Introducing Courtney Smith
When Courtney Smith graduated in 1998, she was a member of the National Honor Society and the National Art Honor Society. She was also valedictorian of her class. She won a scholarship to Regis University, where she graduated with majors in math, chemistry, and computer science. She earned a visual arts minor. After Courtney graduated from Regis, she taught college prep chemistry at a private high school. She is currently a nationally certified athletic trainer, First Aid & CPR instructor, and a homeschooling mom of five.
What was the deciding factor that caused you and your husband to choose to homeschool?
Ultimately, my husband and I wanted to educate our children in line with our beliefs. Education is important to us, but character, morality, compassion, and a relationship with the Lord carries more value. We wanted to have the freedom to integrate these things into our daily learning.
What have been your greatest challenges?
All of my children are young. The oldest is 9 years old, so having this many early learners has been my greatest challenge. I often feel like there is not enough time in the day to accomplish all I want or need. I spend the majority of my time teaching and reinforcing reading skills with the goal of producing efficient, self-directed learners.
Courtney, what have been your greatest triumphs?
My greatest triumphs are the moments that my children have theirs. There is nothing like watching a child you love read her first picture book, or seeing the joy written on a tiny face when the math problem is finally mastered. Even better is seeing my older children sitting on the couch reading to the little ones, or hearing my own expressions parroted by one child to another as he or she helps coach another sibling through school work.
What advice do you have for those who may be considering homeschooling?
Prayerfully consider whether this is what you have been called to do for your family. Being firmly convinced in your mind that this is the direction you should be taking will help you navigate the speed bumps you will encounter. There are days when I wonder if I am doing the best for my children, but switching my focus back to the reasons I began in the first place helps to realign my priorities and helps pull me out of the place of discouragement. I would also advise finding a support network. Whether this is another family that is homeschooling or an individual with experience in education, their input is often invaluable. There are many families around me that have chosen to homeschool, and I find that I am offering encouragement as much as I receive it. I also have my mother who has many helpful suggestions after 25 years of teaching. I am still trying to get her to come “substitute” for a few days!
Amy C. Blake
Thanks for sharing Courtney’s story. Homeschooling is often both difficult and rewarding. As a homeschooling mom, it’s encouraging to hear stories about other moms who have embraced the challenge.
One of my blog posts, http://amycblake.com/2013/12/30/ways-to-avoid-five-oclock-madness/, gives ideas for moms who are homeschooling young children.
Amy, I’ve read this post. It is informative and useful, and I hope other homeschooling folks stop by for encouragement.
Thanks for sharing this. I appreciate the honesty of balancing intellectual learning and character building. We homeschool moms can get in the rut of getting the academics covered and missing the heart of our kids or the life lessons vital to their survival later in life. This article really encourages the balance. Courtney has been an encouragement and inspiration to me homeschooling. Glad her story can reach others!
I have a great deal of respect and admiration for educators in the homeschool, private, and public sectors.They must accomplish a lot with so little, and the demands only increase year-by-year. Last night, when I heard about the school shooting in Roswell, NM, I was reminded again of just how hard teaching can be.
I’ve experience in all three. I’ve taught in private schools. I’ve homeschooled my own children. And I’ve had children in the public school system. I also substitute teach in the public school system and will student teach for a degree in special education in the fall.
I don’t believe in one-size-fits-all education. It depends on several factors.
1. What God tells you to do for your child.
2. The needs of the child — do they have a special learning need that can’t be best met at home or public school? Age has a lot of influence in this area. Once the twins were high school age, we felt it was important for them to learn life skills from a class the high school offered. They also attended vocational school with assistance. It’s been a win-win for us!
Again, though, you really do need to pray about it and seek God’s will in the matter. Who doesn’t love your child more?
You’re right, Karla. Education isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition, or shouldn’t be. Best wishes for a successful student-teaching experience.