Meet Tassie. Her story has inspired me for years. Why? Because she doesn’t think of her home and family as a house with four walls located in one place in the world. Rather, in my opinion, she sees all of the world as her home.
Tassie Helene Smith and her family, though American, lived abroad for many years. Due to language barriers she and her husband determined that the best course for education of their two daughters was to homeschool. Yet, both Tassie and her husband worked full-time outside of the home during those years.
Her Global Perspective
She and her husband Kevin worked as English teachers in a University in a developing nation. Being able to juggle two full-time jobs, their roles as foreigners in a foreign land, coupled with their determination to faithfully walk where the Lord led them, meant having to juggle tight schedules in order to offer their girls an education best suited to their unique situation.
When we lived abroad I homeschooled while teaching 8 to 16 hours of college level ESL classes including Writing, Oral English, Pronunciation, and Comprehensive English. This is considered a “Full-time” position but much of the work of lesson prep and grading papers was done at home and when I was in class my husband was scheduled to be at home.
Currently, the Smith family have returned to the U.S. and Kevin has taken a job as an evangelist in a small but very healthy and loving church in Rock Springs, Wy.. At that time the two needed to once again consider what would be the best schooling option for their family.
Whenever an American patriot lives abroad for an extended period of time, there is always a great deal of paperwork involved when they choose then to repatriate into American territory. Since Tassie needed the time to focus on that, while Kevin jumped in with both feet into his new role as evangelist, and because neither of their girls had ever spent time in the states on a regular basis, the youngest was even born abroad, they felt it was best to use a public school option to help their children acclimate to the American culture.
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The first year of public school had both it’s ups and downs. Her oldest daugher, Jael , thrived in the new learning environment while her younger daughter, Allie, who as it turns out is an extrovert but also has a passion for learning, wasn’t fairing as well. She needed the freedom to be able to exhibit her lively curiosity and interests without the confines of a public classroom setting. So Tassie knew that it was best to bring Allie back home to homeschool with her, while allowing Jael to continue to utilize the public school option.
Our oldest daughter, Jael is 14 and a sophomore at our local public High School. She’s thriving
there. Academics are under her level but otherwise she is enjoying band, making friends and learning to be an American. Our youngest daughter, Allie, is 7. She was in public school last school year. It was a solidly mediocre experience. We’re confident that 2nd grade will be much better at home.
Global Perspective Right at Home
Tassie considers her homeschooling experience from two different vantage points. First, she understands that other moms might think it’s too difficult to homeschool while both parents work full-time jobs. Yet, it worked for her family while at the same time living in a foreign land. That experience taught her the value of the wealth of educational availability that we have in this country, like the resources available for free at our local libraries.
Additionally, most homeschool moms when considering whether or not to purchase a resource don’t have to think about how much it weighs and whether or not it will fit inside a suitcase. Then again, most American students don’t have the experience of learning a foreign language while bargaining over strawberries at the market.
Now that she is in America homeschooling one of her daughters she is thankful for what the experience taught her abroad. Now she understands that to educate you don’t need a room full of books or papers. In fact, she says that two of her favorite resources have been, Starfall and Khan Academy, especially since she doesn’t enjoy teaching math. Both available online, both available for free.
In the Smith homeschool they are disciplined in regards to core subjects but have a general bend toward unschooling allowing Allie to learn based upon her own interests. But, due to their overall broad view of the world they incorporate cultural studies as well.
Living abroad presented them with a unique approach to homeschooling. Since they were expats at the time, they were able to choose home education as an option. But it wasn’t one their local neighbors were able to choose. So when living across the sea, they were pretty much alone in their homeschooling efforts.
With Allie being an extrovert it’s even more important for Tassie to find ways for her to interact with others. Now that they are in the U.S. she has recently joined up with a local Facebook “recess” group so Allie can join in some meet ups and fill that ever important social need. She has recently set up a child swap situation with another mom from church that allows each mom to have time to do other things they need to do, while allowing the children to spend time together.
Tassie is thankful to have the power to do what seems best for her girls, the power to not test, the power to take a day off if they feel bad. She enjoys being able to go to a museum instead of “school” with papers and books everyday. And most especially, she is grateful to not only do devo before school but to study Bible as an academic topic and apply it to every situation in life.
As a minister Kevin basically works from home, and is there in the day in and day out of home education. But, the homeschooling role is Tassie’s job. He includes Allie in things like taking her along to visit the elderly, going on a run for meals on wheels or taking her to swim class but the educational part is mom’s domain.
Tassie isn’t shy about getting her homeschooling hands dirty. They enjoy adding in lifeskills and activities like cooking, gardening and even hiking.
To unwind this homeschool mom enjoys spending time in the library, the park, and a good cup of coffee. She also writes. You can find her on Maid Servants of Christ blog, where she and her friend Melissa write about women of faith, family and the occassional homeschooling post.
Tassie is a Real Life Superhero Homeschool Mom because she approaches education from a global perspective understanding that education can happen at home, in the community or around the globe.
This post is part of my Real Life Superhero Homeschool Moms Series.