Ever wonder how your kids will look back and reflect on your decision to choose homeschooling? Well 8 second-generation homeschoolers are here to share their side of the story with you today. They were homeschooled themselves, lived to tell the tale, and even chose home education for their own children!
Welcome back to the Homeschool Generations series! It has been such a delight to share the stories of homeschool moms past and present with you all over the past few months.
Did you miss the previous posts? Read Part 1 to hear my personal story and experience as a 2nd-generation homeschool mom of 5. Read Part 2 and be encouraged by the hard-won wisdom and long-term perspective from 6 veteran homeschool moms (some of whom began homeschooling when it was still new and viewed with suspicion).
Y’all, I am especially excited to share today’s conversations with 8 fellow second-generation homeschool mamas. These women graciously share their own homeschool experiences, their decision to homeschool their own children, and some of the contrasts between homeschooling then/homeschooling now.
Now, let’s be clear up front. You could find some crazy in the early years of homeschooling, too. I’m not trying to paint a fake rosy picture as if there were no issues in the past (anymore than I’d say there are no issues in the present). But it is so encouraging to hear from these women who can say, like I do, that the homeschool experience overall was one we wanted to make our own and share with our own children.
Prefer to listen to your content? Subscribe to Homeschool Conversations on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts so you can listen to this series read as an audioblog. Or just click the player above and listen right here!
8 Second-Generation Homeschool Moms Share Their Perspectives
Join me as we explore these 10 questions with our 2nd-generation homeschool moms:
- Why did you choose to homeschool your own children?
- What are some of the positive things you remember from being homeschooled yourself?
- What are some of the negative things you remember from being homeschooled yourself?
- Do you feel like your homeschool experience prepared you for college/work/the future?
- What was the homeschool community like when you were being homeschooled? How does this compare/contrast to your experience today as the homeschool parent?
- What is the hardest part of homeschooling?
- What is your favorite part of homeschooling?
- How does your approach to homeschooling compare or contrast with the approach your parents took?
- Are there any particular personal lessons you have learned from being a homeschool parent?
- What differences, if any, do you notice in this generation of homeschoolers compared to the earlier days?
Why did you choose to homeschool your own children?
Second-generation homeschool moms choose homeschooling for much the same reason as first timers. The bonus is that we’ve experienced the joys of homeschooling ourselves and know that it works. Most of the mamas I talked to pretty much knew from the beginning they wanted to homeschool their own kids. But, why?
For Ashley Kelso, homeschooling felt “normal, pleasant and comfortable. It felt like a normal extension of mothering to me. I knew my time with them was short and I wanted to savor it. We wanted to give them time and space to be young and innocent. We wanted to raise them with less pressure and exposure to the world’s ideals. We wanted to teach them a biblical world view and give them a literature rich education. Ultimately, we knew it was the direction God was leading us.”
There were many reasons Nicole Still (The Still Family) chose to homeschool. “I was homeschooled and my husband was not. Comparing the educations we received and our experiences, we both knew we wanted our children homeschooled.” Nicole also wanted to experience the joy of “being there” with her kids, “watching [her] children learn and grow” and “not missing their ‘ah ha!’ moments.”
Rachel (Seven in All) sees time as one of the biggest factors in choosing to homeschool. “Homeschool allows us to have more time together as family. Childhood will go by so fast, and I didn’t want to spend it with our family in many different classrooms for most of the week.”
Katie Waalkes (Life in the Mundane) wants her children to have what she had, “the opportunity to love learning and grow in their walk with the Lord by seeing His presence and power in every area of life.”
“My husband and I are convinced that homeschooling is the best way for us to disciple our children and give them an excellent academic education,” Laura said. “I’m thankful that homeschooling allows me to focus on character and academics.”
Melissa Cummings (Joyful Domesticity) shared a similar perspective. “Homeschooling seems to be the most natural and effective way for us to bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, where we focus on nourishing their bodies, minds, and souls every hour of every day.”
Amelia Rodgers (Generational Homeschooling) agrees. “We believe that we are responsible for our children’s education, and our choice of education matters. We decided to homeschool because we believe that it is the best way to help our children enjoy an enriched life that values truth, beauty, and the pursuit of God.” Amelia and her husband were actually both homeschooled from kindergarten through high school. She notes that “even though our parents utilized different homeschooling methods, we both experienced the many positive aspects of homeschooling. We knew that we wanted that for our own family.”
Mystie Winckler (Simply Convivial) and her husband were also both homeschooled and so they “knew that it was a viable option. Raising readers who were interested in the world and not wasting their time with busy work and who saw the church as their people and place was important to us and homeschooling is pretty much the only way to accomplish that these days.”
What are some of the positive things you remember from being homeschooled yourself?
Relationships and love of learning were consistent themes from these 2nd-generation homeschool moms!
Melissa Cummings reflects especially on the relationships that were fostered in her home growing up: “The relationships that were fostered in our home were paramount, and I can’t imagine it being that way if we weren’t spending every day together. My brother and I were always best friends. I always had an excellent and open relationship with my parents. We were one another’s companions by circumstance, but also by choice. I also loved being my mother’s constant shadow. I went absolutely everywhere with her, and gleaned innumerable insights from observing and experiencing womanhood at her apron string.
“There were only two of us kids, but we were both highly academic and self-motivated which led us to accomplishing our necessary bookwork early and efficiently on a regular basis. We therefore had a lot more time than our neighbor kids to pursue reading books of choice, building forts, cooking and crafting. It felt like a very privileged education in that way: we loved what we did, and we were encouraged to do what we loved.
“There were not the labels or canned descriptions back then (like CM, Classical, Waldorf, Montessori, unschooler, interest-led), or at least not in our locale… but I can see nuances of all of those things as I now look back upon the education my parents afforded us. The primary goal was to be saturated in wisdom, by relationship to God and the pursuit of knowledge, fostered by those who most deeply cared for our whole selves (body, mind, and soul).”
Nicole reflected on the value of family time and the freedom it accorded them as well. “We were spontaneous and travelled often. My parents also cultivated any interests and hobbies we had. I was president of a sailing club, competed in public speaking, played varsity basketball and volleyball, and much more.”
“I loved that we had hours and hours of time playing Little House or library and other imaginative games,” said Ashley. “I love the sweet memories I have of my mom reading aloud to us. From very young I was given a biblical world view which carried into adulthood. Weighing history or science or politics against scripture doesn’t trip me up as often as it might someone who came to faith later in life or who wasn’t taught this way at school. I love that I bypassed some, though not all, of the pressures girls often face during the teen years.”
Laura echoed the theme of relationship, “My relationship with my parents was strengthened by the reality of being together much of the time, and I have fond memories of both my parents reading aloud often.” Laura also remembers the unique educational opportunities she enjoyed: “I also had the opportunity to study Latin for many years – something I hope to pass on to my own children.”
Katie “loved how my parents gave me a love for learning. I loved my mom reading aloud to me. I loved how my parents used the opportunity to prepare me for real life by teaching life skills, letting me shadow others to see what future might work best for me, and giving me an opportunity to apply what I had learned in school to real life situations.”
“I loved having time to pursue the interests that were important to me,” reflected Amelia. “When I was in middle school and high school, I read many, many classics (like all of Dickens’ novels when I was 13!). When I was in high school, I spent hours researching and recreating garments from different historical time periods. I played first violin in a community orchestra, which required hours of daily practice. These were all activities that I loved and I know that I would not have been able to devote as much time to them if I were following a traditional public school schedule. I also appreciated the relationships that grew because I was home. I am the oldest of ten children, so I was in my late teens when the youngest siblings were born. Being always around my younger siblings helped me grow in patience, flexibility, and perspective. Now my siblings are my best friends.”
Rachel has many fond memories of her own homeschooled years: “Waking up at 5 am and doing my schoolwork on my own in the cool, quiet house in the morning while my siblings slept. Reading books for school on my bed with a huge bowl of popcorn. Chatting with my siblings endlessly when my mom was out of the schoolroom. Many happy days!”
And let’s not forget how much we all love the efficiency and free time homeschooling affords! Mystie said, “Being done by lunch was always a top priority and defining benefit of being homeschooled. School was Bob Jones textbooks and Saxon math in the morning, and reading, library trips, and drawing was what we did for fun in the afternoons.”
What are some of the negative things you remember from being homeschooled yourself?
Of course, homeschooling isn’t all roses and sunshine and unicorns. Thankfully, those mamas sharing their stories today had overall positive experiences, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some hard times.
Ashley Kelso said, “I struggled with being really pretty lonely during high school. My parents are much more introverted than I am so they didn’t see my need for friends and out of the home activities as important. By the time I had reached high school most of my friends were in regular schools which made me feel even more lonesome. I loved the curriculum my mom chose for me, but I wish she had provided a bit more accountability in completing less pleasant assignments and been more available for discussing what I was learning.”
Loneliness is an issue Nicole Still sees continuing as a homeschool mom. “[Homeschooling] is a lonely road sometimes and as a homeschool mom, that hasn’t changed. Parents and kids know each other from the school system and they have their groups. You always kind of feel like an outsider.”
And sometimes it’s hard to find common ground within the homeschool community, too. Amelia Rodgers remembers “it being very hard to find anyone who homeschooled as we did – living books, nature study, learning as a lifestyle, etc. Most of the homeschoolers I knew followed a standard boxed curriculum. I was confident that my parents made excellent educational decisions (which have borne much fruit!), but it was definitely lonely.”
For Rachel, her “main negative memory of homeschool is my high school math curriculum. There were few options “way back when” and what we had was definitely not designed for homeschool and self-teaching, it was designed to be taught by a classroom teacher. I got to the point where I felt like I was bad at math, until I took a math class in college, and under those circumstances, flew through it like it was a piece of cake. There are much better curriculum options these days.”
“I think my biggest frustration as an adolescent was wishing my mother would give more structure to my education, rather than quite so much freedom,” Melissa Cummings said. “I have always liked being challenged and pushed, and loved every intellectual exercise I encountered.”
Laura noted, “Sadly, my laziness affected my studies of some of the sciences. I regret that I didn’t discipline myself to focus and to push through my initial dislike and lack of interest.”
Mystie Winckler reflected on a lack of discipline as well: “There were several years without accountability in getting the work done. I didn’t cheat with the math answer key; instead I just never checked my math and often never finished it. I counted an hour spent in math as “done” without guilt. I was supposed to ask Dad in the evening if I didn’t understand something, but there was no way I was going to initiate doing math after dinner. I preferred not understanding and not finishing, and that was an option because no one was looking at my math.”
Do you feel like your homeschool experience prepared you for college/work/the future?
Ok, it’s the big question, right? Will homeschooling really prepare my kids for their future? It was fascinating to hear these mamas share their own stories!
Mystie said, “Yes, even without finishing several school books or math books, I graduated with my BA before I was 20, married at 19, had my first child at 21. Homeschooling prepared me for life because I had lived a full family life all my life. I knew how to deal with people because I had 6 siblings. I knew I wasn’t the center of the world and I had to think of others in decision-making. I might not have done it well, but still I did learn how to manage school work and read and think in the midst of activity and noise. My mom held us responsible for our attitudes and responses as well as our actions and that training was always on. Parenting happened all day, every day, not just for a couple hours. My parents had hobbies and didn’t entertain us and didn’t care if we were bored. A healthy childhood without being catered to prepared me for living a responsible adult life.”
Homeschooling “prepared me excellently,” said Rachel. “I graduated homeschool at 16 and went to college on scholarships that completely covered the cost. I enjoyed college, the whole lifestyle of spending my days learning about topics that I found immensely interesting. I really fell into my passion for writing in college and have continued to write ever since. Today, I find myself writing homeschool curriculum, so this path has come full-circle!”
Melissa would agree. Homeschooling “absolutely prepared me for every endeavor I have pursued educationally and vocationally. I was a straight A student in college (I received my AA at a community college, and my BA at a private university) with no trouble adjusting to the varied nature of classroom situations, study scenarios, group projects, worldview clashing, etc. My parents had instilled in me a deep love for learning, as well as confident skill that I could learn anything I needed to. Even when internet searches were barely a commodity, I knew how to dig into research. With that love of learning, a longing for knowledge, and a confidence that I could unearth any unknown with enough excavation, I was not just adequately but thoroughly equipped. I also thrived in each job I did: elementary music teacher, food service at an ice cream shop, janitorial, secretary at a medical office… and eventually as a homemaker and home educator. I never received a teaching certificate, but I have never felt under-equipped to educate my children. And I know that wisdom will dictate when it is time to acquire tutelage for the kids in subject areas which are out of my league. My oldest child is currently finishing seventh grade, and so far we have only had a small weekly co-op as any outside academic input.”
Ashley would also say yes, with the caveat that not realizing her own abilities at the time affected some of her choices. “For the most part I would heartily say yes. I chose not to attend college for a number of reasons, one being that I wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep up. Later on in life I realized I would have done just fine.”
Did homeschooling prepare her for the future? Nicole said, “Absolutely. By high school I knew how to file taxes independently, cook full meals, design websites, video editing, and more. I had extra time to pour into skills I wanted to use through my adult years.”
Amelia gave us yet another “Absolutely!”: “I had an excellent college experience and have had many successful jobs. (I currently work as a copy editor and writer, but I have also owned a sewing alterations business.) It is my goal to pursue higher education in the future. While I certainly didn’t master every subject while at home, I feel equipped to be able to learn anything. I truly believe that homeschooling gave me the desire to be a lifelong learner.”
“Homeschooling prepared me for college far better than my public-school peers,” Laura noted. “Many professors remarked on my engagement and academic work, and some of peers mentioned that they didn’t know how to study. I loved college. It had been my goal for years to be a homeschool mom, should the Lord bless me with a husband and children, so I’m living my dream life now! Homeschooling did help prepare me in many ways to be a homeschool parent – not the least of which is making it a normal way of life.”
Katie’s answer is short, sweet, and summarizes it all well: “Yes, 100% so.”
What was the homeschool community like when you were being homeschooled? How does this compare/contrast to your experience today as the homeschool parent?
Perhaps some of the biggest changes across the homeschool generations can be found in the homeschool community experience. I really appreciated hearing the perspective shared by these mamas today, and can personally relate to so much of their experiences.
Ashley Kelso explained, “The community I grew up in was made up of lovely families trying to forge a new path for us and future generations. I think they may have focused on homeschooling to “protect” their children a bit too much, rather than preparing them to enter the world. A number of my friends got so frustrated with the heavy sheltering and control and rebelled. I feel that this second generation of homeschoolers has corrected course a bit and, at least in my experience, is focused on protecting, yes, but also preparing their children to interact with the world around them, discussing ideas, nurturing relationships, and getting a well-rounded education. I have no desire to bash the first generation of homeschooling parents. We stand on their shoulders gratefully.”
Katie Waalkes noted changes in opportunities, perception, and freedom. “There were not as many opportunities or curriculum options as there are now. There has also been a big shift in how homeschooling is perceived. I remember not being allowed to go outside until school was out because of fear of getting reported because homeschooling was still considered taboo. Now my kids live in a world where we have a lot more freedom to participate in activities, less fear of being reported, and more opportunities when it comes to colleges. I will say one drawback is that with more freedoms and more options comes a greater opportunity for overwhelm. Many parents are paralyzed by a different kind of fear, and that is the fear of starting, the fear of making the wrong choice, etc.”
“When I was homeschooled, my mom had a very tight knit, very small group of similarly homeschooling friends,” Melissa Cummings remembered. “We all went to church together every Sunday, did “Thursday school” (like a mini co-op that met in rotating homes every other Thursday) together, did holidays together, took amazing field trips together (even taking a three-week trip from the west coast to the east coast after we spent a semester studying early American history with another family). So the community we had was very organic, like an extension of family. It wasn’t based on grade levels, academic styles, or curriculum pedestals. That is not something I have experienced in the educating of my own children. We have never (yet!) made intimate friends with other homeschoolers at church, our co-op is Classical and sticks to a very predictable curriculum, and the only people we have ever felt deeply “at home” with are my brother’s family (who likewise homeschool their five kids, and basically feel like simply an extension of our own nuclear family). Where I grew up, we had lots of access to field trips, museums, zoos, and similar experiences or expeditions. Where I am raising my children, we have to drive at least five hours in any direction to access similar things. I miss my childhood tradition of Friday field trips, and frequent visits to all kinds of museums. When my mom shopped for our school books, she only had a few options: Saxon, Abeka, Bob Jones… and of course, no Internet ordering or free shipping! There were very few tactile resources or relational connections- conferences and conventions were few and far between. And my family with just two children, and a mom who had a pixie cut and wore jeans sometimes rather than always denim jumpers… well, we didn’t quite fit in sometimes.”
As she reflected on her own homeschool now compared to her family growing up, Melissa added, “My mom and I have very different personalities, and I have five children- so my homeschooling days are necessarily very different than what I grew up with. I don’t think having been homeschooled myself gives me an advantage over my public schooled sister-in-law- she and I are equally equipped by God’s grace to do the good work He sets before us. The only advantage I can possibly conceive is the simple experiential knowledge that homeschooling CAN be done well (successfully, happily, equipping kids well for life as adults, and prioritizing the nurture and admonition of the Lord).”
Nicole Still also mentioned the positive community she experienced as a child. “Growing up we had a wonderful homeschool community with many like-minded families homeschooling for similar reasons. With 2020 the culture has changed and there are many more homeschoolers for various reasons. Also, where you live determines a lot about your support group. We live on an island, so it’s an amazing place to get out in nature and learn, but not a big enough community to have a weekly co-op or clubs/sports.”
Mystie Winckler shared a funny story from her childhood. “Once I was stopped by a police officer on our street when I was riding my bike around lunchtime. He wanted to know why I wasn’t in school, but accepted without further question that I was homeschooled. Everyone was always astonished when they found out we homeschooled; it boggled their minds. Now more often than questions about socialization at the grocery store I hear people giving their excuses for why they can’t. Joke is on them in 2020.”
Laura remembered enjoying “several extra-curricular opportunities (Latin, piano, and chorus) as a student.” As a relatively new homeschool parent herself, she has not yet explored the community offerings available to her family today.
Rachel’s experience was and is quite unique. “I was homeschooled overseas…and I am now homeschooling my own kids overseas. So I feel like my experience of homeschool community is much less than it would have been if either of those experiences were in the USA. The big difference with homeschooling today is the community on social media and the internet.”
Of course, even if it’s not overseas, where you live has a huge impact on the community available to you. Amelia Rodgers said, “Growing up in rural Nebraska, the local homeschooling community was very, very limited. It seems to be a trend that families will homeschool for a time and then send children to public school in middle or high school. So by the time I was in high school, I had no local homeschool community. However, thanks to Yahoo groups, I found a thriving community of homeschooled girls who shared my interests. What started as an online discussion of Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend developed into 20+ year friendships. I am so grateful for the internet! My parents worked hard to make sure that we were able to take music lessons, participate in orchestras, and take part in our local 4-H program. So even though our homeschool community was extremely limited, our chance to be part of outside educational opportunities was not!”
The internet continues to be a positive source of community for Amelia, as for many of us. “As a homeschooling mom today, I find myself still very grateful for the internet. I am amazed at the number of resources available and the sense of community that can be fostered. I enjoy following other homeschooling families on Instagram. I also participate in the Schole Sisters forum. I have been able to find and attend Charlotte Mason related conferences which have been an enormous encouragement. The homeschool community in our current city is larger and more diverse. We have been part of a Classical Conversations community in the past, and part of more informal nature groups, art lessons, and chess clubs for homeschooling families. Until recently, our church had a significant number of homeschooling families, so much of our community was found there. I hope to resume a Charlotte Mason book discussion group.”
What is the hardest part of homeschooling?
Just because we were once homeschooled ourselves doesn’t mean we have everything figured out! Homeschooling is still hard work. So I asked these mamas to share what are some of the hard parts of being a homeschool mom themselves.
Amelia mentioned the difficulty of “helping children build habits of attention…and persevering through rough and frazzled days.”
Rachel speaks for many of us when she pointed to “the feeling like it’s “all your responsibility” – every single part of your child’s education, on top of all normal parental responsibility.”
Melissa Cummings agreed. “For me, currently, the hardest part of homeschooling is knowing that it all rests on me. In our homeschool, I am the one who picks the books, makes the routine, checks the completed work, taxis kids to extra-curricular activities… scope, sequence, and success rate all fall onto me. The sense of that responsibility can be emotionally and mentally weighty! But that is when I realize anew that I am focusing more on what I do than Who I rest in. Not having physical/mental/emotional rest, and then starving myself of the most crucial rest of reliance on the Lord alone, is a difficulty of my own making. Also, having children that fall into categories of gifted and twice exceptional keeps me so very on my toes that every day really is downright exhausting. Yes, having advanced and gifted kids can be a special blessing. But it is also a unique challenge. … But at the same time, these “hard things” are also some additional reasons that I would never do it any other way.”
Ashley Kelso said, “For myself it’s usually the feelings of inadequacy. Realizing I haven’t been as consistent in this or that area. Or seeing that one of your children is having a learning struggle and you’re not sure if you can help or even where to begin. [That’s] when the task at hand becomes bigger. Although that often becomes the place we learn and grow the most.”
Consistency is also the hardest thing for Katie Waalkes, while Nicole Still returned again to “that outsider feeling. I knew going into it what to expect, but it doesn’t make it much easier.”
I especially appreciated Laura mentioning “the reality of facing my parental sins that, if my children were away at school, would be more easily disguised or hidden can be discouraging and exhausting. How great a Savior we serve who never fails despite my failings; His grace enables me to continue.”
What is your favorite part of homeschooling?
When you think about the joys of homeschooling, what are some of your favorite parts? I asked these 2nd-generation mamas to share their favorite aspects of homeschooling with us today!
Laura replied, “Read-alouds! Sharing books with my children is truly a delight, and I love the idea of building a culture of books in my home. (I also love seeing my children understand an idea and get that spark in their eyes.)”
“Time!” Rachel said and added, “All the fun memories we’re making today!”
Amelia said, “I adore seeing our children make significant connections on their own. Being present for a reading breakthrough or witnessing a child fall in love with a Shakespeare play is worth it all. I also love the relationships we form with each other and what we are studying. Last week, we were listening to Dido’s Lament for composer study, and then our Shakespeare scene referred to the story of Dido and Aeneas. We all gasped! It was a wonderful moment of shared learning.”
“Hands down, my favorite part of homeschooling is learning everything all over again alongside my children, and seeing the wonder of each new skill, concept, or creation wash over each child one by one,” said Melissa. “I don’t have to “redeem my education,” as I hear many first-generation homeschoolers tout, but I have the joy of refurbishing, renewing, and revisiting my education. And it’s a joy! My friends at Schole Sisters give me peer encouragement for continuing my own education as well. So in addition to learning with my kids what they are learning, they see that I am pursuing continued education myself through reading and skills and various practices on my own. We spur one another on. Also… can I just say: both the hardest part and my favorite part of homeschooling could probably simply be, ‘being with ALL my kids, ALL the time, for ALL the days.’”
I think most every homeschool mom can relate to that, right?!
Ashley listed “all the days and weeks and months and years we’ve spent together. Going on trips to the beach, reading books together, watching them get better and better at their instruments, cheering them on as they finally get the hang of reading, joking with each other, all of it. All the wonderful, exasperating, tiring, irreplaceable hours together.”
“The little years are so short and quick,” reflected Nicole. “I don’t have to share raising my babies with anyone else. I know their personalities and their character and can customize their education fully to their uniqueness.”
Katie especially loves “watching those light bulb moments when your child grasps something they were struggling with.”
How does your approach to homeschooling compare or contrast with the approach your parents took?
I thought it would be especially fascinating to find out how these 2nd-generation homeschool moms do things similarly and differently to their families of origin. Some of the differences come in educational philosophy, and sometimes they come just from personality or family structure.
Melissa said, “My parents were quite relaxed about the education of my brother and me. We each had a math book and an English book… but other than that, we kind of had interest-led studies. Since there were only two of us, it wasn’t super hard for us to each have tutors or outside classes going on. My brother had an engineering, science, and computer tech tutor/mentor for years, and then held a full time job as a computer programmer in Silicon Valley by his fourteenth birthday. I loved creative writing and encouraging others, so I put together a girl’s magazine for nearly a decade, and it was actually the spine for a lot of my education. But my husband wanted a slightly more structured philosophy of education for our family, and I was surrounded in adulthood by Classical education spearheads, so we have pursued that, more or less, in our home education thus far. I didn’t quite fit the Classical box because I was drawn too much to some Charlotte Mason methods, but it was close enough. Then I read Karen Glass’ book Consider This and I actually cried, because it was the first time I really recognized myself in homeschooling writing. I never quite fit in anywhere until I found my place under Karen Glass’ wing. But the basic foundational principles of my childhood homeschool is identical with the homeschooling now of my children: to nourish the intellect of each unique child, to instruct them in knowledge and virtue, to foster their love of God and love of neighbor. Also the same then and now: a love of books. Give us all the books! Please!”
“I have the benefit of taking what I feel my mom did well and tweak it to better suit us,” reflected Ashley. “They were sort of first-generation Christians, a military family, first-generation homeschoolers, and had 6 children. They were doing a lot of big things. My mom valued literature and learning from books and I do too. We both base a lot of our curriculum and schooling on wide reading. I tend to be more conversational and relational in our day’s structure; we do a lot of things around the table together. I value friendships and social activities balanced with restful time at home. My mom valued time at home and freedom to pursue personal hobbies. We tend to live our faith out a little differently too. My parents attended church and read the Bible to us some and tried to give us a biblical world view. Our family has a rhythm of church services, family devotions and worship, and an expectation that we have a relationship with Jesus.”
Nicole said, “My parents used a very traditional textbook curriculum. We follow more of a Charlotte Mason/Classical style.”
“Our approach is similar in that we practice personalized parenting where we look for the curriculum/methods/etc that will work best for each kid,” said Katie. “[We’re] always looking to build on their strengths while seeking to strengthen their weaknesses. We differ in teaching methods because I have a different teaching style and my kids have a different learning style then my family did growing up.”
Laura noted, “My mom had a teaching degree and was much more comfortable with a traditional curriculum approach (we used A Beka books). And while I believe I received an excellent education from those resources, my husband and I are much more interested in a classical education for our children.”
Reflecting on similarities and differences, Rachel said, “There is a lot that is similar, and a lot that is different. My parents were both engineers by trade, and heavily focused on math and science in our curriculum. In spite of that, I grew up with a deep love for languages and for writing, and I tend to lean more heavily on those subjects (so maybe that’s actually me doing something the same as my parents: spending more time on the subjects I am most passionate about). Something very different in this generation is that I am homeschooling bilingually! My husband is a native Spanish speaker and we are raising our sons bilingual. So I intentionally incorporate Spanish in our homeschool, not as a foreign language but as a medium that we learn in.”
Amelia shared, “My parents definitely followed a CM-inspired educational philosophy even though they did not follow an established curriculum (I believe that I was 12 before Ambleside Online was developed). We, too, follow a CM educational philosophy, but the most noticeable difference is that I adhere to a planned curriculum (Alveary). I also think that our homeschool sticks to a more structured schedule than I experienced as a child.”
And remember that story Mystie Winckler shared earlier? She laughed, “Everyone’s math is checked every day by a parent in our house.”
Are there any particular personal lessons you have learned from being a homeschool parent?
We learn so much as homeschool parents. While home education is ostensibly about teaching children, God is faithful to teach us a lot as mamas, too!
Homeschooling has taught Ashley Kelso to “be humble and flexible.”
Rachel has learned about “patience and grace,” and added that “those are long-term lessons, I believe.”
“God has used homeschooling to reveal my own impatience,” Laura said. “I’m thankful that sanctification extends even to this.”
Melissa Cummings has learned “why the book of Titus says that older women must exhort the younger women to love their husbands and children, and to be teachers of good things. I never knew that I had a problem with my temper until I tried teaching my own child how to play piano. I never knew that it would be so easy to snap at my own children- who I desperately love in indescribable depth. So I have learned that discipline of myself must come first. I need to model the kindness, grace, repentance, and forgiveness that I seek to inculcate into my children by God’s grace. I think that is something that parenting in general teaches, but homeschooling simply magnifies it… plugs in the amp to really crank up that volume, so to speak.”
“I was blessed to have laid back parents that encouraged so many others to homeschool,” said Nicole Still. “I see the importance of that now. The stress of trying to keep up with what everyone else is teaching or the fear you aren’t doing enough or missing out on something could be discouraging if I hadn’t had it modeled to me first.”
Amelia Rodgers said, “I’m always learning about identifying when our struggles are “will” or “skill” issues. Early in our homeschooling I allowed my kids’ attitudes to dictate our day and would often be quick to change to a different plan to make them feel better. I’m learning when to be impervious and help them stick it out and when to make changes. I’m also always learning how to be more flexible – more like a pipe cleaner that bends and less like a stick that breaks.”
What differences, if any, do you notice in this generation of homeschoolers compared to the earlier days?
After sharing their own stories, I was curious for these mamas to share their perspective on the current state of homeschooling.
Melissa said, “I think the vast array of available physical resources and curriculum reflects the vast array of homeschool styles and family cultures now! There are absolutely no cookie cutter homeschool families anymore, and that lends a beautiful diversity to the practice of home education. We have a lot to learn from each other. We are also (perhaps necessarily so) increasingly reliant on digital resources and networking. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to purchase all my curriculum (new or used) online, rather than needing to pack the whole crew up for a 6am book sale like we did back in the 80s and 90s. But I do not want to do digital classrooms. That’s a trend which I have not fallen for… yet?”
Ashley has noticed “Less fear of “the world.” This generation is less focused on keeping themselves away from the world. We want to give our kids more space and time to be little and shelter them from the harsher elements of the world but it’s not the main REASON a lot of us homeschool. This second generation is less panicked about whether our kids will be well-prepared academically or socialized. I think because we’re not trying to prove it can be done as much as our predecessors were we’re able to focus on learning, discovering, relationships, activities, and whatever other things are important to us. We’re a bit more relaxed.”
Nicole mentioned that this generation of homeschoolers are “more confident out in society” and “not afraid to be bold about homeschooling now that many know the benefits.”
“The sheer number of options allows for more niche approaches, and the community online can be a huge blessing (if used appropriately),” reflected Laura. “My mom hosted local support meetings for moms, and though I’m a young homeschool mom (all of my kids are in kindergarten or under), I don’t know of anything like it in my area.”
Rachel noted, “Homeschooling seems to be less of a secret these days. There is less pressure on “proving” that homeschoolers can actually learn, because the earlier generations have already proved that it works.”
FOLLOW UP WITH THESE SECOND-GENERATION HOMESCHOOL MOMS
Leave comments below if you have any follow-up questions or words of encouragement for these sweet homeschool moms, and I will make sure it gets to them! I’ve also included their websites below where relevant.
- Amelia Rodgers
- Ashley Kelso
- Katie Waalkes
- Melissa Cummings
- Mystie Winckler
- Nicole Still
- Rachel (Seven in All)
HOMESCHOOL GENERATIONS: TO BE CONTINUED
Thank you so much to each of these dear homeschool moms for taking the time to answer these questions and share their hearts with us! I hope hearing from these real-life, second-generation homeschool moms has been an encouragement. And I hope, too, it has challenged you to think about your own home education adventure just a little bit differently.
pssst: you’ll be hearing a few more words of advice from these homeschool moms in the final installment of this Homeschool Generations series later this year! So be sure you bookmark this site and subscribe to the Homeschool Conversations with Humility and Doxology podcast so you don’t miss the final installment of the series!
I can’t wait to share the conclusion of this blog series with you! Look for Part 4 here on The Curriculum Choice in September.
I’d love to include your point of view!
Comment below or send an email to Amy @ HumilityandDoxology.com telling me how this series changed the way you think about your own homeschool journey. You might just see yourself quoted in Homeschool Generations Part 4!
In the meantime, you can hear more homeschooling stories and encouragement on my Homeschool Conversations podcast.