How to Embrace Homeschooling as a Lifestyle Choice for Your Family with Anna McLaughlin

Show Notes

In this episode of Faithfully Engaged, Anna McLaughlin shares her awe-inspiring journey into homeschooling as a lifestyle choice. Discover how Anna transitioned from a high-powered corporate career to embracing the joy of nurturing her children’s unique giftings through homeschooling. Dive into her personal experiences, insights, and valuable advice for new homeschooling parents.

Anna’s heartfelt sharing and wisdom will ignite your passion for personalized education and strengthen the bond within your family. Join us as we explore the transformative power of homeschooling and the freedom it provides to tailor education uniquely to your children’s needs.

Learn from Anna’s incredible journey and gain the confidence to embark on your fulfilling homeschooling adventure. If you’re seeking to enrich your family life through homeschooling, this episode is a must-watch for you. Discover the joy, freedom, and depth of homeschooling as a lifestyle choice with Anna McLaughlin.

Anna McLaughlin, a dedicated wife and mother of four, is a seasoned homeschooling advocate with a unique journey from corporate law to entrepreneurship. Her passion for personalized education and family unity led her to embrace homeschooling as a lifestyle choice. Anna’s experience as a former corporate lawyer brings a fresh perspective to the conversation, demonstrating how homeschooling can be seamlessly integrated into a family’s lifestyle, fostering a nurturing environment for children’s growth and learning. With her genuine and relatable approach, Anna shares insights into the homeschooling journey, making her a valuable voice for parents seeking to navigate this path.

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Transcript

00:00:09 – Johnny Sanders
Welcome back, everyone, to another episode of Faithfully Engaged. Those of you that have been watching for a little while have known, actually, the first episode that I did, we had some technical issues on the first go, so it was actually a second run. And my guest today, Anna, we’re doing a similar thing. We had some issues, but she was gracious enough to come again and share with us her journey. So today, my guest, her name is Anna. So, Anna, why don’t you tell the audience a little bit about yourself?

00:00:41 – Anna McLaughlin
Yes. Thanks so much, Johnny. So my name is Anna McLaughlin, and I am a wife of, gosh, almost 13 years, mom to four kiddos. I was a corporate lawyer for a number of years and really had a passion to be home with my children. And through that process began the journey of homeschooling about seven or eight years ago and entrepreneurship as well. And so we kind of live a life a little bit out of the ordinary, which has allowed us to have a significant amount of time with our family and to really seek to walk this path that the Lord leads us on. So step by step, it’s just been a great ride.

00:01:17 – Johnny Sanders
That’s what’s so interesting about your story as you go, three things that I don’t know if I’ve ever heard in the same sentence there of corporate lawyer, home school, and entrepreneur. Those seem to not mix all together.

00:01:31 – Anna McLaughlin
They do not, no. It’s been a stretching process.

00:01:36 – Johnny Sanders
So kind of walk us through that process a little bit. From lawyer to home school, what did that process look like for you?

00:01:45 – Anna McLaughlin
Yes. So I became a lawyer because I really loved learning. I loved words, I loved communication. I loved asking questions, solving problems. So I worked as a transactional lawyer, which meant I did mergers and acquisitions. It’s a corporate side of things. I wasn’t in a courtroom, in other words. And I loved the work, but it was very intense, very long hours. I worked for a large law firm in my town of Charlote, and I just found there was an incredible tension between my work life and my home life. I loved the life that I was building with my husband. I loved being a wife. I loved being a mother. And I just felt like we were constantly building two separate structures, his work and my work. And then in between was this life we were trying to build together, which was really suffering as a result of just, honestly, a lack of time. Not a lack of desire, but just a lack of time together. So through that experience, we just kept coming back to, like I kept saying, I want to be home. I want to be home. And then as we were making this transition, we were in a church that had a lot of homeschool families. And I was like, I just loved the idea of not only the amount of time that you get to have with your children as a homeschool family, but also the amount of flexibility that we could travel, that we could really sow into. Both my husband and I at the time had parents that had significant health challenges, and so being able to sow into their lives, be able to have just a lot of room, it felt like we were without room. And so that was the first piece of the puzzle. As we continued, both my husband and I felt that we had landed in careers that did not really match our giftings. And so that feeling of I kind of chose this path because it was one of a very few that I knew of. For the joke with lawyers is, we’re smart people who don’t like blood, so we can’t be a doctor because we don’t want to be in the ER or whatever or go through residency, but we are intelligent, and we want to use our intellects. And so I just kind of walked down a path that seemed very wide. It was like, okay, well, I guess this is the next step. I’ll go to law school. And then I didn’t know about, you get out into the adult world, and you hear about people who do things that you didn’t even know existed in college, and that was very much my experience. Same for my husband. And so we felt like we didn’t want the same to happen to our children. We wanted to help them identify their unique giftings from an early age, cultivate and develop those, and really kind of steward their gifts to really further the kingdom of God in their small circle. And so that was really, as time progressed, it became this burning passion more and more of, like, I am an expert on my children. I want to help them become themselves. My dad used to say, the greatest gift of being a parent is watching your children become who you always knew that they were, who they’ve always been. And so I grabbed hold of that, and my husband and I just kind of went all in on that idea of let us help them become fully themselves and love the work that they do in the world.

00:05:11 – Johnny Sanders
That’s such a wonderful little story there, which I know, I’m sure took all sorts of weaves at times and pain and all that stuff along the way, but a beautiful conclusion there. And I love where you ended up of talking about your kids, kind of seeing them become themselves, and that’s something that has been incredible for my wife and I. My daughter is almost four. My son just turned two. And as of this recording, our youngest son will be born, hopefully next month at about this time. Congratulations. Thank you. Adding a second boy to the mix, our third kiddo. But from the get go, this is what’s been really interesting, is we didn’t have a perfect knowledge of our children’s personality, but we could see it even in the womb of their differences. And my daughter’s kicking through the stomach. My son, I never felt him kick at all. And then Isaac, our youngest son, he seems to be somewhere there in the middle, and I’m super curious to see when he comes out, if he will kind of be that mixture between his brother and sister. But, yeah, to be able to see that play out as a parent is awesome. And I’m imagining you playing that more active role in their lives as a whole, and especially in their education, has been such a joy for you to be able to see that.

00:06:46 – Anna McLaughlin
Oh, it’s been so much fun, and it’s so true. I remember the same experience, especially when we got pregnant with our third child, who was a girl. So we had girl, boy, girl, and having a second girl, it’s like, oh, it’s not boy and girl. It’s like Cora and Asher. And there. There’s just no mixing of each individual personality. They are so much themselves. And I will say, for anybody listening, that’s sitting there going, but I could never. Homeschooling, I feel like, is really just this surrender to mutual sanctification as a family that we just kind of give ourselves over to the task of growing, saying we’re willing to step into realms that we don’t know what we’re doing. We’re willing to maybe help our children learn something that we don’t even know how to do ourselves. We’re willing to kind of come to the end of our energy and the end of our time, the end of our capacity. And there’s still many more hours to the day left. It’s lunchtime, and I need a nap. And here we’ve got another 6 hours of this day to go. How are we going to do this? And so I know I have several friends who you can just see they were kind of wired for homeschooling. They love structure and sticky notes, or they’re very free form, and they’re like, we’re going to take a walk in the woods and press leaves into pages of books. And I’m like, I have none of that. I have none of that gifting, but what I do have is a heart for my children and really a vision of the end goal. And so my husband and I decided together we got really clear on what’s our purpose of Homeschooling. And we decided we had two goals. We wanted our children to know the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, to know and love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. We wanted them to be intellectually curious. We wanted them to enjoy the process of learning. And if we could pull off those two things, then we would be Shepherding them into society as a productive adult. They could become whatever it was the Lord was leading them to be, because whatever they didn’t learn with us, they could get it. And so having that clear purpose freed us up significantly to just not know what we were doing, kind of because we haven’t known what we were doing. But we’ve enjoyed our children and we’ve loved them. You look at the things that people need to navigate as adults, and it’s far less about recalling the calculus problems that you did in high school or the conjugations of verbs. And it’s far more about how do I communicate with people? How do I listen well? How do I stay in my lane and not get all egocentric or offended? How do I forgive? How do I love? How do I learn new things and adapt? It’s far more those kind of deeper emotional resilience skills than it is this knowledge that got packed in a decade or two ago.

00:09:56 – Johnny Sanders
Absolutely. And I’m so glad you covered the side of I can’t do that. That’s great that you can do it, but I know I could never do that. And I don’t like to speak in such a broad brush to say that everybody in the whole world can home school without any problems at all. But I will say that that is much more the case than the opposite. The people that say that they can’t, almost assuredly you can. But I guess that next question is, why can’t you? And to actually process that, and usually it’s something that is either a misunderstanding of homeschooling, misunderstanding of their abilities, just misunderstanding in general, something I do with my clients and my day job as a counselor is I like to let them know both sides of the equation. On the one hand, I want to normalize whatever your problem is. Yeah, it is an issue. I don’t want to act like you saying, hey, I struggle with going to homeschooling. I don’t want you to act like that’s a stupid question or that your fears and anxieties aren’t real. They are. And it is a sacrifice, no doubt. But on the other hand, you can do it. You absolutely can. And it’s about making that commitment and then just doing it. And I love your part there of what is my purpose here? Because when you strip it down to those two main purposes, I could do that. That’s not that hard.

00:11:40 – Anna McLaughlin
Yeah, it’s so true. And I think part of one thing that we’ve. And just knowing a little bit about your show, it wouldn’t surprise me if you haven’t covered this topic over the past months. But I find one of the things that we are leaning into in our culture is this idea of we need the expert involved. We can’t do it on our own. We have to go and outsource to somebody else. And so if we start with that framework, then I’m not an expert at geometry or physics or languages or any of those things. So therefore, by definition, I must be giving my children an inadequate education if the goal is to outsource to the experts. And so that’s why it’s been so grounding for me to get clear on our purpose, because I actually am an expert on my children. And I am the best expert on my children. My husband and I have been with them since before they took their first breath and have been studying them with wrapped attention, fascinated by everything that they do, or frustrated, but deeply emotionally affected by everything they do. And so if my job is to sow into them the best information on a language and a mask skill and a history lesson, then, yeah, maybe I’m not the best person. But if my job, rather, is actually to bring out of them their own bents and giftings, like I’ve been saying to my kids since they were little, I see this in you. Does this resonate? Like my oldest, you seem to really love art. Is that true? Yeah, I just love it. And so what do we do? We go out of our way to find opportunities to expose her to creative outlets. Hey, what are you drawing right now? Bringing her to art camp? We certainly do. It’s not that we never bring in an expert, but we’re cultivating an education that is customized for her. And so when I lay down this idea of the current educational model is more based on, you put stuff in a child’s brain and our philosophy, which is not just made up by us, but I forget his name. I think it’s Ken Roberts or Robinson. He’s in the UK. And he has a lot of really interesting stuff on education. I did a deep dive on his stuff about a decade ago when I first started looking into homeschool. He talks about drawing out our child’s gifting, identifying who they are, and helping to cultivate that. And that is something that a parent is uniquely equipped to do. So it really does become a journey that we can start to imagine. Oh, I think I actually could do that. I can help them become who they are and better versions of themselves. So it takes some of the pressure away.

00:14:35 – Johnny Sanders
I love that you brought up the trust. You didn’t say this, but it is the trust, the experts, that kind of goes into other COVID issues and all sorts of things.

00:14:46 – Anna McLaughlin
I thought you might have covered that.

00:14:52 – Johnny Sanders
There’s a degree here of humility to kind of be fair, of to recognize our limitations. And I’m not saying, as home school, just in general, that we’re not all knowing about every subject in the whole wide world. That part of that is true. There are people that know more about certain subjects than we do, and we can glean from them in certain ways. I’m not artistic in the slightest, but if my child is starting to lean that way, I know them, I’m able to bring that out, and maybe I can get them to somebody that can help teach them that. Exactly. That’s being able to cultivate that, like you’re saying, as opposed to, well, I’m just a dumb dumb with art. I can’t do anything about that. Somebody’s got to do my job for me. Not helpful.

00:15:46 – Anna McLaughlin
Yeah, and it’s such a good point, too. I was laughing when you said that neither my husband nor I have any artistic bent whatsoever. And so the argument of, well, I can’t teach them because I don’t know, it. It assumes again, that our children are empty vessels that we put things into. But all we need to do with my daughter, she’s been copying pictures from storybooks and from, I don’t even remember where we got little learn how to draw guides. She’s been doing that on her own steam forever. And so all we need to do is acknowledge this is a gift that we see in you, and let’s help you improve upon it. So it does, it makes our job a lot lighter because we’re not having to. Kids want to learn. The world is fascinating, and so we just have to light that spark. And even just a walk around the neighborhood with your toddler going, what kind of flower do you think that is? What do you see we’re drawing out their analytical skills, which, funnily enough, is what? When I was a lawyer, I remember thinking as we started having children, I want to give my children the education I got in law school because I remember just being so stretched academically. And what they do in law school is they teach you how to think critically. And this is what the Romans were excellent at with the Socratic method. Or was that the Greeks? Well, they both, the Romans took everything from the Greeks, but they drew out this deep thinking by asking questions, and that’s what we do just in life with our children.

00:17:22 – Johnny Sanders
More excellent points there. There was something earlier on the expert side. I just thought of this. I might have shared this on an earlier podcast, but there was a person in my hometown, he’s a dentist, actually, and they had their kids in public school just kind of same normal stuff. And in this situation, and I love harping on this because I’ve mentioned this several times, I’m in a red part in Oklahoma. Like, we’re red, as red as red could be. And sometimes there’s that mindset here of, oh, well, that stuff doesn’t happen here. Our schools are fine here. You’re wrong. It does happen here. And anyways, this kid’s daughter had a non binary classmate or something. I don’t remember exactly. Something in that sphere. And the dad was like, you know what, I don’t want my, I don’t know. She’s like six or seven. I don’t want my six or seven year old exposed to this. No, we’re not doing it. And they had no plans. They just pulled her out and in fact, found like a spot in the dentist office for the rest of the school year. And they just did home school in the dentist office. And since that, I think they’ve gotten a more structured approach. But again, that shows, like, this guy’s working and they still made it work because he was the expert of his child, to your point of, I know that’s not something she needs to be exposed to right now, and I don’t trust how they will handle that. So let me get her out. And I just love that story because it wasn’t this big, elaborate. We have to get all the structure. It’s, let’s just read some books in this corner office and make the best of it until we can figure it out. And I just love parents taking that over like that.

00:19:25 – Anna McLaughlin
Oh, that’s right. Well, and it’s such a faith growing experience for us as parents to just say, I know the next step, the next step is we’re not here anymore. We’re going somewhere new, and we don’t know what it’s going to look like a year or 210 years down the road, but we know that we’re supposed to make a change. And I just want to encourage anybody who’s feeling that tug of, like, maybe we’re supposed to take our kids out of school. Maybe we’re supposed to start with homeschooling. The beautiful thing about home school is you get to change your mind. It’s very flexible. I’ve had friends who have unenrolled their children from public school, re enrolled their children in public school, done a monastery, done a private school. There is so much flexibility. And so there’s really not this kind of, like, we don’t have to be terrified because we can change our minds. And then the other thing is, this is just an opportunity to exercise our faith in the Lord to go, okay, I know this next step, and it’s been so precious to watch when we get out of this rote, kind of lockstep approach of, well, we’ll just figure out who the teacher is this year and then they’ll go on that track, and then we’ll figure out who the teacher is next year and then go on that track to really have these open hands and go, okay, what’s next, Lord? He puts the curriculum and the people and the community and the kind of extra special classes in our path, and it’s like, oh, okay, this is next. And my friend in our homeschool community says, moss doesn’t really gather on a homeschool family. Like, we’re always rolling to something new. But I think it’s because we’ve been invited into this journey with the Lord that is vEry, I like to say we’re kind of light on our feet. Like, oh, it looks a little different now. We’re going to pivot over here. And it creates a beautiful invitation to intimacy with the Lord. Not that there aren’t other ways to get that, but it has truly deepened my faith because I rely on him for the next steps for my children.

00:21:28 – Johnny Sanders
I think that’s a wonderful part there of increasing your faith as a parent, to rely on him for that wisdom and for the people he places in your life and also the faith in your kids. And that’s in my wife and I’s journey. The first step, there was some faith involved, but it really was where there’s smoke, there’s fire type of thing of all of these stories after stories of kids being called a different pronoun and stuff, and not parents being told we’re like, no, we’re just not going to do it. But the more that we went into it. So that was an initial fear reason to have that initial motivation. And while that was a good starting place, that’s not sustainable to just live in fear. And now it’s this joy of part of their homework is memorizing scripture. That’s awesome, right? My two year old. So we’ve been doing some catechisms with my three year old. Real basic things. It’s like, who made me? God made me.

00:22:45 – Anna McLaughlin
Yes.

00:22:47 – Johnny Sanders
And what’s great about it? I mean, it’s so beautiful seeing her share that. But because my two year old has heard her do it so much, we ask him, who made you? And he says, god. I don’t think he fully understands that, but he knows it and he has got it down. He does it 100% of the time. And being able to have that injected in them at such a young age and for it to be so natural, we’re not fighting with them. In fact, the only fight we have is when we ask my son to do it. My daughter’s like, no, I want to do it. It’s beautiful. It really is. And speaks to that creativity that you can have, that we don’t have to just sit here and do public school in the home. We can make it our own.

00:23:38 – Anna McLaughlin
It’s so true. Oh, that’s beautiful.

00:23:43 – Johnny Sanders
On the topic of other people, I’m pretty big on this. That not completely doing homeschooling on your own. And you were kind of alluding to that of being involved with other families and things like that. What advice would you give, especially to somebody that’s really green, they haven’t started homeschooling of, where do I find these people? What should I do to be connected with other people?

00:24:11 – Anna McLaughlin
Yes, there are so many resources now. Even kind of generation ago it was not this way. But I would just start by saying, be encouraged, that there are probably too many options, far more likely than too few. So if you know people who home school, asking them is the best first step, because then you already have, assuming you like them, right. You already have kind of an inkling of, well, if they like this, then I might too. And so that’s a great first step. But if you don’t know anybody in your circle, I love resourcing. So even a Facebook post, hey, does anybody know anybody in my town that is a homeschool family that you could connect us? And then there are also so many groups. I’m on Facebook, Instagram, if you’re not other social media platforms that you have. But there are homeschool groups probably for your town or your city, looking at different just Googling homeschool curriculum and seeing kind of what each website looks like. Keep in mind it’s a sales pitch, but they have their people in know whether it’s are you looking for something that’s more kind of the, some of the key categories that you’ll see pop up. Charlote Mason is a very common one, which is more using whole books, getting in nature, journaling, unschooling is let’s just wake up and kind of see where things lead us. What is the very child led learning? The type A part of me doesn’t really lean that direction, so I don’t know much about it, but I’m just giving kind of the highlights to get people started. Classical conversations is what I use, which is it’s a hybrid of a community and self directed. And so you have one day in community and then you spend the other days at home. And classical conversations is a classical model, but there are other classical models you can use as well. And the classical model says, basically, first we’re going to learn the words for things and we’re going to memorize just like you were talking about. Like our kids are little sponges when they’re in those ages that you’re describing. Kind of two to upper elementary, mid to upper elementary, they just take in everything you say and they comparate it right back to you. They don’t know the meaning and significance, like you said yet, but that’s okay. They don’t need to. It’s not time yet developmentally. And then in their upper elementary to middle school, they lean into asking a lot of questions. Why? Right. And then in their kind of middle school to high school years, they start to be able to actually make arguments. Here’s my position and here’s why. And we can see this progression even in younger kids in their area of expertise. If you’ve ever had your three year old kind of talk your ear off about the pros and cons of a certain color of play Doh or why I like being outside after lunch instead of inside, they can move into this expert area earlier on in certain kind of categories of their lives. But classical conversations really is more how I learned in law school. And so for me, it was a very comfortable, sweet home for me. And I’ve done several different things. But there are homeschool conventions, there are different. We went to what’s called a co op, which is just a group of home school families that get together and maybe they take turns teaching lessons to the kids. Maybe it’s more of a play group, but the idea is creating some form of a school collectively. And I found it because I somehow got the name of a home school gymnastics class. And then I show up to the class and all the other moms knew each other. I was like, how do you guys know each other? Oh, we’re part of this co op. You want to come visit? And so that was our home for two or three years, and it was a great little place to land. So again, it’s that balance of take your steps, go to the home school convention, go to the meetup groups, and then watching the Lord direct and recognizing you don’t have to be anywhere forever. You don’t even have to be there long. And don’t be afraid. Your kids aren’t going to be weird. They’re going to be just fine. And there are innumerable resources. And I’m happy. I know we’ll talk about my contact information at the end, but if anybody has any questions that you just want to have an ear to connect with, I’m happy to be that for folks as well.

00:28:46 – Johnny Sanders
And you just mentioning that right there. My wife and I have, I guess you can, in a sense, we have already home schooled by doing little things here and there, which is great, but we haven’t had this planned out for a long time. Our kids aren’t very old, so by no means are we experts on that. There’s that expert word, but we are experts on our kiddos.

00:29:12 – Anna McLaughlin
Yes, you are.

00:29:12 – Johnny Sanders
But I say all that. To say that that has been the vast majority of experience I’ve had with anything in the home school community is, it’s like this massive family. And I believe it when you say that, hey, come ask me and anybody else that’s in your church or in your home, if you ask them, they’re probably going to help you out. Don’t be afraid to ask.

00:29:39 – Anna McLaughlin
Yes, it’s so true. And at the end of the day, when I first started, I used to kind of say to the Lord, just tell me what to do and I’ll do it. God, I just want the rulebook. Like, tell me what to do and I’ll do it. He doesn’t work that way. And so at the end of the day, you’re going to start shopping different opinions, and you’re going to find that if you ask ten people, you get ten different approaches and it’s going to drive you bonkers if you want to have a rulebook to go by. But as uncomfortable as it can be to sit with God knows how to lead you through your children’s education and you don’t need to know. Just like I remember when my first was born, I was so worried because I was like, I’m going to mess her up, Lord, I didn’t come from a Christian home. I don’t know how to raise her to know the Lord. And then she came and I was like, oh, I kind of just need to hold her and change her diaper and feed her. Like, okay, I can do this. And if he had started us out with an eleven year old, that would have been a really steep learning curve. But we grow with our children and so home school is meant to be the same, especially if we start out when they’re teeny tiny. Yeah. You sit down and you do a catechism question and they’re playing Playdoh and you’re kind of showing them a letter and you make the letter with the playdoh and then they want to go build with blocks for a while and that’s your school day and it took ten minutes. That’s it. That’s great.

00:31:06 – Johnny Sanders
This next question is kind of intentionally vague a little bit and I’m not expecting one straight answer. And you kind of addressed it in what you just said. When somebody is, again, especially new, and you’re right, there are a billion different curriculums and co ops and all those things. And in a sense, public school is kind of nice that you don’t really have choices. Here’s your teacher, here’s your classes, go do it. And it takes that guesswork out. So for those people getting started, do you suggest to like, hey, I have these two options. Do you just say throw a dart at it and try which one’s best? What advice would you give as far as making that first decision and how long should they stick with it?

00:31:58 – Anna McLaughlin
Yeah, so I would say take a look at your personality and try to find a curriculum that feels like it’s going to. I almost want to say like, settle your nervous system down. So I’m more of a type A. So I started with what they call box curriculums. And so that’s a couple examples are sunlight, S-O-N. Like the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Sunlight and my father’s world. Both are Christian curriculums. There are others. I think Abeca is one. And those essentially you buy a kit that has your daily lesson plans, and it’s got all of your books and all of your worksheets and everything that you need for a whole school year all packaged up. So that’s what we did really. First when we were getting started is we said, okay, this is where we’re going to land because this is going to help my type A personality calm down. Okay, I’ve got the boxes. I just go through and check the boxes. I’ve got the worksheets. I check the worksheets. What do we read? This is what we read. That was great for my personality. If you’re a little bit more artistic and outside of the box, looking at the more kind of free form options might feel really good. And so I feel like, I think that for me, the big box was like someone holding my hand. Just take these steps. Most curriculums that you buy, which you can kind of craft your own thing, you can literally put a kindergarten, 1st, 2nd grade curriculum together. Buying workbooks on Amazon, it doesn’t have to be as complicated as we often think. And so it was more expensive for us to start from scratch and say, we’re buying the whole box curriculum. Still far less than private school. That was always my line with my husband. Look, it’s less than private school. He’s like, we weren’t going to do private school. We’re not really saving money in this argument, but we started somewhere where I felt comfortable. People who have a little bit more kind of tolerance for practice than I did when I got started. Maybe you’re building things through workbooks. One thing I will say that really helped me was, at least in our state, North Carolina, you don’t even register as a homeschool until your oldest turns seven. And then you don’t add your children to the homeschool register until the year that they turn seven. So in my mind, I was like, oh, she’s four. Like, this is all freebies. No one’s even watching. And so it was nice to start early and kind of get a little bit of practice. I was like, where was I going? Most of those big box curriculums will give you a trial period of free returns for a significant amount of time. I’ve never availed myself of that, but I want to say it’s like two to six months that you can actually return the curriculum. Say this Isn’t working, and they’ll refund your money. Just from my business world, my recommendation with my people is, depending on what you’re trying, try it for at least 30 to 90 days. And so I don’t know that there’s any sort of great rule of thumb, but you want to give it some time to kind of. You want to kind of sell it first. You buy into it yourself. As a parent, this is what we’re doing. I believe in it. I’m ready to commit to this for the short term as the best next step. Then we have to kind of sell it to our children. But I want to go. But I want to do. But I want to know you’re not the teacher. You’re not. And so there we get to exercise discipline and authority, and those are things they need to learn, too. But I watched. So for us, we did two years of sunlight. We did a year of my father’s world in kindergarten, and then two years of sunlight. And that second year of sunlight was my second born’s first year doing curriculum. And he hated it. He didn’t want to sit still. He wanted to run around. He wasn’t retaining any of the information. It wasn’t engaging. And before we had really started officially homeschooling, we had bopped into classical conversations for one year when my daughter was four, so she was four. I had a two year old, I had a baby, and then we had one on the way by the time we got to the end of the year. So we were crazy. And I totally didn’t understand what the point of it was, and I totally didn’t understand the model. And I didn’t ask questions because I was embarrassed, which is one thing I would say. Ask questions. Nobody’s going to be like, I can’t believe you don’t know that. Right? You’re not supposed to be an expert homeschooler, all right? Ever. Your children will leave the house and you will not feel like you were an expert homeschooler. But years later. Fast forward to that second year in sunlight. I was like, we are still singing those songs that we learned three years ago in classical conversations. And my son had picked up the songs and there was a song about the different continents, because in classical conversations, it’s all about vocabulary. We’re going to learn the grammar of what these things are. And I didn’t know any more about classical conversations at that point than I did three years prior. But I was, huh, I think you’d like singing. And that was literally all it was that brought us back to classical conversations. Two years later, Johnny, I finally make it to our kind of training. We call it a practicum, but it’s basically where you get to, because this was all during COVID so there weren’t in person meetings and everything. So finally make it to a training. I’ve now had two years of classical conversations, one when my daughter was four and then one with everybody in the classroom. And during practicum, they walked us through the learning process, the model of how they teach, which is what I told you about of first the words, then the questions and then the arguments. And I started crying sitting in that room because I realized this is law school. Here I am walking my children through a process of learning how to think that I went through in my twenty s that I committed to the Lord. I said, I want to teach my children how to learn this way. I don’t know how to do that. I’m not a law professor, but I want them to learn through asking questions. I want them to be really good critical thinkers. I want to help them be strategic because ultimately, because of what we know of God, when we ask good questions and we are open hearted and curious, willing to hear the answer. Which is why I want intellectually curious children. They will find God because he is the only truth. So I don’t have to be afraid of are my children going to believe or not. I’m going to teach them how to ask good questions and think critically and they will ultimately find the father every time. And so I just burst into tears realizing, here we are, here we are, with all my imperfections. It’s not like I sat down and set out and said, well, I want them to learn to ask good questions and I want them to learn to think critically. So we’re going to choose this curriculum because the Lord brought me into it, because we remembered a couple of songs about continents. And so that was a really long way of saying, ultimately start where you are, be patient with yourself, and then trust the goodness of God to knit this thing together in a way that’s very profound and fortifies your faith in ways that just a handful of other things in life do, parenting being one. And so it’s just another layer of that strengthening of our faith to go. He did this for me.

00:39:31 – Johnny Sanders
Oftentimes in examples, both in my personal life and then also with my clients. I’ll use a sports metaphor. That’s just the way my brain kind of works. And I always think of some of the best quarterbacks out there, and when they’re throwing the ball and they’re trying to get their receiver down the field, there is an inherent risk that when they throw the ball that the other team could get it intercepted. And that would be a mistake the best quarterbacks, though, despite there being that risk, they do it anyways. And sometimes they do make mistakes. They do. They’ll throw interceptions, but if they’re so focused on not throwing interception, their goal is to not do or to not be bad. They’re not as good because they’re not having faith in trusting the game plan, trusting the play, trusting their teammates. They have to have that faith there. Now that is a microcosm, tiny little thing of showing faith in God, who is much bigger than a quarterback or coach or anything like that. But when we’re so focused on our little aspects there, we’re missing it. We’re missing the faith in God. And at times we might feel like we’re playing it safe. Of, yeah, I’ll put them in public school so I don’t mess it all up, or I’ll do this over here because I could really mess it up. And the reality is to not sugarcoat could you make mistakes that could be bad in home school? Sure you could. But you think the teacher can’t make mistakes, too. Of course they can. So it’s having faith in God ulTimately, and knowing it’s not about you, it’s not about your effort, it’s about knowing your kids, knowing God and putting them in the best position that you know how.

00:41:33 – Anna McLaughlin
Oh, it’s so true. It’s so true. And I think so much of it comes down to really, where is the Lord leading? And so I was talking to a friend earlier today, and we just kind of kept coming back to, it all comes back to the Father. It all comes back to the Father. We want to know the right answer. What should I do? The right answer is only known by one, and that’s the Lord. And so when our hearts are well attuned to him, when we’re kind of leaning our heads against his chest every morning to listen to his heartbeat, where are you leading me? Where are you directing me? Then we’re being faithful. And I will say to some, you might have some listeners where they’re like, our kids are in public school right now. Our kids are in private school right now. There’s no shame on this end. The key question is, what is the Lord leading you to? And we just need to watch our I could nevers right. We might miss a significant blessing if we’re walking in fear and saying, well, I can’t possibly or I shouldn’t or it’s not a good idea. God equips us by as we walk, right? He doesn’t equip us beforehand. We want to know that the grace is going to be there to catch us once we step. But we have to be like, it’s like the age old story we’ve all talked about a million times of Peter getting out of the boat. He didn’t know the waves were going to hold him until he put his feet out there. And the other men didn’t do like, we can look all we want to at how he went down a couple of seconds later. But he is the only human being, fully human and not fully God human being, who has ever, as far as we know, who has ever walked on top of the water. And he was able to do it because he was willing to step before he knew. And we are invited to the same. So if you look at your schedule and you’re like. My husband and I are both entrepreneurs. We had four children in six years. I had health challenges, mental health challenges. My husband’s had health challenges. He’s had surgeries. We’ve lost two parents. Before my dad died, he lived out of town, and I would travel and help him. I could list a number of reasons that we couldn’t do it. And I can tell you, in many seasons, we did it very poorly. I will say, in my estimation, I think I did a really bad job. I’m not very consistent. I would get up and be like, oh, I’ve got this other stuff to do, or the house is messy, or the baby needs me. And yet still we have a family that knows each other, that has worked really hard to understand and love each other well, and we are growing. And there’s something to be said for that. I would say the two pieces are no shame for wherever your feet are today. And rather than determine from a very limited view whether you can or you cannot ask instead, Lord, are you inviting me to something deeper?

00:44:57 – Johnny Sanders
Yeah. No. That’s just so important because it’s taking us out of the equation. Our doubts, our fears, all of that. And, yeah, God, where are you leading me? Where are you leading my family? And listening to that and not a, I can’t do this. I shouldn’t do this. It’s not prudent or whatever. Those aren’t good reasons. If God is leading me there, great. If he’s not, or if I just don’t know right now. Okay, well, then we’ll take time, but not out of a spirit of fear. That doesn’t lead to anything good.

00:45:34 – Anna McLaughlin
That’s so right. That’s exactly right.

00:45:37 – Johnny Sanders
Well, Anna, I am so glad that we didn’t have tech issues and all sorts of problems to interrupt our conversation. Me too. It’s great. I know that there’s people that are listening to this that, like, oh, I have all sorts of questions, or they want to stay in contact with you. So how can they be in contact with you after the. Sarah.

00:45:59 – Anna McLaughlin
Yeah, I’d love to connect with your people. So I’m on Instagram, and my handle is she considers a field, which is a reference to the Proverbs 31 passage, where the righteous woman considers a field and she buys it. And I also have a Facebook group with the same name that you can find through my Instagram or through the link in your show notes if you do that. Johnny. And that’s a group where I basically just cultivate a conversation among women of faith. It’s a combination of really just, let’s talk about wholeness. What does it look like to heal and then grow and then serve in our communities? A lot of times, we just want to go straight to service, but how do we heal and then grow and then serve and really sit at the feet of the father and then. I’m a strategist. I love collecting all kinds of different tools to equip women of faith to just be more effective in their families. I grab kind of entrepreneur materials and mindset stuff, and I love to share that. So that’s on both of those platforms. And I would love to talk to your people and then anything home school specific, because I know we really focused on that conversation, which I love. Just message me, ask me any questions that you have. I’m happy to be a support to your folks.

00:47:10 – Johnny Sanders
Awesome. Well, yeah, I’ll definitely include all of that down in the show notes, so definitely check her out. And, yeah. Anna, thanks again so much for sharing with us.

00:47:19 – Anna McLaughlin
Oh, thanks so much for having me, Johnny. This was a pleasure.

00:47:22 – Johnny Sanders
Absolutely. All right, and thank you to everybody that tuned in today, and we’ll catch you on the next episode.