My parents began homeschooling me in grade 1, but I'm sure they never thought at the time that they would continue to do so right up until high school. We took a rather eclectic approach, which means that we drew resources from various places and put together our own curriculum to meet our (my) needs. It worked very well for us, but as I neared high school, my parents began to feel a certain amount of apprehension. Were they doing the right thing? Personally, I was very excited about homeschooling through high school, and told my parents that this was what I wanted to do. We discussed together what I wanted to study before I graduated, and although my parents had their own requirements I had to fulfill, I was able to direct my own education to certain extent. Because what we'd been doing so far had been working for us, it only made sense to continue in that way.
My high school work consisted of a lot of reading and writing - which I enjoyed immensely - and real-life experiences. I was very involved in my church and community from a young age, doing a variety of volunteer work. I was especially active with organizations such as Canadian Cancer Society, Compassion International, and Operation Christmas Child. I entered numerous writing contests, and was a faithful patron at our local public library, reading about a wide range of topics. I especially enjoyed biographies and learning from the lives of some amazing people throughout history. I pursued a number of creative hobbies, including quilting and scrapbooking. I also maintained a part-time job throughout my high school years, which turned into full-time after I graduated. Although I would not recommend getting a job very young or working too many hours a week, I loved my job and learned many important skills there, such as talking on the phone and interacting with customers. The money I made while working at my job also enabled me to go on two short term mission trips with an organization called Samaritan's Purse to deliver Christmas presents to needy children in Nicaragua and Trinidad. This experience opened up opportunities for public speaking - in churches, senior centers, and even an elementary school...
Above and beyond mere academics, homeschooling gave me so much more freedom than I would have otherwise had. It afforded me the flexibility to pursue my interests and spend quality time with my family. I have a very close relationship with my parents and three younger sisters (the youngest being 8), and I appreciate them even more now that I'm no longer living at home. One of my sisters will often call early in the morning before I go to work or in the evening as I'm eating supper, and say "Hi, Tash, I was thinking of you and wanted to talk to you!" That is so special to me, and I still try to be very much involved in their lives. When I look at many of my peers, I see very little love or communication happening in their families, and I realize that my relationship with my family is somewhat of a rarity. I firmly believe that I would not be as close to my family if not for the fact that I was homeschooled.
Would I do it again, and if so, would I change anything? While I admit there are a few things I would do differently now that I have some hindsight, I can honestly say that I don't regret anything. All of the experiences I went through, both the good and not-so-good, make me who I am today. Sure, I might not be viewed as a success by so-and-so, but who am I living to please anyway? Once I decided I was living to please God, it took all (or at least most) of the pressure away, and I began it enjoy life more. After all, you can't please everyone, so decide whose opinion matters most to you!
I've been labeled by some as a perfectionist and told that I have many of the typical first-born character traits. I always felt that I need to impress people and wanted so badly to do something, if only for the sake of saying I was doing something. But I never was the kind of person who had a specific calling on my life, so to speak. Those kinds of people drove me crazy! I had so many interests, and I simply could not chose any one thing (as I felt I should), because I wanted to do everything! If you know what you want to do, then figure out what's required to achieve that dream. If you're like me, then follow your interests and let God handle the rest – after all, who better to have in control of your future?
I "graduated" from homeschooling in 2004, so I've been out of high school almost as long as I was in it. Learning never really stop once you've developed the habit of life-learning, and believe me, I’ve learned a lot in the past couple years! As I mentioned earlier, I worked full-time for six months after I finished high school. I then attended a Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Norway with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). This included three months of lectures, and three months spent in the Middle East. It was an amazing, life-altering experience, and I came back with a better understanding of Arab culture and a desire to see them come to know Jesus.
After I returned to Canada in July of 2005, I spent several months helping take care of my ailing grandfather who passed away in October. I am so thankful that I was able to spend that time with him! I had thought a bit about going to college, but by this point it was too late to apply for the fall semester. I was invited back to my old job, and worked there until the summer of 2006.
During this time I was feeling quite discouraged that my life was at a stand-still, and several things that I had wanted to do fell through. It seems that God wanted to teach me something during that waiting period. I tried to make the most situation, but it was difficult sometimes – I’m a do-er, not a wait-er. In September 2006, my family decided to take a road-trip across Canada for five weeks, and because I didn’t have any prior obligations, I was able to join them. It was great to learn about our nation’s history with my family, and it was both a challenge and an adventure to drive with six of us in one van!
One day after I got back from that road-trip, I starting working for WISDOM Home Schooling, and moved to Derwent shortly after that. I work with wonderful people and I enjoy the work I do, and the fact I’m helping homeschooling parents do what God’s called them to do. If you call the office, you’ll likely talk to me at some point… Now you basically know my life story, so you’ll have to share some of yours. ;-)