Amy Albertson, Ventura, CA
What was your greatest struggle when it came to homeschooling?
I was afraid that I would not be able to teach my child what he would need to know to be at grade level. I was worried about being “disciplined.” Starting to homeschool later in the game (we decided during his 5th grade year and implemented things starting in 6th grade), I put a lot of pressure on myself to recreate “school at home” and it took me a while to understand that my child would learn and even thrive with a more relaxed, interest-based approach.
If you could go back in time, what would you change or do differently?
I would waste less time documenting and recording things. I also wouldn’t over-plan or over-buy curriculum in favor of experiences, nature, and the library.
How do you feel about the current political landscape in regards to homeschooling?
I think California is pretty homeschool friendly, but there are groups that have an interest in every child being enrolled in school, for obvious reasons (tax money and control).
What are your thoughts on the growing diversity, or perhaps lack of, in your homeschool community?
I think my kid was one of the only African-American kids (mixed race with Asian and Caucasian). I would love to see more black families homeschool. I will say that our community was very diverse in terms of religious beliefs and homeschooling styles. Everyone respected each other’s differences. I liked that.
Now that we have gotten to the heart of the interview, tell me a little about yourself, your family, and why you chose to homeschool.
I’m a wife and mom of two (28 year-old stepson and a 21 year-old son). My stepson went to traditional school, but I wish I had been exposed to the homeschool lifestyle sooner, so he could have had a similar experience. I did not finish college. I was so tired of school and felt really uninspired to learn. I think that encouraged me to be open to this alternative when it came to light. My son was a quirky, active 11 year-old and I wanted to honor the child he was, not who society required him to be. I think those reasons solidified our decision to take the plunge.
How did you find balance and time for self-care in the midst of daily life as a homeschooling parent?
It was tough at times. I was overseeing many things and driving a lot…but at the same time I was participating in activities and experiences. There were family events and we have made lifelong friends through our homeschool experiences, so there was a lot in it for the adults, too.
In a perfect world, what would your ideal homeschool day look like?
It would be sleeping in a bit, waking and having coffee for me and breakfast for the kid. Then it would be getting a little exercise on the trampoline (the kid). After that, we would tackle math. A chore of two should be squeezed-in. Reading a few chapters (trading-off) would come next. It might be a park day or Shakespeare acting class (some friend time). The rest of the day would be free for interests (cooking, art, or visiting with family or friends). The evenings would be for dinner and tv or a video game.
But in reality, what did your typical day look like?
It could be just like the above or nothing in particular! It could be all day spent at the beach!
How did your homeschooling change over the years? Did you subscribe to any particular homeschooling philosophy?
It was very structured at first and then it became a mix of subjects from traditional school and very free-form otherwise.
What are your best homeschooling memories?
Family campouts, park days, Shakespeare plays, friends, Christmas caroling, beach days, going on vacation with family during “school time,” and snuggling together reading or watching a movie.
Finally, do you have any wisdom to share or tips to pass on to those new to homeschooling?
Don’t be too critical of yourself or your child. Let your child be who they are. Have fun.