Interview with Jenene McManus

Age: 34
Ages/Grades of Children: 11 yr old (6th grade), 10 yr old (5th grade), 7 yr old (2nd grade), 4 yr old (pre-k), 2 yr old
Location: Various Locations! We travel with my husband for work and live in a fifth-wheel. We are native to Louisiana, but have traveled to Ohio, Wyoming, Tennessee, Texas (and the places in between) so far……

Why and when did you decide to homeschool your children?

I wish I could say for me the decision to homeschool was as logical as doing research, weighing my options, and then making an educated decision. But my story is so very opposite of that! In October 2011, the Lord began to stir in my heart that He wanted something different for our family. At the time, I had 2 children in public school, one that attended a church daycare, and a baby at home. The big girls had great teachers and I was happy with their level of education. I was not by any means searching for alternative routes! However, I began to get this nudging. Little things leading me to other homeschool families. Or conversations with friends about homeschooling. Suddenly, it seemed as though it was in front of me all the time. At first, I ignored the idea! That was crazy! There was no way I was qualified to take on such responsibility. My mother was a first grade teacher for almost 20 years and I had seen firsthand all the work involved. And that was only ONE grade!! Let alone trying to teach multiple levels with no professional background. These were the types of thoughts going around and around in my mind. Of course, in theory, I wanted to be obedient. But this? Anything but this!! Ashamed, I admit it took nearly another five full months before I actually stopped plugging my ears to the whispers of the Holy Spirit, got quiet, and just listened. And as soon as I did, He opened my eyes and my heart to His will for our family. I repented of my hesitation and stubbornness, and promptly withdrew my children from school the next chance I got. I had no plan. I had no lessons ready. I just knew I wanted to be obedient. And Dear Friend, those first few days are still some of the sweetest memories of our homeschool journey to date.

How has homeschooling benefited your family?

My husband is an inspector for the pipeline construction industry. So he goes wherever the work is. For several years, he worked near enough to our hometown so that we could see him on his one day a week off, but not close enough that he was home every night. As you can imagine, with a growing family, this was not ideal. Our decision to homeschool, and later sell our home, freed us up to travel together as a family. Being together as a family and parenting our children as a team is one of the biggest benefits homeschooling has afforded us! During his downtime between jobs, my husband even has the opportunity to school the kids and that is priceless. I believe these are the times our children will remember with most fondness.

Having lunch with Daddy on a Saturday. Before homeschooling, this was basically impossible.

How do your children feel about being homeschooled?

Honestly, in the beginning I was particularly concerned about the kids having adequate social interaction. I have two that are especially outgoing and thrive on lots and lots and lots and lots of contact with people! I worried that one momma was not going to be enough to go around! But God has been so faithful to provide our needs. In the seasons when we are not connected with other homeschool children (or full-time traveling families), the relationships they have with their siblings seem to blossom and fill the void. Other times, we have had the blessing of building friendships with like-minded families that I believe will grow for years to come. So it turns out, my concerns were unfounded. As for the kids, the day I told them we decided to homeschool, they immediately went to their closets and cleaned out every scrap of school uniform to send to the local donation center. And their sentiments have only grown stronger!

What was your biggest misconception about homeschooling prior to becoming a home educator?

I had a preconceived notion that beginning to homeschool would immediately turn us into a 21st century Ingles family. We would grow our own veggies, churn butter, and raise animals. Where I got this, I have no idea! I guess I just thought of home educating as being “self-sufficient” and therefore every other aspect of life would follow suite. Boy, was I wrong! Being a home educator, I welcome any and all help. We frequently participate in library programs in the local area, wherever that may be at the time. We take part in any community events offered that will be educational and age appropriate. I now see that homeschooling is so much less about being the one to teach your children everything as it is being the guide to helping them love to learn.

The kids interviewed the City Manager of Victoria, TX

How has your homeschooling approach changed since you began?

At first, I really tried to do school at home. I tried sticking to a tight schedule. I was constantly asking myself, “What would they be doing if they were at school right now?” I thought I could be their teacher for seven hours and then at 3:01 p.m. flip a switch and magically turn back into “momma”. (I hear you veterans laughing from here.) It didn’t take long to figure out that wasn’t going to work. You are still in your home. The phone still rings. People still show up unannounced. The baby still needs to be fed (3 months after I began homeschooling, I got pregnant with our 5th child). Life happens. You educate in the midst of it. And the kids learn in the midst of it. Now my approach is “plan ahead, but make room for life”.

Which Bible verse helps you the most with homeschooling? How?

It’s hard to choose only one because I feel for different seasons I have a different “life verse” so to speak. But the one that has been a constant since the beginning is Galatians 6:9, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” NLT.

Educating your children is so GOOD. And hard. And frustrating. But don’t give up, because at just the right time, they will finally get it! The phonics blends. The multiplication facts. The memory verse. And seeing that unfold is a harvest of blessing that we receive now in addition to the harvest that will come from lovingly planting seeds of grace day by day. I can’t wait to see what God’s plan is for my children’s lives!

How can we connect with you?

One Comment Add yours

  1. Stephanie says:

    What an inspiration! I really enjoyed this interview and the reminder of Galatians 6:9. After a tough homeschool week, I needed to read this. Thank you for sharing your story.


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