Meet Maureen Werner and family! She breaks the traditional molds and has set her own unique course for her family.
Tell us about the Werner family.
I am a single woman, I own Precision Business Services, Inc, which is an accounting firm that specializes in helping small to mid-size businesses with their tax and accounting strategies.
I moved here to Kansas in 1999 from San Diego, California, with my then 14-year-old son…and I LOVE Kansas!! I think I was always a Midwest girl!
Tell us about your kids.
In 2003 my son graduated from a public high school and went away to University of Kansas to attend college. After a couple of months in my home alone, I felt prompted by God to become a foster parent.
Over the next few years, I fostered 36 children and God blessed me with six adoptions!! Katy, 19 (adopted at age 5); Mackenzie, 16 (adopted at 3); Madyson, 14 (adopted at 5 months); Ava Marie, 10 (adopted at birth); and twins Hudson and Beckham, 6 (adopted at birth).
Why did you decide to homeschool on top of adopting, fostering, and working?
I knew about homeschooling through several families that I had met at church and also the CPA I worked with when I first moved to Kansas.
I was very impressed by how personable the homeschooled children were, they had such terrific communication skills! I also loved how close the relationships of the family members seemed.
I was always super close with my son, but there was only he and I, and so we spent a lot of time together even though he was in public school.
But I didn’t think I could homeschool since I worked outside my home. Then I started my own firm, working out of my own home, and I started to think more seriously about it.
By the time my oldest daughter was in 4th grade, I was making a plan to bring her home for middle school, which was 7th grade in our district at the time.
I researched the laws and curriculums, and by the time the end of the school year came, I had made up my mind to bring her home for the next school year for 5th grade!
Mackenzie came home the next year for 3rd grade, then I added Madyson for 3rd grade the following year, and finally Ava Marie came home for 1st grade the next year.
My twin boys started Kindergarten in 2017 and have never attended public school.
Favorite thing about homeschooling?
My favorite thing about homeschooling is building our relationships!
I love watching my children go from hearing about a concept for the first time and then getting to see that “light-bulb” moment! That is such a blessing for me as a parent! I realize so many parents miss that moment.
Most frustrating thing about homeschooling?
TIME!! Or should I say, time management…or the lack of it!
We always have the best laid plans…and then we dilly-dally at breakfast, or someone comes to the door, or I step into my office to send a quick email…you know the drill!
I used to feel so defeated at the end of the day if we didn’t get everything done! I would write these extraordinary schedules…down to the minute!
But over the years, I have learned to not be so regimented. I give myself some grace and can see now that you don’t have to get it all done. Let God lead you and your children will get what is needed.
Biggest blessing you didn’t expect when you began?
The biggest blessing is our closeness for sure! But the biggest surprise for me was how much I am learning alongside my children!
I was a pretty good student in school and I graduated from college, but there was so much I do not know! I really enjoy learning so much about history, science, and the Bible! And all the Read-Alouds! Those are my favorites!!
How important is getting plugged into a local homeschool community for you and your family?
Being part of a local homeschool community has been so important for our family!
We belong to the Homeschool Hookup Facebook Group and attend a lot of their events in person.
We also participate in the Wild & Free Community.
We go to field trips with all of these groups and I belong to the Moms’ Groups.
As a single parent, I find it important to engage in conversations with other parents who are doing the same thing as us so I can glean ideas and information from them and also to verbalize my own ideas to someone besides my kids!
Any advice for families just starting?
Trust your instincts; you know your children better than anyone; be a student of your child!
Pray and let God lead you every day…He should always be the head of your school.
If you are coming out of public school, take a break and unschool for a while. Children who have been in the public school system need to unlearn the extreme structure and institutional system they have become familiar with.
Read, play, wander…and just enjoy being together as a family for a little while. This will also help you learn your child’s strengths and learning styles.
Any advice for other single parents/foster parents and/or adoptive parents?
Homeschooling as a single parent is hard, it just is. There are only 24 hours in my day, just like every one else, and it is a balance between home, school, and work!
Some days things flow better, and some days they just don’t!
Find your people, other parents who also homeschool, both married and single, and glean from them!
Typical day for the Werner family?
We start each weekday with Morning Time, after breakfast.
Morning Time is about 45 minutes where we do a devotion, look up scripture in our Bibles, sing the Doxology and other Hymns, then we read from the Children’s Story Bible, read some poetry, and then a family read-aloud.
After that we do individual lessons and sometimes play games.
We try to have everything done by lunchtime, and somedays actually work out like that! But not always!
We attend co-op twice a month and also go on nature hikes and do nature journaling on the opposite weeks. I work in the afternoons and the evenings after the children are in bed.
How do you juggle working, being a mom, and a homeschooling teacher?
I am a work in progress! I try to balance it all out, but sometimes I do one thing better than the others, and it changes from week to week. I have systems for laundry, meals, dishes, and we try to stick to them really well.
As an accountant, I like to be super organized, but my children are just kids and some days they just don’t want to cooperate! (I know, hard to believe!)
I pray, a LOT!! I ask for forgiveness, a LOT!! I don’t sleep much! I will get to that someday!
What resources have helped you?
I read Steven and Terry Maxwell’s “Managers of Their Homes, Managers of Their Schools” and “Homeschooling With A Meek and Quiet Spirit.”
Those are awesome books that really have helped me along the way! I also seek out moms who have graduated their homeschooled children; they are a wealth of information and encouragement!
The last thing I would like to say is, in regards to homeschooling, I used to take it year by year when I first started eight years ago. I would get to the end of our school year and take a breath and pray about if we should continue another year or not.
But I regret that…I am committed to homeschooling my children all the way through because that is what is best for them. I can’t let a bad day, or a busy week, or even a hard year stop me and make me doubt myself or change my mind.
Through this commitment, I am also committed to my homeschool community and the other families, God willing.
Thanks so much, Maureen Werner!
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!