In October 2014, a wonderful mom from Florida, Janet Sedano, allowed me to interview her about her experience homeschooling three of her four children. See the interview below!
Interview conducted by Rachel Wise, CEO of Education and Behavior (22 Interview Questions)
1. How long have you been homeschooling?
We have homeschooled for about 14 years.
2. What grade are your child(ren) in?
I just graduated my daughter in June 2014, our son is in 12th grade and dual enrolled in one class in college, and we have a daughter in varying grades in elementary (special needs).
Related Article: How Does Homeschooling Impact Academics and Social Skills?
3. Why did you decide to homeschool?
We met a family who homeschooled and we were very impressed with the closeness between the kids and with their parents. Then I went to a homeschool convention and was even more impressed by the families. Everyone was so friendly, but the parents were genuinely happy to be with their children. The parents brought their children into the workshops to listen to the speakers.
I never noticed the kids whining about wanting to leave or being bored. They sat close to their parents on the floor (leaving seats for the adults) either reading a book, writing or coloring. Oh, rarely saw kids with earbuds or playing handheld games. And the teenagers easily held conversations with adults and kids younger than themselves. It was a completely different dynamic than what I was accustomed to seeing.
4. If your kids went to public or private school before, what is better about homeschooling?
Our oldest son went to public school. With homeschool, kids are not segregated/separated by age. There is no bullying. No peer pressure. I can give my kids one on one attention. We have time for things that interest them, like horseback riding, ballet, gymnastics, computers. We have time to volunteer in our community.
I can challenge my kids in the academic areas they are strong in while also helping them in the areas of weakness without frustrating them and still encouraging them. Most of all, we can work on their character and teach them our own beliefs, comparing them to other beliefs in our culture.
5. Is there anything about public or private school that you miss now that you are homeschooling?
The guidance in the high school years from a good guidance counselor, and one who does it all for free. I gave this question a lot of thought and almost answered “No”.
6. How does homeschooling work? What materials do you use? Do you follow a curriculum?
We’ve done different things and used different curricula throughout the years. Our curriculum has been purchased from homeschool curriculum vendors or used materials from other homeschooling families. With my oldest two, during the middle and high school years, have attended homeschool classes one day a week where they are taught by tutors using some of the best homeschool curricula. With my youngest, we use an online interactive curriculum (Time4Learning.com), and we supplement with a few other workbooks and educational activities, and videos.
7. Are the materials free?
We have received free materials, as parents also often share materials. There are ways to homeschool for free or cheap. Through the use of the library, and there are courses through Florida Virtual homeschooling has been free at times. We can be creative in creating our own curriculum, especially with internet access and for elementary grade levels. However, there is also a plethora of high-quality homeschool curriculum to choose from, which we also use.
8. How are your children’s skills tested? Do they take statewide tests or other tests? Where are the tests taken (at home or in a different location)? Who supervises your child when taking a test?
My kids were evaluated during their first few years of elementary by a certified teacher. We took samples of their work and the teacher-tested them orally. Once in about 4th grade, they started taking standardized tests. These tests were supervised by certified teachers and were at a designated location, like a private school or church with a classroom loaned to us for this purpose.
9. How do your children feel about homeschool?
Our kids have never asked to go to a brick-and-mortar school. We have a large homeschool community, so we have many friends. My oldest, who wasn’t homeschooled, now wishes he had been….and is homeschooling his daughter. He was in high school when I started homeschooling his little siblings.
10. What social opportunities do your children have? How often do they attend social activities? Where do they go for the activities?
We have a very large homeschool community and participate in many of the same extra-curricular activities kids in a brick and mortar school have, such as yearbook club, drama club, competitive sports, homecoming and prom dances, public speaking/debate tournaments and so much more. Our kids have participated in all the aforementioned activities. We also have been in co-ops and homeschool classes.
11. How are your children’s levels of cooperation, motivation, and participation when you are working with them? On a scale from 1 to 10 please rate (separately) your child’s cooperation, motivation, and participation.
My daughter who is now in college, likes workbooks, she likes writing and reading. So as long as it involved one of those, I’d rate her at an 7 or 8 in all. She has a hard time with deadlines. She prefers to work at her own pace. She’s learning this in college now. If it’s something she enjoys, she’s on it; if it’s a subject she doesn’t like (math), she drags her feet a little, but she gets it done. My son is very disciplined. So I would rate him at a 9 in everything.
My daughter who is developmentally delayed or has a learning disability loves learning. We found the ideal curriculum for her and she just loves it (Time4Learning.com).
There have been times she’s been sick, needing rest, so we tell her ‘no school today. She cries because she wants to do her Time4Learning. So I would rate her at a 9 or 10 in all.
13. How are your children performing academically? Are they given grades? If so, what kind of grades do they get?
My two older children have gotten As and Bs.
My oldest daughter has struggled through math, so at times the scores were Cs. But she’s doing fine in college. My son is mostly As in everything. He’s also dual-enrolled in college and is doing very well with As.
My youngest with a learning disability is in different grade levels. She struggles in math, but does very well in language arts. I don’t give her grades. I just work with her in every area, trying to improve in all areas.
14. For a chlid with a learning disabiity, how do you address their needs through homeschooling?
With my daughter, I work with her at a one-on-one level. Her online program is interactive, which keeps her engaged. Some of the lessons are animated, which makes learning fun for her.
The program also tracks her work through a progress report that gives her scores.
I don’t show her these scores, but I use them to determine which lessons she needs to repeat and work on with more frequency. I also find other ways to help her understand concepts, in math, for example, through hands-on activities or visual means.
Because we homeschool, I am able to spend a lot more time with her as we work one on one. I’m also able to select the activities she enjoys participating in, such as ballet…this year she’s in a PE group, drama club and a book club where I attend with her.
I’m able to observe her interaction with other kids. This helps me work on other areas with her related to conversations and social interaction. She has never been bullied. On the contrary, the kids of all ages give her extra attention and help her with dance steps, skits, crafts or with whatever they’re doing.
15. How could someone go about finding a homeschool convention or homeschool vendor?
Contact local homeschool support groups for convention info and vendor recommendations (There are many homeschool groups on Facebook). I would also do a Google search of my state homeschool organization for convention information.
16. How will someone know if a homeschool vendor is reputable?
All homeschoolers are familiar with reputable homeschool vendors. New homeschoolers should do their research and get connected with homeschooler organizations. And there are vendors for used homeschool curriculum. So you could do a search of those, too. The best way to find out if it’s a reputable vendor is to ask other homeschoolers. Visit homeschool blogs to find what others use and where they purchase materials. Also, visit homeschooling forums and Facebook pages.
The best resource is the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. All homeschoolers should join this organization. They’re a great resource for information, but they also provide excellent legal assistance if ever needed!
17. After fourth grade, are standardized tests the only kinds of tests given?
When I spoke of evaluations and standardized tests, these are to show proof of academic progress for the year. Each state has different laws and requirements. In my state we need to show proof that our child/student is showing progress from year to year from kindergarten through 12th grade through test or evaluation.
18. Are there just regular tests like children in traditional school take on a weekly basis in school (e.g., spelling test, chapter test, etc.)?
For our family, the answer is yes. My kids do take tests in every grade, subject, and in every chapter covered. It’s how we determine where their strengths and weaknesses are, how well they are learning the material, and if the curriculum is meeting their individual needs. While one curriculum may meet one child’s needs, it may not for another.
19. Is there anywhere you have to report their grades other than the standardized test grades reported to the state?
Each state’s laws and requirements vary. We report to our local school board. If you want more information on state laws for homeschooling, you can contact the Homeschool Legal Defense Association at (540) 338 – 5600.
20. How could parents find a homeschool community and associated social activities you mentioned like drama club, yearbook club, debate tournaments, etc.?
You can find out this information by asking other homeschoolers, joining homeschool groups (e.g., Facebook), checking with your state homeschool association, or the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.
21. Do only homeschooled kids join these clubs?
You would need to be a member of the homeschool support group where these clubs or courses are offered. These are support groups for homeschoolers. Classes and clubs often meet during school hours. For example, just like a drama club in a school meets during school hours, so does a drama club for homeschoolers. Non-homeschoolers may not be turned away, but it would be difficult or impossible to participate.
22. What are co-ops and homeschool classes? How could someone find these in their area?
Again, find them through support groups or word of mouth. These are usually put together by a homeschool support group or by homeschooling families who decide to get together and teach their kids in a cooperative way. For example, I’ll teach Spanish, another parent teaches science experiments, another voice lessons, another art, or writing or Latin, etc.
About the Interviewee (2014): Janet Sedano has been married 20 years. She and her husband have been blessed with 5 children and 4 grandchildren. Their oldest two children, who are now married adults with children of their own, attended public school. Her three younger children are homeschooled. One of their grandchildren is also homeschooled.
Janet has been homeschooling now 14 years. Her daughter just graduated from homeschool high school and is attending college. She continues to homeschool her son, who is in high school, and her daughter with special needs in elementary school. If you want to know more about their homeschooling journey, she invites you to visit her blog, The Learning Hourglass.