Christine Echeverri, California, USA
Instagram @carriershellcurriculum and Facebook
Tell me about yourself, what you do, your hobbies, your family, etc.
I have 3 children, ages 11-16. For fun, as a family we camp in many places in California, catch live motorsport racing, and travel abroad as often as we can. Additionally, I am a painter and dabble in film.
A native Angeleno, I grew up steeped in experiences that gave me a deep appreciation for cultural diversity. As a child, my education covered a wide spectrum of options, from private school to public visual arts magnets. I went on to receive a B.A. in World Arts and Cultures from UCLA and a M.A. in Economics from Cal State L.A.
I credit my mother and grandmother for exposing me as a child to the richness of California’s cultures and environment through private art lessons, museum trips, and countless other explorations. My grandmother imparted to me a sense of wonder and enchantment about the world. She provided a living example of putting one’s passion into action as driven solely by curiosity. She tirelessly explored the culture, history, and geology of southern California.
What inspired you to develop your own curriculum and ultimately a business?
After having kids in public school, and seeing all that they did not cover, I decided I wanted to be a part of the solution. Once I began homeschooling, I could not find many of the resources I was looking for. I set my mind to write and publish my own curriculum, California Out of the Box. In the end, it was not finding what I was looking for that motivated me.
How do you find balance and time for self-care as you do ALL of things?
Over the years I have learned to accept my limits — that I am here for my family first, and then friends and others. Each week I take one day off of emails, teaching, etc. Additionally, for my online classes, every 6-7 weeks we take 1 week off, which is very helpful in giving much-needed time for my own family and striking out on our adventures.
Describe your homeschool style in 3 words
routine, easy, adventurous
What made you decide to homeschool your kids?
The public schools are largely uninteresting, especially at the upper elementary level, where learning can be so magical if there is space for it.
Were there any books or websites that helped influence your decision?
The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer
Educator and writer John Taylor Gatto
Counter-cultural thinker Charles Eisenstein
What is your greatest struggle when it comes to homeschooling?
There are so many choices, sometimes it can be overwhelming!
How has your homeschooling changed over the years?
It has become more simple every year. I realized that I did not need to teach every little thing because my kids would learn it eventually. Being together, having space in our schedule, was more important than learning every fact. I have begun incorporating more games and fun projects, even if they were not directly related to our curriculum. I also started using Google Classroom with my kids, and went to a 4-day per week schedule, where my kids simply did routine lessons each day; much less guesswork and stress with this approach! It seemed to work well for 5th and 8th graders.
If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
Take more deep breaths. It’s not about perfection. Love what you study and your kids will love it too!
In a perfect world, what would your ideal homeschool day look like?
More projects—and visual art expressions.
But in reality, what does your typical day really look like?
My kids independently start their work. They know what they need to do. They get it done.
What are your best homeschooling memories thus far?
Learning California history 4 years ago with my kids, studying bio, botany, and astronomy and realizing that I was learning much more deeply as I was homeschooling my kids. I was a student too!
Name your top 3 favorite books to read to your kids?
By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman
Sir Charlie: Chaplin, the Funniest Man in the World by Sid Fleischman
What do you hope to instill in your children?
I hope that they will feel accepted for who they are, as they are. I do not expect my children to be me — I know they may not paint, author books, or be as eclectic as I am. And that is fine. They have so many other talents and gifts. I’ve never felt I am trying to get my children to live my hopes and dreams. I am too busy living them myself!
Any thoughts on the growing diversity, or perhaps lack of, in your homeschool community?
More diversity would be good! I think in some ways the diversity is getting better, but in other ways, there is still a perception that homeschoolers are only conservative Christians.
How can we, as homeschoolers, lift each other up?
Accept each group and subgroup for who they are.
Finally, what tips would you like to share to help a new homeschooler thrive?
Be wary of perfectly mapping out your school year, as you may be disappointed! I would suggest getting some large strokes going, but don’t focus on the particulars, or feel that you are simply behind if you do not get through it all each year.
Also—watch overdoing it on ordering curriculum and classes! It’s funny I would say that as a curriculum author. Too many rigid or overwhelming demands will only stress you out, which will stress your student(s) out. Less is more!