This week ihomeschool Not Back to School blog hop is about seeing homeschooling through the eyes of our kids. I thought I would interview my kids. I sent them all the same questions and this is what they had to say.
Joshua: 22 years old. Josh graduated from homeschooling in 2010, and since then has spread his double major B.A. (Ancient History and Politics) over four years. This gave him the flexibility to still be involved with family activities such as our trip overseas and visiting with Grandparents, camping trips etc. During his uni years he volunteered with teaching Scripture in Schools, and a young man’s Bible study. He also worked a few casual/part time jobs – tutoring after school and garden maintenance. This year he completed a 15 week Internship in public policy in Canberra. It is nice to have him home again as he works towards the next stage of his life.
How would you describe your homeschool years? In the primary school years, I remember doing lots of classes directly with Mum and the siblings, including a lot of Bible studies, character traits, math, science and reading. The high school years featured mostly independent work, guided by Mum. There was always a lot of reading- books were a big part of my education and they worked really well with my words-based learning style. Homeschool co-ops with local homeschooling families were also important; group discussions on character traits (proto-philosophy classes, in essence!), public speaking training and perennial games of Cops and Robbers.
What was your favourite thing about how you homeschooled? My favourite thing was learning to love learning, and then having the freedom to explore the areas that most excited me. Sure, I still had to do math and science, but I was also able to pursue my interests (writing, reading, history and philosophy) in far more depth than I could have tied down to a regular classroom and curriculum.
I think it also helped build strong family ties among us, which has been absolutely awesome in the post-homeschool years.
What was your worst? There were some public school guys about my age who I probably would have become really good mates with, but never did because we didn’t mix in the same social circles. That was a shame.
How do you think homeschooling has shaped you as a person? Besides the love of learning, homeschooling was also where I learnt to think for myself and test everything. At the same time, homeschooling exposed me to the importance of family and community ties, a vision of the good life which has shaped my decision-making process ever since.
What story would you like to ‘tell on’ your mum? Be kind! This question is rigged!
What do you think is the most misunderstood aspect of homeschooling with people who don’t homeschool? It’s strange how adults can enjoy a long mature conversation with you and only begin to doubt your socialisation skills once you mention, 15 minutes in, that you were homeschooled as a child.
For kids, I think the biggest misunderstanding is their notion that being schooled at home actually means not doing any school, ever, and playing X-box in your PJs all day instead.
How would you answer the questions about socialisation? Homeschooling made me more socialised, not less. Without a classroom of peers to keep me in my comfort zone, I had to learn to befriend younger kids, older kids, boys, girls, adults, and people with different interests to my own. I also had to be intentional about developing my friendships. In ‘real life’ those social skills are paramount, and homeschooling taught them to me.
How has homeschooling prepared you – or left you hanging – in terms of further education? The love of learning that homeschooling imparted for me is easily the best motivator to study hard and get good grades (or even learn something!) at university, where everything is self-motivated. The high school homeschool years also taught me to learn independently, and that’s crucial for further education, where they don’t spoon-feed you like most high school classrooms.
On the other hand, I still had to learn university’s essay writing rules and how to answer pre-set questions, rather than just write what I wanted to talk about. That was a bit of a learning curve, but it didn’t take too long to adjust.
Jessica: 20 years – Jess finished her homeschool in 2012 – she took a year as a gap year where she prepared for our family trip overseas and pursued general interests. After we came home she worked part time as a homeschool tutor and studied Professional Organising part time. When both those opportunities came to an end, she started Cert 4 in Business Admin with an online/external TAFE, then gained a traineeship with a local business and local TAFE. She works in an office that helps the public with a variety of technology and office needs, as well as the local internet cafe. It is a varied and busy office and her skills shine. She has pursued Duke of Edinburgh consistently, with a variety of volunteering opportunities, running for her fitness and learning piano for her skill. For her creative / downtime Jess enjoys cardmaking, digital scrapbooking and blogging.
How would you describe your homeschool years? In a way, my homschool years remind me of Anne of Green Gables. I don’t think I ever hit anybody over the head with my thin notebook, but her delight in learning, reading, and exploring the world was similar to my childhood of creating and learning in an interesting, hands-on, stimulating way. I had lots of pull-my-hair-out math moments; it wasn’t all pretty. But we talked lots, read lots, went places, and learned about a very broad scope of subjects.
What was your favourite thing about how you homeschooled? From the very start we used stories, pictures, and words as a launchpad to discovering all kinds of things and facilitating discussions. If it wasn’t in the form of a book, it was a movie, Mum telling a story or posing a question, or Dad dissecting a cow’s brain. Essentially, we homeschooled by letting our curiosity be piqued and enjoying the world around us as people with talents, tangents, ideas, and wriggling bodies.
What was your worst? My least favourite thing about how I homeschooled was the pressure I put on myself to reach a certain standard, which compared me to other people’s standards or strengths. I guess I thought I had to reach grade twelve math, understand grade twelve science, and write essays fluently. By that stage in my life, with my high-strung expectations on myself, some of the curriculum choices were probably not the best for me, either. In the last few years of high school, I lost sight of what I loved most about homeschooling; just enjoying the journey of curiosity and delight-directed learning. If I could go back and rehomeschool now, I would change my math curriculum, ditch the writing book for another fun one, and maybe sign up for a TAFE course and spend more time on the piano. On the other hand, some of the stuff I came up with and things I learned was fantastic, and the life lessons I’ve learned through it all are irreplacable, so while I am a little sad at how my last few high school years ended, I also recognise that it has made me who I am today.
How do you think homeschooling has shaped you as a person? Again; homeschooling inspires curiosity in me and encouraged questions and thinking. It facilitated my broad interests, gave me opportunities to work with younger kids (something I love to do), and it has given me a big love of all kinds of books!
What do you think is the most misunderstood aspect of homeschooling with people who don’t homeschool? Well, socialisation, obviously!. Other than that, maybe it’s that we do actually study and we don’t purely chase butterflies and watch Finding Nemo all day. We do that sometimes, but it’s because we believe this world is exciting, and we want to learn from a whole-of-life perspective. But we also learn about anatomy, physics, mathematics, writing prose and poetry, geography, and history. If I had a general knowledge competition with a schooled student, I would win in some things and lose in others. That’s okay. Some people I talk to get this bigger-than-the-prescribed-structure perspective straight away; some people live like that now but still think we need a rote education as a foundation. When you get out into the big wide world a bit more, we all know it’s about how we relate to people, solve problems, do stuff we’re good at, and find out things we didn’t even know existed! Homeschoolers can cash in on that perspective early on.
How would you answer the questions about socialisation? I had friends! They just weren’t in my classroom. Socialising also involves all ages and types of people, and both being homeschooled and being homeschooled in a small town taught me to play and talk with people forty years my senior and seven years my junior. The best type of socialised people, in the long run, are the open-minded, gracious, friendly type, seeing people as people no matter their age, gender, race, or personality, and that’s the type of person I want to be. There are lots of opportunities to socialise if we are like this.
How has homeschooling prepared you – or left you hanging – in terms of further education? Homeschooling requires a thick skull, but not an arrogant attitude. I think the homeschooling community need to be wary of this in our attempt to enjoy the benefits of homeschooling because otherwise, we’re the ones being the jerks. Once I worked out how to be confident in the attitude and skills homeschooling gave me, and knew it was enough of an education without being the one shouting that the loudest, I knew I could do anything I put my hand to. The bottom line for me is this: I love to learn, I am capable of learning and doing, and if there is a hole in my education, I know how to find the answers and ask others for help.
Naomi – 18 years – Nomi finished homeschooling last year. Her year 11 and 12 consisted of art, drama and Duke of Edinburgh focus more than book-work. She has been offered a Cert II in Visual Arts via external studies from the district TAFE – because of her one-on-one tutoring she is fast tracking through that course. Naomi is also learning piano and tap dancing. This year has played Touch Rugby and is looking forward to a new opportunity to learn pottery. Naomi adds light and colour to our family – as her ‘interview’ shows:
1 How would you describe your homeschool years?
Really fun. Wonderful. Me. Unlimiting. Full of experiences and training. Because the world is your oyster.
2 What was your favourite thing about how you homeschooled?
I could study what I wanted, the way I wanted, and in my own time and style. No one to rush me or ‘force’ me to learn things I had no interest in. I am a visual learner, so I do well with pictures and art, and I will often get more out of a book if it’s read as an audio. Those two facts themselves prove that I would struggle in school! (Not the school’s fault, not my fault, it’s just the way I’m made. The way I roll!)
3 What was your worst thing about how you homeschooled?
Well I can never keep up with the latest trends in music… I reckon that’s about all I missed out on!!!
4 How do you think homeschooling has shaped you as a person?
It’s given me a big mind, helps me keep my headspace clear and open… teaches me that it’s important to keep my eyes open to all things. And even more importantly, to be me and me alone. It’s taught me very much a lot (I said it that way on purpose… Point made!) about myself, who I am and who I want to be, without the clutter of so many people trying to cramp my style.
5 What do you think is the most misunderstood aspect of homeschooling with people who don’t homeschool?
Easy! I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but for some reason, lots and lots (and lots) of people seem to instantly predict that if you homeschool, you literally don’t leave your house and therefore you do not know what to do when you come across another human being. Croods much?
6 How would you answer the questions about socialisation?
This question really annoys me actually! But I think if I was put in a random social circle full of different types and ages of Human Beings, I would do much better than many kids my age. I would also have more fun! I think my social skills are great. I like meeting new people.
Oh, no that’s right, I live under a rock. I don’t know how to socialise. Forgot.
7 What story would you like to ‘tell on’ your mum? Be kind!
heh heh heh. No I”m just kidding. Totally kidding! My mum’s not like that at all. I’m just enjoying referencing to the Croods. It’s a great movie.
8 How has homeschooling prepared you – or left you hanging – in terms of further education?
Well the world is your oyster. A beautiful place to explore. Whether it’s literally exploring by traveling to Antarctica, America, France or Italy, or studying art in TAFE, doing work experience, to finding out how awesome Hungry Jacks is, and discovering a great book or movie, or or going to a birthday party or BBQ or painting your bedroom. I think everything you do is an adventure if you look at it right.
It’s a journey, an experience, maybe it’s a mistake you learn from, or a decision you are very glad you made. I think I already covered this answer in Q4, homeschooling helped me to focus on myself, and what I love (and don’t love 😛 ) best. Learning how I am Me is the journey of my lifetime… literally! I like being me, and doing my own thing. I now know better how to explore on my own as myself. And that’s the funnest thing.
Daniel – Is still homeschooling. He studies for 3 days a week, Monday – Wednesday. Thursday he goes to TAFE for a vocations course – Cert II in Pre-Construction, and Fridays he works on yard and farm maintenance. He does Taekwondo and over the last few months has tried Touch Rugby for a little variety and team sport. He loves minecraft and often connects with his friends to play.
How would you describe your homeschool years? Comfortable and relaxed – enjoyable and fun in some ways. I don’t really know how to describe my homeschooling because it is the only thing I’ve done. Yet at the beginning of this year I started TAFE, and between the two I find that TAFE is full on and homeschooling allows you to do things in your own speed and your own learning style. Although sometimes, my mum has to push me to do school.
What is your favourite thing about how you homeschooled? That I can do things in my own time yet not feel rushed.
What is your worst? For me, I don’t feel like there’s one.
How do you think homeschooling has shaped you as a person? It has enabled me to invest in interests such as:
- Writing novels
- Photography and animation
What do you think is the most misunderstood aspect of homeschooling with people who don’t homeschool? That home-schooling will ruin family relationship because you are always together, and that you need a partner the same age to spark ideas for good learning.
How would you answer the questions about socialisation? I do have a lot of friends; some I’ve known since my childhood, some through homeschooling and some from church. I also made friends at a Christian camp I went to. School isn’t the only way to get friends, it’s how you live life and how you connect with people along the way that makes friends.
Well that is what my kids think!!
Thank you Josh, Jess, Nomi and Daniel for taking time to answer those questions – and for Nomi for putting that extra entertainment in. Never had ‘gifs’ on my blog before!!