An interview with 3 homeschool graduates

laura1picmo

Written by Laura Thomas of This Eternal Moment

While we may have many opportunities to talk to other homeschooling parents, we may not have as many chances to chat with adults who were homeschooled as children.

I recently had the opportunity to interview three homeschool graduates about what it was like for them to grow up doing school at home and have Mom as their teacher.

Without further ado, I would like to introduce you to these three incredible people: Megan Kirk, Sarah Hanks, and Chad Jordan.

laura2

Tell me a little bit about what homeschooling looked like in your home.

I was fairly self-motivated by the time my mom began homeschooling; however, I hated to read. Our first homeschooling curriculum taught history through literature, so I was fortunate to have my mom read every one of the books to me that year. By the time that year was done, I had developed a love for reading, but I am very grateful for that first year of extra attention from my mom.” – Megan

I think my homeschooling experience was probably a little different that most people’s. My sister was a competitive figure skater, so we traveled all over the country as she trained. We had structured lessons, but there was also a lot of flexibility given the way we traveled around; not to mention the fact we lived on a nearly 600-acre working ranch. School and a solid work ethic work went hand-in-hand.” – Chad

Homeschooling in our house of four kids was the furthest thing from unschooling – it was very formal. We had to be dressed with our teeth brushed and hair done before entering the schoolroom with four kids desks and mom’s desk up front. We each went through our lessons and raised a hand if we had a question for Mother.” – Sarah

What was great about being homeschooled?

I really loved the opportunity to ask so many questions, and have my mom show me practical ways of dealing with things. Whenever I needed answers, I learned how to find a reference book and look things up myself. I also loved the freedom to pursue dance.” – Megan

3 21 spot Rhythm of the Dance 2

I’m so very close to my siblings because of schooling with them. I also had time to practice my violin three hours a day by 6th grade.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when I arrived at the FSU School of Music when I was 18 years old, I found many of the other violin performance majors had been homeschooled for a majority of the time.” – Sarah

For me, there’s not a lot that wasn’t great about being homeschooled.  

We were able to do things as a family such as travel and meet new people that wouldn’t have been possible had we taken a more traditional path to education. By being homeschooled, my perspective is broad and full and I see the world as an amazing place to be discovered.  My mom taught me a global perspective that has definitely shaped who I am today, personally and professionally.” – Chad

Did your mom do anything special or fun with you as a part of your homeschooling schedule that you have fond memories of?

We were always going from one place to another, learning about new places, meeting new people. My mom did a fantastic job of teaching my sisters and me how to make the most of our time, to be productive wherever we were, to live in the moment.” – Chad

My mom always went downstairs to the kitchen to make us “snack” halfway through our day.  It was often cinnamon toast and milk and cinnamon toast is still my favorite treat ever!” – Sarah

One definite perk was being able to take off and go some place during the week if we got all of our schoolwork done. My mom arranged Disneyland trips, beach trips with friends, and so many wonderful things.

Some of my fondest memories are of our unit studies with our closest homeschool families. We had a Renaissance unit study that we all dressed up for and one year we had unit studies for all of the small holidays like Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day. We learned the history of these holidays, had traditional meals, and just got to have a great time with our friends.” – Megan

laura3

What was difficult about being homeschooled?

At the time I was homeschooled, participating in competitive sports wasn’t easy when you reached a certain age. After much debate, this caused me to go into the public school system for a few years, because I really wanted to continue playing football and running track.” – Chad

“When I transitioned from homeschooling to a large Christian High School, all of my 9th grade teachers called my parents and said I was demanding too much individual help and that I lacked the confidence to do my work on my own without them standing over my shoulder. 

I did my work well and correctly, but I wanted the teacher to be standing over me just to double check.  I know that’s one thing I’ll be doing differently with my own kids.” – Sarah

The difficult part was the transition from public school. I didn’t want to be away from my friends all the time, and I made a stink about it, but in the end my actual friends kept in touch for a few years and I made many more friends while homeschooling.” – Megan

How do you think being homeschooled prepared you for what you do today?

Today, I work in the field of international development/finance as the founder of a couple organizations.

The global perspective I gained from being homeschooled and traveling has had a huge impact on what I do. 

Likewise, being homeschooled taught me how to be a self-starter, which is something that serves me every single day as my own boss and as the builder of a couple organizations. I have to be motivated to get things done, to work on the run, to meet invisible deadlines. I’m not sure my life would look anything like it does now if I hadn’t been homeschooled.”Chad

laurachad

I’m a professional freelance violinist and Suzuki violin teacher. See my response above about ‘what was great about being homeschooled?'”Sarah

I just finished a five year career as a professional Irish dancer, touring throughout four continents. I am now a Pilates and dance instructor and I love my new career. Homeschooling helped me prepare for both of these areas; I had the freedom and time to pursue dance, and I had a fantastic education in the sciences to get me started with my Kinesiology degree. I hope to start a dance school of my own in the future.” – Megan

What advice or encouragement would you give to homeschooling parents who have chosen this path for their kids’ education?

A homeschooling mother herself, Sarah says, “Confidence! If you are confident you can do it.

laurasarah

Take advantage of field trip opportunities, because real life experience is priceless!

Also, don’t be afraid to ask other moms for help. My mom would say herself that math isn’t her strong suit, but for another homeschool mom and good friend of hers, it was. I would always go to her when there were math problems that neither my mom nor I could figure out.” Megan

I’m not sure I’m the best person to give advice on this … maybe you should talk to my mom!  

But, I think you just have to keep going. There’s no single formula or exact way it should look. My story of being homeschooled should make you see that … the experience wasn’t ‘normal,’ but it worked for us.  

My mom – though I’m sure she did at times – didn’t get bogged down in trying to make it fit a mold. Homeschooling was an extremely important part of our lives, but it wasn’t everything. It fit in among all the other parts of life that every single family has.” – Chad

Were you homeschooled as a child? If so, how would you have answered some of these questions? How do you find it helpful to hear from those who have already “graduated” from doing school at home?

About Laurat

Laura M. Thomas is a homeschooling mother of four, an avid writer, jogger, and nature lover. You can read more of her writing at This Eternal Moment.

Comments

  1. I was homeschooled for 1st through 8th grade and am now starting on the journey of homeschooling my own kids. I love to hear the perspective of other people who’ve homeschooled. Homeschooling taught me how to work independently, set my own timeline and deadlines, and that there’s so much more out there than school.
    Steph’s latest post: Persuasion, Motherhood, War, & Decor

    • Steph,
      thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on what you uniquely learned by being homeschooled!
      Best,
      Laura
      Laura Thomas’s latest post: 7 Secrets to a Joy-Filled Life

    • Forqan Ahmad says:

      hi mam God to see u here im Forqan Ahmad from Pakistan im student of Media study final years. in final year im make documentary about homeschooling as a my assignment . i want to give me some stuff if u have and share me your experience about your home schooling
      if u have im very thankfulto u for this kind of act

  2. I love hearing from homeschooled adults! My five siblings and I were homeschooled all the way through high school. I learned to be self-driven, accomplish goals, and how to learn new things. I’m seeing the same traits in my own kids, as they are starting school. My five year old recently came to me and told me that its time for her to learn to read. I’m good with that!

  3. Thank you for this wonderful post! As a homeschool mom, this info is invaluable!
    sara’s latest post: (this is a warning*) An Overly Sappy Post on Homeschooling and Our Stage in Life

  4. I was homeschooled through junior high and high school and I’m planning to homeschool my own kids. My homeschooling experience was very different from Megan’s, Sarah’s, and Chad’s…and that’s what I love about homeschooling–everyone can and does have a different experience with it because education can be tailored to each individual family and child!

    • Emily,
      such an important point! each educational experience CAN be so different when you are homeschooling. I personally love that I can try out different ideas and methods with each of my children and see what they enjoy best!
      Best,
      Laura

  5. I also graduated from home school. I was just talking today with a friend who also was home schooled about how awesome an experience we had.
    Still, as a home school mom I sometimes have doubts that I am doing the right thing. Thankfully, I need only to look back on all I learned over the years and remember that home schooling does work. That it is o.k. for my kids education to look different than mine. After all, I think the best part of home schooling is that you can tailor education to your child’s needs.
    Rita’s latest post: Easing into Winter

    • Rita,
      thank you for your thoughts! It is so great to hear others stories and like you said, to look back over the lives of those who had positive experiences with homeschooling and see the end result. And great point that we can tailor education to our child’s needs!
      Best,
      Laura
      Laura Thomas’s latest post: 7 Secrets to a Joy-Filled Life

  6. I love that this positive story is out there. I feel like you never really here about homeschooling unless it is some kind of horror story. I have to admit even my family was an anti-homeschool family, until we tried it. My mother swore for years she would never homeschool her kids, ever. Even after we first started my father was so mad about the decision that he refused to participate, predicted it would be a disaster, and swore when my mother got all this foolishness out of her system, we’d all go back to school. However, by the end of the first year, he too was converted.

    Homeschooling definitely looked a little different in our home. I started as a 10th grader, but my younger sister started in kindergarten. We are 10 years apart, so it was great for me to be able to actually help in homeschooling her as well. I got to see both sides of it, both being homeschooled and homeschooling someone else. It did present a bit of challenge for my mother, though, homeschooling a 10th grader and a kindergartener at the same time her first year.

    We were probably as far from the un-schooling spectrum as you can get. We had a school room with a black board and a regular schedule of curriculum planned down to the minute. My sister had a standard school desk, the chair / desk combo kind, she did her work in, and my mother made sure she did 1.5 hours of math and another 1.5 hours of reading/grammar every day. The rest of the day was divided between logic, Latin, history, science, foreign language, and extracurriculars. Monday through Thursday we usually spent a solid 6 hours on lessons and book work. Then we probably averaged another 3 hours on other activities. Fridays, were our fun days. Those were the days set aside for traveling, field trips, and other fun educational activities. We tried to get in 3 hours of math and reading Friday mornings, but if it wouldn’t fit, we just did it on Saturday instead or pushed those lessons out into the summer. My mother insisted on getting a full 180 lessons of math and reading in each year.

    Even though I was only homeschooled for a short time in high school, it definitely made a big impact on my life. I was always a very shy introverted child growing up. You could just look at me wrong, and I would burst into tears, and I was way too self-conscious. Homeschooling really helped to bring me out of my shell. I was able to start opening up like I had never felt comfortable to before. Now, I am a very outgoing adult, and my friends today cannot believe that I was ever a shy quiet child.

    As far as special activities, there is no one thing that really stands out to me. We did many of the same types of things listed in the article by others. We traveled, went to Disney in the off season, to the zoo, to museums, to fairs and exhibits, to parks and historical sites, to lakes and botanical gardens, and to the library every Friday where they hosted a homeschool program. We took more time to visit with family. We participated in unit studies with other families, took field trips, participated in extracurricular classes with other kids like graphic design, cooking, yearbook, swimming, gym, and karate to name a few. Overall, I think it was the flexibility to be able to do all those things that is what I really remember fondly. It was great to be able to just go do something and not have to worry about it being a school night or about missing school. You could just make it up later.

    One memory that does stand out is that through homeschooling we discovered I had a minor learning disability. We were working closely with an umbrella school that required quite a bit of testing, and through that testing, I was diagnosed. It was like someone turned the light bulb on. Problems I had been having since first grade all clicked into place and suddenly made sense. It was a huge relief to know that there was an actual reason for my struggles all those years. That was definitely one of the highlights of homeschooling for me.

    As far as negative experiences, there were very few. I was a typical teenager and most of my negative experiences related to curriculum I wasn’t interested in doing because it wasn’t fun to me. To this day, you say the word Smar and I cringe. Was it bad curriculum? No. But I hated doing it along with Latin, logic, and trig. However, once I was in college, I was very glad that I had been forced to cover all that material. Especially logic and Latin which ended up being better preparation for college and the work force than any other classes I ever took. I would definitely do both starting in elementary school if I homeschooled in the future.

    Overall, my advice to new homeschoolers or those thinking about it, is to keep an open mind and really do your research to see what is available in your area and what type of homeschool family you want to be.

    • Nicole,
      Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your own answers to these questions. It was incredibly valuable for me personally to hear you share:
      a) that you had been very self-conscious and shy before homeschooling and that
      “Homeschooling really helped to bring me out of my shell.” Why do you think this was? and how do you think homeschooling specifically helped with this?
      b) that you discovered a small learning disability through homeschooling. I have often thought that homeschooling can provide a unique environment for identifying learning problems (because you are one-on-one with your kids) and then working with them individually as needed.
      Thank you again for sharing your beautiful story with us all!!
      Best,
      Laura
      Laura Thomas’s latest post: 7 Secrets to a Joy-Filled Life

      • Hi Laura
        You were wondering about how homeschooling helped me become a more outgoing person. To understand this, I think you have to understand how my public school environment helped to encouraged the opposite.

        First, I went to very large public schools. My elementary school had 1,000+ students, k-5th grade. My junior high had around 4,000, 6th – 8th grade.

        Second, we weren’t bussed in from across town or anything. My school was a local neighborhood school, so all the students knew of everybody else, but you never really knew anyone except your close friends.

        Third, our school was very economically diverse. We had kids whose parents were doctors and lawyers and kids whose parents were delivery men and janitors.

        Fourth, we did not wear uniforms.

        Fifth, we changed up students, teachers, and classes starting in the first grade, just like you see in highschools.

        In this type of an environment, there was a lot of competition to fit in. Everybody was obsessed with having the right clothes, the right shoes, etc. There was a lot of pressure and that was only acerbated between the haves and have-nots. You can bet everyone knew in a heartbeat if little Johnny didn’t have the latest… And no one except for little Johnny’s close clique cared if his feelings were hurt at all by the gossip. It was almost a small town mentality of the need to keep up with the Jones’s, but all happening within our school. This environment did nothing to help an already insecure child feel ok about anything. What was in one week could just as quickly be out the next. I know I spent way too much time in school wondering what everyone else was thinking about me.

        Cliques were unavoidable as your close friends outside of school automatically became your click. There was no real way to make close friendships inside the classroom as we were constantly being put together with different students. In all 6 years of elementary school, I only ever had 1 class with a friend. I got to spend 45 minutes in reading class with my best friend in 4th grade.

        On top of this, it wasn’t strange at all to find yourself in a class full of nothing but your enemies or kids you had never spoken one word to before. You can imagine how these factors lead to bullying and other social issues. Our school had its fair share of violence: fights, kids getting jumped, the usual. I even once had a knife pulled on me by a girl in another grade I had never met before. I was able to talk her down, but the very incident only reinforced my desire to blend in as I saw how quickly the wrong kind of attention could come your way. The funny thing is. I was never bullied. I had a close nit group of friends, and my clique was one of the more popular ones. None of those factors, however, lessoned the anxiety I felt about social situations in school.

        Now let’s add in that despite the fact I sat in a classroom with kids all day, I very rarely interacted with any of them. We weren’t allowed to talk in class unless it was to ask a question or work on a project together, so there were few real opportunities to work on social skills apart from the playground where we stuck to socializing with our comfortable cliques.

        Fast-forward to homeschooling. I was suddenly in a completely different word.

        First, I no longer had 100+ kids my same age telling me how I should think and what I should like. At first, it was a little overwhelming because I felt sort of lost. My whole life until that point had been about other people telling me what to think and wear and all of a sudden that was gone. It was at this point that I realized I wasn’t even really sure what I did and did not like. This was my light bulb moment. I was forced to evaluate my life and figure out where I stood, and I realized how petty everything had been before. It seems silly to say it now, but it was like there was this huge weight lifted off of me that I could just go to the store and buy a shirt I liked and not worry about what “Susie” might think of it. I realized that my life wouldn’t come to an end if I didn’t have that one shirt or didn’t look just like everybody else. I really learned to be comfortable with who I was. I know it sounds kind of cliché, but it is the truth. I learned to be comfortable with me, and if someone else didn’t like it, then they weren’t really a true friend to begin with. I know this is something many kids learn in college, but homeschooling just helped get me there a little sooner.

        The second aspect that helped me was that I went from being surrounded by hundreds of kids my same age who I had no real connection with, to being around smaller groups of kids and adults of all different ages with all different likes and interests. This made everything feel much less intimidating to me. It is much easier to make a friend in a small informal group I feel. On top of that, when I was around these people we were having meaningful conversations and interactions, not just sitting side by side in a room silently. For the first time, I had a real chance to build relationships and friendships outside of my original clique with people who I felt comfortable with and who shared my interests. I also came to understand that I could make lasting friendships with people with different interests as well and that that was ok.

        Third, I had more opportunities to take control and to lead. I had many opportunities to help with younger children from different age groups as well as more chances to have more input and leadership opportunities with kids my own age. I learned I was capable of a lot more responsibility and self-discipline than I originally thought as it was my responsibility to stay on track with my lessons and at times to help out with my sister. I learned to plan and organize and to feel more comfortable traveling away from my family. All these things boosted my self-confidence.

        I also gained confidence from my academic progress. As a 10th grader, we actually had to start in a 3rd grade grammar book; I was that far behind by the time I was pulled out of school. I had tested on a 7th grade level in grammar, but once we started, we found that anything above 3rd grade was simply too hard. The funny thing is I was a straight A student all through school. We had absolutely no idea I was so far behind until we started homeschooling. Despite this setback, I was able to work my way from 3rd grade through college English before I graduated high school. I actually started as a college English tutor my senior year of high school. You definitely gain some confidence when you are a senior in high school tutoring college seniors.

        Overall, you can see homeschooling really helped to boost my confidence. It wasn’t any one large thing that did this. It happened through small wins such as overcoming learning disabilities, mastering hard concepts, and leading others. Homeschooling allowed me to let go of the peer pressure I had been holding onto and figure out what I wanted from life and then to be comfortable with that decision. It gave me the chance to have real meaningful social interactions with people of all ages and to make new friends. It offered me leadership opportunities and responsibilities I had never had before. All this made a huge impact on the adult that I became.

        Sorry, this reply has been so long, but there was no quick easy answer to your question. I’m sure I still left out quite a lot. I do want one thing to be clear, though. I don’t mean for this post to be anti-public school. Despite everything I have just written. I loved my public schools, and I wouldn’t trade the time I spent at them for anything. I have some very wonderful memories from that time, especially my elementary school. I have only pointed out these negative aspects to highlight my response about social interaction. I could speak just as long about all the amazing good attributes these schools had as I did on these negative aspects. There are definitely pros and cons to every schooling situation.

  7. Please do more of these! I have two boys in grade eight this year and I just love hearing the perspectives of adults who were home schooled as I was public schooled all the way through. I want to know the good and the bad, what worked and what didn’t, and I love to see what home schooled children end up doing as adults!

  8. This is brilliant, thank you so much for this. the perfect post for my homeschooling high schoolers to read… they won’t be in it forever and they will be going places when they are done!!!
    se7en’s latest post: Five Books in Five Days – Day 4: Journey

  9. Thank you for posting this! We are barely beginning our journey with homeschooling, our oldest is 4, then 2 and the baby is 8 months. It took 3 years to convince my husband that homeschooling is a good choice for our family, though I’ve been convinced since I was a teenager lol. Neither my husband or I were home schooled, so we are very new to it. But I really love to see the perspective of adult homeschool graduates! Gives me a lot of hope 🙂

  10. Great post! There are so many unique ways to be homeschooled!
    I was homeschooled pretty much all my school years, but there were years that mom found help when she needed it. One year, there was a private small school, another year, she hired a homeschool graduate to teach us three days a week and assign homework for the other two. The things I loved about being homeschooled was mostly the ability to learn how I chose to learn. I could set my own schedule, and get my work done, and not waste time waiting for other students that were slower.
    Some of the things I disliked about homeschooling, have changed now and are not the same as they were when I was growing up. My children are part of competitive sports as homeschoolers, they have the ability to access classes that I cannot teach easily, and if I need help with a learning issue, I found I can even access public school resources for help now. There are so many more curriculums, online helps, and ways to teach that the sky is truly the limit if you homeschool.

    I would really just encourage other homeschooling parents that the main thing to remember is that everyone will learn differently, there is not a one size fits all, but that as long as you consistently teach your child, they will likely come out with an advantage with homeschooling.
    Martha Artyomenko’s latest post: The Bound Heart by Dawn Crandall

    • hi Martha,
      thank you so much for sharing your story. You are right that the resources available to homeschoolers today are just endless. I appreciate the encouragement that as long as we stay consistent, homeschooling will produce some great fruit in our kids lives.
      Best,
      Laura

  11. I have 8 homeschool graduates so far, ranging in age from 18-38yo, with 2 more to go. They are all happy, healthy adults, and leaders in their churches, careers, and in their neighborhoods. They are homeschooling, or planning to homeschool their children.

    • Pam,
      wow! what a testimony!!! it really is so encouraging to hear from others who have graduated or watched their children graduate from homeschooling and see where they go in life! It is also great to see that they plan to homeschool (or are homeschooling) their own children!
      Be blessed!
      Laura

Share Your Thoughts

*

CommentLuv badge