2024 unConvention Speaker Spotlight: Michelle McCarthy, M.A.

Every homeschooler is different, and every homeschooling family looks different. But if your homeschooling experience looks different because you are homeschooling someone with special needs, Michelle McCarthy knows a thing or two (or three) about that. After being a homeschooling mom for over ten years teaching her 10 and 17 year old students with special needs, Michelle has learned so many invaluable tips and tricks along the way. She is also the fabulous owner of Brave Homeschooling Educational Services LLC, which offers Virginia homeschooled students proof of progress reports.

You can also find Michelle on YouTube where she has produced hundreds of videos as The Brave Homeschooling Mama. She covers so many of the topics and questions that those of us with students with special needs have, and also provides lots of great information for homeschoolers in general. Y’all, if you haven’t checked out her channel, you should absolutely head there right now! Well, not “now” now. Finish reading our interview with her first and then jump over to her channel. 

Speaking of interviews, we were so honored to be able to get some time with Michelle and have her answer a few of our questions on homeschooling, family life, and what the future holds. 

 

VAHomeschoolers: “How were you first introduced to the world of homeschooling? What were some of the factors that led you to decide to homeschool your family?”

Michelle McCarthy: “Many of my friends were homeschooling their kids when I lived in Arizona. I realized that they were not weird, and their kids were flourishing. So, when my daughter started school and I saw she was struggling, I knew I had to give homeschooling a try.”

 

What is a challenge you have faced in your personal homeschooling journey and how did you approach that challenge?

“Homeschooling my children with disabilities has been a challenge because my children have a lot of resistance to learning and school work. I had to learn to let go of what I thought homeschooling should be and homeschool with my children’s needs in mind.”

 

What advice would you give to a family just starting out with homeschooling?

“I would tell them not to let the outside homeschool world influence them too much and to always go with their gut. I would also tell them not to recreate school at home. And, when given the opportunity, always go on the field trip.”

 

Homeschooling can look very different from family to family. What are some tools/metrics you would suggest homeschooling families use to determine if their approach is working for their family?

“If their kids are happy and mom is happy, it means that what they are doing is working.”

 

What is a significant challenge facing the homeschool community right now and how do you think we can address it?

“The homeschool community can sometimes be exclusionary of others who do not follow what they follow. As a leader in the homeschool community, I strive to include everyone regardless of their beliefs, even if they do not align with mine. I want people to unite because of their love for their kids and homeschooling.” 

 

Who are some of your biggest homeschooling influences and why?

“Julie Bogart has significantly influenced my homeschool life since I started ten years ago. Her wisdom has helped me learn to teach my kids for who they are, not what I would like them to be. She is one of the reasons I call myself “The Brave Homeschooling Mama.” 

 

What are some projects you’re working on right now?

“I have my small business, Brave Homeschooling Educational Services LLC, where I provide proof of progress evaluations for homeschool families. I am working on adding homeschool coaching to my business. I want to help parents who homeschool their children with special needs or want to start homeschooling. Homeschooling a child with special needs can be isolating, and I want to help parents be more confident by assisting them in finding resources and tools that they need to be successful in homeschooling their children.”

At our unConvention this year in May, Michelle will be speaking on what it’s like to homeschool your child with special needs. She’s going to share some practical tools to help you in your journey and give you the encouragement you’ve been looking for as you navigate the homeschooling life. 

 

 

This interview was conducted and written by Valerie Coker. Valerie is a homeschooling mom of three, including two with special needs. Homesteading in southwest Virginia, she volunteers as a coordinator for Luke14 Ministries serving families with disabilities, and loves teaching at her local co-op. We’re glad to have her as a volunteer for The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers. 

Opinions expressed by individual writers in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of the Board of Directors of The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, nor do they represent an official position of VaHomeschoolers. Writers’ views are their own, and readers are encouraged to research and explore homeschooling issues to their own satisfaction.

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