002: Our Parental Experience Homeschooling

by | Apr 12, 2021

Welcome, my Tenacious Homeschool Tribe! In this episode, we will be talking about my husband’s and my personal experience with homeschooling. I have to admit that it was not a very good one. So let’s start with my husband. When he was getting ready to go into middle school, his parents blackmailed him into attending a religious homeschool co-op. They had promised him and his best friend that they would be taking them to an amusement park. It is supposed to be like the equivalent of Magic Mountain, but this place is in Ohio. In any case, the day they were supposed to go to the park, my in-laws told my husband that the only way that they would take him would be if he agreed to go to this homeschool co-op instead of going to traditional school. My husband was not interested. My husband does believe in God, but he did not want to attend this co-op. As he saw it, his future path was to attend college, and he felt that this co-op wasn’t the right place for him.  The reality was that he was not incorrect. This particular co-op was very weak in academics. Its emphasis was strictly on religion. But at that point, even though he knew that he didn’t want to go to the co-op, that his parents were wrong to blackmail him the way that they did, he felt trapped. He had told his best friend that they were going to be going to this amusement park. He was all excited to go; like any kid, he caved. His time at the co-op was pretty miserable. Number one because he didn’t subscribe to those religious beliefs. Number two because he could see that he was falling further and further behind when he compared himself to his friends that were not attending the co-op. And after a couple of years of bitter infighting between him and his parents, he was finally allowed to return to a traditional educational setting. So, unfortunately for him, he had been correct all along. He was seriously behind. He could not participate in college-level mathematics, college-level reading, and writing courses. He had to do a lot of remediation when he went on to college. And, of course, he always goes back to that co-op experience, which he feels was a complete waste of time. But even though he felt that his experience was negative, he didn’t blame homeschooling. He blamed the people homeschooling responsible for the outcome of his time in that homeschool co-op. My experience was completely different. When I was in the third grade, right after the Christmas program, my parents unexpectedly took my sister and me out of school. That was it! We moved to a completely different town. My parents then decided that they didn’t like that town, and we moved to my grandmother’s hometown. And we were un-school for two and a half years. We were allowed to play, we could do whatever we wanted, and we were taught to cook, clean, and do laundry. I’m a killer with the iron! And probably because of this time, I also know how to kill a chicken. My grandmother was really good at it, just wring its neck. Fast and easy. So, during these two years and a half, I learned many things, and I have to admit that they have served me very well throughout my life. My grandmother may not have taught me anything about reading, writing, or arithmetic. Still, she taught me a lot about life in general. One of her favorite sayings was, “A woman worth her weight in salt can do anything that she has to do.”  In fact, if you want to learn more about my grandmother, you can listen to Motherhood Later in Life: Episode Four, and you will learn a lot about my mother and grandmother, the type of women they were, very strong women. So, I don’t consider my time with my grandmother a waste. It taught me a lot about being a woman, about being a strong woman.  But as far as academics, there was nothing. Nothing! Absolutely nothing. And then, at some point, my parents decided, “You know what, the kids should go back to school.”  By then, I should have been in the seventh grade. But when my mom took us back to school, the school officials said, “Well, we really don’t have to put her in the seventh grade just yet, but she’s too old to be put in the third grade. So, let’s go ahead and put her in the sixth grade.”  My middle sister had a similar experience in that regard. Still, I won’t speak to her feelings about it or how she felt and impacted her life because I want to respect her privacy.  As for myself, I really struggled. Grammar, extremely weak. Spelling is extremely weak, and I always lacked those foundational skills. I worked hard and did well enough to go on to college, but I’m going, to be honest with you, I struggled for many years with the basics. And in fact, any time I turned in a college paper, I really had to spend a lot of time editing because I knew grammar was a weakness of mine. I never could enjoy math because I lacked all of that foundational work. I did graduate with honors from college. I did get into a tier-one university, one of the best universities in the country. And in fact, I was accepted into an Ivy League. I chose not to go to an Ivy League because I only received a partial scholarship, not a full scholarship.  Overall, I would say that I was successful academically, and I have to attribute that to my grandmother. She taught me to work hard. She taught me not to run away from difficult decisions. She taught me how to handle crises. So, I owe her a lot. My unschooling experience, while academically weak, had a tremendously positive impact on my life. It really did. My husband has also gone on to be extremely successful. He does have an MBA. He is a very successful entrepreneur. However, he doesn’t consider his homeschooling experience to be positive at all. So, what were our feelings when about homeschooling before we started homeschooling our girls? My husband was always concerned about the socialization component because his socialization was minimal when he was homeschooled. But that had been by my mother-in-law’s choice. She wanted her children to spend as much time as possible with the other church kids, not the kids in the neighborhood. I had a bazillion cousins, aunts, and uncles, and neighbors, and we were allowed to do anything we wanted as long as it didn’t cost my parents any money. So, I had a great time. I mean any weekend that I spent anywhere from six to thirteen cousins; great times!  So, well, while my husband had a negative experience. I can say I have a very positive experience. Still, it did have a negative impact on my foundational academic skills. Here’s the thing, though. The thing about homeschooling is that it is completely individual. What do I mean by that? It is completely up to your family what your experience turns out to be. You can choose to make it academically strong. You can choose not to focus on academics. You can choose a completely different focus. You can choose to educate through traveling. You can choose to educate online. You can choose to educate yourself. It is entirely up to you what kind of experience your family will have, and it has to be based on your own personal goals.  I have seen an incredible array of success as my children traveled through the different homeschool groups because that’s another wonderful thing today. All you have to do is go to Meet-Up or go to Facebook, and you will find hundreds of groups in your area; little groups, big groups. On any given week, we can have a field trip every day, and we had done that sometimes, especially when the girls were younger. Nowadays, my girls enjoy the socialization component differently. And right now, with the pandemic, they’re just dying cause they miss being out there. But their focus tends to be artistic now. They take piano lessons, singing lessons, dance lessons, and acting lessons. This is where their interest has gone. One of them goes to an entrepreneur club.  So, their interest has guided our exploration. We are very strong in academics. Not because I’m a college professor, but because we, as a family, my husband and I, and the kids, know that their goal is to go to college. Therefore, we behave as though they’re going to be attending an Ivy League school. We prepared them with those skills. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to go. Right now, I have a daughter that’s interested in going to the University of Central Florida. It’s a good school. It’s not an Ivy League, but that’s where she thinks she wants to go right now. In fact, two of them are thinking that way. The other one is thinking about Juilliard or Berklee School of Music. The thing is, I’m confident that they have, already in fact, the skills to be successful at any of those schools. But again, it isn’t about me what I’m doing with my kids. It’s about you. What are the goals for your family?  I have met a family who completely homeschooled their child. When he was sixteen, he suddenly became interested in cooking shows; this was really his focus. And then he decided he wanted to go to a culinary school. He has gone to culinary school and is a very successful chef. He was never into academics. It wasn’t the path for him.  I met another family. They really focus on academics, but they were all about mechanics. They really focused on mechanics and robotics. The children all have kinds of licensing to work on diesel engines and all types of machinery. They started working when they were sixteen years old. They were already making a big salary as their father’s certified assistants.  I’ve also met families that decide that their children are strong enough to start attending a community college at the age of twelve, and they do! They go on to graduate from college very early on. Early teens and they go on to get their Master’s Degrees, and so forth, and so on.  Again, your homeschool journey completely depends on what your goals are. You make homeschooling what is best for your family. It’s completely individualized. Don’t let anybody tell you that what you’re doing right now because of the pandemic is not homeschooling. It is. Okay? There are all kinds of different homeschooling and homeschoolers. There are ones that attend school online. There are people like me; I’m an eclectic homeschooler. I take a curriculum from one place. I take a curriculum from another place. I put it all together. And some people buy an all-inclusive curriculum. Some people do a combination of an all-inclusive curriculum and online classes. It doesn’t matter what approach you take. If you’re educating your child at home, you’re a homeschooler. And again, whether it’s a good experience or a bad experience, it’s completely up to you. Your commitment. Your dedication. Your goals.  So, I hope you will join me on this homeschool journey to get tips, to get encouragement, to know that it doesn’t have to be perfect, to be beautiful because it doesn’t. You’re gonna have bad days and good days. And I’m going to be here to encourage you, support you, to help you out in any way that I can. If you are just embarking on your homeschool journey or you are an old pro, I hope you will join us in our sometimes crazy, but always fun homeschool family by subscribing to our podcast or blog (or both!). For links and resources, please visit our website. Till next time! Enjoy your kiddos!

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