I am pleased to introduce Rachel Ramey, a.k.a. The Titus 2 Homemaker. Rachel is not only a homeschool graduate, she is also a homeschooling mama of 2 (with one more on the way!). She is the proud wife of Michael Ramey, director of communications and research for parentalrights.org. I am thrilled this busy second-generation home educator is taking time from her busy routine to share her own perspective with us. She also has a free download to share!
When I was eleven, my parents pulled me and my sisters out of the government schools and began homeschooling us. Though they would eventually develop biblical reasons for educating us at home, at the time the reasons were largely pragmatic: one sister (who had been miraculously healed of cerebral palsy, but was working on making up for a previous lag) was at risk of being permanently “labeled,” one was failing to learn to read effectively thanks to the local school’s lack of phonics, and I was being regularly teased.
I hated it. The curriculum was one factor. Over the years, as Mom grew more comfortable, our “style” relaxed. By the time I graduated, we were using unit studies. But in that first year or two it was not only textbooks, it was a “satellite” school, and that setup was just not a good fit. There was a separate subject for everything – even subjects I’ve still never heard of anywhere else. I felt like I never finished my schoolwork. The way the grading worked there was no way to find out what I was doing well or poorly at before completing the whole year’s schoolwork and turning it in for a grade – not necessarily good for grades, and not really good for learning, either! More significant to me than the curriculum, though, was that I felt that I was missing out on so much. I had been just about to enter middle school, and I was looking forward to yearbook, choir, maybe cheerleading. (This was back in the “old days,” before there were enough homeschoolers to gather together and do these things. Now they’re available most places!) And I really hated being “stuck” at home with my mom and my sisters all day, every day.
This really didn’t change until perhaps the last year or so of my high school education. For years my mother had to listen to me complain about how much I hated being home. Fortunately for me, she persisted, because, in hindsight, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I got to study things I never would have studied in school. Some of these things were whole units or subjects; others were simple “introductions” to the topics. My education was definitely unique to me! I had time to participate in other activities I wouldn’t have, had I been in school six hours a day. I had opportunity to minister during the day, as well. My family provided foster care and, during those years, we primarily took in teen moms and their babies. Because I was close in age, I shared a room with many of them. They were some of my biggest frustrations – and some of my best friends.
Most importantly, my years of homeschooling shaped me. The time I had with my mother, little as it seemed so at the time, was important for relationship-building. The content and focus of our high school curriculum (Far Above Rubies) allowed me to shape my worldview, by reading for myself. I had never even heard of home birth (in modern times), but thanks to my required reading, I now have two home-birthed daughters. The idea of letting God plan the size of one’s family was mildly familiar, but not one I’d ever given much thought. And I was certainly not going to be a stay-at-home mom – until I read The Way Home. Obviously, none of these books is limited to homeschoolers, but all of these life-changing texts were required or recommended reading for me in high school. (And Mom didn’t have to require them; they were built into the curriculum!)
Where does all of that leave me now? Today I am a thirty-year-old stay-at-home-wife and the mother of two, with another on the way. I probably wouldn’t be here at all if it weren’t for homeschooling; it also helped teach me perseverance. My gifts and personality are not especially nurturing or domestic and, to be honest, there are days when I still hate being at home. But it’s best for my family, so I do it anyway (and hope to get better at it!). We are going into our fourth “official” year of homeschooling. My older daughter will be in third grade, and the younger one is just now of “preschool” age. We are able to be much more “relaxed” in our schooling than my parents were, starting out, because I had enough years under my belt to get past the “we have to do school at home” thinking, and to not worry about whether they end up with “gaps” in their education. (Everyone does! No one knows everything.)
Another important skill I learned is studying on my own. My family can tell you that I still read a lot, and I have learned a great deal about subjects – like natural health – that I wouldn’t have even known to study during my high school years. Thanks to my desire to learn and my knowledge of how, I have been able to capitalize on these interests since they’ve arisen.
Looking back, there isn’t much I would have changed (apart from my attitude). I might have started out with a less rigid curriculum – and we have. The only major thing I would do now, though, if I had it to do over, is to take CLEP tests right after completing the corresponding subjects in high school. (My family didn’t know much about CLEP tests then.) I chose not to go to college – it wasn’t worth debt, to me – and I don’t regret that decision. But I could have tested out of nearly all of my general education requirements had I known to do so. Now, I will have to study all of those subjects again if I want to take the CLEP tests, because I have forgotten most of them due to disuse!
Homeschooling wasn’t what I wanted, but it was what I needed. Praise the Lord for parents who know the difference!
And now for our reader-submitted “Ask the Grad” question! Today’s question comes from Jenny H. in Michigan, who writes:
When you were in it, what was the best thing about homeschooling? Now that you’re done, what was the best thing?”
As you can tell from my post, I didn’t really like homeschooling while I was in the middle of it, so it’s tough to pick a “best thing” from my perspective then! Probably time. My schedule was more flexible than it would have been had I attended a government, or even a private, school, and I was aware of that even then.
Now that I’ve graduated and moved on, I most appreciate the worldview development that took place during my last couple years of high school. I can point to a handful of specific books that were life-changing for me, and I might have never read them – I certainly wouldn’t have read them nearly so soon – had I not been homeschooled.
Rachel Ramey writes on theology, education, whole foods, and more on her blog, The Titus 2 Homemaker and on the Titus 2 Homemaker facebook page. She welcomes your email comments and invites you to follow her on facebook. For readers of whateverstate, Rachel is offering a Free Download: Introduction to Whole Foods, by Rachel Ramey. In this 37 page book, Rachel explains a Christian philosophy of eating, dietary guidelines from a Biblical perspective, and organic eating practices.