Reflections from a Second Generation Homeschooler

Thanks for checking back with us! I hope you’ll enjoy this second half of our little series on how second generation homeschoolers’ experiences affect their educational choices for their children. The first half can be found here.

     My homeschooling experience began in Buenos Aires, Argentina, when I was starting fourth grade. My parents had answered a call to be missionaries in the great city, and my mom homeschooled me and my older sister while we lived there (my brother was in college). She had homeschooled my siblings off and on since I was a baby, so she was quite comfortable with it by the time she started teaching me. When we eventually returned to the States, we continued homeschooling all the way through our high school graduations. To say that my own homeschooling days have affected the way my husband and I educate our children now would be an understatement.

    In many ways, second generation homeschoolers have an advantage over parents who were never homeschooled themselves. There isn’t a book, blog, YouTube video, or podcast that can speak as loudly as the voice of experience. And I appreciate that. I joke sometimes that my college degrees didn’t actually prepare me for my life, but the truth is that homeschooling did prepare me, no matter how much my children’s education differs from my own.

     At the very least, my homeschooling experience saved me from any anxiety I might have otherwise felt when my oldest kids reached school age. Since our dating days, my husband (who was homeschooled for a short time) and I knew that we would choose this kind of education for our children. We were confident in and content with our choice; there was no wrestling over what to do when the time came. The thought of homeschooling was never overwhelming. It was normal.

     But both second and first generation homeschoolers have in common the tendency to compare our own educations with what we’re providing to our kids. I’ve heard countless first generation homeschoolers talk about the first time they realized that homeschooling does not mean imitating public or private school at home. This often came after many struggles that were direct results of their initial attempts to force homeschooling to be “school at home.” Guess what? Second generation homeschoolers experience a similar phenomenon, but instead of rebuilding traditional classroom expectations in our homeschool, we tend to expect that our kids’ education will look a certain way based off what we remember from our own childhoods. And just like first generation homeschoolers, we end up realizing at some point that our children’s schooling won’t look like what we imagined in the beginning, and that’s okay.

     When Mom was homeschooling us kids twenty and thirty years ago, the vast majority of the options we have today simply didn’t exist. And when I began looking into what was available for my own family, I was amazed. The incredible variety of curriculum and resources was spread like a feast before my eyes, but I found that I gravitated to the same things that I’d used as a child. And when my daughters were only in kindergarten, I had my first opportunity to recognize that their education wouldn’t be the same as mine- and to acknowledge that that was good.

     I have one daughter who is hard-wired pretty much like me. In addition to her, I’ve got three other wonderful children who are all as different from each other as they can get in regards to temperament, personality, and ability. I learned early on that our homeschool days were going to look vastly different from my own memories. I was six grades behind my older sister, whereas my children are triplets plus one more three years younger. Obviously, our experiences would be different. That one daughter who’s so much like me? She had no trouble at all with enthusiastically jumping into the same routines and resources I used as a kid. Those other two daughters who are so different from her (and me)? Not exactly a perfect fit for them. I had to learn how to determine ways to meet all their needs as well as how to mold it all together to fit our whole family (including little brother). And after three years now (counting pre-K), you could look at my childhood homeschooling compared to my children’s homeschooling and find very few similarities. Not because I had a poor education by any means, but because our homeschool has evolved from an imitation of my memories into something that fits who we are as a family, taking into consideration everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and learning styles, including my own. It’s not the same thing that I did, but for my kids, it’s better because it meets them where they are and draws them forward.

     I look at my son sometimes and wish that some of the things his older sisters enjoyed due to their being my first babies were available to him too. But then I see how his sisters play with him and read to him and cuddle him, and I’m halfway sorry they don’t have an older sibling to dote on them! Each of my children’s experiences growing up in our family will be unique, and the same is true for homeschooling. Their education isn’t going to be the exact same as each other’s, and it certainly won’t be the same as mine. But that’s just one of the many benefits of homeschooling. Each child’s journey is as unique as he or she is.

     As I grow more experienced as a homeschool mom, I am more and more grateful to my own mother and others like her who were working hard to figure out homeschooling long before it was considered a popular – or even acceptable – choice. My education served me very well and led to unique opportunities, great success in jobs and college, and a firm foundation on which to build my family’s own homeschooling culture. I have experienced personally what a blessing this kind of education can be in every aspect of life, and I’m confident that when my children are grown they will say the same thing.

– Katie 

     Charity and Katie obviously enjoyed their homeschooling years as children. But that isn’t the case for everyone. Next week we’ll have a follow up piece for former homeschoolers who have rejected homeschooling as an option for their children because of their negative experiences with it. I hope it will offer some much-needed encouragement and a refreshing perspective.


Homeschooling by the Homeschooled

     Thirty years ago, families who chose to homeschool in the U.S. were few and far between. Just as the homeschooling movement has grown, though, so have those children whose parents taught them at home before it was popular. They’re adults now, having families of their own, and many of them are making the choice to homeschool their children too. We have a few of these second generation homeschoolers in our co-op, and two of them have written a short series on how being homeschooled as children has affected the ways they homeschool their own kids now.

    My husband and I were watching a movie last week and the word detention was13450087_10153806979263823_5650168592609421699_n mentioned in reference to high school. I looked over at him and asked, “What exactly is detention? Is it just staying late after school or does it include extra jobs or homework?” He had no idea either… we just both knew it was some kind of punishment. We’re both in our 30’s and I have a double major from college, so there is really only one answer for our ignorance – we were both homeschooled.

     My husband and I were both homeschooled from birth through high school. In my case, my father was even homeschooled from third grade through high school. So my background is a little different from that of most of my generation. I joke that homeschooling is the reason why I know the voices (and songs) of Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, and the Statler Brothers – they are from my grandparent’s generation. My father grew up listening to them at home on records, I grew up with them on tapes, and my kids can hear them from YouTube. 😉 Here are some of the things I appreciate about homeschooling first hand (and try to pass on to my kids) because I was homeschooled myself.

Homeschooling Takes Away Some of the Peer Pressures

     To me, this music passed down through generations is a symbol of something I love about homeschooling. When you homeschool your children, they learn their values and culture and morals from you first, instead of predominantly from their peers. I never had to deal with sexting, constant peer pressure, or underage drinking as a teenager, and I don’t think I missed out on anything!  I can still hold conversations with my peers; in fact, I can hold conversations with people of any age.  As a 10 year old, I would argue with adults on why my homeschool education was still a good education – and they’d stop arguing pretty quickly. One of my best friends when I was ages 6-14 was a man in his older 80’s who I would sit with every Sunday morning after church. He taught me about flowers and poetry and told me what it was like to see horse-drawn fire engines in the old days. What better way to learn history!

     Now, don’t get me wrong, I still had many friends my own age growing up (and still do) and I valued getting together with friends as much as I could. The years that my family was a part of a co-op (where homeschoolers come together to teach different classes once a week) were my favorite ones by far, and I do feel that my teen years were sadly lacking in a social life. However, I have never blamed that on homeschooling. I had many other homeschooled friends who did youth group, weekly co-ops, and other things with their friends on a regular basis. This generation makes a teen social life even easier to set up so I don’t think my kids will lack in that as they get older, either. In homeschooling my children, I just help their first introduction to life, morals, and culture be through me instead of from peer pressure.

Homeschooling is Student-Focused

     My education as a homeschooler was unlike any other – unlike my siblings’, unlike my peers’, and probably not exactly like any other child’s education in this generation either. Even as my parents’ first child, my parents learned quickly that a benefit to homeschooling was to teach each child according to his own abilities and interests. I never took Algebra II in high school; it was beyond my understanding and we didn’t have a good tutor at the time. So instead I studied Chemistry and Geometry after Algebra I in high school and my liberal arts college started me a class lower in math than a typical business major starts with. I caught up when I needed to and learned to love math from my college teachers. I’ve known many students from public school with this same problem – only they had still taken Algebra II in high school but couldn’t understand it, so they got a pass from their teachers. I can add, subtract, multiply, and divide in my head as fast as or faster than most people I know, and I’m not sure that I even use Algebra II in my life at all!

     I have a strong background in mythology, poetry, and literature because I love it! My Mom would turn on classical composers’ biographies and music during lunch, and took us to the National Gallery of Art dozens of times to see her favorite Impressionist Artists. I was reading by kindergarten and writing poems for fun by first grade. I have written and published poems and business articles, and helped publish two business books, and my focus on reading and writing while growing up has helped me in this.

     My mother’s style of homeschooling was to create her curriculum from different companies and mesh them together for each child. Certain curriculums she used for all five of her kids, and others, like math, she would change up, trying to find the right one for each child. I copy her in this way a lot. I use Sing, Spell, Read, and Write for kindergarten and first grade language arts. I use Math-U-See for math, Apologia for science, Story of the World for history, various things for Bible, various things for Spanish, and throw in a lot of random music, art, and hymn appreciation. My first child, S, loves engineering, so we’ve studied things like “How Things Work” and mechanics with him. My second child, N, loves art, so I got her a new art curriculum for next year and I’m constantly getting out craft stuff for her to use. My youngest, P, is in pre-k and loves puzzles, so I’ve been doing more puzzles with him for learning his numbers and letters. Homeschooling individually for my child is just second nature to me because it is how I was raised.

Homeschooling Isn’t A Huge Unknown 

    Ispeak I imagine that most homeschooling parents are wondering if they can do it, if their kid can succeed, find a job, and make their own place in the world with “just” a homeschool education. I remember my mother talking this over with her friends, so I know the fear is real. I also remember the first year of high school when my mom was in a frenzy to make sure I got all my credits in – so I completed over 1/3rd of them in 9th grade. 😉 I remember the visible relief in my mother’s face when I graduated high school and my mom knew she could do it – and had. I don’t feel that same fear in myself though. Yes, of course, I wonder if I’m raising my kids right – doesn’t every mom? But whether homeschooling makes that possible is absolutely no question in my mind. I know enough homeschoolers from my generation that I have seen succeed beautifully in so many different ways because of homeschooling, not in spite of it.

     My background of being homeschooled myself has given me many tools for my own children to help them grow their values, explore their interests, and thrive in their lives. My hope is that homeschooling continues to be the right choice for our family, and that this generation we are raising can build even higher on the shoulders of our own.

– Charity

I hope you enjoyed Charity’s perspective! Check back next week for the second half of this short series! Found here.

The Miracle of Manners

30073725_10103710984883684_376941394_oMy husband and I have spent our entire married life in the South (first Mississippi, then Florida, and finally Tennessee) but that doesn’t negate the first two decades we spent up “north” in Missouri. When I graduated from college and moved to Mississippi to start my first job, I received a crash course in how to behave in this world that was so new to me. One thing I learned (and quickly!) was to say “ma’am” about 300 times a day.

I adapted quickly and it soon became a habit. “Yes, ma’am. Thank you, ma’am. No, sir,” and “Ma’am?” (my personal favorite used in place of the incredibly rude “huh?”). Not being a born and raised Southerner, however, means that I didn’t mind if people forgot to use this form of respect when speaking to me. It’s still a tad foreign to me even after all these years. We have never taught or expected our children to use “ma’am” or “sir” because none of the other adults in our families expected it. In fact, outside of the South it can be seen as rude and make people feel offended and as if you think they’re old!

This worked for our family and I never gave it much thought…..until that wonderful day we were introduced to Honeybee Christian Co-op. I knew from the first five minutes we had found our “people” here in our new town. I loved the mission, the moms, the children, the classes, the camaraderie, and the support. We joined immediately. The kids were thrilled and “wished every day was co-op!” (That’s called school, kids, and I promise you it’s not as fun as your co-op!) As we attended the classes and interacted with the other families, I suddenly became aware of how un-Southern my children were, despite their Southern births! Nary a “ma’am” escaped their lips when the other moms spoke to them. I was a little embarrassed even though all the moms were very gracious and no one but myself seemed bothered.

I tried requiring this new language in our home, but it was a hard habit to teach. They weren’t trying to be rude, but I was suddenly aware of all the “no’s, yes’s,” and “huh’s” that peppered their language, and it began to grate on my nerves. After a few weeks of trying to reinforce new manners I wasn’t seeing any progress. Then, like most of my finest parenting moments, I blurted out without even thinking, “Every time I hear you say ‘ma’am’ you get a penny!” That did it. That was all it took. Within one day their language had completely changed. After three days the babysitter noticed a drastic difference. Two weeks later their co-op teachers told me how polite and obedient they were in class. I was shocked and elated.

Even though it had only been important to me in light of their co-op teachers, I came to appreciate these manners for myself. And then something surprising happened. Simply saying “yes, ma’am” actually led to prompter, more cheerful obedience. When I called them and heard “ma’am?” in return, I began to speak more respectfully to them as well.



“Have you brushed your teeth?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Please go do that now.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Followed by actually getting up and going to brush his teeth!

To which I reply, “Three pennies, bud! Way to go!”

It’s a far cry from our previous way of speaking to each other.



“Did you brush your teeth?”


“Go do it.”

“Ok.” Followed by not actually getting up and going to do it until I repeat myself.

Requiring our children to use these words has truly transformed our family. We are all more respectful, gentler, and kinder. There is less yelling. Less repeating. Less frustration. I can’t believe all it took was a few dollars’ worth of pennies. After a few weeks we brought home rolls of pennies from the bank and dished out their rewards. Each child has enough to buy two whole things from the Dollar Tree, and they thought it was Christmas in April. I didn’t even actually count as it would have been too difficult, but no one seemed to mind as they placed their pennies in their piggy banks one at a time. Gradually we will fade this reward system away, but I have no problem using it for now.

If your family isn’t in the “yes, ma’am” habit, I encourage you to give it a try! Not just because old fashioned Southern people think you should, but because it will foster a more respectful and positive atmosphere in your home. Just like sweet tea, college football, and wearing your Sunday best for church, using “ma’am” and “sir” is one thing the South definitely gets right.

But don’t expect us to start calling soda “coke” any time soon. No, sir!

– Kaitlin

Autism Awareness Day

29939343_10101318383062098_1400571782_nI knew I wanted to write a post for Autism Awareness day, but I had no clue what direction I wanted to take. While autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a spectrum, so too are my thoughts and emotions when I reflect on our journey with it. When reading Sarah’s beautiful series on Down Syndrome, I had a moment of pause. My thoughts on ASD are not nearly as pretty, so if you’re looking for uplifting sunshine, you might just go read her posts instead. That’s not to say there isn’t happiness in what I’m about to say, but it’s more in the form of a rainbow, which comes after a storm. Let’s get to it.

Here’s what autism was/is for my family…

– Autism is your child learning to speak in a therapist’s office after a year of twice-a-week speech appointments. Followed by 6 months of just echolalia (simply repeating what he hears). Followed by even more speech therapy.

-Autism is meltdown after meltdown over any number of things. (When I say meltdown, I’m talking 40 mins of screaming, crying, thrashing, hitting, biting, etc. that can happen anywhere at any moment, for example the grocery store checkout.)

-Autism is practicing everything. Every possible situation. (ex, watching someone else open presents for a birthday party, leaving a playground, how to introduce yourself, how to have a back and forth conversation, family gatherings.)

-Autism is pushing your child outside of his box even though it makes you just as nervous as it does him.

-Autism is watching your child struggle through things other kids pick up instantly and watching him practice twice as hard.

-Autism is LOATHING meal time because you child doesn’t eat anything. (Started as sensory aversion, but at this point it is definitely behavioral.)

-Autism is living in anxiety while you watch your second child develop. Waiting to see if you are going to go down that path…. Again.

-Autism is apologizing for your child’s behavior, again, when you get those stares in public…. And occasionally from family.

-Autism is turning down invitations because the environment isn’t a place where your child would thrive. Canceling last minute because your child is having an off day. Leaving early to avoid making a scene.

-Autism is going over the budget, again, trying to figure out how to afford Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Behavioral Therapy, Extracurriculars, and living expenses…. For possibly 2 children instead of one.

Then again….

-Autism is REJOICING over the moment when your child said his first thought (not echolalia, not a repeated phrase he learned), and you still remember it 2 years later (“Dad, I like your hair cut”).

-Autism is CONQUERING meltdown after meltdown, finding ways to help your child cope with the world around him. (And perfecting that hold that gives your child the input needed to help him calm quicker.)

-Autism is LEARNING how to tap in to your child’s amazingly unique brain and help him develop, and learning to appreciate his obsessions and passions (presidents, specifically Abraham Lincoln).

-Autism is GROWING through the struggles, checking off goals one by one!

-Autism is APPRECIATING the little things and big moments. Like how God provides month after month to help keep those supports in place.

-Autism is ACCEPTING your child with all his strengths, weaknesses, and quirks, and teaching everyone about ASD to help them accept others as well.

-Autism is LOVING through the puzzle that is ASD. Loving the extra time you get to spend with your children. Loving the extra hugs and snuggles they want for sensory input. Loving their lack of filter in the most inappropriate moments. Loving the moments of random eye contact.

Autism and I definitely have a love-hate relationship. Some days I can appreciate all the things I listed, but then other mornings I have lots of dark and twisty thoughts about how life isn’t fair. These thoughts have been intensified lately as we are possibly going down this road again with my daughter. Won’t you join me in praying for them and all families affected by autism?

– Valerie