Steph Beth Nickel is a fellow writer friend of mine who also homeschooled for many years. I was thrilled when she agreed to share some of her wisdom through an interview….Enjoy!
What were your reasons for homeschooling?
There are a number of reasons to homeschool, but my main reason was, as one advocate of homeschooling put it, I wanted to insulate—not isolate—my children. I wanted them to grow strong in the Christian faith. They spent lots of time with their non-Christian friends after school, but I felt if I homeschooled them, they would be more prepared to do so.
How long did you homeschool?
Between my three children, I homeschooled for a total of 13 years.
Could you highlight some of your experiences during your homeschool years?
Many homeschoolers see everything as a learning experience, though we may have set hours for “formal education.” But some days, even the teacher wants to play hooky. I loved announcing to my kids, “Today I don’t feel like doing school. Go get dressed and we’ll go to the zoo.” The zoo was over two hours away, but we got an annual family pass and enjoyed our visits.
We also popped into the fire station one day and I asked when we could arrange a tour. They said, “How about now?” They showed us around and the kids got to sit in the fire truck as long as they wanted. It was great.
We belonged to a homeschoolers’ co-op that went on field trips together and got together from time to time for learning experiences best done in bigger groups (i.e.: physical education, science experiments, sign language, band, drama, etc.) It was great.
To be honest, some days were rough. I often cried out to God and said, “Something has to change—and I know it’s me.” Despite the difficult days, there were many more good ones and I’m glad I homeschooled my kids.
Was there a certain method and/or curriculum that worked for you?
I preferred a mix and match approach. I did a lot of shopping at a Scholar’s Choice store not far from our home. To this day, I see educational materials and would love to buy them.
Did you homeschool high school and could you tell us a little about those years? (If you have a child who went onto post-secondary could you briefly describe their experience?)
We got a high school correspondence course for our eldest. For a variety of reasons, it wasn’t as successful as I would have liked. He went on to get his GED through a local community college program.
Our second son was the only one to go onto post-secondary (Nipawin Bible College) and he also graduated from a public high school, where he did very well.
What piece of advice would you recommend to homeschooling families?
Get to know each child’s academic strengths and learning style and use that information to design an individualized program.
I would also say that when the school day is over, figuratively and/or literally, close the door. If it was a good day, great. If it was a struggle, just put it behind you and enjoy some downtime with your kids. You all need it.
Is there anything else you would like say about your homeschooling experience?
If I had it to do again, I would take more of an unschooling approach and teach my three as we went about living life. I would also spend more time teaching them about the Christian faith and how it applies to day-to-day life.
And a word of encouragement . . . My eldest was about 15 when he said, “Thanks for homeschooling me, Mom. I don’t think I’d be the person I am if you hadn’t.”
Some days will be tough, but homeschooling is an amazing opportunity. Enjoy!
Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance writer and editor as well as an award-winning author. Find her works at: