Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Oliver and I watched this video today:

I'm going to be honest and tell you that it's not all sunshine and roses with the homeschooling. We are often beset with anxiety and fear and uncertainty. I do a lot of convincing myself -- and Oliver -- that we've made the right decision, that nothing is permanent, that we can go back to regular school if we want. We constantly reorient ourselves. Right now, I'm looking for stories of adults who were homeschooled and are successful today -- not just because of it but despite it. If you know of someone, please let me know, so that I can pass it along to Oliver as well.


  1. Imagine the feeling of pride Mom and Dad had when we read our son's college essay and learned his homeschool years (age 12-14) "could only be described as Kafkaesque." He's doing great despite us!

  2. Elizabeth,
    A good friend of mine was homeschooled, by very young parents who I suspect did not have the same kind of resources and education as you do (although they were connected to a great network of other homeschoolers). She was homeschooled all the way through high school, I believe, and went on to attend university and law school. She now works as a lawyer. Her own homeschooling experience was very weak in mathematics so that is a problem area for her, but not something that's held her back in her career!
    All the best to you and Oliver.
    -E, a silent long-time reader

  3. Have you read any books about the Sudbury schools? There are a bunch, one is called Free at Last. They inspired me. Also, in it's own way, the book Horse Boy helped me make the decision to homeschool when we did it. If they could ride horse back all over the mountains of Mongolia, with their autistic kid, I could handle making soup and reading Little Women on the couch with my daughter.

  4. of course my punctuation in the comment above might not instill confidence. lol

  5. Trust yourself and trust Oliver. There will be imperfect days but it's going to turn out just fine. I am sure of it.

  6. I know of one woman for sure (she was May's college roommate) who was homeschooled all through elementary, middle and high school and who is now an attorney.
    Two of the daughters of some very good friends of mine went to a Tallahassee school (still in existence) called The Free School where absolutely nothing was required of the kids and they could dip into whatever they wanted to learn. So- not much in the way of formal school there- and they ended up one a Grammy-award winning documentary maker and the other one who owns an art gallery in LA and who is an artist herself. There's a little bit.
    What Angela said. Mostly.

  7. Daughter C did not get her high school diploma. She took a test called the California High School Proficiency Exam--which she reported as being populated with the most diverse group of teenagers she'd ever seen. I know she was older than O, but we had some big challenges and in lieu of that year of high school, she took classes at PCC and did a volunteer health initiative in Nicaragua with a group called Los Amigos de Las Americas. What came next is what I still regret. We forced her to go to college. That was the bargain we'd struck and I wouldn't back down. I won't go into how disastrous that was here, but after we all climbed out of the dark hole into which we'd plummeted, she did 3 months with Outward Bound (I owe them big time) including a stint with the Tarahumara in Southern Mexico. After that she went to England to learn to sail historic tall ships and has had many sea-faring adventures. Since then she's gotten her captain's license, become an EMT, and is now one semester away from certification as a surgical technician. I wish you and O patience and wisdom and inspiration--and I know a good math tutor if you need one! His rates are reasonable. xoxox

  8. I'd like to make the point that my kids who went to a very high ranking public school (in a place where wealthy people ONLY send their kids to private school if the child has "issues") didn't really learn all that much before high school (with the exception of math).

    From what I have seen in your posts Oliver is getting more than enough education for a kid his age. You don't need to get in "learning" every day. If I were you I'd just get a math tutor or take him to one of those math learning places once or twice a week and then just keep us with what you are doing. If reading is a real issue, consider some computer program that might help him hone his skills.

    Know that this is coming from someone who would never homeschool but only because I would never have the patience for it.

  9. I know of a bunch of people, but the one that stands out is a young man I know. He is 19, and never set foot in a school as a child. He started taking college classes at 12, has his own web design business, and is currently applying to Stanford.
    Both my girls (ages 14 and 17) were home schooled for 2 1/2 years. Now they are in public high school, and doing well.
    The most important thing is for him to have fun with learning and figure out what he is passionate about. Some people find it at age 5 and it never changes. Some people try out a million things until they find something that just clicks. Their is no right way about that.
    Some days home schooling were really hard for us. That's totally normal.

  10. My husband worked at Hewlett Packard Labs with a Mormon fellow whose six kids were homeschooled. All the kids ended up at Brigham Young University--which is a hard school to get into.

    I think you've mentioned that your son has dyslexia issues. Tell him that Adyashanti, a renowned Buddhist teacher also has dyslexia and had a hard time at our high school, Monta Vista High School, in Cupertino. Adya has written beautiful books of poetry and insight. As a young adult he put a lot of energy into racing bicycles rather than school.

  11. I'm not sure what you mean by in spite of it and not because of it. My youngest 4 homeschooled for varying lengths of time. We did not do school at home, although we covered a lot of things, we were weak on the sciences and foreign language. We did lot of writing. They put out a family newsletter for 4 years, sending it out across the country.

    The oldest is now 37. She started in 8th grade after going through 7 years of public school. She wrote a chapter in Grace Llewllyn's book "Real Lives". She was accepted to several colleges. She considered going to Antioc but decided against it because of the debt she would have ended up with. After she took her GED at 17, she went to stay with my oldest daughter in Atlanta where she worked in a homeless shelter with children. After a year of that, she went to Houston and became part of my father's church The Shrine of the Black Madonna, and worked with the children in the nursery while attending community college for 2 years. When she completed that, she moved back to MI and attended Wayne State University where she graduated with honors with a major in sociology. She took a year and worked with Hands on Atlanta, in an elementary school running an after school tutoring program. After that she went to University of Michigan where she got her Masters in Social Work with a focus on organizing groups. After graduating she worked with United Way for several years in Indianapolis and then decided to move to Atlanta where most of the family had relocated and got a job with Park Pride as their Volunteer director. It is a small non-profit. She supervises several workers and runs the volunteer program - groups who do volunteer projects in Atlanta parks from corporate groups like Home Depot to church groups to birthday party work days. They recently expanded to include parks in Dekalb County. She also works with and helps organize community park groups.

    The next daughter is now 35. She homeschooled from 6th grade. She graduated from Central Michigan University with a degree in Communications, went back to Central Michigan and got a Masters in Education and now teaches 3rd grade in Dekalb County, GA. She's been teaching for 6 years. She also did Hands On Atlanta before getting her masters.

    My 32 year old son homeschooled after 1st grade. He decided to go back for high school after his sisters both left home. He did his sophomore and junior at Baldwin Public schools and was accepted early to Dillard University in New Orleans where he went for 4 years and left to work as a union organizer with 1 Spanish class left to take. Arghhh. He has been organizing ever since then, for SEIU, for community groups. Right now he is in seattle organizing and developing programs geared toward the homeless. He also writes poetry and short stories.

    My youngest son is now 26. He didn't attend school until he was in Middle school. He went for 1 semester and left again. When he was 17 he went to an alternative school where he studied for his GED for several months and got it. I was surprised because this son had no interested in anything school like and I didn't know he would be able to do it so fast. he attended a year at the local community college then went to Hands on Atlanta and worked for 2 years tutoring children. After his two years were up, the school he had been working at, hired him at a para-professional. He's been there every since. For the last 3 or 4 years he has been attending college while working and should graduate this year. He's going into education, although he's getting rather leary about that after some of his experiences in the schools.

    If you want to get in touch with a couple of them, let me know and I'll put you in touch. This is a lot. Hope it's not too much.

  12. If Oliver would like to communicate with them, let me know that too.

  13. My older daughters who went through public high and the Northwestern and University of MI for a masters of education and the 2nd who graduated from Interlochen Art Academy and has a MA in museum sci, have lacks in their knowledge too. The oldest is horrible with math and she went all the way through.

  14. Do you want in spite of? I will give you in spite of: my friend's coworker (tech/education company) was homeschooled for two years, then—not schooled. Mom had mental health issues, he ran wild educationally from age 7 to 17, then applied to college, got into state school, excelled, and has a happy job and life. Says his only trouble was math.
    Other person: kid was very smart but unhappy and introverted, his mom saw him so despairing in 9th grade and just turned around on the way to school one day. Bought him a stack of Russian novels, let him take classes at the community college. He went to college at 18 and is now 25, has a job, and is happy.
    Smartest person on this particular topic ever told me: "But being successful is when you love what you do."
    Hold onto that. Good luck to you and Oliver, he seems to be a person who really cares about things, and that's the biggest deal.

  15. From what I hear from our homeschooling part of the family in the US, connecting with the local homeschool community is pretty important for a variety of reasons, from moral support to sharing teaching.
    as another online resource, Lori of project-homeschooling comes to mind: http://project-based-homeschooling.com/about
    good luck!

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  17. Homeschooled all, and there were eight. Two of them spent varying amounts of time in public high school, both were fine. The rest opted to stay homeschooled until college. All are either working or in college/university (one a teen still and still homeschooling), ages range now from 35-16. The "despite" here for my youngest four has been isolation since we moved to a rather isolated place several years ago. Math was a problem for one. In spite of those struggles (which going to public high school did not help) she graduated from UC Davis and continues with her education and work. One daughter spent time this year as an intern for Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee in Washington, DC, though a program at her university. One son has dyslexia and some degree of dysgraphia. Homeschooling may have helped him to learn there is more to life than academic success. He had time to discover his many skills. He has held a paying job since he was a teen (and was mentored by his employer, also dyslexic who had sympathy for the situation). He recently received a nice promotion in his area of interest. As a youngster he learned to help run a successful small business, train people older than him, build houses, and build and race bmx bikes. My kids who are in college/university all have gaps in their knowledge. I teach part time at a local college and I have gaps in my knowledge. And you're right: it's not all sunshine and roses. It's not in institutional settings either. The two kids who did that for a time in high school discovered that. I discovered it too as I went along. Life is messy no matter what. From my experience, if you keep checking in and talking together, it works out.



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