This homeschool life is amazing, fun, and an adventure. It’s also different for each family and each child in each family! One of the ways This Crazy Homeschool Life celebrates the experience of homeschooling is by featuring different families around the US and the world and discussing how homeschooling works in their homes. See the links at the bottom of this page for more Real Homeschool Families.
The fourth homeschooler in our series, Brittany, is a second generation homeschooler from Mississippi. She is married to her childhood best friend’s brother, and lives with him and their three children ranging from 10 years old to 3 years old. Her husband works in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation ministry, and she is able to live her dream of being a homemaker, wife, and mother.
As a student, Brittany was homeschooled from about 3rd grade on through graduation. She had not specifically decided to homeschool her children, but discovered her husband was already considering homeschooling when someone asked them before children if they were going homeschool, and they had different answers! Since the idea of homeschooling was familiar to the couple, when their first child showed signs of quick learning, homeschooling became a natural choice for their family. She says, “I had not really spent a lot time paying attention to childhood development until I watched my own children grow. My first son was born and he was brilliant! In the span of a year he learned so much. He seemed to love learning and I loved being the one who taught him, or better-there to witness when he discovered something for himself! He wasn’t old enough to go to Kindergarten but why not start on letters? He learned his letters and colors and it was fun! Lets keep learning, I thought, lets just keep doing this. Why not? After that I couldn’t imagine sending him off for hours to give someone else those hours, those experiences, with my child. My husband and I decided that making a decision for now didn’t have to mean making a decision forever-that as long as it was still a good thing we would keep doing it. And that was how we dipped our toe into homeschooling.”
She says their homeschool method doesn’t fit a specific definition, and she doesn’t stress about labeling it with one. Their days are flexible between independent work, online subjects, and group work. They enjoy tying their subjects together, giving the example of studying the American Revolution in history and using literature and writing subjects on the same theme. Their children are each learning an art. One son takes guitar and the other takes piano, and their youngest, a daughter, takes ballet. They love reading and are working through Swiss Family Robinson right now. She also says, ” It is our privilege, responsibility, and joy that we can teach our faith to our children as a part of their daily education.”
The biggest challenge they have to deal with in homeschooling is also a part of their family dynamic. Brittany lives with Celiac Disease. She was not diagnosed until several years ago, so was battling the symptoms and illness for much of the start of their homeschool journey. She talks about how she manages to continue homeschooling while dealing with her disease, “This year, better than any before, I have set an organization for our homeschool that allows my sons to know what their work is without waiting on me to assign it each day. It is also set up so that my husband can easily know where we are and what we are doing should he need or want to step in and be a part of the day’s school.”
When asked what she thought about her homeschool experience now that she’s homeschooling her children, she reflected on the flexibility of growing up a homeschooler. She says,
“At the time, I enjoyed the flexibility of being homeschooled. I appreciated going through my curriculum at my own pace, and having the option of controlling my environment in ways that the classroom structure would have made impossible. As I got older I was able to have a job year round when my peers were still restricted to after school or summer jobs.
Looking back, I love that real life was so easily seen as what we were learning beyond the school we did sitting at a desk or table. Home Economics was planning and making dinner, learning basic sewing, how to give a haircut, and balance a checkbook. Math was seen in estimating how much time it would take to get home from where we were, fractions in the measurements for baking, helping do renovations on the house. Learning time management when you rush to get your subjects done so you can get off school early. Responsibility and how the world works when you still have to do school when it snows, on bank holidays, and even when you are sick. We learned respectfulness and social awareness in our lack of age segregation.
I love that my family spent so much time together. I like that my parents had opinions on movies that they felt were culturally significant and therefore mandatory. It means something that not only have I seen Fiddler on the Roof, but I watched it with my family, I love that my sister and I can share a laugh about my dad dancing like Tevye. My then boyfriend, now husband, remembers with horror the time when he wanted to hang out with me and was forced to watch West Side Story. My then best friend, now sister-in-law and I had inside jokes about Sidney Poitier’s To Sir, With Love.
My favorite memory is when our family took an extended vacation after we moved to Colorado. We camped and toured around The Grand Tetons, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, we went white water rafting, panned for Fool’s Gold, hiked to a waterfall, and did so much. Through it all we were grabbing every paper resource we could because we were going to write about our experiences after-this was all “school”, all learning, loads of field trips crammed into one amazing experience! We took other vacations, and we were always learning, but that trip was near to the beginning of our homeschool journey and I remember that we loved being homeschooled.”
She was also asked what changes she’s making with her own children after her experience. She said it took years for her to see that her different thought process or learning style could be an advantage, and she struggled with feeling insecurities about the legitimacy of her education. She has now embraced her education, and is working to help her children do the same. She also says,
” I have an advantage of knowing a bit from my experience as being a part of a homeschool family, whereas my mom was discovering still and creating that family life. I am pulling things in earlier for my children, like Inductive Bible Studies for kids are being introduced years earlier than they were for me and my siblings. I have brought in foreign language (Spanish) in little ways at an earlier age, and I believe I am also starting to keep records earlier than she did. I don’t think I will ever try to teach a foreign language myself! I absolutely valued having a French tutor after trying to learn without one for a time. For my kids I hope so much I can have them learn a language from someone who is fluent in that language! I am also hoping to stay away from having my children grade their own work, even occasionally. I don’t know that it was very often but it absolutely gave rise to temptations to cheat and I can honestly say I gave in to that temptation as a high school student more than once. ”
You can read more about Brittany’s advice as a second generation homeschooler. You an also visit the links below to read more posts in our series on real homeschool families!
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