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Season 1: Homeschool Expert Shares Tips for Parents

Kimberly Charron, homeschooling, learning expert, responds

Homeschooling has never been more researched than right now in the wake of the pandemic. One of my colleagues, Kimberly Charron, has been an amazing force behind a unique way to school our children. By finding the things they love to do, we can eliminate the dullness of learning and turn it into something our kids look forward to. Her trick? Ask yourself, "What is it I am constantly telling my child to stop doing?"

Check this out!

Guest bio:

Kimberly Charron is a busy, creative, homeschooling, geek mom of two, who believes in out of the box thinking and doing what you love. Geek Schooling is dedicated to ending your frustrations with your obsessed, geeky child and helping you to enjoy easy, delight directed learning with them, centered on their passions and fandoms.

If you have a Geek Schooling question, you can find Kimberly at GeekSchoolingguide.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Facebook Live:



Sally Hendrick (00:00):

Hey everybody. This is Sally Hendrick with Shout Your Cause and I've got Kimberly Charron here from Geek Schooling with me to talk about homeschooling and whatever comes with that. Cause we are well, we're at a situation right now. And so I think we need to be talking about this stuff, especially since we don't really know what's happening in the next month or two. So Hey Kimberly, tell us, tell us more about what's going on and welcome.

Kimberly Charron (00:30):

Thanks Sally. So thank you so much for inviting me. I've been talking to a lot of parents and use that let's and everything, since the whole pandemic started when talking to parents, a lot of parents right now they're concerned. They don't like the, the not knowing in a lot of areas. We don't know what the fall is going to look like yet. And the kids don't like being, you know, in the dark and the parents don't like being in the dark.

Kimberly Charron (00:57):

So a lot of them are just saying, you know what, I'm just going to homeschool so we know what we're doing and we don't have to worry what the state comes up with. And there are some places where what schooling is going to look like seems pretty insane because especially with young children turn to social distance from, from the teachers and other kids is just seems in comprehensible and also possibly damaging. So because children especially need the warmth of caring person and touch. And so yeah, a lot of parents are thinking of homeschooling or have decided to homeschool. And even if they haven't they might want to enjoy some fun learning at home with their kids.

Sally Hendrick (01:50):

Exactly. And I guess one of the biggest challenges is that, and I've heard this from several people.

Sally Hendrick (01:56):

It's like, okay. So homeschooling is one thing learning at a distance is another. So if your, if your school, for example, allows your kids to go home and then log into a zoom room or, or some sort of technology to do a video conference, and then they have a list of assignments that need to be done. That's not really all that much. You know, that's not really comprehensive. You know what I wonder what the word I'm trying to say. It's not really covering everything. It's just kind of, band-aiding the situation in that. You're just looking at a list of things that need to be done, and that can be very unmotivating for children. They do get stuck in their computers and their phones and their games and in the house and not really doing all the things that they normally would be able to do at school where they interact socially with other kids.

Sally Hendrick (02:51):

So what is it that you do from a creative standpoint to make this more enjoyable? And as you say, delight directed learning or whatever you call it, something like that, right?

Kimberly Charron (03:06):

Yeah. A lot of people call it delight directed learning. Some people call it child led learning. I'm a big proponent of that. Because school you know, I'm a homeschool coach, but I'm not here to tell people exactly what to do. And I'm not the expert in every child. I'm not the expert in your child. You are, and you know, what your child loves and what motivates them. And often that is something geeky like comic books, like video games, like board games and all of these are educational. Everything is educational, it's always educational value and all these things what's been happening during the pandemic is not homeschooling it's pandemic schooling, and it's not how homeschoolers homeschool every day.

Kimberly Charron (04:00):

You're not stuck in our homes. A lot of us are out and about seven days a week and learning on the go and out there and field trips and everything else. And so this, this really wasn't, you were finding yourself pandemic schooling going, ah, this is terrible. This is drudgery. It doesn't have to be like that. And if you take the reins and decide that you want to go for it and homeschool your child, you can teach them in much more exciting ways and also look at what they're learning already. And it can count as part of your homeschool day. So if they're playing video games, they can actually be learning. My son learned how to read at eight years old, he was finally motivated me because he was playing a Star Wars game that involves a lot of different aliens who couldn't speak English.

Speaker 1 (04:57):

So he couldn't read the subtitles and he really wanted to play the game by himself instead of with his mom sitting beside him. So he's motivated and he's learned how to read. And in part, he was helped actually by reading Garfield's comics to start reading as well.

Sally Hendrick (05:14):

So in that, what we all learned with our, the fun books, I mean, think about when we go back to our childhood, the way that we're learning is reading the things that we're interested in, not reading the things that we don't like it, same thing with when you get older. So how do you handle that? Like, if you're doing history lessons or something, what would be something fun or, or different to get kids interested in the facts or you know, the, what happened in the past.

Kimberly Charron (05:45):

Yeah. And that's where cosplay can come in because I mean, why not get dressed up and you can surprise your kids and they can not know your goodness and you can dress up historical dress and come on out and say, we're learning about Egypt today, you know, dressed historically and Egyptian garb, or, you know, an agree Keaton if you're teaching the Greeks and you can really get into it and they can have fun too learning how to make costumes.

Kimberly Charron (06:15):

And so, and all that kind of thing, if you want to get right into it. I mean, of course you can just tie a sheet if you're talking about key times and togas, but you can get right into it. And so and that's not only home economics, but it could be art. You can count, you can count all these things into the buckets of learning that we can, that we usually put them in and you don't have to separate them out. I mean, you could just learn and put it all together. And then when you're writing it down, you can separate out, well, that was, you know, home economics making costumes. And that was math because we were you know, in pattern comics of something or yeah. Or patterns from yeah. Doing actually pattern telling there's a lot of, it's also math.

Kimberly Charron (07:05):

Exactly. so if you start breaking it down and just even just look at what your child is doing right now and, and think about how it's educational versus if they are, if they're playing video games with other people online, they could be having a leadership role. They could be leading raids, telling people what to do and leading a Guild and that's that's leadership. And that can be put on, you know, into some sort of, you know course description if, if they're a high school or just even, you know, something they doing, if it's elementary school,

Sally Hendrick (07:46):

That sounds a whole lot more fun than just checking off a list that your teacher sends home or sends over an email to the class to you know, get certain, I don't know, boxes checked for certain types of curriculum. Just to give you an example, this is something that my child got to do with school this past spring. Now we're in a unique situation in that the school we go to, and this is 11th grade, they go from, I think maybe fifth or sixth up to senior. And so he was in 11th grade and we were dealing with

Sally Hendrick (08:31):

Capstone class. The capstone class is a project that this particular class was doing together. And this is like six kids. That's all that's in the entire grade. So six kids were supposed to be doing this project together, hands on with materials, building some sort of models or something like that. You know, so it was a mixture of the creativity and then whatever, you know, else went into the project. Well, they had to abandon that because everybody went home right around spring break. And then we had another nine weeks of schooling after that. So instead of doing that project, they gave, they had the opportunity to do a podcast episode. And so granted, it's mostly digital stuff that you're doing with that. But there was an interview that was done with someone in the industry of the particular topic that was done. This, this, my child chose graffiti talking about graffiti.

Sally Hendrick (09:39):

And so of course she interviewed her father because he harvest graffiti off of the railroads. And then there was also another person who has a graffiti podcast, one of the best ones in the world. And he spoke to the class. So he did like one of the lectures to teach, like how to actually, how he runs his podcast. And then there were some, there was artwork to go with the podcast episode. There was you know, there were certain bullet points that had to be done audio that was audio and video and not audio video, but audio mixture, you know, with music and then like a little summary of what was happening. The interview itself, more music, a commercial, you know, those types of things. And so that was actually really fun and made that class something that was enjoyable and very different.

Sally Hendrick (10:44):

And he was able to do it on his own without a lot of parental supervision. And I would think that something that like you do, that you have that creative thought it would be so cool. If you were coaching people to say, look, here's some things that you can do with your child. You know, and all you have to do, I bet. Do you ask them, like, what's your child's favorite thing to do? You know, how do you do your coaching to pull this out of parents and kids?

Kimberly Charron (11:15):

Yeah, I do. I encourage, like what, what do you keep telling him to stop doing? Because that's usually what their passions are telling him to stop doing that.

Sally Hendrick (11:26):

That's great. That's great.

Kimberly Charron (11:28):

Because a lot of times we're saying, Oh, stop, stop watching anime stop, playing video games, stop with the comic books all over the floor.

Kimberly Charron (11:40):

And they can learn through those things. And in fact my daughter's been learning Japanese primarily through anime for two years now. And you know, and, and through some apps as well as anime got her in, you know, interested in Japanese culture and Japanese language. And so she pursued on her own books and apps to look it up. And she's got posted notes all over her wall of all the Japanese figures that she's learning on her own. And that's completely the light directed learning. That's completely from her, she's directing it herself. And so I don't need to sit and, you know, and teach her a language because she's doing it. And a lot of kids are doing that and we don't realize, and, or we don't realize what the, that they are actually learning while they're doing it.

Kimberly Charron (12:44):

And we can also help them learn by just having discussions about it afterwards. So my kids got us all into anime. We watch anime almost daily and it wasn't something watched before, you know, growing up my husband and I didn't watch anime. It wasn't, it wasn't something we were interested in it, but our kids got us into it and the stories are amazing and the character building and really deep artistry of it. Yeah. So we can sit here talking about the scenes and, and the character building and the, how they made it and everything, and this is all learning. And it's fantastic. So we just give you back in and.

Sally Hendrick (13:25):

find the foreshadowing and everything else, like take these concepts that you learn in literature class and apply it to what's to what's happening there, and then have them develop their own characters and own, you know, plays and things like that, which is really okay.

Kimberly Charron (13:44):

Yeah. And I mean, you can take a Star Wars is a perfect especially, you know, the original is perfect hero's journey in literature lesson. So you can just take that hero's journey and you can apply it and you can just press it. And, and then Star Wars is literature. Sours can also be film making and discuss all the different kinds of film making. Like from the beginning, it was all little miniatures, and now we have CGI and you can even go into, you know, here's some basic cartooning, you know, ditch digitally like how does CGI work? Let's play with a little bit if they want to get into it. And it might be something that they springboard into as a career.

Sally Hendrick (14:28):

Yeah, exactly. And the careers these days, they're just so different than what we were looking at 20 years ago. Well, well, maybe longer for me coming out of high school and going into college and what have you.

Sally Hendrick (14:42):

And you just don't think about that as being what you're going to do for a living, but you do that in your homeschooling. This could really open up a whole way of learning more across the mass market, as the silver lining of this pandemic that we're experiencing. It's the positive aspect. And I know a lot of people are really enjoying, spending more time with their kids. And they're baking and that's learning and they're, and they're doing things together and they're playing, you know, workings together. Oh my gosh, board games are incredibly educational, every single one of them. So they're enjoying their time as a family and they don't want that to end. And so that, that's one of the reasons that they're deciding to homeschool.

Sally Hendrick (15:32):

Well, imagine this two Friday night game night movie night or whatever it is that you did with your family, that could count as part of your schooling, and it's not happening between nine and five during the week.

Kimberly Charron (15:49):

Yeah. And that's what most, most homeschoolers find out is that when you're homeschooling, your kids are always learning and they don't even think of it. They don't, they don't want to turn off their brains after school. The whole public school model has them thinking that school has to happen in that box. It has to happen between eight and three or whatever your school day is. But when they're homeschooling, they have all these aha moments, you know, at the grocery store and, you know, just walking around and just any time and you realize that homeschooling or learning happens all the time.

Sally Hendrick (16:29):

I'm wondering like, what else? I mean, baking obviously can be part of science as well. Cause that's where we're a lot of the science projects come from is stuff that you find in the kitchen mixed with other things, you know, like the mentos to Coca Cola explosions and what have you.

Sally Hendrick (16:48):

And then to make it entertaining. Now, granted, I know there's a lot of controversy going on about tiktok right now, but if somebody wanted to make a tiktok video of the experiments they're doing, that could be really motivating, especially for the child that wants to be putting that type of content out there.

Kimberly Charron (17:10):

And so, you know, asking your child, you know, what do you like to do can also help and, you know, what would you like to do more of? And you can, you can direct it to because I know home school parent after, after listening to one of my talks about Geek Schooling he made the living room that Tardis from Doctor Who, and they had Doctor Who school for a while, everything was Doctor Who centered. And these shows scifi especially deals with so many credible dilemma's and ethical conversations and historical conversations.

Kimberly Charron (17:52):

Great spring point again for teaching history, regroup going back around. If you want to teach about something in history, you can grab, grab some scifi and start there. You can even show bill and Ted's excellent adventure. And what did they do in that introduction? They time-travel, and they collect all these people across history, and you can talk about, you know, what's accurate and what's not about the character portrayals, and you can use them as a spring point to teach about those characters in history.

Sally Hendrick (18:33):

It would also be a good lesson in saying, here's what this says, and here's all the bullet points. Now go find the ones that actually happened in history that we know about and do a comparison chart. I mean, that's huge, and that's huge for today, just with the fact that we have news that's so all over the place and there's interpretation in the media that happens and in social media as well, which causes a lot of confusion.

Sally Hendrick (19:01):

And so when you go back to like the original sources and you line things up, it gives you a great a great skill for debate and research.

Kimberly Charron (19:13):

Yeah. And you can have your child, you know, write a paper on, you know what, what that article got or what that TV show that episode got right about history and what I got wrong and what actually happened. Or you can just have a discussion and then you know, that they understand it. Yeah. And you can have them research on their own. A lot of homeschoolers find you know, they, they love college and university and professors love them because they're used to doing work on their own research on their own they're self starters. So all of these skills, I'm talking about encouraging your child to learn on their own and develop these skills are what's going to help them in post secondary education.

Sally Hendrick (20:02):

And, you know, what's funny about that is that I believe like the Linden Waldorf experience in schools is similar to, you know, that concept of like children being able to do the delight directed learning. And they you know, the things that they really enjoy, that the medium that they use to develop knowledge and skills. So I don't know if you guys have any of that. Do you have that in Canada?

Kimberly Charron (20:32):

So Linden Waldorf method of schooling and Waldorf skills. I love a lot of their concepts like the, they have an emphasis on hands on. So they'll do a lot of hands on, you know, knitting and things like and we've done a lot of that in our homeschool and including, you know, knitting Harry Potter scarves and that kind of thing. Cause that's, you know, very much feeds into my kids' passions and my kids are 16 and 21 now.

Kimberly Charron (21:03):

So where they're not little anymore, but, but we've been doing this the whole time. And my daughter used to draw ponies from my little pony all the time and then she'd make up ponies. So makeup her ponies and she make us into ponies. So the creativity is wonderful and once you let them get going and that, you know, that can count as art. So what they like to do can, can count into each of those learning buckets.

Sally Hendrick (21:39):

So I'm curious about you know, as far as your kids or other kids that you've seen doing the learning, like you are a proponent of what are they doing as adults now what's happening with their careers and situations?

Kimberly Charron (22:01):

Anything, you know kids who homeschool can easily go on to to, to go on to post secondary education college university.

Kimberly Charron (22:12):

So sometimes they end up in creative pursuits. My son has been working in the film industry. Sometimes they end up, you know, being teachers, doctors, whatever. But you know, it, it it's widely varies. It depends on the child. Every child is different and you know, sometimes we think they're going into something else and all of a sudden they have I know some homeschoolers who all of a sudden get an interest in becoming a doctor. And so they cram three, four years of math that they'll need into a year and all on their own boom. Cause they have that, Oh my gosh, you know what? I really want to be a doctor. I finally know what I wanted to do. And and these are kids, you know, a lot of the times who've been completely unschooled. So completely delight directive learning with the parents just, you know, encouraging and they've decided, Hey, I've got to, you know, do all this math. So do all this science so I can get ready and it's all them, but you don't have to, if you know, if you're not comfortable with unschooling, you don't have to start that way. You can, you can have more direction, you know, be the, be the, be the dad who makes the living room into the Tardis and says, okay, we're going to learn this this weekend.

Sally Hendrick (23:41):

That's cool. So knowing that you, you know, you run a business, I run a business. How do you think people are going to be able to handle this and manage this at home? Obviously there's going to be a little bit of you know, time involved to get prepared, to be able to do this. What do you encourage people to do that are, you know, suddenly they're having to work from home because, you know, as entrepreneurs, we already know how to do this and how to kind of work with our kids in that situation. Now I don't know personally about how to work with mine on homeschooling so much because the school is doing that for us. We happen to have a good situation there, but what about all of these parents who feel like they may end up having to stay home part of this time to make sure their kids are doing what they need to be doing for this homeschooling?

Sally Hendrick (24:41):

Like, how are they going to manage it?

Kimberly Charron (24:44):

I know parents who have made every possible scenario work. I know parents who have both worked and decide to work opposite shifts, so pursue something that was an issue. So that one parent is always home, especially if your kids are young, of course, if they're older, they can be home alone and you don't have to worry about that as much. But, but the work off the opposite shifts, so it works or they'll get grandma to take care of the child during the day or a friend or a babysitter so that they can both work. They both work during the day. So in that scenario, the, the child will often work on some schoolwork while they're with whoever is taking care of them during the day. It's the parent's responsibility. They'll take it up at night or do some work on weekends, or maybe, maybe they won't have a job, do any schoolwork.

Kimberly Charron (25:42):

And they'll just do it nights and weekends, it's whatever you know, whatever works for their family. And even single parents you know, if they're not working from home, they often buddy up with other single parents so they can trade off the responsibility of having kids at any given time. So they have a buddy. So if you, you know, if you want to make it work, you absolutely can. And it doesn't have to be schooling eight to three, nine to four, whatever it can be evenings, weekends, it can be whatever you want it to look like. And many homeschoolers what their day looks like is they're done by lunch. And they only own school Monday through Thursday, Friday off. So their kids have a lot of time for all of this wonderful delight, directed learning, and to pursuit spend all this time trying or reading or writing or whatever, playing games, whatever their passion is.

Kimberly Charron (26:43):

And it, and even video games can turn into a passion to want to create video games or something coding and all that.

Sally Hendrick (26:51):

You've just got to be able to carve out that time when you assess, right. So like, if you know what, cause.

Kimberly Charron (27:01):

again, it doesn't take much time. Yeah. It doesn't take much time because you know, you just, if you're assessing, you know, just talk about it or cause assessing doesn't have to be tests. And I'm not a big fan of tests myself because I think tests are more for the classroom where, you know, you have 30 kids or more, and you don't know what they know. You haven't had a personal discussion, all three of us kids and what you learned this week. So you have to give them a test. So, you know, but if you've been sitting there with kids, learning with them and they've been pointing out things even discussing, you know, what they know and it can be discussion, it can be essays. It can be, they could do a blog that it, yeah,

Sally Hendrick (27:47):

I'm thinking more along assessment as being like assessing what they love. I learned that day and writing it in whatever documentation you need legally to turn in. Do you handle any of that sort of thing for people or do you just, you just coach on the ways that they can do schooling? Like what, tell me a little bit more about how you would work with someone and where can we find you online?

Kimberly Charron (28:19):

Yeah. I can absolutely help you put it all together into the records that you need to submit when you're going to put your cut. Your child wants to enter university or college. So you know, you'll want transcripts and course descriptions and all of that. So I mean, when your elementary school look, you know, it's not really a big deal, you have to pay your state laws. So be careful with your state your state law when it pertains to homeschool, be careful about that because I'm still state law and public school state large you'd think so look specifically state law requires. And of course, you know, I hear to that and it can be as simple as just, you know, jotting down, you know, every day, keeping a little bit like one sentence, what you did that day. So that you had so that when you look at it at the end of the year, you know, Oh yeah, this is what we did. So you don't forget anything. But in high school, yeah, you have to keep track of like a side course descriptions and your transcript and everything. And I can absolutely help you with all of that. I do do that for people, help them get their training scripts together.

Sally Hendrick (29:26):

Cool. So where can we, Oh, sorry. Our internet go wonky.

Kimberly Charron (29:33):

You can find geekschoolingguide.com.

Sally Hendrick (29:36):

that's geekschoolingguide.com. Let me type that in the comment on over here, geekschoolingguide.com, make sure I spelled it right.

Kimberly Charron (29:51):

And I have a freebie for your your fans today. Listening. If you go to geekschoolingguide.com/mini-course, you can get a mini course to help you get started on gigs. Go on and thinking outside the box. Okay. Fun with your kids instead of tearing your hair out, that they're not doing all the busy work that the school gave them.

Sally Hendrick (30:19):

Yeah. Okay. Well everybody, please go get that geek schooling guide.com/mini-course. I typed it in the comments of this live chat and it will be on the show notes when I put this on the podcast. So thank you so much, Kimberly. Is there anything else you'd like to share with us before we finish up?

Kimberly Charron (30:39):

Just remember that, you know, your child's best you're your child's first and best teacher and you can do this in homeschooling can be fun.

Sally Hendrick (30:47):

All right. Thank you. I love it. Thank you so much for all your creative ideas.

Kimberly Charron (30:52):

Thanks so much. Alright, Sally.

Sally Hendrick (30:55):

You're welcome. Bye.

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