Writing Contest Winner: Kyle Tappendorf

Kyle Tappendorf of Phoenix, Arizona, is 15 years old and in the 10th grade. His favorite homeschool subjects include math, science, English, Greek, and writing. Some of his favorite activities are piano, cooking, gardening, and hiking and backpacking. Future plans include attending college and studying science. Here is his winning essay:

When considering past memories of homeschooling, one stands out above the rest because it is one of the first things I remember about homeschooling. My mom and I did math corrections often, but today was different. There were so many math problems I had missed, and many I did not understand. After a long hour, I was very frustrated with both my mom and my math book. I was extremely thankful when we were finally done, but was soon informed that we still had language corrections to do. As I miserably settled down on the couch for another set of corrections, I could sense that it was not going to be fun. Part of the way through, my mom said, “You’d better shape up your attitude, or I’ll send you to real school. Tomorrow we’ll visit one and see how you like it.” In dismay, I asked, “Are you serious?” She replied, “I’m serious.”

There are so many reasons why I love homeschooling. In my opinion, homeschooling is freedom to do what my parents and I think is best. Homeschooling gives me the ability to work ahead in some subjects and to temporarily fall behind in others. A few years ago, I had an eye problem which made it difficult for me to read. It eventually became so severe that it was almost impossible for me to discern the words on a page. This caused me to stop all subjects that required a lot of reading and only do those that could be done with minimal reading. In this case, homeschooling allowed me to delay certain subjects for over three months and work ahead on the ones I could still do. Homeschooling also gives me the ability to work at my own pace. As a second grader, I was doing sixth grade mathematics. Now, as a tenth grader, I am doing difficult subjects such as physics and Biblical Greek. Because I have so much freedom as a homeschooler, I have been able to excel and soar to new heights of knowledge.

Homeschooling also gives me the ability to prioritize which subjects I spend my time on. I can spend time in the morning studying the Bible and not have to worry about missing the school bus. I can choose the classes that will benefit my future plans and goals. Also, I can take time off from school to learn other skills. For example, after I received my first pet, I did not do quite as much school because I had to care for him. However, through caring for my parakeet, I learned how to be responsible, which is much more important than the small amount of school I missed. Homeschooling gives me so many ways to make the most of my learning time, and allows me to learn skills that will be beneficial throughout life.

Homeschooling would never have been possible without the hard work and dedication of my parents, who decided to homeschool me back in first grade. My parents have done so much for me and I am so grateful to them. Whether it was my mom teaching me how to cook and sew, or my dad teaching me how to fix a sprinkler leak or take care of the pool, my parents have taught me so much more than the “normal” school subjects. My parents have taught me how to do unpleasant things like cleaning the house, and also fun activities, such as building a structure over our garden to shade it from the hot Arizona sun. I have great respect for my parents because they made the decision to homeschool me.

To this day, I remember those words my mom said to me in fourth grade. At first, her words served only one purpose—a warning. However, as we continued homeschooling, they also started to serve as a motivation. I discovered that I actually enjoyed learning and started to do my homework on my own, without even being asked. As I continued to learn, I became more independent and started to learn several subjects on my own. Now, because of homeschooling, I am a self-motivated and hardworking student who loves learning.

–Kyle Tappendorf


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