I don’t think the term works — former homeschooler. You see, I’m always going to be a different kind of parent and grandparent for the rest of my life, and much of it is due to my background in homeschooling. For example, I can imagine that everything in life will become a chance to teach a lesson as long as I can speak. Every experience is going to include the compulsion to enrich it by packing it with meaning and depth in a way that most ordinary experiences from my childhood were lacking. I’m always going to want to make things into “events” and “experiences” in ways that other moms simply don’t even consider doing.
While raising my kids, I wanted every trip to McDonald’s to include the park and ice cream. Similarly, every trip to the library had to include the most exciting book, the most epic classic, and some time picking a movie from the library’s collection at the end of our trip. It’s just the way we did things. Later, every trip to the movies had to include a stop at the dollar store to buy extra candy. Why have the experience stop when you leave the theater? We’d also refill our popcorn and soda to enjoy at home. We went so rarely that when we did, we did it big. Finally, every school lesson had to be accompanied by an educational movie, video, or website that incorporated a bit of multi-media into the experience. I wasn’t content to just teach, but rather I wanted to ignite a fire for learning and discovery. I wasn’t content to just play. I wanted them to know that everything had a higher level to it, and that they should strive to go there.
Conversely, our down time was way down. We didn’t watch TV very much at all when they were very small. We didn’t drink soda at home. We had educational toys, but no phones or modern video game systems. My kids grew up in the 90s with the original Nintendo game system from my childhood. We had a few games, including Monopoly for it. We also had tons of board games, and we read aloud for hours and hours every day. We allowed ourselves to get bored, and we figured out how to entertain ourselves without waiting for someone or something from the outside to entertain us. My kids grew up different from other kids because of this unique method of raising them, and sometimes people called them weird. They also called them caring. I was okay with that.
My kids and I never wore brand name clothes, rarely ate Lunchables or bought chips and other convenience foods, and generally lived life on a much more economical level than the average family. We had great computers and great TVs for watching our collection of videos, but those were our biggest expenses. For that, we were also considered a bit weird. I didn’t look like everyone else, and my kids weren’t very fashionable, either. However, we really enjoyed our life. We had a lot of fun. And the few good friends we had were pretty awesome. For the most part, they continue to be our friends today.
With how careful I was about everything, I was especially choosy about what I taught. As we eventually got cable, our favorite programs were based on classic books, were about animals, or were documentaries. We also watched the old Narnia videos put out by the BBC, the Lord of the Rings films as they were produced, and a lot of excellent British sci-fi like Dr. Who in the later years. I had to purchase my curriculum very carefully on a tight budget. I liked everything I read on Timberdoodle.com back then. They were relaxed homeschoolers who focused on classics and delight-directed learning. I enjoyed reading articles and writings put out by the folks at ChristianBook.com, especially the Charlotte Mason Companion. I also loved “The Old Schoolhouse” magazine when I found it. Their Schoolhouse Teachers online curriculum company is an exciting development that incorporates a lot of what I loved about all of these. They provide so many options, and there’s no one way that is expected to work for everyone. I got so excited that I signed up as an affiliate.
I didn’t follow a school schedule, and I allowed them to delay their learning of facts and figures until they were ready to learn. In fact, after the first couple of years, I could probably consider myself an unschooler. This from a woman whose entire self-worth through 7th grade was wrapped up in her academic acquirements. Who knew I would be led to raise my own children so differently?
My kids didn’t turn out perfect. Okay, well, maybe I’m not being truthful. I honestly think that they actually did turn out amazing, and I call them perfect all the time. My kids all grew up to be individuals. My eldest pursued advertising, a career that didn’t really make sense to me until she actually began doing it, and doing it well. My middle son is pursuing film, and I am so excited for him. He’s showing real talent, something I knew was there all the time. My youngest decided against college. He’s good at working on cars, figuring out how to put things together without instructions, and he can pretty much do everything he watches another person do. He’s my practical one, and the most socially adept. I wish I had such an intuitive ability to follow without verbal or written instructions, but that is not my gift at all. He plays several instruments, too. Well, they’re all 3 musical, and they all play instruments and sing a little, too.
We’re a crazy group. I’m too emotional. My hubby is extra quiet. We have very different tastes and hobbies. I need to eat regularly, while he can eat once a day. I am socially conservative but actually voted Democrat once while he voted Republican though a lot of his ideals actually swing a little socially liberal. We don’t always get along, and often the arguments go on too long. However, we adore our kids, love the Lord and want to live for him, and we put family first. Those fundamentals have kept us going strong for 26 years and it shows no sign of letting up. Our kids love us, treat us well, and make us really happy. It’s not a normal existence, but I’m a former homeschooler who’s really excited about what went right about the whole experience. I can’t imagine a better life.