Shortly after we moved to Victoria, I met Bonnie Landry, a homeschooling mom of seven kids. I became “the other Bonnie” on the Island (since she was there first) and enjoyed learning from her homeschooling experience even before I began homeschooling Sunshine.
I’ve taken several of Bonnie Landry’s workshops, read her blog and books, and recently, was very excited to see she’s working on a new book project. It seemed like a good opportunity to pick her brain, so I fired off a request for an interview and she graciously agreed.
Here’s Bonnie Landry on homeschooling and writing. (This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)
TKM: First, tell us a bit about Bonnie Landry.
Bonnie: I’m a Catholic convert. I grew up on Vancouver Island, and have raised my family here. We have seven children, three adult daughters who are 27, 23 and 21, three sons who are 17, 15 and 12, and our youngest daughter who is 8. I started homeschooling in 1991.
TKM: Why did you start homeschooling?
Bonnie: Because I thought there had to be a better way to educate children than them being part of a big system. As my oldest daughter was getting to “school age,” I met with and interviewed several different principals and teachers from different educational models, including public school, French immersion, Montessori and independent schools. I came away from each conversation feeling like they all had good things to offer, but one big thing missing. They didn’t love my daughter. And I did. I came to believe that children learn best in an environment of love and joy.
TKM: What do you think are the biggest benefits of homeschooling?
Bonnie: Wow. That’s a big question. I can only touch on it, as this is a topic for a whole book. For my children, I think there are a few benefits at the top of my list. The relationships they have with their brothers and sisters. They have time to be children; lots of time to play and pursue the interests that they love. The intimate nature of homeschooling allows for mastery. I think master learning is the number one reason homeschoolers are performing well at post secondary.
For myself, two things really stand out. The first benefit is the opportunity to participate fully in my children’s formation, both actively and passively. They grow, but I grow, too. Secondly, the education that I’ve received educating them!
TKM: What is your favourite part of homeschooling? Your least favourite part?
Bonnie: My favourite part of homeschooling is reading aloud. My least favourite part is when kids bicker.
TKM: If you could offer one piece of wisdom to other homeschoolers, what would it be?
Bonnie: Seek joy.
TKM: You’ve already written a series of short books on homeschooling. What was the inspiration for those books?
Bonnie: I’ve been doing homeschooling workshops for several years, and inevitably someone asks if I “have a book on that topic?” The books are more like “booklets”—I wanted them to be tiny so that someone could pick them up and read them in an evening, and have some practical application and encouragement to keep them going.
TKM: What gave you the inspiration for your latest project, a book on gentle discipline?
Bonnie: Great question. I speak to different groups, both secular and Christian, about home education and family life. I discovered that it is often an “aha” moment for parents (it certainly was for me) to find out that they are not limited to ignoring behaviour or securing cooperation through consequences or rewards. There is another way; to disciple, to show, to walk beside.
Probably the most significant thing I’ve learned from the way that I’ve approached education is that it is both sustainable and effective. It was through that attitude about education that I learned I can also discipline more effectively by creating an atmosphere of joy, and “walk beside” my children rather than trying to change their behaviour through a system of rewards or consequences. I felt called to share what has worked in my family, and of course, in doing that, what hasn’t worked. Our mistakes are as formative as our successes.
TKM: You also share stories and advice on a blog. When and why did you start blogging?
Bonnie: I started blogging about four years ago. I didn’t actually know blogging existed before that. It’s when I got my first computer. Seriously. I’m late to the party on these things.
Mainly I started blogging because the need to write burns within me. I never actually thought my blog would be anything more than a personal account of my life through cynical social commentary and cute stories about my children. Then I started getting followers I didn’t know. Oddly enough, many of them were young women, and I started speaking to that audience in what I was writing. To encourage, to inform, to lighten things up.
A fun thing happened, though. Because I started writing regularly, it built up the habit. Writing my books was easy, the writing flowed naturally and I didn’t get overwhelmed by the idea of “a project.” I don’t know if I would have ever started the Homeschooling, Simplified series if I hadn’t first developed the habit of writing regularly.
TKM: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Just one other thing. This book on discipline isn’t a homeschooling book, intentionally. Partly because I cover a lot of “managing behaviour” in my homeschool series, but mainly because it is such a universal problem. We love our kids, and we want the best for them, but so often our discipline doesn’t look or feel loving. That’s why I want to talk about discipleship and what Christ has given us in both guidance and grace to accomplish the task of raising children lovingly and with dignity, for children and parents.
Thanks, Bonnie, this interview has been a great opportunity for me so sift through my own thoughts!
Bonnie Landry is the author of the Homeschooling, Simplified series (How to Read a Book So It Becomes the Curriculum, Writing with Children, Chocolate Chip Math, Dictation, What Matters Most). She speaks at homeschooling events around British Columbia and has a great sense of humour (reading her blog always makes me laugh). She is also a breastfeeding advocate.