Alissa Bjorn is another homeschooler whom I met through my best friend Elise. The three of us actually celebrated our Grade 12 grad together, along with five other homeschooling students from our small town. A few years later, we attended each other’s weddings. Since Alissa and her husband moved to central BC, we’ve stopped occasionally to visit them on our drives from the coast back to Alberta.
Today, I’m delighted to share Alissa’s perspective on her homeschooling experience.
KBW: First, tell us a bit about Alissa Bjorn.
Alissa: I am a stay at home mother of three who keeps busy keeping food on the table, floors clean and children growing. I also have a small photography business on the side — Alissa Bjorn Photography — and love to create food with my husband. We brew our own wine and beer, smoke our own bacon and sausage, and ferment our own kimchi. In general I would say that we thrive in the life God has given us, both in ups and downs.
KBW: How many years (or what grades) where you home-schooled?
Alissa: I was home-schooled for Grades 1 through 12.
KBW: What was a typical homeschooling day like for you?
Alissa: Breakfast at 8, piano practice at 8:30 then different subjects til around 11:30.
One thing I always appreciated was that my family would usually take 30 minutes to read aloud different fiction books as a group. That habit has been carried on and I could not tell you how many books my husband and I have read aloud to each other since we got married. Hundreds for sure!
After lunch we had an hour of quiet time then free play or hanging out with other homeschooled friends.
Another benefit came from the flexibility as we had to head into the city for speech therapy for my younger brother every Friday for years and we kept that Friday school free for my entire school life.In high school you would often find my family at the local ski hill on a Friday!
I also had a part time job, either delivering papers or working in a local restaurant, which I believe taught me invaluable lessons that applied to post graduation life.
KBW: Did you like homeschooling or did you wish you could go to public school?
Alissa: Loved it!
KBW: Were you involved with other homeschoolers or a local homeschool group?
Alissa: We were very involved with the local homeschool group and created lasting friendships through it. We participated in fitness classes, art and music and many many field trips together.
KBW: What did you do after Grade 12?
Alissa: I spent a year in Europe both nannying and attending a Bible school, then returned and attended college for 3 years at which point I got married.
I should also mention that I did not feel like pushing my way through high school learning things that didn’t interest me. I chose to go a non-diploma route and rather created a portfolio of work to show if needed (it never was). I really enjoyed spending time learning what I was interested in rather than concepts (such as intense math) that I would really never need.
I will admit to being terrified my first year of serious college, unsure if I was prepared for it. However I walked away from that first semester with one paper given an AA+ (he suggested I get it published) and a GPA of 3.96. So I guess I was ready!
KBW: Do you feeling that homeschooling helped your post-high school goals?
Alissa: For sure. So many things both academic and not academic I learned through homeschooling. Not the least of these was how to teach myself and work independently. I also learned to have a good work ethic, because the sooner you get your work done the sooner you can do what you want! It is those things that have helped me start and run my photography business as a self-taught photographer.
KBW: If you could change something about your homeschooling experience, what would it be?
Alissa: The only thing I wish I had been pushed to do better is my handwriting. But that could be my own fault for not writing but always wanting to read!
KBW: What was your favourite part of homeschooling? Your least favourite part?
Alissa: Favourite: friends and closeness with my family. The flexibility to become who I wanted to be and pursue my own interests. Knowing that I was able to have a well-rounded education without the pressures and time constraints of normal school hours.
Least favourite would have been the extra responsibility my parents placed on me (cooking regular meals, etc.) but now I am so grateful for what they did!
KBW: Are you planning to homeschool your daughters? Why or why not?
Alissa: We are. I love the idea that we can take a day off to go fishing and still learning counting, outdoor survival and biology. I love the way that homeschooling makes you look at life as a path of learning not just a task to accomplish. I love the freedom to thrive and stretch beyond normal expectations and the chance to develop talents and abilities at home from an early age. That is something I am excited to give my daughters. Plus, I love being with them and watching them grow, if I can have a hand in directing them I would be honoured!
KBW: Do you have anything else to add?
Alissa: My whole family was homeschooled and it is amazing to see where they have ended up.
My older brother was obsessed with music as a youngster. He now owns and operates his own recording studio and works with local and traveling artists. He began his journey in his room in the basement learning the programs. By the time he attended college to learn how to produce music, he had to leave the program because it was so outdated compared to what he had taught himself.
My younger brother was similar in the art of computer graphics. By the time he attended school, he got accepted directly into the second year of a program in New Zealand. He was hired afterward right away when many studios were laying off. He now has worked on many feature films including the up and coming Avengers film. He was recently headhunted by a big company that chose him for his self-taught software design abilities!
My younger sister started working in the local Moxies restaurant right after high school and quickly rose up into management. She was so loved by the Edmonton Moxies owners that they offered her an office position (without any bookkeeping or secretarial experience) as owner’s assistant. When the other owners met her and found out she was homeschooled straight through, their reaction was “Really, that is awesome, we won’t have to reteach you!” She was 21.
So neat to read all these interviews. Very inspiring!!