Sue Patterson’s path to becoming a homeschooling coach and community leader started when traditional school didn’t meet her child’s needs.
“I was a mainstream suburban soccer mom. I had no idea when I first had kids that I'd ever choose something so ‘radical’ as homeschooling! But when school didn't fit, I thought, ‘How hard can second grade be? Let's do this... and they'll always take us back if this is a bad idea!’ So we dove into adventures and the layers of school ‘have-to's’ faded away. We had so much fun we couldn't imagine choosing to go back to school,” she says.
Sue’s family was a military family and they moved frequently which gave her the chance to see many different homeschooling and unschooling families in action. She was able to see what worked and what didn't.
Although Sue has a degree in Nursing and even taught in Nursing school, once she started learning about unschooling and saw the impact it had in her own family, she wanted to find a way to share the information with others.
“I created groups, participated actively in person and online - whenever we moved. I've been a perpetual volunteer my whole life. I spent years helping others figure out how they could make something like this work,” she says.
In 2015 she turned her passion and experience into a business in order to share it with families who also find that school isn't the best place for their child, but aren’t sure how or where to start on the journey.
Sue says that although many parents think they need to duplicate school in their home in order for their children to be successful, that hasn’t been true in her experience. “I actually believe that homeschooling - specifically unschooling - is a Mother's Movement. It's when moms simply decide to override their fear and be the best advocate for their child - no matter what anyone else has to say,” she explains.
Sue’s children are all adults now and pursuing different paths and interests. She explains “One is working on his MBA, one working on her acting career with an Associate Degree in Fine Arts, and one raising my adorable (and only!) grandchild as a single mom and successful hair stylist. Parents who are considering unschooling often want to know ‘how these kids turn out’ - My kids demonstrate a wide variety of interests, and I'm hoping it shows that any child can flourish with unschooling.”
Sue says she is inspired by famous people like Elizabeth Gilbert, Martha Beck, Oprah, Hillary Clinton, and Heather Cox Richardson. I’m also inspired by average people who step out of their comfort zone and do something - even though they're afraid. I love those people! And I love smart people!”
She says one of her biggest struggles in her business has been the switch to charging money for something she did for free for many years and learning to balance that.
She would advise her younger self to not allow criticism from others to keep her playing small - you only have one life. She’d also tell herself “Slow down. You don't have to figure it all out at once. Play with your kids more - you'll miss them!”
She also advises new business owners to not let others convince them to play small and to manage their fears because those will be the biggest obstacle.
When things are challenging, Sue says reading testimonials from clients she has helped reminds her that she really is an expert in her field. She also reminds herself she can solve whatever challenge she is facing that day.
Sue’s ideal referral is a mom whose child wants to explore, be curious, and maybe isn't that into academics. She loves to work with moms who may have resisted the idea of homeschooling because it is unfamiliar, but is excited about other possibilities and options.
She says she joined the MOB Alliance because she loves the power of moms and enjoys the networking and connection aspects of the MOB as a group.
When asked what she loves most about working for herself Sue says “Comfy PJs. Flexibility of schedules. I love not having a boss or any of the office drama that I had when I worked outside the home. So much wasted energy! I like working whatever hours fit with my inspiration at the moment!”
Sue’s can’t miss offer is her Strewing Calendar subscription that even non-homeschooling moms might find useful! It gives a fun celebration for every day of the month. It had been available only to her private coaching clients, but now anyone can take advantage of it.