reflections of a second generation homeschooler
Today, we are blessed by the reflections of a second generation homeschooler. Her name is Stephanie, and she was homeschooled from 5th grade onwards. Today, she is a wife and mother …. and embarking on her next journey as she dives into homeschooling her own children.
If you have ever wondered what an adult would think about their own unique homeschool journey in the ‘big-picture’ sort of way… I truly hope that this interview brings you both insight and inspiration.
As a child, were you aware of the reason why your family chose to homeschool?
Yes. I had been in public school through fourth grade and I knew that I wasn’t adequately challenged in my classes (I spent a good portion of that year playing solitaire waiting for my next assignment).
What methods were used in your studies?
We used the KONOS Unit studies which was also a weekly organized co-op. In addition, we participated in weekly enrichment classes like P.E. and art.
What did you enjoy most about your own homeschool experience?
I valued the quality of the relationships and the lifestyle standards that I found in my homeschooled friends. I strongly believe that children ought to be protected (not sheltered or suffocated but adequately prepared for society and the world before entering it) while they are young and vulnerable, and I feel that homeschooling allowed that. My friends were wonderful people who loved the Lord, challenged and encouraged me and knew how to have a great time without ever making me feel unsafe or compromised in any way. I feel that I was given a real childhood and adolescence in the old fashioned sense of the world, one marked by innocence, joy and all sorts of fun new experiences.
What did you not like about your own homeschool experience?
I wish I would have had more adult mentors in my life. I could have benefited from others’ perspectives and ways of life. I think you can get from a traditional school setting if you’re blessed with an interested teacher. While I knew my friends’ parents, I wasn’t close to any adults other than my parents and wish I would have been known better by other adults/teachers.
Have you noticed a difference between the culture and popularity of homeschooling is today compared to when you were the student? In what ways?
Oh my. Yes. Most definitely. For one, no one had ever heard of homeschooling when we started. It was difficult for people to understand what we meant by the term “homeschooling.” We constantly had to explain ourselves to people. For another, back in the old days when I was homeschooled there wasn’t an Internet so all networking and curriculum discussions had to be done in person or over the phone. You had to KNOW them. There was no google or blog. It took more time and limited our resources to those we could touch or get a hold of, but it also created a real sense of community. We needed each other a bit more. That also meant that social functions (park days, book sales, conventions, etc) were highly popular events. We didn’t know anyone by name only, but met face to face first and then to keep the friendship we had to see each other regularly. We didn’t have any other way of staying in touch (kids didn’t use the phone much back then either).
I have been shocked at the comparably low turnout I see at a lot of events these days, but I realize that most families can find a lot more online than from just a handful of people. But I do think it’s weakened the overall sense of belonging to a homeschool community in the way I did growing up.
How did it affect your ability to transition to new stages in your life?
I think this question has more to do with the family environment and upbringing than just the schooling choice. As someone who grew up homeschooled (5th grade through high school), I have had the privilege of knowing public, private, chartered and home schooled friends and I find that their upbringing and personality influence their ability to transition more than their schooling alone. That said, I personally had an easy time transitioning from homeschool to college (ASU) and then the workforce and then to motherhood. I will say that I was slightly more nervous than most on my first day at ASU (I answered roll call when it wasn’t even my name being called–so embarrassing!), but I think that comes with my natural inclination to please and perform.
I do think, though, that homeschooling gave me a much better preparation for motherhood than most of my non-homeschooled friends. I was in the home environment surrounded by children of all ages up until college and I think that’s very different than the traditional style of being peer surrounded from age five and on. I felt very at peace with becoming a mother and had a decently realistic idea of what to expect.
How did it impact your love of learning today – trying new things, tackling problems?
Before homeschooling, I was an incredible inside-the-box thinker. As a public school student that’s one of your highest aims. But homeschooling, especially using the unit study we did, forced me to get creative. I hated it, but it’s made me a much better problem solver and learner!
How do you think it influenced the relationships between you and your parents and/or siblings?
I have no doubt that I would be very distant from my family had I not been homeschooled.
If you have children now – or plan to have a family in the future – would you homeschool them?
I have two daughters and one on the way and my husband and I definitely plan to homeschool.
If yes, what would you change, and what would stay the same about the way you homeschool your children? If no – or unsure, what are your thoughts on that?
I definitely hope to create the same kind of community I found growing up. I enjoyed the co-op style and plan to continue that. I have a very different teaching style than my mother so the day to day teaching will be different than when I was growing up, but overall I don’t think I’ll alter the general structure I experienced as a student.
Any other things that come to mind we’d love to listen!
Oh boy, I have a lot of thoughts on homeschooling!
I have seen first hand what works (loving supportive environment that empowers the child to learn and problem solve) and what doesn’t (rigid, overreaching rules-based environment that squelches the independence and uniqueness of each child) and it has a lot more to do with the home life than just the curriculum selection. There is such a great trend that I see toward teaching to the child and creating an exciting learning environment and I hope it continues.
But most importantly, the family dynamic is key to homeschooling success. It’s so important to have healthy, whole relationships that extend deeper than the outward appearance. I’ve been shocked at how many families that I looked up to as a homeschooler have disintegrated and/or whose children have had to tow hard roads of rebellion. They really did seem to have it all together! But those families that didn’t mind getting dirty and really worked on the family unit and the importance of heart change versus behavior modification seem to generally have raised well-adjusted children. They didn’t always look the prettiest (I’m speaking for my family here, ahem), but the results have been worth it.
Thank you SO VERY MUCH Stephanie for blessing us with your time and experience!
If you are a homeschool graduate and would like to share your thoughts PLEASE feel available to submit a comment below – or contact us to post your own anonymous interview.