Interview with Amber Castleberry

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Age: 36
Ages of Children: 9, 8, and 3

Why and when did you decide to homeschool your children?

My husband and I were both public school teachers before we had children. We had already decided that the public school system was not the choice we wanted for our children. We always thought that we would send them to private school for a Christian-based and well-rounded education. Homeschooling was never an option!!

However, God had other plans. 🙂 My husband is self-employed, so when the economy crashed in 2008, I needed to work in order to help supplement some income. I took a job at a large organization and worked there for 2.5 years. During those 2.5 years, I became desperate to be home with my children (who were 3 and 2 at the time). Every Monday morning I would be in the break room making coffee, and the same two women would be in the break room with me. They would say things like, “Oh, I am SO glad that it’s Monday and I could get rid of my kids! They drove me crazy all weekend.” “Gah! I need a vacation from my weekend.” Hearing this absolutely broke my heart because at the time I would have given almost anything to be home with my children. There were many days that I would have to go off to the bathroom and cry because my heart hurt. I couldn’t understand why any mother wanted to “get rid” of her kids when I so desperately wanted to be with mine.

God was faithful to my cries, and He allowed me to come home with my kiddos after 2.5 years. It was here that I was surprised by my calling to homeschool my children – wasn’t homeschooling for “weird, unsocialized people?” 😉 But, really, there was no other option that we were confident in. I was finally home with our children, and sending them away for 8 hours a day just wasn’t an option. There are so many reasons why we are sure of our decision to homeschool, but simply being with them day in and day out is the biggest blessing to us.

Describe your homeschool in three words.

How about three phrases?!? “Charlotte Mason”, “Family Centered”, “Flexible”

How do you balance a work schedule and homeschooling?

This is quite a challenge! Because my husband is self-employed, it is still necessary for me to help out. (If there’s one thing about self-employment, it’s the constant battle between “Feast vs. Famine.”)

I am blessed with the opportunity to be a freelance writer in order to help out my husband. However, finding time to write can be a challenge. I try to be disciplined to get up early (5 a.m.) and write before my children get up. I also try to write in the afternoon for about an hour when they are playing together and nicely distracted. My husband is also very supportive, and any time he is home he is fantastic about spending time with the kiddos.

This is not to say that it is always like this. Mornings when I don’t get up early can put me behind and I have to scramble to meet deadlines. On these days, school involves the kiddos doing a lot of work together and spending a great amount of time outside in the woods behind our house. I used to be stressed about this, but I have found that they learn a great deal from each other and from nature that no classroom (not even a homeschool classroom) can provide.

How has your homeschooling approach changed since you began?

Because I was a public school teacher for five years, I definitely had a “classroom” mentality when we started. I chose Abeka our first year because it was the style with which I was most familiar. However, we quickly changed to a more “living book” style of education that I found more enjoyable teaching at home. My children love reading and hearing stories, so “living books” are our favorite approaches to learning.

How do your children feel about being homeschooled?

My kiddos love being homeschooled! They are all homebodies, and home is there favorite place to be. On days when there are uncooperative attitudes, all I have to do is say, “You know, I could send you somewhere else to get an education.” And they are quick to straighten up!! They realize how blessed they are by homeschooling and being together.

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What’s the best homeschooling advice you’ve ever received?

I have been blessed to meet with Sonya Shafer (creator of www.simplycharlottemason.com) on three different occasions. She has had the greatest influence on my home education model, and I have this quote tucked away in my “Mama notebook” that I read at least once a week to remind myself that I can do this, and that what I am doing is what is best for our family.

Sonya says, “Remember that you don’t have to do every school subject every day. Your child will continue to grow in a particular area if you work on it only two or three times a week. In fact, he might make more progress because variety heightens interest and attention. Don’t get caught in the trap of plodding through the same-old, same-old every day of the week…and month…and year. Mix things up a bit, and enjoy the refreshment that change can bring!”

How can we connect with you?

Instagram: @aecastleberry

More about Amber:

Amber owns a small Etsy business making Round Monograms for wall décor. They are beautiful accent pieces for any room! www.etsy.com/shop/InspirationbyAC

She is also a freelance writer for doctors and dentists throughout the U.S.

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Comments

  1. Katie Turner says:

    Hi Amber, Thanks for sharing. I can relate to many of your comments. When I taught in government schools, I was shocked and saddened to hear fellow teachers thrill that they could “return to work to get away from their kids” or “dread Christmas or summer vacations.” My heart hurt hearing this way before I had even heard of home education. My belief is that God designed the family and doing so pleased Him. He wants us to desire what He loves. Thanks again for sharing. God bless your beautiful family, Katie T

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