We’re going to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of 55 new homeschool graduates at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 15, at our 2015 graduation ceremony!
One of the valedictorians, Michael Patton, has kindly shared with us his homeschool story below:
Why did your parents choose to homeschool?
I began homeschooling in the fourth grade. From preschool, my siblings and I attended a private school while my mom went to work as a nurse practitioner.
While at school, my brother and I got into fights and we began losing our love of learning. Despite the fact that my parents pursued resolution and understanding, the teachers reported that my brother and I were the top male students in their classes.
After receiving advice from trusted friends, they began considering homeschooling. With much prayer and deliberation, my mom gave up her career and began homeschooling. I can honestly say that it was one of the best parenting decisions my parents made!
Did you want to be homeschooled? Why or why not?
When my parents told us about their decision to homeschool, my siblings and I were really excited.
However, that excitement was short lived when my parents dressed up as Bible characters the night before our first day of school. They were supposed to give us an orientation on homeschooling, but they wanted to take the event to the next level.
When my siblings and I saw them dressed up, my brother and I got angry and my little sisters started crying. We look back on that story and laugh now, but in all seriousness, homeschooling was not always a cake walk.
During that first year, my siblings and I were academically challenged beyond anything that we had experienced before. My mom was struggling with whether or not she was good enough to homeschool and teach my younger sisters to read.
However, as I reflect on my experience, I realize that homeschooling enabled my siblings and I to grow far beyond where we could have grown without it.
How does homeschooling compare with your other school experiences?
I’ve had experience with public school, private school, and homeschool. I attended private school from preschool to third grade.
In the private school that I attended, the teachers weren’t always involved in ensuring that their students were safe, understanding the material, and growing in their biblical understanding or Christian walk. The classes were chaotic and many of the kids were out of control.
Homeschooling offered a much safer environment where I had the attention of my teacher. My mom always emphasized the importance of everyone feeling safe in our home. While homeschooling, we also grew exponentially in our Christian walk. I’ve also developed a deep relationship with my parents that is open and honest.
While attending public school was challenging, it helped me learn to relate to people who didn’t have my background, values, and faith. It taught me to develop relationships with people who needed to see the love of Christ. I’m glad I didn’t exclusively attend public school, but the valuable lessons that I learned wouldn’t have come about if I never chose to learn outside of my home.
What has homeschooling taught you?
As I said earlier, homeschooling has helped me to grow closer to my family, develop a deep love for God, and learn to work hard. The academic rigor has occasionally been challenging, but it has absolutely been worth it.
I’ve also been a part of an amazing organization called the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (NCFCA). The NCFCA is a debate league for Christian homeschoolers.
Through the NCFCA, I’ve gained relationships with other homeschoolers that will last a lifetime. I’ve also grown in my speaking and critical thinking skills.
Being involved in an education that has been directed by my parents has been stressful and challenging on occasion. However, at the end of the day, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the return on investment has been worth it.
Knowing what you do now, is there anything you would have wanted to change during your homeschooling years?
If anything, I would have wanted to be involved in NCFCA at an earlier age.
What advantages, if any, do you see with homeschooling?
Homeschooling allows children and young people to develop a deep relationship with their family members. Through these close relationships, everyone in the family grows in their character, academics, and Christian walk.
Additionally, homeschooling offers a balance of academic rigor with a teacher that is almost instantly available whenever you need him or her. There were multiple situations where my mom and I would spend an hour on a single math lesson just to ensure that I understood everything. That foundation in math gave me the ability to be successful in college Calculus as a junior in highschool.
With other forms of school, I would have never been able to advance in math in a manner that was quick, rigorous, and understandable all at the same time.
What disadvantages, if any, do you see with homeschooling?
Unlike public or private school, homeschooling forces families to seek opportunities for their children to develop relationships outside of their home.
For a small minority of families, their natural inclination towards isolation hinders their children’s ability to learn to relate to other people. That’s part of why participating in the NCFCA and other activities were so foundational for me.
Would you homeschool your own kids?
I’m going to ask the Lord about what he wants me to do, but if I had the choice, I would absolutely do it. I want my children to be able to learn the lessons that I have learned.
Immediate (and long-term, if any) plans for the future?
Because I’ve been blessed with success in speech and debate in the NCFCA, I’m going to be attending Patrick Henry College in Virginia on a debate scholarship. This fall, I’m going to start working on getting a degree in American Politics and Policy.
After I complete my four-year education at Patrick Henry, I plan to pursue a law degree. I have a desire to see God’s truth defended in the courtroom and in government. As a result, one of my dreams is to also run for public office in addition to practicing law.
Anything else to add?
To any parents that are reading this and are wondering whether or not you should homeschool, I would strongly encourage you to look into homeschooling as an option. Pray about it and ask Jesus for his guidance.
It wasn’t the easiest route for my parents, but it changed the lives of my siblings and myself for the better. We’re eternally grateful for the solid foundation that they have given us.