Two Generations, Home Schooled

The author describes the benefits she gained from home schooling with her mother and the benefits four of her six children gained when she home schooled them in turn.

| November/December 1980

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    As far as the three women pictured here are concerned, home schooling runs in the family! LEFT: Winifed Amsden, the clan's first teaching parent.. CENTER: Diana Avery Amsden, the author of this article, was home schooled as a child and home schooled four of her children. RIGHT: Dyanne was the author's first home-taught child.

  • 066 home schooled two generations

In a MOTHER EARTH NEWS interview with John Holt, the home schooling advocate talked at length about the whys and hows of educating your children and the advantages of not allowing them to go through our country's conventional school system. Well, the author of the following piece not only home schooled several of her children ... she was also educated — as a young child — by her mother!  

Can you provide your child with a better education than he or she could expect to receive in the public schools?

That question is, of course, quite difficult to answer. After all, most people have been helped and inspired by exceptional teachers. On the other hand, it's pretty much common knowledge that many public school educators are incompetent. Worse yet, the overall atmosphere of our learning institutions often makes it all but impossible for a student to receive a good education. (in some instances, both pupils and instructors can do little more than worry about their physical safety!)

All in all, though, before you can decide whether you'll be able to teach your child better than the established schools can, you'll have to assess both your abilities (and commitments) and the quality of your local educational institutions. One thing's for sure: It is certainly possible for parents to provide a good — indeed, excellent — education for their own children. I know this to be true from my own personal experience ... because not only was I taught at home as a child, but I later educated four of my own offspring during their early childhood years. And I feel that the results, in both cases, were quite rewarding.

My Days as a Home-Taught Student

My mother — Winifred Stahly Amsden — never earned a college degree ... but she is nonetheless an unusually literate, well-read, and businesslike woman. She started my education when I was four with help from the correspondence kindergarten course provided by the Calvert School. (Even today, it pleases me to remember the Calvert-supplied bright wooden beads and the variously shaped blocks that I arranged in elaborate patterns on my pegboard.)

When I reached the age of five, though, Mother did enroll me in public school. The institution, located in nearby Nambé, New Mexico, was backed by Cyrus McCormick (a well-known philanthropist) and headed by a marvelous woman named Mary Watson ... and the quality of instruction was excellent. In fact, I was studying — and loving — such subjects as simple bacteriology, paleontology, and archaeology at the age of seven!

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