My Educational Journey
My educational journey has been an interesting one, but not because anything about my family was especially unique in that way. My parents were not teachers, they were not rich; they were just two people invested in the future of their children. In my grade school years, 5 were homeschooled, 4 were in private school and 3 were in public school. I feel like maybe these different journeys led me to who I am today – a curious and perpetual learner!
As I have mentioned before, in my young childhood my parents embarked on a Great Adventure, where we traveled via motor home across western North America for 18 months. We left when I was 4 and I returned back home just before I turned 6. During this period of time, other kids my age were in Kindergarten, learning how to…do whatever it is kids do in kindergarten. I have no idea what that might be. I was learning to read while the scenery of the many beautiful landscapes passed by our window. I was learning that not everyone lives the same way, not everyone aspires to the same type of success, and that not everyone conforms to the same sense of normal, as we encountered all kinds of different people. I was on the beach in Mexico, playing with the children who only spoke Spanish, learning that we can be different and still play together. An unconventional education, but infinitely valuable to me.
Upon returning to my hometown, I began homeschooling grade one with my parents. People who have never really been involved in homeschooling always have weird ideas about what that must entail. My parents, at least, had a broad approach. I learned to read and write and do basic math, but I also learned life skills, how to socialize with both children and adults and do basic household tasks, etc.
In grade two, I entered a private Christian school. My parents, unwilling to enter me into public school but also unable to afford private school tuition, offset the costs of tuition by having my mom volunteer as a chaperone, field trip driver, and teacher’s aide. Looking back, my mom was always at school, teaching the left handed kids how to tie shoes, and reading to people or correcting our homework. It never occurred to me that I was in an entirely different economic bracket from my classmates. They all had prettier clothes and more toys and big houses, but I just assumed that was something my parents weren’t interested in for themselves. It also never occurred to me that it was odd that my mom was basically working part time at the school – my parents always were involved in things!
At the end of grade five, I asked to go back to homeschooling again. I wanted to work at my own pace, I disliked being unable to move ahead because others weren’t ready, and I wanted to be able to study more in-depth on certain topics. Home schooling has the same government requirements for completion as regular schools, standard tests are taken, and so on, however, I could meet all of the requirements and go on to study in greater detail the topics I had a passion for. By the end of ninth grade, on our government exams, I was performing in all categories well above my grade level – sometimes at the 12th-grade level.
I entered public school at the start of 10th grade, eager for more hands on learning in math and science labs. I ended up starting 10th grade in a school that was shutting down at the end of the year, so I had the privilege of trying out two public high schools! Fortunately, due to this, I met the two girls that I am still friends with to this day. Aside from them, I did not enjoy high school at all but had it not been for the math teacher I had in my senior year, I might never have overcome those struggles in math and I am grateful.
When I was twelve years old, my parents sat me down and explained to me that due to the large size of our family, they would not be able to pay for college tuition and that I needed to move forward either working toward scholarships or with a plan. I began working when I was 15 and worked all through school. I am appreciative of the academic experiences I had in my youth. I reached adulthood with a different perspective on what success means, with a passion for learning, and with flexibility for change. I embrace change, diversity and challenge, and with a totally open mind to different educational options should I ever raise a child myself!