Two weeks ago I wrote about the way my parents controlled the things we learned when homeschooling us. The picture I painted was not pretty, showing the negative consequences of being taught at home. Last week I shared a different view, sharing the academic advantages I received through my home education. This week I am again focusing on the positives of homeschooling
For my family, school time was based on academics. We learned grammar, mathematics, science, and geography, among other subjects. But there was much more than the 3Rs to our education. I learned many life skills that have continued to be relevant beyond scholarly pursuits.
One particular bit of education that’s been useful is how to take care of a home. I was taught from an early age how to do the house chores. I know how to properly wash clothes, clean dishes, sweep, mop, dust, clean the bathroom, and more. Mom was a stickler for detail, and she taught me the precise methods that would result in crisp whites and sparkling glassware. And believe me, there was no room for error. So when I sweep, I move all the furniture. When I clean the bathroom, I get the dust behind the toilet.
When I was 10 years old, Mom was pregnant with my 4th brother, and she put me in charge of dinners. Thus I became the family cook for 8 years. I learned how to shop for the cheapest, and healthiest, food items. I became expert at crafting meals that were not only nourishing and delicious, but also tastefully presented. I can follow recipes as well as create my own dishes on the fly. I find pleasure in the craft of delighting people’s palates and satiating their appetites.
I also learned how to take care of and fix cars. Dad usually chose to fix our vehicles when he could rather than spend money to have others do it for him. I remember helping my dad change tires, replace a radiator, and bleed brakes. I myself have replaced breaks, replace the exhaust system, and changed my oil. Just this past week one of my tires got a hole in it, so I took off the wheel and put on the new one, using the skills my father taught me. (I have to admit that I prefer taking my car to the garage and spending the money rather than fix the brakes myself. Grease, anyone? Gross.)
Another area in which I was instructed was construction. Again, my father did most of the house renovations and construction throughout my time at home. Form tearing out plaster and lath when I was 6, to installing the lighting in my bedroom at age 24, I learned framing, plumbing, electrical, drywalling, and painting. I am certain that if the need arose, I could build a house from start to finish.
I was raised to be polite and address folks with respect. Though some people prefer to not be addressed with “yes ma’am” and “yes sir”, I have found that holding doors for others, picking up items they have dropped, saying “please” and “thank you”, and looking into their eyes while firmly shaking their hands goes a long way in building people’s positive impressions.
As the oldest of 8 children, I certainly have a lot of experience with children. I find it natural to “get down on their level” and play with them. I have learned, though teaching my own siblings as a soft of “teacher’s aide”, how to explain complex systems to others in a manner they can understand. though I do not yet have children of my own, I look forward to the opportunities to share the wisdom and lessons I myself have learned.
I may have faced negative consequences from a tightly-controlled childhood and education, but I have still been successful in my adult life, thank to the academics and life-skills my parents’ instruction provided. I am grateful that they cared for me and gave me the tools I needed to become a person I can be proud of.