I apologize in advance for how long this is. It seems in order to talk about how I have continued my education as an adult, I have to start at the beginning of my formal education.
I thrived in school and really enjoyed the academic side of it. However, the social side of it was brutal. In Kindergarten, the anxiety I had over leaving my mom every day, was bad. I hate thinking back to that time. You see, my mom had cancer and I knew that she could get worse at any time and I was always scared she would die before I could see her again. Of course, her cancer probably wouldn’t have taken her that suddenly, since it was considered “dormant” during those years. But, at 5/6-years-old, time is not something you grasp easily.
I enjoyed doing my worksheets for handwriting/math and loved reading in public school. I even excitedly raised my hand to answer most questions the teacher asked. “Show & Tell” was my favorite part of school and I always thought of things to tell my class about. I wasn’t considered shy and I wasn’t afraid to be myself. I was a farm kid and didn’t even know that clothing style mattered or that being a tomboy was not cool.
By 3rd grade, things started to change. That year was NOT fun. Sadly, it was my teachers (I was in a class with two teachers that year), who were the ones who made me feel embarrassed and socially awkward, not the other students! I have no clue why, but those two teachers did not like me (I was just 9). By mid-year, I was begging to be schooled at home. My mom had even spoken to the teachers, but nothing changed. So, my mom took me and my other siblings out of public school to finish our year at home.
I enrolled in CLASS for 4th grade and really enjoyed it. I loved working through my books. I loved that it was biblical and that is when I started to really read my Bible on my own. My mom didn’t feel confident in educating us at home, though, so when a new private Christian school opened, I was enrolled for 5th grade. I absolutely loved that year in school, when it came to learning. I loved being social, with my teacher. I loved the textbooks used, but hated speaking in front of the class. I loved every second I was there, except during recess.
You see, I was still wearing out-of-style clothing and was still a farm girl. I would turn red when speaking in front of the class and the other students would laugh and whisper about me, making it even worse. I didn’t wear makeup like the other girls did (I was barely eleven, after all). I got along better with one of my boy cousins in my class, than I did with the other girls. I was introduced to peer pressure and the desire to be cool and liked by others. I was introduced to dating and trying to be attractive. I was eleven, remember? Yup.
By the end of 6th grade, the peer pressure was too much. I was never considered cool enough, though it wasn’t for lack of trying (unfortunately). I was often made fun of. It was horrible. Once again, I was educated at home. Since I always loved working through textbooks and reading, I spent the rest of my education doing just that. I never received an official high school diploma, though legally my mom could have created me one in the state we live. My mom always encouraged me to keep on learning and she put up with my talk of college and the like, never once discouraging my desire to continue my education. (Had I not married at 17, I have no idea if I would have gone to college. It was a relatively new concept to take online courses at that time and I doubt I would have enrolled in a brick and mortar college. But, I fully intended to be a teacher, secretary, or author, so I may have.) Meanwhile, I was working alongside my mom learning to cook, clean, care for children and a home, never realizing just how important that knowledge would be in my adult life!
After I got married, my husband thought I was “so smart” and encouraged me to continue my education. He thought I should learn to do things he thought he wasn’t smart enough to. Like business management, etc. I needed a high school diploma or GED for most distance-learning courses I looked into. I enrolled in an online high school program that could be completed at an accelerated pace just to receive the diploma, but was pregnant with our first child just a few months later and too sick to continue. Soon after our 2nd child was born, I started a distance-learning writing course. Though it took me two years, I earned 6 college credits while caring for my children and going through two more pregnancies. My 2nd child was also diagnosed with a terminal disease during that time. I really loved taking that course! It was my down time. Writing (and reading) has always been my way to unwind.
In the last 5 years since I started home educating my own kids formally, I have learned so much that I hadn’t in my elementary years. Especially in the language arts subjects that I so love. It has been such a blessing to continue learning through the programs I am using to teach my kids. I completed a home education course (equal to 1 college credit) to become “qualified” to teach my children at home (according to my state’s law) and my husband also encouraged me to take the tests required in our state to get my General Education Diploma in 2010. Once again, going to take the 5 tests on several different days at our local college was like a special date with myself. I loved it. It also reminded me that I suck at math. Ahem.
If money allowed, I would have enrolled in several online courses over the last 13 years since I’ve been married. Writing/editing, business management, graphic design, and holistic health are all things I’m interested in. Simply because I really enjoy learning. However, even with very limited funds and the fact that any money we set aside for education must be used for our children, I have found that there are so many ways to learn what you desire to learn.
You may not get the credentials proving it, but with time & experience, you learn so much! Just from managing my blog, working with The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew and other businesses, being an Independent Consultant with Lilla Rose, and being a freelance writer, I have learned a lot about HTML and coding, graphic design and photo editing, grammar and writing, advertising, public relations, tracking income & expenses, and much more that comes with being self-employed (and I have a lot more to learn). And, though I have very little interest in modern medicine, I have learned a lot about it because of Abigail’s health condition.
As a wife and mother, my husband and kids will always come first. But, I love learning and don’t believe I will ever stop continuing my education. As long as it doesn’t interfere with my first calling as a homemaker, I will continue to challenge myself academically. It’s just who I am. If nothing else, I will be self-educated in multiple areas which will benefit my family, though perhaps not the world.