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Q & A with Tavia Fuller Armstrong | The Unplanned Homeschooler

With all the work to grow and sustain Learning Tangent, the sleepless nights hoping I didn’t make some massive error that I would see after the printed copies arrive on my doorstep…you might think that I don’t have time or energy to develop personal relationships with each of the writers.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I take the time to cultivate relationships with each of them, because while I am 1,000% vested in the success of Learning Tangent, I am equally vested in the success of each writer. I want them to succeed. I know that writing for one magazine will never be enough to sustain a family, and that the writing itself is work that can bring valuable exposure to the books and other products they create for sale.

We are all also either friends, or becoming friends. I’m selective about who I bring close to me, so each one becomes all the more precious. Tavia is no exception to that, and while she is in another state (as are most of my writer-friends), the wonder of technology helps us narrow some of that distance. Her writing has appeared in the magazine over the last couple of years, and her advice column, The Unplanned Homeschooler, appears in each issue.

GN: How many kids do you have, and how many are homeschooled?

TA: Three… 15-year-old twins, Nathan and Natalie, and 9 yr old daughter, Leah.

GN: Why did you make the decision to homeschool?

TA: When we moved back to my hometown, I found out the local schools were overcrowded, and we couldn’t get my twins into the elementary school a few blocks from our house. I overheard teachers at the grocery store talking about having up to 40 kids assigned to their classrooms. I knew I could do better for my children, and I did!

GN:  I think that most parents could do better!  According to Gandhi, “There is no school equal to a decent home and no teachers equal to honest, virtuous parents.” How long have you homeschooled?

TA: My twins are 15. Even though I was always busy teaching them at home, trying to help them catch up with their peers and overcome the speech and physical delays common to preemies, they went to public school from preschool until the end of kindergarten. We started officially homeschooling that summer, when they were 7 and my youngest was still a toddler.

GN: You’ve published a few books. Tell us about them, and where can we get them?

TA: My best seller is The Unplanner, a homeschool organizer for those of us who tend to get a little overwhelmed by planners with tons of blanks we’ll never use. The Unplanner has all the pages you need, and none of the ones you don’t. The 2017-2018 version is now available on Amazon [2016-2107 edition: http://amzn.to/2rX8bTj or 2017-2018 edition: http://amzn.to/2rX4hd2] or through my store at www.UnplannedHomeschooler.com.

I’ve also written two books. My latest is Homeschool Bullies: Dealing with Mean Kids, Cliques and Mama Drama. Unfortunately, bullying does exist even in the homeschooling world, and this book helps parents see how to deal with bullying behaviors from others, from their own children, and perhaps most importantly, from themselves. The Unplanned Homeschooler: My Disorganized Path to Homeschooling Success was my first book. It is a look at my journey from a stressed out homeschooling novice to a leader in my local homeschool community, including all the things I wish I’d known when I first got started. Any new homeschooling parent who feels overwhelmed by it all could benefit from reading this book, if only to know without a doubt that they are not alone.

GN: How would you finish the statement, “If I knew then what I know now…”?

TA: If I knew then what I know now, I would have kept my twins home for kindergarten and let them enjoy being little kids and learning through play. Five and six-year-olds should not be stuck in chairs most of the day. I would have also been a lot more relaxed in my approach to homeschooling when I brought them home, and not so worried about duplicating the public school approach to learning.

What do you think?