Saturday, October 10, 2015

Homeschoolers All Grown Up .... Part III


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 II, Part IV.



Disclaimer:  This was not an unbiased interivew 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 third 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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****Melissa
1. How long were you homeschooled  and what ages/grades? 

I began homeschooling when I entered the 5th grade at age 9.  I continued until I graduated highschool, at age 17.

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

My parents primary motivation was the fact that my older siblings, even though being sent to Catholic schools, were not living in accordance of our faith. 

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

I enjoyed being homeschooled. I valued the flexibility and freedom homeschooling offered.

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?

I was certainly very active socially. I belonged to various groups: 4-H, choir, youth group at my Church, and I also had a job in highschool. I don’t believe I missed out on anything socially that any person going to school experiences. I had boyfriends, went to proms, had sleepovers with friends, attended football games and other “normal” positive experiences.

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?

Well, my experience is a little different than most other homeschool families. Because of my parents’ “spiritual” reasons for homeschooling me, my mother felt that there was no need to be too concerned with education, for God would provide. So, by the time I reached middle school, my mother informed me that I was now in charge of my education. Therefore, my education mostly consisted of what I found to be interesting and had a desire to learn. Frequently, I would go to Barnes & Noble, explore different topics, and choose from these. I had no tests, papers, grades, or feedback. Because of my personality and natural inclination to schedules, I created my own syllabus for each subject. This approach is not what I would suggest! However, it didn’t cause too many problems. By the time I was a senior in highschool, I was able to have tutors in Latin, Algebra II, Chemistry, and Biology.

Even though I had a self-directed education, I do not feel it has negatively hindered me in anyway. I scored well on my SATs and ACTs. In college, I maintained a 3.5 or above average, I was on the Dean’s List, and I feel as though, academically speaking, my education was above average than my private & public school peers that I knew.

The most positive aspect of homeschooling is the ability to search for an answer. I may not know the answer, but I do know how to research and discover it. I feel that, in a school environment, one is fed the answers and is not challenged to ascertain the truth on their own. 

The most negative aspect of homeschooling the way I did, is the fact that when I entered college, there was a definite learning curve to papers, tests, and having homework turned in at a certain time. However, I quickly adjusted.

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

I attended Christendom College in Virginia for a year and a half, then transferred to my state college, the University of South Carolina. I majored in business, with a concentration in Marketing. USC is one of the top business schools in the nation, so I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to attend such an admirable school.

After graduation, I worked as a financial advisor for Ameriprise Financial, until my husband and I moved to Florida so he could attend Law School. Currently, I manage a South Carolina homeschool compliance association, an organization my mother began years ago to legal allow families to homeschool. I am also in the process of establishing a business with my husband and father. I have 4 children, ranging in ages 1 to 8 years old, I homeschool my two oldest.

In terms of feeling prepared for the “next step,” I feel that I was both prepared and unprepared in different ways. In terms of being prepared, I feel as though I have been able to easily work in a business environment, manage my household, and relate to others, even those who have had no personal experience with homeschoolers. What I was unprepared for was my time at Christendom College, a predominantly homeschooled campus. I did not associate with very many homeschoolers growing up only because there weren’t very many in our community.  Christendom was my first experience with many homeschoolers, and to be honest, the campus felt very much like a middle school fish bowl. I was very willing to transfer to USC, with a campus of 30,000+, to finish my college career! I thrived in this environment more so than I did at a small private school located in the middle of nowhere. 

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

I was homeschooled from the very beginning (be that preschool or Kindergarten or grade 1 or whenever my mom decided to officially “start”)  and continued all the way until completing grade 12 in 2005.

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

My mom is a lawyer and very academic and intellectual, and when we began researching educational options for my older sister, the eldest, mom started to become aware of the many advantages to homeschooling, especially compared to our public and “separate” [yet fully Government funded] Catholic school system in Canada (private schools are very rare). She has told me before that she went to the numerous teachers, principals, and school administrators that we have in our extended family and asked them all to “talk me out of homeschooling!” But with the personalized attention, small “class size” and other advantages, she just couldn’t shake the conviction of what was a better option for her and her kids.

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

I am very grateful for many aspects of my homeschool experience. My Catholic faith has always been very important to me, as well as my life of Grace and having good friendships from people that will help me be holy (I was a weird kid, maybe) and I recognized the dangers and difficulties my friends faced when they were in public and private school environments. I also realized I had many many opportunities for activities, travel, interests etc. That would have been hard to accommodate with a typical school schedule etc.
When applying for and I began University (my “first day of real school”) I did start to recognize more and more that there were some quite considerable “gaps” in my education, and I had to work very very hard to overcome them, which was possible, but in making my own plans for my children I am more aware of some things I want to make priorities to give them an easier transition to systemitized education

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?

I was a shy, introverted child, and still had many opportunities for activities and friendship, I would say even more than many “school kids” I knew. I was able to build friendships with kids who truly had meaningful common interests with me, and many MANY of those friendships have lasted from grade school until now.

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?

Above average. As seen in the success I had in university and scholarships and awards and in securing jobs during my time in the workforce.

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

Immediately after graduation from highschool I did three years of full time volunteer missionary work. After that I completed a BA degree in three years, worked in the financial industry until my first child was born, and have since stayed home as a mother. 

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*****Jennifer

1. How long were you homeschooled  and what ages/grades? 
            I was homeschooled from the start, through 8th grade.  I started public school in 9th grade at age 13.

2. What was your parents’ primary motivation for homeschooling (if known)?
            They had a variety of reasons.  One was that we were living in Hyde Park in Chicago and to get to kindergarten, my brother would have to take two different public buses and my mom didn’t want him to do that.  Another was that she wasn’t ready to let go of us.  Religious concerns played a role.  But the most important factor was the individualized attention that my parents would be able to give us at home, to really tailor our education to our specific needs and interests.

3. How do you overall feel about your homeschool experience?
            It was awesome.  Being homeschooled meant we got to dig into the things we wanted to and advance at a pace that both kept us from being bored in the stuff we were good at, but also let us take our time in the stuff we had a harder time grasping.  For example, I learned how to read at 3, my sister didn’t until 3rd grade—but she learned to ride a bike without training wheels the same weekend I did, despite being two years younger.  And her delay in reading didn’t hurt her at all—she comprehended everything that was read to hear and remembered, and once she was ready to learn to read, she learned quickly.  My brother loved math, and so instead of skipping a grade and being unprepared in other subjects, or staying in the same grade and being bored with the slow pace in something he understood easily, he got to finish his 2nd grade math book by Christmas, and start on the 3rd grade book in January.
I loved the flexibility of our schedule—we got to take vacations during school times and avoid the crowds.  My mom’s philosophy was that school started when we woke up and ended when we went to bed—and included courses like “vacuuming,” “cooking,” and “playing nicely with your brother and sister.”

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?
            Absolutely.  We were active in a homeschool group that grew by leaps and bounds while we were there.  We had regular field trips scheduled, a “performance night” once a month to get us used to being in front of an audience, a homeschool bowling league, etc.  Through that, neighbor kids, and church, we had constant access to people to become our friends.  Also, my sister and brother were built in friends (we moved a lot, so they were my friends and classmates and a consistent thing across the states).  Another benefit of the homeschool group is that we weren’t stuck together only with other kids our own age.  My mom likes to say that the only time in your life you’re surrounded by 30 people the exact same age as you is in school—once you get to adulthood, you’ll have people of a variety of ages around you all the time, so shouldn’t you get used to interacting with that variety while in school? 

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 think I received an amazing education, and my grades in high school, college, and law school show that I was well prepared for that.  I have no idea how it compares to peers in my community—again, we moved a lot, so that community changed every few years.  And frankly, I have no idea what their quality of education was.  I was a kid, I didn’t pay attention.  ;-)

6.  What did you do after graduation?  College? Work? How prepared did you feel for “the next step?”
            College, then four years of working (including a year working in France), then law school, now a lawyer.  I was originally nervous about starting high school, because I hadn’t had to learn and test in a formalized structure like that before, but quickly realized my biggest problem was boredom.  Through all those stages, though, I feel like homeschooling prepared me better than most my peers because I had learned how to learn, and hadn’t just learned specific information.  I honestly liked to learn and ask questions and that stood me in good stead both in school and at work.

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