Monday, December 9, 2013

From Denim Jumpers to Computer Textbooks: Doing it Differently


Q: Since you were homeschooled yourself, what are you doing differently in your own homeschool (different than how your own parents did things)? And what types of things did you really appreciate that you also do with your own children?

A: Despite the title of this post, my mother did not wear denim jumpers...and neither do I. So sorry to disappoint!

Just as our style of clothing was and is similar, so was and is our home school methods...

From an outside-in perspective, I do things very similarly to how my parents home educated me and my brother. My mother was a very eclectic homeschooler. Over all, she stuck to textbooks as a core, but added a great variety of other styles of learning to our education, as well. I was a competitive figure skater; my brother played basketball competitively. We were able to travel the county with those activities and with my Dad on his business trips across the country. We participated in pro-life family ministry, as our family still does today. It was great!

My Mom saved most all of the curricula that she used with us, and so when I began "suddenly" homeschooling Annalise shortly after her adoption at 10, I used most of her materials. As I began to encounter academic disabilities with Annalise (due to the then unknown fetal alcohol syndrome), I was forced to think outside the box and look into other methods, curricula, ideas, etc. That was a good stretch for me, though!

Since everyone has always been concerned about how homeschoolers have done in college, I guess I should address that subject Though since even IvyLeague schools are searching out homeschool graduates now, that myth, I hope, has long been stamped out. Overall, my mother's approached was academically tailored, but also very relaxed and flexible. We were expected to complete our assignments on time, to excel in our strengths and try our best in the weak areas. And we did just that. My brother, David, ended up being appointed to West Point (one of the toughest colleges to which to be accepted) by three (not he required 2) Congress appointees. He also graduated near the top of his class. And while I didn't intend on going to college initially, I did end up going and majoring in public relations and graphic design. I did just fine, even making The Dean's List every semester. So, it's totally doable to have a balanced, but relaxed homeschooling atmosphere while still providing the academic propellant needed for college. 

But just as our "denim-jumper-less" attire and basic homeschool methods were similar, our home schools were and are also very different...

A major difference between my family then and now is that I have such a large family (my mother had me and my brother). The size of our family has sort of forced us to branch out and look for multiple types of curricula and educational learning styles that fit each of my children and their giftings. We really seek to have each of their educational upbringings uniquely tailored to spotlight their strengths and help to overcome or learn to live with their weaknesses. While some things/methods/ideas work for all, all things/methods/ideas do not work for all. So, our teaching methods and tools can be vary greatly from child to child.



What I would have liked in my homeschool education...

I really enjoyed my home education experience and wouldn't change much of anything, except that I would have LOVED Teaching Textbooks had it been available back then. If I'd had that, I would have done better in math overall, I believe. I believe that's the only thing I'd change from my personal education.

As for what I'd change in our homeschool....

My Mom did wonderful inductive Bible studies with us, where she had us circle important transitional phrases and "clue words" that really brought out the text's meaning. It was great for understanding, digesting and meditating on the Word. While Mark does a tremendous job at teaching us the Scriptures, that method of simply circling and underlining helped my understanding of the Bible and helped solidify my grammar and composition studies!

I'd also love to travel more with the children and show them various historic sites nationwide, like my parents were able to do with me on my dad's business trips. That was the best kind of hands-on learning ever! But being that Mark's practice keeps him close to home, day trips and occasional vacations will fill that void in our home!

To each, their own...

It's so important to remember that everyone's home school looks completely different from the next...and that's just how it should be! The unique thing about homeschooling is that each can and should tailor their children's education to be different, and with all the family dynamics and curricula and activities available, each home school WILL BE as unique as the next!




Disclaimer: If you're using these stories and ideas to compare yourself to others, that's totally not beneficial! But if you're using them to gather ideas and such, GREAT!
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