Meet Craig and Shawna Ketter and family! They are MPE board members and have taken their home education to new heights as they lead their tribe to discover God through His Word and His world.
Tell us about the Ketter kids.
Our kids are spirited, passionate, and a whole lot of fun! God uses them daily to refine us. Elliana (4th grade), Mayah (2nd grade), Karson (1st grade), and Selah (Kindergarten – school of play).
Why is an outdoor learning environment so important to you?
We are outdoor adventurers at heart! Early on in our marriage, God placed a passion in both of our hearts to enjoy and share the beauty of God’s creation with others as a place of refuge and a place to get to know Him.
You step outside your door and there is a classroom all around you! We appreciate the challenges, fun, and opportunities for growth that exist in outdoor spaces.
There is nothing like getting away even for the day (in your backyard or beyond), unplugging, and reconnecting. It is a gift to enjoy the outdoors with our kids – we bring a few books, a hammock, some food, and we are set for a day of adventuring and learning together.
We love that there are endless opportunities for our children to learn about our Creator and be in awe of Him. Bonus reasons are that when we are able to see, touch, taste, hear, and smell, it helps us learn better and we can do all of that outdoors.
Being in green spaces increases our focus, memory, motivation. We are healthier, have opportunities for teamwork, have better communication, and have more opportunities to take risks together.
Some homeschools recreate a traditional classroom in their home, but your family does home education in a somewhat nontraditional manner. Tell us about that.
Our homeschool has changed over the years. I started out teaching with a white board, chairs, and tables. Now I laugh, because we are very far from that.
We are thankful for the freedom that each family has in creating a school that works best for them. Learning happens all the time in our home; while we are outside adventuring, wandering, and wondering, or inside reading and writing.
We have a very eclectic homeschool, and enjoy Charlotte Mason principles. Yet we are also inspired by Waldorf, Montessori, Unschooling, and appreciate the idea that wisdom and virtue are cultivated when a soul is nourished on truth, goodness, and beauty, inspired by classical education.
We don’t fit in one box! We learn while reading living books or picture books on the couch, hands-on projects, painting/drawing, digging in the dirt. We narrate and act out books we read, enjoy free play, climb trees, follow individual sparks of learning.
We also learn while camping and hiking in creation, and most importantly our homeschool is guided by our families mission statement (roots, shoots + fruit).
We trust in the Lord and desire to be firmly rooted in God’s living word, sharing and showing His love, and fruitful for His Glory. (Jeremiah 17:9)
Biggest blessing you didn’t expect when you began homeschooling?
The first couple months into homeschooling we had major health challenges for most of our family. It was a huge blessing that we could be at home together, learning at our own pace. I quickly learned that children still learn, despite our personal challenges and inadequacies. Praise God!
How important is plugging into a local homeschool community for you?
Very important and a vital extension of our homeschool! We couldn’t homeschool without community. We all need people in our lives. Extroverts and introverts. We need people we can be real with, have fun with, that will encourage us, and challenge us.
After finding a community to get plugged into, I don’t feel alone. I am encouraged. I am challenged. I am a better mama and wife! It’s a beautiful thing to be encouraged in your own unique homeschool journey, through the ups and downs. Community is definitely a balm to the weary soul.
Typical day of homeschooling for your family?
We have a rhythm to our days, yet everyday is a little different. We are always learning.
Typically we eat breakfast together, while we start our favorite time of the day, we call it “sunrise time.” (It isn’t when the sun rises, just whenever we rise.)
In warm weather, we are outside, and during colder weather, we are inside around the table or on the floor. We use this time to read the Bible, pray for others, sing hymns or folksongs, learn the catechism, dive into character-building typically through learning a verse and reading aloud a book.
We loop learning about an artist, composer, or poet and geography or natural science. This is the heart of our homeschool – if all we did was this, it’s been a good day!
We have active kids in our home, so after sunrise time the kids run off energy in our yard or on bikes at the park across from our home. It’s typically time to eat again. (Anyone else feel like it is always time for another meal?)
We eat lunch together and then everyone works through their individual work at their own pace in short bursts of time. They follow a rhythm of rotating through learning that focuses on their heads, hearts, and hands.
They each have a daily sheet that they take ownership of; typically they each do math, handicrafts, language arts, history (together), and literature.
My Kindergartener is normally listening in, playing, drawing on paper, and sometimes on the walls. We intentionally keep our afternoons open for wandering and wondering together and don’t participate in many extracurricular activities.
The kids all have passions that God has placed on their hearts. We use the afternoon to jump into those at the library, park, nature center, home, or somewhere in our city.
We also participate in a co-op once a week that we adore and a nature group that is a vital part of our community. We end our day with “sunset time” reading a devotional or chapter book.
Advice for families at (or near) the beginning of their homeschool journey?
1. Love well, delight in your family, and rest in the love of the Lord.
Watering relationships with those in your home and God is more life-giving than checking the box of your to-do’s or lesson plans. If you stop math for a season, it isn’t going to matter. Yet, not loving those right in front of you can have far greater consequences.
Don’t forget to date your spouse! That’s pretty vital to a healthy homeschool.
2. See the beauty of your own unique homeschool.
You will hear many voices about all the things you can do or “should” do. Pray, surrender, and follow the most important voice.
3. Have fun together and look for the joy in your days.
Homeschooling can be really hard. No day is perfect and you are going to mess up a lot (I have).
So look for all the opportunities you can to have fun, relax, and enjoy togetherness. God uses you in your imperfections, and they will remember the belly-laughs, dance parties, and fun moments.
What area resources have helped your homeschooling efforts?
The Kansas City area is full of resources! Some of our favorites are:
- The library (we enjoy the KC library system)
- Nature areas/centers
- MPE homeschool conference and Women’s Encouragement Day
- Coffee shops to sit with a mom friend and share joys; struggles and pray for one another
- Legacy Christian Academy
- Dad’s hangout time
- Nelson Atkins Museum of Art
- Science City and Powell Garden membership
- Wild + Free KC nature group
- Other moms/dads who share their talents
- My own stash of chocolate and chai tea
Thanks so much, Craig and Shawna Ketter!
About this series, Faces of Homeschooling…
You have heard them before – the stereotypes that some people believe about homeschoolers.
You know, like when people think that all homeschooling mothers wear homemade denim jumpers or that all homeschooled kids are shy, socially awkward geniuses who are not ready for the world. Maybe you have even heard people say that all homeschoolers are conservative Christians and that we all think alike.
As fellow homeschoolers, we know that these stereotypes do not represent reality. We also know that there is plenty of diversity within the homeschooling community, not only in demographics but also in why and how we homeschool.
In short, homeschoolers do not all look the same, think the same, and act the same.
At MPE, we want to highlight these differences by introducing you to some local families enjoying their unique journey of home education.
We hope these interviews will encourage you as you homeschool your children in your own special way!