A Graphic Designer shares her Homeschool Experience

An interview with Sunny, a graphic designer and homeschooling graduate, shares her homeschool experienceToday I’m delighted to share another homeschooling interview with you. Sunny* and I met in junior high (I think) when we were both taking a creative writing course offered by a local pastor’s wife. She lived a few kilometers east of me and also knew my best friend Elise. Sunny’s husband Jay is also a homeschool graduate so come back next week to hear his story (a bit less positive than ours). Here’s what Sunny has to say about her homeschool experience.

KBW: First, tell us a bit about yourself.

Sunny: I feel like I’m an eclectic cross between a liberal intellectual and a “crunchy” conservative.  Dreams of mine have included playing in the WNBA, becoming a psychologist and opening my home to teens who need foster care.  Half of my working years have been in an office environment and the other half in the trades.  I have been a volunteer with Young Life since 2007 and have a strong passion for practical ministry to teenagers.

KBW: How many years (or what grades) were you homeschooled?

Sunny: My parents decided to educate me at home before they knew anything about “home-schooling.” They taught me to read, write and do basic math by the time I was four.  I was always trying to do things or talk for my younger sister so they were relieved to send me to Kindergarten.

I made friends and had fun with the activity centres and field trips at Kindergarten but found the program itself boring.  One of my dad’s coworkers mentioned that his family had chosen to homeschool. My parents decided to try it. They registered me with the local school board and joined a support group.  After that my sister and I were both educated at home from grades one through twelve.

KBW: What was a typical homeschooling day like for you?

Sunny: We would wake up anytime before eight (if we were up early enough we could watch the neighbour kids get on the school bus), have breakfast, do a devotional with our mom, write out the key thought and Bible verse for the day, then start on school work.  Our goal was to always have our book work done before lunch each day so the afternoon could be more active, artistic or social.

At least one  afternoon a week we would participate in some sort of “classroom setting” or group activity with other home-educated kids and a non-parent instructor.   Sometimes that was art, choral music, drama, public speaking or creative writing. Other times it was lessons in gymnastics, figure skating, swimming, riding or PhysEd sports.

Often unstructured afternoons would include playing outside, reading books, baking,  building puzzles and volunteering with our mom.

KBW: Did you like homeschooling or did you wish you could go to public school?

Sunny: I loved being at home. My parents were very open about their decision to educate us at home—it was so they could spend more time with us and that made me feel special.  Many times I would feel bad for my friends who had to go to school.

In the high school grades, a number of my friends chose to attend public school or obtain credits to graduate “for real.”   My parents and I talked about that being an option for me but I was not interested. My parents did not argue with me over it. They did encourage me to “keep up” academically (we always did standardized testing and had good marks). They also gave me options for a GED exam in my last year.

KBW: Were you involved with other homeschoolers or a local homeschool group?

Sunny: We were part of the Parkland Home Educators (PHE), the Home School Athletics (HSA), and Wisdom (the school board we registered with after the county so my parents had freedom in what curriculum we could use).  The PHE had monthly gatherings and frequent field trips and events. An annual year book was put together by the teens and I enjoyed being the “yearbook photographer” for many events.

I was allowed to join the HSA when I was in Grade 6 because I was tall for my age.  Through this program we learned the same PhysEd content the public schools did. We also had our own sports teams for participating in tournaments and games with private schools.  HSA was a weekly highlight for me. In my last couple years of high school  I was able to develop leadership skills by teaching  the younger classes.

KBW: What did you do after Grade 12?

Sunny: The print shop that produced our yearbooks offered me a job and I took it. I also did some part-time respite work for a homeschool family that had foster kids.

After three years working full time in graphic design and print, I got married and moved away from my home town.  I tried the “stay at home wife” thing but I got bored. One day I drove a friend to a job interview and I was offered work as a painter’s helper.

After six years of painting, I was asked to take a position in communications at my church because they knew of my print-shop history.  I took that job offer and have now been there for almost four years. Currently my husband and I are exploring post-secondary options for careers in full-time ministry but we have not come to any conclusions yet.

KBW: Do you feel that homeschooling helped your post-high school goals or hindered them?

Sunny: I do not feel my home education hindered my goals because my goal in high school was to become a graphic designer. I was able to do that without any trouble.  I feel being a “homeschooler” helped me become a well-rounded, open-minded person who loves people and loves lifelong learning.

That being said, my dreams of playing basketball on a high quality team or becoming a psychologist could have been more challenging to achieve had I ever chosen to pursue them.  I’ll be honest—the program I am currently considering gives me a bit of nervousness because it will means a lot of hard work. So far I have had things almost handed to me.  Sometimes I wonder if I feel nervous because of my “lack of experience” with school, but many people have told me it’s normal to feel jittery/excited about higher education.

My sister encountered some difficulties when applying for college. She ended up at a university because they easily accepted her as they would a “foreign student” whereas the college was very limited in their understanding of education.

KBW: If you could change something about your homeschool experience, what would it be?

Sunny: I might reconsider my grade 10-12 stubborn decision to not “jump through the government hoops” and graduate with a “normal” high school diploma.  I don’t regret any of my homeschool experience but in retrospect it may have opened up more post-secondary options or just oven me a more confident outlook on my abilities when applying places.

KBW: What was your favourite part of homeschooling? Your least favourite part?

Sunny: What I really enjoyed was the  freedom I had to be myself, to dress how I wanted, to listen to music I actually liked, to not have a daily barrage of peer pressure.  As an introvert I also appreciated the pockets of focused group/class time in between bigger chunks of quiet/family time.

My least favourite part would have to be when people asked questions like “shouldn’t you be in school?” And gave my mom disapproving looks when we did errands with her  during the day.

Thanks for sharing your homeschool experience, Sunny! All the best in your future endeavors.

*Name changed to protect privacy.

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