It is time for another installment in our Interviews with Homeschoolers series. Today’s interview is a little bit different because today we will be hearing from a personal friend of mine, Bear.
I’ve known Bear for almost 6 years now and have nothing but respect for her. She is an intelligent, kind-hearted woman, a devoted wife, and loving mom to three amazing children.
Normally I encourage my readers to post questions in the comments for the interviewee to answer however Bear’s third child was actually born after this interview (Congratulations!) so she may be a bit too busy with the baby to respond if any one has any questions. You can still feel free to ask a question, just be patient if it takes us a while to hear back from her.
On that note, lets see what Bear has to say from the perspective of a second generation homeschooler!
Suzy: First tell us a bit about your yourself and your family. How many years have you homeschooled? How many children do you have and what ages are they? How would you classify your teaching style? Has it changed since you first started homeschooling?
Bear: Well, we have a beautiful seven year old daughter, a four year old boy, and we’ll have a newborn son, also, before this is probably published. We began homeschooling halfway through the last school year, and decided to continue through this year, as well.
I’m still a little new at teaching to define myself in a teaching style. For my eldest, I’ve ordered a curriculum my family used when I was a child, that allows the children to self-steer and go at their own pace, which I thought would work best for a growing household. There really haven’t been many changes, since we started, but I’ve put a great deal more planning an organization into affect, this year.
Suzy: You are a second generation homeschooler, how did you feel about being homeschooled as a child? Was it something you appreciated or resented at the time?
Bear: When I was a child, homeschooling was a way of life. I have five siblings, and at some point, before I was born, my parents pulled my brothers out of school and started teaching us all at home. It never occurred to me to be unusual until we were put back into the public sector. Of course, the difference of being in a highly regulated atmosphere was quite an adjustment from the rambunctious learning I’d had at my siblings’ sides, over the years. For a while, I felt a little resentful that I didn’t understand how to easily blend or stop questioning everything I was told, but I’ve grown past those insecurities.
Suzy: The myth that homeschoolers are “unsocialized” is a driving force behind our society’s fear of homeschooling. Can you summarize your experiences regarding making friends and interacting with associates in your day to day life both as a child and as a parent? Were you lonely or socially awkward as a result of homeschooling?
Bear: Ah, socialization. Honestly, I used to buy it. Having spent my later schooling years in public school, I heard it, a lot. I was often told that “socialization” was why I didn’t fit in. I naturally assumed it was true. They say that if you’re told something enough times, you begin to believe it. (Another great reason to learn to question everything you’re told.)
Since I’d come to believe that, I had to really weigh it into my decision making, becoming a homeschooling Mom. I realized a few things. First, we stand out because we are born to stand out. My younger brother, for instance, was only in the first grade when we were put in public school, which was plenty of time to be “socialized”, but I often joke that he’s the strangest of our crew. We’re a set of very unique individuals, and I’ve come to believe that parents should empower their children’s uniqueness, rather than allowing putting them through a process that states it’s intentionally trying to stifle that in them.
That being said, I actually didn’t have too much trouble interacting or making friends, beyond my own, natural flaws. During our time homeschooling, we were, of course, exposed to people of all ages and walks of life, via co-ops, church, errands, and volunteering with our mom. At first there was a loneliness in not having the same history as the rest of my schoolmates, but the adult world isn’t spent with them, anyway. I’ve never had any trouble dealing with diverse groups of people, and that still holds true. It wasn’t very long ago, either, that I was told by an adult and parent, my own age, that they still have trouble dealing with generations older than them. It blew my mind.
Suzy: When you had your own children, did you know that you wanted to homeschool them or did you first consider other options?
Bear: When my children came along, I was determined NOT to homeschool. I had convinced myself that, though it was okay for other families, I simply had no clue where to start, and I’d end up being a career mom, instead. My kids were both in daycare until the younger was almost a year, and then I was sure to have my daughter enrolled in Kindergarten in time, in spite of the dread and panic that came with sending her off, each day. I allowed them to teach her to read, told her to respect her teachers, accepted the complaints that she couldn’t sit still, shuddered when she (at age 5) was threatened with a sexual harassment suite for letting a boy hold her hand, and shook off the irritation when she was sent home with a nasty note for learning to write her name in cursive ahead of the other classmates. Needless to say, life’s twists and turns brought us to this surprise chapter, but I’ve never been more at peace.
Suzy: During the difficult times in one’s life, it can be easy to focus on the current situation rather than on the bigger picture. Many homeschooling moms (and probably students) feel defeated after a bad day. Looking back on your years as a homeschooled student and now as a homeschooling mom, is it worth it?
Bear: Ha! It’s funny you mentioned bad days. Today was a rough one. Like I said, I was taught to think outside the box, put my family first, and deal with people from all walks of life. I don’t buy into a herd mentality. I question everything I’m told. And I know how to do that respectfully. I absolutely think that this precious time with my children and teaching them to think things through in a similar way is totally worth every bad day we meet along the way.
Suzy: If you could say only one sentence to a new homeschooling mom, what would that sentence be?
Bear: Homeschooling has been the primary form of education since the dawn of mankind and it is how our children learned to walk and talk; you succeeded at the first five years, and you’ll succeed, now.
I’d like to thank Bear for her time, I hope my readers enjoyed hearing from her.
Bear, if you are reading this, I want you to know I value your friendship and I wish you nothing but the best as you navigate the circus that is having 3 amazing children.
If you are a seasoned homeschool mom or a second generation homeschooler who would like to be interviewed for this series then please feel free to get into contact with me.
If any of my readers have any questions that they would like to see in future interviews then please let me know in the comments.