Written by contributor Jena Borah of Yarns of the Heart
I‘ve been writing here at Simple Homeschool, off and on, for the past four years. What an awesome community this has become! It’s a place of encouragement and inspiration on this bumpy road we call homeschooling.
Back in my day (we’re talking the 90s and early 2000s), I would have loved to find my “tribe” like this. So I send hugs, smiles, and a raised coffee cup to all you courageous parents reading right now.
This will be my last regular post here, so I thought it would be nice to give you a voice from the future, the voice of a grown homeschooled child. I asked my grown kids this question: What advice would you give homeschooling parents?
Peter (25) says this:
“To me, the most important parts of a good homeschooling experience are freedom and independence, tempered by responsibility.
Homeschooling is at its best when children are given the respect and trust to set their own path, with whatever encouragement and support the parents are able to give. Our biggest advantage is being free from the rules and structures of traditional school, and it would be a wasted opportunity to simply replicate them at home.
In college and the working world, I’ve found that the confidence, skills, and interests I developed as a homeschooler have served me incredibly well.
After graduating college with an interesting-but-useless degree, it was the most natural thing in the world for me to teach myself computer programming and turn that into what looks to be an excellent career. And perhaps most importantly, I had a great time doing it.
Homeschooling parents don’t need to be afraid of freely chosen structures and responsibilities — their children certainly won’t be! Some of my best memories are the times I spent playing in a junior orchestra, or filming TV shows with Dallas Community Television.
I even chose to spend a year at a traditional school, which was a very good experience, if not one I would choose to repeat.
Similarly, freedom should not mean spoiled or sheltered. There will be times when your child’s wanderings take them somewhere expensive, impractical, or dangerous. Don’t hide this from them, but bring them into the conversation. The summer film camp I attended meant that much more because I had to spend a semester working to pay for it.
Above all, children simply need love, trust, and respect. Treat them as you would like to be treated, and you can’t go far wrong.”
Peruse my Peter posts here.
From Meg, 22:
Meg, our middle child who is 22 and in college said her only advice was to let me homeschool everyone. That’s sweet, honey, but really, what advice can you give?
She said this: “Patience is the thing, I think. You always listened and treated us with respect and caring. I remember you losing your temper like … once. But most people just can’t be as patient and smart as you.”
Well, the patient and smart thing is subjective, but I think we all can be respectful of our children. To me, respect is seeing our children as human beings with ideas, and dreams that need to be taken seriously. If you’d like to know more about Meg, my posts about her are here.
Missa (20) just finished her sophomore year of college and says this:
“Growing up is one of the hardest things a person does in their life. Everyone takes different paths to get there, but I know mine was so smooth and so easy because my mom made the brave decision to homeschool me.
I was homeschooled until high school when I decided I wanted to be adventurous and see what public school was like. My experience in public school was a good one, but only because of the social aspect. Not that you can’t have that when you’re homeschooled, I just wanted to know what it was like seeing the same people every single day.
Looking at my classmates who had been shuffling through the public school system their whole lives, I saw a bunch of burnt-out clones. At home, I never had structured classes or subjects (besides math), but I had so much more knowledge about how the world works, simply because I had always been able to explore it at my own pace, on my own time, using my own inner curiosity.
I think every child is born with a hunger for knowledge and a passion to make a difference in the world. Unfortunately, the public school system is too big to give the proper attention each child needs to maintain that.
The four years I spent in public school are a blur of pointless assignments and busy work that kept me from reading books and exploring things I actually cared about.”
Photo by Jan
“The beauty of homeschooling is that your child can be exactly who they want to be without the pressure of peers or teachers. I wore a cowboy outfit for a large portion of my childhood, and I didn’t even know that was weird. That’s because I wasn’t surrounded by a system that only functions smoothly when all kids are the same. Had I been enrolled in school, I’m sure I would have been picked on for dressing weird.
I remember in 3rd grade I was hanging out with a neighborhood kid who was telling me about all the bullies in his school. I remember thinking “Wow, my mom must love me more than his mom loves him, because she would never make me go somewhere like that.”
I know for a fact I would have hated sitting in a classroom all day being forced to read and write things that weren’t interesting to me at the time. The best kind of learning is hands on.
When I got to high school biology, it wasn’t that hard because I had spent most of my childhood outdoors. I would get curious about something and my mom would jump on that opportunity and get me books, take me on field trips, and answer all of my questions.
Homeschooling was such a stress-free learning environment that I associated learning new things with fun and feeling good about myself.
So the advice I would give to parents deciding whether or not to homeschool their kids is this: Do it. Your child’s individuality is the most important thing you can give them, and that’s almost impossible in the public school system.
Who knows, if I hadn’t been allowed to express myself and wear my cowboy outfit, I could be a serial killer. Or worse, I could be boring.”
Read more about Missa here.
I want you to know that I didn’t coach any of them about what to write for this post. And as a mom, this brings me to tears. This is exactly what I wanted for them.
I had my eyes on this day when they would look back, understand, and be glad that we homeschooled in an unconventional, interest-led way. Along with the tears, I’m putting down my coffee cup and spiking the football!
Homeschooling is over for me, and what’s next? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll write a book. I’ve always wanted to do that.
Whatever it is, I promise not to be boring.
What do you hope your kids will say when they grow up?