My Homeschool Education: Math Without Calculators

Sunday afternoons were the one big exception to my somewhat hands-off education.  My dad was my math teacher, and I wasn’t exactly an amazing student.  I do still feel that part of it can be attributed to the advanced-ness of Saxon math, and my dad’s strict grading scale: the lowest A I could get was a 94, the lowest B was an 88.  I was also never allowed to use a calculator.

On Sundays, my dad would go over the work I’d done in the previous week.  I was assigned one lesson per day, and all thirty or thirty-one problems.  (I always thought the kids whose parents let them skip some of the problems were the luckiest kids on earth.)  Math tests were an amazing treat, as there were only twenty problems!

At about 3 or 4 on Sunday afternoon, my dad would call me to the kitchen table and we’d go over the problems I’d missed.  Oh, I hated this, but looking back, I love that my dad invested that time into me.  Now, I find myself teaching my first grader the same things my dad taught me: Show all your work.  Keep your rows straight.  Don’t rush.  The simplest mistakes will kill you.

I never was an amazing math student, but thankfully, haven’t chosen a career path that requires a lick of algebra (though I suppose if I had be interested in a field that required advanced math, I would probably have enjoyed it a bit more).  Then again, I could probably figure it out now that I’m allowed to use a calculator.

I’ll write more about this later in the series, but during my senior year of high school I took College Algebra with Review at a local community college.  I had started, but not finished Saxon’s Algebra 2, but my parents had agreed that I could consider my high school math complete if I did well in the College Algebra course.

I passed College Algebra with flying colors and received a complement that I was one of the best students in class.  I felt a little gypped that I struggled so much with math in high school only to find out that I didn’t really have to know all that stuff in order to do well in basic college algebra, but I’m grateful for those Sunday afternoons with my dad and all the effort he put into making sure that College Algebra class was one of the easiest things I’d ever do.

My Homeschool Education: Taught To Teach Myself

I don’t actually remember a lot of school that looked at all like classroom time.  Though I’m sure much of my education in the early grades was more hands-on, I mostly remember working through my textbooks and the lesson plans my parents scheduled on my own, heading upstairs to consult with my mom if I needed help.  It seems like we would meet at the kitchen table around 10 AM every morning and go over the day’s work, and she would check what I’d done and we’d discuss how I did.

In thinking back, this style of education very much shaped what I am today.  When I need or want to learn how to do something, I figure out how to do it on my own.  I’ve taught myself how to start a blog; code CSS, HTML, and PHP; cook gourmet food; and design and sell a digital product.  The fear of learning something new is rarely present in my life; if I just have the desire to learn something, I’ll figure out a way to learn it.

Until I started thinking about my own education, I didn’t realize that this part of me was due to my education – I thought it was just part of my personality.  Now, I’m realizing that although I may lean that way naturally a bit, it is due in great part to the fact that I was taught how to learn things on my own.

Perhaps you would say that’s being “self-taught”, but it’s possible to teach someone how to teach themselves, and I think that’s what my parents did.

My Homeschool Education: The Early Years

I was educated at home from kindergarten through high school, but I don’t have any specific memories about the first few years.

I know that homeschooling was a relatively new thing, or it seemed to be, anyway.  My parents seemed to be worried a lot about being reported to the school district.  We weren’t allowed to play outside by ourselves until mid-afternoon, when the public schools were out.  When we went to Wal-Mart during the day, we usually said we were on a field trip if asked why we weren’t in school.  Replying with I’m homeschooled was an answer that would raise more eyebrows, much more so than it would today.

We used a combination of Abeka, Bob Jones, and Saxon curriculum, at least from what I can remember.  I have many mental pictures of Abeka’s Grammar and Composition books.  Oh, how I hated diagramming those sentences, and I always struggled with identifying adverbs that didn’t end in -ly.

I distinctly remember our lesson plan book.  It was always green, with the days laid out in horizontal rows of six squares each.  From left to right, there was Spelling, Math, Grammer, Literature, and the final two squares were always divided in half: History/Science and Music/PE or Home Ec.  The second square for Math always stood out because it was the only one that was in my dad’s distinctive writing.

For a time, our whole family got up at 6 AM and read three or four Psalms out loud before my dad left for work.  I sometimes wonder if any of us were awake enough to comprehend what we were reading.  I chuckle now as I remember that we kids would usually go back to bed after Dad had left for work.  If I was really motivated, I’d pull out my schoolwork and start working on it so I could get done early.

Our church had a large population of homeschooling families, and a very active organization that held many field trips and activities.  A lack of “socialization” was never an issue for us; we were always going and doing this and that thing, both with the homeschool group and on our own.


Homeschoolers Charged More Due To Stronger Worth Ethic

I had to chuckle when I read this note on Mile High Mamas regarding why homeschoolers and Scouts don’t get the same discount rate as public school students at Miller Farms’ annual fall festival (homeschoolers and Scouts pay $10 instead of $8 as for public school groups):

I had to ask the question, why is the rate higher for home schoolers and scouts compared to public school students? Miller Farms has found over the years that the home school and scout kids tend to work harder and fill their harvest bags to capacity!

In that case, I’m proud to pay $2 more!