BAM Family

BAM Family

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Adult Homeschoolers Speak Out: The High School Years

Isn't it funny that when you are going through an experience you can think, "WOW! This is awesome!" and then looking back you can think, " That could have been a lot different/better." (Maybe that is how most of us feel about our adolescence....?)

This is kind of how I feel about my homeschool experience in high school. During those 9th-12th grade years, I loved being homeschooled. But now that I am 10 years post high school graduation (with a BA and MA under my belt), I have different feelings about what was good and what could have been better.
Photo courtesy of this website

Many of the adults who participated in my survey felt the same way as I did but, as a majority, had a "good" experience academically and emotionally. However, the numbers were not as positive as when people looked back at their elementary/Jr. High years.

Here's a little comparison:

91% of the adults surveyed said they had a "good experience" academically in K-8th grade (Click here to see the post where I discussed these statistics)
69% (29 adults) said they had a good experience academically in 9-12 grade

Here is what some of them had to say about their positive academic experience in high school:

Beka R. 25 from KS: Good - I finished my high school curriculum somewhere around age 14 and then was able to do extra studies and college classes on political science and English to help prepare me for college.

Jonathan M. 30 from TX: Here I know that I (in many ways) received a better education to prepare me for the real world. 

Elizabeth J. 24 from VA: We had the Abeka video classes, and we watched all of our classes on DVDs. Mom had researched the core classes of most high schools and what was required for colleges and we took, Math, English, Health, Science, History, Bible, Spanish, and my mom was in charge of PE. We has all of these classes every day. However, for the most part it seems very easy. I had a lot of control over my education because I was the one who was mostly in charge of studying and finishing assignments. Mom just graded everything. Other than that we were pretty much left to ourselves.

Nara N. 30 from NC: Academically: I was still above grade level. I graduated 2 years early at 16 and probably could have graduated at 15 except what would I have done then, too young to have my driver’s license even?

Bradley H. 23 from VA: Academically it was superb, from what I can remember . . . I was able to pursue science in a more rigorous fashion being homeschooled, and so I was able to prepare for college well.

Stuart G. 29 from VA: One of the best parts about my high school years was that it brought out an initiative to teach myself. My mom just gave me the books and the rest was up to me. For me, that was an important tool for me to learn, because I was learning self-discipline that would prepare me for higher level education and my career later down the road. I also began to help out with the education of my younger siblings, particularly in math. Perhaps this exercise was helping me better grasp fundamental concepts of certain subjects as well as challenging me to succinctly explain ideas, events, rules, etc. to my siblings.

Many responders mentioned being taught high school subjects from other homeschool parents in a co-op setting; everyone thought this was a good experience. Also, many also said that they dual enrolled in college in their later high school years, giving them a head start on college classes. 

As you can see from the statistics and these testimonies, many homeschool students felt that they had an excellent high school education. 

However, here are the statistics for the "other side" of the story

31% (13) of responders said their high school education was "not good" or "could have been better." 
Here are a variety of reasons they gave for these answers: 

Felt under educated*
No guidance from outside adults (like a guidance counselor) concerning education*
Did bare minimum to get by
Could have been challenged more*
parents not involved in education /  no accountability from parents / parents were too busy
Realized they could have achieved more
Difficulties and frustrations in math / science / English
Not as many opportunities as in a traditional school*
Didn't try hard
Laziness (parental or personal)

In looking at all these reasons, I realize that the majority are not unique to the homeschool experience (the ones I marked with * are, perhaps, more related to homeschooling inadequacies than others). I wanted to put a star by "parents not involved" etc. but I realize that this is a gray area for many reasons:

1. If a parent is not involved in a child's public or private school education, this could and may be a detriment to the student's overall education
2. Many (if not most) homeschool parents encourage their high school children to be independent learners, and many students flourish in these opportunities (as seen in some of the quotes above).
3. I, myself, took charge of my own education from 8th grade-12th grade (picked my own curriculum, planned my lessons, was very independent of my parents in my education) and I turned out "fine."


Lack of parental involvement is, I feel, one of the main reasons that my high school education could have been better, though at the time, I thought I was "amazing" for being "so responsible"! I'll talk about the pros and cons of independent learning for homeschoolers when I write about homeschooling and the college experience. 

If I was going to give any "take-away" advice on this point, I would say, "Kids still need their parents to be very involved in their education (pushing, encouraging, guiding, advising) in high school, maybe even MORE than in the elementary years."

Emotionally, the stats between being happy homeschooling in younger years vs. high school are only 8 points apart. 

65% said they remember being very happy emotionally during K-8th grade (Click here to see the post where I discussed these statistics)
57% (24 adults) said they had a very good experience emotionally ("I loved it!" "It was great / excellent / good!")

19% (8 adults) said that they had a very negative emotional experience for these reasons:

Felt like they missed out on a lot
Lack of friends / no friends
Lack of social experiences
Family problems / Bad relationship with parents
Felt trapped by parents decisions
Wanted to fit in w/ others
Felt intense academic anxiety (not good enough)
Difficulty socializing w/ others (I'll be covering this topic in a future post!)

23% (10 adults) had mixed emotions, meaning "I liked some things, but..."

Here are some reasons they gave for having difficulty emotionally (Some of the answers are the same as above. The difference between the two groups is that the above group had a decidedly negative emotional experience for the reasons given; the group below said that their experience had some good parts but also difficulties):

Difficulties w/ parents,
Lots of teasing from non-homeschooled peers
Felt awkward
Difficulty finding friends
Felt something was missing from high school experience
Difficulty w/ curriculum (more of an academic issue but for several students, this cause emotional problems as well)
Struggle with shyness
Really wanted to go to public school 

It is great to see that, overall, homeschooled high schoolers have had good experiences both academically and emotionally. Somehow though, I wish the satisfaction rate was higher for both academics and emotions (even personally). As I stated in my very first post, everyone "turned out fine" and, at best, have worked through their limitations that came from homeschooling or, at worse, learned to accept this part of themselves. 

The truth is, everyone goes through "crap" during the high school years, either in public, private or homeschool. The struggles for public/private school students are often very different (and NOT just the "unholy trinity" of sex, drugs and alcohol. Like it or not, homeschooled high schoolers still experiment sexually and are tempted by drugs and alcohol), but homeschool students often go through personal struggles that their non-homeschooled peers do not have to deal with. 

What do you think? 

Were you homeschooled in high school? How was your experience academically and emotionally? 

Do you homeschool (or plan to homeschool) your high school student? Do any of these results surprise you? 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Adult Homeschoolers Speak Out: K-8th grade academic and emotional experiences

Welcome (or welcome back!) to this series about the experiences of Adults who were homeschooled! Today we will look at what former homeschoolers thought about their schooling experience from Kindergarten through 8th grade and how they remember feeling emotionally (liked it, didn't like it, etc). 

I thought this post was going to be pretty simple to write. I had read through all the surveys once and was thinking, "Oh, everyone had such a good experience in these grades and they all loved it!"

Photo courtesy of this website

However, after reading through the surveys for a second time and crunching some numbers, I realized that my first impression was a little (too) rosy.

Here's the short version: 
91% or 39 adults said their Academic experience was good ("Great!" "Awesome!" etc). 
Only 9% (or 4 participants) said that it "could have been better."

Emotionally, the numbers were a little different. 
65% of adults (or 28 people) said that their emotional memories were good ("I loved it!" "I really enjoyed it." etc) or that they had no memory of how they felt (2 participants or 4%). 

30% (13 participants) of adult homeschoolers said that they struggled with negative emotions concerning this time in their lives. (To see survey demographics, click here). 

Here are some of the Academic testimonies from the survey: 

Kelly C.; 29 from VA: I have really pleasant memories of my homeschooling experience as a child. My mom only has a high school education and I feel like with the curriculum she had and the homeschool community we were a part of that I was not slighted in the least from receiving a good education.

Elizabeth J., 24 from VA: I loved it! . . . We only had three formal classes: Math, Spelling, and Grammar. And the rule was, once you finished the set assignments for the day, you were finished from school. So most days we would start around eight in the morning and be finished by 9:30 or 10. There were other things that we did sometimes: Handwriting, phonetics, field trips (we visited probably every important or historical site in Virginia). Also my siblings and I read like crazy. We would go to the library every Friday and get as many books as we could carry and my sister and I would read each other's books. But we all had to get one science and one history book and write a report on it.
Nara N., 30 from NC: Academically: my Mom always chose curriculum from all kinds of places and at whatever grade level was appropriate for us in each subject. My brother and sister (twins) did not even always do the same curriculum for each subject. I was basically always above grade level and never knew what “grade” I was in.

Matthew W., 30 from OH: For the most part everything was good. I enjoyed the benefits of homeschooling and we had a lot of friends that were also homeschooled. We were in some pretty good homeschool groups and took some cool field trips. 

Christine M., 31 from  KSIt was a good, very positive experience. There were times I wanted to try out public school, but I loved knowing I could be done with my schoolwork before lunch and spend the rest of the day creating, exploring, playing, and just enjoying being a kid instead of dreading the homework that would follow me home. I had lots of time with friends at church, co-op, and in my neighborhood. I also had lots of time to foster my interest in piano.

Stuart G., 29 from VA: Academically: Admittedly, in these first years of home-schooling there was some frustration because my mother was trying to navigate the new waters of schooling at home, and being teacher for all eight of her children. On the positive side, I was given the freedom to more seriously pursue subjects I was personally interested in. My curriculum therefore, was tailored to my needs and natural inclinations, which in turn, made learning more enjoyable for myself, and (I believe) all of my siblings.

Corinna R., 35 from VA: Academically I did much better than I would have otherwise as my parents were able to cater to areas where I had a harder time (like math) and also push me and provide extra opportunities where I was gifted (like music).
Kellan A., 23 from KS:  I really enjoyed it. I feel like I learned a lot and got an extremely good groundwork for the future.

O. G., 29 from KS: I thoroughly enjoyed being homeschooled. I think we had a great support group and I had a great relationship with my mom and sister. Academically I probably could have been challenged a bit more...

Emotionally, no one had a completely "bad" emotional experience. However, the ones whom I placed in this category indicated that they had struggled with negative emotions for about 2 years, usually starting around 5th grade. Others noted that Jr. High was a hard time emotionally (which is often a hard time for kids whether they are homeschooled or not).

Reasons cited for negative emotions:
Wanted to go to public school
Felt like he or she was missing something
Felt different
Didn’t feel “normal”
May have lengthened struggle with shyness
Was angry about being taken out of school
Felt like parents had too much going on to help
Lack of social activities 

Interestingly, many participants tied their emotional experience to the availability of social experiences. (A note concerning interpretation: I had to use my personal judgement in determining the emotions behind the words/experiences in some of the surveys. For example, see academic results above where many just said, "I really enjoyed it.").

I have included both positive and negative testimonials below: 

Kelly C., 29 from VA:  [T]he community that we were a part of was wonderful for me as far as socializing. I think there is a big misconception (among the non-homeschooled) that homeschoolers do not socliaze and for me that was not true. We were involved in many activities with other homeschoolers; I participated in 4-H, we had weekly get-togethers at the park or skating rink as well as field trips to various historical/educational facilities.

However, while Kelly noted feeling "wonderful" about these experiences, M.V. relates more negative feelings toward very similar experiences. This just shows that different students had different emotional needs.

M.V., 27 from KS: Emotionally, I had friends and social opportunities . . . I don't feel like I was deprived of social events. At the same time, I don't think I had much in the way of developmental activities. Sometimes kids this age get involved in a sport or a musical instrument: I had choir, 4-H and long walks through the pastures around our house, none of which were really conducive to developing my future skills and personality as an adult. I think the lack of developmental activities here contributed to more problems in high school.

Here is another contrast between experiences, this one concerning personalty: 

Nara N., 30 from NC: Emotionally: I think I did just fine. I’m naturally quiet/introvert. Sometimes I wonder if public/group private school might have brought me “out” more, but I think it probably would actually not have been good for me as a young child, and would have created a lot of extra stress in my early life.

E. H., 21 from DE: Emotionally, it may have lengthened my struggle with shyness, but it meant I was able to unfold in my own time and with invaluable personal/family/spiritual growth in the mean time.

S. M., 29 from WV shows a good contrast between someone who had a good academic experience but who struggled emotionally:

 I was full of anxiety because I felt I was getting less of an education that my peers. I always felt educationally and intellectually inferior the entire time. Academically, I did well.

M.L., 26 from NE and M.D., 19 from KS both had positive experiences in earlier grades but struggled emotionally as they got older:

M.L., 26 from NEThe younger years I really enjoyed it, I loved being with my brothers while doing school, I felt challenged to always keep up with them . . . However with life changes, baby, sicknesses/health conditions in the family I felt that my education wasn’t as important as other things going on. Whenever I had questions about school, I felt like my mom had too much going on to help me. In 5th grade I really struggled with school, I felt like all of a sudden it was really hard, I didn’t understand it, it took me forever, I didn’t feel challenged to do well because my brother who had always been a year ahead of me was now behind me and the others were too far ahead so I had no motivation to do well it school. It was the first time I begged to go to public school, I thought, “even if I hate school, at least I would be with my friends. 

M.D., 19 from KS: My view of homeschooling up to [5th grade] was fairly accepting. I remember a few moments of jealousy toward other kids my age who got to spend their days with their friends in public school, but for the most part homeschooling was normal for me, and I didn't question it.
I remember middle school being the time when I really started questioning whether I wanted to be home schooled. I was becoming more involved in my church youth group and less involved in the home school group and because of this I was surrounded by kids who attended public school. 

On the other hand, other adults recorded strong, positive emotions in looking back on these years: 

Stuart G., 29 from VA: Emotionally: I was happy and enjoyed strong relationships with my siblings due to the fact that we were schooling together. Furthermore, my bond with my parents became stronger because of the increased time we were spending together. Especially effective was my father’s involvement in my education, which had not existed prior to home-schooling.

There was also a noted lack of turmoil that many of my peers in public/private atmospheres experienced. Because we missed out on much of the “drama” middle-school and high-school atmospheres cultivate, we were more at peace with ourselves (choosing things we were truly interested in without regards to what was “popular” at school, etc), and amongst ourselves.

Overall, homeschoolers looking back at their elementary and Jr. High years remember being satisfied academically and happy emotionally (though I think some of the responses concerning emotional satisfaction are very thought provoking).

What about you? 

If you were homeschooled, what do you think about your academic and emotional experiences looking back at K-8th grade?

If you homeschool your children, what thoughts or concerns do you have about their academic and emotional lives?

Please feel free to comment and ask questions!

Also, feel free to share these posts on Facebook or other social networking sites if you feel that others would benefit from or be interested in this series!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Adult Homeschoolers Speak Out: Top 3 Reasons Parents Homeschool

While growing up, I heard my mother describe homeschooling as "a lifestyle" countless times to curious inquirers who wondered WHY anyone would embark on such an endeavor. In the late 1980s, when my family started homeschooling, the question of "why" was very apropos, considering that homeschooling was illegal or newly legal in many states.

Keeping in mind these historic details, I was very intrigued to discover the answers to the question "Why did your parents choose to homeschool, from your understanding?" from first generation homeschoolers. (To learn more about why I decided to explore these questions, click here!)

Photo courtesy of this website
(While reading, please keep in mind the last part of the question: from your understanding. All of these responses come from the adults looking back on their experiences and to understand why their parents decided to homeschool).

An example from my own family might give insight into the wide variety of answers I got:

My oldest sister, (Amberley, 33 years old), gave this answer:

Well, homeschooling was not legal in Nebraska when I started school, so I don't know if Mom would have homeschooled me from K or not... But she said I was a brat and wanted me to get along better with my siblings. But I think there was also the religious aspect of things, where they wanted me to be able to study the Bible and learn about things from a Biblical perspective (ie. Bible as a subject, creation).

My second oldest sister, (Chelsea, 30 years old) also mentioned the "getting along with siblings" part, as well as religious reasons.

I, personally, don't remember my sister being "a brat" (that just makes me laugh a bit). However, the following story is what I remember my parents telling us about why they started to homeschool:
My oldest sister was in the AWANA program (a church based Bible memory club) that met on Wednesday nights. Amberley was so tired in the morning that she had a very difficult time getting up for school. My parents decided that Biblical education (like the AWANA program provided) was of greater value that academic education that required my sister to get up early in the morning. These circumstances greatly influenced my parents' decision to start homeschooling. 

My younger brother (Kellan, 23 years old) gave this reason:

Well, all of you guys were homeschooled so by the time I rolled around I guess they just had to.

My brother's answer, of course, is very tongue-in-cheek, but I think it gives a good example of how siblings can have different perceptions of the same event.

Most of the homeschoolers who took the survey cited multiple reasons that influenced their parents' decision. But the # 1 reason for homeschooling on the surveys mirrored my own family's reasons for homeschooling: Religious Reasons or Convictions. 

Here are some direct quotes from the survey: 

Melissa Ann G., 26 from VA:   Parents decided to homeschool us for religious reasons. 

Christine M., 31 from KS: [My parents] wanted us to have a religious foundation to our education

Jeremy D., 18 from VA: My parents didn't like "ungodliness" of public school . . . they felt God calling them to homeschool us.

Emily M., 26 from FL: I believe it was primarily because they are very conservative and strong christians and they felt that public schools taught things they didn't believe and they also thought that it opened up a lot of room for temptations and misguidance.

Elina C., 25 from KS: They didn't like the evolution stance that was being taken in the school system and wanted to have the freedom to teach us creation.

Jenna C., 28 from KY: [My parents homeschooled] to keep us sheltered from many of the negative influences of the world, and to instill a love of God in our hearts.

And many others. 
12 people (myself included) specifically mentioned "religious conviction"as a primary reason for homeschooling
6 people said that their parents wanted to protect them from "worldly," "ungodly," or "bad influences"
3 people stated that their parents "wanted to teach the Bible" 

While religious convictions was the # 1 answer, the next highest response was related to Academics or dissatisfaction with Public or Private Schools.

Stuart G., 29 from VA mentions academic reasons along with others: 

My parents were unhappy with the public school environment and the quality of education we were receiving. The straw that broke the camel’s back was an incident in which my sister was being bullied and the administration was ineffective in dealing with the perpetrator. After this incident, my parents decided to try homeschooling on a trial basis. After the first year, it was clear that homeschooling was the right way to go for our family.

Elizabeth J., 24 from VA stated:

My mother wanted to protect us from the negative influences found in public schools, and later (after my sister spent 3rd grade at a private Christian school) to give us a more personalized, at-our-level, education. My mother taught us at the level that we were capable of, not holding us back or going on ahead of us. She also wanted to avoid the bullying and cliche-ishness that were in the schools. 

Kaitlin G., 22 from KS explained that "My brother and I needed more 1 on 1 attention in certain subjects and we were not getting that in public school."

7 people stated that their parents believed "they could do a better job" than public/private school

5 mentioned that parents "didn't like the public schools"
2 cited that the parents wanted to have more control over their child's education 
One mentioned being "bored" in school

One family had a child who was academically advanced

Finally the third highest response after Religious Convictions and Academics was because parents did not want their children being taught Sex Education (5 people mentioned this, though this reason was primarily coupled with religious convictions). 

One participant saidThey believed it was God’s will for parents to take active responsibility for their children’s education. This was precipitated by early sex-education in my older brother’s second grade class.

Kelly C. 29 from VA also gave this reason: [My mom] did not want the public school system’s influence (in particular evolution and sex education) on my education. She preferred being able to teach me with a godly influence.

I found these top 3 reasons for deciding to Homeschool fascinating. Other reasons included:

Military/ lived overseas (4)
Bullying (3)
Private/ Christian School too expensive (3)
Family closeness (3)
Flexibility (3)
Disagreement w/ school
Thought it would be fun (I particularly liked this answer!) :)

In closing this very long and informative post, I wanted to share what, I believe, is is a uniquely insightful response for why parents decided to homeschool. 

Christy L., 28 from CA said: 

My mom started out homeschooling (I am the oldest) and did it for my first two years of school. Before I started second grade she decided to put my brothers and I into public school for two reasons 1. She does not enjoy teaching kids how to read 2. My brother was chronically ill and it was getting to be too much to homeschool and care for him. My parents then decided to homeschool all 5 kids during 6-8th grade. They wanted to ensure that we had a good bible education and felt that middle school is the time that kids really pull away from their parents and they didn't want that. 

I so enjoyed this response because I believe it shows wise parent(s) who knew her likes and dislikes (nothing wrong with not enjoying teaching kids to read!) personal limitations (having a child who was chronically ill), and their own personal convictions about teaching the Bible and their faith, as well as developing family closeness. Christy eventually went back to public school from 9-12 grade and felt prepared and grateful for this new experience as well. 

What about you? 

If you were homeschooled, why did your parents choose to do so (from your understanding)?
If you homeschool your children today, what are your primary reasons for doing so?

Please feel free to comment on the above responses, or ask questions! I will do my best to answer them and provide what insight I may. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Adult Homeschoolers Speak Out: Survey Stats and thoughts about large homeschooling families

Here are the demographic statistics from the survey I conducted about the experiences of adults who were homeschooled. Want to know what inspired this survey? Click here!

Want to see the results of this survey? Click here: 
Part 8: The best thing/ What was missing
Part 9: Do former homeschoolers want to homeschool? 
Part 10: Adult Homeschoolers Speak Out: Stereotypes: Better or worse today?

To better understand the following data, here is my own demographic information:

Name: Brittany Arpke Meng
Born in: Nebraska
Grew up in: Kansas
Currently live in: Virginia
Age: 28
Number of siblings: 4
Number of years homeschooled: 12 (1st-12th)
Marital status: Married; spouse was not homeschooled

Total number of surveys: 44
Women: 34
Men: 10
(Sadly, the results are a little estrogen heavy, but the male perspective I received was excellent!)

Current info about levels of government regulation for homeschoolers per state
Photo curtesy of this website
These homeschoolers grew up in:
Kansas (16)
Virginia (7)
South Dakota (3)
New York (2)
Nebraska (2)
Florida (2)
New Mexico
North Dakota
South Carolina
North Carolina

Military family (3)

These adults now live in: 
Virginia (13)
Kansas (6)
Mississippi (2)
Georgia (2)
Florida (2)
California (2)
Oklahoma (2)
North Carolina
West Virginia

Japan (2)
Cayman Islands

Age range: 18-37 (my minimum requirement was for the participant to be out of the house for at least one year)
Average age: 26
Fun fact: this means that earliest these families started homeschooling was around 1980! 

Number of siblings range: 0-13
Average: 3 siblings

Number of years homeschooled range: 5-13
Average: 11 years

Marital status:
22 married (4 spouses had homeschooling experience)
16 single
2 Divorced
2 Engaged
2 in a relationship

I included the sibling information because, in my own experience, homeschooling families tend to have large families. As you can see, the range of siblings in each family is pretty dramatic (from an only child to a family of 14 children!) The average of 4 children in a family seems pretty "normal" to me. Many homeschoolers talked about relationships with siblings in the surveys so that is why I included this information.

I also wondered though, "Does the "largeness" of a family affect the homeschooling experience positively or negatively?" I didn't receive overwhelming data on this point but I think that two examples may provide a good contrast to answer this question.

M. M. a 29 year old from CA was the oldest of 8 children. She describes a negative experience related to family size:

"My mom didn't seem to be involved very much in my individual learning or invested in only my education since there was so many kids. I felt this was a disadvantage to me . . .My mom would start at the youngest child and work her way up to the oldest in going over their homework, teaching, etc. I don't think she got to me very often."

In 12th grade, M. M. did her homeschooling with another family where the other mother kept all of the young people accountable for their work.

This is just one example, of course. But in this case, family size seemed like a detriment to M.M's homeschooling experience.

Contrasted with this is Beka R's story, a 25 year old from Kansas and the 2nd oldest in a family of 14 children. Though Beka came from the largest family in survey group, she implied that academics were a very strong focus and stated that family relationships were the most positive part of her experience:

"One of the best things homeschooling did was allow for strong family relationships - we had school on Saturdays and had Thursdays off because that reflected my dad's work schedule, and those Thursdays with my dad are something I've always cherished. I think that the primary influencers of my foundational years were my parents and grandparents, and that is something that has always shaped my values."

Most responders had a very strong family and the number of children did not seem to negatively affect the homeschooling experience (or they didn't mention it). I think it is interesting that homeschoolers have large families though and, in my own experience, homeschooling helped make relationships with my family stronger.

What do you think? 

Did you come from a large family who homeschooled? Did it enhance or take away from your education?

Please comment or ask any questions!

Adult Homeschoolers Speak Out: Why I wanted to write this series

I was a first generation homeschooler. 

...meaning my parents starting homeschooling in in the late 1980s right after it became legal in Nebraska (where I was born). In my elementary years, when someone asked where I went to school, 99% of the time my answer would produce a furrowed brow and the question, "What is homeschool?"

Nowadays, everyone knows someone who is homeschooling or who was homeschooled. First generation homeschoolers have grown up, gone to college, and have started families of their own. 

My own children are now almost school age (I have twins who will be 5 in October) and in recent months I have been contemplating my own schooling experience.

I wondered: 
Do former homeschoolers want to homeschool? 
What do they think of their homeschool experience? 
Were they happy and satisfied? Did they wish for more? 
Were they prepared for college academically and socially or were they scared, unprepared and awkward? 
Are they stereotypes of homeschoolers true? (homeschoolers are brainy/stupid/socially stunted/well rounded/fill in the blank?)

I spent hours on the internet, trying to find articles, blogs, anything written by former homeschoolers about their homeschool experience. I was disappointed by what I found (or the lack there of). Either I found stats about how homeschoolers are successful (with no personal testimony involved) or personal testimonies that I distrusted because I thought they were too "Pollyanna" in nature. I wanted to read about the honest experiences of adults homeschoolers, the good and the bad, the advantages and disadvantages, their thoughts on their academic experiences and the issue that homeschoolers everywhere never seem to escape:

"What about socialization???"

So I put together a short survey and and used the wonderful world of social networking to launch this blog series. I received 42 responses from adult homeschoolers from all over the USA (childhood friends, people I went to college with, friends, and friends of friends).

I am excited to share the data I have collected with you: adults who were homechooled, parents who are homeschooling their own children (and may be wondering, "Am I doing the right thing? Am I messing up my kid? WHAT ABOUT SOCIALIZATION????"), or anyone else who is curious about the lives and experiences of homeschoolers. 

Here is a little sneak peek at the end of the story: Everyone turned out fine. :) 

Not always "happily ever after" and not without some bumps, awkwardness, struggles, and obsticles on the journey to adulthood.

But, really, everyone turned out fine. 

Parents (ours and current homeschoolers), breathe a sigh of relief. 

And keep reading. 

You can look forward to personal testimony about topics such as (click to follow links of posts that have been published so far!):

Why first generation homeschool parents decided to homeschool
The academic and emotional experience of homeschoolers in grades K-8
The academic and emotional experiences of homeschoolers in grades 9-12
Do homeschoolers pursue higher education? 
Were they truly prepared academically?
Were they truly prepared socially?
What is the best thing about homeschooling (so many people said the same thing! amazing!)
What former homeschoolers wish was different about their experiences
The inside perspective about the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling
Do former homeschoolers plan to homeschool their own children?
The homeschoolers perspective on society's thoughts and opinions about homeschooling 

This series will be honest in every way, exploring the good, the bad, and everything in between. While my posts will primarily be focused on the results of the survey, I will also share my thoughts and experiences as they relate to the survey results.

I hope that this series inspires conversation, stirs up memories (for former homeschoolers), incites conversation, provides insight and information, and ultimately encourages those who read. Please feel free to comment, ask questions, and share your own thoughts and experiences.  

New posts will be linked to Facebook or you can follow my blog to keep up with this series! Thanks to everyone who participated in this project!

Want more? 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sweet nest necklace

Google is a wonderful thing. So are craft blogs. And so is pintrest. Using these three tools, I was able to create this sweet nest necklace for my friend Debbie who is expecting her third baby very soon! 
I followed this tutorial but made the nest look a little more rustic than the examples shown in the tutorial. After all, birds' nests are messy and organic (much like motherhood itself, right?). I love the way the nest turned out! And Debbie loved it too!

(the boys loved the nest too and asked me to make them each one. So now we have two nests floating around the house. lol!)

Meng Menu

Sunday: Potluck with small group
Monday: Homemade pizza (going to try this crust recipe!)
Tuesday: Grilled chicken (marinated in italian dressing), salad, yeast rolls
Wednesday: Scrambled eggs, hash browns, fruit salad
Thursday: Tuscan pasta w/ ravioli, greek salad
Friday: Honey garlic pork chops, rice, green beans
Saturday (our 6th anniversary!): London Broil, baked potatoes, corn on the cob

Grocery shopping was exciting (??) this week because I did NOT go on Sunday afternoon sans boys. I took them with me this morning. They were really pretty good. But the other "exciting" thing was that I only had one hour to drive to the store, shop, go home, unload groceries, and drive to Kids Cove to meet a friend. Whew! And I did it! In fact, I got to Kids Cove early! WOW! I felt pretty frantic the whole time and I really prefer to go by myself but I am glad that I was able to get the shopping done this morning before my friend-date. 

Budget-wise I was good too: $112 and change. :) We don't have money for a sitter/dinner out on our anniversary so I "splurged" on some red meat (cheap but hey, you can't be picky on a budget, right?) that we both enjoy. I am hoping we can grill the london broil along with the corn on the cob. Yum! Happy 6th anniversary to us! 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pregnancy Diary 1-18 weeks

This post is mostly for me, though I thought other people might get  laugh out of my facebook pregnancy posts so far, especially the things that the boys have said. 

The short version? Seems like I did a lot of complaining about being sick; I am super cranky and hormonal when pregnant; and my boys have some hilarious thoughts about their unborn brother or sister. 

Feb 3: positive test! Told  Aaron. His response? “Ohhhh….damn!” ::grins:: Stayed up late talking...
Feb 4: positive test #2!
Feb 6: Called Doctor. Won’t see me till March 21st. :P
Feb 17: Made Meng 1-5 shirts. See our announcement here! 
Feb 18: Told the boys. See boys' full response to the BIG news that they are going to be BIG brothers! Sent pictures to family tonight. Aaron’s mom (he sent her the photo over text) is the first to call.
Feb 21: lunch sounded gross so I ate breakfast again--two eggs, two ego-waffles and a banana
later: I hate snacking...unfortunately, it is the only way to keep the nausea away. :P
Feb 22: only thing that sounds good right now is chicken noodle soup but that isn't very filling so I'm going to have to repeat this eating thing soon....
Feb 26: actually has an appetite at the moment! We'll see how long it lasts...taking advantage by attempting to eat lunch again.
Feb 27: feeling "better" today. Always go to have a good day in the midst of the first trimester.

Mar 2: so tired...can't I just stay in bed all day?
Mar 3: is SO over this all-day nausea...ugg...I just want to feel better.
Mar 4: so sick. Been in bed all day...
Mar 5: sipping mint tea and praying to feel better than I did yesterday....
later: has zero motivation and energy. But I do have will-power.
Mar 6: praying for strength, energy, and wellness I need to go grocery shopping. With the boys. That's a whole other prayer request...
Mar 8: looking at Maternity clothes online and feeling completely uninspired....
Mar 13: why is my fuse so short with my kids? I go from calm to bull-rage mad in 2.3 seconds....sigh....
Mar 14: yesterday, more energy than I've had in a while. Today, wiped out.
later: So apparently, I woke Aaron up last night, frantically shaking him saying, "Do you hear that? Do you hear that?! Do you HEAR the HUMMINGBIRDS?? The HUMMINGBIRDS? oh wait....nevermind...." Crazy pregnancy dream.....
Mar 15: crying my eyes out at Private Practice tonight. And I am not a TV/movie cry-er. Stupid hormones....
Mar 17: every time I tell people I am feeling "better", I throw up the next day....I think I'll just stick to "I'm feeling pregnant."
Mar 19: nausea, go away....
later: craving a shake from Bogeys. Too bad it's over 2000 miles away....
Mar 21: had my ultrasound! Just one baby--and a wiggly one at that! So cute!
later: Micah told me today that he wants a baby sister. :)
Mar 25: Reality check: Last night, someone asked us if it was our first baby. Aaron and I answered in union, "No, it's our third!" Me: (thinking) THREE????? AHHHHHHHH!
Mar 30: current pregnancy craving = homemade cinnamon bread. So, I'm making some. We'll see what time I end up getting to bed tonight.

Apr 1: I asked Benji what he thought the baby was doing in my belly. His response: The baby is playing. With blocks! And taking a bath with his rubber ducky. :D
Apr 11: Holy Hormones! I had some crazy dreams last night, all filled with intense, out-of-control emotional reactions to normal situations. In my dream I was screaming at my poor husband (about what?) and breaking dishes as I unloaded the dishwasher. Yikes! I was also agonizing over which preschool to put the boys in.
Apr 12: I usually love cooking but I have no motivation or energy tonight.....:P
 later: there's "pregnancy tired." Then there's "parenting tired." Then there's "pregnancy + parenting tired." I'm in the latter category...
Apr 13: is a crank this morning....
Apr 14: ‎1 trip to Goodwill +$4.00+ 2 hours =maternity jeans (from GAP!) that fit me perfectly!
Apr 20: Benji: There's no baby in there. You just ate too much food!
Apr 23: Aaron: Benji, what's the baby doing in Mommy's belly? Benji: He's playing. Hide and seek! ::pause:: He's hiding.
Apr 24: got to hear Baby Q's heartbeat today! A strong 160. Plus baby gave a strong kick at the heartbeat monitor too. Feisty little Meng!
Apr 27: ‎16 weeks today and loving the little baby nudges I've been feeling for about a week! :)
Apr 30: PBS has been on all morning....just been one of those days.
later: boys are in bed. Time for chocolate cake.

May 1: well, HI Little baby! I love to feel your nudges!
May 3: hands are shaking....weird pregnancy symptom?
May 5: holy cow--was I this cranky before I was pregnant? Sigh....good thing my family is pretty forgiving of me.
Me: What's the baby doing in Mommy's belly, Benji? Benji: He's cleaning. He likes to clean. Just like his mother. Me: HA! (I hate cleaning! Apparently my son thinks otherwise)
May 7: my sister Chelsea just sent me a bunch of shirts! YEA for new clothes!
May 12: ‎18 weeks pregnant and 18 days till we find out BOY or GIRL! Anyone want to guess what we are having?? :)
May 14: Pregnancy perspective (from a man): Me: I've had to visit the bathroom, like, 6 times in the past two hours!! Aaron: Well, it''s better than peeing your pants. Very true, dear husband, very true.
10:45pm: HUNGRY! What should I eat....?
May 15: I think tired and grumpy must be my new personality...sigh....
later: Could literally FEEL the baby/belly growing today. A quick weight check showed I was up 3 pounds from YESTERDAY! Holy cow. No wonder I was so tired today.
May 18: Baby Q = energy sucker. Taking a nap...
May 19: do I really not look pregnant or are people just being polite when they say, "OH! You're expecting?!"

I realize that this is not neat and organized into months or trimesters. Oh well! Our next big announcement will be May 30: boy or girl????

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