March 2, 2008

School, an Endless Summer

I've always loved school. I'd come home from kindergarten and play teacher with my younger brother. From those first days, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. That's why I went on to get a degree in education.

When our first child Peter was born, I started teaching him. Afterall, that's what parenting is, isn't it? We teach them how to eat, how to go to the bathroom, how to dress themselves, how to talk, how to be polite. So why do we hand them over to somebody else when they turn five?

One of the happiest days of my life was in August 1994. It was the first day of school and all Peter's little friends were going off to their kindergarten classrooms. I was actually giddy. I didn't have to make sure his clothes were just right or that he had all his school supplies. I didn't have to worry what the other kids would think of him or if he'd eat all his lunch or if he'd be scared or worried. I was thrilled that he had a chance to be free of all that school stress that still plagues me today. Do you still have dreams of getting lost on your way to a final exam?

He didn't notice that first day of not going to school, but I did. It was endless summer. Year after year, we slipped from summer into fall with hardly a hitch, maintaining the joy of learning and the joy of childhood.

But next fall will be different. He'll go off to college. I've been working on saying goodbye for about 3 years now, so I think I'll be ready. I know he is; he's going to the school of his dreams-- the University of Chicago on a full scholarship for four years.

All that stress-free time to read and explore paid off. He got a 35 on the ACT and a 2300 on the SAT, commenting after each test that he wished those reading selections had been longer, they were so interesting!

Schooling is one of those fascinating topics I want to write about. If you have any questions or topics you'd like me to discuss, please let me know.

This picture is Peter studying for an SAT subject test (some colleges require those for homeschoolers). Notice the creative use of the ice cream bucket.


Anonymous said...

You're quite the homeschooling inspiration to me! I'd love to learn more about EVERYTHING! Ha! How did you motivate Peter to study & learn? What was it like that first year (when he was 5)?
Any memories that you recall (victories, frustrations) would be helpful!

Jena said...

You've inspired me by your questions. I'll start a series of posts, trying to answer them. How old are your kids?

Thanks for commenting!

TexasMintMama said...

S just turned 5 and really wants to go to school! I think because she wants to ride the school bus that stops in front of our house twice a day. It's stressful to me! I'm thinking of doing Five In A Row with her...
Any thoughts?

Jena said...

Ha! She's so cute. Take her on a bus ride some other way.

I don't know anything about Five in a Row. But if you like it, go for it. Mommy's motivation means a lot. :)

Genevieve said...

Thanks for the offer to answer questions. Did you ever tire of explaining unschooling? What about explaining the socialization myth? My oldest is only 2 and already I feel like I want to keep quiet about my intention to unschool until my son is 5 or 6 and folks expect him to be in school.

Jena said...

Genevieve, I hardly ever used the word "unschooling" because I knew people wouldn't understand it. I'd just say we homeschool and leave it at that. But if friends asked questions about the details of what we did, the unschooling would come out. :)

About socialization--that's a big topic that I'll post about soon, but for now, let me say that I was always thankful for the negative socialization my kids were missing. And we didn't keep to ourselves--we did park district things, took music lessons, and did church activities. Most adults remarked at how nicely adjusted my kids were compared to most.

And I don't think it's necessary for you to talk about your school intentions at all. You could wait until it comes up naturally when he doesn't show up on the first day of school. :)

Barbara Frank said...

Congratulation to your son, and to you, on a remarkable achievement! We, too, have a son named Peter who was homeschooled all the way through. He graduated from college last year magna cum laude, and is now married and working at a job he loves. It's been very hard to let go, but such a joy to see him thrive. God's blessings to you and your family!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to both you and your son! What an inspiration!
I would love to hear more about how you the high schoo years. Did you use specific curriculums, online programs, community college programs? We're getting closer to that time, so I'm looking to find out what has worked well for others.

Jena said...


I'm glad you asked. I plan to post a couple articles on homeschooling high school over the next couple weeks.

Thanks for giving me the push to get started!

Anna said...

More questions! How did you arrange high school? What was the application/enrollment process?
My husband is a high school/homeschool skeptic. Help!
Oh, and that's a Prairie Farms ice cream bucket. I grew up near you, apparently.

Anonymous said...

35--wow!! Was that on his first time taking the ACT or had he taken it before? My 15-year-old took it and did well, but not 35 well!! If you have study insights, I'd love to hear them.

Jena said...

Thanks for the questions! Peter took the PSAT twice because we didn't realize it only counts for National Merit recognition if you take it as a junior. He took the SAT and ACT once each, then some SAT subject tests to prove he had knowledge in those areas (some colleges require that for homeschoolers). He got a great score on the US History SAT with only about a week of cramming off the study book. He'd never studied US history from a textbook. For fact-based tests, he likes to make flashcards.

For the ACT and the general SAT he used a study book like from Princeton Review. The strategies were very helpful.

Let it be known that Peter is a voracious reader and LOVES test-taking. I don't think these tests are good for everyone. They are geared for certain kinds of learners. Philosophically, I'm against the tests for that reason. But we were able to use them to our advantage and I'm sure they helped get Peter a great scholarship.

I plan on writing some high school posts soon. Thanks for your questions and keep them coming!

Debbie's L'Bri said...

I was wondering if that was an ice cream bucket! My kids use them for everything.
I have a Peter too. He is not going of to college. He love is farm animals and so he is working on a farm and is hoping to own a farm someday.

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