When I was in Bible college, I learned that the definition of success is “finding God’s will and doing it.” I like that definition, mostly because of what it doesn’t say. That definition does not include what vocation I follow, what educational choices I make, what financial goals I achieve, or what grades I score. Success is measured, then, in light of eternity. I hope that my life is measured positively that way, too.
I was home educated from 7th grade onward. Being an over-achiever and a glutton for punishment, I decided to complete the 6 years of my secondary education in 5 years, without skipping any grades. I had to work through the summers, but I enjoyed it for the most part. My favorite subjects were English and mathematics. My mother made me write a lot of papers, and she was a very good editor and stylist. I had no idea how much I would use her wisdom and training later in life. My father taught me Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, and Statistics. We played games like “what is the probability of having all 12 beans in the Twelve Bean Soup in your bowl?” during dinner conversation. Learning was a regular part of our life.
My younger sister and I not only learned our academics during our homeschool years; we also took regular piano and violin lessons. Disciplined practice time was part of our daily routine. Homeschooling made musical success possible, and we both took frequent awards in state and national competitions. This paved the way for us both to study music on the college level as private students when we were teens.
By the time I was nearing graduation, I knew where I wanted to attend college. My parents registered me for an ACT prep course at a local community college, and I’m glad I took it. The course not only prepared me well for the test I would receive, but also acclimated me to the environment in which I would be tested. Even though I was ill the day of my test, I scored in the 99th percentile and was offered scholarships from Harvard and my state’s university. Instead, I chose to attend Bible college and study Church Music.
After two and a half years of university work, I met and married the love of my life. David is a Peruvian immigrant who came here during his high school years. Together, we are rearing four children in the Dallas area. At first, I didn’t want to homeschool; I knew how much work it is! But my husband insisted we try it for “just one year,” and now we are hooked.
Home education is much different now from when I was a student. For one thing, I was a student in the late 80s and early 90s in Michigan, where homeschooling was nearly illegal. We didn’t go out of our homes much during the day, and we made up a name for our “very exclusive private school” in case people asked us questions. Today, we can proudly say, “We homeschool!” and strangers are not only unsurprised, but they have neighbors who home educate, too.
Another big difference in home education is because of the computer. When I was a student, very few people had home computers, and they still weren’t connected by internet (I feel so old typing that!). This made it so much harder to obtain materials, reach out for support, and even to find other homeschooling teens. We really felt isolated. But not now! So, as a result, I get very excited every time I meet another homeschool graduate; it is like meeting a classmate!
There are many things I wish I had done differently during my 5 years of home education. I wish I had not given my parents a hard time about the hard assignments. I wish I had studied harder. I wish I had not argued with my father over the math answers; he was always right and my answers were always wrong. I wish I had taken my mother’s English corrections graciously. Most of all, I wish I had valued the learning more, and worried about the grades less. Who cares what grade I got in Trig? But do I really know why the Fall of Rome changed the course of history? I am shocked and dismayed how much I need to go back and re-learn before I can teach my own children properly these and many other things.
I hope that as I continue the home education tradition with my children, I can pass on a true love of learning to them. Whether it is God’s will for them to attend college or not, whether or not He would have them tackle the sciences or the arts, it is the desire of their parents that they each find God’s perfect will for them. Then, we pray, they can study to do it.
Lea Ann Garfias is a homeschool graduate and home education consultant in the Dallas area. Together with her husband of 13 years, she is teaching their four children at home and encouraging young families to raise their godly heritage for His glory. She is a classically trained pianist and violinist and avid reader. The Garfias family enjoys learning from a variety of resources, including great books, experiments, and family trips. You can read more of Lea Ann’s writing on her blog at http://whateverstate.wordpress.com, in Home School Enrichment Magazine, and on the Dallas Morning News neighborsgo.com Home Education blog.