In 2012, I joined the administration of a large homeschool group in my area. As part of that, I began writing for their homeschool newsletter. One of the most enjoyable articles I wrote was a series of interviews with homeschool graduates.
Interview with Kyle
What year did your family begin homeschooling? 1983 was when my oldest brother was born and, as they say, a child’s educational journey begins on day one.
How did your parents hear about homeschooling? Through numerous friends in the Polk County area.
What was your parent’s motivation for homeschooling (what made them choose to begin)? My folks were both brought up in the public school system and knew when they got married that they wanted to take a different path for their children.
What age and grade were you? Obviously, I wasn’t around quite yet when my parents first began… but I was around 6 or 7 when my “formal schooling” started.
What curriculum did you use? Ah, yes, curriculum. By the time I came along, we really had quite a diverse collection of material that Mom had put together. I used Abeka for health and history, Saxon for math, Apologia for chemistry, Bob Jones for biology, and for grammar we used Frody Jensen’s “A Journey Through Grammar Land”… just to name a few.
Was there a particular curriculum that you found worked better for you than another? When I began doing Algebra, there was a DVD series we found from a vendor at one of the homeschool conventions called, “Video-text Interactive”. Being a visual kind of person, the way that they illustrated the different problems was unique and definitely helpful for me.
Did you experience resistance from family or friends about your family’s choice to homeschool? From whom? Can you describe an incident related to this? Actually, we were very well supported, all things considered. Even my great Aunt and Uncle, both public school teachers, were agreeable to the idea. A bit cautious in their approval… but still agreeable nonetheless.
What was your favorite course or class? The co-op classes I took…, literature and composition, win hands down on this one. I also found chemistry enjoyable because it wasn’t just math… but rather math in action.
Did you have any learning disabilities or challenges? If bad handwriting is considered a disability, then yes.
Did you have challenges with any classes for which your parents found creative solutions to help you? (perhaps a method that the public schools wouldn’t use?) Math was, and probably still is, my weakest subject and so as I would be at the table slaving away at (what seemed like) the 647th problem on my sheet, Mom would have me take a break and clear my frazzled mind by running a few laps around the house or simply switching subjects for awhile.
What other activities were you involved with: church, ministry, co-ops, homeschool groups, community groups, sports, etc.? Oh boy, what wasn’t I involved in? My family participated in copious amounts of “outside the home” activities that ranged from visiting nursing homes to homeschool band and choir, co-op Spanish classes to church league softball, Bible memory programs (AWANA) and 4-H clubs were some of the main focuses my brothers and I had.
How many siblings do you have? I am blessed to be one of seven boys. I was the youngest of my parent’s original four, but when we adopted three younger boys from the foster care system I happily became the middle child.
Were they also homeschooled? Yes.
To your knowledge would they or do they homeschool their children? Although I’m uncertain where my oldest brother would stand, I know for certain that the rest of the guys all have a heart for home education and will definitely continue the legacy when they have kids of their own.
Did you get your GED or graduate (if you graduated was it a homeschool graduation or through an organization?) At what age did you graduate? I was 17 when I graduated and received a very handsome diploma from my parents. To make the day extra special, my close friend Steven Johnston and I had a joint celebration that we planned together.
Did you go to college? No, not a bona fide college. But by volunteering through our local fire dept. I’ve been certified as a firefighter level 1 as well as an emergency medical responder (EMR). Recently, I also completed the test for a class B commercial driver’s license.
Did homeschooling allow you to accomplish something or participate in something public schoolers wouldn’t be able to? Since my Dad has owned his own business for some time, the greatest opportunity I received was learning the meaning of an arduous day’s work and seeing my Dad serve his customers and gain their respect. Operating all kinds of tools and equipment was another benefit that flowed naturally out of that. Home education gave me the flexibility to travel during the school year and yet not fall behind. A couple of examples would be; when I was 15, I went to Southern Mexico with a team of local people to help build a bible school. And when I was 16, I traveled to Northern Washington to help lead a pro-life outreach on a university campus. Wonderful experiences. Really, I’ve been so exceedingly blessed.
What do you see as the advantages of being homeschooled? Any Christian family who has been homeschooling for awhile could probably tell you that the heart of education is discipleship. Over and over and over again in the book of Proverbs we see variations of the phrase “My son, give ear to my understanding…” It’s through the prayerful ( and sometimes painful ) years of pouring themselves into their children that parents win their hearts and raise them up to love the Lord. In regards to academics, schooling at home gives you immense amounts of flexibility as a parent. Where children excel naturally, it’s easy to spur them on and not be hindered by an age and a grade that are out of proportion. And when a child struggles, the parent can either focus more one-on-one time with them or, if necessary, call in someone else who’s more skilled in instructing that particular subject. Overall, you’re given the freedom to see that your children are getting their individual needs met in just the right way.
What do you see as the disadvantages of being homeschooled, if any? For myself, I look back and realize that there were some subjects where I simply didn’t push myself to excellence and I’m afraid only laziness is to blame for that. It’s easy for parents to get busy and let their kids (especially older kids) go through their day’s work basically on their own. Normally, this works marvelously! However, if a young person lacks motivation (or diligence in my case) it can lead to doing work that’s sloppy and just-the-bare-minimum-to-get-by.
Were you lonely as a child or did you feel deprived by being homeschooled? Oh goodness, no! In fact, I usually respond to the old “socialization question” with a chuckle, “If I had any more friends… my parents would’ve probably gone insane.” Seriously, though, regardless of where a child gets their education, it seems to me that they’re only as socially gifted as their parents teach them to be. The “socially deprived homeschooler” is simply a grossly erroneous perception.
Would you change something about your homeschool experience? If so, what? Regrettably, it wasn’t ’til I was high school aged that I started pursuing deep and honest conversations with my parents about what it meant to be created in God’s image and how he made our beautifully designed bodies to work. Puberty made no sense to me and I didn’t understand why all these changes were taking place. ( You see, my Grandfather was a very quiet man and never taught his sons how one is to grow up and honor the Lord as a masculine creature. And, In turn, that’s something that my Dad never instructed me in either.) As Dad and I talk now and look back on those days, I believe there were many foolish, emotional mistakes I could have avoided had those lessons started happening earlier.
The only other bleak spot in my (otherwise blessed and absolutely fantastic) time as a homeschooled student was what I alluded to earlier. At times, I know that I squeaked my way through a class, not really pushing myself to learn, but apathetically doing just enough to get a decent grade. I needed to be reminded that especially in schoolwork the principle of Col. 3:23 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…” Yep, that also includes arithmetic.
Stay tuned for more interviews in the future.