S1 E2 – Lasting Family Connections with Jennifer Pepito

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show notes

On this episode we’re chatting with Jennifer Pepito, about building lasting family connections, and how any rigid homeschool approach Charlotte Mason included can stress out moms and place too much pressure on families. 

Jennifer Pepitois the founder of the Peaceful Press, where she creates Charlotte Mason resources, as well as Montessori Leaning Pre-School resources. Jennifer is a 25 year homeschool veteran, who is passionate about families having a gentle educational approach. 

links and resources mentioned

episode transcript

ANA: Hey everybody. Welcome to the Charlotte Mason Inspired Podcast. I’m your co-host Ana Willis,

TATIANA: and I’m your other co-host, Tatiana Rivera. And we are here with Jennifer Pepito today. Welcome, Jennifer.

JENNIFER: Thank you. I’m so excited to be here.

ANA: first of all, we wanted to know that this is an unscripted podcast. Here is a chat. Bring your, your cup of tea, your cup of coffee. I got my smoothie here with me, and we want to get to know you more, Jennifer, so we’re, so that you’re here. I know that there’s a lot of great things that you’re doing in the Charlotte Mason community, and we wanna know your story too, right? Tatiana?

TATIANA: Exactly. We wanna know, how you were introduced Charlotte Mason, how it all started for you. Let’s start with an introduction. How about you introduce yourself to us?

JENNIFER: Yeah, so I’m, I’m Jennifer Pepito and I am the founder of the Peaceful Press and we actually create family centered Charlotte Mason Resources. As well as Montessori leaning preschool resources, which I know that’s a little bit, mind blowing to have Montessori and Charlotte Mason together, but I don’t think they’re in opposition. And I am the mother of seven children. The oldest is 28 and the youngest is 13. And I’ve been homeschooling. For 25 years because I did start when that oldest was three years old. And I first, I started at first through the Charlotte Mason Companion. I went to a homeschool meeting that was in our community and they were reading, they were doing a book club with the Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola. And I was all in from that minute like, we shaped our childhood around Charlotte Mason principles. We were sitting by the creek and reading aloud. We were taking our nature sketchbooks on field trips to museums and gardens and sketching what we saw and, and really creating a very. Lovely romantic Charlotte Mason life full of great literature and nature study and cupping beautiful poetry. But then we were missionaries for a few years when I had my fifth child, we moved to Mexico to do mission work, and while we were there, we had all kinds of family crises. I had an emergency c-section and a child had seizures and we built a house off grid with the, with volunteer laborers. And so I was, you know, trucking meals down to the field and, you know, just so many crazy things. So I could not do this perfect Charlotte Mason lifestyle, but we were still, you know, reading aloud, listening to audio books, doing our best to keep the principles alive. You know, as my kids have grown the, I’ve seen homeschoolers go through phases in a way, like there was a well-trained mind phase, which I don’t think the basic well-trained mind method is in opposition. But then some things have come out of that to me, squeeze out reading real literature and reading real poetry and looking at real art and, and then there, then, then there’s been the really rigid Charlotte Mason phase, which I feel like is stressing out moms, you know, taking, putting too much pressure on them to follow the actual schedule that Charlotte Mason did in the 1800’s with children who, whose, who didn’t, I mean their mother wasn’t homeschooling them and making meals and taking care of babies. This was a teacher environment and so I’m passionate about helping families have a gentle and lovely and, inspiring approach to a Charlotte Mason education.

ANA: That is so good. I see so many things. Like we, we are kindred hearts. Like we were, we were missionaries too so, and then we will love to live off the grid

TATIANA: Same here

JENNIFER: now. I’d kind of like to again,

ANA: but yeah, I had a very similar beginning as well. You know, I, I stumble upon Charlotte Mason and we began to implement the principles of a Charlotte Mason education. Little by little in our homeschool, we, we, we didn’t go all in a hundred percent, you know, overnight. And I think that this is what makes people feel very intimidated by Charlotte Mason philosophy because, They see people who have been doing everything by the book. They’re very Pharisean about it. , you know, and it’s, it’s it’s intimidating for some moms. It’s very intimidating. So we started little by little. I did not start doing Latin or blue dark in our homeschool until this year, to be honest with you. We start with Shakespeare about two, three years ago. We had to do things like little by little, and that’s how it worked for our family. So, and, and by the way, we did the Playful Pioneers from the Peaceful Press, and it was really fun. I was actually ta telling Tatiana about it yesterday. It was super fun to do your program with, with my kids. It was really fun.

JENNIFER: Thank you. I, I so appreciate that. And yeah, I mean, some families are going to have the capacity to do a, a, you know, a pure Charlotte Mason approach. But the thing that I fear is if you become a slave to an approach, you won’t be able to make the connection with your child. And, and one of my passions as a mom and as a homeschooler is for connected families. I feel. So many of the social ills that we’re dealing with, you know, homelessness and broken families and, crime, all, a lot of this can be traced back to broken families. And so if you have a mom who’s stressed out under the burden of a very rigid homeschool approach, you’re not gonna be able to stop and look your child in the eyes when they’re struggling and pray with them or give them a word of encouragement. You’re, you’re almost gonna be imposing. You know, just such a, it, it could be peaceful in some families, but for some families it’s going to be a chain around their neck and, and it won’t promote connection. It won’t promote peace. So my passion, like I said, is just helping families connect and stay connected so that their children can be brave and whole and be able to. Tackle the world problems that we face.

TATIANA: You said this right before we started. We started recording. Actually, they had some friends that kind of went full on, and I’ve had those friends as well. Once I started veering off because didn’t work with you know, I have six kids. What worked for, you know, for my three oldest didn’t work for my youngest. So if, if you change something and then all of a sudden it’s kind of like this, this rigid thing and saying, well, that’s not Charlotte Masoney that’s not enough. That’s not exactly what, but you know, I love that you’re making a point on emphasizing the connection that needs to happen, right. Between the mother and the child and as a family, family unit and it’s such a beautiful approach. Charlotte Mason is, and there’s just like, there’s no need to just rule, rule, rule, rule. And I just, I, I love that you said.

JENNIFER: Right, and I mean, Charlotte Mason to me is a, like, I actually, one of my favorite Charlotte Mason books was In Vital Harmony by Karen Glass because she lays out the philosophy and then there’s freedom within the philosophy because, you know, we. Like for instance, there might be a better living book now, or a better Geography book now, and I see Charlotte Mason moms, you know, trying to use the exact same books that she used in the 1800’s, but there might actually be a living book now that is more descriptive or has more insight or is is better for our family, it might fit our family better or even the book list. Like we have a family vision that includes caring for the poor and international travel. And, and so the books that we read are going to be about missionaries or people who did some, some great work in the world that helped the poor or something. And so, you know I don’t think it’s wrong for a family to know who they are and read the books that fit their family and not that you don’t read the other things too, or, you know, maybe you do an audio book while you’re on a big trip and really kind of knock out a, a Charlotte Mason essential that you really want to get done. But I don’t think we have to read the exact same book list that she read. The other thing that I think about a lot is the quiet growing time because you know, Charlotte Mason said that the years between birth to age six needs to be a quiet growing time. And in my imagination, you know, a, a nursery that those children were growing in, growing up in, there was a person 100% devoted to caring for them. There was generally a governance or a nanny, right? And so, , they were getting their, they were sitting down for tea or they were taking nature walks and spending hours and hours outside. Well, sadly, a lot of moms now in this time are, you know, giving their children a squeezy pouch for a food and they’re giving them an iPad or a device to stay quiet and calm while they homeschool. That’s not the quiet growing time that Charlotte Mason was talking about and my, like my peaceful preschool in the nursing nature kindergarten. , both of those resources have motor skills activities because what happens then is if you, if you mostly had a child kind of inside wandering around watching you homeschool, the older ones, they’re gonna pick up on beautiful vocabulary. And if you keep device use to a minimum, they’re probably gonna have develop the motor skills by playing with puzzles and coloring and doing things. But those resources have activities to kind of prompt your mind, oh, here’s a fine motor skill that we can use so that when my child is ready for dictation and copy work, they will have the pencil skills necessary to write a sentence. Because what happens is if children don’t get those, Skills developed in the early years before age six. Then they get to age six and, and their motor skills aren’t developed, so then they get frustrated and there’s tears and they’re not really ready for the seat work or the academic work. But if you do that developmental stuff, the fine motor, large motor skills, even more importantly in my opinion, than the phonics and counting. If you work on those motor skills and if you give them this beautiful base of literature, then by the time they hit, you know, first grade, second grade, they will have the skills necessary for tracking words on a page or counting and adding, because they’ve done a lot of concrete work in their earlier years.

ANA: That is such an important thing to think about it because, well, first of all, handing a device to a child, for me, it’s. It’s a way to pacify a child and let the device babysit your child, and then you miss the whole connection that we were talking about and how Charlotte, Charlotte Mason philosophy, put together really builds that connection in your family. Build your connection with your children, right? Instead of you sitting down playing with your child and like I said, doing puzzles or coloring or, or doing anything like that. If you just handle that child a device, while, you’re scrolling on your own device. Where is the connection? Where is the connection? Right? So not only they’re missing the connection, but they’re missing very important skills that kids need to develop to do a lot of things in life. In fact, Jennifer, I wanna share this with you and Tatiana. I was having a conversation with my surgeon and I did have plastic surgery a few years ago and one side looked really good and the other side didn’t look really good because the resident surgeon did the other side. I’m not gonna go into details. But bottom of line was my surgeon was saying that there is a big lack of skills in surgeons to date. So people when you know, they close .

JENNIFER: Wow. Yeah, that’s, it’s scary

ANA: So think about it, they don’t have those fine motor skills anymore, and it’s been a big problem in the midst of surgeries and stuff like.

JENNIFER: Yeah, and it’s interesting because I understand the stress that moms are under. Like I understand how intense it is to homeschool multiple ages, but I would rather see a mom slow down the education with their older children. You know, don’t try to do the whole Amble site online year one program with your six year old. Slow it down a little bit so that you can. Also meet the needs of the younger children because your older child, I, I read, you know  Harvey and Lori Blue Dorn had included a lot of research about how some skills are better learned. A little bit later, I just read a Peter Gray article. Same conclusion that, you know, if you look at some of these, even like the Sudbury School children, , some children will learn, will pick up on those skills really quickly a little bit later there was a quote, it was a guy named William Rower. I quote him a lot. He was a Berkeley professor of Education and he said all of the skills necessary for success in high school can be learned in only two or three years of formal skill study. So I think if you slow things down a little bit in those. First through third grade years so that you can bring along the younger children. You know, maybe that means you do some more motor skills or developmental activities a couple days a week with your preschoolers and let the older ones do it with you because they’re still gonna love app pouring activity or a transferring activity, or you know, matching rhyming words and. and then have, you know, be reading aloud every day, do your morning time every day, and, and just kind of slow the whole thing down a little bit. Those older ones aren’t gonna suffer cuz they’re still gonna be hearing the reading and they’re gonna still be coloring and drawing and doing all the things that are gonna keep them developing. But those younger ones aren’t gonna be left behind and have their motor skills inhi in inhibited. And you’re not gonna go crazy. Like I think what happens is, you know, moms, they, they try to do this heavy load with their oldest child and then the rest of ’em kind of get left behind and mom gets burnt out.

TATIANA: Oh, I just, I love that you’re touching on all this stuff that is already what we stand for. .

JENNIFER: Yeah. It’s so good for relationship because our children, you know, I think one of the most important things for our children is to feel loved, to feel enjoyed. And if we look at mothering and homeschooling, Task list. We just check it off and we get through the next thing. But we don’t look our children in the eyes and show them by our actions and words that we enjoy being around them, that we’re delighted by them. Mm-hmm. , they’re, you know, they, they can have all the knowledge in the world, but not have the confidence to do anything about it. But if they’ve grown up in a home where they feel like their parents are delighted with them, They’re gonna want to change the world for better. They’re gonna want to make an impact even in their small, local communities, but they’re not gonna be as, as likely to be numbing themselves out on a substance. I mean it, you know, there’s no guarantees with parenting. But I think that one of the best things we can do for our children to have a good outcome is to read to them a lot, to show them by our actions and words that we love them, look them in the eyes, smile at them, and teach them to. .

ANA: Yeah, that’s right. And you know, it’s, I, I keep thinking if I could just give my kids an education where there is this amazing relationship being built and communication and that we spend time in nature and exploring and discovering and reading amazing books that would give them a feast of ideas and doing arts and all those things that for some people, they consider even not an education, right? They’re like, this is not an education, right, because. people have this idea that education is only academics. They don’t understand that you are educating a whole child, and that all of these things really make a difference and, and that we’re building their characters as we spend together. That we’re helping them to see the world, to have a biblical world view, right? As we learn together, we read the Bible together. We pray together, we do those things together, and I, I keep thinking if I could only do that. , I think my kids will still have an amazing education. Amazing.

TATIANA: Absolutely.

ANA: They love reading. Once you give them the love for learning. You know, Charlotte Mason talks about, you know, self-education. The self-education is education or there’s no education at all. Right? So if we teach them, and that’s another thing that I wanna talk about too because you were mentioned about focus on the youngest one and let the oldest one, they’re gonna continue to, to read and to do the things that they had to do. So if we teach them to love learning and if we teach them to be independent, Readers and independent learners, then we can spend time building that foundation with the youngest one, what we are just watching, the oldest one soar, you know? Mm-hmm. , we are watching them getting all the foundation that was built in them when they were younger, and now they’re, they’re independently researching and reading and continue to do the work that we have taught them to.

JENNIFER: Yeah, I love that. And, and I’ve found, you know, my, so I have seven children, five have graduated from my homeschool and then two of them have gone on and gotten a college degree. One went into the Coast Guard and another one’s in a bible school and another one did a Bible school and has learning disabilities and lives at home. But the, like the oldest child. You know, I know what kind of an education I gave her. I mean, we were reading aloud a lot. We were doing service as a family but I didn’t, I didn’t give her a rigorous high school education. She was, in many ways on her own because we were missionaries and I was having a seventh baby and just so many crises in our life. But she, she went on, graduated Sue ma Kum loud from high from college. And valedictorian from high school. Cause she graduated with a homeschool group and her SAT scores were the highest. And then now she’s finishing a PhD on blockchain technology, which when she like, I didn’t even know what that was. When she started that. I was like, what is that? And now, you know, blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, it’s very relevant and important. So I think that when we give our children a little bit of space to develop their own education when we make our homes a very literature rich and and visionary place where mom and dad know where they’re going and we’re praying, we’re reading the Bible together, we’re open to listening to God. I think that our children are gonna get divine inspiration for their adult lives. You know, they’re not gonna be absolutely they’re not gonna be limited by fear. They’re not gonna be limited by you know, they’re gonna be able to get the wisdom from God. God has wisdom for us, and they’re gonna be open to receiving.

ANA: We always talk about that. It’s raising our children to know that they can do anything that God has created them to be. That is so important. There’s no limits when your child grow up thinking, you know, God has created me to succeed and he’s going to show me exactly what I need to get done, and they truly let you know. This is teaching our children diligently and showing them the way that they should go. Mm-hmm. , you know, by pointing them. To the promises that God has for their lives and, and to know that God has a plan for their lives, their lives is not in vain. You know, there’s, they have purpose in their lives and I think that makes a huge difference too. They don’t feel lost by the time that they get to high school. Like, well, what am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? I’ve been having this amazing conversations with my 13 year old. I think my kids all have their old soul. You know, they’re like me. My 13 year old was saying, mom, so I wanna do aviation and I wanna be, because my husband is an avionics engineer. He’s like, I wanna do aviation. I wanna do what dad does. But I also, I wanna make sure that I’m, you know, I become a pilot too, because, I can help a lot of people if I can, you know, if I can fly a plane.

JENNIFER: Yeah. Yeah.

ANA: If I can. And, and he’s his missionary kid, so his mind is way ahead of just a career, but being used by the Lord. How can God use him? How he, how can he go to a trade that God’s gonna use him in a mighty way for His Kingdom, I think that that’s so important too. There’s, there’s a lot more to our education than just academics, and it’s good to hear Jennifer from you about that as well, and that you don’t have to try to fit a Charlotte Mason schedule into your life that was used in a. School where the mother was not even there or something that was done by a governess and not the mom that is trying to handle all these children at the same time in meals and laundry and cleaning the house and driving them to and fro different activities. And it’s very important that we understand that and that there are amazing books that have been written in the last ever since Century, right?

TATIANA: I mean, there’s great books I’ve been written in the last 10 years.

ANA: Absolutely. Absolutely. And you have to mold and shape your education according to your family lifestyle too. Jennifer was a missionary in Mexico. We were missionaries too in Canada the past 10 years. And we were pastoring churches and life was very hectic, was very crazy. I wasn’t sitting home with my children all day. I start homeschooling actually my first three years of homeschooling. Still working full-time as a pastor, along time my husband, and we were able to do it. So mom, if you’re listening to this and you think, like, I’m wondering if I’m ever gonna be able to be home with my children, yes I’m gonna pray for you that you will, but in the meantime, you can already start, you can already start reading amazing books to your children or listen to audio books. There’s nothing wrong with audio books, let me tell you. Right, Jennifer?

JENNIFER: I agree. I agree. They’re a great resource for getting through some of those harder books that we really want our family to experience. We just finished Robinson Crusoe on audio last night and it was fantastic. Mm-hmm. . So for sure you can get a lot more reading done if you add in audio books.

ANA: Yes. And many times your kids are gonna be listening to a audio book. While you are doing the laundry, you’re doing the dishes, you’re picking up the toys from the floor, and that is totally okay.

JENNIFER: Or, or maybe your watercolor painting like we did, we did our the playful pioneers. One of the times we went through it, we. We did audio so that I could sit there and watercolor paint with the kids while we were doing it. So I think, you know, using, I mean using the modern tools that we have without abusing them, I think is the key. Because, you know, we want, I, I mean, being out in nature, so refreshing. We don’t wanna just watch nature videos or, you know, reading, reading Beautiful souls, stirring books you know, maybe a modern one, like a single chard by Linda Sue Park, or an older one, like Little House in the Prairie. But, but being aware that the, we have options and being led by God instead of being in, in the middle of a rigid system that won’t give you any freedom. Exactly. So good. I just, I love that.

TATIANA: All right. We are coming to a close here, ladies, but I don’t wanna I don’t wanna end without, hearing a little bit more about

JENNIFER: Oh, well I appreciate that. I, you know, I’m the founder of the Peaceful Press, and we have. Free samples of each of our resources. We have an American history resource called the Playful Pioneers, a European history called the Kind Kingdom. It’s based on the Narnia books and a world history resource that covers Jewish feasts all the way to world cultures. And then we have Peaceful Preschool and nursing nature, which are early learning curriculum. And you know, my goal is really just. Facilitate families incorporating the art and the poetry, classical conversations. Families have used my resources so that they can get more art and beauty and poetry into their homeschool. Charlotte Mason families have used it because in a large family where you’re trying to educate multiple children, multiple ages, you don’t necessarily have the mental resources to go get a different resource for art. And another one for Handicrafts and another one for your reading. Another one for nature. , everything’s included except for composers. And so it just makes for a really simple year. If you’re needing a break from maybe a more rigid homeschool resource, the the peaceful press has something for you.

TATIANA: We love that. And Anna and I actually looked through a lot of the stuff that you do, and we, like, we, we totally fell in love with, and, and Anna got super excited yesterday. Anna, do you wanna tell her?. with, all the Jewish feasts and

ANA: Oh yeah, I was, I was

TATIANA: All the holidays that you were including,

ANA: I was so thrilled. You know, I was going through your pro your programs and obviously like we love the Kind Kingdom and all Narnia books and all that stuff and, and I was telling like, Titan, we haven’t really done a study on Europe. I was always waiting for the moment that, okay, we’re going to Europe and lived there for a while cuz we were. , we were RVing, we were traveling full-time for five years. So our idea was to go back well first of all, back to Israel where we used to live, and then go to Europe and spend some time there. Well, with this pandemic and this whole world, the way that it is don’t think is gonna happen. But I, I love the idea of the kind kingdom. And then I was looking at the other program that you have to, and, and then when I saw that included, things about and Yo Kippur and Passover was like, yes. Cause I come from a Jewish background, Jennifer. I became a believer 21 years ago. So we are Messianic believers. We we’re Messianic Jews and it was just so exciting to see that you included that in your program. That was really cool.

JENNIFER: Yeah. The celebrating Passover Passover’s been very impactful for our family. One of our favorite family holidays really. And I just love the way that the Jewish. feasts highlight God, like I, I, you know, I’m so thankful for some of our American holidays or whatever, but I do appreciate that the Jewish feast do such a, a good job of really highlighting God’s love and forgiveness. Mm-hmm. and his grace. It’s, it’s, they’re so impactful.

TATIANA: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

ANA: It’s, it’s, it’s a foreshadow of the Messiah and it’s so good. It’s, it’s, it’s amazing. Yeah. We can do a whole episode on the biblical

JENNIFER: and on Israel. Israel was, we, we got to visit Israel before the pandemic and it was incredible.

ANA: Oh, that’s amazing. We lived in Israel for five years. My kids were born there actually. Wow. Yeah. It’s such a blessing. Such a blessing. Jennifer, we’re so honored to have you here today. We can’t wait to have you again here on the podcast.

JENNIFER: I’m, I’m just thankful for the opportunity. I hope you ladies both have a wonderful day and thank you so much for having me.

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