When I was a kid, I’d never heard of home education. Who could imagine never having to ride a school bus, doing subjects while in pajamas, and calling it a school day as soon as the work was done? Bizarre. By the time I was in high school, I’d heard there were a few weird people out there (mostly in California) who homeschooled, but I assumed they were all tree-huggers who ate tofu all the time, wore only bulky turtleneck sweaters and ankle-length skirts, couldn’t handle themselves in classroom settings, and didn’t know how to carry on conversations with normal human beings.
Then I reached the first year of my masters’ program in college, and I taught a Freshman Composition course. Many of the students aggravated me with their petty expectations that I coddle them like a bunch of five-year-olds who couldn’t spell or put together the most basic sentences, much less write decent essays. Okay, so a few did fine, but many did not. Still, there was one girl, Ashley, who stood out. She always listened attentively in class, participated in discussions, turned in every assignment on time, and wrote great essays. Imagine my reaction when she told me she’d been homeschooled all her life.
I was truly stunned. Ashley was cute, sweet, respectful, communicative, intelligent, and never wore bulky turtlenecks. She wasn’t even from California. Though I don’t know whether she ate tofu or hugged trees on a regular basis, I do know she was my favorite student. And she totally changed the way I viewed home education.
A few years later, my husband and I began our own family. As our oldest neared kindergarten age, we began to discuss our educational plans, and because of Ashley, the thought of homeschooling wasn’t incomprehensible. As Christians, we knew God had called us to train our children in His ways. We also knew from personal experience in the public school arena how much more difficult it would be for us to influence our kids if they were away from us most of the time. In addition, we realized we’d been teaching our kids since they were born. If we could train them to handle a spoon, say please and thank-you, and use the potty, surely we could teach them to read and write.
So we embarked on the homeschool journey with our four children. More than a decade later, I can say with confidence that it was the right educational decision for our family. I can also say that my high school notions of homeschoolers were way off base. While healthy eating and environmentalism are good things, nobody in my family eats tofu or hugs trees (well, there was that one time when my nine-year-old accidentally embraced a tree while trying to snag the ball from his brother during one of our backyard soccer matches…). Overall, my kids do well with their school subjects, participate in group classes through our homeschool co-op, and keep the Mom Taxi running nonstop to various lessons, sports, and activities. They have friends who attend public school and friends who homeschool, all of whom are fun people with varied interests and plenty of wonderful traits.
Given all I’ve learned about homeschool families over the years, it’s no wonder that when I began writing novel-length fiction, I decided to make my main characters homeschoolers, well-rounded, delightful people like my favorite student in college, Ashley, and like my own kids and their friends.
My debut novel, Whitewashed, released in February and is a Christian suspense about 18-year-old homeschooler Patience McDonough, who heads off to college in Mississippi and ends up on the bad side of a mentally unbalanced villain. In February, 2016, my second Christian suspense novel comes out. Colorblind follows Patience’s best friend Christy Kane to Buckeye Lake, Ohio, where somebody is reenacting history with potentially deadly consequences.
My young adult fantasy, The Trojan Horse Traitor, released November 17th, 2015, and is about 13-year-old homeschooler Levi Prince, who goes to summer camp on an island in the Great Lakes and finds out it’s actually a haven for mythical creatures. I’m hosting a giveaway of two paperback copies of The Trojan Horse Traitor on Goodreads. You can enter now through December 14th.
Whether your family home educates or not, I’d love for you and your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, neighbors, and random strangers to read my books and get to know Patience, Christy, and Levi. You’ll find they’re not unlike you, intriguing people with characters worth exploring and heroic traits worth discovering. And my characters don’t even hug trees…at least not too often.