Interview with Karen Childress

Age: 54
Ages of Children: 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30
Location: North Texas

Why and when did you decide to homeschool your children?

We decided to homeschool when our first-born was about 9 months old. That was when we first heard about homeschooling and felt God was calling us to educate our children at home.

How do your children feel about having been homeschooled?

Now that I am retired from homeschooling, I look back and say it was all worth it. Honestly, some days my children did not like being homeschooled and at least two of my boys thought they would like to go to public school or private school.   I don’t think it was because they were dissatisfied with their education so much as I think their friends tried to convince them that their education wasn’t as good as the private school or that they couldn’t influence the lost if they weren’t in public school.  Neither reasons presented were valid.  Both of those boys have since thanked me for homeschooling them.  All of my children have verbally recognized the value and benefits of their home education.

Whats the best homeschooling advice youve ever received?

I have had different mentors through the years. These wise women were not necessarily homeschool moms, but they gave me great insight on parenting that was applicable to home education.  I wrote an article on the advice I have received through the years that is still relevant today – Advice Through the Years  Also, I have homeschool friends at co-op groups that I can ask for advice and sometimes just observe how they teach in that setting.

What would you say to someone who may be contemplating homeschooling?

1. If you are called/determined to homeschool and you have a plan, it doesn’t matter what your own level of education is.  I always felt that even on my ‘worst’ days of homeschooling, I was still doing better than the other education options available.  2. It’s ok not to finish every page of every textbook!  3.  Home education with a Christian worldview focus does not guarantee that every child will follow Christ.  Over the years, I have seen too many students (from Christian families) go a different direction once they leave home.  I don’t mention this to scare you, but to be real and honest.  You can teach them and guide them, but as adults, they make their own decisions.

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

Prior to homeschooling, I didn’t really have any ideas about what it really was other than education at home. Probably my biggest misconception was thinking my child had to answer every problem/question on every page of every workbook/textbook before the school year was declared complete. My first child was definitely the ‘guinea pig’ and I am fortunate that she didn’t mind doing everything.  My other children were very relieved when I realized it was ok to skip some math problems, and it was ok to not finish the textbook.

What was your goal as a home educator?

My goal was to develop independent learners. To accomplish this, reading was priority number one.

Which resources or curricula was most beneficial to your homeschool? 

Rod and Staff English (all grades)

How did you manage educating multiple children at different age/grade levels?

I used curricula that studied the same subjects (history, writing, science) for multiple grade levels. This allowed everyone to be studying the same topic/time period at their grade level so we could have group discussions. Subjects that had to be individualized for the grade level (like math) were taught at a certain time of the day for each student. Also, the older children helped the younger children as needed. For more details, you can visit my website and read: How Do You Do That?

What tips do you have for parents who are preparing their children for college?

Ah, college…people always want to know, “Can homeschoolers get into college?”  I have a whole section devoted to high school and college on my website.  Links to some of the topics are below.

  1. Don’t stress over college, especially when your children are young. The time to start thinking and planning for that is not until 7th or 8th grade.    Read Preparing for College: Be Smart, Not Scared
  2. Beginning with 9th grade, have a plan and keep good records. Not just grade records, but community service and extra-curricular activities. Here’s more information: What About High School? Planning Homeschool High School
  3. Plan 4 years of English, Science, Math, and History no matter what your child thinks they want to major in. Their major will most likely change at least once and it is good to have a rigorous foundation.
  4. Don’t overlook the benefit of dual credit at a community college for high school juniors and seniors.

For more information browse my website (high school and college pages):

Here are a couple specific articles to get you started:

7 Tips about the PSAT/NMSQT Test and Homeschoolers

Homeschool High School Round-Up

Whats your proudest homeschool moment?

Like many, teaching a child to read is a proud moment, but the proudest moment comes after they have graduated and are on their own and realize the value of their home education and say to me, ‘thanks for homeschooling me’.  That makes it all worth it!


How can we connect with you?

Homeschooling/parenting blog:

More about Karen:

Karen began homeschooling in 1991 and finished May 2016.  She educated all 7 of her children from kindergarten through graduation.  All of her students were accepted to their college of choice and 4 have graduated college.  Her advice and musings about parenting, homeschooling, college, and life can be found on her blog.  Since graduating her last student, she has started her own kitchen and bath design business, Karen Childress Designs.

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