by Sharon Pratte Reprinted from Family Times
Note: The following article was written by a student who was home-schooled from grade four through high school. She wrote the article after she had graduated from college.
I started school in the public schools (kindergarten through 3rd), but my parents never intended to leave me there because the middle school in our district had so many problems. In third grade, my mother (who volunteered in my class) learned that a friend and I were looking at the math tables to do our math lessons rather than memorizing them (we had a long talk about cheating after that!).
If only that had been the least of their concerns with the public schools! There were so many problems - between attending PTA and school board meetings, volunteering in classes, reading school textbooks to see what was there, producing a newsletter for other parents in the district, and fighting the school board - they finally decided that home schooling would actually take less time and be a much more positive approach to overseeing my education.
So one day, my parents had a "family meeting" with my brother and sister and me to ask if we would like to school at home. "Cool!" thought I, "that will be a lot easier!" Foolish, naive little Sharon! How little you knew! My dad's discovery that I still did not know my multiplication tables and was counting on my fingers brought intensive flashcard review, my spelling words went from "bus" to "elementary," and I couldn't get away with anything! I think I cried a lot at first, but (secretly) I was proud of what I was starting to learn.
After the first year, I started liking home schooling better. We had a very structured school day, but I still finished school much earlier each day than my friends (who all wished they could go to school at home). And my grades (which had been good to start with) became much better.
I missed a few of my friends from public school at first, but I didn't miss some kids from public school at all! Also, I became closer with my friends from church (who were better friends, anyway), and with other home schoolers that we did things with (field trips, art classes, chili suppers, spelling bees, end-of-the-year recitals/celebrations, etc.). Mother often made comments about our being "too busy seeing people to be lacking socially."
I don't remember ever wishing to go back to the public schools. After what my public school friends described, I had no desire to be there.
Also, my family, I think, is closer because of home schooling. Tim and Susan have been my buddies (not that we never fought, but who else did I have to play with?). My mother remains my close confidant, and my dad knows how to find great puns in every subject (did you know there is a real fish named the humuhumunukunukuapooa fish? We had a great time with that one!). Every day, my family had devotions together (besides the daily Bible study that was always one of my school subjects).
And frankly, when your parents devote that much time and effort to teach you every school day of every year, can there be any doubt that they must love you and care about you a lot? My parents never gave me a better gift except knowledge of the Lord (and home schooling gave them more opportunities to teach the Bible, too). I thank God for them.
In high school, things became more difficult. I don't think my parents expected to teach me in high school when they started, but each year they said, "Well, we can at least home school one more year." Schooling took longer, brought unique difficulties (like not having a lab for science classes), and required more research to be sure I was getting what I would need for college. On the other hand, my flexible schedule allowed me to get a day job, and I didn't have to run all over an enormous building to find my classes! Also, my SAT and ACT (college entry) tests, scored me in the upper 5% of college-bound high-schoolers (even in the dreaded math!).
After high school I went to Florida College. It was not nearly the shock that I thought it would be. I certainly had things to learn, but I really loved it. While all my friends were bored in zoology lab, I was excited because I had never dissected a frog before! I joined so many clubs and activities (Arete, YWTO, Phi Theta Kappa, drama, FC devotions, dorm devotions, etc., etc.) that I lived on 4-6 hours of sleep at night (kids, don't try that at home!).
Not to brag, but simply to show that home school works, I graduated as salutatorian. I also shared the lower-division Bible award and several other awards. At the University of South Florida, I also graduated summa cum laude and with other honors when I received a degree in English - Technical Writing. I now write user manuals for a medical software company (which I love).
Home schooling is not for everyone. Not every public school has the problems mine did. But I feel that my life so far has been successful, and I attribute much of that to the love and care of my parents. I believe that home schooling gave me a closer family, a chance to grow spiritually before facing many of the world's problems, and a much better education.
Perhaps the best way to sum up my feelings about home schooling is to say that, someday when the Lord blesses me with children of my own, I want to home school them myself.
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