True Story: I Was Home Schooled

What's it like to be home schooled? How do home school kids 'turn out'? Click through for an interesting interview with a woman who was home schooled and is now in college >> yesandyes.org

This is the story of Reyna and her home school education.
 
Tell us a bit about yourself! 
I’m 21-years-old and from Tampa, Florida. I currently attend Brigham Young University in Utah, where I am studying Therapeutic Recreation. I work at a residential treatment center for teenage girls with emotional and behavioral problems based on learning differences.
I love the outdoors, especially things like camping and rock climbing and gardening and the ocean. I love to read great books and eat yummy food and play loud music and dance with my friends.
Why did your parents decide to home school you?
My parents decided to home school me when I was six years old. The school that my older brother and I were attending did not allow my mother as much involvement in our education as she wanted and my father had always liked the idea of homeschooling, so they decided to give it a try.
What sort of training did your mom have to get before she could teach you?  Where did she get the teaching materials that she used?
My mother graduated with her bachelors in English with a minor in Communications. Before she had children, she worked as a teacher at Center Academy, a school for children with learning disabilities. Ironically, she says that this hindered her at the beginning, because home school is a lot different than a classroom setting. Formal training, however, is not required.

I remember my mom reading a lot of books about successful homeschooling methods and then pulling together her favorite things to make a program that would fit for our family. Her two favorite examples are Charlotte Mason and Karen Andreola and her favorite method is called unschooling.

My mother used quite a few resources for us. We tried to go with different curricula, but those never fit us 100%, so she pulled materials from lots of different places. We used the Oak Meadow curriculum as a guide throughout high school, but my mom was constantly adding her own touches to everything and supplementing it with other resources. Materials that she used were Abeka, Sonlight, Wordly Wise, Saxon Math, and many other.

Can you tell us what an average “school day” was like for you?
My mom liked us to wake up early and get our “paper work” done so we could do hands-on learning. Study time always varied, based on attitudes. Let’s be honest, when you’re teaching your own kids, they get a bit sassy sometimes. Some days I would be done with my assigned work within 1-2 hours. Other days started at 8:00 in the morning and went till 8:00 at night.

My favorite thing about homeschooling is that the world was our campus. We could start at the dining room table and move to a blanket in the backyard. I remember my little brother had a fascination with sharks at one point, so my mom embraced it.

We went to the library and filled up a laundry basket with books about the ocean and sat and read them together. We drew pictures and went to the beach and everything we did for a week or two was about the ocean. We would sit in the tree and my mom would read stories to us. When I think about my childhood, it really was idyllic. The classroom wasn’t the only place for learning, but my mother taught us that learning takes place everywhere.

What did your parents do to make sure you got enough social interaction?
My parents were concerned about our social interactions, so much that it was a huge reason they decided to home school us. They were not fans of some of the behavior that we were picking up at public school. So we were enrolled in dance classes and cub scouts and we were very involved in our church.

I had plenty of friends and play dates and sleep overs. I’ve never felt lonely or like I lacked friendships. We had some close friends who were also home schooled that we spent a good amount of time with. I remember watching Star Wars and swimming and playing on the trampoline with them a lot. My parents were also emphatic that we learn social skills not just from people our own age, but from all ages.

They hated it when kids and teenagers would ignore them or be rude to them and they were determined that their children would not be that way. I learned at a young age how to interact with adults and older and younger children. I’ve always felt comfortable conversing with all ages.

My favorite thing is when I tell someone that I was home schooled. Whether it is a good friend or someone I’ve just met, the reaction is always the same. “WHAT?! You? But you’re so normal! I would have never guessed!” I think that reaction is a huge compliment to my parents.

Did you ever go back to public school?
I never went back to public school. When we got a bit older, my parents always gave us the option, but I never wanted to go back. I think that my parents might have considered private school if they had been able to afford it, but once we really got comfortable with home school, we really felt like it was the only option.
Do you ever feel like you missed out on anything being home schooled?
I have never felt like I missed out on anything by being home schooled. I loved it and would do it again in a heartbeat.
What advise would you give to parents who are considering homeschooling their children?
My advice to parents who are considering home school would be to really think about it beforehand. Are you willing to invest the time and energy it takes? Homeschooling isn’t right for everyone. For my family, it was perfect. There were days when we doubted that, but when I got a 29 on the ACT and all my friends were getting 19s, my parents were grateful they had made the decision and given it everything they had.
Home school is a big sacrifice, but it can absolutely be worth it. Do your research and don’t do it if you aren’t willing to give it all you have. There are plenty of crazy home schoolers out there with weird or wild kids. Give it your whole heart.
Have any of you guys been home schooled or want to home school your kids?  Questions for Reyna?
P.S. I’m always looking for new True Story interviewees. Check out my submission guidelines here!
photo by gabby orcutt // cc

12 Comments

Jessica

I was also homeschooled from kindergarten through high school, and it's so cool to hear that your experiences were so close to mine! Especially the, "What?! You're so normal!!" reactions. I literally laughed out loud here at work, because the exact same thing happens. Thanks for sharing your story! It breaks those stereotypes beautifully.

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Natalie

I, too, was homeschooled. It is so great to hear from other homeschoolers because our experiences can be so different. The "you're so normal" thing is always funny.:)

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Kristie

Hello from Salt Lake! I loved reading this. I don't have kids yet, but I've kind of been toying with the idea of home schooling them when they come along. The only thing stopping me was the weirdness factor. Thanks for debunking that for me!

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Paula

I was homeschooled too! It is always nice to read about other positive experiences, especially since there seems to be a lot of animosity toward homeschooling. 🙂 I get the "but you're so normal" thing as well. LOL

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kirkaug

I have been thinking about homeschooling my sons. I am still, as you suggest, doing the research to make sure it is for us, but I am leaning strongly toward it. Your story certainly is encouraging in that light.

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teatheorist

A few sporadic thoughts:

I, too, was homeschooled and LOVED it. Without it , I wouldn't have been okay with moving as much as we did, wouldn't have been able to intern on a movie set during high school, wouldn't have been able to read what I wanted to when I wanted to, etc. There was a single time that I seriously considered going to public school, but it was only so that I could audition for a Governor's School for the Performing Arts (open only to public-schooled students).

I think it's funny that with homeschooling, where arguably the only thing you can say is that each experience is vastly and inherently different, there are still so many similarities, so many things that resonated with me in what you said. It's really all about a true love of learning, I think. (But, um…can we just talk about Saxon math for a minute? I mean, it served me well, but…GAHHHH.)

My favorite reaction in the "but you're so normal!" vein is "but…you don't DRESS like a homeschooler!"

One last thing. I'm glad you are talking about this, because I always have a rather difficult time when people ask me what homeschooling "was like". I'm not sure that they've thought through the fact that if you don't go to an institutional school, then education and your everyday life aren't compartmentalized in the way that they may be for other people. It's holistic and, in one sense, it's hard to separate these questions from an all-encompassing inquiry into my life up until high school graduation. 🙂

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Kealeigh

I was homeschooled as well, more on the un-schooling end, similar to your experience. My parents both loved learning, and when my younger brother was having difficulties reading in 3rd grade, my parents knew they had to take action, so we all gave it a try. My little sister was so young, she's never gone to public school, except to take electives at the high school (even I will admit, a homeschooling drama club of just your family would be a little pointless)
One thing I love is the ability to spot a homeschooler, especially a teen, at a distance of ten yards. Over all they are calmer, more respectful, have well-researched opinions and are usually more well-spoken than your typical teenager, especially when dealing with adults instead of their peers. ^_^
I loved homeschooling, and wouldn't have gone back to school for the world (We started when I was 13). I think the only thing I missed out on was all the high school drama!
thank you for the post! this is a subject dear to my heart.

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Adey

Kate Fridkis of http://www.eatthedamncake.com/ and http://skipping-school.com/, and now this post, have really opened my eyes about the experience of being homeschooled in America. And I'm loving what I've read so far as someone who has reservations about my own conventional schooling history. As one of the folks above mentioned, homeschooling is a variable experience for everyone but there seem to be some important common threads like devoted and well-read parents who are flexible in teaching style and supportive of their children's interests. Even though children are quite a few years down the road for me and I still find the responsibility of home-schooling a child a little scary, I'm definitely investigating this idea. Whether or not I eventually apply what I read, it's fascinating and inspiring stuff 🙂

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Dennis

I'm Reyna's brother, and will vouch for everything she said here. Particularly, I'm extremely grateful for my parents teaching us how to interact with people of all ages. I now work for a Fortune 500 company as a financial adviser, and most of the people I work with are 15 or more years older than me, not to mention the clients I work with, who are frequently baby boomers looking to retire.

Homeschooling isn't for everyone, and you need to put your whole self and family into it, if you do it. But it worked for us, and I recommend looking into it to see if it works for you.

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Jacqueline Fisch

I love this story! We’ve strongly considered doing this (and still might). After meeting more and more perfectly pleasant homeschooled adults, kids, and babysitters – it totally feels unweird to me now! Thanks for the inspiration!

Reply

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