For a mother with just one or two kids, having five to watch over could seem daunting. But we know one mother who handles it with ease. Meet Stacie Hartwig, she's a mother and homeschool teacher to four amazing girls and one tough little guy. She's also an oilfield wife to Dale, a very outnumbered man at home, but I know for sure that he'd have it no other way. Their children range in ages from 2 to 19 years old. Having successfully homeschooled their oldest, Elizabeth, all the way through graduation, the Hartwig's are also homeschooling 15 year old Abigail, 8 year old Ellie, and 5 year old Shiloh. Little man, Tru, just keeps busy making all the girls chase him around while enjoying being the baby of the household. The Hartwig's also have a plethora of poultry life at their home. Chickens, ducks, peacocks, geese, and turkeys keep these country kids busy all year round. We sat down with Stacie on their farm in Briggsdale, Colorado to soak in her wisdom and lightheartedness when it comes to raising five kids in a partnership that seeks after God in all they do. You might say that she's mastering the art of "spirit-led parenting."
Cooped UP: So what made you decide to homeschool instead of sending your children into traditional public or private school?
Stacie: When Elizabeth was young we had planned to send her to a private school, but when it came down to it, we just didn't have peace. Honestly, the Holy Spirit really led us into homeschooling. The Bible talks about how the Holy Spirit broods over His people and the Spirit was so heavy in leading us into homeschooling.
Cooped UP: How did you get started?
Stacie: I attended a conference as well as some homeschool groups. These helped, but you really have to find what works for you. I really wanted a curriculum that was Christ centered. This was big reason we didn't do traditional school because we wanted our kids to be "seeing" God in all that they learned. We've used the Alpha Omega and Apologeia curriculums. Each child is different and we are flexible with how we teach each one and the curriculum used for each may differ.
Cooped UP: The majority of people believe that homeschooling is "weird" or will cause a kid to be unsocialized. But your kids seem to be well adjusted to talking to others and engaging in conversation. Have you had many instances where people have doubted the way you and Dale are raising your kids?
Stacie: You will walk the rest of your days having people doubt you, but you must walk in mercy for them because you know you're walking in God's best. I know me and I know my family and we have to stand with our resolution of what works for us. Another reason we really love homeschooling is because the learning never stops. If we're driving into town and Shiloh sees an eagle, we can head to the library and pick up books about Eagles and she can learn to her heart's desire of everything about eagles. The whole world is their classroom. It really makes a child a lifetime learner. It doesn't just come down to learning to pass a test. It's about really taking it in and getting hold of the lesson.
Cooped UP: How do you teach your children to have servant's hearts? They always seem to be thinking of others in everything they do.
Stacie: We work really hard to raise them that way and I'm almost kind of hard on them. I really start them when they are young. I'll ask simple requests of them to go get your baby brother's blanket or to bring your sister some water. Sometimes they would balk at doing it, but it's not an option in our house to not help each other out.
Cooped UP: I love that! When you do have to discipline, how is that handled in your home?
Stacie: We're not afraid to spank! But we try not to do it out of anger and I always explain that we are doing it because we love them. I'll get down to their level and hold their little faces and tell them that "God disciplines those He loves, so that's why mommy is disciplining you."
Cooped UP: With 5 kids your life could be so busy running them all over the countryside to different activities, but from what we've witnessed, it doesn't seem that way.
Stacie: We definitely let the kids do activities that they love, but we have limits. Also, if it's a season where that activity doesn't work for us, we'll drop the activity until a later time. For example, Ellie loves gymnastics, but when Tru was born it just didn't work for us to be driving her into town to attend the class. Our kids understand that it's okay for them to go to their sister's game and just cheer and support her. Again, I want them to know that it's not all about them. They all get to experience different things, but it may only be temporary. We are not a family that is going to be running every single night of the week. It's really important to us to have our family together the majority of the time.
Cooped UP: What life principles do you want your children to walk in?
Stacie: I want them to love God and to just be immersed in a Holy Spirit led life. And I want them to love others and to always have a servant's heart toward everyone and anyone.