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Welcome to  The Face of Homeschooling , where we dispel the stereotypes and myths of homeschooling through interviews with homeschool pare...

The Face of Homeschooling: An Interview with Heidi Ciravola

May 10, 2014 Michelle Cannon 0 Comments

An interview with homeschool mom and blogger, Heidi Ciravola.

Welcome to The Face of Homeschooling, where we dispel the stereotypes and myths of homeschooling through interviews with homeschool parents.

Our May 2014 edition is an interview with Heidi Ciravola of Starts at Eight.

Q: Tell me a bit about why you decided to homeschool.

A: While I always knew I was going to be a stay at home mom, homeschooling was never even on my radar.  Sending my firstborn to preschool at three was torture for me but I did it because it was the thing to do.  She ended up attending two years of preschool plus kindergarten and first grade.

I knew for sure in kindergarten that things just were not right.  Between being well advanced for her age, and some violence issues she was being exposed to, I knew we had to find another way.  We started looking into private schools but the cost was so high and with baby number three on the way, the cost just wasn't practical.

My husband was not sold on homeschooling, but decided that trying it for a year couldn't possibly be worse than another year of public school.  Now almost nine years later we have stopped taking it, “one year at a time” and instead have chosen this as the long term path for our family.

Q: Tell me a little about your family situation (this would include married, single, how many children, step-children, do you work, etc.)

A: My husband and I have been married for sixteen years.  During that time we have brought three beautiful children into this world: Chloe is fourteen and a freshman in high school; Jayden is eleven and in fifth grade; and Ava is a seven year old second grader.

While I am a stay at home mom, I have been slowly branching out in the online homeschool community.  I am the site owner and primary writer for Starts At Eight, where I do book and product reviews and write primarily about anything homeschool or family related.  

I am also a member of iHomeschool Network, which is a network of homeschool bloggers that cooperate together to hone their blogging, social media, and SEO skills, to promote one another through link ups with quality content, and to connect with companies in projects that benefit both blogger and brand.

You can also find me over at Hip Homeschool Moms where I am an active team member.  I help manage social media as well as contribute content monthly for Hip Homeschool Moms.

My husband works outside of the home full time as an IT guy, leaving the majority of the homeschool duties to me.  Which, I might add, works very well for type-A control freak me! :)

Q: What curriculum approach/teaching style do you use and how did you decide to go that particular path?

A: My approach to homeschooling when we first began is very different from how I do things now, and I imagine years from now my approach will have morphed again.

To say I am type-A would be an understatement!  Therefore when we began  homeschooling I was a rigidly school at home, follow the textbooks to a “t” type of homeschooler.  I soon learned that ws a recipe for disaster.  We quickly plummeted into stress and tears (for both Mommy and daughter).

Using The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise-Bauer as my guide for methods and resources I slowly learned to morph styles.  I believe in the principles of a classical education and each year slowly combine that with more and more unschooling.  While my oldest has always loved book work, my middle one needs the structure, but my little one delights in following where her whim leads.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of that method or style?

A: What I love most about our classically eclectic style is the fact that we are able to accommodate all the kids needs and learning styles.  Add to that the fulfillment of this type-A mama’s need to dot ‘I’s” and cross “T’s” and check things off as done and you have a mix that suits our families unique needs!

Q: Do you utilize technology in your homeschool? If so, what types?

A: I truly believe that technology has played an essential part in enabling the growing number of homeschoolers to not only do so but do so with much greater ease.

We consider our number one homeschooling tool to be the Internet.  It has allowed us the ease of research and access to most of our homeschooling tools.  From the ease of research to the immeasurable access to other resources, the Internet opens up great freedom of choice and support to homeschoolers across the globe.

Besides just the Internet which gives us access to the tools, we find our computer and iDevices essential in utilizing those tools.  From eBooks to audio books, computer based, online and app based programs, we have found a benefit from each one.

Q: Do you believe there are drawbacks to homeschooling? 

A: Honestly I am not sure I can list any real drawbacks to homeschooling for us.  Challenges? Yes, absolutely.  For instance, homeschooling can become costly and with only one solid income that can become a concern. 

Do the kids drive me nuts some days, and make me long for peace and quiet? Yup! But I wouldn’t trade that for sending them to school and missing out on so many amazing moments that we share together.

So I guess what I am trying to say is that any potential drawbacks, or challenges as I like to call them are far outweighed by the many bonuses of homeschooling.

Q: What do you consider the most beneficial or rewarding aspects of homeschooling?

A: As I said previously, the benefits far outweigh any drawbacks to homeschooling.  We get to learn at a pace and in a manner that is best suited to our children.  Our schedule, both daily and yearly is set by us.  Need a break, take one.  Feeling overloaded, slow down or cut back.  Have a child excited about something, keep rolling with it!

We have had struggles in which we needed to slow down or stop a subject altogether, learning how to deal when we knew a curriculum wasn't working.  We also have one child consistently working two years ahead.  

Thus, the flexibility of homeschooling, both for schedule and academic reasons, as well as the quality and quantity family time it affords us, are the two major benefits of homeschooling for us.

Q: How do you fit blogging into your homeschool lifestyle? 

A: Blogging and homeschooling fall into my forever challenge of striving for balance.  It seems as though if I put time, energy, and focus into one area, the other suffers.

With competitive sports playing a large roll in our family, our nights (starting around 3 pm) consist of transporting, making and eating dinner, and lots more transporting.  This keeps my nights until at least 9 pm totally tied up.

Thus my best blogging time is during the kids morning work time where they are each focused on their studies.  From around 9-11 am is when I can get a slim amount of focus for blogging.  Then comes lunch and a couple of hours of time where I am focused on one project/tasks with one or more of the kids. Then after 9 pm is crunch time if I have any pressing blog related tasks to complete.

Q: What or who has been the biggest inspiration to you, as a blogger?

A: I started blogging because an old high school friends came into my life who was blogging.  Seeing her do it finally pushed me over the edge to start one for myself.  

What started out as a sort of virtual journal for me slowly grew and changed into more.  I realized there was a whole homeschooling world out there with resources and support to be had.  There are so many moms, just like myself out there!  Moms raising children, homeschooling, and many working outside the home too!

As I gained more and more from this fabulous homeschool community, I realized I wanted to give back too.  In early 2009 I joined the Hip Homeschool Moms team.  It was a  site I so admired and am thrilled to still be a part of it today.  Then in 2013 I was flabbergasted to be asked to join the ranks of some of my most admired homeschool bloggers on the iHomeschool Network team.

Q: Finish this sentence:   Homeschooling is ________.

A: Homeschooling is…..a way of life.  Little did I know when we began this journey in 2006 how much it would affect the flow of our lives.  You think it is just a way of schooling, thus separate from the rest of your life, but homeschooling truly offers a unique flow and becomes a way of life, not just a slice of it! :)

**A special note of thanks to Heidi. Not only did she provide her photos for the article, but she also created the post graphic. Great job! Love it.

Heidi blogs at Starts At Eight about homeschooling, particularly her journey into homeschooling high school, family, and books.  While she had just started considering herself a veteran homeschooler with almost 9 years under her belt, as she has just ventured into homeschooling high school she feels as though she has begun again!

Leave questions or comments for Heidi in the comments section. I'm sure she'd love to hear from you.

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Happy Homeschooling!


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