Rifke ~ Best & Worst Homeschool Moments

Guest Post 4

Here is homeschool graduate and dear friend, Rifke’s forth post. Please pop over to read her previous guest posts ~ post 1post 2 and post 3 if you have just joined us.  This week she shares her best and worst homeschool moments.  

“When you are homeschooled, your education takes on the flavor of your family life. No two homeschooled adventures are quite the same, in either the best or the worst moments.

photo by Natan Grobler

photo by Natan Grobler

Definitely one of the hardest experiences for me, being homeschooled, was that little pit of terror that I sometimes fell into when I switched courses, or started a new grade, and found what appeared to be a great big gap in my schooling. What a wobbly an incident like that would give me! All kinds of horrible, rather melodramatic questions and suspicions would be raised – was I studying properly? Did I have memory problems? Was I simply not smart enough to understand my schoolwork?

My most stressful knowledge-gap episode happened when I was in early high school, and was supposed to switch from TCE to KONOS maths. The last TCE maths book that I had done was a Saxon book, and the way that it had taught agreed with my learning style, right down to how the problem questions were worded. Maths had never seemed so straightforward. From there, jumping into the ocean of Konos’ unique learning style… well, let’s just say I that adored the history, but the maths left me drowning. Luckily for my peace of mind, someone who knew the course informed us that KONOS maths can be difficult for anyone to understand if they haven’t been studying through the course from the beginning.


photo by Natan Grobler

After this discovery, I had a stressful, shaky year of maths. I would try a book, only to discover that we didn’t have the answer book, or that the back of the book had the answers but not the steps for working them out. I also tried a book or two that was a grade ahead, in desperation. It was never long before I came across something vital that just didn’t make sense.

I prayed a lot about the situation. So did my mother, and in His time, God answered us. A friend provided us with a computer course in algebra. I could pick my grade, and my lessons; everything was clearly laid out and cheerful, with colorful cartoon pictures, verbal explanations, multiple choice answers and flash animations. It was exactly what I needed for a bridging course, and a previously undiscovered cog in my brain clicked into place. Afterwards I moved onto a Cambridge IGCSE maths book, and flourished in maths from that grade up.

Other dark moments in my homeschooling years were those when I felt eaten by worries over whether my schooling, and the books that I was choosing to learn from, would be sufficient in building up a knowledge base that could eventually carry me through my matric exams. I have to admit (and I am sorry, Lord!) that I stress very easily. And while I am sure that in most households these concerns lie at the parents’ door, my single-minded decision that I would school myself meant that I carried at least as much insecurity over these issues as my mother did. After all, I didn’t know very much, and hadn’t written even one exam. How could I be sure that what I was doing, and the decisions I was making, would equip me to pass matric?

I stressed way more than necessary over these questions. Not just because I did actually end up passing matric without working that hard for it, but also because, at the end of the day, passing matric isn’t even terribly important.

But the trying homeschooled episodes are so easy to overlook, weighed up against the gladness of the good moments.

I know it isn’t a very deep insight, but certainly some of the most delightful events, when one is homeschooled, are those days that one can just randomly take off from school. If something exciting is happening – if the bull is being slaughtered – if friends are coming for the day – if you are sick – even if it’s just raining and it’s such movie and pancakes weather – everything can be joyfully laid down, and picked up again tomorrow. Really, in situations like those, one can’t help gloating just a little over “normally” schooled friends. It is also very practical when one lives like we do, self-sufficiently, with physical work competing against schooling for our time.

Other wonderful moments that I can distinctly remember are those when the joy of learning suddenly struck me with awe. These were definitely encouraged by the fact that I had free rein to pick my own books, subjects and pace. Although a mom’s last words are needed to balance decisions out, there is nothing as freeing in a learning career as being able to cater for one’s own individual learning style. To me, it a way of showing deference to how unique God has created each individual to be.

photo by Natan Grobler

photo by Natan Grobler

I had so many interests and passions in high school, and I was free to explore them. KONOS history, for an example, was deeply satisfying. I couldn’t get enough of the creative studying methods and unusual activities. I also appreciated the fact that in high school I was allowed to exchange a book for another if the first one didn’t appeal to me, in the same way that I could pick up a book if it looked interesting, and work through it on school time. Information – all those fascinating nuggets about cells and the atomic makeup of physical substances, or all those brain-blowing marvels of the expanse of the universe – delighted me, and set my curiosity hungrily ablaze at the same time.

Good moments or bad moments, the wonderful thing about homeschooling is that it is, in essence, just a part of one’s life. The artificial standard of vulnerable young people spending  many hours away from home has been broken. Schooling and unique family life have been joined into one crazy, joyful experience of discovery.

What wonderful memories,Rifke. You can read more of Rifke’s life, thoughts and self-sufficiency knowledge on her blog ~Through the Window.


2 thoughts on “Rifke ~ Best & Worst Homeschool Moments

  1. Hi Nadene,
    I am enjoying the posts by Rifke. Thank you for the interesting and informative series. It is exciting seeing a new generation engaging the world as Home-Schooled adults.
    I think an explanation of the rigorous South African “matric” exams would help the international Home-Schoolers understand this article better as testing in the US is very different.
    To be able to earn a Matric Exemption, 12th grade, or matric students need to take a national matric examination. If they pass this, only then are they able to be accepted into university to study further. There is incredible pressure on school students to excel in these exams and there were no multiple choice questions when I was in school. A 3 hour written exam, plus another for practical, e’g’ Home Ec, Biology, for each subject and Languages had 3 or 4 sections. Exams start in primary school and are intense every term. 4 times a year!
    I never realised how much stress it was and how it had affected me until my little boys were taking their first standardised tests in New York. I woke up having nightmares that I had not studied enough for my matric finals!
    I also had to recognise that my pride was at stake as my boys were being tested. I felt that I was under the microscope, I felt that I was being tested too. Had I done enough seat work with them? How they test will reflect on me as their parent/teacher. Some times this is a good wake up call to ensure we are doing our best for our children! For me it was a humbling moment as I realised that I was more worried about what others would think and that I had taken my eyes off the goal of raising adults that are well rounded, grounded in Christ and excited about learning.
    Thanks Nadene for your great blog!
    Blessings, Lydia


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