At the end of January, I read a post by Torie, a military homeschooling mom, who had reached the end of her journey.
With permission I am re-sharing the post here;
That’s my end call sign for home education. Our 17 yr old passed his last GED portion yesterday, so I am officially no longer a HS mom. 21+ yrs!
Strive to raise productive members of society who are not afraid of hard work and who understand how to follow their passion as a career. College, Military, home maker, etc whatever it is, teach them to do it with an attitude of willingness and gratitude.
Keep social media at bay for as long as possible. Not to isolate your children but to provide a more product type of social interaction. Social media is toxic and vile, the most extreme ideas are shared under the cloak of anonymity. Don’t give in to the pressure of allowing media driven cell phones, game systems, and computers to run freely through your home.
Some of your children are going to get lost in this great big world. They are going to naturally seek what they “don’t have”. When that happens, love them first, but do not allow them to get by without feeling the consequences of their actions. Be consistent in your expectations for what is allowed in your home from anyone living there.
As soon as you identify your weakness in a subject(math), find someone who can teach the subject for you. Pay a tutor, make a deal with another homeschool friend to switch off and take advantage of each other’s strengths.
Test your kids, but not for the reasons that you think. Testing allows you to see what your child’s strengths and weaknesses are so that you can adjust your teaching to meet their needs. Testing, both everyday and standardized, also allows your child to understand how to take a test. When they are confronted with adulthood, there will be tests. Many college professors will state that while their Homeschool students possess the knowledge base that they need to succeed, they lack the rudimentary skills to study, take a test, or write a decent paper. Prepare them early!
Remember! Everyday life is ripe with opportunities to educate. Take the field trip, go to the zoo, do school in the park. Teach your children that life is always about learning something new.
Encourage them to read about subjects that interest them. Reading comprehension is developed by reading. Take frequent trips to the library, let them see real books, touch real books, don’t rely solely on computer screens. Teach them to engage with words away from electronics.
Lastly, always remember, you are your child’s parent first, teacher second. Love them first, teach them second.
I reached out to Torie to see if she would be willing to share her homeschooling experience with other military homeschoolers.
Christi: In the beginning, why did you decide to homeschool and what helped you to get started?
Torie: We had several reasons for choosing to home educate. As an Army brat myself, I knew how hard consistency was because of moving. I remember the devastation of being eligible for higher math in Jr. High in Texas, but being told I didn’t qualify in VA. We really wanted an atmosphere of consistency for our kids. Secondly, we wanted the flexibility to teach our kids about real life. We wanted then to understand learning for the love of it. We did not want them to be forced to conform to an institutional education that did not reflect our beliefs.
As far as getting started, we were stationed overseas in Japan when we started Preschool with our 1st and were surrounded by seasoned homeschool moms and families at our church. We had a very active group. I really got our daily inspiration directly from other homeschool moms and dads who had been homeschooling before me and were willing to share what they had learned.
Christi: That’s so nice that you had an active community! What method or homeschooling philosophy did you connect with or use to guide you through?
Torie: We started out on a pretty traditional path and we homeschooled from a Christian worldview. We started with the Alpha/Omega (Christian) workbooks and Hooked on Phonics. But, throughout the last 21 years, we have used many different types of curriculum, and ended up being pretty eclectic. (I have many friends who were happy to use one curriculum all the way through.) While my primary goal was to provide consistency, it was always more about consistent advancement of knowledge.
Christi: We are pretty much eclectic for the same reason! What ended up being some of your favorite resources or teaching/homeschooling materials?
Torie: The Christian programs we enjoyed using were the Abeka videos for kindergarten phonics and reading, the Notgrass History programs, and Apologia Science. Our favorite Secular programs were Easy Grammar, Khan Academy and Teaching Textbooks. We used Rosetta Stone for Turkish, Spanish, and Korean. The oldest enjoyed learning sign language with a local teacher in Alaska.
To be clear, they are not speaking these languages fluently. But, they learned enough to communicate. My middle child wanted to learn Korean because of her love for K Pop. They wanted to learn Turkish while we lived in Turkey-it turned out easier than the others to learn!
Christi: I would have thought Turkish would have been difficult!
Torie: It is actually easier to learn because it is mostly a phonetically correct language.
Christi: Hmmm. That’s good to know! At what point or for what subjects did you use Khan Academy and Teaching Textbooks?
Torie: We used them in High school. The goal with homeschooling should always be moving towards creating independent learners, and Khan academy and Teaching Textbooks helped us to do that.
Christi: I agree with helping our kids become independent learners! Which brings me to my next question: What was your homeschool environment like? Did you have a dedicated space or room? Did you have a flexible or a structured schedule?
Torie: It really depended on where we lived at the time. There were times when we’ve had classrooms available to us. In other places we simply used the dining room table, the porch, the park, the library. My favorite places were the dining room table and the park. Oh! And we were pajama schoolers!
When it comes to a schedule, I try to keep myself on track by setting a schedule for each subject. But, I also always tried to anticipate activities and free time.
Christi: Hahaha! I love PJ schooling! What do you feel is the most challenging part of homeschooling? The most rewarding? How did you feel about your homeschooling overseas experience?
Torie: The most challenging part about homeschooling was motivating my children when I didn’t feel motivated. Followed by understanding my limitations and recognizing when to find someone who could help us overcome those obstacles.
The most rewarding is being the one who teaches your child to read! Over the years I loved making memories with my kids! And most recently, watching our oldest graduate from college!
Christi: How did you feel about homeschooling overseas?
Torie: Our overseas homeschooling experience was excellent. I was able to introduce our kids to a living history and a variety of different cultures. We were able to raise people who value everyone, from every culture, even if they didn’t understand or agreed with them.
Torie’s Advice for Homeschoolers
Torie: A few things for new homeschoolers: Don’t buy a curriculum for preschool and only use a really good phonics reading one for ages 4 and 5. Teach your kids cursive. Remember that homeschooling takes 18 to 19 yrs per kid, by staying committed to the process you will get to the end eventually!
Christi: Love it! Any advice for veteran homeschoolers?
Torie: Homechooling is like Survivor … Outwit, Outplay, Outlast! How do the winners play that game?… they stay out of the fray of all of the nonsense and they stick to their plan. That’s how you win at homeschool. Don’t get restricted by negative attitudes or agendas, and stick to your plan, whether they like it or not!
Christi: I like to think our strength to continue comes from our communities. Which is why your advice to keep doing your own thing is important, and reminds us to keep a balanced perspective. Sometimes we can be influenced by well-meaning community members to purchase something or copy something that doesn’t really work for us!
Torie: Yes! And we can easily get caught up in expectations that put unnecessary stress on the parent and the child. We aren’t making little geniuses, we are developing productive members of society who hopefully are strong enough to do what makes them happy in life.
The High School Years
Christi: When it comes to high school, what should we know?
Torie: Not all high schoolers need to be college bound. We still had to anticipate that it could be the path they would choose, so as High School parents, we needed to prepare them with a solid education. I planned each high schooler’s schedule four years out before the start of their freshman year. I focused on providing opportunities, exposure, and such. We were involved every step of the way and knew the path that each of them were each working towards. They all took the ACT, just in case they wanted to go to college. But, when it came down to it, we had to let them make their own choices.
Christi: Wow! Four years of planning in one go! What did that look like?
Torie: I used several state high school completion plans to follow. By High School you want to be able to create a legitimate transcript for them.
- 3 yrs math: Algebra, Algebra II, Geometry (possibly Precalculus if the kid is good at math)
- 4yrs English
- 4yrs History: Geography, World History, American History, Government, and State History (as a half credit).
- 4yrs Science: Earth, Anatomy and Physiology, Biology, Chemistry,
- They each needed a variety of electives: Sociology, Philosophy, Art, P.E., Health, Computers, Home economics, etc…
- Foreign Language: 2 yrs of two languages or 3 yrs of one.
- Volunteer hours
See for example: Virgina’s Department of Education
Christi: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview! Do you have a favorite quote?
Torie: I’ve always been a huge Jordan fan:
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” -Michael Jordan.
I think success is about hard work and trying. If you don’t try and fail, you never know what success means. Failure is OK! It really is!
Congratulations to Torie and her family for surviving the journey!