Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Homeschoolers All Grown Up --- Part II

I am curious about what it was like to be homeschooled....so I decided to interview a bunch of former homeschoolers.   You can read the full introduction here.  Here is Part I Part III. Part IV



Disclaimer:  This was not an unbiased interview process or anything.  There was selection bias in the people who I interviewed.  I asked around on a couple of Facebook groups to which I belong and on my personal Facebook page.   Most of the groups I belong to and most of my friends involve fellow Catholics/Christians and other people with similar values as myself.   I'm sure if I had asked on the  Angry Athiests Who Are The Former Homeschooled Children of Fundamentalist Christians, I might have gotten different answers.  But, I don't belong to that group. 

So, here are the second sets of answers with their made-up anonymous names.  All names have been changed to protect the privacy of those who responded.  To all my participants:  I apologize in in advance if your anonymous name is one you've always hated

Second Note:  These responses are unedited (other than for formatting).  I have left any grammar/punctation errors and original sentence structure intact.  I thought that was important, as it gives an idea of how well former homeschoolers write. (Spoiler: Most of them write very well!) 

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****Elizabeth

1. How long were you homeschooled  and what ages/grades?
K-12 - all the way, baby!

2. What was your parents’ primary motivation for homeschooling (if known)?
When I reached school age, we were living on a tiny island off the coast of Canada with a population of 2,500. There was only a public school available, and my parents felt that it wasn't going to provide a quality education, so they turned to homeschooling as the best available option.

When we left the island and moved down to the States, we couldn't afford private schools, and again, they didn't feel that the public schools would provide a quality education, and perhaps there was a bit of fear about the secular influences in the public schools as well. In any case, homeschooling had been working for us for almost ten years at that point, so why stop, you know?

3. How do you overall feel about your homeschool experience?
Very positive. I am seriously considering homeschooling as an option for my daughter and any future children we may have.

4. How do you feel about the social experiences you had as a homeschooler?  Do you feel that you had enough friends, or enough opportunities for friendship?
When we moved to the States, I was almost in high school and my family was under a lot of stress as my dad was back in grad school, changing careers. We didn't have any roots in the area, and that may have hurt my ability to find and make friends. I was kind of awkward about it, I'll admit. My mom made me to go a youth group, try out for some sports, and a 4H group, and I ended up making some good friends from 4H, girls that I'm still close to today.

I could see my younger brothers had very different social experiences during their high school years. They had a wider and larger group of friends, and I feel like they were able to blossom more socially in a way that I wasn't able to until college. Some of that might have been because they had more outgoing temperaments, some of it because my family had more roots in the area by that point. It's hard to say.

In the end, I know my parents did the absolute best they could in the difficult circumstances of our life at the time. No one has a perfect social experience during their schooling years, you know?

5.  How do you feel about your education?  Do you feel you received an average, above average or below average education compared to same-aged peers in your community? 
Definitely above average. In whatever peer group I was in, I felt like "the smart one." I did figure out how to keep that quiet so as not to alienate people too much, but I could tell that I was a better student than many of the kids that I knew, and that I actually enjoyed learning.

6.  What did you do after graduation?  College? Work? How prepared did you feel for “the next step?”
I went to a small liberal arts college and studied business and philosophy and took their Great Books Honors classes. It wasn't as demanding as Harvard or something, but it wasn't a slacker party school. I think I could have handled the coursework with the skills that I had after completing 8th grade. That's not a knock on the college - that's a compliment to the study skills that I learned from being homeschooled, along with the ability to be organized and self-directed. I wouldn't have been emotionally ready for a college environment, of course, but I could have done the work.

I've pretty much found throughout my professional life that I've been able to handle most challenges with those same skills.

Not everyone has a similar experience homeschooling - a lot depends on the child's character and personality, how the parents structures the schooling experience, etc.

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******Linda

1. How long were you homeschooled and what ages/grades?  I homeschooled from 4th-12th grade. 

2. What was your parents’ primary motivation for homeschooling (if known)? My mother started homeschooling my brother the year before because he was “outsmarting” the teacher and learning nothing at the local elementary school. She took me out the following year because it was just easier to have both of us at home. She ended up continuing on for all 9 of us because she liked the ability to work around each student’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as teach the Faith more directly at home. 

3. How do you overall feel about your homeschool experience? I am happy to have homeschooled throughout most of my school years. I did go through a period around the beginning of high school where I really wanted to go to school because I thought the socialization would be better, but I was always so involved in extracurriculars outside the home, ultimately, this was an unfounded fear. 

4. How do you feel about the social experiences you had as a homeschooler?  Do you feel that you had enough friends, or enough opportunities for friendship? We were always part of at least one homeschool group so did other activities outside the home with friends frequently. I also played sports, was involved in scouts, 4H and church youth groups, so lots of socialization. My closest friends now are many of my homeschool friends that I grew up with. We are now raising our children together. 

5.  How do you feel about your education?  Do you feel you received an average, above average or below average education compared to same-aged peers in your community? I know I received an above average education and this was apparent even when I was a child. Although school attendees probably spent more hours in a classroom each day, I always felt I was learning more. 

6.  What did you do after graduation?  College? Work? How prepared did you feel for “the next step?" I went on to a Catholic college (Christendom College) and graduated with my bachelor’s in Philosophy. I never felt too strongly about a ‘career’ direction so it was hard after school. (I do think my college was lacking in career guidance, but I know they’ve since remedied that situation.) I also graduated in 2007 — the year of the crash. Jobs vanished so there wasn’t much to choose from anyway. I was a youth minister for a year, then worked at a private elementary/after-school care center, first as a teacher, then an administrator. I was discerning whether to go to grad school when I met my husband, and decided against it at this time so I could stay home and raise our children.

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****Sarah


1. How long were you homeschooled  and what ages/grades? 

I was homeschooled for 9 years from 4th through 12th grade.

2. What was your parents’ primary motivation for homeschooling (if known)?

There were multiple reasons. Overall it was what was best for our family at the time. My parents took it year by year asking if it was what was best for the family and each of us individually each year.

3. How do you overall feel about your homeschool experience?

I feel very grateful and blessed for being homeschooled.

Honestly, the most challenging part of being homeschooled is the way people treat you about it. They look for you to be weird, blame any shyness or awkwardness on your education, and constantly feel like they have to prove their education/choices for their children are superior. There seems to be little understanding that the people who fit the stereotype of a homeschooler would posses those same traits, but maybe teased more for it, had they been in a public or private school.

4. How do you feel about the social experiences you had as a homeschooler?  Do you feel that you had enough friends, or enough opportunities for friendship?

The social aspect is tricky. I feel that we were provided with many opportunities through homeschooling groups, classes for dance, art, etc. offered by local institutions, and Church youth groups. High School was the hardest time, however, even though we had plenty of opportunities to meet other teens it was hard to have a relationship with them outside of that particular event. As an outsider looking in, it seemed that my peers were very departmentalized in their relationships  - not willing to mix friends from church, school, dance, etc. whereas I would host parties and invite all my friends from the different groups to get together. I did feel that it was sometimes because the stigma that homeschoolerswere weird, but mostly I saw it as immaturity of my peers.

5.  How do you feel about your education?  Do you feel you received an average, above average or below average education compared to same-aged peers in your community?

I believe that I received an average to above average education. The hard part about homeschooling is that you don’t know where you stand among your peers. We took all the state testing, SATs, etc. we could and it was helpful to have those scores to be able to know that you were average or above average.

Self-doubt is easy to fall into, especially whenever you say your school you are met with constant questions about your social life, classes, wardrobe, etc. As an insecure teen that was rough, but I knew deep down that I was receiving a solid education with some benefits that did not exist in the public and private schools. When I went to college it helped me to realize that I received an average and above average education.

6.  What did you do after graduation?  College? Work? How prepared did you feel for “the next step?”

I went to the University of Notre Dame and received my BA. After college I began working full time in ministry related to Catholic Education. I also worked worked towards my MA part-time while working. I felt very prepared for college from being homeschooled. I knew myself, how I studied best, and was used to keeping myself on task for deadlines. The self-study necessary for classes wasn’t new to me. What was new was having someone else besides myself or parent to hold me accountable. Some of my classmates felt that he professors didn’t guide them enough, but to me they guided more than I was used to which was actually kind of nice due to the challenging subjects.
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 Part III and Part IV and Follow-up.
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