We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Culberson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ashley, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?

A lot of people in the homeschool world are pretty adamant about not making homeschool like public school, but I have to disagree to an extent. My philosophy for my vision of homeschool is like a “co-schooling” mindset… a little bit of both. We still have the structure of the classroom, but it’s more relaxed. We still follow a schedule of what our day looks like, but we refer to it as our “rhythm”.  There’s more play time and outside time mixed into our day, but it’s just part of our natural every day flow. We still learn what their peers are learning in public school, but we go above and beyond based off of their personal likes and passions. I dabbled in curriculum while working in public schools, and the “what” or the “meat” of our state standards aren’t as bad as some people think. It’s actually a great, basic starting point to begin teaching your kids. Some people like to buy a nicely written, aesthetically pleasing, “research based” curriculum, but I prefer to start with my State Standards, choose what’s essential for my students to know, and facilitate where their learning takes them, without a fixed timeline to stop learning and move on to the next topic (which sometimes happens in public school). I think it’s all about finding a healthy balance that works for YOU and your family.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

I would say my career has been and always will be in education, it just grows and evolves every year. I started out as a first grade teacher in a great district and eventually became a reading interventionist and instructional coach. With marriage comes changes, so I switched over to another great district in the DFW area and taught second grade and kindergarten before I officially “retired” from public school and found myself in my dream job — a homeschool teacher. I feel like everything I’ve ever done as a teacher prepared me for where I am today. The teamwork, the friendships, the leadership, the curriculum, the students, the opportunities that come with being in charge of shaping the minds of the future, it all helped me become the teacher that I am today. No one truly knows what teachers go through, but having great coworkers and supportive leadership goes a long way and I am so lucky to have always had that. I am not one of those who would bash public education either, as there are good things that come from it. It works for some people, and I totally get that. I can honestly say I never thought about homeschooling my kids until I became a mom. That not only changed me as a person, but also changed me as a teacher. My heart felt things on another level, especially for those young kinder babies with summer birthdays. Being in the classroom, I was the biggest advocate for each of my students and would do anything to help them get to where they needed to be. A lot of teachers are like that and are really GOOD at what they do, however, a lot of teachers aren’t like that and that really scared me for my own child. I wanted to be her teacher, and I knew that deep down no one could do a better job than me, especially in her elementary years.  So that’s where my homeschooling dream sprouted. I tell people that only God could have orchestrated where I am now because it’s literally crazy. If we didn’t put our house on the market when we did, I wouldn’t have looked at a house, which wouldn’t have led me to meet this family, which wouldn’t have put my dream job into a reality situation. Along with teaching for this family and my own, my hope is to inspire, guide, and build community with those who are interested in homeschooling by providing inspiration and connection through my instagram @teachonmama. I do feel that homeschooling is on the rise and it’s worth looking into. There are very few things we can control, but our children’s education should be at the top of the list. My advice to anyone out there looking into homeschooling is to EXPLORE your options! You are capable of doing hard things, and you most definitely can do this.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?

That is such a loaded question because there’s so many great places! If I had a weekend…we would for sure start at Le Bon Temps in Deep Ellum for some beignets and a latte.  Then we would head over to Frisco and eat at the cutest place for mimosas and brunch at Heirloom Haul. They have the most precious set up for you and your daughter to have tea, too.  After that, we would head over to Flea Style to make our own hats at their hat bar. I had Everleigh and Vessel’s initials burned into my Stetson I designed and it was so special. I would have to show love to Fort Worth the next day, so we’d have lunch at Wabi House for the best ramen. They’ve got a super cozy patio, too. For dinner, we’d dress in a western theme *with our new hats from Flea Style* and have dinner at Lonesome Dove in the Stockyards.  We would of course have to squeeze in the best little gem in the metroplex and swing by Denton to visit the square. We’d have to stop by LSA Burger and sit on the patio upstairs for burgers, great local beer, and a good view. After that, we’d make a pit stop at Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Shop to get a couple scoops of ice cream before heading over to Atomic Candy to make a bag of candy to-go.  Before leaving, we’d swing by Norman Roscoe to check out some of their tees, too!  My husband and I both graduated from the University of North Texas, so Denton definitely holds a special place in our hearts.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?

I couldn’t have left everything I’ve ever known in my career to do what I’m doing now without the love and support from my husband, TJ. We were in the middle of a crazy season with putting our house on the market a month before we welcomed our son, Vessel, into the world. Our 3 year old daughter was finishing up her first soccer season and had her first dance recital coming up, and TJ was right in the middle of spring football. We sold the house in two days and were frantically looking for a new house next to our schools. Keep in mind this was when the market was CRAZY last spring. After looking at a house close to our school, and the owner finding out I was a teacher, I was approached about being a homeschool teacher to their kids. I told the family I would talk to my husband and get back with them. I’m sure I sounded absolutely crazy when I told him the idea of leaving my job to homeschool for a family I had just met and bringing my own kids to teach as well (my life dream), but Tj said, “If that’s what you want to do, I support you.” He also moved my classroom with 13 years full of memories, books, and resources, into our garage as a storage unit until my new building is finished. He would do anything for me and the feeling is mutual. Having that kind of support in life is essential.

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/teachonmama

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