Ask the Grad
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Ask the Grad – Rachel Starr Thomson

I am excited to announce the launch of “Ask the Grad,” a new weekly series featuring home educated adults.  It is my desire that this series will help homeschooling parents, as well as those considering home education, both to understand the diversity of the home education experience and to motivate them to continue following the unique path the Lord has laid out for them.

As a homeschool graduate myself, I was recently asked,

I don’t meet a lot of home schoolers who are homeschooled graduates. Do you think being homeschooled yourself made homeschooling easier?

My answer was this series!  Yes, home education makes training my own children easier, but not by making my children easier to teach (they and I are sinners just like anyone else!).  My own unique home education experience taught me that God uses parents to rear children for His glory.  Meeting fellow graduates from various backgrounds, who used different methods and materials, and are now engaged in exciting ministries and vocations, has further increased my faith in home discipleship.  So, Yes, to answer the question.  Home Education is easier when we keep the end in mind.  Each Tuesday, I would like to give you a glimpse of some real results of what you are doing now in your home.  You have the opportunity to pass on your questions to “Ask the Grad” for subsequent posts by submitting them below the article here.  And be encouraged …

In due season, we shall reap, if we faint not!

Our first Grad is Rachel Starr Thomson, a published author and editer.  I first met Rachel through Home School Enrichment Magazine, where she edits my articles.  Since then, I have read numerous articles and interviews featuring this prolific writer in countless magazines and blogs.  I am now honored to count her a friend and am daily challenged by her ministry of words and grace.

Homeschooling for our family was only one part of an unusual lifestyle. Dad felt strongly that God had given parents the responsibility to educate their children and that the public school system–indeed, even the Christian schools that taught according to the same general principles, if not with the same curriculum–was ineffective and harmful.

As the oldest child in an ever-growing family (we capped out at twelve, ten girls and two boys), I was the first to be pulled out of our local Christian school. Homeschooling was still relatively new on the scene, but Dad, ever the visionary, was quick to embrace it. Kindergarten was a less-than-positive experience for me, cementing my parents’ decision to raise their kids outside of the system.

Our homeschooling years didn’t fit the organized packages many families put together. To a degree, Dad was a believer in interest-led education. He believed we should have the freedom to follow our passions and direct our own educations, with guidance, input, and resources from parents. We used various curricula on and off, but once Mom had taught each of us to read, most of our schooling was informal and based in the library or real life. And speaking of real life–it tended to mess up any organized plans we did make. We might have “done school” more traditionally had life allowed it, but between traveling, moving, running multiple family businesses, and saying hello to a new family member every other year, school-style education just didn’t fit.

Education, on the other hand, did. While some of my siblings might have benefited by a stricter schedule and curriculum planning, I thrived on the open approach to life and learning taken by my family. We were taught to keep God at the center of things, seek His will, work hard, write down dreams and goals, tackle life with gusto, and believe that the impossible can happen.

Now 27 years old, I’m a single woman who lives at happily at home with parents and siblings. I work full-time out of my room as a freelance writer, editor, writing coach, and independent publisher. My interests in the school years led me to seek out a wide range of knowledge–I was fascinated by everything from Celtic history to the life cycles of frogs–but from early years I developed a skill set in words. My parents encouraged that skill set, and today I’m privileged to work a “career” many young people only dream of–and this without having attended college or pursued any formal higher education.

In 2007, I started a small-scale ballet and performing arts company called Soli Deo Gloria Ballet with my cousin Carolyn Currey, a professional ballet dancer who is also a homeschool graduate. We tour several times a year, giving original productions that allow me to use my writing and speaking skills in exciting new ways.

My family has seen many changes over the years. Most recently, we’ve moved completely out of the baby and toddler era–there are now as many Thomson siblings over the age of 18 as there are under it. We’re all benefiting from the practical skills, business sense, curiosity, and social abilities that were central to our school years. Most of us are running our own businesses; several of the family are set to go overseas next year to pursue ministry and schooling opportunities. Living life alongside our parents through the craziness of it all has been excellent training for anything that lies ahead.

As for my own children: if the Lord one day blesses me with them, I look forward to bringing them along on my own crazy journey just as my parents brought us along on theirs!

And here is our first reader-submitted question for “Ask the Grad,” answered by today’s Grad, Rachel Starr Thomson.

David from Texas asks:

How are you different from your friends who graduated from institutions of learning?

Rachel answers:

I think I have fewer preconceived cultural assumptions–certainly I didn’t have to deal with peer pressure to the extent that my non-homeschooled friends did, so my life didn’t have so much opportunity to be shaped by the priorities of the culture at large. I also have a very different history, which means I don’t share in the collective memories and connecting points they do. That can be a lonely position to be in as an adult, although I’m not one to connect on a surface level anyway, so my true friendships aren’t hindered by the lack of a shared upbringing. And there are many aspects of modern culture that I’m very glad I missed out on!

But these days, the question that fascinates me more is to ask how I’m the same as friends who were “institutionalized.” The answer to that? We’re all sinners, saved by grace. We’ve all been raised in a culture, in one box or another, that has godly and ungodly elements. Sorting out which are which is a lifelong journey that we’re all in together. When it comes to following God, it turns out we’re all being homeschooled every day of our lives, taught by the Holy Spirit in lessons best learned by living them.

Want to read more from Rachel Starr Thomson? Visit her website or connect to her on facebook.  And download her novel, Worlds Unseen, free for fans of facebook.com/HomeEducation!

Next week’s graduate offers a sweet perspective on his home education experience.  Send in your questions below for “Ask the Grad!”

3 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing Rachel, I enjoyed hearing about your journey!

    You said: “When it comes to following God, it turns out we’re all being homeschooled every day of our lives, taught by the Holy Spirit in lessons best learned by living them.”

    I loved that – so true!

    Like

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