To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool – Profiles of Two Homeschooled Students

Loans, Student Loans
Homeschooling children

Homeschooling continues to become more mainstream due in part to adoption from high-profile celebrities and the ever increasing availability of curriculum and technology.  Further, with the rise of superstars who have been homeschooled—Serena and Venus Williams, Condoleezza Rice and hey—even Suri Cruise—many have wondered if perhaps homeschooling is a viable option for them. Well, this old-fashion blogger believes that the best information comes straight from the source. Below are profiles and interviews with two young women who have been homeschooled the majority of their lives—why they went this route, how it’s affected them and where they are now.

Amy

Probably one of the friendliest, kindest and well-spoken people I know, Amy went to college in Texas and later pursued her graduate degree in Russian Studies in California, where I had the pleasure of meeting her. She is currently pursuing her dream of working for the Defense Department as the winner of a coveted government Fellowship.

Age: 24
Hometown: Multiple places—Military Child
Homeschooled Years: 2nd grade, 5th-8th grade, 9th-11th grade
Where is she now: Washington DC- Fellowship winner

What circumstances led you to choose homes chooling?

It was an educational quality issue, but I will say that a good portion of the military is homeschooled just because of the moving around thing. It’ s just so hard to pick up and start in a new school system that has different curriculum and different requirements for classes. Educational quality (in the states we moved to: Texas, Hawaii and Missouri) was the main factor.

What was the influencing factor for homeschooling? Was it something you pushed for, or something that your parents heavily encouraged?

Hmmm…where did I hear about homeschooling? I originally thought it was my idea…I think I read about it and thought it was great and then my mom did A LOT of research and really liked the idea. However, my dad was more hesitant to come on board—he’s definitely much more traditional and thought more along the lines of ‘why can’t we just make school work just like everyone else does?’ I do think that I made the initial push and when the circumstances were right, it just happened. And when we saw it worked really well, we were more willing to try it again later.

What were some of your dad’s worries—since you said he was more of the ‘traditional’ parent?

I think he was worried there wasn’t going to be a consistent approach. Like in public school you have a set curriculum, multiple teachers and just the state making sure you meet certain requirements. He was worried there would be holes in my education. But mainly, I think that he was unfamiliar. I think, now looking back, he would say it was a good decision.

What was your day to day structure of homeschooling?

We kind of experimented the first two years with different companies, but then we found this one curriculum we really liked. They selected what textbooks and books they liked the best. We pretty much went off of that for middle school and high school. My mom was more involved and hands on when I was younger, but as I got older, I became more independent and her role became just making sure I was on track and grading my curriculum.

Are there aspects of homeschooling that you believed really help shape who you are today?

Yeah, I think that homeschooling made me really intellectually curious. I really attribute that to the fact that I could pick up a book that I wanted to read at the moment. If I got fascinated by some subject and wanted to do more research, I could. I could even say ‘Hey Mom, I want to do a research paper on this.’ I liked that flexibility. It did allow me to think academics were really fun.

What were the biggest challenges to homeschooling? Or things you didn’t like about it?

This has less to do with the actual homeschooling, but I hated having to explain myself to people. People are so free with their opinions, like ‘Why are you doing that? Do you have any friends? How do you socialize?’ That really ticked me off—I hated having to explain myself like I was doing something wrong.

I also had to learn a lot of self-discipline very early. I was getting frustrated with my mom saying I’m going to sit here until you do this. I had to convince her that I was capable of doing work on my own. I now know how to respond to pressure really well.

Do you have any recommendations for parents or children thinking about homeschooling as a possible option?

First of all know that you could just give it a try. If it doesn’t work out, you could always go back to public or private school. I would say that people have unreal expectations that it’s going to make your child a genius. I would tell parents to not try to overwork their kids.

Sally

Sally is someone I’ve known since she was 13—we met in AYSO soccer and I’ve always admired her creativity, individuality and strength of character. She’s currently living through one of the defining adventure of the early 20s, searching for her true passion in life.

Age: 23
Hometown: Huntington Beach, CA
Homeschooled Years: Kindergarten-Highschool
Where she is now: Huntington Beach—Best Buy IT specialist

What circumstances led you to home schooling?

Actually, my older brother went to a private school and the teachers would come back each day saying that he had this problem and this problem and that he needed to be on such and such pills. This was not something my parents wanted to put their child through, so my mom quit her job, got her teaching license and homeschooled us. And that was our lives from then on.

How did you hear about homeschooling?

Well, the school my brother went to was a private school, which my parents had turned to as an alternative to public school. When that failed, they basically said well, that was supposed to be the better of the two alternatives, so we’ll go to homeschooling. So they had known about it, but had turned to it as a last resort.

What was your day to day homeschooling like?

Essentially what we did was we homeschooled through a church. The same structure that that school had, we followed. Whatever days they had off, we had off. We went through all the same chapters of the same subjects that they went to except we wouldn’t be in the physical classroom. It changed once we hit high school. My mom didn’t do as much firsthand teaching. There were very specific guidelines we had to meet through the high school and very stringent grading policies—so there was no favoritism.

Are there aspects of homeschooling that you believed really help shape who you are today?

I am so thankful that I was homeschooled. I had the opportunity to grow as a person without being constantly picked on by my peers. And that is something, that, looking back, I know what would happen. I am so glad that I was not so heavily influenced by my peers or made fun of for every little thing that I did differently—I had the opportunity to be an individual.

I believe we were given the opportunity in our assignments, our homework to voice our real opinions and form our own thoughts without having to worry about what someone else thought. There wasn’t always a complete right or wrong standard to live up to.

What were the biggest challenges to homeschooling? Or things you didn’t like about it?

Everyone always assumed that you have no friends. Everyone always assumes that you don’t do anything that a public school does. Beyond that, on a day to day basis, sometimes it got old. It was just my brother and me. Also, it got to a point around junior and senior year that we were just at each other’s throat and there was no real release for that as far as being able to go somewhere else. It was constant fighting and you were just trapped in your house because you had work to do.

Do you have any recommendations for parents or children thinking about homeschooling as a possible option?

If anyone is thinking about homeschooling I will say that it’s a great opportunity to get close to your family. I’ve developed an incredibly deep relationship with my mom that most of my friend’s don’t have strictly because of the time we invested in our education. I guess my one other suggestion is for people to not always long for what people consider societal norms. If you do homeschooling, it’s up to you to make the best of your education—you won’t have a teacher and your mom won’t always be monitoring your every move. This is a process, but there’s no limit to getting a great education in a year.

While these are just two accounts of homeschooling, I for one learned quite a bit about the wide variety of options and paths available to those that homeschool. Both girls agreed that homeschooling can result in a wide range of results —whether ending up academically focused or pursuing other adventures. Further, each agreed that the most important step—whether you decide to do homeschooling or not—is to research your options first. Like many things in our personalized world today—it’s about fit. And why not find the best fit possible on one of the most important things in your life, your education (whether that’s public school, private school, homeschooling or otherwise)? Good luck on each of your individual educational paths!