Debt-Free Homeschoolers

We became completely debt-free while we were homeschooling our four kids, and that was hard enough, but I’m completely blown away by this homeschooling family, who are also debt-free but have 13 kids! You can learn a lot from how this smart couple handles their finances, which is spelled out in the article.

Blast from the Past: Temperamental Teens

Once in a while, I stumble on one of those articles written for homeschoolers suggesting that there’s really no such thing as a teen.

The author usually goes on to say that the concept of a teen is a relatively recent development stemming from our modern culture, and that once upon a time children were able to transition into adulthood with little if any difficulty.

My reaction to this? Beans!

We’re on our third and fourth teenagers, and the journey of raising them from birth to adulthood has been nothing if not fascinating. All four differed tremendously in temperament, and yet all four definitely showed signs of becoming teens at the usual time.

Did we raise them all the same? No. It’s not possible. We’re not even the same parents today that we were ten or fifteen years ago, and we don’t do things the same way we used to. I like to think we’ve learned at least a couple of things in the process, and that they’re reflected in our parenting skills.

So we have four very different children, all homeschooled all the way through, and all from the same two parents. Yet each one exhibited signs of difficulty as they made that transition to adulthood.

There were the usual physical signs, of course—the whole puberty issue—and that’s normal. But it brings with it many emotional issues that are also normal, so when people write that there doesn’t need to be any turmoil during the teen years, I have to laugh. Hormones are dramatically changing, the body’s changes cause emotional responses…..how can there not be turmoil? As a woman of a certain age (ahem), I’m more aware than ever of how much damage hormones and physical changes can do to your peace of mind.

Then there’s the idea that it’s not normal for teens to rebel. I’m sorry, but it’s normal for humans of any age to rebel. It’s the result of sin in the world. God’s children, the Israelites, rebelled against Him repeatedly, as noted in the Old Testament of the Bible. If even God’s children rebel against Him, why would we be exempt from experiencing the rebellion of our own children?

I’m not saying that rebellion is good, but I do think writers who suggest teen rebellion is not natural are being a bit Pollyanna-ish, to say the least. Those who go one step farther by suggesting that homeschooling will prevent rebellion are naïve at best.

So what is the homeschooling parent to do when her once-adorable offspring reaches the age of 10 or 12 or 14 (it varies) and becomes an emotional powder keg? I offer some tips in my free special report, “Ten Tips for Coping with Temperamental Teens,” but my best advice is to avoid panic. No, you’re not a bad parent, and your child is not a bad seed. Some emotional upheaval is normal when a child begins that transition to adulthood. Just avoid over-reaction to your preteen or teen’s occasional odd behavior, and pray as hard as needed. My own experience has been that no matter what they were like as teens, they eventually become adults of whom you can be proud….even though they gave you some gray hair along the way.

(Originally posted 1/15/09. My kids are now in their 20s and 30s so their teen years are just memories now.)

Blast from the Past: Must Homeschool Success Equal Homeschooled Grandchildren?

It alarms me when I hear someone say (usually in a homeschool convention speech) that our homeschooling efforts will prove successful only if all of our children homeschool their own kids someday.Yes, I think it would be wonderful if that happened, but I’m not going to hold my breath for it. And we have not told our children that they must homeschool our someday grandkids. For one thing, God called us to homeschool. It wasn’t a decision we made because someone here on earth expected us to do it (back then, nobody expected us to do it…they were all pretty surprised, actually.) So how can we demand that our kids do it? That request has to come from God.

I don’t believe the goal of homeschooling is to perpetuate it. I think the goal is to allow children to grow up naturally within the protective circle of the family, to live in the real world (as opposed to the unreal world of the classroom) and to learn what they need to prepare them for life. Once they’re adults, they should have the freedom we have to make their own decisions, with God’s direction.

(Originally published 10/11/08. We now have one grandchild and another on the way. Our grandson is in full-time daycare. He is sweet, bright and we are all quite smitten with him!)

What’s Worse? Uneducated Homeschool Parents or Negligent Ones?

 

At the grocery store checkout counter yesterday, I got to hear the cashier and bagger, both middle-aged women, talk about homeschooling.

These gals were discussing which of their fellow employees were homeschooled. They agreed that most of their homeschooled coworkers seem quite well-socialized and normal. (It’s always a relief when I hear that, because it means I don’t have to give my standard “Just because someone doesn’t wear hip clothes, have a tattooed forehead or have three kids by three baby daddies doesn’t mean they’re not socialized” speech.)

Anyways, the cashier then noted that her sister had chosen to homeschool but made a mess of her kids, that they had turned out very awkward, and stupid to boot, but she thought the stupid part came from her sister, who wasn’t very bright to begin with and clearly had no business homeschooling anyways.

Fortunately our transaction concluded right then, so I didn’t get into a discussion of whether stupid people should be able to homeschool their children. While I believe that every parent has the right to decide where their children will be educated, I understand why people assume that you must be super-smart to homeschool your kids. But they’re wrong, of course, because a highly motivated (though not highly educated) homeschooling parent can learn right alongside their children after they reach the limits of their own education. Case in point: I’ve often noted that I never understood geometric proofs until I had to teach them to my kids. The best I could do was to stay one step ahead of them on that subject; you can imagine their delight whenever I’d forget something and they got to correct me.

So I don’t care whether or not a homeschool parent is a genius. I know that if they’re motivated, they’ll find a way to make sure their child learns what they need to know. If a subject is too complicated for them, they’ll find another way for their child to learn that subject. Heck, I did that too, like when I sent one of my kids to a local college for chemistry class (science wasn’t exactly my strong suit).

Again, as long as a parent is motivated to homeschool, they’ll make sure their child learns what they need to know. I don’t worry about those parents. But I do worry about another kind of parent.

I’m sorry to say that I’ve recently been made aware of a couple of situations where parents are keeping their kids out of school in order to homeschool them, but then just aren’t homeschooling them.

(I’m not talking unschooling; the unschooling parents I’ve known over the years were very concerned about their children’s education and made sure to raise them in a rich learning environment. They just didn’t use formal curriculum, preferring child-led learning instead.)

No, the parents I’m referring to aren’t educating their kids at all. This blows my mind. I’ve never known anyone to do that before (and I’ve met a lot of homeschooling families over the years!) Such parents are:

  • doing a huge disservice to their kids,
  • abdicating their role as parents, and
  • in some cases, breaking the law, because in most states, there are educational requirements for all children.

I have no clue why these negligent parents won’t send their kids to school if they’re not going to bother to educate them at home. But I feel very sorry for their kids, and also for the conscientious homeschooling families who will be tarred with the same brush once outsiders hear about these parenting failures.

When Bias Against Homeschooling Results in Job Loss

Not long after graduating from homeschool high school, my daughter applied for a job with a large, well-known credit card company. She did very well in her initial interview, passed their tests with flying colors and was in the midst of a second interview when she was asked where she had gone to high school.

As soon as she said she was homeschooled, her interviewer’s demeanor completely changed. The interview that had been going so well was suddenly over. And she never heard from them again.

It was their loss. Since that abbreviated interview, she’s worked for several big companies and has earned promotions and good reviews. Now, thirteen years later, she works for a large company whose name you would recognize and also has a couple of small businesses on the side.

But was that ever an aggravating experience, for her and also for us! I was reminded of it this morning after reading about an Ohio company that rescinded a job offer to a homeschool graduate, simply because he was homeschooled. How ignorant, and how foolish.

Given the tough job market, this is especially unfair to the homeschooled grad. Hopefully an even better job will materialize for him. But this story shows that there’s still a lot of ignorance out there about homeschooling, which is especially ironic when you consider the continuing decline of public education and the quality of graduates it produces. I guess some people would rather cater to their biases than employ their common sense.