I was homeschooled in the ’80’s. Before it was cool, and before it was even legal in some states.
My sisters and I (4 of us) weren’t primarily homeschooled for religious or cultural reasons, but mostly because we lived in a rural area with mediocre schools and a long bus ride, and my parents thought there was a better way.
We called our “school” Harmony Hollow and even had pencils made with that inscription.
All four of us did eventually transition to public schools once we moved to a different location, but the years we were able to stay home were magical, even though I’m sure, especially for my mom, there were many days she wouldn’t have described it that way.
What I Loved
- We had time. Lots of time. School didn’t take that long, and then there was the required music practice and helping around the house, and we still had hours to play. We played in the basement playroom, outside in the treehouse and on our 2.5 acre property with a creek in the back, and read. A lot.
- We went to the library. Every week. And maxed out our book limits. We read, and read, and read. Except for math and science, most of our curriculum was sourced through the library.
- We went at our own pace. When we were done, we were done. No need to turn over your paper and doodle on the back. No need to be told to find something quiet to do. We could be done.
- We worked at our own levels. Spelling words, math questions, book reports – they could all be adjusted to our abilities, skipped if not necessary, or enhanced as needed.
- We were self-motivated. There were no report cards to work towards, no fancy incentive systems with tickets for meeting expectations or participating. It was expected that we would learn for the sake of learning, not for some external reward.
- We were flexible. Beautiful day? Let’s read outside. Field trip or museum visit? Sure! A couple hours hiking on a local nature trail? Why not!?
What Could Have Been Different
- One thing that was difficult transitioning to public school (5th grade) is that I’d only been around “nice” kids before. We had church, music, & homeschool friends, but they were typically well supervised and on their best behavior. It took a while to adapt to a public school setting, and middle school girls can be mean. I wish I hadn’t been as clueless, but I don’t know what my parents could have done differently.
- I wish we’d spent more time throwing a ball around. We were plenty active (dance, running, biking, swimming), but somehow I managed to largely avoid any interaction with ball sports, with the exception of tennis. As a parent, I wish my ball handling skills were better as I seek to work with my own kiddos. At least right now we’re learning together!
- My handwriting stinks. My mom even got me a handwriting tutor for a while in 3rd grade or so, but it was bad when I got to public school and is still sub-par to this day. Not sure how much of that would have been different with public school, but maybe it would have been better.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this experience as our family now starts on its own homeschooling journey. Even though it wasn’t perfect, I’m grateful to my parents for the opportunity they gave us to be home for a while and all the benefits that entailed. Hopefully, when my kids look back on the experience, they can find the “magic” in our days as well. 🙂