We challenged families to share why they are thankful for homeschool. We were overwhelmed by the talent, effort, heart that poured into our inbox! You made our job of choosing winners very difficult!
THANK YOU to all who entered. At Global Student Network, we’re thankful for the privilege of partnering with families by providing options for online homeschool curriculum.
Now on to our winners!
Why I Am Grateful for Homeschooling
By Monica Z. Utsey
Homeschooling changed my life. I am beyond grateful for all of the new experiences this journey has afforded. When my eldest son was 3 years old, my husband and I attended a workshop at an educational conference. It changed our lives. Prior to that conference, we had been attending various open houses for charter and private schools. We thought we knew what kind of educational experience we wanted our son to have until we attended a homeschool workshop. When my husband and I walked out of that workshop, we knew that was what we wanted for Zion. What we didn’t know was homeschooling would be the glue that held our lives together for years to come.
I am grateful for homeschooling because it has taught me leadership skills. In 2004, I became one of the co-founding members of the Sankofa Homeschool Community. Our vision was to create a place for our families to grow and learn together and to never feel deprived of social experiences. We shared our joys, our pains, our successes, our failures, and most of all we confirmed each other’s decision to take the road less traveled. Along the way I have met some of the most incredible families and children. I also feel honored to be able to help families new to homeschooling. I am grateful for homeschooling because it has given my life purpose and made me laser focused.
Then life happens. In 2008, tragedy struck. My husband suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke. While he laid in a coma, it was the homeschool community that I communicated with daily through emails asking for prayers and support. They showed up in a mighty way. Playdates for my children were organized, meals were delivered and funds were raised to help our family during this time. Zion was eight years old and my youngest was two years old. Because of the homeschool community, I was able to focus solely on visiting my husband in the hospital and deciphering the complicated medical decisions I had to make for multiple surgeries, including a cranioplasty. My ailing in-laws were in Philadelphia, my father had recently suffered a stroke and my mother was in the throes of dementia. So I did not have them to lean on during this time. I am convinced that without the support of the homeschool community, I may have suffered a nervous breakdown.
This support sent a powerful message to my children and the children of the homeschooling community as they watched our collective response to a tragedy. They learned a compelling life lesson in the process; life happens while homeschooling and how you respond determines whether you rise above or fall apart. My husband’s illness would have been the perfect excuse to put our children back in school. But the homeschool community’s support allowed me to continue their routine uninterrupted while we adjusted to not having their father, my beloved husband and best friend, in the home anymore. During my husband’s seven-month hospital stay, moms and dads from the homeschool community would take turns caring for my children so that I could visit my husband in the hospital daily. If my children had been in school they may have acted out or got into trouble. Instead, they got to visit the homes of friends in the homeschool community. Every day was an adventure for them and it meant that one was less thing I had to worry about. I am grateful to homeschooling for that.
My husband was eventually released from the hospital and made dramatic improvements. He learned to walk with his cane, dress himself, and make one of his favorite meals of the day, oatmeal. I am grateful for homeschooling because it allowed us to spend much more time with him than if the children were in school. In fact, because of his brain injury, there were many things he had to re-learn. He was left-handed and the stroke paralyzed his left side, so he had to learn to write with his right hand. He would often practice handwriting with my youngest son and participated in our homeschooling. If the boys had been in school and I at work for 8-10 hours a day, my husband’s home environment would have been a lot less stimulating.
I am grateful to the homeschool community because when the day came for us to say goodbye, homeschool moms and dads came to the rescue again. My husband passed away suddenly on December 13th, exactly 12 days before Christmas. A homeschool mom took my youngest son for the week and another homeschool mom scooped up my oldest son so that he would not be there when the paramedics came to take my husband to the hospital. The next few weeks were like an out of body experience. I cried, I grieved, I screamed, I slept, and having a community of supporters made it all possible. I was never alone. The homeschool community was a ministry and taught me so much about what it means to really be there for someone. I am grateful for homeschooling because it has taught me to be a much more giving and supportive person.
Finally, I am grateful for homeschooling because it has led me to discover what I’d like to study in graduate school. Because my youngest son is a right brain learner, I have had to become an expert of sorts in teaching children who learn differently. I am now a part of an even larger homeschool community of children with special needs. Homeschooling has opened my world in the most amazing ways. My oldest son is 3 years away from college. As he enters college, so will I. I plan to purse a graduate degree in education, specializing in special education.
I am grateful for homeschooling because each day when I rise, I feel that I am giving my heart and soul to my purpose.
Monica Utsey is co-founder of Sankofa Homeschool Community & Sankofa Homeschool Collective (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SankofaHomeschoolCommunity/). She writes about raising and educating African American boys at www.chocolatecoveredboyjoy.blogspot.com and cherishes the memory of her husband at https://www.facebook.com/EricUtseyMemorialPage.
Why I am Thankful for Homeschooling
Homeschooling: to teach your children at home instead of sending them to a school.
This is how the Merriam Webster dictionary defines what it means to be homeschooled. However, in my case, this definition does not fully describe what I have experienced.
Seven months ago, I made the difficult decision of taking a break from traditional schooling and switched to a combination of homeschooling and online learning. I couldn’t be happier. It is a decision that has brought so many new opportunities in my life. As technology and access to information evolves, homeschooling is becoming much more common because of all the potential that lies within this system.
When I switched to homeschooling as a high school student, I was confident that with the right guidance, I could teach myself any subject in the curriculum. Although at the beginning it was challenging to find the right curriculum. I started looking for an online platform that would combine my two passions: science and medical training.
After a few weeks of searching, I was lucky to find Odyssey Courseware! I couldn’t believe how many elective classes it offered in fields that I enjoyed. I couldn’t wait to get started with Forensic Science, Medical Professions, Psychology and Biology. Learning this material was going to open a new window into the field that I am planning to pursue.
Once I found the perfect combination of materials for studying online, I started to realize that the opportunities soon to come were endless. The best part about adopting an online learning system is that it can be tailored to your strengths. It also helps you overcome your weaknesses so you can build them into what you never thought was possible. I am able to do this because through homeschooling the student is always at the center of their education.
Up to this point in my life, I’ve had the opportunity to experience many different types of education: private and public schools in elementary and middle school, and an art magnet school during my first semester of high school. Even though each one of these approaches to education provided me with different sets of skills only homeschooling has given me the flexibility to apply my own individualized learning style at every stage. This quality of homeschooling is probably what I am most thankful for.
Homeschooling has not only given me the power to take charge as a student but also in my personal life. I can now schedule in times to exercise, eat healthy and get enough sleep to be productive.
Your personal needs as a human affect productivity levels and the quality of your working mind.
To me homeschooling is not really an alternative to traditional school. I see it as a completely different way of experiencing learning. Homeschooling has given me the opportunity to gain a new perspective about what it means to be a mature, independent learner. I now incorporate college books and resources into most of my classes, spend time shadowing professionals in the fields that interest me and contribute to my community by volunteering regularly which has allowed me to meet a variety of amazing people.
I am working harder than ever, learning how to study effectively and, best of all, I am immersed in a learning environment where both challenging academic activities and constructive criticism are part of my daily routine. I can now focus on how I can improve and keep moving forward without the limitation or constrains of a set curriculum.
I have chosen to live an open minded lifestyle where I can take charge of my education and be in control of the learning path that best suits the goals I have set for my life. I know that with the flexibility that homeschool offers and my passion for learning, I can exceed any challenge that is put in front of me. Who knows, maybe one day I will even change the world?
And this is why I’m beyond thankful for homeschooling.
Why I am Thankful for Homeschooling
By Gail Heaton
My homeschool journey began in 1995, with a 5 year old daughter who was smarter than her own good and a toddler daughter who lit up my world with her smile and enthusiasm for life. As soon as I stumbled upon the world of homeschooling, I was hooked. And I never looked back. Well, except for that one semester of my oldest daughter’s 8th grade when I mistook normal teenage angst for something much more serious and sent her packing to a private school who could do more for her than I ever could. I was wrong. It was a disaster and we all (mostly) happily went back to school at the kitchen table.
I chose this path first because I wanted to spend time with my girls and nurture their budding passions. I wanted to be there as they uncovered my world of books and word adventures. Would they see the beauty and magic I saw? Would they create even more wondrous worlds? Would they share these worlds with me and allow me to adventure with them? And yes, I really did want a steady diet of science experiments-gone-wrong at the kitchen table; not just offer my children occasional help with school projects. It was a match made in heaven. I wanted to teach and they wanted to learn.
Twenty years and five more children later, I’m looking at just three more school semesters left before the youngest graduates and ends an era. The end of an era. Oh, what a ride it has been. You know, I have 118 years of homeschooling experience now. At least that’s how I figured it up. Each child of mine is different and I learned early on that what worked for one child didn’t necessarily work for another. As quickly as my “reading Plutarch at age 5” daughter lulled me into a calm, “why yes, teaching reading is easy” mentality, even quicker did my next born daughter snap me out of it. Yes, she really was taught to sound out the alphabet at age 6 by a swap of candy for a letter sound. This one marched to a different drummer and ended up learning her times tables by jumping up and down in rhythm. It was the only way she could learn them. Today this one is a creative writing major in college and turns a phrase with the best of them.
Conversely, my first born son learned the traditional way and so, I stored away my special tips and tricks and went to the workbooks he loved. Back and forth this process went, as I learned what each child needed to really succeed. All this became experience in adjusting for temperament, interests, abilities and unique challenges. Times seven. That’s a lot of experience wouldn’t you say? Like I said, 118 years’ worth.
When considering what I am most thankful for about homeschooling, it’s tempting to highlight the benefits my children received being homeschooled. I mean, just from an educational standpoint alone, they have done amazingly well for themselves. My oldest three are in college and two more were able to overcome huge educational challenges inherent in adoption from Russia when they were just 7. Homeschooling ignited passions: in the one with a biology major who hopes one day to find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis; in the one who travels to Ireland and learns Irish in hopes of helping revive the dying language; in the 19 year old private pilot; in the Olympic contender in taekwondo; in the documentary filmmaker…the list goes on. There is so much to be thankful for.
But as I sit here today, reflecting back on my life, I feel such a tremendous thankfulness for what this 22 year educational commitment has brought me. When I started the journey, I mainly saw how it was benefiting them and that was a good motivator for me to keep on keepin’ on during those stretches of seeming wasteland when the dirty dishes and laundry piled up higher than my hopes and dreams.
But today, as I hear the clock tick-tocking away toward the last remains of my homeschool mom duties, I acknowledge that I have received so much more than I have given, and for that I am most thankful. I’m thankful I learned patience and forgiveness – of my children certainly, but also, surprisingly, of myself. After blowing it too many times to count, I learned not take myself too seriously and be kind to me when I fail. After all, I always get back up again.
I am thankful I know how to stick with something that is at once the most worthwhile pursuit and also the most frightening.
I am thankful I know perseverance against societal condemnations for my life choice to devote myself wholly to the education of seven other humans.
I’m thankful I know each of my children’s strengths of course but also that I now know mine. I also learned that I am an organizational wizard who can both make grilled cheeses and teach how to solve for x. At the same time.
I’m thankful I know each of my children as an individual person, and thankful I know myself better now than I ever did when I started this journey. I’ve been shaped and molded into something powerful because of homeschooling my children.
I am thankful my children’s successes speak for themselves now and I can use my wisdom to empower younger families newer on this journey that “You can do this too!”
I am thankful that I can say with absolute certainty: It is so worth it. All of it.
So go and do likewise if you want to, because it will change you forever.
What Homeschooling Means to Me
By Zora K.
I have so many reasons to be thankful that I am a homeschooler. For starters, I can sleep in when I am sick, or I can even wear a facial mask while doing my math without worrying! Having become homeschooled is truly a great gift my parents were willing to provide for me.
All of my siblings are ahead in one or more subjects. In fact, my younger brother is profoundly gifted. He would never be able to go to a public school without getting picked on and teased constantly. Being homeschooled gives me and my siblings the opportunity to go at our own pace. We always strive to go the extra mile and get the best education possible for our future.
Three years ago, I went to a private school, and the time before that I had been going to a public school. I can’t remember a time not coming home with a big headache and feeling over stimulated. I would get exhausted from the loud cafeteria noise to the perfume smells that were evaporating from the ten different girls in the classroom. I was fortunate enough to be pulled out from this lifestyle and become homeschooled.
Being homeschooled has also given me the opportunity to take some time off to doing things that bring interest in me. I have a whole day devoted to doing art, which is a passion of mine. I go to an art school and take classes. I couple months ago, my brother and I watched a fourteen hour documentary about the Civil Rights movement. We would never had had the time to do that in a public school. However, we have the benefit of using our time to be efficient and get our work done, so we could make time and watch a long documentary.
I also go to a soup kitchen once a month. Giving back has always been a value of my family. Taking some time to help those who are less fortunate helps to shape me into a compassionate person. I will never forget the grateful faces I see when I serve the homeless their meals, it truly reminds me how lucky I am. As a family, we are working on a toy drive project. We are collecting toys for the holidays to give to children living in insecure homes. We know that a small toy can bring them some happiness in their days.
It always had been a struggle for me at finding friends that had the same interests and values as myself until I was homeschooled. As a homeschooler, I think we learn to be much more aware of our surroundings and have deeper, meaningful thoughts. We learn bigger, and greater things that might somehow get missed in a brick and mortar school. I read copious amount of books and articles ranging from various issues. This gives me an abundant amount of knowledge in so many different issues. We also become secure of ourselves and don’t really care about what other people’s thoughts are. This is because we are confident with ourselves.
I think my favorite part of being homeschooled is the amount of time I can spend with my family. In a few short years, I am going to be heading off to college and starting my own life. Having these moments will be very precious to me because I will look back on these years and reminiscence the wonderful moments I had with my family. The fun years I had of learning and growing up.
Being homeschooled is a wonderful gift by itself. I am thankful for the opportunity that have been provided to me. I will use all these years of teaching to help make me a better person. I will for sure use it to change the world in a positive way.
Thankful for Homeschool
By Sarah Kohrs
The sun slants shadows across a field, where birds twitter and swoop. Cows moo softly in the pasture just beyond our family’s garden, where sugar snap peas twine up trellises, scallions stand at attention, and spinach nestles in raised beds with newspaper-shredded mulch. A light breeze tinkles the wind chimes into a melodious drone. Our front garden harbors a kid-sized picnic table, a plethora of odoriferous herbs, meandering paths, and a sand and water table. In this soul-nurturing environment, our homeschooled sons engage in their educational endeavors.
Whenever our family is able to homeschool in the garden, I am especially thankful. In A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, Henry David Thoreau writes, “Knowledge can be acquired only by a corresponding experience. How can we know what we are told merely? Each man can interpret another’s experience only by his own.” Here—where nature enters our life in ways not experienced in the public school sector—my sons learn as much about hands-on life skills as they do about academics. Here, we press shells and stones collected on our fieldtrips into cement to make stepping stones; here, we plant seeds and watch them emerge from first leaves to harvested crops; here, we develop character in harmony with real-life challenges; here, we engage life with all our senses focused on the experience at hand.
Homeschooling provides freedoms that I never imagined. Learning—instead of becoming dissected into categories that keep age, ability, and topic from interacting—is a grand symphony in which the participants’ differences lend beauty to the experience. My sons are developing a love of learning, whose knowledge is directly connected to a lived experience. They’re inquisitive. They’re engaged. They’re happy. And those are great reasons to be thankful for homeschool!
Sarah Kohrs contemplates life’s intricate beauty at www.senkohrs.weebly.com.
Why I’m Grateful for Homeschooling
Four years ago
My name: Noah Christopher Kurzenhauser – brown hair, glasses, braces, root beer eyes, gluten free, and a little under five feet tall.
My name: Noah Christopher Kurzenhauser – brown hair, glasses, actual teeth, root beer eyes, gluten free/corn free/dairy free/nut free, and five feet, eight inches tall.
So, yes, my “today” physical self differs from the “four years ago” self. Some aspects of me changed, such as my height. Others, though, remained constant, such as my eye color. Although these changes affected me, they didn’t mean much. Who cares if you’re sporting peach fuzz on your upper lip? Peach fuzz aside, one thing came into my life two years ago which changed everything:
Homeschooling has allowed me to educate myself about the world. I didn’t care too much about the world four years ago, when I attended a brick and mortar school. My parents used to discuss foreign affairs at the dinner table. While they conversed, instead of listening and observing, I thought about when the next sports game would be on. Now, I would rather discuss a topic of greater significance, such as the Iran nuclear deal. I greatly appreciate the amount of time homeschooling has given me to further my knowledge in both domestic and foreign affairs. I’ve learned what rights we as humans possess. I firmly believe everyone deserves respect and equality in this world. I grow disconcerted and dismayed when I see people commit acts which defy respect, equality, and other basic rights. Homeschooling fostered these ideals and continues to. Numerous people come to the conclusion that if you’re homeschooled, you don’t become immersed into society. In fact, my case is the exact opposite. I can now volunteer regularly, attend lectures, read influential novels, things which would be impossible without homeschooling. A sense of pride and empowerment overcomes me when I say I can contribute to the world.
The relationship my parents and I previously shared was truly tenuous. When looking in the past, I regret several decisions I made; these decisions continually fractured our relationship. This continued up until homeschooling. I had a moderately rough first year, trying to transition to the new academic setting. This is understandable. The second year, though, slowly but surely mended and fortified our relationship. I possessed the ability to initiate more one-on-one talks with my mother, as she taught the majority of our classes. My father, when he came home from work, appreciated hearing about the knowledge I had retained from my studies. My parents and I became closer; they enjoyed seeing my growth and I admired how assiduously they worked. I can proudly state my parents and I have a wonderful, solid relationship. Without homeschooling, I find it hard to believe I would have achieved this.
Moving towards a more lighthearted subject, homeschooling has invited me to pursue my interests. I played piano before I became homeschooled, but I couldn’t devote large amounts of time to it. Now, every morning, at 9:00 am, I sit at the piano and practice one hour. As a result, I’ve become a proficient pianist. I’m now a darn good cook! Instead of having a string cheese for snack, (so boring, right?) I fry plantains and cook squash “oatmeal!” My love for cooking has grown immensely. Organizational skills are also important; the various online courses I take, extracurricular activities, piano practices, and babysitting gigs have forced me to become extremely organized. So instead of finding my homework crumpled up with grease stains all over it (okay, so maybe it wasn’t that bad…..), I can easily locate my assignments.
My academic potential has become enriched by the various courses I have taken. British literature, British history, chemistry, geometry, anatomy and physiology, the study of evolution, and disease and infection are a minute sample of these courses. Homeschooling has truly made me smarter. Learning is now something I profoundly care about. Wow, as a result of homeschooling, my interneurons must be making a lot of connections! That was a nod to anatomy and physiology….
The opportunities life allows us are invaluable. I have strived to make the most of all the formerly mentioned opportunities. Homeschooling has helped me grow emotionally. My morals and ideals have transformed radically. I have truly blossomed; I can finally live a life which means something. When I begin home school each morning, I internally rejoice about the person I’ve become and then try to give the day my all. I live by a metaphorical statement: I’m facing life and its game. Every move, every decision I make, is crucial. I can say, without a doubt, homeschooling has helped me make some prodigious moves.
Big, Thankful Thoughts about Homeschooling
By Bela Kurzenhauser
Hello. I am small. Yes, I repeat: I am small. Maybe not “small” small, but I’m still small. In a ratio, actually, my classmates are much bigger.
One of the most confusing questions I get asked is “what grade are you?” Actually, I’m not sure. I’m Profoundly Gifted, which means I’m very highly accelerated. For example, most of my fellow pre-calculus classmates are fifteen or sixteen years old. Now, the most realistic answer to that question would be:
”Well, I’m teaching an eighth grade class, and I’m taking high school number theory, university logic, college pre-calculus, high school British history, blah, blah, blah…”
Luckily, I just respond with the simple “Well, I’m homeschooled, and I don’t really have a grade.”
Cha-ching! Now, the real bonus of homeschooling is the fact of age. Let’s “investigate” this case more clearly:
Evidence 1: My classmates are sixteen years old. I am eleven.
Evidence 2: My classmates are ten inches taller than me.
Evidence 3: My classmates shoe sizes are two times bigger than mine.
Gathering the three items from above, it is clearly obvious that I would be not “roadkill”, but “hall-kill” in a public school. Homeschooling bonus number two! I would also never, ever, ever, fit into a public or private school setting. It feels kind of awkward sitting in the front of pre-calculus class when your eyes are at everyone’s waist level. Java man coming through!
In addition, I can choose my classes however I want. Nobody gives an atom whether I want to take three math courses or not. Nobody gives a quark if I want to take two science classes. Nobody gives a gluon whether or not I want to study Conjunctive Inference!
The greatest sacrifice for homeschool, however, comes from my Mom. My Mom was one smart lady who wanted the best for her child. She had bought an office in the city and was going to become a nutritionist, and believe me, she’s a good one. That’s why we have Caesar salad for dinner and not gummy worm salad.
Despite that, after I came out of pre-school, the indication was clear: I was pretty ahead. I knew the whole alphabet (not super impressive, but again, my age level was spelling their names with triangles), and I could write my name (again, not very impressive, but some of my fellow classmates were pelting each other with string cheese).
I went to an IQ test and I was accepted into the Davidson Young Scholars, who only admit students Profoundly Gifted students.
My Mom gave up her whole career: her job, her office, her years of schooling, everything. And just to school me. That’s why I am grateful for homeschool and I will never take advantage of it.
Plus, homeschooling’s fun. You don’t have to worry about boring restrictions on essays and such. For history, I can write about chucking radioactive kumquats at foreign countries. If I wrote that in a regular school essay, I would get a big, fat, F. We got to write Far Side comics for Biology. Videos about Ruben’s planes and bungee jumping for Physics. You can also walk around with pajama pants on your head while blaring the first fifteen digits of pi at the top of your lungs (I don’t actually do this, but there’s nothing in the rulebook that says you can’t).
Ah, and art. Every Thursday I get to experience FIVE WHOLE HOURS of art! Yes, five hours! It’s a nice break from the stressful deadlines of trig identity homework and chemistry reading.
Plus, if we occasionally take a field trip, it’s to somewhere fun like the Mathematics & Science Museum and NOT the Roadside Attraction of Pecan Statues (no, there is not actually a Roadside Attraction of Pecan Statues).
May I also note that there is not a “Ye Olde Book of Behaviors that thou shalt and shalt not perform”, or a rulebook, in homeschooling. Simple rules are “do your school, be nice.” And those are already hanging above the toilet.
And then there’s sleep. When my siblings went to private school, they would have to get up at 6:45 every morning. At homeschool, my school doesn’t start until 9:00 am! And the very earliest I have to wake up is at 7:45.
Having said that, I must point out that homeschooling helps us be aware of things. When you know the issues of the world, you will never view things in the same way. I now know that the standard cheap diamond ring can save 200 peoples’ lives. Now that’s important. I want to make a difference in the world. I want to impact others and help save others. The barrier that blocks me and the people who need me, however, is money. I need to get a good job to get the money that I need to have a good life and to help other people.
Some homeschoolers may complain “I have too much homework,” or “I still have to do school when I’m sick,” or “Why can’t I go to sleep?” But I’m not complaining. I know the blessings of homeschool. I know the sacrifices my parents made for me. And I, my friends, will make a difference in this world.
On a lighter note, time to hop onto the Miraclemobile with my trusty sidekick Miracle Kitty! Du-dun-du-dun-du-dun-du-dun-dun-dunnnn!