Over the past decade, home schooling has become an increasingly popular choice for parents in North America. With this in mind, we spoke with Barefoot Books Ambassador Leader and home schooling mother Jennifer Butler-Brown to learn more about the benefits of this form of education. Read on to learn how Jennifer uses our books as teaching aids and how she manages to balance her direct selling business with her responsibilities as a parent and teacher!

Q:  Why did you decide to home school?
A: We decided to home school based on two issues:

1) Our local schools do not feel safe or like the right fit for our son’s best interests.
2) Our son’s learning style is practically guaranteed to fail in a mainstream school situation. He is very active and learns best when integrating movement and learning.

Q: If you could describe your teaching style in only three words, what would they be?
A: Eclectic, integrated, fun!

Q: Do you have any tips for parents beginning to home school their children for the first time?
A: Find other home schooling families as quickly as you can! The support and empathy they provide will keep you on track.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and try new things: it takes time to discover the learning style and curriculum that works best for your family.

Get out in the community: play dates, community centers, libraries, art classes; it is all out there if you just start looking, and it helps everyone in the family when you have many outside connections. Socialization is important for everyone!

Research your state’s requirements for home schooling so that you can feel confident that you are meeting your child’s needs right from the start.

Be flexible, and have fun together!

Q:  Have you found any Barefoot Books titles or products to be useful teaching resources? If so, how?
A: We have used so many Barefoot Books titles, puppets and puzzles that it is hard to pin point the best. We use our Bear and Cleo books for practicing reading. The puzzles are great for learning about continents, animals and countries. The music and books introduce us to cultures from around the globe. We are especially enjoying reading the books that have extra educational material in the back, which extends the use of the book: The Beeman, We All Went on Safari, Catch That Goat!, We’re Sailing Down the Nile, the list could go on and on. And, of course, the puppets are just wonderful for imaginative play.

Q:  As a home schooling parent, what can you absolutely not live without?
A: Our local library.

Q:  What is your son’s favorite part of being home schooled?
A: Play! And his classes through the community center, our parks and recreation organization, and a non-profit group that teaches art to children.

Q:  How do you balance your business as a Barefoot Books Ambassador with your role as teacher and parent?
A: My best balancing act has been to keep the business going at home while keeping him on task and learning. We spend at least one day per week at our dining table, Toby doing his school work, and me doing my book work. What a great example of real life for him to see! Luckily, he is very happy to discuss his favorite reads with anyone who will listen. A natural born book retailer! I feel that when he sees me working, and including him in the process of maintaining a business, he is learning valuable life lessons. I also do a lot of late night work on the computer while he is sleeping.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
A: This is our second year of home schooling. The first was full of panic, but after surviving it, I feel so much more confident in our decision to home school. My son is thriving. He is not falling behind. If anything, he is ahead in some subjects, and is actively choosing to study things that just aren’t offered in mainstream school. So many people are concerned about socialization: not an issue. We have more time with kids than we know what to do with.

An added benefit to spending time together as I go about my business is that we are out in our community almost every day, interacting with so many different people. Toby is confident talking with and asking questions of everyone that he meets, so this means that a simple trip to the grocery store, library, bank, post office, park-anywhere-becomes a learning opportunity.

Every form of education has its ups and downs, pluses and minuses. Don’t be afraid to try new things to find the right fit for your family.

Do you have any tips for running a business while also home schooling? Please leave a comment below!

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