Looking Back

Looking Back

Looking Back

The Spanish moss is swaying gently from the trees as I write this afternoon. I’m sitting in my home, which was once so full of noise, busyness, and activity from homeschooling five children, and I see that what I did during those twenty-one years really mattered. You see, I’ve completed my homeschooling journey. So it is from this place that I share with you.

I remember rising early, before the kids, to exercise, study God’s Word, and pray over my day. I enjoyed that morning cup of coffee—or two—while reviewing my lesson plans, knowing the quiet would not last long. This was the calm before the storm. For when those little feet hit the floor, we would charge full steam ahead into our day.

My house was once messy, with LEGOs, toys, books, and pencils scattered everywhere and laundry that was never “done” for more than an hour. Our days would begin early and end late. (How did we ever find the energy to maintain that pace?)

Now the floor needs vacuuming just once a week, the dishwasher runs may be every three days, and the laundry baskets are mostly empty. I know, Mom, you can’t image that right now. How can you? You’re in the midst of raising your children.

You see all those Pinterest perfect crafts that never really turn out as nicely for you as they do in the picture. Everyone seems to have children who are thrilled to be homeschooled, love doing morning chores, and make their beds first thing. Maybe your days don’t look quite that way. At least mine never did. But that’s okay. For it was on some of our messiest days that the best teaching moments happened.

I know many homeschooling moms feel isolated, alone, and ready to quit. I understand. I did, too! Doing really important work is never easy. And raising and educating our children is really important.

Today my calendar is full of things I choose to schedule. No sports, dance, classes, or music lessons to shuttle kids to. My now-adult children organize and manage their own lives. I stand back and watch in awe and wonder, reflecting on what an amazing journey we took together. And my desire is for you to stand where I am one day, looking back and thinking what an amazing journey you had.

When you retire from homeschooling, it’s not like retiring from the workplace. It’s very different. In the workplace you interact with co-workers, people you spend time with and may even get to know very well. But they are not your family. They might be sad when you leave, or not. But when you retire as a homeschooler, it’s because you’ve completed your work.

Run your race today knowing how very important it is. Those little lives will one day draw from all that you have taught them. You will have given them the strength to hold on during trails, a compass with which to navigate the uncertainties of life, and the courage to be all that God has created them to be.

Stand firm and finish this day well, Mom!

Embracing Your Unique Homeschooling Journey

 

embracing-your-unique-homeschool-journey-WEB

I’m talking over at VibrantHomeschooling.com about Embracing Your Unique Homeschooling Journey. Having completed our journey I can confidently say your family is not designed to be a mirror of someone else’s family. Let them be all that God has for them. You will spare yourself much frustration by building your family according to their strengths. I invite you to read the full post <here>.

5 Secrets to Homeschooling with Success

5 Secrets to Homeschooing with Success

5 Secrets to Homeschooling with Success

School is in full swing! For some of you bad attitudes, resistance and discouragement have already derailed your well thought out schedule. It’s okay. Those days do happen. Especially when you begin the new school year. By focusing on the five secrets that helped me cross the finish line with all five of my children you can get back on track more quickly.

Homeschooling for 21 years has given me a unique perspective. I have experienced the first-time fears and doubts associated with starting something new, worked my way through the high school years, managed five children on different levels, navigated the college admissions process and sent all five off to college.

I want to encourage you as you begin your new year to keep your eye on the end goal. Don’t be short-sighted. Be mindful of the values, character qualities, and academic pursuits you have in mind.

These are five points I intentionally focused on as I began each year:

  • Have and maintain an intense desire to do your best. Parents and students alike cannot give half-effort and expect more in return. I know it can be difficult to stay focused and on top of everything, but when we model doing our best to our children we are helping them develop that same intensity for excellence in life.
  • Have burning sense of urgency. You know time flies by so quickly. If you maintain this urgency, it will help you stay focused. For those of you who have been homeschooling for a while, you know a month is gone in a blink of an eye. Live like this it he last day you will get to teach you children.
  • Define what you want to accomplish. Knowing where you are going will help you stay no to things that would take you off course. Write down what your goals are for each child. Don’t forget your-self as well! Good teacher have personal goals.
  • Be willing to try new adventures. Don’t be afraid. For many of you, this is all new. I have often had to change an approach or curriculum in order to reach our goals. What works for one child might not be the best for you other children.
  • Find the right place. Needs change from year to year. Whether it’s a co-op, support group, group classes, nontraditional school or virtual school, finding the best fit for your family well be beneficial toward your success. Use what works for your family. Thank fully, we have a variety of excellent choices in the homeschooling community.

By purposely putting into practice these five points you will enjoy this year with your child / children and to reach the end excited rather than exhausted. The work you are doing as a homeschool mom is slowly changing the face of our nation.

Run and do not grow weary!

Pathetic Mom

Pathetic Mom

Pathetic Mom

Mom, you’re pathetic.  *Gasp*, oh those stinging words.  Words that cut straight through a mom’s heart.  You playback the tape, like they do in a sports event, to see if you really hear that correctly.  You know your ears did not fail you, and you wonder how your once adoring child could actually say that to you.  You stand there stunned, a million thoughts running through your mind.

That’s when your defense mode kicks in, “I’m not pathetic.  I may be many things but I’m not that”, you declare.  In a matter of seconds, your entire motherhood has been attacked.  You think, “I’m a pretty good mom.  No!  I’m a great mom!  Who are you to say that to your mother anyway?  The one who stood by you time-and-time again.”

Then tears well up.  The emotions overwhelm you.  Self-doubt creeps in, maybe I’ve been a horrible mother.  How can I be that bad? I didn’t abuse them, I cared for them, tried to meet their needs. Why is this happening?  Oh the pain from those three words.

This is when you have to take hold of those thoughts.  Really examine them in context.  Could it be that maybe, just maybe, your teen was frustrated by things happening in their life and you were the one they took it out on?  Could it be you pushed your teen’s button as only a mom can do?

Moms, during the teen years your children may say hurtful words to you.  Some may be true, some not so much.

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Understand I’m not saying that it is okay to be spoken to like that, but I am saying don’t let their immaturity drive a wedge in your relationship.

Parenting teenagers can be like walking through a mine field.  But, here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years.

Don’t react in anger.  I know that is easier said than done.  But, that is the fastest way of escalating a situation.  If you pause 5 seconds before you speak, it gives your brain time to formulate a proper response.  Think slow to speak here!

Get to the root.  Let’s face it, with today’s busy schedules both you and your teen could be dealing, or trying to deal, with multiple issues.  Start by finding out if there is an underlying cause.  Are they feeling neglected, is there unresolved conflict, or a misunderstanding?  Getting to the root of where that comment came from may take some time, but if not resolved will continue to happen.  Knowing how your teen processes challenges can go a long way in helping you approach any touchy subjects.

Don’t withhold love.  Our human reaction is to pull back emotionally to protect our heart from experiencing pain.  I mean, who wants to feel that type of rejection.  May I encourage you, if you keep that emotional connection alive, foster respect and show them how to communicate without mudslinging they will come back.

Teens want the love and approval from their mothers.  They need a safe place to unload the stresses of their life.  It’s possible to have that close relationship with your young adult if you practice not reacting in anger, getting to the root, and giving unconditional love.

As a mother of five adult children and mentor to hundreds of teens and college students I’ve lived through or heard just about all the antics these precious teens do to their parents. I love talking about raising teens, building stronger relationships and mentoring work-at-home moms. This is a tough combination as all three are very demanding.  If you are in this season of life and need an outstretched hand to help you navigate this time I invite you to join or connect with me. I’m here for you!

Do Teens Really Have it Easy?

Do Teens Really Have it Easy?

Do Teens Really Have it Easy?

Statistics show parents tend to think their teens have life so easy.  I can see why some would; teens are often given cars, cell phones, computers, and a host of gadgets that connect these relationally driven young people to the world.  Even though they may have more technology most parents just don’t understand the struggles teens face every single day.  I recognize their struggles may not be as complex as what adults have to work through… but to our teen, it’s just as difficult.

Teens are bombarded with information on a continual basis. Yet having the ability to fully process all that comes their way is more than they are usually able to handle.  In some ways, it is like giving a 12 year old the keys to the car when they haven’t learned the rules of the road and can’t see over the dashboard.  They may think they can drive, but I doubt many parents would agree. 

Teens don’t have the processing capabilities that their parents have. While they want to have more and more freedom, they simply might not be ready for it.  

So what’s a parent to do?  I encourage you to try and understand how you can help them! 

I’ve listened to the experts, read reports and articles, and reviewed statistics on just how important You, the parent, is in helping teens mentally and emotionally develop. 

This shouldn’t be any surprise though, because God intended it to be this way.  In fact, there are many places in scripture that speak to the parent’s role of teaching and training their children.

Knowing you have the single greatest influence on your teen’s life means you also have the greatest opportunity to help them grow.  

Do Teens Really Have it Easy?

This easy acronym is what I came up with to help me understand those tough teen years.  I assigned one letter per finger, that way if I could sense conflict coming I could remind myself what I needed to do. 

T- Teach

E- Encourage

E- Engage

N- Nurture

S- Serve

Teach- Teens are learning more complex thinking, reasoning, and processing skills during this time. So while you don’t teach teens the way you did when they were younger, you are still teaching them.  It is more subtle and not as direct.  By this I mean, helping them to understand and even overcome difficult experiences and failures.  They need your input, wisdom and support.  They need you to show them how to get through the difficult challenges in a healthy, biblical manner. 

Encourage- Teens need your encouragement.  As previously stated, you are their single greatest influence in life.  You have the ability to help them achieve big goals as well as overcome major obstacles.  Encouragement is not a pep-rally, it’s deeper than that.  It’s the act of giving someone support, confidence and hope.  I know it can be hard to do this at times, but if you purpose to encourage them you will see a change in your relationship with them. 

Engage- This is very important.  Teens are relational people, which is why all the social technology is so attractive to them.  But with their lack of maturity, this same technology can wield severe damage.  The rejection they encounter can be quite overwhelming and hurtful.  As a parent you need to participant and become involved in their lives.  They want to share their world with someone, so make that someone you. 

Nurture- To nurture is the process of cultivating growth and development, caring for, bringing up, and looking after.  As a parent you need to understand teens feel valued and respected when they are nurtured.  I’m not talking about coddling or hovering, or smothering.  But something different, like allowing them to stretch their wings, make mistakes, take chances, and figure life out all while knowing you are there for them. 

Serve- Yes, I mean serve.  Serving is what we are called to do.  I can’t find anywhere in scripture that tells us to stop serving our teens in order to help them grow up.  Before you react, let me define this.  To furnish or supply with something needed, answer the needs, contribute or conduce, to treat or act toward in a specified way, or to provide a service that benefit or help.  I’m not referring to being someone’s servant or not making teens accept more responsibility.  Accepting more responsibility is a natural part of growing up.  However, it is in being served that our tender teens learn the art of serving others.  By serving this way you are teaching them how to really live a full life — one that is not focused on self.   

No matter where you are in the parenting journey, know that your investment in your family is the greatest work you will ever do. 

If you have teenagers, what have you done to better understand them? Please leave a comment so we can help build stronger families together. 

Read more about parenting teens on my website. 

Don’t forget to sign up for my email!

Raising An Artist

Raising An Artist

Raising An Artist

by Jeannie Albers

Many of you know the struggle, the struggle with Raising an Artist. You have a child whom you’re concerned will struggle in school, they may have trouble focusing on lessons because they can’t help but stare out the window and daydream, and they’re always managing to turn every blank space in your home into an art canvas or musical instrument.  I was that child, and I’m here to give you a few tips on helping yours!

1)  Don’t Over-Test/Analyze Them:  While every child is different, I can tell you what worked/didn’t work for me growing up.  My Momma lovingly homeschooled me  all 12 years of school, and what a great advantage I had there.  And trust me, in as much as you may spend your time fretting and wondering what possible career paths your child can have a future in, the artsy child (if anything like me) spends just as much time wondering the same thing.  Mom put me in every kind of test she could to try to help me hone in on what I am good at, and what I found out was probably more discouraging than helpful at the time.  I recall one of the results I was given was a florist.  A florist!  I’m pretty sure most kids don’t aspire to use their creative gifts to arrange flowers.  I had different hopes.  My point is not to say that strength/personality test-taking is bad, it’s just to say use caution, you don’t need to put your child on a career path in grade school, nor do you want to unintentionally put them in a box.  Rather, help invest in their gifting and allow them to explore their interests.  For me it took years of trial and error for the puzzle pieces to start to make sense.

2)  Support support support:  Most artists struggle severely with self doubt, even when we are really good at what we do.  As kids and teenagers we may not always believe you when you encourage us, because in our minds it’s your job to do so (even if we totally stink at what we’re doing).  But we DO need to know you are on our side, and won’t be disappointed if we don’t one day grow up to be a doctor or lawyer.  I’m also not suggesting that you should falsely praise everything your kid does, but you will begin to see at an early age certain tendencies… maybe they have a good ear for music and can pick up tunes they hear on the radio, or they doodle fun little cartoons on their napkins at dinner.  Praise those things.  As they get older, support them if and when they choose to study the arts in college, or choose to work part-time as a server so that they can invest time into their creative endeavors.

Raising An Artist

3)  Teach them how to work:  Being an artist is no excuse to be lazy.  Mom and Dad taught me from a young age how to be a good worker.  I would pick up small jobs anywhere I could: mowing/weeding lawns, dog walking, babysitting, etc.  Mom and I sometimes laugh recalling the long list of hilarious jobs I managed to work; I just wanted to earn income any way I could!  I learned SO much in the process, and really feel that I have a greater understanding of myself and other people because of the diversity I encountered in the workplace.  I also saw how if you set your mind to something, there is often money to be made no matter what you choose to do.  So you need not fret that your child will end up homeless just because they don’t have a salaried job.  Teach them to work and invest in what they love.  Chances are, they will be far happier making less money but really enjoying their work & hobbies. 

4)  Connect them with people who have succeeded as artists:  It’s like getting a glimpse of the finish line, being warned of any pot-holes in the track, and gaining a few tips on how to pace yourself.  

5)  Make sure you understand the value of art, and that THEY understand their art has value:  I’m not sure I even understood this until my mid-twenties.  Art has SUCH value.  You should be extremely grateful to have an artistic child; they can teach you so much about life and beauty if you allow them to.  The ability to create and inspire others is a huge calling in life.  We bring into existence things from an unseen realm, things of beauty that benefit communities and homes, possibly even the world.  Art has the ability to alter an environment, spiritually and aesthetically.

6)  Help foster an environment that is conducive to art:  My mom and dad were such great examples of this.  They had a piano in the house and I was never given restrictions on playing it.  I’m sure there were times I annoyed the snot out of everyone, but I was never discouraged from practicing.  For Christmas and birthday (and even at the beginning of a school semester) I was given art pencils, markers, canvases, brushes, paints, chalk, etc to create with.  Mom showed me that she valued my learning as an artist as much as she did my Algebra.  They gave me nearly entirely creative freedom at our home.  I decorated for holidays, painted murals on my bedroom walls and even the guest bathroom in my college years.

7)  Don’t compare:  One of the hardest parts of growing up, was realizing how different I was from my older brother.  He was better/faster at school, had a better memory, performed better in sports, and for a while he was better than me in music because he was able to learn to read music faster.  It didn’t get easier as we got older.  He received loads of scholarship money, breezed his way through college, got a good job straight of school, bought a house, and got married.  Picture perfect, really.  And there was I, struggling to figure out what I was good at, what I enjoyed, and just having a “figuring-out-life crisis” every few months.  I received a scholarship too, and did well in college, but I certainly had to work harder for it.  It’s very easy for an artist to feel like a failure just because our lives don’t “measure up” to those around us.  Thankfully, Mom and Dad never favorited my brother or implied I should be/learn like him.  They just loved me and helped me learn and succeed as best as they could.  

Raising An Artist

Raising an artist is a challenge, mainly of trust and patience, but it’s also rewarding, as I hope my parents would agree.  Just remember a career isn’t everything.  Stewarding gifts to better serve family, the community, our World, and the Lord is where the attention needs to stay, and let hard work and the Lord’s direction open doors for you and your artistic child.  I hope this helps you and encourages you if you are on the colorful journey of raising an artist.

We would love to know if you are raising an artist too!

Jeannie is my daughter who has taught me so much about seeing the beauty in art.  She is a fine artist, photographer, and musician who aspires to bring beauty to others through her work.  You can see more of Jeannie’s work on Facebook. She is currently working on building her new website.

One frequently asked question I get is how I raised an artist.  So I asked Jeannie to write a letter to moms from her perspective. I trust this blessed your heart. Don’t worry mom, focus on nurturing and cultivating their gifts and talents.  There will be more on this topic in a future post from me.

  

How to Talk With Your Teens & Not At Them

How to Talk With Your Teens & Not At Them

How to Talk With Your Teens & Not At Them

Ever notice how we seem to talk at our teens, instead of with them? I know I’m guilty of it, and I’ve definitely seen this happen with other families too: a parent talking to their teen as they just stand there with their arms crossed and a blank stare on their face. You can tell those kids aren’t listening; they are tolerating.

Parents, that’s not a conversation… and I know that’s it’s probably not the communication you strive for.  My desire, like yours, is for something much deeper.  I want a relationship, a conversation that freely flows both ways.  And I’m not referring to the yelling kind. 

If we long for this kind of relationship then why do we do this to our teens? 

I understand how frustrating this stage of parenting can be. But, if you really want to cultivate a conversation then you might consider changing your approach. 

That’s where we, as parents, get to make our daily interactions different.  Here are three practical ways that we actually used with all five of our teens. 

  • Understand your teens want to be respected. I know, I can hear it now…”well they aren’t being respectful to me.” I get that. Mine weren’t always either. But I have found if I am slow to speak and really think about my words, what comes out of my mouth will be softer than my initial reaction. Try putting yourself in their place. How would you respond if you were being talked to like that? Would you really be receptive? I think not! You’d probably have the same reaction. Like Mary Poppins says, “Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down…” Want more respect? Then make your words good like sugar. 
  • Understand your teens aren’t kids, they are young adults. They are trying to handle all that comes their way. Often they just need a little more patience and guidance, and a lot of prayer!  One of the best ways for me to find out what my kids were going through was late at night when the house was quiet. There is something about the still of the night that fosters transparency.  This meant I had to be willing to stay up past my own bedtime to ask about their day. Now it may take a while before they open up, but be patient, if they know you are genuinely there for them they will slowly begin to share and invite you into their world.
  • Understand teens can be easily influenced. If you doubt this take a good look at the advertising geared toward teenagers. It’s relentless! Why do you think marketers do this? Because it works! Many times we get upset when our teens do things they know they should not do. There were times I could not believe what mine did. I knew they were taught better. But the truth is teens aren’t really different than any of us, they just do not have the maturity to recognize it. That is why your time spent with them is so important. You are like a strong oak tree during a wind storm. You provide a safe place to hold onto until they can manage on their own. Your understanding is essential to their overall confidence and strength. 

When you start to consider these three insights you will be on your way to having a closer relationship with your teens by talking with them not at them.  

For more posts about Teens you can read here.

How to Talk With Your Teens & Not At Them

Possible Is Not Impossible

POSSIBLEIMPOSSIBLE

Once, while swimming in the ocean, I could feel the current pulling my body towards the swell as a wave was building.  At the right moment, the wave was going to break and continue toward the shoreline.  Would we catch it or let it pass us by?

This made me think about how we have lived our lives.  We were enjoying where we are when, without notice, we would feel a pulling to go in a different direction.  

Eighteen years ago my husband and I had a dream.  To have a thriving business at home.  I had already left my career in the corporate world but now we wanted to figure out how we could we get dad home too. 

He was a director at an engineering firm in the big city.  Life was going well; he was even voted “Young Engineer of the Year” by his peers.  Problem was we didn’t want the 8-5 life for our family.  We wanted dad around more.  Our five children were hitting the teen years and we wanted to have as much time with them as possible during these important years. 

That’s when we made a decision to do something that no one around us was doing.  To start our own engineering firm from our home.  This was during a time when working from home wasn’t acceptable, practical, or even doable for an engineer. 

That didn’t stop us, for our lives were marked by doing the impossible. 

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We could feel the pull just like the time I was in the ocean.  We were determined to make something work even though everyone was telling us it could not be done. 

People all became experts at why this new endeavor was not achievable.  Some of the reasons we were given were that we had to have an office to conduct business; we had to have a staff in order to tend to the details and we would not get clients without a physical location.  But what surprised us the most was the number of people telling us we would drive each other crazy if we both worked from home.  Out of all the comments made we actually thought about this one the most.  What if it we didn’t work well together?  What could we do to avoid this from happening?  I’ll share more about how we addressed these fears in another post.  

How did we overcome these valid concerns?  Let’s take them one by one.

We needed an office to conduct business. That was true.  After all we had a little 4 bedroom house that was being occupied by 2 adults and 5 kids.  Not much room for an office there.  Or at least what the corporate world would describe as an acceptable office.  We knew it didn’t need to be fancy.  What we needed was a quiet place, phone lines, computer, large desk (engineers work on drawings) and a good desk chair.  We took care of this by moving the boys into one room.  The boys thought it would be one fun party.  Looking back we made a wise decision as the boys became closer as a result of this move. 

Next, what would we do about staffing?  Who would answer those phones, process invoices, and all the other tasks that needed to be taken care of?  Well, we did a couple of things.  We did all that we could do ourselves, then we contracted out everything else. We were pleasantly surprised by how many professionals were looking for freelance work.  Problem solved! 

Lastly, how would we get new clients without an office?  This is where having a good understanding of how your line of work operates is important. Once contact was made with a potential client we would offer a couple of options.  Come to their office, meet them for lunch near their office or set up a round of golf. Yes, it is true business can actually be conducted outside of the office. Now that wasn’t too difficult. 

When the wave broke for us we were ready. It’s been eighteen years now and we are still riding this wave. When you feel the pull to move in a direction don’t immediately resist. Identify where the pull is coming from, if it will lead you toward your goals and what obstacles you would have to overcome in order to catch the right wave.  

Our goal was to build a strong family and in so doing we built a successful business in a field that others had only dreamed about doing.  We have found most successful people aren’t afraid of doing impossible things. 

Impossible dreams are only impossible if you never try.  What’s your dream?

Parental Bragging

Parental Bragging ConnieAlbers.com

It’s that time of year when we receive end of the year test results or portfolio reviews stating, in print, how our children are doing.  This means excitement for a job well done for some and anxiety for those whose kids did not do so well.

One phase I hear often is, “My child is performing ahead of grade level!” How many times have your heard that phrase uttered in conversations by well-meaning moms?  My guess is more often than you can count.  As a matter of fact, I too have spoken them publicly a time or two.

Understandably, Moms feel a sense of pride when their child excels and they want to share this good news.  Sometimes we share because validation is needed for a job well done.  Goodness knows a homeschool mom doesn’t usually get many pats on the back.  It’s not likely that the kids will say good job.

I remember times when some of my children did really well and others didn’t.  I learned early on how my words, innocent as they were, could cause others to doubt their own ability to teach or their child’s ability to learn.  That was troubling to me as that wasn’t my intent.

What happens to the mom who has a child that is not performing at grade level?  Their child is well, average or worse below average.  The pressure she feels can create anxiety.  This internal stress can begin a downward spiral for both the parent and child if not properly thought through.

Here are couple principles to think about regardless of what your child’s results are:

  • Learn to rejoice with others, even if your child isn’t doing as well. We don’t want to become so sensitive we can’t celebrate the accomplishments of others without doubting ourselves.  This requires a measure of maturity on your part.
  • Be thoughtful before you speak. Your validation doesn’t need to come from others. You can rest in knowing your children are doing well. While we want to celebrate the accomplishments of our children we don’t want to do it at the expense of others.  Guarding against this shows wisdom.

I know we want to tell the world about our amazing kids but by being slow to speak we can avoid hurting others who might be struggling. When practice these two principles you will also be teaching important life lessons to your children.

 

Does “Home” + “School” = Freak?

Ever wonder what your kids would tell a college professor about their homeschooling journey? Well, I found out what my daughter had to say after she submitted this paper for her ENC 1101.31 class when she was just a freshman at the university she attended.

Does “Home” + “School” = Freak

October 10, 2006

Does “Home” + “School” = Freak?

What comes to mind when the words “home” and “school” are combined?  Is homeschooling really just schooling at home?  For many, it has quite a negative connotation, often rendering poor assumptions.  People may think, “Does the kid have a social life, and is he/she even socially acceptable?  How can they be challenged in that environment?”  Often, the younger generation’s statements don’t differ much, “Wouldn’t the kid be bored all the time?  How can he/she stand to be around their family all day every day?  What about sports?  Are they all nerds?”  How might I know this?  I was homeschooled, and while a few depictions of us may be true, some families, like my own, have put an entirely new twist on the concept.

Let me just begin by saying that, no, homeschooler’s aren’t always stereotyped.  But since the lifestyle can be such a mystery for public and private school children, often it leaves room for some interesting and somewhat humorous responses.  Every time I was asked growing up, “Where do you go to school?” I almost immediately felt like an alien when I saw the utter confusion on the kid’s faces at my reply.  It’s not that I cared so much, I actually loved homeschooling, but I did find it more and more frustrating to explain as I got older.  All thirteen years of my education, prior to college, were spent at my home; thirteen years I wouldn’t trade for any other experience.

So does a homeschooled child’s education really differ from a public or private school student’s?  Of course it does; it’s an entirely different approach to education!  But the opinions expressed by my peers couldn’t have been further from the truth.  I can honestly say there was never a time when my social life was lacking.  I confess my social life probably dominated way too much of my life, but what kid complains about that right?  Elementary school was perfect.  I woke up, did some chores, finished my school in just a few hours, and was free to play the rest of the day.  There was a plethora of field trips, track and field competitions, and events that my siblings and I attended.

In middle school I began to see other aspects that were beneficial other than extra “playtime”.  I was able to learn things I was interested in.  Also, my mom was able to assess the different ways my siblings and I learned, and therefore created custom teaching methods for each of us to accommodate our individual learning styles.  Also, because I didn’t have the pressure of keeping up with a classroom of other children nor was I forced to stay behind with them, I was able to learn at my own pace.  If a subject was difficult, we just slowed the pace and made sure I understood the material before moving on.

High school years were a blast.  Not only was school becoming more my responsibility, (when and where I wanted to do assignments) but I was actually becoming my own teacher in some areas, and not relying on lectures and labs to ace subjects.  It definitely required discipline and hard work, and I believe helped prepare me for college.  As far as sports go, since homeschoolers have the option of playing for private and public schools, I had the opportunity to participate on a competitive varsity basketball team all four years for a private school.  My friends understood how my situation worked, but it was pretty complicated trying to explain to others how I could be homeschooled and still play basketball for a “real school”.

Luckily for my family, home schooling is becoming a commonly used alternative to the public school system.  Parents are able to control what curriculum is used; the teaching methods applied, and can even integrate their religion freely into the child’s everyday learning.   A quote by the Family Research Council gives an idea of how much parents can influence a child in education especially, “…the truth is mothers – and fathers – exert far more influence over their children’s intellectual development than is commonly realized. In fact, more than three decades of research shows that families have greater influence over a child’s academic performance than any other factor – including schools” (Family).

A common misconception is that homeschoolers do all their school at home.  Wrong!  I commonly did school on the go: in the car, at a friend’s house, on vacation if need be, etc.  As far as I knew, other kids couldn’t take off days or “double-up” on homework whenever they wanted.  They couldn’t take off a week in the middle of October to go on a cruise.  They couldn’t do school sitting on their comfy bed or go to Disney World several times a month for “field trips”.  To me, and many of my friends who were also homeschooled, it was sheer bliss.

“Home·school:  To instruct (a pupil, for example) in an educational program outside of established schools, especially in the home.” (Homeschool).  This definition is often about the extent of what is known about the complex style of education.  Hopefully by now however, the common belief that homeschool is just a school at home has been broken.  Not all of us are little recluses living in secluded forests.  In fact, those elite few of us that were able to experience this great way of gaining information will usually proudly proclaim that homeschooling is the way to go!

Does “Home” + “School” = Freak 2All in all, it’s a great way for a kid to grow up.  Beyond the positives of learning self discipline and hard work, it allows a child to find who he/she is without all the pressures of fitting in and conforming to the ways of their peers.  They can discover their passions and gifts and really pursue them as far as they wish.  Homeschoolers aren’t “freaks” secluded from the real world.  As the popularity of them grows rapidly in America, in many ways, they’re on a great path to success.

 

 

Work Cited

  1. Family Research Council, The One-House Schoolroom,

Family Policy, September 1995

<http://www.homeschool.co.uk/resource/homeschooling-and-education-

Quotes.html>

  1. homeschool.” The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language,    Fourth    Edition.  Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 02 Oct. 2006.  <Dictionary.com  http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/homeschool>
  1. Mary Pride, “Taking Homeschooling Out of Your Home”,

Home Life, Inc.  PHS #35, 2002

<http://www.home-school.com/Articles/phs35-marypride.html>

 

Moms, I can’t tell you these will be the words your college student would say but I can tell you this, your kids are your life’s greatest work! There is nothing you could ever do that would matter more. You are shaping the next generation of leaders in our community. When you really think about it that’s a really big deal.

Funny how our society tries to tell you otherwise. Don’t be deceived! I was told so many times I would ruin my kids. Nonsense! I shaped them into who they are. That’s the Power of Moms.

Since the time of this writing Jeannie has graduated from the University of Central Florida earning the title Magna Cum Laude. She is a Fine Arts painter and published Photographer who brings beauty to this amazing world through her work. You can see some of her work on Facebook at: J. Albers Studios. Her website is coming soon.