Chris and Shala LaTorraca join us on today’s episode to talk about homeschooling. With everything that’s happened over the past year, a lot of people have had their own new experiences with homeschooling. Now more than ever before, families are open to trying homeschooling long-term with their children.
Chris and Shala are a husband-and-wife team, and they’re known as the “homeschooling architects”. They’ve been homeschooling for over a decade, and describe themselves as ordinary people who want extraordinary things for their children. They help other parents navigate home education for their children.
On this episode of the Live. Love. Engage. podcast:
- Why Chris and Shala decided to write a book.
- The pain points parents have before even deciding to homeschool.
- Where the name of their book came from.
- Why some parents hesitate to homeschool and how the book helps with that.
- Why Chris and Shala encourage parents to homeschool and how they should start.
- Why the homeschool day is often shorter than the traditional school day.
- How working one-on-one (or closer to it) benefits the child.
- The unique challenges of teaching younger children.
- Tips on simplifying homeschooling.
- How homeschooling supports healthier habits, like getting outside more.
- How the pandemic impacted homeschooling specifically.
- The recent move their family made and how it influenced their homeschooling.
- Their perspective on recent changes to education overall since the pandemic.
- Their thoughts on parents balancing both working from home and homeschooling.
- What parents often misunderstand about homeschooling.
- If Chris and Shala believe homeschooling is right for everyone or not.
Connect with Chris and Shala
H.E.L.P. Website: www.helpthebook.com
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[00:00:02] I am Gloria Grace Rand, founder of the Love Method and author of the number one Amazon best seller, Live Love Engage- How to Stop Doubting Yourself and start being yourself. In this podcast, we share practical advice from a spiritual perspective on how to live fully, love deeply and engage authentically so you can create a life and business with more impact, influence and income. Welcome to Live, Love, Engage. Namaste and welcome to
[00:00:40] Live Love Engage. I am Gloria Grace rand and today I’ve got two folks in the studio. Well, our home studios who are going to be sharing with us some information about homeschooling, which has definitely become the norm for a lot of people over the last year. We’ve had to deal with the pandemic and it’s fewer any have been overwhelmed by this prospect. You’re going to want to definitely tune in for today’s episode. So first off, I want to welcome Chris and Shala LaTorraca.
[00:01:19] Hey, thank you for having us very much. We’re excited.
[00:01:22] Well, I’m excited to have you. And for those of you who are listening and watching, we actually met through a book writing program, so. And which is what they wound up doing. So let me tell you a little bit about Chris and Shala. They are known as the homeschool architects, and they are husband and wife, and they’ve been homeschooling for nearly a decade now. And if you’d asked them, they would just say they’re ordinary parents who want extraordinary things for their children, as I think most most parents hopefully do. But they also have a heart to help other parents navigate through how to actually provide home education for their children. And as I said, mentioned that they at the beginning, when the covid-19 pandemic hit the last year, orcas had no idea they’d be writing a book. But Chris evidentally early on casually mentioned to Shala over coffee that on the other side of this crisis, home schooling would probably be considered a really viable option for education by more parents than ever before because many families would be desperate for a change. And I know that, yeah, there’s a lot of people who are not necessarily crazy about our current education system.
[00:02:42] So homeschooling is definitely an option for that. But I also want to let you know is that neither one of them have a degree in teaching. So you parents out there are thinking that you have to have one. You don’t. They just have a desire for truth and knowledge and how to pass that on to their kids. And Chris has a bachelor’s degree in history while Shala holds a bachelor’s degree in outreach and a double masters to just not the overachiever. Are you in church planting growth and Christian leadership? And so they are here today to really help you. Any of you parents out there learn how to be able to design and build a home school life that you desire and love, which is really what we want, I would say, especially if you’re going to go down that road. So tell us. Tell me a little bit about Ann and our listeners and viewers on YouTube out there. Why did you actually decide to go ahead and write a book last year?
[00:03:47] Well, let’s see where to begin. So I really didn’t think we would do anything homeschool related. I mean, we we’ve always been open with other families who are homeschooling or might be interested in homeschooling. And we share a story quite a bit. But when he came home last March, March twenty twenty, and said, yeah, homeschooling is definitely going to be a big thing that’s happening on us and we need to do something about that. We need to be available to help other parents. I kind of thought he was crazy because we had plenty on our on our plate to do so. But in the meantime, I had thought about I met Michael D. Butler, senior, who you had talked about with the writing course. And he and I go way back and I was thinking about writing actually a different book because I had time on my hands. Even with the homeschooling, I had a little bit more time on my hands because our business wasn’t running as it had been. And so I reached out to him and he said, hey, I have this writing course. So I. I went to the first week with the other book in mind, and I came out of that first week saying we need to write a book about home schooling, we need to get this in the hands of parents to give them a step by step, not just what to do once you get started, but even get started.
[00:05:17] Where do you even look for resources? How do I know I can even do this even just off the bat? Just be like you can do this. And so I came back I in the middle of the week, I pitched the new idea to my phone while first to my husband. I’m like, we need to write a book. Yeah. And so we loved it. And we’re like, we need to get it into the hands of parents, because even if they decide to stay with remote learning, they’re still somewhat more overseeing their child’s learning than they were sending them to a school building. So I wanted it to help those who were planning to homeschool, but also those who just needed encouragement that it’s OK, your kids are going to be OK. You’re not going to scar them for life. You know, you are actually the best person to teach them because God gave you those kids and it would have given them to you if you didn’t think you could handle being part of their educational process.
[00:06:19] Yeah, that’s that’s that’s I. I remember when my kids were young and I think I think my husband and I briefly maybe talked about it, but I was like, no, I don’t think I could do that. And so and then I’m just I’m frankly relieved that my children are grown so that I didn’t have to deal with having them at home and B and then being sort of forced to deal with that and really start looking at how I would go about teaching them from home. So. So that’s awesome that you were able to do that. But tell us a little bit. I know you held up the book briefly, but for those who were listening, tell us what actually the name of the book is and how the hell that came about.
[00:07:04] So it is called help, and it came out of. I don’t feel calm on a lot of these that I home school, so just because I home school does not mean that I feel like I’m capable to home school. I feel very stressed. Many days it’s becoming better as they get older and a little bit more self-motivated, but frazzled or frazzled. When I started and I didn’t know where to start and I was so stressed. And, you know, there’s books out there about RESTful being a restful mom of a home schooling situation or being happy about it. And I wanted to be happy about it. I wanted it to be restful. But that’s not how I felt. I felt like help. Can anybody help me so called help and that it’s help for educating life. Giving people in each of those letters actually is a section in the book. And we delve into how to help you, how to educate, how to create a life giving situation and basically other people and more people and how do we help them deal with other people. So we broke it down into segments in the book that correlate to the title. So it over here is where do I start?
[00:08:22] Ok, yeah, that’s that’s helpful because I’m sure that’s what a lot of people are like. OK, I’ve decided to do this. What do I do now. So how do you address? Because like I said, I was frankly the thought of it did terrify me and that’s why I was like, now we’re sending them to school. So but how do you address some of those fears or put it in the book? I presume you do. So what do you say to people who are a little scared about it,
[00:08:52] Want to bring in? Well, come on, honey,
[00:08:55] Don’t let her do all the work.
[00:08:59] I think some of it is just our natural inclination to be afraid and be afraid. And so what the book does, I think in other aspects. So I’ve been having trouble with the lesson. I just get my day started. And one thing I’ve been learning that was taking a simple step of making the bed as I first get up, I make the bed, I’ve started this book is kind of like almost like that with home schooling where it’s like, I don’t feel like doing it. And then I’ll tell you, this is the first little thing you do. This is the first little step. Then once you take that, what you make the bed, once you take the first step, then it’s as humans, people where it’s easier for us to make the next step, which is our morning routine, et cetera. That’s right. So it’s like making the bed a little retribution.
[00:10:04] But I would say one of the reasons we’re here is to help cheerlead people because we all need an encourager. First of all, the book starts off with just you can do this. Does I start off with here is the first step. It just says you can do this. You’re your have a natural ability to do this. It may not teaching may not be your thing, but you have children and you’re teaching them other things. So and you don’t have to dive into every subject that they might have in a public school or private school. We encourage people, families that are looking to homeschool, especially if they’re starting with younger ones who don’t know a whole lot about the school scene. We encourage them to just start with like a couple subjects, and it doesn’t have to be long. A lot of people think, well, I have to mirror the public school day, but you don’t have to remember in the public school days, there’s a lot of fluff. There’s going from classroom to classroom. There’s a bathroom break, there’s lunch. You know, there’s however many kids in a class dividing the teacher’s attention here.
[00:11:10] You know, one kid, seven kids, maybe ten kids, like has it, but it’s still not as overwhelming. And so you can do things in a much shorter amount of time. And so we take things and we take them in short segments like we did math today. Math is only ten or fifteen minutes because I have one student that I’m working with on on a fourth grade level and I can really focus on him and we can talk it out. We can get through it. And then I deal with our seventh grader and she’s got like ten, fifteen, twenty minutes with talk it out. And I don’t have a classroom of people and I don’t believe in having them do worksheet upon worksheet upon worksheet and we can get fifteen minutes then we do. If not we pick it up tomorrow because after, after about fifteen minutes their brains wander mind wonders what’s for lunch. And so it’s a much shorter amount of time and parents tend to not realize oh I can be done. An hour, I can be done in an hour and a half. I mean, it’s amazing,
[00:12:15] Isn’t it funny how, like in society, in many things that we do, we’re always, you know, whether it’s books of business, I’m cooking, whatever we’re taught to be efficient. You’re always taught to reduce costs, reduce the amount of time something takes, reduce the amount of steps it takes to make a dinner, maybe. What would schooling it doesn’t you don’t get the message that what why do we need to have it take seven hours a day when you can be much more efficient, have a plan in place and you can do it in an hour? I think it’s one of the few areas that we’re like that as a society and think homeschooling, especially with Shaila. Tomorrow, we get parents to focus in on it’s not a big thing.
[00:13:07] Oh, yeah, yeah. And when you explain it like that, it definitely seems much more doable and and it also makes sense logically as well, because you are you’re just working one on one end. And you’re I would think you’re also a lot more able to really pick up on cues, you know, your own child, you know, when they get to, you know, what is going to affect them. And then you can make adjustments and maybe pick something up again later because it’s like they were just like overwhelmed or something or as you say, or maybe you’re just overwhelmed.
[00:13:42] Usually people hungry. He’s hungry. So therefore he’s angry and you feel, oh, yeah, that’s right. He doesn’t eat. I’ll get him a snack. Wow. He can focus again.
[00:13:55] Yeah, absolutely. And you did answer my question because I was going to ask you, how old are your kids? And so what you’re doing is so that’s interesting. So you’ve also got like a middle middle school age with with elementary school age. Does that present any unique problems or challenges?
[00:14:12] Not a lot. The biggest challenge is the fourth grader loves being. He loves being with his sister and he wants her focus and attention. So we have to make sure that they get some good one on one playtime in the morning before we start school, because then I can get him to focus more. We do some of our studies. This is another way that it simplifies things. But if some of our studies together, so we’ll do history together, we’ll do our French lessons together, we’ll do nature study. So there’s a variety of things that we can do together and they can work at their own level if it’s painting or drawing, you know, they just whatever level they are, that’s what we go with. But then you have those others like handwriting, like he’s learning cursive, she’s already learning cursive. Math is different levels are and different levels and so on those than I do more one on one time. So he gets done earlier. You can run and play and he’s already had sister time so he doesn’t need her for a while. And then she and I get to focus on a little bit more in depth middle school stuff. And she definitely loves to learn and she can pore over some of these books for hours on end by would letter. I just don’t have time or desire for that because I need to do the laundry and the dishes as yeah. We do together. And so that also simplifies it’s not like I have to do history with this kid and then I write history with this kid.
[00:15:50] Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s that’s really good because I wouldn’t have even thought about that. But that’s good to good for people to know. Which also brings me to my next question. What what do you wish you would have known when you had first started homeschooling? What do you what have you discovered?
[00:16:13] Discovered a lot. First, I would say it doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it out to be, because when we start talking about homeschooling, Anthony was a baby still and Syariah was beautiful. She’s probably like three, maybe four years old. So we’re thinking, you know, not really wanting to put her into preschool, although she did a little bit just to help me with the baby. But we were like, what do we do for kindergarten and do we do anything? So I was going to a mom’s group and I know several of them actually homeschooled. And so I started asking questions, OK, that was overwhelming. I’m like, so how do you pick your curriculum? Well, I pick this because I think it’s the best from this publisher. And I picked this because I think and I’m thinking, oh, my goodness, I have a kindergartner, kindergartner I don’t need to be picking and choosing from, you know, and and I knew from other people that they just chose like a boxed curriculum box come in the mail. It’s got everything you need. And so we went that direction. And the first one I chose, I just really did not like. But I thought I had to do all of this stuff, too. So by the end of that year, I said, OK, we’re going to scrap that scrap that hopefully it’ll scrap my child for life.
[00:17:42] We’ll pick it up again at some point. I just wish somebody told me that you don’t have to do everything partly just read with your child that’s going to develop their vocabulary, read above their reading level. Not like I’m Miles, but a little bit. Yeah. You get used to different words and their vocabulary and comprehension can grow. Maybe go for a nature walk and start noticing the. I’d listen for the birds to stop and be silent or observe what’s on the ground and see what you can find, just simple things like that, that is like the most basic of science study right there is just getting out of nature. And we as a society don’t do it enough. Or if we’re out there, it might be at a baseball game. So we’re watching the game, but we’re not observing. Anything else is going on in nature, so just to simplify it and not feel like you have to do everything. I thought, well, what if there’s a gap in their education? Guess what? There’s a gap in everybody’s education, because whatever school system you go to isn’t going to be able to teach everything. And even if they could, we can absorb everything. Right. So I was going to be a gap. So we get to choose as parents what that gap is like that.
[00:19:04] Now, did you find anything since you’ve been home schooling anyway? I can imagine the last year’s experience. Did did it affect you in any way? Did you have to come up with something new? Obviously, you probably were going to maybe museums or something like that, but. So how did the pandemic affect your your home schooling life?
[00:19:28] We definitely felt it. Maybe not to the magnitude that families who had their kids in a in a school building situation and now. Oh, my goodness, their home. Right. But we definitely felt it because we were home more. We weren’t going to the museums. We weren’t going to the libraries. I mean, the libraries are fabulous and we couldn’t even do that. There was no place to get out. So I also, Gloria, during that time, right before everything closed down, I had broken my wrist. So I was going through surgeries. And so I felt pretty isolated. And now our society is closed down. And so we were feeling even more isolated. So they hadn’t been out for a long time, even before everything. So so that was really we really felt it. And I can’t imagine parents who aren’t used to it, what they felt. I do know we’ve talked to a lot and I know that there definitely was a lot of overwhelm and how do I do things and what should I do? And we spoke to that as much as we could, but we definitely felt it. And we recently moved from Connecticut to Oklahoma and Oklahoma’s Connecticut still pretty close with a lot of use of the libraries. But where we are in Oklahoma, at least in this part, we’re able to go back into the libraries. And it’s just refreshing to have a little bit of normalcy. We’re not necessarily big to want to be on the go all the time, but just that little getting out, grabbing a new book. I mean, like stacks and stacks of books that I’m glad I don’t have to pay for and just being able to get out and do something that’s not at home because we are home so much all the time anyway is just really nice. But I felt it felt hard to even get out. Even last summer, even into the nature areas, because you kept hearing about, well, you have to say so far apart. Oh, they closed it down. There are too many people. So it’s hard to know what was open and what was close to it. It was a crossing.
[00:21:42] Absolutely. I know. Yeah. It’s amazing when when you can’t do something, how much it then really you really want to be able to do it and. Oh yeah, hopefully, hopefully we’re getting back to and as you say, at least in your area, you’re starting to be able to do that. So that’s great. You know, we talked a little bit about the current educational arena. Can you comment about what have you seen with traditional schools and covid and how how that, you know, what’s going on with that versus even homeschooling?
[00:22:24] That may try to understand the question. Can you see the question?
[00:22:28] Like, what can you tell me? What have you seen that’s going on overall in the educational arena with regards to schools? And, you know, yeah, maybe.
[00:22:39] And believe me, I mean, I think what’s what you know, just as from my perspective, I, I think that the school systems are kind of taking the worst of both worlds and combining them. And I think that’s kind of what they’re doing. They’re they’re using sort of homeschool technology, whether it be Zoom or what have you, and having the child at home. But they’re using a remote learning system with the public school, so they have a public school teacher. Working with twenty five kids, supposedly, if they’re actually run and the kids come by themselves and they have to monitor themselves, so I really almost think they took the two worst. They took this to mean that the worst system you could possibly make, you’re not homeschooling and you’re not doing in-person learning. And so I, I but I so so with that said, it it leads me to believe that not only do I feel so happy that our kids are stable in a specific environment, they’re being on their right and. I fear that a lot of parents are going to pick up on that. I think they’re still going to be I think I think children are losing time that they won’t be able to get back. They question whether in the future, if we’re really going to still have a system like we have before with kids going to school, or are they going to sort of put more technology into it, less in person, face to face. And I also don’t know, though, if people are going to I think there’ll be a percentage of people like you’re seeing that are going to say, you know what, this is just insane. Take charge of my kid’s lives. I still have feeling the vast majority of people will just roll with whatever is being placed in front of them.
[00:24:43] It’s hard. It’s hard for them to change, too, because a lot of parents are both of them are working outside the home.
[00:24:51] I was going to ask you about. Yeah.
[00:24:53] And so now they’re having to work somewhat from home, which was pretty flexible last year. I’m not sure if I know some people have gone back, but I’m sure that there’s some still some at home employment. But they’re relying on both of those. And for them to then go into the mix monitoring their kid remotely or holding their child and not having the information that they need. I’m on a Facebook group that’s a working mom. How has it worded? They are homeschooling my moms, so they’re are doing both and this was a Facebook group before the pandemic ever hit, so we know it’s possible, but it might not look like what they’re used to school looking at might be that their child is somewhere during the day. And then when they come home from work for an hour and a half in the evening, that’s when they’re doing schoolwork. So the nice thing is they can take this. You know, it’s just figuring out what do I do with my child during the day? Do I have a relative that can watch them or is there a group situation like you watch my kids, I’ll watch your kids and we can alternate things or go in together on having somebody sit for our kids. But schooling doesn’t have to look like during the day there was a single mom who that I interviewed actually for the book, and she works closer to kids. And I’m like, how do you do? Yeah. So she does have some relatives.
[00:26:37] So that’s always nice when you have relatives who can help with at least watching them because we homeschool like during dinner or we’ll read this kind of a book at bedtime and then on the weekends, here’s what we do. And so she she’s just found a system that works for her so she can still work. She can bring in the income that they need. But it doesn’t look like traditional schooling for us who have chosen for all of us homeschooling. We don’t want it to look like traditional school. That’s one of the reasons why we are homeschooling. But we have to keep that in our mind because I was raised in regular what we think of a school. And so that’s what I tend to go back to. And I’m like, but that’s not why I’m doing this. So it doesn’t have to look like that. And you probably shouldn’t look like that. It should look different. Otherwise, we’ll just put them back in a school setting and let them learn that way. So there’s a lot of variety that can go into it. But I don’t think that parents understand. You don’t have to be doing it six hours a day. You don’t have to it doesn’t have to be during your work hours. It can you can alternate you work and then take another hour to two hours, depending on your child’s age, and do it at a different time of the day.
[00:27:56] And so I don’t really think of, you know, up until one hundred and fifty years ago. I mean, that’s how kids are educated. I mean, parents with the candlelight, we’re we’re reading to their kids at night or in the morning or that’s there was no public school system to go to. And for thousands of years, that’s how we did it.
[00:28:22] Well, I’m going to ask you one last question. I’ve got to two more questions. But the first one is, so given your great advice and letting people know that it doesn’t have to be it can be on your schedule and your child’s schedule, do you think homeschooling is still right for everyone? I mean, either one or both, if you have two different opinions here, then you got
[00:28:51] To say,
[00:28:53] No, I don’t think I don’t think anything is right for anybody. One hundred percent at least. I mean, we could probably think of individuals. I could think of individual situations in my life for people I know I do.
[00:29:09] I agree. There were back in the moms group that I mentioned, there was a mom who said that she was going to homeschool her, her child. And I thought, oh, dear God, please. I just don’t see that being a good situation, although that is still her God given right to be able to do so. Yeah, I think that’s fair. But no, I don’t I definitely don’t think it’s for everybody. I don’t think that I mean, not everybody’s going to have the same occupation. Not everybody is going to teach their kids the same way.
[00:29:45] No, I mean, I think that is one of the blessings of today is that we do have options in that somebody just. For whatever reason. There’s another option, there’s public schools or private schools or charter school, so there are options and that’s the that’s the great thing here. We kind of we just say that we feel like home schooling is not only a viable option, but for in many cases we believe it’s the best option. But.
[00:30:18] Well, I appreciate that. So if someone is listening out there and watching and wants to get a hold of your book, where can they find it?
[00:30:30] Well, very simply, they can just go to our website, help the book dot com and down to the bottom. It’s got a picture of the book. Click on it and it will take you over to Amazon, where you can purchase it directly. But that’s probably the easiest place to go. Help the book, Dotcom.
[00:30:48] Awesome. And are you offering any other ways to help people or if anyone has any questions or anything, can people reach out to you that maybe they’re like, OK, I can’t wait until I get the book. Can you help me out now?
[00:31:07] So if they go to help the book dot com, there’s a subscribe button down at the bottom. If they just input their email address there, they will actually get sent a home schooling checklist, how to get started, home schooling and very simple ways of encouragement. Just help them just begin taking the first step of making the bed in the morning. Take that first step and we get that in their hands right away, which also they can email us and help at the home school architects dot com. And if you can’t remember that, you go to the website. There is a contact information there as well as well as our phone number, and they can feel free to reach out to us via phone as well. We do. I’ve done counseling via like emails. I’ve also gotten like some Zoome chats with people to try and help them get started. Oh my goodness. I don’t know where to go, you know? So definitely we’re available to chat and see if we can help them get started on their journey.
[00:32:11] So. Well, you’ve certainly educated me today, pardon the pun, but it could exist on home schooling. And I do feel that if things were different now, I yeah, it might actually be fun. I mean, I was a Girl Scout leader after all, so, yeah, I could probably manage it. So that’s kind of. Well, thank you so much for being here. And and hopefully you have educated others out there, parents out there. So if they want to give this a try, I’ll make sure I have all of the links and everything in the show notes so people can find it. And yeah, I just wish you all the luck, continued success and and and keep teaching your kids.
[00:32:59] Thank you very much
[00:33:00] For having us. Yes. Nice talking with you.
[00:33:03] Yeah, same here. Absolutely. And I appreciate all of you out there listening and watching, and I just really appreciate you. So until next time, as always, I encourage you to go out and live fully loved deeply and engage authentically.
[00:33:22] Did you know that a majority of entrepreneurs tend to discount the importance of their work and a good number feel their success is simply due to luck? I know from personal experience that self-doubt can keep you from having the kind of life and business you desire. That’s why I’ve created a free guide called Uniquely You How to Move from Self-doubt to Self-love in four simple steps to claim your free guide. Go to live, love, engage dot gift. That’s live love. Engage dot g i f t.