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Home Education Magazine

May-June 2001 - Articles and Columns

Questions and Answers - Laura Weldon

What About My Dreams? and Alternatives to College?

What About My Dreams?

"I am in my first year of homeschooling my three children, whose ages range from five to nine. It has been a largely rewarding experience, but in the back of my mind I know that this would have been my first year that they all would have been in school, leaving me some time for my own goals. I can't think of any other way to state the question: 'What about me?' I don't know yet what I would have done with that time, maybe start a small craft business or go back to school or just have some peace and quiet. How do other homeschooling parents pursue dreams of their own?" - Lucy Walsh, Rhode Island

? "My first year of homeschooling was an experience on many levels. The first few weeks were amazingly unamazing. I had thought it would be a monumental moment when we decided to stay home. Instead it just was. And that was okay. Then I went to a stage where I said, "I am so lucky to be experiencing and living and learning with my children. About 2/3 the way through the first year I still felt that way --privileged to be at home experiencing life with my children. However there was this background sense of "What about me?" I even spoke those words to a friend who was considering it. I think I have made peace with that thought. I am starting a small business (I mean small) and I am taking another course towards a practical degree that will allow me to move into the workforce whenever the time comes. These things fed my soul in a way that I hadn't expected. I think what you feel does not stem from your experience with the children but instead stems from the natural longing to be challenged and fulfilled. My children will remain at home and I can fulfill my own longings while still maintaining the environment that I know is right for my them." - Kelly

? "Homeschooling for me became the inspiration to pursue what I truly love to do, write! There is something about sitting along side all this enthusiasm for learning that encouraged me to "get busy" with my passion. Granted, there's isn't too much time to squeeze writing in, but I think if I had the time if they were in school, I would sit here with a blank stare on my face..... Now What? My two little "inspirations" are sitting in a classroom!!

To our family, homeschooling is not so much an educational choice, but a lifestyle choice. It gives us the most important commodity so lacking in American life these days......TIME. Time to dream and pursue our dreams even if only part-time. Homeschooling actually facilitates LIFE, rather than hampering our possibilities. When you really get down to the logistics, if our children were in school, how much time would actually be spent with our passion? Between making lunches, shopping for school clothes, dropping/picking up, homework assistance, etc. - the list goes on. I keep convincing myself that it will get easier as the children become older. One can dream, can't one?" - Susan Foreman, Florida

? "I think that your question is a valid one. It is important if we are to be at full capacity as mothers, teachers and wives to take good care of ourselves. Part of that mandate is to feed our minds and interests. The first thing I would suggest is that you must carve out some time in your week for yourself. There are tons of ways to manage this. You and a friend could trade off teaching subjects or simply baby-sitting so that each of you can have some free time. Perhaps your husband could assist (if you are married) in running the household for a few hours each weekend. Even hiring a teenager to tutor in one of your weak subjects would free you up a little.

Next, I would suggest that you figure out what you like to do. If you don't have a lot of money to flit from activity to activity - you might want to try going down to the local community college and participate in some career testing so that you can discover your natural interests. Then you can decide to take a college course, a community art class, join a dance or jazzercise group or a crafting club - whatever. As the kids get older and take over more of their learning tasks, you'll gain even more freedom. I go to graduate school myself two evenings per week. I do my homework alongside my daughter and much of the material I am learning (counseling psychology) has been invaluable with her. We even spend quite a bit of time discussing what I am learning. I love hearing her opinions on the issues and theories we learn about. Don't feel guilty about taking this time. You'll enjoy yourself and you'll be refreshing and building your mind. Not to mention, it's never too early to consider what you are going to do when the kids have all gone off to college (or life!). That's a difficult transition enough without that sense of 'what now?'" - Andrea

? "In response to Lucy's question "What about me?". I thought that many times until God helped me to realize that my family is my responsibility. My husband and I are solely responsible for the raising of our children. I have been given the wonderful responsibility of not only educating my three daughters (ages 5,7 &13), but training them to behave properly and in the way of the Lord. Society has said "It takes a village to raise a child" so let us educate your children because we can do a better job. But this philosophy is untrue. We have been brain washed into thinking selfishly about ourselves and so, therefore, it is easier for us to let society take our children from us and educate them with their values instead of our own. I want my children to know there is a definite right from wrong and there are eternal consequences for our actions. I have found that being fulfilled is to do God's will and raise our children properly. In order to do this you must first realize that you cannot put yourself first, but your children's lives first." - Mrs. Kimberly Zera

? "I wondered that myself in my first year of homeschooling. After teaching speech therapy for 7 years in the public school system, it was a big switch to teaching 1 and now 2 children with 2 little ones around the table. This past year I finally got my "wings" and began writing. I have written letters to the local newspaper, I have started writing 2 children's books and now I am putting on a Homeschool Conference in the town I live in. These have all been done in my quiet mom time and I feel so full. I am finally finding myself again. It feels great. It takes time, and you will know when to spread your wings." - MaryAlice Wallis, Longview, Washington

? "I am of Asian descent, and my culture teaches that life is lived in seasons. We need not, cannot have all things at once. There is time for one to teach, to learn, to travel, to stay close to one's roots, to expand outward, to focus inward, to be actively engaged in commerce, to refrain from materialism. It is wrong thinking to expect you can live stages of life all at once. How can you be centered if you are going all directions? Give of yourself wholeheartedly to this stage in your life. Prepare for the next stage with an open mind." - Li, San Francisco

? "You absolutely need your own interests and activities. It isn't good for children to be the sole focus of your life. You don't want them to grow up to be stifled adults longing to reach for their dreams but having no role model who did so. Or selfish adults who think that they require the undivided attention of others.

Take a business class one night a week, set aside Saturday mornings to paint that masterpiece, get together with women friends at least once a month to see a play, volunteer at a crisis center. If the children complain, let them know that you love to be with them and want to be the best parent you can to them, and that means being a happy, enthusiastic, well rounded person. Children easily understand that you need your own friends and own private time as much as they need theirs, but only if you are not ambivalent about it. If you let them know you feel guilty and undecided, they'll sense you are wavering and they'll feel unhappy with the situation too.

The best thing you can do for them is treat yourself as lovingly as you treat them." - Lynn Wisniecki

Alternatives to College?

"I've been homeschooling many years and my oldest son is a senior this year. I'd like to know where I could get information on alternatives to colleges (even if it's a year or two) and still end up with a college diploma." - Jill Mahoney

? "Has he considered looking for a mentor in the field he is interested in? So many people jump into a career plan without having any idea of what the day to day job would be like. A mentor can help him get practical experience, guide him through the rough spots and provide support when he has graduated.

Another possibility is an apprenticeship. They are still available. Some might be listed on the web, but scouting around is even more fruitful. In your area you'll find locally owned businesses where people repair clocks, tune pianos, run children's parties, build custom bookshelves, any number of skill-based jobs. Offer an exchange--- your free or reduced pay work for their training. They might even be close to retirement age or be looking to change careers and eager to see you take over where they left off. Also look on the net at www.virtualstudent.com for suggestions on approaching educational institutions for alternatives to the traditional university program.

Finally, be open to the grand tradition of taking a year off between high school and college. There may be no time in your life when you are this free to travel. Have the experience of a life time before a full time job takes over." - Lucia Ward

? "A few resources I've found useful are:
www.homeschoolteenscollege.net/diplomaisp.htm (diplomas/independent study/correspondence)
www.successwithoutcollege.com www.nhen.org/nhen/pov/teens/
The Teenage Liberation Handbook, by Grace Llewellyn
- Lisa Richards

? "Just some musings about doing college in a different manner than full-time straight out of high school. Although both of my older boys have attended college, they haven't jumped into it with both feet, doing the usual route of full-time college and perhaps part-time work. Instead, since both are funding their own education, they have chosen to work almost full-time or full-time and attend community college part-time. While this may not be the answer for this boy, it enabled my older son to work in the field he was interested in while taking college classes toward a degree in that field. I believe it was because he was taking classes at the college that he was recruited to teach at a Technologies Center and now he's planning to transfer to a 4 year college to get his voc-ed certification. My younger son is working in the family business as an apprentice, while taking classes in marketing and management. Whether he decides to go into the family business, or go into something else, the classes will be good experience. He's also got the opportunity to become a journeyman in a skilled field, so even if he doesn't decide to stay a professional painter, he'll have skills whereby he can save himself money on a home of his own, use his expertise to keep up rental properties if he chooses to invest some money that way, or pick up side jobs if he needs to down the road. It can't hurt to have two careers!" - Marsha Ransom, Southwestern, MI

? "My kids are nowhere near this stage, but someone passed a book on to us, called Degrees by Distance Learning by Robert Obradovic, Ed.D., Ph.D. It was published (1999) by Western Pacific Institute ($34.95 Cdn, $24.95 US). The cover says: 'The most complete guide to distance degree programs offered by English-language universities from around the world. Nearly 3,000 programs listed. Bachelor's, master's, and doctorates in more than 350 fields of study.'" - Marilyn Powell, Nanaimo, B.C., www.armchair_academic.homestead.com

? "Bears' Guide to Earning Degrees Nontraditionally by John Bear and Mariah Bear is a good source of correspondence courses and other non-residential ways of earning credit and degrees. The same authors also have another book out called "College Degrees by Mail and Internet," but I've looked through it and think it may be the same one reprinted." - Rachel Holtrop, age 17, Huntington, IN

? "I'd recommend that a teen, or anyone wondering about making the right choices about career, finances, education and degrees read Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Joe Dominguez, Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money that the Poor and Middle Class Do Not by Robert Kiyosaki and Beyond the American Dream: Lifelong Leaning and the Search for Meaning by Charles Hayes. Also go to www.autodidactic.com for a wider perspective on learning." - Leah Winkler

? "We are the first generation of homeschoolers to be entering the workforce. Our parents made the choice to educate us more freely, quite a radical decision in context of our society. Hopefully we have a less rigid approach to learning and a more creative, self-directed approach to life. Why should we constrict ourselves when there are so many more options? This is, after all, a new millenium. We can't perpetuate the absurdities of nuclear power, fossil fuel depletion and greed-based corporate policies and blithely expect future generations to survive. We need to go beyond "higher education" to the highest education of ethics, critical inquiry and global thinking. I believe it was Einstein who said, ""Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them." It is up to us to make a difference." - Linnea Holbrook-White, age 24

(c) 2001 Home Education Magazine

May-June 2001 Issue

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