because we could cover topics they were interested in and pick up others later. They learn SO much more and we all enjoy the process so much more this way, too.
I’m also continually surprised by how many resources there are to teach my children in ways that are logical and relate to their lives. I was terrified of teaching my children math, for example, since I’d always been terrible at math. However, Saxon math has made it so easy for me to explain math concepts to my children. I really love our math time now. It’s encouraging to know that there are resources to help me teach my children all subjects and levels throughout their life! I don’t have to do it alone or based on my own understanding of each concept.
9. What do you wish you would have known when you first started?
Rather than “what” I wish I had known, I would say “who” I wish I had known when I first started. I wish I would have known LOTS of homeschooling moms so I could have asked questions, seen how they do things and not spent so much time wandering in the dark. Developing a network of homeschool moms to connect with is now really important to me because of this. I love how connecting with other moms keeps me motivated and gives me SO many valuable ideas and insights to apply to our own homeschool experience.
10. Advice to other moms
Presence is the most important thing we can give our children. When we’re truly present (not just our body, but our mind and our heart are present, too), we can connect with our children in ways that aren’t possible otherwise. They feel of our love and commitment to them more easily and effectively. Get rid of as many distractions in your life as possible so you can be more present with your children. Refuse to answer the phone or text messages or facebook alerts when engaged with something with your children, unless it’s a rare time when it’s absolutely vital for your family’s well-being. Set aside time to give your children (& spouse) your undivided attention. It’s so important and can absolutely transform our children’s behavior and the atmosphere in our homes.
Have faith that being actively engaged with our children is the most important thing we can do all day long. God has entrusted us with these incredible children and will support us as we strive to do His will for nurturing and caring for them. I’ve seen this in my own life as I’ve let go of anything that sucked my energy away from my children. It’s required us to simplify our life and be more efficient at managing our finances and time, but it’s made a HUGE difference. Teaching and nurturing our children is our stewardship and there is no one that can do a better job nor that is more qualified than you working hand-in-hand with the Lord in behalf of your children.