Interview with Sarah

Friends, I’m so exited to have you meet Sarah, a young lady from our church who was homeschooled, has earned her Bachelor degree, and is now working on her Masters. We are blessed to be part of a church that has quiet a few adults who have been homeschooled. People like Sarah reassure me that we are on the right track with educating our children at home.

Q: Sarah, describe for us your home-school experience. What was your day to day like?

A: I was solely home-schooled from K-5 Grade, where I did all my learning and instruction within the home from my mother. We worked mostly in the mornings and did chores and extra-curricular activities in the afternoons. In junior high and high school I was still home-schooled but also took classes once a week from a tutorial organization that was designed to assist home-schooling families. Because my work could be completed on my own timeline I became a nanny for two children three days a week while I was in high school and also took dance classes for twenty hours a week.

Q: What were the reasons your parents decided to home-school. Was this accepted in your community?

A: My parents chose to home school me and my two brothers because they wanted to have the final decisions over what information we would be learning. Because my father was in the Air Force it was also easier to home school us so we did not have to transfer to different schools throughout the various moves in our childhood. I always remember being a part of a home school co-op or some kind of extra group so I can’t really speak to if it was accepted in our community or not. Within our own circle of friends and peers it always seemed accepted because we did extra curricular activities with other home-schoolers.

When we began home-schooling in New Mexico we were also attending Foothills Fellowship Church in Albuquerque where there is a high population of home school families. We could again plug into a welcoming co-op were our homeschooling was supported. I had so many friends who were home-schoolers that it was really part of my culture growing up so I didn’t see the big difference until I was in high school.

Q: What did you like about home-schooling, and what did you not like?

A: I so appreciated the flexibility that home schooling allows. I loved completing the work on my own schedule while also having the freedom to be a nanny and spend so many hours at my dance studio. On the flip side, I did not like explaining to my peers what I did all day, and trying to combat the stereotypes of home schoolers. Often home schoolers are either seen as socially awkward or some young savant who goes to college at the age of 12, when in reality most homeschoolers simply just do their work at home instead of in a public institution. I always wanted to be exactly like all my friends when I was younger and hated giving my spiel about how I didn’t really “go” to school. Looking back at my education, I now fully appreciate being homeschooled because of the solid education I did receive, how it prepared me so well for secondary education, and how in reality I was probably saved from many temptations that I was not mature enough to refuse at the time. Being home-schooled allowed me to build my identity in Christ instead of the world, something I am now so grateful for!!

Q: Describe a favorite field trip, project, or internship.

A: Because my mom developed our curriculum she also looked for local opportunities that would reinforce the concepts we were learning at the time. I remember taking trips to the roundhouse in Santa Fe, NM and completing science projects outside instead of reading them out of a book. My mom always encouraged us to learn through songs and plays and to build up our creative sides. I still remember my favorite song we learned in an early English class: “A verb verb verb is an action word, so put me where the action is ‘cause I’m an action word!!” My favorite aspect about home-schooling was that it could be in many different forms and deliveries, but we still learned the material.

Q: How has home-schooling prepared you for college? What was the biggest challenge in college?

A: Home-schooling really prepared me for college by teaching me the necessary study traits to learn, study, and work on my own. I had built up a great school work ethic throughout my years at home and could transfer these skills to my work in college. Because of this independence in my schooling I found some classes really frustrating. Some professors would simply read or teach from a textbook, and due to my independent learning style I always felt that I could do that learning on my own, and wanted more out of some of my classes. Overall I found college to come easily for me and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of New Mexico.

Q: What is your current profession and what plans do you have for your future?

A: I am currently getting my Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of New Mexico and will be graduating in Dec 2013. I plan to work in a rehab facility for a few years and then work long term as an occupational therapist in a school district. My husband and I also plan to have children when I finish my degree program. I do plan to work in the public school system to hopefully improve the educational experience of children with disabilities. Even though I enjoyed my home-schooling experience I am still on the fence on whether I will be home-schooling my own children or not. My husband and I have been endlessly blessed by the Lord and I will seek His guidance when this final decision is needed.

Thank you, Sarah!

Hasn’t she painted a vivid picture of her childhood that one can only dream of, lots of time to be creative and pursue your hobbies, but at the same time completing her work. I like how her mom used different approaches like songs, outside work, and plays. I need to make a note of that. I appreciate Sarah’s honesty about the challenges and struggles she had wanting to fit in. I also like that she is thoughtfully deliberating about her future children’s education. Isn’t that what we hope for, that our children one day critically weigh all options.

Interview with Sarah

Interview with Emily Mulder, a Second Generation Homeschooler

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This interview is with my dear friend, neighbor, and co-collaborator on this blog, the very talented Emily Mulder, owner of Lonely Mountain Photography.

Q:Emily, describe for us your childhood home-school experience. What was your day to day like. What were the reasons your parents decided to home-school. Was this accepted in your community?

A: Ahh. My parents were really trying to figure it out based on what they’d experienced. We started when I was entering the 4th grade. My sisters were entering 6th, and 3rd. Initially they were planning to just try it with my oldest sister for a year first, but that year the school system decided we were in a different district and the first morning we waited for the bus, it didn’t come for us as it had the past three years. My parents prayed together and decided to take us all out and homeschool us. Apparently they had read about homeschooling, but we didn’t know anyone else doing it until later.

My parents were not supported by anyone at first. People thought we’d never “make it”. The one big reason people had against homeschooling was that we would not be “socialized” (as if throwing kids together in same-age class rooms actually socializes kids in a positive way).

Our day: at the beginning of each year my parents would research what we needed to be on grade level, we’d purchase or find books (we got many used books as well as purchasing some from different places depending on what they thought we needed.) We would all sit down and figure out how to plan the year in order to get through the books. This varied a bit and not every book was divided up this way. We had a pretty regular schedule to keep – every day lasting 1-2 hours (maybe 3 or at most 4 in high-school) in order to spend a regular time on each subject. Once done with our school, we helped (in later years) with our family business, did regular chores, and had time for play and hobbies. We had a lot of self study.

Q: What did you like about home-schooling, and what did you not like?

I liked that it didn’t take so much time! We didn’t have homework in the evenings as we’d done all of that during school hours. I also liked that it taught us to be able to self study. We learned to organize our studying and get it done, and check our work ourselves.

Q: How did home-schooling prepare you for college? What was the biggest challenge in college?

A: Again, the self learning was a big boon in college. My older sister and I attended college together, as she’d done some correspondent courses and worked teaching other kids after graduation and before heading out to college. I remember us both being roped into helping other kids that first semester – kids who struggled to figure out how to research and understand what the professor said or expected. We had no problems digging right in and learning.

The biggest challenge? I’m not sure if homeschooling itself caused any challenges. I’m shy naturally, so it always takes me a while to get to know other people, but I was that way when I was small and in public school.

I think a big challenge to home-schoolers is maybe a blind belief that their education is better, and therefore kids can run into trouble when their beliefs are challenged in a college setting.

Q: How are you doing things differently as you are home-schooling your own kids? What do you envision for your children’s education and future?

A: I think we can go a lot farther than copying public school standards. My husband and I actually believe that the public school setting was set up for a different time and not to truly inspire kids to learn. We are trying to pull away from the standards and approach things differently, with a focus on really inspiring our kids to study far beyond the standard approach.

I also want my kids to have intellectual humility – to be able to see when they don’t understand something, leading to study or asking questions to find out what the answers are. I don’t want any of them to think they “can’t” or are unable to study or understand something. If one of them is struggling, I back off and try to figure out how to approach things differently, rather than just pushing them onward with the same methods.

Thank you so much for your thoughtful answers, Emily. I loved reading how you got your work done in 1-2 hours and had all this extra time to help out in your parent’s business or just play. And what about college teachers making you a TA for the kid’s who hadn’t learned to study on their own; so much for home-schooled kids not being prepared for higher education. Speaking of education, Emily and her husband Sam have a must read blog on education. They have spend a lot of time on researching the best way to teach children and for them to be enthusiastic about learning. Go to educationreimagined.org for more info.

This interview was so much fun, I’m planning on doing more in the future.

Interview with Emily Mulder, a Second Generation Homeschooler