Monday, March 5, 2012

"Who Home Schools?" Interview Week 1

This is the first of many "Who Home Schools?" interviews.  Candy Trygstad of Colorado completed the first interview.  It is my goal that this weekly feature will allow us to see the face of home schooling.  I hope that it answers the questions - Who homeschools and why?

If you'd like to participate please email me  at savannahmcqueen (at) ymail (dot) com

And without further ado, here is the Trygstad family.

  • How did you end up deciding to teach your children at home?  Have they always been home schooled or did they attend school outside the home, at one point?
When our oldest was just four, we decided to give homeschooling a try. That was in 1991 and we are finishing our 20th year. It was and will continue to be a year to year decision, but I can’t imagine changing now.
  • Summarize how you reached this decision.
We were convicted that God had given us each of our children and that we were accountable to God for their upbringing. I could not delegate that responsibility to an institution. In fact the school district we lived in was wonderful. It was in the country and many of the elementary teachers were professing Christians. It was our conviction that we were ultimately responsible and the best way to accomplish the task was to teach the children ourselves.
  • What is your goal in home educating your children?
Everything in our lives is centered around bringing glory to God and walking with Him. But on a practical level, I want my children to complete their secondary level of education knowing how to think and discern facts. I want them to be able to communicate their opinions and beliefs in writing and oral presentation. I want them to love learning and searching out the answers. I think it is important to have basics of history, science, and math, and English as part of a well-rounded education; beyond that, I like to encourage other learning with consideration for each of the children’s own personalities and interests.
  • Do your children have extra curricular activities?  If so, what are they?

Yes! My husband coaches wrestling, so the boys wrestle. The girls play soccer. We have also done hockey and football and swimming lessons. Music lessons for some and choir for a few children and even performing in plays. In Colorado , homeschool children are allowed to participate in sports at public high schools and we have done this in junior high and above. 

  • Have you ever hired someone to teach a subject to your children?  If so, why?
I have never paid someone (unless you count piano lessons), but I have asked a lot of questions to people that were more “expert” than I. We have also participated in a co-op that allowed my children to have other teachers. I think it is a good thing for children to be under teaching of other adults.
  • Have you graduated a child?  Do you plan to teach through high school?
We have four students that have completed their high school! Four more to go.
  • Do you have a defined style of instruction such as Classical, montessori, unschooling,  or Charlotte Mason?  Are you willing to share how you decided to use this method?

I have tried to be cost effective in purchasing non-consumable books for many subjects. In high school we use curriculum that is more standardized. In the elementary and junior high I have been rather eclectic in choosing our curriculum. I prefer hands-on methods, but we have done our fair share of workbook pages too. I tend to gravitate toward the Classical philosophy centered on teaching children to think for themselves and express those thoughts, but we have not pur chase d a classical curriculum.

Learn from my mistake: When I had only two or three students in our homeschool, I gave lots of writing assignments. When my student to teacher ratio increased and that pile of essays to be corrected grew, I started giving fewer written assignments. I can tell the difference between those who had more practice writing and those who had less. Needless to say, I give more writing assignments and I read every one, but I do not grade every essay with a red pen in hand and assign letter grades. I might have them polish the entire thing or maybe just one paragraph; we might work on handwriting, being concise, using more descriptive language, or topic sentences. Each child will be different, so I try to just focus on one area to improve for each assignment.

I have learned that each year in our home and homeschool are different. There are different dynamics and needs. It is okay.

  • What does your schedule look like?  Do you start early and finish just after lunch?  Or do you start later in the day?  Do you teach through the summer? And if so, why?

ON A PERFECT DAY….. I like to start schooling at 8 AM each day. We go over schedules, poetry or Bible memory work, prayer time, and reading aloud first thing. We take a 10 min break (try to go outside) and then take a lunch break at noon for 45-60 minutes.  Then we work about another hour to finish.

Most days are not perfect and we do the best we can. I go over each assignment with the children and some subjects we multi-level, so if I am not available (like I have a ton of laundry or I am cleaning for company or making a meal for someone who is sick, or just have to pay bills…… we adjust. 

I assign each child’s work for the week on Mondays. We do school four days a week, but if the work is not finished in four days, they finish on the fifth day. I plan to start school in September and finish in June, but we are usually finishing some subjects in July.

One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is flexibility. If my husband has a day off, we can all go ice fishing, or to the amusement park, or spend a day in the mountains, or go visit relatives, or do car maintenance. Flexibility can also be a curse, if you don’t set priorities and abide by them. 
  • Do you home school for religious reasons?  If so what religion are you?
We are Christians and belong to a Baptist Church . See question one.
  • Do you have a vision statement for your home school?  If so, what is it?

No, we do not have something formal written out. But yes, as a family our purpose is to honor and glorify God through obedience to His word, walking in the Spirit, and giving the gospel to others. Our homeschool is just a part of the bigger “family vision.”

  • If you were to recommend a book(s) to a new or prospective home school parent, what would you choose?
Sorry, I don’t have a recommendation here.
  • What was your number one concern or worry when you started out on this endeavor?  Has it continued to be your main issue?  Why has it changed?

I know that I can not do everything well. There are times when I choose character over mathematics. There are times when the house is messy because we are doing school and times when we clean the house instead of doing school. As a parent of grown and married children, I have learned that our success has little to do with the things we did or didn’t do. God uses the weak and base things (me!) to confound the wise. It is God’s grace evident in our lives. He has richly blessed us. My main concern is that I am conformed to the image of my Savior, Jesus Christ. It is a daily process.

  • What aspect of home schooling do you enjoy the most?  What part do you greatly dislike?

I love being with my kids – well at least most days! J  I love teaching, because I learn too. After 20 years, I am sure I could do well onJeopardy. I love to look through curriculum catalogs and see what is new and exciting. I love talking with other homeschool moms and gleaning from them and encouraging them.

I tend to put off keeping up with correcting assignments, so, maybe that is the part I dislike.

  • Are/Were there any subjects that you felt incapable of adequately teaching?  Have you overcome this?  If so can you explain how you have achieved this?
I have gotten stumped on Geometry. I asked until I found someone who could explain it. I had the children do Spanish as a foreign language since that is the only one I could pronounce……
  • Is there anything that you would like others to know about your home schooling?
This is one of the hardest things I have done and also one of the most rewarding. Sometimes in the midst of the battle, we grow weary and can be discouraged, but don’t give up. Pray for wisdom and move forward.

It is a blessing to have a self-motivated student. But not all children are like that. I have some that were born students and some that were challenged. For those that were challenged, if was like trying to crack a code, filled with many failures and just enough success to keep you trying. Keep looking for the key to open that door and remember that not all schooling is academic. God is teaching me through homeschooling.

Candy is the author of Candydawn.  Make sure and check out her site.  She is such a friendly person and with twenty years of home schooling experience, I am sure we could all learn something from her.
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