Micro-interview with a veteran homeschooler who shares his homeschooling journey with us.
Marc Ries is the manager of Love2Learn, a company that provides a modular curriculum (compiled by his wife, Ivana) based on the best aspects of curricula from all over the world and draws inspiration, particularly from Charlotte Mason’s philosophies. You can check it out at Love2Learn.co.za.
Marc is a very passionate promoter of homeschooling and is always generous with encouragement, advice, and positivity. I recently asked him some questions about his family’s homeschooling experience. It was an insightful conversation and I’d love to share the highlights with you.
In a few short paragraphs, Marc will share:
- Their biggest mistakes in their homeschooling journey
- Their most satisfying moments in homeschooling
- Three key tips – for newbies, homeschoolers of children in the primary and the high school phases.
Tell us a little about your family?
I am Marc Ries, married to Ivana Ries who founded and began authoring Love2Learn Curriculum in 2002. We live in Fourways, Sandton, South Africa, and we have two daughters, Savanna and Cassidy.
My wife, Ivana is a self-defense instructor with a Black Belt in Krav Magra. I worked with BMW South Africa for 15 years and then joined Ivana in 2006 as Managing Director at Love2Learn Curriculum because “homeschooling restores families and impacts generations.”
We actively promote homeschooling in South Africa, having appeared in a host of television and radio programs over the years.
Why and how did you start homeschooling?
When our older daughter (Savanna) was 3.5 years old, she attended a playschool and friends from church whose two children attended the same playschool, started homeschooling. Ivana was intrigued, did some research and we decided we’d homeschool for a year as an experiment. We were nervous, but it soon became obvious it was worth it and we never looked back.
Where are your kids now? How are your relationships with them post-homeschooling?
Our daughters never attended a formal school, and both completed their Cambridge AS-Levels. Savanna is married and is the General Manager for Imperial International College. Cassidy is working towards securing a position as a professional contemporary modern dancer in the USA. We have a very close relationship with our girls.
What do you think were your biggest mistakes on the homeschooling journey and what did you learn from them?
My biggest mistake from the start was to abdicate the responsibility for homeschooling to Ivana. I was employed at BMW Head Office at the time and was mistaken in the mind-set that “I work (very hard) and long hours, so that (Ivana) can homeschool our girls”. This meant that the children barely ever saw me during the week, all because my identity was wrapped up in my work. This all changed when I realised that my girls were a gift from God to me and that I am accountable before God for them as their father.
What were your most satisfying moments of homeschooling?
My wife’s answer to this would be: “Being WITH my children, seeing them go from clutching a thick crayon in their fist to eventually cradling a pen in their fingers and acquiring the skill of writing in cursive. Being there to witness their joy of learning as they discovered insects, events in history and their impact on us today. Seeing them grasp new concepts in Maths, Science, literacy, etc. Spending time reading God’s word in the Bible, praying together and seeing them grow in their knowledge of and love for Jesus. Sharing in the highs and lows of their achievements.”
For me, one of many vivid recollections is of reading Black Beauty to them while lying in bed, my daughters on either side of me, nestled in the crooks of my arms. At times I would try to swallow past the lump in my throat because of the poignant tragedies that Black Beauty experienced. Precious, precious moments!
How to keep going when you feel like you’re failing as a homeschooling parent?
We encourage families to compile a Vision Statement for their family when they start homeschooling. Ask yourself, “Why are we homeschooling?” How long do you plan to homeschool? – Short, medium or long term? (This WILL have an impact on your commitment).
Share this vision and reasoning with your children, so they see the bigger picture! Write it down and ideally, frame it or stick it up in your home for EVERYONE to see. It’s a vital reminder!
At various points on your h-s journey, you will meet and battle the giants of self-doubt, sacrifice, discouragement, exasperation, and exhaustion. When (not if!) you are having one of these bad days, re-read your vision to re-ignite your drive and determination!
Also, when making any homeschooling decision, remember to ask yourself: ‘How does this help us achieve our vision?’
Three essential tips!
Key tip for new homeschoolers:
There is no such thing as the perfect curriculum. Do not for one moment underestimate your God-given creativity and ability to homeschool your child.
Key tip for homeschoolers of children in the primary phase:
Do not compare your homeschooling to your neighbour’s or friend’s or with Facebook/Pinterest/Instagram fantasies! No one knows your child like you do, and certainly, no teacher who is seeing anywhere between 50 and upwards of 120 students per day could even begin to know your child.
Key tip for homeschooling teenagers:
Don’t give up because you think (or worse, your child thinks) they “need” to go to school – this is utter nonsense! Bad company corrupts good character. Persevere, for a rich reward awaits you in the long run.
Did you enjoy this interview? Would you like to read more like it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.