The following is an email I posted to another home schooler on a home school email network, in the late 1990s. I recently found it in an old file, and thought I’d post it up here – great memories (and things I’d totally forgotten) from our home school adventure! We’d been having an email discussion on our home school lifestyles, and the conversation had turned to how to afford home schooling…
Hi Carole! Thanks for your note! I’ve thought lots of things about my lifestyle… challenging, adventuresome, tough, incredibly busy, sometimes crazy even… but enviable? That’s an interesting new perspective. Hmmmm!
What kind of home based business, you ask? Well, at the moment I’m in the midst of starting a business called “One-Stop Secretarial Services” which provides all kinds of secretarial services to individuals and to small businesses that can’t afford to hire a regular secretary. I do all kinds of correspondence, research (library, internet, magazine clipping, etc), fax, photocopy, create pamphlets and newsletters, fill in application forms, and so on. I also do ghostwriting, create proposals and resumes, and do tutoring for students. I’m actually just getting started in this business in a serious way, although I’ve done all these things ad-hoc in the past, as well as also having been a secretary and teacher.
Some of my children are more computer-literate than I am, and they are involved in the graphics aspects of newsletters and such, as well as being able to do some of the typing, faxing, photocopying, etc. The older ones are also quite good writers, and make contributions to the column I write for the local paper. It really is important to me that the home-based business also be an opportunity for the kids, as we live in a very small community with a very high unemployment rate, and jobs for kids are almost nonexistent.
Even my husband is unemployed at the moment so we are living on the edge financially, and the home-based business, although not a huge money-make, gives the kids income they can feel is really theirs. I started out in self-employment by selling Watkins and Avon, and even then, even when the children were very small, I paid them for helping in various ways, like handing out catalogs, stamping my name and phone number on phone catalogs, sorting and bagging the items when they arrived, and even bringing the goods to the customers, and making change when they paid. For a time, we had a cleaning contract with the local Credit Union, and the children all took turns helping with the cleaning; and we also took care of a B&B for awhile, and the children helped clean, entertain the guests, etc. (This all sounds great – the main problem I’ve found is that they think that after helping in the business, they shouldn’t have to help clean up around home… well, they try that line, anyway!)…
I guess I’m still working through my philosophy of home schooling on the public school level. I know one thing for sure: in retrospect, I think it would have been easier for my older kids to start home schooling at an earlier age, as they are finding it really hard to rid themselves of the habits and presuppositions of the public school system.
I am also leaning progressively more and more toward the whole unschooling philosophy, and farther and farther from programs that are nothing other than public-school-at-home. (Why do that? Even if your only reason to home-school is to get your children out of the worldly school atmosphere, the whole public school system is built on the philosophy of the world: even the bells, hourly classes, fill-in-the-blank approach is a result of the industrial/factory model – which of course is rapidly becoming totally obsolete in society in general, anyway).
While I regard, for example, the British Columbia Ministry of Education Correspondence Courses as excellent in the area of academics (my original concern about our public school which led me to home-schooling, more than anything), it still reeks of the system in many ways. My two eldest children (grades 8 and 10) are doing it this year, and I would certainly say that they are getting a solid academic education – which is perhaps a good thing, like catching up, since academic levels locally in the public system are low – but I have no intention of again piling it on them next year (unless they are really happy with it, which would require a HUGE change in attitude from where they are now).
What I’d really love to do (now I’m dreaming I suppose) is move way out in the boonies somewhere (for example, take care of a fishing lodge, or run a light-house or something), and take along a couple of boxes of books (classics, field guides to plants, animals, astronomy, etc, and a couple of reference handbooks). Have the family spend a year learning to survive (hunting, gathering, gardening), read the classics together, and go out daily into the natural world (armed with our field guides) and really examine the world close-up. I have a feeling that a year like that would provide an education that years of regular schooling could never match. Or maybe take a year filling in, in a far-off nation, for a missionary family on furlough… Or something that would give the whole family a brand new view of the world! (Maybe this would be another approach to the college home-school education question: CUSO, missions, travel, teaching ESL in another country, join some kind of intentional community…)
PS. Yes, I guess I would be interested in home-schooling all the way through college – though I also believe that kids that age should really be trying to make their own decisions and develop their own philosophy about education. And of course, I believe most of all that education should be a life-long learning process that never ends… it’s one of those things you can really enjoy and keep on doing no matter how grim the rest of life sometimes gets!
Date: about 1998