When Sarah McKenzie embarked on homeschooling her children, she was told by others she was making a huge mistake. On this episode of the Read-Aloud Revival podcast, Sarah McKenzie, mother of six interviews her 20 year old daughter Audrey who was homeschooled her entire education before commencing university in 2021.
An educational adventure
Audrey graduated from high school in 2020 and entered into her first year of university with a lot of unknowns as the pandemic was raging through the world. After commencing university at a private Christian college in her hometown, she was offered the opportunity to study in Austria in a Franciscan University. Audrey reflects,
“I never expected to transfer to a university and fly across the world alone to a tiny Austrian town where I would live in a centuries-old Carthusian monastery. ”
Since studying in Austria, Audrey has had the opportunity to travel to eight countries and has even met Pope Francis while visiting Rome. It is a long way from when Audrey was 12 years old and being homeschooled by her mother Sarah who was also raising a 10-year-old, an 8-year-old, a 1 year-old, and twin newborns at the time.
Homeschooling with a wide view
Sarah says a lot of parents have reservations with the homeschooling model as there can be a misconception that it doesn’t prepare children for the real world. She argues that if you raise your children to love God and love others better than this necessarily requires engaging the world in a meaningful way rather than keeping your kids tucked away. Sarah adds,
“The world actually looks a lot like homeschooling than it does a classroom where you have 25 people all of one exact age in one controlled setting doing the exact same things. That system is never replicated again in our kids’ lives.”
Homeschooling parents are genuinely interested in knowing what was the most important thing for Audrey to know before entering into college. Audrey says there will also be gaps in people’s education and it is not possible for every student to study science, history and literature in great depth. She suggests,
“The goal is to give your children the heart of a learner and this curiosity about the world.”
There are a few key things you can help prepare your children such as writing essays and knowing the difference between the types of essays: analytical, persuasive and research. Sarah recommends the resources offered by the Institute for Excellence and Writing that have several different programs for essay writing.
Audrey also suggests developing time management skills is important for College life as there is a lot of time on campus that is unstructured and you need to know how to spend your time well and with intention. Audrey says her mother Sarah showed her how to develop checklists which gave her an understanding of what was doable and achievable in a day.
Keeping the wonder alive
Audrey says to raise your children to be good students of the world, they need to be encouraged and equipped to read and engage with content, ask questions and keep the wonder. She shares,
“The heart of a learner, this really stems from faith, I think. This genuine awe and wonder about the world and a longing to taste and see the goodness of the Lord in His creation. This was really cultivated for me in prayer, of course, as well as following interests.”
During Audrey’s homeschooling journey, her mother Sarah would offer lots of books to encourage any interests she developed such as marine biology to support her intellectual curiosity. Audrey said this gave her the ability as she has entered into young adulthood to pursue her passion for English literature and study overseas.
Preparing your child to become emotionally resilient
Audrey sees homeschooling as holy work and a gift to the community. She says that in many ways none of us can be fully prepared for the challenges that lie ahead but that God’s grace is poured out in abundance. Audrey says to listeners of the podcast who are homeschooling their children that perfection should not be the goal of a home school education. As a young adult who is now living away from home in a foreign country she suggests,
“I think perhaps the focus should be less about how to make kids unbreakable, but rather, to cultivate hearts that are hopeful in the face of fear, joyful in suffering, and persistent in moments of despair.”
Audrey suggests that one of the best gifts you can give to your children is to instill in them a resilient disposition that helps them to arise again and again after setbacks and disappointment as misfortune and mistakes are an inevitable part of life.