Jamie’s Journey: From School Principal to Homeschool Mom
As a child, Jamie Gaddy always dreamed of being a teacher. She followed her dream and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. During her career as an educator, she taught everything from preschool to junior high school.
During that time, something caught her attention. “I noticed that a lot of my fellow teachers struggled with foundational teaching skills, and that kind of gave me a heart to help them,” she says. Jamie went back to school and earned her master’s degree and then a doctorate. She worked her way up to become a school principal and began training teachers who benefited from her expertise and goodwill. Then, Jamie’s circumstances changed.
When her oldest child was in fourth grade, she was getting bullied. Despite the school’s efforts, the bullying continued, leaving Jamie and her family at a critical crossroad. “My daughter was crying,” says Jamie. “She didn’t want to go to school, and so it wasn’t long before we made the decision.”
Jamie went on to homeschool her six children. Not only has she been a homeschool mom for over 16 years and counting, but she has also become a homeschool leader, guiding others on their homeschool journeys. She’s the Editor-in-Chief of Homeschool.com, an entity that has been helping homeschool families for over 20 years.
Watch the interview with Jamie Gaddy here:
As every homeschooler knows, there are challenges when making the transition — even for an experienced educator. For one, Jamie started the homeschool journey mid-year, and she was still working as a principal. “It was an awkward situation.,” she says. “Some days, my daughter would bring her homeschooling material to school with me.”
Eventually, Jamie left her job and transitioned to homeschooling full-time. Interestingly enough, she said that her background in education both helped her and hindered her. “When we first started homeschooling, I felt like we needed a classroom at home, and that’s what hindered me,” she says. Like many new homeschoolers, she mirrored the classroom that she once taught in because that’s what she knew.
“We soon found out that that doesn’t really work in a homeschool setting,” she said. That’s especially true with four children and two more on the way. They needed more flexibility. Jamie rethought her strategy and found a solution that fit her family’s needs. “That’s what I’d recommend to other homeschoolers; find what works for you,” she says. “Don’t try to be like a traditional school or some other wonderful homeschool mom.”
Misconceptions About Homeschooling
Almost every homeschooler has heard the misconception of not having ample room for socialization. This never bothered Jamie. She was homeschooling six kids, so there was an abundance of socializing and family bonding going on. She also kept her children busy. “We do stuff; we go to the library,” she says. “My kids were also involved in a rec league and played softball, soccer and were part of a church group.”
On a more humorous note, Jamie remarked how some people think “homeschoolers are weird.” Even her brother-in-law believed that sentiment. Then he witnessed Jamie’s kids as they grew older and was impressed. “Now they are actually homeschooling their children, too!” said Jamie with a laugh and a smile.
One other misconception is that homeschooling is too difficult. Jamie found an easy answer for that dilemma when it came up. “If there’s a subject too difficult, I outsource,“ she says.“You have co-ops and even online classes. There are a variety of ways to address that online.”
Top Tips for Homeschooling Multiple Kids
Homeschooling a large family can be difficult. There are multiple distractions, but Jamie has come up with a few key tips.
- Find a routine that works for your family and take your time with it. You can change your homeschool routine at any time.
- Find a curriculum that works for you and your child’s style of learning. Jamie prefers an online curriculum like Time4Learning. It allowed her older children to work independently while she “did a few things with the littles.”
- Do things together. Jamie always covered certain subjects with her children and did projects together. One year while studying the Revolutionary War period, they made wax candles together.
Any family dynamic can use these tips. But remember, these things work for Jamie, and as she says, it’s essential to “find what works for your family.”
How Homeschooling Helped Jamie Deal with the Pandemic
While the pandemic raged and parents across the nation scrambled for different educational outlets for their kids, homeschoolers like Jamie empathized with them but also simply rolled with the punches. “Homeschoolers, in general, are very flexible, she says. That’s kind of the ‘name of the game.’ We just roll with it. And a lot of reasons why we homeschool is so we can roll with things, and life-changes, and all the crazy chaos that is life.”
Jamie said that besides not seeing family and friends regularly, “it was very much business as usual” during the pandemic. Even her kids were less impacted than most children. While her oldest kids in college watched their classmates freak out over online classes, they thought, “Yeah, whatever, it’s a change, it’s okay, we’ll be fine.” They were able to adapt quickly.
Favorite Feature of Time4Learning
Jamie “definitely” has a favorite aspect of Time4Learning. “I would have to say the automated grading,” she says. “The grading is an absolute life-saver for me.” That’s especially true with six children — the paperwork stacks up!
Jamie says she also enjoys Time4Learning’s Activity Planner. “I could go in and plan what they needed to do and even make assignments,” she says. “That’s a huge amount of time saved right there.”
When Jamie was asked to describe what homeschooling means to her in one word, she chose “individuality.” “I can make each of my six children’s education completely individual and unique to fit their needs.”