Family & Education

Mom of 5 Offers Advice to Parents New to Homeschooling

As a professor, author, and homeschooling mother, Amber Shimel knows a thing or two about juggling homeschooling and a career
BY Barbara Danza TIMEJanuary 24, 2023 PRINT

Amber Shimel is a homeschool mom of five, a university professor, and the author of “Homeschooling Simplified: Practical Tips and Encouragement for the Journey.” As more and more parents continue to opt out of the standard school route and head down the homeschooling path, I asked Ms. Shimel about her experience as a homeschool mom and for advice for parents considering the option to homeschool their children. Here’s what she said.

The Epoch Times: What made you decide to homeschool your children?

Amber Shimel: I didn’t have any personal experience with homeschooling, and actually loved my own childhood school experience in a mix of private schools and public schools. But I realized that I just wanted to physically be with my kids more than traditional schooling allowed. And I wanted to be the greatest influence in their lives.

The Epoch Times: Why do you believe homeschooling is becoming so popular?

Ms. Shimel: I believe that homeschooling is growing rapidly because parents are feeling more empowered to lead their children’s education. The pandemic allowed more parents than ever to realize that this is actually a feasible option and that children can flourish at home.

The Epoch Times: What’s something you wish you’d known before you began homeschooling your kids?

Ms. Shimel: I wish I had known how fast the time really does go. My granny used to always say, “Babies don’t keep.” And that’s just so true. Babies don’t keep. Toddlers don’t keep. Teens don’t keep. The time with your children at home can feel unending at times, but it all goes by in the blink of an eye. The days are long, but the years are short.

The Epoch Times: How have you juggled a career with homeschooling?

Ms. Shimel: I’m an extremely efficient person. That can be one of my greatest qualities and greatest pitfalls. It means I can have trouble relaxing, but it also means that I waste almost zero time during the day. I concentrate on school for blocks of time, and then concentrate on my own work for blocks of time. Also, since we do a hybrid homeschooling option, I have time to myself on certain days of the week to get my own work done. It’s always a balancing act, and never done perfectly, but it’s definitely possible.

The Epoch Times: What are the first few steps you’d advise new homeschooling parents to take in order to succeed?

Ms. Shimel: The very first step I would advise is to find a homeschooling group, some fellow homeschooling moms, or some kind of support system. You’ll have lots of questions, and the path can be lonely. So it’s very important to have friends for the journey!

The Epoch Times: What are your favorite homeschooling resources?

Ms. Shimel: There’s a book that might be currently out of print, but it’s what I used to teach all five of my kids to read. It’s called “Reading Made Easy” by Valerie Bendt. It provides a calm, sweet method of learning to read that involves a lot of snuggling on the couch. If you can find it used somewhere, it’s definitely worth the purchase!

The Epoch Times: What have you found to be the most challenging aspects of homeschooling?

Ms. Shimel: The answer to this varies based on the season of life I’m in. And maybe that’s the answer to the question. Priorities change depending on the season of life you are experiencing. So in the pregnancy and newborn stage, it’s nearly all about survival. But then things change and you’re in the midst of soccer and dance and more, so then your priorities need to shift. It can be hard to recognize the shift in seasons over time, but it’s a really important part of this homeschooling life.

The Epoch Times: What have been the greatest benefits of homeschooling your children?

Ms. Shimel: Hands down, the greatest benefits have been the strong relationships that I’ve been able to build with each of my children, and that they’ve been able to build with each other as siblings. I truly know each of my children, and that is an immeasurable gift. I am hopefully preparing them to be strong in their faith, as well as academically prepared, to take on the world and bring their own unique talents and gifts to society.

Epoch Times Photo
Homeschooling Simplified: Practical Tips and Encouragement for the Journey” by Amber Shimel.
Barbara Danza is a mom of two, an MBA, a beach lover, and a kid at heart. Here, diving into the challenges and opportunities of parenting in the modern age. Particularly interested in the many educational options available to families today, the renewed appreciation of simplicity in kids’ lives, the benefits of family travel, and the importance of family life in today’s society.
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