From A Homeschooler - {Education}

(2016: Please note that this is a series I wrote several years ago as a general overview of my experience as a homeschool student.  If you have any questions about homeschooling and my homeschool experience, please comment below, and I would love to address them in future posts.  Thanks for reading!)

That first day of homeschooling I remember being excited that I didn’t have to go to school!  But I quickly started feeling overwhelmed as I sat downstairs with my fourth-grade English book. My mom really did her research and got us some great homeschool curriculum, but as I sat down to the first lesson, I didn’t know what half the terms in the chapter meant.

I wasn’t a poor student in public school.  I was one of the top students in my class.  I was very good at reading; in the second grade I was reading at the eighth grade level, and my third grade teacher wanted me to consider competing to enter the National Spelling Bee.  But this English book had me stumped.

Looking back at it now, I wonder if I would have had as much trouble if I had been using that same homeschool curriculum for the first three grades.  It’s hard to say, but if that was fourth-grade level English, the public school system had not prepared me to even know what I was looking at; and like I said, I was a good student.

I came upstairs not even knowing where to start ( I believe there was some crying involved), and my mom sat the three of us down and went through our lessons with us.  It made sense then, and I remember our lessons going more smoothly after that.

I was a very self-motivated student, and over the years I developed my method for studying, which mainly involved me sitting down with my school books and learning the material myself.  I learn best from reading and studying by myself, so it was very easy for me to thrive educationally at home.
My brother and sister have a different learning-style than mine, and often my mom would sit down and go through their lessons with them, but they also learned how to study by themselves and they did well.

Everyone always wonders about test-taking when homeschooling, but honestly it was just like taking a test in public school.  We’d study, then sit down somewhere and take the test then my mom would grade our work. People always suggest that parents would go too easy on grading tests or papers, but if you were homeschooling your kids, would you go easy on them?  Most homeschool parents are very concerned with making sure their children get a proper education, and they aren't going to let them skate through without actually learning something.  There is something to be said for a teacher (parent) being in charge of a child's education from start to finish.  The kids won't be passed on to a new teacher the next year, so it forces parents to make sure their students really know the material.  My mom didn’t go easy on us – if I deserved a B or C, that’s what I got, and we knew where we needed to work harder.  I mostly got A’s (except in Algebra – oh, Algebra).

My mom took us on field trips, and if we had to run errands we would just take our work with us.  If we knew we had something going on one day during the week, we would just “double up” on our schoolwork so we could take a day off.  One advantage to homeschooling is that it is very flexible.  We learned at our own paces, and it worked beautifully.

A couple years after we started my mom had us tested with a standardized test (I can’t for the life of me remember which one it was), and all three of us were either right on track or ahead in every subject.  We were learning everything we needed to know and doing very well educationally at home. 

Sidenote: My mom eventually took over an umbrella school and became certified to give that standardized test to other homeschool families.  More on the umbrella school in the next post.

By the time I reached high school it became apparent that I was good at the sciences, and biology was my favorite subject.  My mom had me teach my younger brother and sister their science lesson a few times, and it gave me an opportunity to use what I learned. 

High school is where many homeschool families get intimidated and start sending their kids to public school, but in our house it was a natural transition, no different than any other grade.  The material got harder, but if my mom didn’t know something she just learned with us.  There are also many homeschooling co-ops out there where the moms will “trade-off” in certain subjects and give everyone a lesson in the subjects that they are comfortable with.  We never participated in a co-op, but it’s an option.

When I turned sixteen I took the entrance exam at our local community college (I did well on it) and started taking classes.  I got dual-credit for those classes, credit that counted for high school and college (a lot of homeschoolers take this route).  This also allowed me to get ahead on my pre-requisites for the dental hygiene program I wanted to attend.  When I was seventeen I took microbiology (which I loved), and my last semester was my “fun” semester, since I had all my requirements at that point.  That semester I worked as a teaching assistant for micro at the college, a job that involved culturing bacteria, helping students with the lab projects, and pre-grading the student’s lab reports.  I also took a theatre class. 

I had all the requirements I needed to graduate from high school early, but I took classes at the college and had my official graduation on time.  When I graduated high school I was just a couple classes shy of also having my Associate’s degree, and the only reason I didn’t just get my Associate’s degree right then was because I already had all my pre-requisites for hygiene college completed and was planning to start with that in the fall. I graduated, applied for hygiene school, and spent my last summer before college as a counselor at a local Christian camp.

I cover socialization and spiritual growth in the next posts in this series! You can read the rest of my homeschooling story here:

You may also like:
Veronica and Daniel said...

I love reading about your school experience. In the state where I grew up, there is a program for high school students where you can take college classes (for free!) and have them count for high school too. I did not participate in the program, but I do know several people who did and loved it ~ and saved major money on the college credits.

I worked at a summer camp also - it was one of the best summers of my life :) Cant wait to read more!

Brittney said...

Very interesting! Sounds like you had a wonderful teacher in your Mom and a colorful, diverse education growing up. Love learning more about you..I look forward to your next post!

Mrs. G said...

As a fellow homeschooler, I'm really enjoying your series. My homeschooling story looks very different from the majority: my parents didn't start homeschooling until my sophomore year of high school. (Talk about taking on a challenge!) I was part of a video/correspondence program and did well with that format. If my parents couldn't help me with homework (especially algebra), we'd call up friends who knew more about the subject and could tutor me.

Sarah said...

Again, loving this series!

Natalie said...

A few things stood out to me.
1. One thing I LOVE about homeschooling, is that it provides opportunity for each child to learn in the way they learn best! Like you said you learned well reading it on your own but your siblings needed a more hands on approach. I am excited to provide my children with their learning style and hopefully that will help them learn even more!
2. I love that you said if your mom didn't know the material, she just learned it too! I have sometimes been concerned with things like math & science which weren't my top subjects. Or parts of history I might have forgotten. But then I am quickly reminded that I learned it once and it will probably come back to me fairly quickly. I am excited to be able to do that for my children!
3. Love that you were able to take classes at the community college while still in high school. I would really like for my children to do that, if they desire to!
Awesome post, Callie! I love seeing homeschooling through your eyes :)

Melanie said...

This is just so interesting!! I cant wait to read more about your homeschooling experience and how it affected you even when you went to college. Thanks for sharing all this info with us!!

"The Mrs." said...

I just found your blog! We have a son named Wyatt too!! So cute!

Jessica said...

I am finding your homeschooling series very interesting since I attended and have taught in a public school, but like you, Luke was homeschooled from 4th grade on. I do agree that homeschooling is great for some students, and it sounds like you had a great teacher!! Unfortunately it is not always that way, and I've seen the other end of the spectrum where students have come to public school in third or fourth grade after being homeschooled, and some can barely read or have major social delays. It all just comes down to the parent or teacher to determine the success of homeschooling, and it sounds like your parents were very successful!

Since I did teach in the public school for four years, I guess I feel the need to play devil's advocate and say that, yes, there can be a lot of problems in the public school system. But there can also be a lot of problems with homeschooling. It all just depends on each person's individual experience. Also, the public school setting today is so incredibly different from what it was when we were kids. So I just wonder if your opinions are based on what you remember or on how the public school system works today.

I don't have anything against homeschooling at all. In fact, I've considered it for my own future children. But I guess I took it a little personally in your disclaimer from your last post when you said you think there are a lot of problems with the public school system. Because it's hard to make a blanket statement about that when there are some pretty great things about the public school system, too. Trust me, I've witnessed many firsthand :-)

Sarah said...

This was really helpful. Thanks for writing about your experience!

Andee Flynn said...

Oh Callie! I love reading your homeschool experience. So many people are afraid to homeschool, especially after high school. I think your story is a great testimony of how good a homeschool experience can be! Even though I am a former high school teacher (in both public and private schools) I am a devout supporter of homeschooling. What I'd love to know is how was it on your mother? Was she overwhelmed with the kids at home with her every day? That's the one thing I always wonder.

© Through Clouded Glass. Design by MangoBlogs.