Eps 491: Motivating homeschooled teens with Maren Goerss and Angela Sizer

Episode 491

Listen to the episode here.

My guests today are Maren Goerss and Angela Sizer – two former school teachers who both chose homeschooling for their families (and created an awesome podcast & book about it!).  We get right into it today, jumping into collaborating with your teen around their learning, lasting effects to the homeschool community post-Covid, and what to do if you don’t mesh well with the homeschool community in your area. 

We hit on a lot during this episode: school refusal, “optimally” scheduled days, trusting our children to know what’s best for them, disinterested (discouraged) learners, who teens are earning their grades for, leaning into your strengths as a parent and home educator, and saying no to things that don’t matter to your family.  

We wrap up this week on homeschooling our kids with learning differences or who are neurodivergent.  Check out Maren and Angela’s new book, “Think Differently about Learning,” to dig in even further to Homeschool Unrefined!  

Guest Description

Maren Goerss and Angela Sizer created the podcast Homeschool Unrefined back in 2016 to share their experience and knowledge as educators and homeschoolers while encouraging parents to notice how their children are always learning.  Their podcast, and now book, are a call to parents to reconsider their expectations of their children and themselves.  They advocate for doing less, leaning into strengths, and enjoying the process.  Their new book, “Think Differently about Learning” comes out June 18, 2024.  

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Takeaways from the show

  • Collaborating with your child on their education 
  • Finding community for homeschooled teens 
  • Asking kids for their opinion 
  • Homeschooling shifts post-Covid
  • What can you do when you don’t mesh well with the homeschooling community in your area? 
  • “Think Differently about Learning” book 
  • Children deserve to be trusted & deserve authority over their choices 
  • What can we do with our disinterested (discouraged) teens? 
  • Grades – who & what are they for? 
  • Leaning into your strengths as a teacher 
  • Homeschooling kids with neurodivergence or learning differences 
  • Accepting our teens (and making sure they know it)

What does joyful courage mean to you


For me, it means having the courage to be authentically yourself in whatever way that means.  – Angela 


Joyful courage: to me, it means a lot of letting go.  There’s so much potential for joy in letting go if you’re able to do it and let go.  Trust your kids, trust the process, and trust yourself.  – Maren



Homeschool Unrefined Website 

Homeschool Unrefined Podcast 

“Think Differently about Learning” Book 

Joyful Courage – Episode 112: Following our Kid’s Lead with Homeschool Unrefined 

Homeschool Unrefined on YouTube 

Homeschool Unrefined on Instagram 

Homeschool Unrefined on Facebook

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Classes & coaching

I know that you love listening every week AND I want to encourage you to dig deeper into the learning with me, INVEST in your parenting journey. Casey O'Roarty, the Joyful Courage podcast host, offers classes and private coaching. See our current offerings.


kids, homeschool, love, homeschooling, child, parents, good, work, grades, adolescent, school, year, talk, important, refusal, learning, strengths, adults, feel, book
Angela Sizer, Maren Goerss, Casey O'Roarty

Casey O'Roarty 00:02
Hey, welcome to the joyful courage podcast a place for inspiration and transformation as we try and keep it together. While parenting our tweens and teens. This is real work people and when we can focus on our own growth, and nurturing the connection with our kids, we can move through the turbulence in a way that allows for relationships to remain intact. My name is Casey O'Roarty, I am your fearless host. I'm a positive discipline trainer, spaceholder, coach and the adolescent lead at Sproutable. I am also the mama to a 20 year old daughter and 17 year old son walking right beside you on this path of raising our kids with positive discipline and conscious parenting. This show is meant to be a resource to you and I work really hard to keep it real, transparent and authentic so that you feel seen and supported. Today is an interview and I have no doubt that what you hear will be useful to you. Please don't forget sharing truly is caring. If you love today's show, please pass the link around snap a screenshot posted on your socials or texted to your friends. Together we can make an even bigger impact on families all around the globe. I'm so glad that you're here. Enjoy the show.

Casey O'Roarty 01:35
And now we are side, it's all good. Yay. So talk to me, we started chatting a little bit before I hit record. But talk to me about this new book and how it has come to be and the process and all of it. Tell me about this book.

Maren Goerss 03:21
So you know, writing a book has probably always been on our bucket list. And we but I always thought I thought it was a far off dream. And I was approached by the publishers and they were great. And they were like, I'd love you to write this book. And then we thought, this is a combination, this can be a combination of all of our, you know, all the things we've talked about on the podcast over the years. And also, we get to even dive deeper because it's a book and we have more than 15 or 30 minutes to really talk about something. And so we really deep dive some of our, you know, best ideas, and we wanted it to be a book that felt very affirming to everyone who reads it, whether you're homeschooling, whatever you're choosing for education, and just to feel like, you know, you're rocking it as a parent. And there's a lot of hard things that are happening. And we're here to help kind of guide you through a lot of choices. So. Yeah, it's

Angela Sizer 04:22
really, you know, I would call it supportive and, we have a lot of ideas about education and learning and parenting and how to connect with your kids. But it's also pretty practical. It's balanced in that way. If you do homeschool, we have some ideas to guide you through that. But we want you to feel affirmed when reading it. We really want you to feel like you know, you should be relaxing and being more of yourself and focusing on connection with your kids. And that can guide you through whatever educational choice you make. Yeah,

Casey O'Roarty 04:56
and you're both if I'm remembering right you are Are both former teachers? Yes. Right. So you've had time in the classroom? You know the system? Yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 05:06
Although, when were you teachers? Because I know, it was a different role.

Angela Sizer 05:12
Yeah, it was a different world.

Casey O'Roarty 05:13
It was a different world back in the early 2000s is when I was a teacher for a few years. Yeah. So just acknowledging that everyone, but you know, you have the schooling and you have the experience of being in the classroom, and then you chose to homeschool your kiddos. And now, are they all in traditional school? So will you just share a little bit about the journey you've been on? Because I think that's really key, and gives you such a broad lens for writing a book like this, for sure.

Maren Goerss 05:42
Yeah, definitely. And we really try to bring a lot of balance in the book to where we don't just bash school. It's not terrible place. And same with Homeschool, like, there are a lot of good and bad things about both. And we chose homeschool for a while. And then, you know, really, it was kind of cold deciding with our kids, that it was time for school to, it's kind of like we say we have this homeschool mentality, no matter where our kids are going, you know, what they're doing for school, because, you know, we're utilising the same principles, as a parent as a family. And, you know, when COVID had, we felt very, very, you know, isolated for a couple of years, it was so difficult. We were dealing with mental health stuff and lots of stuff. And, you know, when our kids talk to us about for me when you know, kids talk to me about, you know, the possibility of going to school post COVID. Because they just really felt like they needed that at that time. And I just thought, well, you know, we've been working on critical thinking skills, and knowing yourself and figuring out how to take care of yourself and all these things. And this is things that they've learned about themselves, and about how they want to interact in this world. This is what they've decided, and I just kind of decided, like, who am I to say, Well, no, you can't do that. That's that part of my philosophy at all. So, you know, it was the right thing to do for sure at the time. And it's been a good choice, for sure. Awesome.

Casey O'Roarty 07:06
I love that collaboration. How did it unfold for you and your kids? Angela?

Angela Sizer 07:11
Really, similarly. I mean, we'd started out, you know, I was a teacher. So, and I didn't know much about homeschooling. So I was, you know, I had some preconceived notions about homeschooling. And then my child, you know, needed something different at age five, as I started, like researching it. And so it was a big surprise for us to like, jump into homeschooling. And we did that for a while, it was really good. I think, keeping it real. I think, you know, one of the basis of, like, my educational philosophy, I know, mine, too, is our kids having agency choice and what they're learning and how they're learning. And that's really one of the benefits of homeschooling. And so we really tried to do that throughout and see my children as, you know, whole human beings who, you know, learn very differently than I do and have different needs and strengths and weaknesses, and whatever. And so we really tried to honour that throughout their homeschool journey. You know, COVID was such a big thing, you know, can disrupt third.

Casey O'Roarty 08:08
Yes, it disrupter had said lovely term. Yeah,

Angela Sizer 08:11
you know, it was pretty obvious to me and them that my kids needed to get out. And like, have some consistent, regular interactions, after being at home. Also, like where we live in Minnesota. as kids get older. It was really hard for us to find community as our kids turned into teenagers in the homeschool world. There's a lot of young homeschoolers. So yeah, it was okay, when they were younger, then as they got older, it coincided with COVID happening. And it was like, you know, if our kids want good community, it's gonna have to be in the school. And that was totally, it was a obvious choice for them and me for their mental health, like they needed to get out. And I understood that. And so yeah, I feel like we all still kind of have this homeschool, who we call it a homeschool mentality. But really, it's like, you know, choice in your own learning. Like my kids know that if it's not working for them, we can try something else. And there's a lot of options. And so they're in it, because it's their choice and they want to be which is a different feeling than Yeah, some traditional school kids. Right.

Casey O'Roarty 09:20
Yeah. And it's so interesting how, like, you don't have to have the homeschool journey in your back pocket to hold that mentality. Yeah. No, absolutely. I think it's so easy to slide into the idea that of just like, kind of go along with it like, well, this is how it is. So you gotta just do it. Yeah, too bad. But it is the requirements and even inside of like, okay, these are the requirements. How can we make it work for you? Yeah, right, like any of us can put that mentality on and it's such a different message, and a different way to hold hold space for our kids and it totally as I listened to the two of you, so you must just have no power struggles ever. Just kidding, I know I'm sure that you do. But I mean, collaboration is also really messy. But it is a different kind of messy. It's not like, Oh, you're my adversary, I need to push back against you. It's like, just kind of that weight of like, oh, I have a voice, which is great. And sometimes it's challenging to have a voice like, Oh, you want my opinion, like, I'm supposed to have an opinion about this. So of course, it's messy. And I just I really appreciate that child centeredness. Without it being like, because I think the whole child centred movement can also go into an unhealthy place to share, but it sounds really healthy. Everything that you guys are doing. Yeah,

Maren Goerss 10:54
yeah. I mean, you know, like, Angela, you were just mentioning this, like, we often, you know, I think sometimes in traditional parenting, probably and in schools, like, we don't always ask our kids those questions. What do you think? How do you feel? What do you want to do? You know, until it's go time until it's like, when you're 18, then you're like, Okay, well go figure it out. You like, go make some really important decisions that you're gonna affect the rest of your life. It's just so you know, they're not in practice a little bit out, and practically, they're not gonna practice. So they need to gradually get to that place where they can evaluate themselves and the world around them and their strengths and their values, and all of those things so that they can not that they need to know what they're going to do even within writing, but that they may have some ideas or some choices that they don't feel completely overwhelmed by being an adult. When you become an adult, you know,

Casey O'Roarty 11:56
yeah, it's overwhelming enough.

Casey O'Roarty 11:58
It is. So yes,

Casey O'Roarty 12:00
the baby adults, I love baby adults. But yeah, I have questions for you guys about homeschooling specifically. And I'm wondering, well, I'm going to ask them, and we'll just have a discussion about it. So my first question for you guys was just what has been the shift. So I heard Angelo, I think it was you that said, your kids, it felt like they kind of aged out as far as their community, the adolescent community of homeschoolers. Yeah. What else did you notice as far as shifts in the homeschool community since COVID? or have there been any?

Angela Sizer 12:35
Well, I mean, going through COVID was hard for us. understatement. And Dave, it's so

Casey O'Roarty 12:41
annoying for all of the regular parents to be like, we're all school parents now. Well,

Maren Goerss 12:47
actually, no, we were excited. I was excited about that.

Angela Sizer 12:49
I was excited about it. But also, like, wasn't what we do. You know, it was, it was different.

Angela Sizer 12:55
Yeah. So I think that was, you know, for the first year, months to year, that's what happened. But also it brought more people into homeschooling. So there was a lot of people who decided to homeschool because they tried it. And then they liked it. And they wanted to keep doing it. There's just a lot of shifts. I would say there were people like us who, after a couple of years, were like, Oh, our kids need to go to school. Yeah. And so I just think a lot of things shifted for people, because it was a big disrupter. I would say also, unfortunately, I think, you know, like, in a lot of different communities, you know, some lines were drawn, which was really unfortunate, because, you know, things got messy, contentious and messy. Yeah,

Casey O'Roarty 13:36
no, it was just like, Article beliefs. And things are like, our God

Angela Sizer 13:39
requires masks. Our group doesn't want to ask our group requires vaccinations, our group doesn't allow it, you know, right. It just was it just became really hard. It became hard. And so I think some of that has lasted. You know, I think some of those things might have been there before, but they were like, a little bit more under the surface. And then now they're like, out there. Yeah. And I think that that has been challenging. And then, you know, just our kids getting older, like some things really are important to us, like an inclusive environment is super important. And, you know, there's some homeschool groups that are not super inclusive. And so maybe they're present in your area, but you don't want to go to them. You don't want to go to them. So like as a homeschool parent, it's hard. We do this, you know, all the time. We're like, we're trying to start groups and like, you know, gather people together. Oh, find your people. And yeah, once you get to the high school years, it kind of gets your kids don't want you to do that. They want to like be in charge of finding their own friend.

Casey O'Roarty 14:43
They don't want to play date. No,

Angela Sizer 14:45
they don't want to be set up.

Maren Goerss 14:47
By moms

Casey O'Roarty 14:48
by their by their amalinks. Yeah, that makes Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Would you add anything more into that?

Maren Goerss 14:55
I don't know. I think that was well said. Angela. Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think it was just always kind of I mean, homeschooling you know was the social myths of homeschooling, it was kind of ala carte all the time. You know, it wasn't like, you know, a school is an all in one offering. And with homeschooling, it's all a cart. So playdate here, Co Op here, you know, you got basketball here are, you know, music lessons, that's where you find your people, right wherever you go. But like, when all of those things shut down, it was like, Oh, my goodness. Now there's the all in one, you know, maybe even had like zoom calls that that that was okay, that wasn't fun for anybody. But, you know, maybe there was some sort of like, let's meet at the park or something. We didn't even have that. Right. You know, like, it was just Yeah. So we just felt very, very, very isolated. It was really tough. Yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 15:44
So something that I know, because I, I mean, I experienced it pre COVID. But I guess that's what I experienced. But I have a lot of clients. I know a lot of parents that talk about school refusal, as well. And do you know of a lot of people like is, is homeschooling a solution to school refusal? Do you find that there's a lot of families where it's just the kids? Yeah, definitely. I mean, are there school refusers? That are homeschool kids? When

Angela Sizer 16:13
you say school refusal? I don't know. I've never heard that.

Maren Goerss 16:16
Oh, yeah, it's a big Angela.

Angela Sizer 16:17
Oh, okay. What is that? Well, I

Maren Goerss 16:19
mean, and I wouldn't call it a refusal, I would call it you know, like, that's the technical thing. No, I mean, there's I don't like it, though. I don't like it. Okay. I think it's, to me, it's again, it's kind of like, well, what's going on? What's underneath the school refusal? Right, for sure. Why is the avoidance there? I also think like, sometimes refusing

Casey O'Roarty 16:39
to go to school. Yeah, yeah. case you haven't caught on yet? Sure. I

mean, I pick Yes, yes, exactly. Well, yeah, exactly. And the great thing about homeschool is you can decide like, it's really important to listen to the kid and say, Well, you know, it's okay to say, Listen, if five days a week, eight, six to eight hours a day is too much for you, you know what's gonna work, maybe you do only mornings, you know, or maybe only were, you know, do a little bit of work in the afternoons or you do three days a week or something. And then or school just looks way different school gas, so different. So whatever the underlying cause of that I would, you know, in quotations refusal be, you know, I think that there's so many ways to kind of like, support the child in that versus Yeah, judge the child and saying, How can we get you to do this thing that the state has decided you need to do? No idea who you are and what you need.

Casey O'Roarty 17:41
Yeah. And even as we talk about it, and I think about that phrase, school refusal? Yeah, like, really what I experienced and what I've heard other people experiences, mostly the refusal is like, I refuse to go be a part of that environment. It's not learning refusal. Yeah. Yeah, necessarily. It's, you know, this. Yeah, for whatever reason, you know, that typically, anxiety has taken hold. And I know for Rowan, it was like, survival. She is totally I cannot go be in these environments. Because yeah, her anxiety was through the roof. But it wasn't about learning. Exactly.

Maren Goerss 18:18
And I have a child who, who I mean, even my youngest, the one who wanted to go to school love most, and also the one who, like, needs to stay home the most. And so there's this tug, there's this poll, like, I need to almost prove to myself that I can do this. And then also, it's so hard for me, and this is, you know, it's almost like I have to face my biggest fear every day. Not really, but you

Casey O'Roarty 18:48
know, it's like, kind of real relevant, you know, yeah, in so

even like, when she went to school, we put in her IEP, that she would, you know, be able to stay home, like, once a week, at least, you know, or something, because we were like, listen, we know, realistically, it's gonna happen anyway. So why don't we just put it in the plan, because that really is the best thing for her right now. Four days a week is what she can handle. Yeah. And

Casey O'Roarty 19:14
I love that too. Like that. It's written into the plan. And then it doesn't sit as this thing, like, well, she can only make to school four days a week. So this is a problem. But instead, like, hey, totally, she's gonna make it four days a week, and we're gonna have this day that's kind of like a blue a day, and we'll see what happens. Like it's such, again, such a different mindset and such different messaging that exists. Yes, yeah. Right. Yeah, it's amazing. I

mean, realistically, school is not, I mean, how our kids are all doing this blows my mind because really, most kids are not thriving, right? That environment, you know, they might be like really masking or just doing they're holding it together all day long. Or, you know, surviving it and Yeah, so the ones who are outspoken about it, I admire that because, you know, they're being honest about what they need. Yeah, yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 20:14
Okay, let's talk about your book. I grabbed a quote that I love to because that chapter and you've already kind of touched on this Angela around seeing our children as human, but a concept. But I loved this piece that I grabbed, which is as human beings, you, right? children deserve to be in charge of their own time bodies and interactions. They deserve to be in control of how they spend their days. They deserve time to develop passions and interests. They deserve to spend time doing things. adults consider wasteful and unworthy. They deserve to be welcome in all spaces as their whole selves. We know this sounds radical, but we don't believe it should be. Or maybe the idea is not as extreme. But the practice of it. Sure. Is. I love this quote, I think it's so spot on. And yeah, why is this such a novel idea?

Casey O'Roarty 21:10
Right? Gosh,

Angela Sizer 21:12
I mean, I feel like children are one of the most overlooked groups. I mean, I don't know if I believe that for sure. But I mean, I really do think that they are tied, most overlooked to groups, like we think it's good parenting, or we think it's acceptable to control course, demand xpect things have children, and we simply would not do that to adults. And so it is radical, it feels radical to really try and practice what we know that children are humans and give them that agency and autonomy that they deserve. And, you know, that involves, like, things that we might consider good, good things like, oh, playing or hanging out with friends or being social or whatever dressed or Yeah, but it also involves things that we like, looked down upon, like wasting time or being on their phone, like, you know, whatever. Because we do that, you know, adults do that. And we, and it's okay, it's good. You know, you don't have to have these perfectly scheduled, lino laid out days, you know, optimised. They deserve what we get to, you know,

Casey O'Roarty 22:26
yeah, yes. Yeah.

And we often, you know, use our power as adults to, you know, we kind of overuse it to make decisions, because it's easier, or, you know, it's how we grew up, or things like that. But if we're being real honest about it, we're not giving our kids the chance to kind of think for themselves and understand who they are, and, you know, make decisions and feel really accepted. Yeah, just as they are today. Yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 22:59
Why think it's so funny, right? Because depending on the temperament of your kids, I know that there are parents out there with who have kids that come out. Super strong willed. Yeah. And then there's parents that, yeah, hi. And then there's these kids that are more easygoing, or present that way. And so we like at the start from the get go, we have this illusion of being the directors and of having the control and it doesn't serve us parents, because eventually, adolescence shows up. Right, right. And either our kids continue to be easygoing enough and then make their way out in the world and feel that freedom like I did, and go crazy. Yeah, through, or there's just this intense head butting that's happening throughout adolescence, which can be really damaging when we draw that line in the sand and we get in that fighter stands as parents, it can really damage what could be a future relationship with that child. Yeah, totally. Yeah.

And from positive discipline, Casey, I like to talk to my clients too, about like asking them, What would you like to see, you know, your children be like as adults? What characteristics would like to see in them and like, yeah, what kind of relationship would you like to have with them? And then we kind of can backwards and talk about like, how do we foster that right now?

Casey O'Roarty 24:25
Yeah. How do we practice that right, practising? Yeah, and it's a lot of it is modelling.

It doesn't happen by magic. It doesn't just happen. Yeah,

Casey O'Roarty 24:35
it doesn't happen because we've somehow finagle the environment in a way that is produced straight A's, right? Like,

whatever, right? Like no, that's

Casey O'Roarty 24:47
not necessarily developing the life skills that they know will need to have to be in successful relationships and advocacy for themselves and all of those things. So I love that quote. Yeah, yeah. Tell me more about this chapter like what was important to you to start the book with? Like, what was the inspiration there to start the book here? Yeah,

I think it's the basis of everything that we're doing. And I know everything you're you're doing to it doesn't really matter where your kids go to school. That's not really what it's about. It's about respecting their journey, their personhood, their agency. And I felt like we felt like, you know, like we said, it's obvious, but it's not really. And so it felt like the foundation if we didn't say it, it felt like there would be a lot missing or something missing, like what's really here. And we feel like this is the basis it is a children deserve to be trusted. They deserve to be given authority over what they were, what they're doing with their time, you know, all the things that you said, Yeah. And then that can bleed. And that affects everything else. It affects your relationships, it affects your connection. It affects how you work together, it affects whatever they're doing in school, which is a lot of their childhood. Yeah,

Casey O'Roarty 26:08
yeah. I feel like this chapter could be at the start of the positive discipline book, too.

Yeah, totally. Yes, absolutely. Yeah. I feel like from everything that I learned from my positive discipline training to is just so in line with this book, I mean, it really is kind of like, probably interwoven in the whole thing. Yeah, that's what I

Angela Sizer 26:30
feel like our book is like, it feels like a parenting book that's kind of about education. Yes. About being a human. That's got a little bit of homeschooling in it. Exactly.

Casey O'Roarty 26:41
It's just like, relation for everybody. Yeah. Relation lating, in the context of learning is really what? Yeah, thank you. Thank you very much. Now I have, and I'm curious what you think about this. So I have a lot of families. And I know that, well, I'm just gonna say this, I have a lot of families who aren't necessarily navigating like, you know, their challenge isn't like creating more space for their kids to develop their passions, what they're challenged with, is having adolescents teenagers that are seemingly really uninterested in anything. And really, I think, at that point, deeply discouraged. Right. And so and I know that you talk about mental health in your book, too. I think it's so what I noticed, and what I experienced was the both and like, a little bit of pressure around, this isn't how it should look and a timeline, right, like, we get really attached to the timeline, while also just really nervous about what is going on with my kiddo that they can't do the things. I

would say, you know, and I know, you know, this, see that, you know, our adolescents, dopamine levels are baseline lower than ours, you know what I mean? So, in general, they may be just a little less interested in life, during the adolescent years, possibly, you know, I'm not gonna say that, that's a blanket statement. But that is not out of the realm, to just be sure uninterested in anything. Also, there's a really important thing that's happening in adolescence, which is they're separating themselves from their parents. And it's so important. I mean, if they didn't do that, they'd be living in your house, your life, nobody wants that. Nobody wants that. So when our kids are learning things, when anybody is learning something, number one, they practice it a lot. Like on the top of their mind, at the top of their mind, they're doing it all the time. And they're not going to do it well, at first. And so they're separating themselves from us. And so sometimes it looks really disrespectful. It looks like they hate their family, maybe it looks like they, you know, don't want to see you ever or they may just be saying no to everything you're asking because they're practising separating from you. And it just looks like the hate everything. But really, they're just doing this new skill now.

Angela Sizer 29:17
That's good. Yeah. I feel like there's so many things going on. Like, as you're asking that question, I was thinking about, like, five different things like somebody's happening, you know, mental health is really important. And something that should be, you know, taken seriously and looked at, and I think that could be what's going on for your child. And we've both experienced that. But also, like, you know, again, back to COVID. I feel like COVID was like, Yeah, this is such a nightmare. Right? And also, we had that social media, okay, yeah. And then we have like, phones and stuff, like that's all new. And I just feel like we're going through this big change as a culture, you know, and yeah, with a lot effect, like just a lot of factors and we are all just doing our best to navigate it us found that. Yeah, and it's just so so so so much. The other thing I was thinking about I don't want to forget is when you say kids are uninterested in things like I would challenge who's ever say that to ask yourself like, are they uninterested in anything? Or is it just the things that you want them to be interested in? You know, maybe they're really interested in gaming

Casey O'Roarty 30:20
or something. Yeah. likes to sit in Instagram, and take our

Instagram, posting on social media, which is really connecting with friends, which is really duper age appropriate.

Yeah, not be interested in tennis anymore, or the thing that they mass or really interested in? Yeah, a year ago, might be different, though. It might not be on the list, right?

Casey O'Roarty 30:41
I just crack up because I have a couple of clients who have like early high school, like a freshman or sophomore, and yeah, they're like, their grades are slipping, they've always had these great grades. I was like, Oh, you mean, getting fours in fifth grade, like, they always had as if there's been this long career of, you know, the effective assessment, you know, and now everything's falling apart. But it's so interesting how we, adult humans, like, we feel so safe. And we latch on to these indicators. And we put so much weight in these indicators, things like grades and achievement and outcome and things that we can see and feel and touch.

Maren Goerss 31:22
It's too much pressure. It's too much pressure for a 13 year old. Yeah, you know, to have such high stakes for like, you know, they just don't want to do their, you know, English report. Well, and

Casey O'Roarty 31:34
it's such an interesting thing, because I think they can get, like if our kids are performing, then it's almost like, oh, well, I'm not going to worry about this other stuff, because at least they're getting the grades. Yeah. Which equally, I think is damaging. A kid who's doing all right, but you know, it's like the grade the performance piece isn't where they shine. And all of a sudden, it's like, overly over concern. And over emphasising this one domain, it's just so fascinating to me to be an observer of

Yeah, and you know, if you have a ninth grader, or 10th, grader or whatever, who's not concerned about their grades, I

Casey O'Roarty 32:15
mean, I would Hi, welcome to all of us

think differently about that? Because like, maybe they are really critically thinking like, is this important, right? It's not an I'm going to focus on things that I'm interested in, or things that I think are important, I'm not going to follow your prescribed system. And I think that is so good. That's what we want, like we want. I'm not saying every kid is like this, but we want kids to think critically, it is equally damaging to have a child who's like straight is all the way through, because you know that they are really trying to, you know, perform or yeah, do the right journal validation. Yeah. And, you know, I was that way. So I know, like, yeah, look

Casey O'Roarty 32:53
at you, you're a mess. You're a mess, Angela.

No, just kidding. You know, there's there, I had a lot of anxiety that I didn't know why. Because I was trying to do the right thing all the time. You know, it doesn't necessarily mean that that child is doing well. Yeah, right. There's a lot

and if they're only doing, you know, getting the A's, so that they can avoid the annoyingness of their parent, or, you know, the teachers bugging them all the time or getting the accolades for it. That's their only reason for it. They're not doing it for their own internal, you know, motivation. They're not making the choice to do it themselves. And so you're always on top of it. Guess how many times I've checked Schoology this year? I could count on one hand, I just can't hear I can't hear you. So if I do then it's about me. That helped me getting them to get the grade that I want them to get, right. Just not going to play that game. I'm not playing that

Casey O'Roarty 33:48
game. Yeah. And that is brave. That's brave and bold, because I had to not look at it because I become a crazy person. If I look at it, and you know, especially my second one is about to graduate. Like, he needs to manage himself. Right? He's a college bound kid. He's, I'm not going to be checking I'm not going to be that parent. None of us should you checking his college grades a parent? No. And I get it because my other ones at college and I'm kind of dying. I'm like, so how are your grades? A little bit

Angela Sizer 34:25
different cuz you're paying for it.

Casey O'Roarty 34:26
Exactly. Yeah. Yes. And I'm not gonna go into the portal and use her past. Like contact the teacher because I don't think the grade is anyway. Right. Yeah. Talk about because, you know, like I've already mentioned or I might have mentioned since recording, I do have some homeschool parents in my listenership for sure. And most of the parents are, you know, with kids in traditional school environments. Is that the right way to say that out loud traditional school

Angela Sizer 34:58
advice that I

Casey O'Roarty 35:00
don't know. But I think the thing that all of us haven't, I mean, we have so many things in common. One of which is we're all just trying to do the best we can with the tools we have. So you write about rocking your strengths. So talk a little bit about how do we as parents are rock our strengths when it comes to being a leader and a guide in our teens education? Good question. Thank you. Well,

I think the more we can live fully into ourselves, you know, the better it is for everybody, whether it's a parent or the child, right, so like, our kids need to see us being ourselves. And so I think a lot of people come to homeschooling, and they have an idea of what they should do, or how they should be as a homeschool teacher, you know, like, we should be, you know, doing curriculum at the table six hours a day, or whatever, you know, they have a certain idea of what they think they should be doing. And really, what you should be doing is being you and doing the things that light you up, and inviting your kids into that. And also listening to what lights your kid up and, you know, partnering with them. And so like, if you really love like, one thing I really loved is like reading aloud. So I just love my books. I love sharing stories with the kids. I love teaching, because I didn't do voice.

Casey O'Roarty 36:21
I wondered, maybe

that's a skill. Yeah, that's like a performance. Yeah, that's for the theatre majors. But I love doing that. Because I love to read, I love to share that with the kids or whatever. And I think that's important. So I made that a part of our homeschool, I don't think everybody needs to do that. I think if you hate reading, you could do audiobooks, you could do it in a lot of different ways. I mean, I think if you love skiing, for example, and your family's a skiing family, you should do that. As much as you can show your kids that, you know, like my husband loves like hunting and travelling. And he just like loves showing the kids all of his stuff. And that's what's important there is they're connecting over something that he's super excited about. And so like if we can all just live into who we are show that to our kids, but not be like super rigid about like, you need to love hunting too, because I do, but just like I'm showing you this so we can connect and then you can show me the things that you're into and we can connect might be uncomfortable like because your kid might want to show you their Minecraft and it might be you know, make you dizzy,

Casey O'Roarty 37:28
or whatever. Funny that you brought up Minecraft because I had a family I worked with years ago at the Y and I remember the dad being like, all he wants to tell me about his Minecraft and I just don't care about Minecraft. And I was like, Listen, buddy, you get to care about Minecraft. Yeah, like it's designated. So low hanging fruit. Yes. Yeah, exactly. So yeah, yeah. And you know, when we do, and Maura and I know, you know this, we have an activity called the language of love and positive discipline. And the question that we ask to participants is think about an adult in your childhood, who you knew you matter deeply to? And what were the things they did or said that left you feeling that way and always on the list is they shared their interests with me, right. And that's really what I'm hearing you speak into really is like, as important as it is for us to know our kids, we also get to allow our kids to really know us, right? And that's such a big relational piece. Yep.

And then a big part of that is also being able to say no to things that are not on your list of maybe favourites or on your list of strengths to you know, like, it's really easy, especially with social media to look at all, you know, if you're homeschool, if you're looking at all the homeschool families, you know, with the playroom, or the learning room, like this chalkboard wall looks so cute and amazing. And that, you know, if that's not you, it can feel like a little bad sometimes or you know what, your kids are all playing together so nicely. You know, that's what you see. And then you look at your room and you're like, oh my gosh, disaster and my kids are fighting. Yeah, that can feel really bad. But sometimes it's you know, turning off unfollowing saying no to things that are just not going to work for you. Maybe there's a playgroup or something, you know, or a co op that's like, you know, my kid is just not jiving with us or it's just not working. You know, our strength as a family is hiking, and we could just spend this time hiking and just really be you know, living in that kind of in the zone for a couple hours versus like struggling through a club that is not necessarily Yeah, yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 39:42
I'm thinking about some good friends. I'm gonna send this episode to her so she can listen, whoever the last four or five years have lived on a sailboat, amazing along the coast of Central America, and they're getting ready to sail across the Pacific shout out to the Deschamps occurs my good friend, Marissa, Mike. And their two kids and their kids are like 10 and 13. Wow. And this, you know, so, like, the idea that we have to live inside of a box. We don't, we don't know. And I mean, I've kind of lived in the box, but that's okay, too. And so what about racking our strengths? When it's not necessarily a homeschool environment, but our kids are in traditional school? What does that look like? How can you kind of distil that down for the rest of us that are in the box? Yeah,

I would say to, you know, the more you can model that to, for your kids, when you are living in your own strengths, they're gonna be like, oh, I want to try that club, or I want to do this thing. And they're more open to trying things out. And a lot of times, that's a really good balance when you're in school, is to have something outside of school, especially when you're adolescent. It's like, you know, I think it's in an older book, simplicity, parenting, Kim John pain, he talks about how, you know, adolescents, teenagers, they're going to be intense about something, they are going to be intense about something. So like, help them find something, you know, positive to be intense. Thank you, there's a lot of not good things that are teenagers could be. So anyway, like, you know, it's a great thing to celebrate, like, rocking your strengths in whatever way that is. Maybe it's like skateboarding or something you don't something that they love to do, but just like celebrate all the great things that they're doing. And often that just comes from our kids mirroring or neurons in their brain is they're really strong. So when they see us doing those things, they just tend to do them. It's even stronger than any like, lesson you can try and teach them right. And so yeah, they're just watching you do that. That's awesome. So if you like to play the piano, go play the piano, like more often, if you love to, you know, knit I mean, what are the things that you're really good at? Just like do them and it's okay to think especially, maybe moms just socially, culturally, we have this mom guilt, often of like, Why can't go do these things? I have to pair it. I'm too busy. What

Casey O'Roarty 41:58
everyone? What do ya need to

see you doing things that you love to do? And they do that? Yeah, well,

Casey O'Roarty 42:07
and I love this because it's reminding me when we first moved up here to Bellingham, and there in our little community there was it a knitting crochet knitting group, and I crochet and I was like, You know what, I'm gonna go and I remember that night getting ready to go and saying out loud, like, I'm kind of nervous, you know, I'm gonna walk in, I don't know who I'm gonna meet. I don't know, if they're gonna like me, I don't know how I'm gonna feel. And I'm noticing like, it's making my belly kind of feel funny. And that little part of me is like, you know what, maybe I don't need to go do this, but I'm gonna do it anyway. Right? And, yeah, very much. Thank you is one of my more stellar moments. And then coming back and talking to the kids about like, yeah, it was awkward. And turns out, they weren't really my people, even though they all were knitters and crochet errs. And I'm really glad I went, right. I'm really glad that I went and stretched into that. And, you know, thinking about where my daughter was at at that time, which was not leaving the house, you know? And now where she is, I'm just going to take all the credit. No, I'm just kidding. But now, you know, like, she loves to text me and let me know, like, look what I did. Or listen to what I did listen to this, that I was in, and I did it anyway. And it is. It's awesome. It's awesome. So even our strengths, I think what I'm coming to is like, our ability, I think it's so important for our kids to see us uncomfortable, and to see us in our own like kind of struggle. And to see that is the human experience. It's not just something wrong with you that you feel any certain way. It's the way it feels to be a human.

Good. So good. loving parents.

Casey O'Roarty 43:51
Thank you. Thank you very much. Well, I want to talk about neuro divergence to you've both kind of alluded to having kiddos that were maybe clear indicators that the traditional school model wouldn't be useful for them. So how does neuro divergence come into this conversation around leadership and our kids education?

Well, you know, definitely we have neuro divergence is our family and this learning differences. The homeschooling was great, because our kids didn't feel bad about being neurodivergent. You know, and honestly, we didn't have even labels or names. When we decided to homeschool. We didn't know what the things were, we just I you know, I just kind of like, kind of listened to my gut at the beginning. Like, this seems like, you know, my kids would do well with a different learning model. And so that's where we started from and even as a teacher, I didn't have necessarily the words, right, you know, to really work back in there. You know, it's so true. It's so true. And so I do feel like when we homeschooled we definitely learned how like things that really We worked in for our kids, they learned that about themselves. This is how I learned best, I know that I need to, you know, maybe sit for 10 minutes and then run around for 20. You know, maybe we're working in the morning and resting in the afternoon and then playing the rest of it or, you know, like something, there's just like a lot to kind of, like, get to know about what we each need. And so, which is different, I think, then, you know, going to a traditional school where you're like, it's just such a big system. And it's hard to find the nuance in that. And so and there's like standards, and our nerdy, rigid kids don't as silly fit those standards, those are just, you know, there are a finite amount of standards. And usually, our Nerd division kids are kind of outside of the outside of that realm sometimes, and they're probably doing amazing things usually, like super bright, that may not be fitting those specific standards that that teacher is looking for, you know, on that day, or whatever. And so then they feel kind of less than or they Well, we got to figure out how to get you to that standard. It's sometimes kind of like, you know, in homeschool. We can just be like, well, we're not going to work on that standard right now.

Casey O'Roarty 46:16
It seems like the humaneness gets long. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Cuz we're trying to meet benchmarks and yeah,

exactly, yeah. And I think when you're neurodivergent, when your child is neurodivergent, that's just the most important thing to remember is that they're human, and that everybody is unique and unique individual. And so working with your child to figure out how they're going to learn best, what things they need, whether they're homeschooled or in traditional school, I think is super important. And you know, now that my kids are in school that has carried over, and it's hard, it's still hard to have your, you know, neuro divergence in a traditional school setting. However, our kids have language for the things that they need. And they feel really, because they felt success, and they feel more confident in who they are. So it feels like it's a little bit easier to be a good advocate for themselves. In the traditional setting us absolutely, with our support

Casey O'Roarty 47:11
black guy talk about a life skill, right? I mean, exactly, yeah. Yeah, big time. Big time. I had a friend of mine on Cindy Palmer, she runs a coaching programme for college students who are it's mostly ADHD, but neurodiverse college students that she came on the pod and talked about, like, what can we do better as we raise them up for this big transition? Because she's like, there's so much scaffolding during high school and earlier that kids get to college, and they don't know how, you know, and those are the clients. Right? And so really, it's really for parents, too. Yes, of course, scaffolding and how are you taking apart the scaffolding in a way that is leaving kids ready? Or to move into a different environment where you know, the ball is evermore in their court to do things, like you said, have the language to advocate for themselves? Yeah,

Maren Goerss 48:11
right. Exactly. That's so integral, because the learning differences aren't going to change. This is part of you, right. And so a lot of that isn't going to change. Of course, you can work on skills to prove it, you know, prove some things, but also, you know, you don't get rid of ADHD. Right, right. And so, advocacy and just going to find the support and figuring out what you need. It's so key. Yeah. And so I was, you know, I'm now telling my 17 year old who's also looking at colleges, and I'm like, my biggest regret in college was, like, not going to access all the services. There are which how many heard all about them on all the college tours that we got to? Yeah, a lot of services out there. Yeah. Yeah. And they were just they might not have been there when we were in college. I think a lot of them were. Yeah, I think a lot of them were I mean, in there. I'm sure they're more now.

Casey O'Roarty 49:04
Well, even just like tutoring for the Yes. Typically neuro? Anybody in Yeah,

Casey O'Roarty 49:10
yes, exactly. Yeah. Yeah.

I think also, unfortunately, or fortunately, or however you want to say it. Realistically, this is where the label or the diagnosis sometimes helps. Because, you know, then they're able to say like, I have ADHD, or I have sensory processing disorder, or whatever, rather than just talking about a list of the at all demands, demands symptoms. I don't know what Yeah, yeah. And because people are getting more educated, they know what ADHD is, are they you know, and so, I had to work hard to get some of my kids diagnosed, like, even as they were just before leaving for college, because I was like, you know, we're gonna be I know this is going to be important, because it's gonna give you language and it's gonna give, you know, people are gonna be able to understand better and it has been helpful. So

Casey O'Roarty 49:57
yeah, yeah, beautiful. Well, I want to Talk about relationship too. And you mentioned it at the top Angelyn. I think I gave like the cheering, you know, fist. Okay. But you know how important regardless of the educational environment that our kids are, in that that relationship piece, I think that, you know, if the goal is for our kids to experience being seen as a human as a whole, capable, human, resource, trusted human, that exists inside of building relationships with them, right? Yeah. And one of you said, used the word acceptance, and I'm just thinking about, you know, and not every kid, you know, the, the need for the experience of acceptance, we all have that need. And depending on, you know, our kids, sexual orientation, gender expression, neurodiversity, kids of colour, like there's layers to what that really means for them, and how they're able to present in the world and, and advocate for themselves and be willing to raise their hand, I just think it's, like, we have so much power as parents, when we remember, you know, one of the most important things we can do is to not just accept our kids, but be in relationship with them in a way where they feel the acceptance.

Yeah, it's huge. It's huge, because we don't always communicate that we may in our mind, think, of course, except my child for whatever,

Casey O'Roarty 51:42
we cringe every time they walk out in there. Exactly.

And that's what they see, what they see is your outward expression, right? And then that translates to you don't accept me, right? And it's like I said that dopamine is already low. So they see one look, and then they're like, oh, you know, yeah, yeah, you know, they take it to the next level there too. So it's so important connection, we have a whole chapter on connection, because it's that important. And it really, you know, infiltrates every single chapter that we write into, because we can't talk about anything else without connection. This is yes, the basis of a parent child relationship. It's how our kids feel secure. And when our kids feel secure, they are brave and are willing to put themselves out there in different situations, they're willing to take chances, they're willing to make mistakes, which is so key to learning, and very underrated, I would say, making mistakes, we often criticise kids for making mistakes when that's actually the best learning. Yeah. And our kids every time, there's a chance for us to criticise them, they're probably asking themselves in their minds, you know, what does my parents think about this? Or, you know, are they going to accept me for this? Are they going to accept me now? And even if you've, you know, had the best relationship up until this day, and something happens, they're still going to ask that question. Because that's just how their minds work. Yeah. And so they need to keep hearing that you accept them. And so there are things like something very small things that I've done since my kids were tiny, which is, every time they do something that could elicit a criticism, drop something, break something, you know, whatever it is, I immediately respond with, Oh, are you okay? Are you okay? You know, instead of like, what happened? Well, are you okay? So they understand that the mistake isn't the focus here,

Angela Sizer 53:51
you're the focus.

You know, I don't really care honestly, about the milk that spilled or whatever, you know, like, it's really about our relationship. That's what I care about. Some.

Casey O'Roarty 54:04
I just had a really funny visual of my 18 year old leaving all the dishes in the sink and me being like, are you okay? Are you okay? dishes aren't? Yeah, but I did that. And that's, I think that's a really good example of, like, of that energetic messaging that we give around what's important to us, right? And it's not always, you know, can be fostered by our language. But there's, you know, that get just, there's so much messaging that we deliver outside of language and in how we choose to use language and choose to ask questions, and I just, I really appreciate that. Yeah, totally. Ladies, thank you so much for hanging out with me today. I mean, I could talk to you for another hour. I

Casey O'Roarty 54:51
love talking with you, Casey.

Casey O'Roarty 54:53
I love talking to podcasters because like I feel like you're in my living room with me. We're just yeah. shooting the shit. It's awesome. It's great. So I don't know if I was asking this question when I interviewed you way back when but I ask it now so I'm going to ask it. What does joyful courage mean to you?

I would say for me it means and I've kind of already talked about this, but so that's my theme for today. Having the courage to be authentically yourself in whatever way that means.

Casey O'Roarty 55:26
Love it. Yes. Okay, and if

I can top that, okay, you don't have to okay competition. I'm not going to then I kind of try and have it. Joyful courage to me, I think is a lot of letting go because I there's so much potential for joy in letting go. Yeah, if you're able to do it, you know, if you're able to let go and trust your kids and trust the process, yeah, trust yourself. That's good.

Casey O'Roarty 55:52
Love it. Where can people find you and follow your work? Where's your book gonna be? Well,

the book will be everywhere books are sold. think differently about learning. It comes out June 18. You can preorder now. You can preorder now. And we have some bonuses. If people are interested. We have our website homeschool unrefined.com where you can find out all about that on our podcast homeschool, unrefined, which we have episodes out now. Yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 56:14
Awesome. All right. Ladies, thanks so much.

Angela Sizer 56:18
Thank you, Casey, for having us.

Casey O'Roarty 56:20
Yes, of course. I can't wait to talk again.

Thank you so much for listening in today. Thank you to my spreadable partners as well as Chris Mann and the team at pod shaper for all the support with getting the show out there and making it sound good. Check out our offers for parents with kids of all ages and sign up for our newsletter to stay connected at beasts brothel.com. Tune back in later this week for our Thursday show and I'll be back with another interview next Monday. Peace

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