Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Frozen; Winter Prairie Beauty

 A few days ago our world became perfectly still.
The land was transformed into a enchanted state of frozen, shimmering, beauty.
Sulking clouds hang heavy.
The air cracks with cold.

                                        Not a blade of grass blows, not a branch stirs.
                                                           The wind does not sigh.
                                    The land holds its breathe, perfectly motionless and exposed.

                                                     Summer's glory encased.
                                               Perfectly preserved relics of life.

                                                           Nature's crown jewel.
                           Carats of light surrounded by slender prongs of faded glory.

                                      Suspended in space hang intricate crystal chandeliers.

                                             Strands of diamonds shimmer in regal beauty.

                                                             Humble grasses bow.

Elegance and beauty in every curve.
Next year's new life sleeps.

The stillness of the air is only broken by my warm breath.

                                       Slowly the light melts into pools of purple and gray.

                                                     Evening comes to the prairie.

This present Mom,

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Survey Release #4 Additional Comments


   So several of the questions of the survey gave respondents a chance to offer more information. A surprising number of grads did take the time to express their own experiences and thoughts, so I decided to make these a separate post.
 Some shared criticism of the survey itself, which is fair. I do feel there is a variety of both positive and negative comments, and that each one helps us get a bigger understanding of this thing called home school from a student's perspective.

   All the numbers in the survey can make us forget that behind each statistic lies a very personal story. I wish to honor those who took time to share even parts of their story, whether good or bad.
   These are the faces of home school, now adults, raising our own children. If you asked these students and they really felt free to speak, this is what they would say.

If College was not something your parents encouraged please check the box that best describes why
(---Additional comments…)

*Mennonite, and my sister went because she wanted to be a RN

*I was needed/expected to help with my younger siblings, as both my parents were in poor health.

*College was not encouraged at first as it did not seem to fit with my interests at the time, and my parents strongly encouraged me to work for at least 1-2 years after high school before deciding.

*They encouraged me to go to Christian college. They would have discouraged me from picking a non-Christian college.

*Just didn’t care. They would have been fine either way.

*Influence of Bill Gothard’s anti-education philosophies.

*I choose to start working and making money right away.

*Bill Gothard taught against it.

*They only were in favor of me attending colleges that met their standard standards or I was to live at home. They prepared academically, but were not highly involved in my education after middle school. Almost all of my high school learning was done through distance learning programs or through tutoring.

*They let me decide. They told me if I thought it was necessary for the occupation I chose they would be happy to help with the cost. And they encouraged me to use my time wisely.

If you do not favor home school for your child
---( Additional comments.)

*My wife and I will be working, we will have no time.

*There are other things I want to do besides homeschooling.

*It varies child to child! If I have one that HSing will work for, we’ll probably HS. If not, I feel no guilt about public school since it will meet his/her needs much better.

*They need outside structure and motivation.

* I am not 100% confident that I can be the wife and mother I need to be as well as give them the education they deserve.

*It’s a lot to ask of one parent- and I hated having a mom who was run down and needy all the time. I don’t want to be that Mom.

*I want to have a healthy family. My job as Mom is to be Mom, not school administrator for my family. The role confusion in my family due to home school nearly ruined every relationship in our family and it has only been because the children have fought tooth and nail to save our relationships with each other and repair relationships with our parents as much as they will allow that we have any contact at all. Having a teacher for  a Mom and not having a Mom was extremely dysfunctional.

*I don’t want them to be isolated and socially inept, sad, lonely, and depressed.

*I plan to home school when I have children.


Do your parents say they wish they’d done anything differently?

·         They wish they hadn’t been quite as strict in certain areas
·         By the time they learned some things about grace in their lives (new believers when I was born) we were pretty far down the road of life. It takes much more work to undo damage and habits you previously thought were healthy than it does to learn it the right way the first time. My parents always said they wanted to give me a better chance at a good start than they had so I didn’t have as much to overcome.
       ·         I think their divorce was the downward spiral. Before that, it was great. After that, it     
               became a struggle, they both regret it.

·         More structured academics

·         No actual regrets but they have mentioned that there were some things they would do differently. 

·         The have mentioned that they wish they would have done different educational method and been more involved in the discipling us kids, and worked more on character/ attitude of the heart.

·         I think all parents have regrets as in no one is perfect. My parents have never expressed regrets concerning homeschooling though.

·         Mom feels they were not able to give enough one on one time. I disagree.

·         Mom regrets our involvement in ATI, Bill Gothard’s home school program.

·         They realized they were to far into conservative, religious camp and that we kids were given a false idea of God.

·         Mostly from my Mom saying she’d wished she had focused on specific needs more instead of what she thought she should be doing. 

·         They see the legalism was detrimental, but they don’t fully understand grace.

·         My mom realized she made a mistake and cries about it. We were in the Bill Gothard ATI program which is a cult.

·         My mom has said she wishes she had done things differently, my dad has zero regrets.

·         Certain things they wish they had taught differently, but none of the fundamentals.
Do YOU wish your parents had done things differently?
* Are there some minor things I would go back and tweak? Certainly. But overall, I am not disappointed with what I got and what they did.
*More college emphasis was needed.
*My math proficiency was highly deficient and I struggled in college math. This deficiency prevented me from pursuing a math/science career.
*I wish that they would have updated their curriculum, so that when we went to college we actually understood what we were supposed to do, not by something it was called 20 years ago.
*I feel so far behind and like I am trying to play catch-up in life.
* I think I would have done very well in school; I asked to go to high school, and was told no.
*I was basically abandoned to work on my own. It was awful. Boredom and inactivity consumed me.
*I feel like the homeschooled for them, not for us and as a result didn’t always put our best interests in mind or think about how certain things, (lack of social interaction, lack of experience with things like sports, etc.) would effect us. I wish they had thought about the potential long term impact of homeschooling instead of just using it as a way of keeping their children home and under their wing longer.
*Stronger academics in high school; less cloistering in just the HS community.
*I wish for a stronger academic focus in high school. Only what I was interested in was pushed after 8th grade.
* This is a two edged question. Once again, I think ATI turned into more of a cult than anything else, but we made neat friends and I loved some of the experiences, so…life is what it is. You take the good and bad and move on. It wasn’t perfect, but nothing is.
*I am struggling through college; my one brother is suicidal and has no hope for good future. Mom refused to provide transcripts for him to join the military, he wanted to do many things but was ONLY allowed to work in the cult training center and go through ALERT.
*My parents loved to learn, but at the same time my mother downplayed the importance of a solid well round education and school beyond 8th grade.
*I got an AMAZING educational experience that has benefited me tremendously in my field even now. However it was wrapped up in the early conservatism of the movement, which I’ve completely broken away from. However, to their credit, they allowed me to be with other ‘liberal’ people and I benefited from the true diversity in my homeschooling.
* Nothing major, but there is always room for improvement.
*More social interaction.
*I wish we had a more stricter school plan in high school.
* I think had they been consistent with education it would have set my siblings and I up for better success as we entered the real world.
* I wish they had pushed me more academically since I was gifted, but I do think they provided a good academic balance. I do agree them being a little too strict. I wish I could have been allowed to reach my own conclusions a little more as a teenager instead of being forced to agree with them in public all the time.
*Maybe we should have gone back to high school earlier but it worked out ok.
*There was little reasoning behind peer-oriented activities. It seemed as though my extracurricular activities were very limited, and mostly because my parents feared ‘worldly influences’ and didn’t seem to actually trust that they had raised me in the way I should go. Being treated as untrustworthy fostered a spirit of frustration and I responded with anger and minor rebellion.
*I wish they had only adopted the children that God ‘brought’ to us instead of seeking out adoption opportunities.
*I wish they would have stayed together. Their divorce has clouded my perspective on a lot of things. They could and should have finished strong.
*More structure; academics math/science were not taught consistently.
*Academic focus was good, but not as strong as it could have been. My current direction is very heavily science based. However the lack of strong science base in high school has not hindered me in the least, I was give the tools to learn what I needed and I have excelled in college.
* The only thing I would change, is that now there are more home school support groups and a wider variety of extra –curricular activities available to homeschoolers. I would have liked to have been more activity in a wider variety of events.
* In a few areas, yes, but over all I have a lot to be thankful for how I was raised!
*They did a lot of things right, it’s just that as the kid you see the mistakes and want to change these while still doing the good with your kids.
*Yes and no. I wish we were not sheltered so much and I wish we got a better education.
*I wish they had been more accepting of different views.
*My upbringing resulted in extreme social awkwardness that was completely unnecessary.
*I feel that homeschooling was the only way they could keep us kids from being ‘tainted’ by the world, and it did not matter that we were crippled in our social, academic and mental abilities because of it.


Additional Comments?
 *For me, if homeschooling had just been about academics my life would have been fine. I got a very good education. It was every other area of my life that was lacking. I wonder if Mom had sent us somewhere else to get a basic education if she would have had more time and energy to fulfill the other needs of her children.
* Many of my answers seem to conflict, partly because I have almost 2 very different experiences. Before Dad left and after. It was more cloistered/performance based before, and more balanced after. I didn’t have to live exactly like all the other super conservative families because my parents were divorced and I was left with re examining all my beliefs and had to choose if I really believed it or if I was just doing it because I was supposed to be a good home school girl.
* I had a wonderful childhood, I wouldn’t change anything.
*I would home school because my Mom had so much fun doing it, and at one time I wouldn’t have considered a husband that wouldn’t do that but I specifically felt God tell me one day that I might have to give that up, so I am open to not home schooling. Another odd thing is the way my parents have changed so much from who they were when I was young, sometimes I have to accept that as well. I value my heritage and I was part of the culture. It was Mennonite though, not American.
*I think this is placing a lot of importance on homeschooling that I don’t place. I am successful, both in school and social life because of how my parents supported me. Yes, they chose to do that by homeschooling but I still feel it was less their educational choices for us and more their parenting choices that made the difference. They were involved, they were there. Any one thing, (i.e. home schooling) did not make the difference, who they were made the difference, that is my thought anyway.
* the problem is not homeschooling, it is modern parenting.
* It was hard to answer some of these questions, in many ways homeschooling was a blessing but sometimes I wonder if my Mom wouldn’t have been happier if we would have gone to school. My mother is a very unhappy person and the additional stress I think just made it worse. If I would have gone to school I may have had more positive adult role models. However I don’t blame homeschooling for the dysfunction in our home, sending us to school wouldn’t have made our home a happy one.
* I wish these questions were more specific; my mother was conservative but my father wasn’t, so that colored things considerably – my parents had different convictions about college/higher education/career/ etc. so I just had to pick one. For example my mother emphasized being a home maker, while my father emphasized college. But I love what you are doing on your blog, I’ve seen the trends as far as lack luster educational standards, gender based standards and I am absolutely horrified by it.
*I know I have some conflicting responses but I really feel conflicted about my childhood. Homeschooling in and of itself was ‘not’ the problem. Maybe it contributed, but I think if I had been in any other setting, with family relationships the same I would have ended up in a very different place than I am now. I’m happily married with 5 children and are homeschooling. It looks nothing like the way I grew up though. J
*So much has changed for us over the years, but we’ve all worked to grow together and honor the Lord and each other. I feel incredibly blessed….both among homeschoolers and publicschoolers.
* My home school experience was good save for the no social preparation for the outside.
*Survey is a bit skewed. Questions and answers force the survey takers to select within the line of the beliefs of the survey maker.
*My sisters loved being homeschooled, both want to home school their kids, neither works in a technical field and their social group is limited to church.
*It worked out pretty well for us but we home schooled out of necessity not desire and that may have factored in a lot. It didn’t take over our lives and we went back to Christian school in high school.
*I am really interested in the results you get.
*To clarify on two questions, My Mom has breast cancer, but has always had excellent emotional/mental health. I am open to other options, but would prefer to home school.
*This is an excellent survey, it is a little biased on bad experience which I don’t suffer from as much as it seems others have. I would have answered these questions so much differently before I left home, before I started homeschooling my own kids and before I started learning about how grace, the brain and the ability to learn alongside your kids enables them to learn.
*After being away for a year at college I have seen how homeschooling greatly enhanced my academic experience. Even though our homeschooling was not strong in certain academic subjects I acquired the work ethic to know how to study well and learn. Not being proficient in the area of math has hindered my progress at college, but it is something I am working through. My experience working for my Dad during high school helped me to get a good job as I work through college.
* I had a wonderful home school experience and was successful in college and am on a career path that I enjoy. Of course it wasn’t all perfect, but overall it was great. I would do it again if I had the chance.
*Clarifying on some questions; My mom has had serious health issues for >10 years. However she remains absolutely positive on her outlook on life and will, Lord willing, see you youngest child graduate high school next year after homeschooling for more than 25 years.Q-33-34Although I still occasionally feel lost on some topics – I do feel properly prepared to respond. One will never see eye-to-eye with peers or have the same social experience and I feel no pressure to try and obtain the experience of my peers.
*I did not answer 2 questions because there was  no appropriate answer; n5 my parents motivation was to give me the freedom in education I was begging for(I started HS in 6th grade)n15 They encouraged me to seek God’s will for my life and pursue whatever that may look like, knowing that He had given me interests and talents in line with his plan for me. Another thing I would like to add having done research on a graduate level I feel your survey is incredibly biased.
*Very interesting.
*The questions about profession were hard because I am a stay at home mom, I do enjoy it and felt a little prepared, but even though I had the ‘proper training’ to be a wife and mother, I still go crazy sometimes and feel like I have no idea how to run a household. I also feel I was never really prepared to get a real job though because of my lack of training. Yes I enjoy being a mom, and felt a little prepared, but no did not feel prepared for work in the real world.
* There were many aspects of homeschooling that worked for our family, academically our parents were very rigorous and I feel I got a good education. I also feel that being as sheltered as I was truly did keep me from bad influences that may have led me to do things I would regret. I don’t feel that my home school experience was good overall. I missed out socially and struggle to keep up now. I wasn’t allowed to mess up and I wish I’d been given my freedom to live my own life.
* As my mother died of cancer I did not answer questions about her health or my parent’s marriage. (My father is happily remarried)
*My home school experience per se did not prepare me academically for college at all, however my own drive to study for the GED test(which I took at age 19) probably helped a great deal.
*Some of my questions are ‘yes AND no’ because in some ways my education was good and in other ways it was lacking. Socially I had to overcome a lot of preconceived ideas about ‘the world’ and people outside of my home school community when I graduated from high school. I had a lot of fear about the unknown. I faced a lot of trepidation and guilt in my romantic relationships too,- my parents were not supportive at all.
* The question about being able to relate to peers seems a little biased because sometimes I can’t relate to people socially, not because of homeschooling but just because of differences in the society and people themselves. America is broad and there are often social and cultural differences from one state to another.
* When I was 13 and going through identity questions I wanted to assert my independence from my mom by not doing math. I absolutely refused to do math and even dropped out of every math coop class I took – Geometry, Algebra 1 and 2. My mom basically threw up her hands and allowed me to graduate with a core40 high school diploma even though I had not completed 80% of the textbooks to technically complete these courses.
*Underlying the idea of homeschooling seems to be a sense of pride in doing things ‘right’. I was raised under the teaching that it’s important to wait for God’s best, if it’s not right then it must be wrong. That we have to fear the culture because it’s worldly and so many other twisted truths. The mindset of waiting for God’s best has paralyzed my 30 year old sister so much that she is worried about even looking at or having a brief conversation with a guy for fear he will think she likes him.
*Homeschooling done right can be amazing – customized  education and experiences to suit each child’s needs. Homeschooling done poorly is horrible and very detrimental to the child’s future. Of 3 children I am the only one who got a halfway decent education and that was because I was self motivated and self taught. One sister still doesn’t know the multiplication tables and she has 2 young children that she’ll be homeschooling in a few years.
*Some of the questions you ask are compound questions making it difficult to answer.
*I think it is important for children to be taught to think, to find solutions and to interact. It’s important that they learn to handle situations in which they are uncomfortable, how to interact with all sorts of personalities. It’s important that they hear differing views so they can come up with their own set of beliefs.
*I felt unprepared for life in the real world.
*I feel like my home education would have been much better if my mom hadn’t had so many kids. She was trained as a teacher so she had good methods, just got overwhelmed by babies, toddlers, and the younger kids, that once I reached a certain age I was on my own. I’d be fine for a while just skipping over stuff I couldn’t grasp, and then feeling like a failure when I did finally ask for help, and my Mom would realize how little I actually knew. She would teach me until she got to busy.
*My parents were good at making sure we were on –track(or even above average)academically. Their need to prove themselves as home educators trumped just about every other need we had as children or as a family unit. It was very destructive. My mom suffered from extreme mental illness and my parents had a terrible marriage. Homeschooling children in that environment is not healthy at all.
*My parents were abusers and used parental rights and HSLDA to justify their abuse.
*There were only 2 children in my home so some of the questions did not apply. My entire family has walked away from the strict legalism of our pasts – none of us hold to the beliefs that we had back then. I do not have any children yet, but would love to home school. However my reason would be to let my children learn at their own pace and style, so that they will love learning, not so they can regurgitate facts.
*Thanks for this survey
*Homeschooling was never so much about control as preparedness for adult hood.
*I think home school done right can be good, my mom was overwhelmed, received little to no help from my dad. Towards the end, mom wanted us to go to school but he refused to let us. I think with both parents involved it would have been much better.
* I enjoyed being homeschooled while I was in school and thought I was lucky to have a mom that was willing to do that for me. I was homeschooled all the way from K-12 and while I think it was probably best for me at the beginning, I would have been better off if I had been put in school by middle or high school. Yes, it would have been more difficult, but I would have been better prepared for life.
*A lot of the questions I left blank because there was not an answer I agreed with. I love learning, but I never loved school. Home schooling was a good fit for me, but there were definitely areas I wish I knew more about.
* I realize that many may be taking this survey as homeschoolers only and that is the only way they know, but as for me I was started in public school and never really cut all ties with the school, my sister and I were able to take some classes there like band and drafting and anything the school offered so in some cases we had interaction and in many cases we were just another face in the crowd. The other thing is where we lived we were the only home school family for thirty miles.
* I only took a test once in 2nd grade and tested out far above my peers in many subjects.(Reading comprehension was at pre-college levels) Realize that I don’t have room to explain all answers, but I feel like the qualifying factor in my positive experience was a joyful and peaceful home. We homeschooled on principle, yes, but it was held with joy and not drudgery. Happiness was a natural by-product of a great home life.
*I feel that my parents did a great job of having balance in our home. They raised us the best way they knew how, but did not force their beliefs on us. We were taught to strive for excellence in all things, and our academic studies were most important with music, athletics, and other extra-curricular activities also. Overall I feel that being homeschooled was a positive experience for me.
*It was not a negative experience. I feel it could have been so much more than it was, and I feel a lot of resentment/regret around that.
*Thanks for doing this survey! I don’t mean to bash my parents. They are highly educated (teacher’s license and PHD) so did a good job with academics, I just think in general the whole idea of home school and isolation is flawed.

    I want to thank every person that gave time to share their experiences.

Survey Release #3


Below is the third and final slides of the survey. Above is a post showing all additional comments.


Survey Release #3

    I am not going to lie; this part of the survey was perhaps the hardest of all for me to read and share, maybe surpassed only by the individual comments.  The questions in this section I feel digs deep into the heart of home school.

  The very first question in this section asks what these graduates perceived was most important to their parents, a)that their child was happy and fulfilled and on the path to success, b) that their child was living out certain ideals and convictions, or c) that both were equally important.

    The way I worded the question was important because many conservatives I talk to say that their child’s happiness is important to them; but that they truly believe that the convictions/morals they hold are the key to achieving that happiness. 

   Parents who feel this and were actually able to communicate that to their children are represented by the 30% of respondents who said that both were equally important. (Remember, this was not a survey of parents, but of how children perceive the goals of their parents.)

  7% responded that their happiness and fulfillment were most important to their parents.

   What broke my heart when I read it was that over half of the entire group of grads did not feel that their happiness, fulfillment or success was most important to their parents. That is huge. That is significant. That is a game changer. As both a kid and a parent I think this is an absolute guarantee that your children will not respect, or value what you have to say.  

  I want to clarify that I am not even addressing whether these parent’s beliefs were in and of themselves valid, but I do want to point out two things. First; a parent who values (or communicates that they value) their ideals and beliefs more than their kid should expect their kid to pretty much ignore whatever they have to say.  I honestly believe a parent can be a wonky weirdo and have a pretty good chance of passing their values and even a lot of preferences to their kids if they have a good relationship with their kid. (After all, what else explains some sport fans?)

   Second; anyone who claims to have morals and ideals based in Christianity whose kids do not feel loved, valued and that their happiness is of utmost importance to their parents I believe are missing the entire point of Christian teaching.

    So we are talking about parents who fought all social norms, and were willing to sacrifice personally to give their child something very specific. The way I see it we have only two real options. Parents who really did not care about their kids happiness, fulfillment, or success, and merely wanted control/or the ability to produce kids who believed exactly like they did whether they were miserable or not, OR these parents were willing to sacrifice it all for their kids, cared deeply about them, but  were unable to communicate it. Either one is heartbreaking.

  In the end, I am not sure if it really makes that much of a difference. Does it? As a parent I know the love and desire I have to see my kids happy and succeed; it is a driving force in my life, but the only thing that matters is if they see it. Do they SEE and know how much I enjoy them? How much I love spending time with them? How much I love seeing their own little personhood and identities emerge?  

    Do they feel that I trying to create a dutiful clone, who sees everything like I do, and learns to agree with all the views I have, or do they sense that I trying to raise independent individuals who I hope will understand and choose to embrace my core values?

   Did home school grads feel their parents enjoyed home schooling?  60% said though it was difficult, that their parents loved home schooling. 28% said it was not really something their parents enjoyed, and 12% said it was something their parents felt they had to do.

  While about 80% say they strongly agree with their parents on basic Christian beliefs, the only other two categories that rank above 50% in which they strongly agree with their parents are family relationships(61%) and (maybe most surprising given the ties between community home school leaders and conservative politics)  political views barely broke the half way mark (51%). 

  In contrast, the area where the most home school grads strongly disagree with their parents would be specific conservative convictions (55%) followed by educational methods, life style preferences, and child raising and discipline which ranged from around 30-40%.

  I found these two slides extremely telling in light of the fact that 68% credit the primary reason for home school as ‘to impart religious/moral beliefs’ and  52%‘to protect from worldly/secular influences’.*

    Finally, for the most significant topic on which there is deafening silence in the home school community; are home school graduates choosing to home school their kids?

    The numbers in my survey were pretty similar between those who have children over six, and those with younger or no children and are looking ahead. About 60something percent are choosing not to home school, and about 30something percent are choosing home education for their kids.

     What is interesting is that 75% of graduates say that over all, home school was either a positive experience for them, (60%)or can be even if it wasn’t for them(15%), and yet still the majority are not choosing home school for their kids.

Next week will be the last survey release which will be comprised entirely of additional comments written by those who took the survey.

*Multiple answers were allowed so percentages may exceeded 100.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Good Bye...Family Farm


Tomorrow the farm that has been in our family since late 1800's will be auctioned.
It happens to be the place my siblings and I grew up.

I realized recently how few people get to experience growing up on a family farm.
There is something that settles deep inside you when you know that someone in your family long ago  lifted every stone, cut every board, hammered every nail, set every fence post.

  There is a sense of history and pride and desire to be a part of what was started so long ago.

There is a sense of loyalty, and a sense of wonder, at all that was accomplished by those with so little.


    There is work, always something that needs to be done.

 Things are old and worn not to be chic, but because they've been useful and used for decades and somehow still work because they were built to last.

We roamed. We wandered. And we knew it was all ours.
We knew the depression in the ground which was the sod house that started it all.
We knew the favorite trails of the deer, watched beaver in the pond, and followed cow paths for fun.
We snuck mulberries that stained our fingers.
We made spears and swords and structures from wild sunflowers that grew in forests thick and tall.
We climbed our favorite cedar trees and felt we could see the world.
We built caves in the drifts of snow along fences; and used the tractor to pull our sleds.
It was a beautiful place to be a child.
It wasn't just anyplace in the country, it was ours.

 And now it is gone.
 Other's may take it, but will not know it like we do.
  For our names were written in the land.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Home School Survey Release #2

If you haven't already, I encourage you to read the Home School Survey Release #1, here.
The following section had questions about family relationships, religion and more.

  I wanted to include two stats that I had to compile separately and did not get in the slide show.
First is the ages of those who took the survey.

The second slide shows the occupations of those who took the survey.


    So this week’s survey release addresses family relationships and the way home school graduates feel their experience affected them within society.

Family Relationships

   I think that the responses to my questions on family relationships may surprise some. Building strong family relationships has long been a selling point to the home school life style, something I address in my ‘10 Reasons not to Home School #7. Unfortunately, as I mention in my post,  more time as a family is only as healthy as the family relationships are to begin with.  

  Almost 40% said they had strained or broken relationships with one or more siblings.  In contrast, about half described their relationship with their parents as strong and close, while about one third described it as good but distant.

   I thought it incredibly telling that only scarcely above half (56%) of home school graduates who took the survey described their parent’s marriage as ‘strong and healthy’.  

    Marriage failure rates are high in our country, with little difference between those in church and those outside, so it should come as no surprise if this appears in home school families also.

   However I think many will be surprised though, since part of the allure of conservative Christian home school culture, and something it heavily advocates is the idea that by embracing certain lifestyle changes, a family can escape the troubles that plague others.  

Another sad statistic was that a full quarter of those who were part of a large family said that it was not a positive experience. More than 40% described the impact of large family living on their home school experience as meaning sacrifice, needs unmet, and a lower quality education.


    I thought it interesting that a little over half said that they felt home schooling did not positively prepare them to enter modern American culture, and around the same number said that they still feel that they are unable to relate to their peers because of their different educational experience. 

    I find it interesting to note again the ages of the survey responders. We are not talking about 18 or 20 year olds who are trying to find their way in life. Almost 40% are over the age 30, which means that the impact of home school on their social acclamation and relationships was significant and long lasting.

   Unfortunately, while I know some home school parents would consider a of lack of positive preparation to enter modern American culture, and inability to relate to peers as a compliment, the questions which follow give a clearer picture of graduates feelings on the matter.

    21% said they were kept from participating in modern culture and were glad.

   Roughly a third said they felt that it was a detriment, a third said they wished there had been better balance, and a third said that that they wished they’d been given more freedom to choose. *

  While there were some who said they were free to participate and were glad, I found it funny that not one home school graduate said they had fully participated in modern culture and wished they hadn’t. I have not ever met one either. J Encouraging personal freedom is sadly not a common home school parental characteristic.
   This post written by a k-12 home schooled woman describes her experience socially and explains the bubble in which most conservative Christian home school kids live; even those who seem quite socially active.

     I thought it interesting that while 88% of grads consider themselves Christians, very close to half the students (47%) said they do NOT agree with “most of the philosophies and ideals with which they were raised”.  Roughly 40% said that they are not living a life in line with their parent’s ideals for them, and about half say that they have siblings that their parent’s would consider to be on the ‘wrong path in life’.

   This is especially interesting to me considering that this was the largest reason by far (almost 70%) given as the primary reason these parents chose to home school, (to impart their religious and moral beliefs).

   What I see in these numbers and in my life is that the majority of home school graduates seem to embrace Christianity, (at least the very basic idea of it) but many have rejected the particular ways their parents chose to live it, which for many parents, was the entire point of home school.

   This week had some heavy and sobering numbers.  Do you feel that they fairly represent your home school family, or the home school families you know?
*Please remember for some questions, multiple answers were allowed, therefore percentages may exceed 100.

Linking Up

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Survey Release #1

Survey Reveal Part One

     Ok. So I’d like to start by saying I that this is the very first survey I’ve ever written, and after I released it I cringed and wished I’d spent a bit more time perfecting it.   I do wish I’d written some questions differently, eliminated some that are repetitive, and there a couple that I really wish I would have thought to include before I released it. 

   That being said, I still think the results are fascinating and reveal a lot of good information.

   My goal in creating this survey was to ask questions that I have not heard addressed in any depth or in an organized way. There are trends that I have observed and topics that I’ve talked to fellow home school grads about in length that seem to be completely be ignored by most of the home school community at large.

   Having grown up in the very early years (1980’s) and out of the home school community, and then re-entering it  15 years later as a tentative home school Mom, I was actually pretty surprised at the direction of home schooling as a whole. I am amazed at some aspects and results of home schooling that I thought were pretty self evident that still seem to be completely unacknowledged by current parents and leaders in the movement.

    Have you wondered why the home school movement isn’t flooded with voices like my own? Do you wonder where an entire generation, (thousands of home school graduates) has gone?  Have you noticed that many of those leading the home school movement even now are those relatively new to the concept as a whole? (Most are still in the process of raising and schooling their kids.)

   What DO home school grads think of their home school experience? Those of us who have over the last 5- 20 years since we’ve left home have created our own lives. Many of us have children, and are choosing how to educate them.

   What I know to be true in my world is that most home school grads are not choosing to home school their own children. Often the strongest advocates of home school I know are those who did not experience it firsthand.

    In my post, ‘What is Successful Home School?’ I address the disparity between the academic results (in most cases, home school students score very high on tests) and the stated purpose of home school which (until only recently) was by a large margin parent's desire to pass on specific religious or moral values and beliefs to their children.

   For years home schooling has been considered an incredible success; but by whose standards? Has home schooling truly produced ‘believers and followers’, or simply better educated free thinkers who are equally likely to reject their parent’s beliefs as the culture from which they were kept?

   Only 128 home school graduates took my survey.  At these numbers, my survey is still highly antidotal statistically speaking. However these results reflect more than simply my family or local home school group. In fact I estimate about 25 - 30% of those who responded are people I do not know personally but were taking the survey on the recommendation of friends.

     I worked hard to get a broad spectrum of responders; however it was hard to find men with the interest or time to participate. Also, in most cases those with positive experience and those with young children currently discussing education options were far more likely to take my survey. There are many grads (especially male) I know who are busy living their life and are uninterested in rehashing their education. 

     With that being said, if you were homeschooled and are reading the results I would love to hear your thoughts. If you are a veteran home school parent who has finished educating your children, or are on the home stretch, I would love to hear your perspective. Do you feel the survey results match what you know of home school?

    I want to take a moment to clarify what this survey was intended to accomplish, and what it was not designed to do. First; this survey was not designed nor intended to achieve clinical, cold hard numbers of how well a student was educated, or how ‘successful’ they have become. 

   Instead I have attempted to give you a sense of how home school grads think and feel about their experience. I have asked question that are both highly subjective and personal.
  Some of these questions may seem unimportant until we get to the questions about family relationships and what these grads are choosing for their own children.  It is then that some of the others help give insight.

   It is important for you to know that almost all of these questions allowed multiple answer selection, so the results may equal more than the number of survey takers.
  Finally, and perhaps most important.
     Something I have always known to be true about my fellow home school graduates is the intense awareness we all have for the tremendous work and sacrifice of our parent teachers. No matter how widely our experiences differ, one factor was true in every single case: home schooling was not easy for them. Though there are some who through their difficult and painful experiences are extremely bitter and angry at their parents, the vast majority (even those with less than stellar experiences) feels tremendous loyalty toward their parents and the idea of home school itself.

   I believe it is one of the biggest reasons that the faults of home school (specifically within conservative Christian culture) are not freely discussed. No one wants to make their parents, or someone else’s parents feel like a failure. No one wants to ‘beat up’ the pioneers who fought for the rights we have today.
   I however feel it is of tremendous disservice to those who are attracted to this way of life every year not to be brutally honest with ourselves about home schoolings strengths and weaknesses. It is unfair to talk only about homeschooling success. I also think discussing flaws and failures can be done without beating anyone up or discrediting the good.
   Because the survey was fairly long, this is the first of several releases.

  This first slide includes the initial basic questions, and those in the academic and occupation sections. My thoughts and commentary follow.

 (To view this in a larger, full screen please click symbol on far right.)

My comments and observations.

Academic Section

   Given home schooling’s stellar reputation for producing strong students, I was curious how home school graduates felt about the academic aspects of their own experience.

   I was not surprised that almost a third (27%)* said that core academic subjects were not a strong focus in their home school experience. This is a number I fully expect to rise sharply given what I hear and see in the current home school community as many parents seem to be preferring activities, family projects and other forms of learning over classic text book and class room style learning. Only time will tell how and if this will impact home school test scores.

   Almost half (43%) of home school grads said that they did not regularly take tests, regularly have their work graded or know where they stood according to state requirements for their grade level. While this is a poorly worded question and leaves some room for interpretation, I do think it an indication of the independent / laid back nature of these parents' teaching styles.
  Currently there are many states that require little to no testing, supervision or regulation of homeschooling, which is something that some groups are trying to change.

   I find it interesting that while over a third (32%)said they had an accelerated academic experience, there were slightly more (33%) who said that they were either uneasy and wondered if their work was on par with peers, or embarrassed because they knew they were not doing grade level work.  {Please keep in mind, this survey was not designed to actually measure their academic strength, but to tell us how they perceive it.}
    Almost half (42%)said they were completely on their own for high school level work, and almost a third (28%) said they received some good instruction but that it was incomplete.
  Of those who sought further education; while graduates credited home schooling as preparing them well academically for college (70%to30%) just over half said it did not help prepare them socially, and it was nearly split between those who did and those who said it did not prepare them in general confidence. I think this is unfortunate, but also unsurprising.
Occupation Section
Over a third (35%) of home school grads said that self employment was a significant factor in which professions their parents encouraged, which I found interesting. I am not sure if this is affected by the large number of women who took this survey, but in my experience self employment seems valued highly in home school circles.
   I did find it fascinating that only about half (52%) of home school graduates said their parents saw all professions as equally important and valid options, and the rest was broken down between specific kinds of occupations that the parents encouraged. Again, I am not sure if this is a gender motivated statistic, or if parents were trying to encourage their child into something for which they thought their child best fitted, but I thought this a bit sad.

     37% said that their home school experience did not prepare them well for the workplace.
When asked which of 10 specific areas were positively impacted by their home school experience,
A) Work Ethic
B) Morals and Character
 C)Eagerness and Ability to learn,
     were given highest scores. 

 When asked which of those same 10 areas their home school experience did not well prepare them for their profession; the following were chosen, (even above specific education for their current occupation).

A)     Ability to promote themselves in business

B)      Understanding workplace dynamics

C)      Knowledge on how to choose or pursue a career
What these numbers suggest  to me is that homeschooling appears very effective in establishing work ethic and creating eager learners; I propose this is begun and developed in early grades.

   However high school level education, preparation for continued education, career choices and confidence in their work and knowledge seem to be areas that home school students are not well supported and left to figure out on their own.

 89% of home school graduates say they are happy in their current occupation, which is slightly higher than the national average of roughly 80% according to this article which rates the satisfaction rate of different jobs.
  Over half (61%) of home school graduates said their HS experience has benefited them in the work place, while 34% say it’s been something they had to overcome.
Whew! We will stop here for this week.
    Sections of the survey to come include questions regarding impact homeschooling had on students social life, their current religious views, the impact on parents and sibling relationships, and more.
Stay tuned!!

 This Present Mom,

 * Please keep in mind that when listing percentages below I will round up to the largest whole number, and that in some cases multiple answers were allowed, meaning the totals may surpass 100%.

Linking Up