Thursday, February 17, 2011


In the previous post about my mother, I mentioned that we were homeschooled. I wanted to add some things about homeschooling that I learned from my experience. I attended a small Christian school for kindergarten through second grade. For third grade, my parents decided to start homeschooling us. I believe the reason for this was because my father worked for the railroad and was out of town working a couple times a week. When he was home, we were often in school. When he was out of town, we were at home. My parents wanted us to be able to spend more time as a family. Since we were doing our school at home, my dad would be able to be with us more on his days off.

Over the years, the reason changed to other things. We moved several times, and sometimes we just didn't have the money to attend a Christian school. And public school was never an option, because of my parents' convictions. Sometimes, there simply wasn't a good Christian school in the area that we could attend, even if we could have afforded it. But my mom, when she first started homeschooling us, decided to homeschool us in such a way that if we ever DID go back to a Christian school, we would be able to fit right in.

For that reason, she set up a large room in our basement. She had a teacher's desk, and each of us kids had a school desk of our own. My dad hung up a chalkboard and a whiteboard on the walls for my mom to teach from. The American flag and the Christian flag were hung up, and we said the pledges every morning. We had maps, charts, and a globe. My siblings and I had school clothes that we wore during school hours. My mother firmly believed that coming to school in pajamas was ridiculous, just like you wouldn't wear pajamas to a regular school. We had friends that told us that they got up early in the morning, sat in bed with their pajamas on, and did school work by themselves for an hour and a half.......and they called that a school day. We were not so lucky. :) My mom insisted on school starting around the same time a normal school would. We also ended the school day around 3:00 or 3:30, just like a normal school would. We got a lunch break, and also a recess time, when we were in the elementary years.

We had to raise our hands to ask questions, even if it was just to go to the bathroom or get a drink. These were all things that I had been used to when I was in a Christian school, so although it seemed a little silly at the time - since we were at home in our basement - I really think it was important that it seemed as much like school as possible. And it did! My mom taught us all of our classes in our elementary and middle school years. We didn't self-teach, we had actual classes where she taught the material. She listened to our reading in the evenings, and we had to do pretty much all of the homework that the curriculum called for.

We used the Abeka curriculm, based out of Pensacola Christian College and Academy. The Christian school I had previously gone to had also used Abeka, so I was used to it. My mom loved the layout of the curriculum. It had lots of teacher aids and was so user-friendly. But I think the biggest advantage of the Abeka curriculum is the fact that they incorporate Biblical principals right along with education. Every subject was from a Biblical perspective. And Abeka is tough! It demands hard work, dilligence, and self-control. We worked! And my mom worked even harder to know the material and be able to teach us.

Once we got into the highschool grades, my mom felt like she was not able to teach us herself. At that point, my parents purchased the Abeka video program for us to watch. The videos are recorded during actual classes at Pensacola Christian Academy. I loved the video classes, especially the two years of Spanish I took. By the time I was in highschool, we were living in Maryland. Maryland, at least at the time, required homeschoolers to be under an "umbrella" school. So, we did just that. The umbrella school we were under offered highschool classes on Thursdays which were taught be certified teachers. My mom drove us to Thursday classes, and worked on schoolwork in the car with my younger siblings while I was in classes all day. This umbrella school allowed me to take classes I otherwise would not have been able to take. These classes included drama, choir, debate, and science lab. I was able to be in a major dramatic production, The Fiddler on the Roof. We put on three performances of it at a local community college. In science lab, I dissected all kinds of animals, including a baby pig. I'm so glad I got to participate in these extra credit classes, since these were the types of classes homeschoolers often miss out on.

My mom also made sure we had P.E. class. She figured out how much activity we should be doing in order to be considered a class, and for us, that meant jogging each morning for a mile and a half. I had to roll out of bed very early in order to go out jogging and still get ready for school on time, including doing a few basic chores and Bible reading. This was the class that I disliked the most. I am not a jogger. Period. I am definitely not into jogging at 6:30 in the morning on a cold, icy Maryland morning. And to add insult to injury, I had to jog with my very athletic brother, who made sure to point out all the things I was doing wrong. Who knew there was so many incorrect ways to jog? I can laugh about it now, and my brother and I still tease each other about how much we didn't like jogging with each other. But, even though my mom made us jog every morning, I am so thankful she did. Because it really was great exercise, and I learned to push myself more than I thought I could. Well, maybe it was just my brother pushing me. I don't know exactly. :)

I can't tell you the number of times someone looked at us weird when we told them we were homeschooled. It didn't seem to be too popular, and to be honest, we kids often felt embarrassed around our peers because we were homeschooled. I don't feel that way now, as I look back, because of how much like a real school my mom ran things. Alot of people thought homeschoolers weren't getting a good education if they were doing school at home. Some people even thought of homeschoolers as very awkward and socially handicapped. Well, my parents made sure that we had plenty of social interaction with other kids. We attended church activities and spent most of our childhood outside playing with neighbor kids. When I went to college at age 17, I had no problems making friends and adjusting to being on my own for the first time in my life. I'm not saying I was super popular and a big-wig on campus. But I just mean that I felt very prepared for college. I didn't sit in my room and cry because I was homesick. I got out, I met people, I participated in fun activities at college. And because my mom had made sure to run our "home school" like a regular school, I knew exactly how to behave in class. The education I received in elementary and highschool very much prepared me for college, because Abeka is very thorough and in-depth. I highly recommend the Abeka curriculum to anyone looking to homeschool. In my opinion, it is the best out there. But that is just my opinion. :)

I know that it was so much work for my parents to homeschool us, especially my mom. Her days, evenings, and weekends were spent working on school work, either helping us or planning for the next week. She never once complained about having to spend so much time doing those things. I'm so thankful for the sacrifice my parents made to give me a good education.

You may be wondering why I'm doing a post on homeschooling, when my husband and I are invovled in a Christian school ministry. Well, there are still alot of people out there homeschooling, and I feel very passionate about sharing the experience I had growing up. I know there are alot of homeschooling families out there who are not sure how to be successful, and I love sharing what worked for my mom. We are, however, currently serving the Lord in our church's Christian school. I am 100% sold on our Christian school, and I plan to do a post on that very soon. We are in a position to send our children to our Christian school, and we believe that is what God would have us do at this time in our life. For some people, Christian school is simply not an option right now. Maybe they cannot afford it, or there is not a good school in their area. Or perhaps there are those families who feel that the Lord has led them to homeschool. Whatever the reason, homeschooling has become quite popular, and I feel that there are definitely benefits to homeschooling as long as it is done in a correct manner.

photo from free pixels


Joy said...

I am so glad you shared about your homeschooling experience! My husband and I were not homeschooled, but we are educating our 5 children at home.

I was so glad to hear your thoughts and opinion of Abeka, as that is what we are considering using next year. We are currently using Abeka for Science and Health, but we're thinking of using more Abeka for other subjects next year.

Thanks again!

Laurie said...

Joy, thank you for your comment! I trust the Lord will bless you in your endeavor to teach your children at home. :)