It’s been my experience that many of the homeschooling families that I know are “first generation” homeschoolers. Most of us went to public school and knew very few homeschoolers until we, ourselves, began homeschooling. I find that the “graduated homeschooler” is a curious creature – one whom most of us would love to ply with questions . To satisfy that curiosity, I thought that I would interview some of the homeschool graduates with whom I’ve come into contact and ask the questions that we’d all like to know in our search to discover if homeschoolers really turn out to be normal, well-adjusted adults after all.
Today, I’d like to introduce Ruth, who graduated from her family’s homeschool in 1988. She is now a wife and mother of four children, whom she homeschools.
Ruth, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. How many years were you homeschooled?
WUHS: How would you classify your parents’ homeschool style (i.e. school-at-home, relaxed, unschool, etc.)?
Ruth: Very strict, very conservative.
WUHS: Do you feel that your homeschool experience prepared you ACADEMICALLY for life after homeschool? Why or why not?
Ruth: For the most part. It was a bit of an adjustment having to learn to take notes and react to assignments [in college]; however, really no problems. College was very stimulating to me.
WUHS: Do you feel that your homeschool experience prepared you SOCIALLY for life after homeschool? Why or why not?
Ruth: No problems. If anything, home school creates young adults who are more mature. However, my parents did raise us extremely sheltered and I do feel that being so innocent was, at times, to my disadvantage.
WUHS: In what way?
Ruth: Probably the most this impacted me was in my relationships with guys. I went from almost no social interaction to a whole college full of guys.
Wow! I think that I would have benefited more had I been given more exposure to “dating” while still under my parents’ wings and their guidance and eye. But in all fairness, my parents did an excellent job and no parent is perfect. It is just a reminder to me of what I want to do differently with my own children. Innocence is not a bad thing, but there is a hungry world ready to write its own page on our blank slate.
WUHS: What is the one thing you wish your parents had done differently in your homeschool socially?
Ruth: When we home schooled it was not legal. So basically we had no social life. My parents, at that time, were not attending church either. So our social life was nil. Very difficult for a sanguine teen!
WUHS: I can imagine that it was difficult. What about academically? What do you wish your parents had done differently there?
Ruth: We used a set program. It was quite dull. I think they could have made our learning much more interesting.
WUHS: What made you decide to homeschool your own children?
Ruth: I think it is a real privilege and I am not willing to trust them to the government. Though it is very challenging and hard work, I really feel they are getting a better education than if they were in a classroom with 30 other students.
WUHS: What would you consider to be the most positive result of your years as a homeschooled student?
Ruth: High values.
WUHS: Overall, would you classify your homeschool experience as positive or negative?
Ruth: I think it was positive until high school. However, after that it was negative. I was under-challenged. Bored out of my mind. Very under-stimulated. I finished high school when I was 16. Stayed home another year and took courses at a local community college. By 17 I went away to college. I never returned home again for longer than a 2 month period. To this day when I go home for more than a 2 or 3 day period I begin to feel very restless. There is not enough to do!
The flip side is both my brothers and I are extremely creative and unique people. My middle brother runs his own engineering business and had 4 boys. His wife stays home. My oldest brother is a banker and writes books and teaches writing to people and loves to cook gourmet food. I am a well respected nurse, a struggling legal nurse consultant – but at least expanding my own brain – a pastor’s wife, mother, and homeschool mom of 4 boys.
The cycle continues. May I influence my own children for the positive and recognize when it is time to set them free.
WUHS: Thank you, Ruth, for taking the time to stop by and share your unique perspective, as a second-generation homeschooler, with us.