Homeschooling: My first alma mater was my mother


Hannah Roberts, Contributing Writer

When I went home after my first semester at the University of Dallas, the question that my mother and all her friends were burning to ask was, “Were you prepared?”
Like many others at UD, I was homeschooled. And, like many homeschoolers of my age, I was one of the first “mainstream” homeschoolers in my community.
Therefore, many of the mothers of younger children in our homeschool community wanted to know if homeschooling worked, if it had prepared me for college. Could I take care of myself away from home? Did I know how to behave in a classroom setting? Was I able to keep up with the workload?
The answer to all of these was “yes,” and it does not seem like I am an isolated case. Homeschoolers (at least the ones I know) tend to get along just as well, if not better, than their traditionally educated conterparts.
This is by no means a guarantee that homeschooled children will do well in college, but it is at least not a condemnation that they will do poorly. Since homeschooling in the mainstream is barely out of its infancy, this is very comforting.
These mothers’ worries are legitimate. Society has told them that “education” means school. Most of them are not certified teachers; many of them do not hold graduate degrees. How can they possibly be qualified to do something so important?
Homeschool parents try to tell themselves that this is not true. They try to believe that they can teach their children just as well as teachers at a school, if not better. But, try as they might, they still experience moments of doubt. This is why those mothers wanted to know how I was doing in school.
How did my family manage to teach me all that I needed to know for college? I still am not quite sure. Our curriculum was all over the place. We used tons of different programs for every subject, we would change them every year, and we often would not finish in the spring what we had started in the fall.
I took biology with my friend’s mother, who was a nurse, in her living room with 15 other students. I took Spanish at community college and Latin from another homeschooling mother. Every year we managed to get through grade-level math, and we always read a lot, but other than that, everything was in flux.
One year, when I was in fifth grade, my mother had a baby, and then experienced some subsequent health problems. That year we did almost no schoolwork at all, but at the end of the year we passed our standardized tests and moved onto the next grade without problems.
Now, I am sure that if we had done this every year it would not have worked out, but it showed that the intense seven-hour school day is not necessary.
When I look back, now almost from the other side of my university education, I think that what prepared me for UD was my parents’ emphasis on learning all the time. We read aloud every day; when we went on vacation we always visited museums; my father always explained how things worked.
Every aspect of my and my siblings’ lives was educational. Granted, sometimes that was my mother yelling at us to finish a chapter of math, but often it was not. The constant learning helped prepare me for college, and I think it will continue to help me as I move forward out of UD and into the real world.


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