Interview with a Homeschool Graduate: Jonathan

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If you saw my recent interview with Carrie, you may remember me mentioning that her husband, Jonathan, was also homeschooled and that I’d be interviewing him soon.  Today, I’m pleased to present Jonathan’s interview.  Jonathan was homeschooled for 12 years and graduated in 1999.  I hope you find his interview as encouraging and insightful as I did.

WUHS:  How would you classify your parents’ homeschool style?

Jonathan:  Not heavily structured, but still covering the “three R’s” pretty comprehensively. Beyond that, we were encouraged to pursue whatever subjects and activities we liked the most.

WUHS:  Wow!  That sounds like an incredibly encouraging learning environment.  Do you feel that your homeschool experience prepared you, academically and socially, for life after homeschool?

Jonathan:  First of all, it’s practically impossible to be fully prepared for “life after school”, whether you’re homeschooled or attended a “regular” school and college. Real life is just fundamentally very, very different from any kind of school environment. But, I do believe I was prepared pretty well, in terms of having learned the requisite academic skills, and also having experienced working for various employers prior to being “on my own”. It made for a relatively smooth transition for me.

WUHS: Do you feel that homeschooling gave you the skills you needed to pursue your personal career goals?

Jonathan: Yes. A big part of my homeschooling was the encouragement to identify areas that I was interested in, and get a “head start” on defining and working in that direction. My field is software engineering, and homeschooling gave me the ability to pursue job opportunities and develop my skills even as a teenager, before college. By the time I finished up my university degree (studying via correspondence), I had a resume showing 6+ years of experience in the core areas employers were looking for, and was able to get a jump-start in my career path rather than having to settle for an entry-level position.

WUHS: Are there any specific things that you wish your parents had done differently in your homeschool?

Jonathan: None in particular come to mind.

WUHS: That’s a surprising response.  Kudos to your parents!  You’re the first person I’ve interviewed who has answered “no” to that.  I’d hazard to guess that has to do with what sounds like a very supportive, personalized, self-directed learning opportunity. Will you homeschool your children?

Jonathan: Yes, absolutely. I believe that Carrie and I are in a great position to direct their education, and we’d like the philosophy and framework of our family to resemble that which we grew up in.

WUHS: What is the most positive result of your years as a homeschooled student?

Jonathan: A very self-directed, self-motivated attitude toward learning, and a confidence in my understanding of the truth that is not easily swayed by others’ opinions or peer pressure.

WUHS: The most negative?

Jonathan: Being homeschooled in a larger family size (5 kids) made it harder to commit to extracurricular activities outside the home (like sports) that I might have enjoyed. (But, comparatively speaking, this is a pretty minor “negative” aspect.)

WUHS: What do you remember as being one of your favorite homeschooling tools (i.e. curriculum) as a homeschooled student?

Jonathan: Hard to say. I don’t recall a whole lot of detail about that. I do remember a grammar curriculum, “Editor in Chief,” that I liked a lot.

WUHS: Overall, would you classify your homeschool experience as positive or negative?

Jonathan: Very positive.

WUHS: If you could impart one piece of advice to homeschooling parents, what would that be?

Jonathan: For younger kids — make learning as fun and fast-paced as possible.  Kids can develop an amazing capacity to enjoy learning at a young age. Don’t make them feel like “school” should be hard or boring.

For older kids — give them enough flexibility to direct their own education based on their level of interest between various subjects. If they want to pursue writing, sports, film-making, computers, politics, photography, veterinary skills, etc., help them do it! There are plenty of tools and resources available on the Internet and elsewhere that they should never feel like something is out of reach.

WUHS:  That is very good advice, Jonathan…and very timely for me.  I have an older daughter who is probably ready to start directing her own education.  Though it’s hard for the control-freak in me to loosen my grip on the reins, the picture you’ve painted of your own homeschool experience helps me to see that it’s probably in my daughter’s best interests to do so.  Thank you for a wonderfully insightful interview.

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8 Comments

  1. I love reading this review. I hope you'll be able to find more graduates to interview. It's so insightful and motivating!

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