BAM Family

BAM Family

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Adult Homeschoolers Speak Out: Do former homeschoolers want to homeschool their kids?

When I started this series, the question"Do former homeschoolers want to homeschool their children?" was one that was very personal. 

Source
In my current circle of friends, I know lots of parents who are currently homeschooling or are planning on homeschooling. But none of these parents were homeschooled themselves.

This observation then led to intense introspection: Will I homeschool my kids? As my boys are 4 (they will turn 5 in October), this question has produced a lot of deep conversations and some sleepless nights for me.  (I will answer this question at the end of this post)

I wanted to know what other former homeschoolers were doing. So, I was eager to see what the survey results would bring.

And I am eager to share these results with you now.

45 people answered this portion of the survey
18 adults have children ranging from 0-10 years old
27 adults currently have no children

24% or 11 people said "No, they did not plan on homeschooling"
5 have children
6 do not have children


M. W. 30 from OH: Not unless we have to. I don’t want them to go through what I went
though. I would consider home school until 7th grade but definitely not after that.


M. M. 29 from CA: I do not have kids, and when I do have them - NO. I don't think I could do it, but more than that I don't want to repeat the experience I had.

Kaitlin G. 22 from KS: No, I want my children to be able to experience everything that school has to offer, however we will consider doing private school instead of public school depending on where we live.

Kelly C. 29 from VA:
I would like our children to go to private school if we can afford it when the time comes. If we cannot, then I will strongly consider homeschooling. My main concern is the patience it requires… I feel seriously lacking the patience department. My husband my actually be the one to homeschool if we decide to go that route. His job is flexible and he has far more patience than me and he is an excellent teacher.

Elina C. 25 from KS: I would love to, but I can't. Tyler and I have moved to Germany to do missions work. It is illegal to homeschool your children here. I do have to admit that the German school system has very good structure. I am sure that I will do some side studies with my kids. Focusing on Creation Science, Bible and American History.

Others mentioned family situations that would make homeschooling impossible: joint custody of child(ren), financial situations that would not allow it, or the fact that a spouse did not want to homeschool. 

31% or 14 participants said that they "Maybe or were unsure if they would homeschool"
6  have children 
8 do not have children. 

Elizabeth J. 27 from KS: I would love to, but I have compromised with my husband to say that it depends on the child and what the school has to offer at that time.

Christy L. 28 from CA: I don't have kids right now, but if I do in the future, the decision to homeschool will really depend upon the child and where I live at the time. Right now, the thought of homeschooling doesn't sound fun to me- but here in San Francisco the public schools are pretty bad, so if I still live here, we will either have to homeschool or move north.

Chelsea W. 30 from KS: That is still up in the air...it just depends on so many things. I dont want to send my kids to public school if at all possible. We would like to do a private school if possible, but I may decide to homeschool. Just not decided yet.

Melissa G. 26 from VA: My decision to homeschool my children will be based on their personalities. If I have a child(ren) with a similar academic personality to myself, I will probably choose to homeschool. If I have a child(ren) with a more social personality, I may choose to send him/her to the local Catholic school.

Beka R. 25 from KS: I plan to homeschool my children if I choose to stay home when they are born. If I choose to continue working, I will probably enroll them in a private Christian school. I really want to homeschool because I think that schools have gone so far from the inter-grade learning, where younger students learn faster and pick up more by being there when the older students are being taught, and because of the safety issues within public schools. My best friend teaches 3rd grade and the lock-downs and inter-student violence is really concerning. However I'm not sure whether I'll always work, or whether I'll stay home and homeschool, or whether I'll do some combination thereof. Right now, I plan on working and enrolling my kids in private Christian school. But who knows, things could change. 

Corinna R. 35 from VA: My oldest is 4 and I'm not sure if we will homeschool her or not. I think it will depend on how we like our options. I don't think that private school is worth the money and I see so many advantages to homeschooling. You can really make it whatever you like. Although I cringe when I see families not requiring good obedience of their children. Then I wonder if the public school would be healthier for the children. They would at least learn some boundaries.

Anthony T. 27 from VA: We haven't decided yet. I think it's a good possibility though. The reason why I would want to is because I just value our role as parents to be the ones raising our kids and teaching them things... not just academics, but teaching them how to glorify God. Regardless of which type of school you put your kid in, you're relegating that role to someone else. It may be that the person you relegate that role to is a great person and can do those same things, but part of me just thinks that the ideal scenario is for parents to do that. I don't know though. I think academically, my wife and I could provide a better academic environment than our kids could get in a school. I think spiritually, it would be ideal for us to teach them. I don't know though.

The responders who said "YES! They want to/plan to/are homeschooling" was the largest group. 

However, the numbers need a little pinch of salt, I believe. 

44% or 20 responders said "Yes, They want to/plan to/are homeschooling" 
Only 3 families (6%) are currently homeschooling
7 people who said "Yes" currently have children. 
13 responders had no children. 

I believe the "pinch of salt" is needed because while people said they want to homeschool or even plan to homeschool, I think parents' opinions often do change when they actually have children (either for or against). 

(Just my little 2 cents) 

Here is what the families who currently homeschool had to say: 

Jenna C. 28 from KY: Yes, because I can't imagine sending them off for 8 hours a day without my supervision and guidance. I feel a tremendous responsibility to shepherd them and lead them up in the truth of the gospel, and also to prepare them to be adults who can thrive in this world. I feel that that is best done, right now, by me being with them as much as possible. I also know my kids better than anyone, and I know how they learn the best and what they are struggling with. it makes sense to me to be the one to teach them. We may reconsider this decision in the future, but right now, this is what we feel is the best choice for our family and our children.

Christine M. 31 from KS: We currently homeschool our older two. We LOVE it! We are able to move at our own pace to keep the kids interested. They learned to read quickly, they have plenty of time to just be kids, and we're able to slow down if we come across any trouble spots, but honestly, they are both way ahead of where they "should" be. I have a friend who currently has a daughter in 4th grade who is severely struggling because of her reading ability. Instead of being able to slow down, or even repeat a grade, the school has continued to push her forward so her "self-esteem isn't damaged from being in with younger students", seemingly ignoring the fact that she is struggling to read what's required of her.

Jerusha C. 30 from VA: I just started homeschooling my oldest 2 children this past fall. [My daughter] went to public school k-5 but wanted to be homeschooled, and when she was in 3rd grade I started thinking and praying about it. I really didn't want to because I my own experence but I felt God "calling" me to do it.

Other responses from those who said "Yes:"

Amberley A. 33 from WA: Chances are good that we will homeschool in the future (we currently have our children in a private Christian school - their grandmother teaches there and we get a super-amazing discount!), but we will probably homeschool in the future when she retires and/or for high school. The Christian school's high school program is limited, and we also have quite a few things that we want to teach our children in high school that they won't learn in any school environment because they are not traditional subjects.

Stuart G. 29 from VA: We do plan on it. Honestly, we believe we can give our children a superior education – one that is tailored to their needs, talents, etc., and that goes much deeper than just reading, writing, and arithmetic. More importantly, I believe home-schooling will help us build stronger relationships with our children. Not that you can’t have strong relationships if your children are in public/private school, just that home-schooling might furnish more opportunities for such a relationship.

Jenna N. 28 from KS: I (semi-ironically) became an elementary school teacher and after having been a teacher, I really can't imagine having someone else have the amount of influence over my children that teacher's have. Not to mention the colossal amount of time that is wasted in a classroom and my (slightly arrogant) attitude of knowing what I think teachers should be doing and if they are doing it the right way or not.

Emily H. 19 from GA: I do plan to homeschool my kids one day. Though it won't be a perfect experience, I feel I have definitely learned from mistakes my parents made (and will carry on the successes) and would like to put it in action in one day.

Allison E. 24 from VA: Yes, I plan on it. I think it prepared me better academically and I want to give my kids that advantage.

Megan W. 27 from GA: As of now we are planning on homeschooling because, as of now, we believe it's the best fit for our oldest. My husband and I want to have the final say on what our children are taught. Each year our kids are in school we will seek to make the decision that's best for each of our children.

Jonathan M. 30 from TX: Yes, because the more I look at the pathetic state of the recrutes coming in right out of highschool there is no way I would let my kids grow up that way. The other reason is that every time I hear about what they teach in schools it makes me fear for my kids.



Another responder said: Yes (or private Christian), I plan to (if I have children); I believe it prepares them academically for the real world better than public school; I believe it lays out foundations faith issues.

The second half of this question was "If you do plan on homeschooling, is there anything you would do differently?"

While some responders said, "No, not really," others gave many suggestions about what they would plan to do differently if and when they do homeschool their children.

The first three testimonies are from the moms who currently homeschool:

Jenna C. 28 from KY: I will be more intentional about training them in social interaction, and in providing opportunities for them to practice those skills. I will also be more involved in their learning, and will not focus so much on their "grade" but on how well they know the information. I will review with them and teach them how to apply the things they are learning to real life situations, not only during the lesson but in everyday life.

Christine M. 31 from KS: We do plan on giving them the option of choosing public school once they reach High School, and of course academics will take on a different look because there's so much more available. But, overall my goal is to create socially active, politically literate, independent adults by the time graduation arrives.

Jerusha C. 30 from VA: I have them enrolled in a correspondence school.

Melissa G. 26 from VA: MORE WRITING! And a greater emphasis on critical thinking over religious faith.

One Responder said: Yes, I would particularly focus more on spirituality (versus theology), concentrate on finding a church in which my children can thrive socially/spiritually, etc. Additionally, I would be more focused on classic education (more focus on foreign language, literature, etc.)


Megan W. 27 from GA: Yes. I will make lesson plans ahead of time and know what our goals are for the week, semester and year. There will be more structure then what I had.

Michelle D. 19 from KS: Can't think of many, but perhaps I would involve my children in more group activities/co-op classes during grade school and middle school. I would not be afraid to allow them to have close friends outside of the family.

Ruth M. 23 from OK: I plan to implement a little more structure and hit math and science a little harder.

Corinna R. 34 from VA: I will focus more on academic excellence. The materials are so much better now. I don't have to invent the wheel like my parents.

Amberley A. 33 from WA: Well, there are quite a few things we want to teach our kids that I wasn't taught - Greek, things about finances/running a business/real estate, Also - we want to teach Bible - not only the knowledge, but the application of what it says and why it is relevant in their life, and mission trip/witnessing practice and experience. 

So, back to my original dilemma: Do I want to/plan to homeschool my children? 

In past posts, I've shared very honestly about what I thought was great about my homeschooling experience and what I thought could have been different/better. Overall, I loved being homeschooled and think I had a positive experience for the most part. 

But, I don't really WANT to homeschool. 

Here are my reasons (mainly selfish):
1. I struggle with patience with my twin boys and get frustrated very easily when I try to teach them things. I don't want my lack of personal patience to interfere with the learning process or (worse!) cause them to hate school/learning. 
2. I butt heads with one of my sons quite frequently. I think he learns better from other people.
3. I want to work. I really, really enjoy teaching writing and literature at our local university. I get a great deal of personal satisfaction from teaching (though I only do it part time). 

My boys will be going to Pre-K this fall at our neighborhood elementary school. (It is right across the street from us!) Since they will not be 5 until October, they will enter Kindergarten next year. Though I could keep them at home this year and do "home" preschool, I am having a baby in October (we like that month around here) and I know that at school they will be able to get the social and academic attention that I will struggle to give them in the first few weeks and months after our baby boy arrives. 

Reading through all of the surveys has made me go back and forth on my decision though. I definitely feel guilty about not wanting to homeschool, fearing that I will not be able to provide the "good things" that I gleaned from homeschooling:

I want to provide the Biblical education that I received through homeschooling. 
I want my kids to have the freedom to pursue special interests. 
And I do not want my children to be bored in school and lose their love for learning early (something my husband struggled with in public school). 

However, I have come to the realization that teaching the Bible or about one's faith is an option for every family, whether you homeschool or not. 

I can still encourage my sons' personal interests (plus, they will have other adults--teachers, counselors--who will also inspire them and perhaps provide insight and opportunities that I cannot). 

The "being bored" thing is one I am concerned about. And I would more seriously consider homeschooling if I felt like my kids were starting to hate learning. 

My husband and I agree that we will take our schooling decision year by year and we would definitely consider homeschooling in the future if we think that this will be the best option for our boys. 

What about you? 

If you were homeschooled, do you plan on/want to homeschool your children?
If not, do you (like me) feel guilty sometimes?

If you do plan on homeschooling, what do you plan to do differently with your children? 

Please feel free to comment or ask questions below! And please share this via Facebook or other social networking sites if you feel that this post or series would be interesting or helpful for others. You can "like" this post on the button below. 

Missed a post in this series? Catch up here!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Adult Homeschoolers Speak Out: The BEST thing/ What was missing

If you homeschool or are considering homeschooling, sometimes fears or uncertainties or just generally being overwhelmed by choosing a curriculum, lesson planning, or keeping up with all that socialization can sometimes make you forget the "big picture" of why you wanted to homeschool in the first place. 

This post is the "big picture," the reasons that former homeschoolers list as the BEST THING(S) about homeschooling.

The second half of this post is the responses of these adults about what they wish had been different about their homeschooling experience.

I hope this post encourages you and gives you some food for thought as well.

Survey Question: What was the best thing about homeschooling? 

Source
Here are the top three answers:
#1: Closer Family relationships (15 responses/ 34%)
#2 & 3 are tied:
Flexibility (10 responses/ 23%)
Freedom to pursue interests (academic and extracurricular) (10 responses/ 23%)

Almost everyone mentioned more than "best thing." I have divided all the responses into these five categories (the numbers listed are how many people mentioned each one):

Family
Closer family 15
One-on-one time with parents
Greater appreciation for parents

Academic
Freedom to pursue interests (academic and extracurricular) 10
Ability to work at your own pace 7
Laid back schedule 2
Fewer interruptions
More time efficient
Better Learning
Reading
Never stopping the learning process
Getting college credit in high school
More attention
Learned how to think for oneself
Learning for learning’s sake and not for grades
Freedom to adapt to personal learning styles
Custom education
No wasted time on “busy work”

Personal
Flexibility 10 
Promoting Independence/ independent thinking 3
Sheltered from bad influences
Reduced Peer Pressure 
More confidence/ less social pressure
Having “real life” experiences
Self-motivation
Learned strong work ethic
Matured quickly

Social 
Being able to travel 2
More time for volunteering 2
Unique experiences (field trips, etc) 2
More free time
Meeting lots of different people

Religious
Bible Education 3 
Closer walk with God 2
Faith integrated into every aspect of learning

WOW! So many "best things" about homeschooling! I hope these lists are encouraging to you.

The second survey question I asked in my survey was this:

Do you wish anything was different about your homeschooling experience? 

Here is the statistical break down: 
43% (19) said "No, they couldn't think of anything they wished was different"
56% (25) said "Yes, they wished 'xyz' had been different"

The answers were both fascinating and widely varied. 

I have divided the "Yes" answers into Academic and Social categories.

Academic:

J. M. 30 from TX: I wish my folks had spent more time on math and science. (even though I was ready for collage level study I feel like I could have done even better if we had)


R. M. 23 from OK: I wish we had done more science.

M.G. 26 from VA: Looking back, I think that my education lacked any real writing component. However, I have compensated for it since.

J. D. 18 from VA: Sometimes I just wish I had a teacher to help me through situations that I didn't understand the material.

M. W.  27 from GA: I wish there had been more structure and a more complete curriculum.

R. P. 30 from MS: When I got to high school I would go to the homeschool convention each year and pick out my books for the coming year with my mom. I then went through the text books pretty much on my own. I wish my mom had held me accountable a bit more because I didn’t end up finishing as much as I could have (although in the end I was completely prepared for college). Also we didn’t do science labs in high school, which I wish we had even though that tends to be hard. In WA state we have a program where you can go to community college for free for the last two years of high school and graduate from high school with an AA. I kind of wish my mom had pushed me to do that, but it may be that I wasn’t socially ready at that point.

E. M. 26 from FL: I highly recommend co-op. I wish we would have done more of this early on in my experiences. It provided more structure.

E. H. 19 from GA: Not much, just that maybe we had been part of the co-op longer and we had been stricter on keeping grades.

M. M. 29 from CA: I honestly kinda wish I wasn't [homeschooled]. Although I wouldn't be who I am today, but I really felt I was jipped in the education area.

Social:

Several people mentioned that they wished they could have been involved with sports:

Kelly C. 29 from VA: I wish that it would have been easier to get involved in sports. The only option for me was a rec league and the one time I got involved in a rec league it was all boys (on a boy/girl team).

Beka R. 25 from KS: I look at my younger siblings all involved in basketball, and I wish I had given it a shot . . . looking back I think I would have enjoyed that very much.

Samantha C. 24 from MO: Being able to be involved in competitive sports, like softball, would have been nice.

Others focused on deeper social issues: 

S. G. 29 from VA: I do wish I had been forced into more social situations. That could have made the public sphere less trying. Even today, conversing with people remains difficult for me; I believe my schooling experience plays a large role in that difficulty.

J. C. 28 from KY: I wish my parents had been more involved in my schooling and in making sure I was involved socially, not just by putting me into social situations but by training me in how to act in those situations.

B. H. 23 from VA: That I would have had a bit more contact with other homeschoolers, but I did have adequate social activities in Youth Group at Church.

K. C. 24 from VA: I wish that I had a better homeschool group in high school. Having a good local group is key to not feeling isolated.

S. M. 29 from WV: I wish it had not been illegal at the time and that it had been more widely accepted. My brother and I were teased and bullied mercilessly by public school kids about being homeschooled. My two younger brothers have had a completely different experience because homeschooling is so common now.

O. G. 29 from KS: I kind of wish I had been pushed to try more things. I was a little timid.

M. V. 27 from IA: I wouldn't be homeschooled. I wish I'd been sent [public school], actually. If I had to still be homeschooled, I wish my parents had pushed me into doing things besides choir and 4-H and work, to try new things instead of just doing what was immediately available. 

I suppose another angle of this is that I wish I had spent more time doing things with people who were not homeschooled and who were not like me, so I didn't have the huge learning curve post-high school graduation. 

I think this is an often-overlooked disadvantage of homeschooling: Sometimes homeschooling students get jobs or are pushed into service activities and spend too much time doing adult things before they are truly adults, and missing out on important kid activities instead. 

In my 10th grade year, my mom took on responsibility of two young boys for a lady in our church who worked; we essentially became a two-kid daycare . . . I didn't enjoy it (I'm not much of a kid person) and school had to be fit in on the sides. I have heard my parents' current pastor's wife say that she prefers her daughter, who does like kids, to not always be babysitting, because she doesn't want her daughter to grow up being a sort of pseudo-teen-mom. And I think that happened to me a little in my 10th-grade year. I also worked a lot (at the Y, which was fun), but sometimes that stood in for other social activities. I didn't actually have to work. So, different: not so many adult activities, so soon.

Finally, one responder gave this answer which I though was really interesting (and I wasn't quite sure how to categorize it):

C. R. 35 from VA: Yes, I believe that it is a really struggle for homeschooling parents to release their children once they are grown.   

I think these "wishes" are very enlightening. Some of them are more tied to being a "first generation" homeschooler than others. For example, there are more co-op opportunities and sports opportunities today than there were 15-20 years ago. 

Perhaps these other academic and social "wishes" will help give current homeschoolers insight into where they can pursue conversation with their children or perhaps make changes. 

What about you? 

If you were or are homeschooled, what is the very best thing about it?

As an adult homeschool alumni, is there anything that you wish had been different about your homeschooling experience? What advice would you give to homeschool parents today?

Please feel free to comment or ask questions! And please share this series if you think it would be interesting or helpful to others by linking to Facebook or other social networking sites (you can "like" this post by clicking below")

Missed a post? Catch up here!
Part 9: Do former homeschoolers want to homeschool? 
Part 10: Stereotypes: Better or Worse?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Meet My Daddy: from Twin 4 year old boys


2009
From Micah

What is Daddy’s name? Aaron

How tall is Daddy? Tall as Micah

What is Daddy’s hair like? ME!

How much does he weigh? Heavy to carry

What does Daddy do for fun? Baseball

What does Daddy do at work? Plays with all his friends

What are his favorite things to eat? Pizza!

What makes Daddy the best? Hugs and kisses

What does he like to drink? Soda

What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy? Play with daddy

How old is Daddy? 4 years old

How long have you known Daddy? I don’t know!

Where did you and Daddy meet? At baseball
2012
2012
From Benji

What is Daddy’s name? Aaron

How tall is Daddy? LONG LONG LONG!

What is Daddy’s hair like? Long long! Short short!

How much does he weigh? 28 times

What does Daddy do for fun? Play golf

What does Daddy do at work? At the Steamworks

What are his favorite things to eat? Nuggets

What makes Daddy the best? Daddy is a hero!

What does he like to drink? Soda

What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy? Sleep in my nest

How old is Daddy? I don’t know!

How long have you known Daddy? He likes to sleep with ME!

Where did you and Daddy meet? At dinner!

2010

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Adult Homeschoolers Speak Out: What about Socialization? The BIG question!


Ask any homeschooler (past or present) the # 1 question he or she receives about homeschooling and it will be this: 

What about Socialization? 

Source here
Most homeschoolers will laugh at this question and give some rapid-fire answers about the number of activities they are involved in or how they are SO busy that they have to squeeze school work in their socializing schedule.

I have been anticipating this post for almost a month now and I have thought long and hard about why this is such a hot-button issue for people. Any Google search on "Homeschooler + socialization" will reveal a barrage of blog posts and e-articles that all profess that homeschooled children are, indeed, socialized and even BETTER socialized their their traditionally schooled peers. 

The comments to such articles are even more revealing. Every reader seems to have an opinion on this issue and the comment battles that ensue would probably fit neatly into the movie "Mean Girls."

So why does the issue socialization bother so many people, both homeschoolers and non, seeming even more important than academic success?

I believe this is because social apptitude is spotted, judged and/or pitied long before intelligence is ever assessed in most social situations. In plain English, this statement could read like this: 

"He is so smart, but....bless his heart, he seems a little awkward, doesn't he?" (that was the polite version. You can make up your own, non-sugar coated statement here)

The issue of socialization and homeschooling is so dynamic because, whether homeschoolers like to admit it or not, what they are doing is counter-cultural. It isn't "the way" most Americans are educated or how most adults learned to interact with the world. 

This is neither good nor bad. 

It simply is. 

But because it is "different," it may and often does present some challenges.  

My survey results revealed some of the challenges that adult homeschoolers have faced as they entered adulthood. The numbers are primarily positive (though perhaps not as overwhelmingly confident as most homeschoolers, both past and present, may think they ought to be).

I had two questions relating to socialization: 

Survey Question: Are people every surprised to find out you were homeschooled?

67% (29) of responders said Yes! 
Most said people were surprised because they were "so normal!" :D 
One woman said: "Yes! Just the other day a nurse was bashing homeschoolers and I turned to her and said that I was homeschooled. She was shocked." 

16% (7) said people were "sometimes" surprised. 

One adult homeschooler  noted that "[u]sually [the statement] is followed by a question about being social and I have to try not to laugh, but most of the time people are positive about it!"

4% (2) said people were not surprised at all to find out they were homeschooled

11% (5) said the question either "doesn’t come up" or that they "don’t tell them."

One man revealed, "People think I’m crazy or some kind of weirdo. I don’t share this unless I have to."

My survey question specifically about socialization was linked to the question about higher education: 

Did you pursue higher education after high school? If so, what is the highest level of education you have earned?
If so, do you feel that homeschooling prepared you socially?

(Looking back I wish I hadn't attached this question to higher education because not everyone pursued higher education and, therefore, did not answer this question (though only 2-3 did not)). 

The statistics for this question are as follows:

60% (26 responders) said Yes, they felt socially prepared for higher education/the real world.  
40% (17 responders) said either "No, they were not prepared" or mentioned difficulties they had 

Of the 60% who said "yes!," a majority argued that homeschooling gave them a chance to interact and socialize with people of all age groups instead of simply interacting in peer-age groups. 

Source Here
 Megan W. 27 from GAYes. I had always been exposed to different people and encouraged to interact with them.

Ruth M. 23 from OK: Yes, I don't think I had any more difficulty socially than a person who had gone to a public school. Actually, I believe homeschooling helped because it trained me to be willing to branch out and meet different people, even if they didn't belong to what I saw as my "group."

Elizabeth H. 21 from DESocially, I am comfortable talking to a wide variety of people, both age-wise and culturally.

Jonathan M. 30 from TXYES!! I feel that I was better prepared socially due to the fact that while homeschooling I learned to sociallize with people of all ages. I have noticed that many people who went to public schools are locked into their peer group and have a hard time with people outside of their peer group. 



Elizabeth J. 27 from KS: Yes, I had many friends, and lots of experiences that were similar enough to my public school peers that I had things to talk with them about. I was comfortable in the large groups of mixed ages and abilities, something that bothered a lot of my public school peers as they were used to same age grouping.

On the negative end of the spectrum, adult homeschoolers related these experiences: 

M. G. 26 from VAAlthough I have no social skills, I can't blame that entirely on homeschooling. Yes, homeschooling gave me very few outlets to force myself to be social, but since people make me nervous and I don't like to be social anyways, that may have happened regardless. . . Social function is probably the biggest disadvantage.

E. J. 24 from VAThat is a bit of a difficult question because I was an extremely shy child. I was socialized. There was a group of about 50-60 homeschoolers that would meet at least once a week to play, and I was often around adults that my parents knew from church, work, or their hobbies. As a child, I was very comfortable speaking with adults and I disliked events geared toward children as I found them condescending. However, as an adult, I have had some small issues with relating to everyone. Whether this is because I was homeschooled, or because of my personality, I am not really sure.

R. P. 30 from MS: I had good social skills for dealing with people of all ages in a personal and professional way. When I went to college I greatly gained social skills with my peers. Part of that may be delayed because I was homeschooled. 

K. C. 24 from VA: There were some gaps in my social abilities, and felt socially immature for a while.

M. W. 30 from OH: Homeschooling set me back at least 2 years socially. I made up for a lot of it by getting a job at McDonalds my junior year in high school.

J. C. 28 from KY: I wish my parents had been more involved . . . in making sure I was involved socially, not just by putting me into social situations but by training me in how to act in those situations.  

Whether the response was positive or negative regarding socialization, nearly all responders seemed to define "being socialized" as:

Being able to talk to people of all ages 
Having friends
Being involved in activities

While I think these three things are important, somehow these answers left me wondering: 

Are people really "socialized" if they have friends, are involved in activities, and can talk to people of all ages? 

Are these three things really what non-homeschooler are asking when they ask, "What about socialization?" 

One woman wrote, what I believe is, an excellent response to this question: 

Though she had friends, close family relationships, outside activities, and a part time job while being homeschooled, she still said she was "Absolutely not!" prepared socially for life after homeschooling. 

M.V. 27 from IA writes: Imagine human social lives like a game . . . In a real game, the rules are carefully explained. In society, the rules are unstated and must be figured out carefully (incidentally, they change from country to country and region to region). What kids need, then, is an opportunity to practice the game and learn what the rules are. 

High school, mean as it can be, gives them that opportunity. It teaches them to respond appropriately to peer pressure, to interact with the other sex, to behave appropriately at social events, to make small talk. 

Obviously, not everyone who goes to a public school graduates with a perfect knowledge of these rules, and not everyone who is homeschooled fails completely here. My sister, for instance, picked up social rules quite well. The fact that some people do fine, however, doesn't change the fact that society does have rules and homeschooling reduces the opportunities by which to pick up on those rules.

Missing public school means that I missed four years of an opportunity to learn some of those rules. I had a very small circle of friends at [college] and had no idea how to interact with roommates; I started getting better in [grad school] and then [when I went to work overseas]. 

I found this response to be very insightful and true, in many cases. Learning social rules is difficult, and if one does not learn those rules as a child or teenage, then he or she must learn them (sometimes more painfully and embarrassingly) as an adult. 

I can relate to this. Even as an adult, I sometimes lack insight into when it is the right time to ask questions, especially in a group setting. Growing up, "right now" was always the right time to ask any question! In college, I always forgot to raise my hand in a classroom setting, often blurting out whatever was on my mind, often to interrupt others or be reminded by the professor "to give someone else a chance to talk/answer." 

Although I have gotten better as I have gotten older (and wiser), I have even had difficulties at my job when, at a meeting, I asked a question that--I thought!--was very applicable. I was reprimanded later by my superior privately (much to my intense embarrassment). Knowing these "unspoken rules" of group settings continues to be difficult for me, though I am slowing figuring them out. 

Another issue that I believe many homeschoolers struggle with socially can be related in this example: 

C. M. 31 from KS: I was a bit green when it came to dealing with people who didn't have my best in mind, and I found myself in situations in college that I would NEVER walk into now. 

I have found that many former homeschoolers (including myself) feel blind sighted when they discover that in "the real world," not everyone has their best interest at heart. 

Growing up, everyone had my best interest at heart: my parents, friend's parents (all of whom were homeschool families), Sunday School teachers, pastors (let's see, who else did I interact with....? ;)

As a child, this trust in others is healthy. As an adult,  naive trust in others can be disastrous. 

After reading my "Homeschoolers Speak Out: the High School Experience," one reader commented on the issue of homeschoolers making bad decisions, even after a moral upbringing: 

"I am saddened by the (seemingly) higher rate of moral failure among our home schooled families (children). Is this because of over-sheltering? I don't know."

While I think over-sheltering may be (and often is) an issue, I also think it is also because some (perhaps many?) homeschoolers leave home believing that everyone has their best interest in mind. Many have made bad decisions as a result of naïvety, either in choosing friends, in dating or marriage, on the job, making large purchases, or making other life changing decisions.

Ultimately, Socialization is a complicated issue. I do think that it is important for all children to have friends, opportunities for activities, and the ability to interact with both peers AND people of all ages (yes, being able to interact with your peers IS important!).  

However, I believe that true socialization is more than that, including: 
~Developing working peer relationships (with roommates, co-workers, in general social gatherings, dating and marriage)
~Developing conflict resolution skills with non-family members
~Being socially aware of self and others
~Knowing and acting within social “rules” (ex. Knowing when to speak, listen, respond, or just be quiet!)
~Being able to navigate social situations with confidence
And more 

I do realize that the above skills are not possessed by everyone, children or adults, homeschooled or not. But it is, of course, the hope and goal of parenting (and homeschooling!) to be able to socially prepare our children for life outside the home. 

What do you think? 

If you were homeschooled, do you believe you were prepared socially for "the real world"? 
If you homeschool now, what are some concerns you have about the issue of "socialization"?

How do YOU answer the question, "What about Socialization??"

Please feel free to comment or ask questions below! 

Missed a post? Catch up here!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

DIY Maternity: Blouse from Men's Dress Shirt

Another Maternity Refashion! I actually made this shirt a few months ago when I was barely showing. I didn't like the end results at the time because it felt so big so I hung it up in my closet with a sigh. Well, my belly is bigger now and I think the shirt is pretty cute! 
BEFORE: A Large Men's Dress Shirt (Goodwill $3.50)
 AFTER 
I used a combination of Megan Nielsen's blog tutorial for the babydoll top and the collar from this tunic top
 It actually took me a while to get the shirt to a place where I liked it (read: Brittany was very frustrated, threw it in a heap, left it overnight and then came back to the project). 
I made the bust part a bit too small for my pregnancy boobs and had to add fabric on the sides (a bit of a nightmare). 
Then the bottom was too boxy. 
So I used elastic in the back to give it a bit more shape and stretch and then added a yellow ribbon on the sides to tie in the front. 
At 22 weeks pregnant, I think it fits pretty well! I felt cute in it today! 
The yellow adds a pop of color and the tie adds some needed shape to the blouse. Plus I still have lots of room to grow (on the bottom at least! I made need to tweak the bust a bit so it will continue to fit me as the girls grow!)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Our First Camping Trip!

We took our very first family camping trip this weekend. It was a first for me and the boys. 
We had a great time! Enjoy the pictures below!
Our (tiny) home sweet home. We barely all fit for sleeping. Thank God Aaron's mom and step dad brought up an air mattress for me! 
 My handsome twin boys (Benji, Orange, Micah, Stripes, 4.5 years old) 
Can't believe how much bigger Micah is!
 Mommy and Micah 
 Mommy and Benji
 Aaron and his boys: Fishing for the very first time!


 Micah's first fish! He was SO proud!
 The fish (he was very happy to swim away after this picture!) 
We caught a total of 5 (tiny!) fish between us that morning. 
Our afternoon fishing yielded 3 more catches!)
 Poor Grandma took an unexpected swim when she slipped on the rocks (Rhonda, if you are seeing this, please forgive me! I do not remember snapping this picture. I think Jerry took it!)
 Benji caught a fish too. He was excited until the little wiggler came out of the water. Then there was much running away and screaming. I had to drag him over for a picture. 
 Yes. This tiny thing was the cause of my son's fear. 
 After lunch we went swimming in Smith Mountain Lake. This was the highlight of the boys' day. 
 They love their Grandma!!!
 Micah: Mommy, I love swimming!!!!
 Benji: (I told him to say "smile!" and this is what ensued) SMILE!
 Camping worked out for me even being 21 weeks pregnant. I did have to go to the bathroom a million times. Thank goodness our tent was really close to the bathroom. 
We had a great time camping!!! 

The tiny, terrifying fish: Or A Picture is Worth 1000 words

We took the boys fishing for the first time this weekend! This is Benji's first fish (displayed by Grandma)

 This is Benji's reaction to his first fish. 
Poor kid was TERRIFIED! 
I was trying so hard to get him to take a picture with it. 
This was as good as it got. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

There once was a guinea pig and a bird....

There once was a guinea pig and a lovebird....
 The bird loved the guinea pig. 
The guinea pig tolerated the bird. 
One day, he was kind enough to share his food with her. 
The bird was ecstatic! 
Her love for the guinea pig grew. 
Now she likes to feed the guinea pig hay through the bars of his cage. 
The guinea pig likes this. 
He also likes to bite the bird's feet. 
Then the bird screams at the guinea pig. 

But she still loves him. 

The end. 

20 week belly pictures + Sonogram pictures

I am officially half-way through my pregnancy (well, actually a little more since I am 21 weeks today)! 
Here is the belly shot! 
People are constantly surprised when I reveal "Oh yes, we are expecting a little one in October!"
When I look at this picture, I am like, "How can you miss it?!" 
 I know I am growing because this picture was taken at 14 weeks (same shirt)
 We found out one week ago that we are expecting another boy! 
(the sonogram tech wrote "Our three sons" in this shot)
I have to be honest: I teared up after she showed this shot. 
And I bawled my eyes out later that night at home. I really, really had my heart set on a little girl. 
A 3D shot of Baby Q's face (hand right in front) Aaron and I both think he looks like Benji
But the next day I was feeling a bit better. Not happy or excited. But better. 
And now a week later, I am feeling content. 
Yet a little scared too. 
THREE boys? 
Holy crap! 
I never saw myself as a mom of boys (I still have a hard time identifying myself as such) even though people have told me, "You are such a good mom to boys!" 
I have no idea what they mean. 

But, I do know a little more what to expect this time around. 
A boy needs lots of food, lots of exercise, and lots of love. 
And I should probably invest in some (more) indestructible furniture, stain remover and good quality ear plugs. 
Baby Q (no official name yet!) is very healthy and growing right on track. We are so thankful for that. 
And I am getting more excited to meet our new little guy and see how Micah and Benji blossom into big brothers. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Adult Homeschoolers Speak Out: College? Prepared or not?

When my 33 year old sister, Amberley, graduated from (home) high school, most people were very skeptical about whether homeshoolers could succeed academically in college.

Yet as first generation homeschoolers (families who started homeschooling right after it became legal in their states) started going to college, research was conducted that proved that homeschoolers, indeed, do very well in college!

Photo courtesy of this site
My research for this segment of the survey supports this idea. I am very proud of the statistics for this portion of the survey as it shows that many homeschoolers pursue higher education and succeed!

As you will see from the testimonies though, not everyone felt prepared academically, even if they eventually did very well in the college classroom. I will share My Story about feeling academically prepared after I present the data from the survey.

(A brief note: I have both a Bachelors and Masters degree in English and currently teach at a University. That being said, many of my friends/ former classmates/ friends of friends who participated in this survey also have advanced degrees. Though I do know that many homeschooled students pursue higher education, the numbers may be slightly greater here due to my personal connections).

Survey Question: Did you pursue higher education after high school? If so, what is the highest level of education you have earned?

Results:
Associates: 4
Bachelors: 18
Masters: 9 (one has 2 masters!; one in Med school)
PhD: 1
Attended college but didn’t finish: 3
Currently in college: 6
Other (Cosmetology; ministry certificate): 3 
Didn’t go to college: 2 

The next question on the survey asked whether the adult felt prepared for college academically by his or her homeschool experience. Here are the results:

76% (32 participants) said YES!

Samantha C. 24 from MO: Yes, yes, yes. The night before I left for college, I was terrified that the classroom experience would be too much for me. However, when I got to college, I realized that I had spent the last 10 years educating myself, stretching myself, and had developed a natural curiosity and a desire and eagerness to learn. Freshman year was actually frustrating because I felt that I was being “spoonfed” my education. I was on the Dean’s or the President’s list every semester.

Marybeth M. 29 from CA: I think the only way it helped prepare me was in writing papers and the variety of those papers. I was really afraid of being "secular-shocked" after being Christian sheltered for my entire life. And that I would be behind academically. I don't remember being behind, and only one class was very anti-Christian.

Renee P. 30 from MS: I was very scared about starting community college. I had myself convinced that I wouldn’t know what to do in a classroom and I would fail school. However after I walked in sat down I never had another problem. I was very prepared academically and did very well in all my classes in college. I felt I had adequate background and I also knew how to learn.

Nara N. 30 from NC: Homeschooling was superior preparation for college because I already knew how to work on my own; lectures by professors were gravy to my college education because I could basically teach myself most material from a book already. I was also used to mastering material on my own so it was natural for me to do this in college. Working independently was an even bigger part of grad school.

Many, many adults noted that they were prepared for college because they already knew how to be  independent learners and take initiative for their education. 

14% (or 6 participants) said that homeschooling "Sort of" prepared them for college: 

Grady S. 26 from FL: Yes, but not prepared for the classroom atmosphere. I did take a couple classes at the community college before; that helped but [it was] still different.

Megan V. 27 from IA: Mostly. I am relatively smart anyway, and I am also naturally good with words. So although there probably were gaps in my education, I didn't sense the gaps incredibly well; I picked stuff up. I think the biggest lack was actually in writing. In high school, my mom and I had re-read papers to see if they were "awkward." I went into college revising papers by checking to see if they sounded "awkward" and then discovered that was a really horrible way to write. I spent a semester getting Bs and Cs before I figured out how to actually revise papers.

That said, I think I got lucky because I have smart parents who made me do school and read the books and take tests . . . The testing and results culture in the public school may be difficult and ill-advised for many respects, but by and large, teachers there know how to train students to meet expectations and follow directions. This is not something I believe is taught in homeschooling, or even in Christian schools. A homeschooling family is, by their very nature, the maverick of the educational world. And although kids need to be taught to think for themselves, it is equally important to guarantee that they do in fact think - something that not every homeschooling family is prepared to teach their kids.

M. L. 26 from NE: No and yes. I struggled a lot, but I still managed to graduate with a 3.8. I felt like I wasn’t prepared to juggle all the classes and assignments, I struggled with writing papers, which was something we rarely did.

Once I was in college, I felt like I missed out on so much!! There were classes I just loved like my literature class. I took it with a friend who was also homeschooled and we both felt like we were cheated and there were so many classic books and writers we had never heard of. I did awesome in most of the class, but when it came to our test it was all essay questions and I froze, because I had never done anything like that. My teacher was so great and so encouraging; she thought what I wrote was great but I gave up on the test. I really wish I had more guidance in writing, to pursue that interest and I would have loved to developed those skills….

Another participant said: Most definitely; the only aspect that was negative was that I didn’t have to study in college which led to a bit of undisciplined learning in post-graduate work.


My note: So many people said they struggled with writing because they received NO instruction in it while homeschooled! Sadly, this was also my own experience. However, as I am now an English teacher, I strongly encourage parents to help their homeschool students learn how to write (or find someone to teach them!). If you are in Lynchburg VA, please email me (bmeng@liberty.edu).

9% (4 participants) said that they felt that homeschooling did not prepare them for college: 

M. W. 27 from GA: I didn't feel very prepared. I had never been in a formal education setting in my life. I had never written a paper until I was in college. My family and I would discuss things, so I was very good at communicating but unprepared for all the writing.

M. W. 30 from OH: I had a hard time adjusting to college. By the end of my freshman year I had it figured out . . . I had some serious disadvantages in high school and college starting out. I have been able to get past most of them now.

S. M. 29 from WV: Not necessarily. I think I would have excelled in any academic environment. I was more prepared for the independent study of college, but that just have been the way my parents chose to homeschool me.

E. M. 26 from FL: I felt I was behind in some areas, not to put my Mom under the bus but areas where she was weaker tend to still be my weak points. It's difficult to teach someone when you get just as frustrated as them due to not fully understanding the topic.

I think it is wonderful that 95% of the adults who took this survey pursed some sort of higher education. 60% have earned a Bachelors degree or higher! I think current homeschool students and parents can take comfort and heart in these numbers. 

My Story: I do not think I was prepared academically for college but....

I was the 3rd of 5 children. My oldest sister (Amberley, mentioned at the beginning of this post) completed high school through a correspondence program, so her diploma is from an accredited private school. My second oldest sister, Chelsea, had no desire to pursue a degree from a college or University (her love was Cosmetology, which she trained for; she is now working in a salon as a stylist). 

Neither Chelsea nor I used the correspondence school that Amberley used (I am not sure why). I remember picking my own curriculum and being in charge of my own schooling from 8th grade-12th grade. I took traditional high school math and science courses (Algebra, Geometry, Biology, Chemistry).There was no high school co-op offered when I was in high school, though we did get together with a few homeschool families for science labs.  I don't remember taking history (although my elementary/Jr. High history studies were excellent). We did Rosetta Stone for French (It didn't stick) and continued in our Bible curriculum (always excellent). 

I never took a literature course in high school, though I did read books (there was no discussion or papers). The only writing instruction I received was when I took Composition I at a local college my Senior year. Ironically, I wanted to be an English major because I loved to read and write "stories." 

Once I got to college, I did well, although I had a lot of academic anxiety about what it meant to "do well." ( Ultimately, I graduated with a 3.7 GPA in undergraduate and a 3.9 in my MA).

College was my first experience with taking tests (we didn't take any beyond Math tests), taking notes, writing papers, working in groups (hated and still hate this!), and getting grades (we didn't get grades in our homeschool either. My mom would just assess where we were and had us repeat the work if we didn't know it yet). 

The only time I felt like college was "hard" was in a Spanish class. It was my second semester (first semester I got a B and didn't learn a thing--very "absent minded" professor!) with a very strict and rather uncompassionate professor. This class required a lot of speaking out loud in front of others. I was morbidly embarrassed of doing this, of making mistakes in front of others--which I did frequently because I was so self-consience. I cried multiple times in class. 

After seeking tutoring, going to the professor for help, and spending 4-5 hours on homework assignments, I ultimately dropped the class. In reality, I just couldn't handle the fact that I wasn't good at something (homeschooling often encourages students to pursue the subjects they are good at and to just "get by" in the others) and I was socially embarrassed in front of my peers. 

Perhaps being involved in more group learning during my homeschooing years, such as a co-op (or being in a traditional school setting) would have helped me in this situation. I'd like to blame the teacher (he was pretty harsh) but I know my own insecurities and lack of preparation also contributed to this failure. 

In my English classes I actually blossomed. I finally had an outlet for all my thoughts (but was reminded by several professors in several classes to "let others have a turn to talk"....ug. Socially awkward homeschooler, right there!). I did well on my papers (I only recall one C on an English paper in my whole undergraduate career)--though not due to my writing skills. (I had good ideas. I feel like I really learned to write when I got to grad school). 

Honestly, I don't believe I was prepared academically for college, especially in my chosen field (woefully unprepared in writing and critical thinking!) but I got by because homeschooling taught me to be an independent learner and I was extremely self-motivated. These were the gifts that homeschooling gave me (though I feel that my "real" education began when I went to college and when I pursued my masters degree).

What about you? 
After being homeschooled did you pursue higher education? Did you feel like you were prepared academically? 

If you homeschool your child, how are you preparing him or her academically for college?

Please feel free to comment below or ask any questions! Also, please share this post on Facebook or other social networking sites if you think that this series would be beneficial to others!

The next post will be about whether homeschoolers felt socially prepared for "the real world"--yes, I am going to tackle that huge question, "What about socialization?!" The survey results are extremely enlightening and thought provoking! Please keep reading!

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