Note: This is a column I wrote for the Barrow Journal about a former homeschool student who is now a graduate student at the University of Georgia. Click here to read the column on the Barrow Journal’s website.
For other interviews with homeschoolers, be sure to click on the “Interviews with Homeschoolers” in the margin.
I think that almost every homeschooling parent has moments of doubt when they wonder if the road they’ve chosen is going to hurt their kids. I know I do.
That’s why I was glad to meet Bethany Battig, a graduate student at UGA, who was homeschooled from the very beginning through the 7th grade. If anyone thinks that every homeschooled student will be at a disadvantage, they should talk to Bethany. She is articulate and well mannered with a professional appearance.
Bethany was homeschooled in the early part of her life in Jackson, Mississippi, but when her father took a job as a computer science professor, they moved to Vermont. She was homeschooled there for a few more years before attending public school, starting in the eighth grade.
Bethany’s mother, Heather A. Battig, told her, “We, like all intentional parents, wanted to give our children the best possible education that would benefit their lives and souls. We thought homeschooling was the wisest road to take toward that end.”
Like many homeschoolers, Bethany’s parents wanted their worldview and beliefs to permeate their children’s education in a way that they didn’t feel the public school system could do. She says they wanted to give their children the “big picture” approach to the world and to education, and they wanted to choose areas of emphasis specific to the strengths and weaknesses of each child.
Bethany says, “One main emphasis for my parents was history and the belief that the public school history is taught in a manner that is too ethnocentric in the United States.” Bethany and her siblings studied history from the beginning, exploring Ancient Egypt and Ancient Rome, and it wasn’t until their upper elementary grades that they studied American history in depth.
She also says, “My parents’ intentional exposure to international experiences through field trips and befriending of families from other cultures is something that I’ll always appreciate and admire greatly with regards to my upbringing through homeschooling.” Later, her parents encouraged Bethany and her siblings to travel abroad and gave them opportunities to volunteer in countries such as Cameroon, Cambodia, Mexico, Peru, Argentina and others.
Another reason her parents wanted to homeschool their children was that it gave the family more time together. Bethany’s father attended classes to get his PhD while also teaching full-time to support the family. Homeschooling allowed them the flexibility to spend more time together, and they could take family vacations when he had time off.
Bethany’s parents didn’t use any one curriculum because they wanted to thoughtfully consider what would work best for each course of study. They used a variety of resources, such as McGuffey readers, Saxon Math, Greenleaf Press history, and A Beka Book for English and others. Because of the flexibility, homeschooling allowed them to focus on more subjects than they may have studied in public school, and they were also involved in a number of homeschool co-ops.
Bethany remembers one co-op in which they were doing a unit study on the solar system, and each child had to represent one planet in the solar system and present findings on that particular planet. Bethany’s sister was Saturn, so she made a costume using a hula-hoop for the rings and a papiermâché ball for the planet (with holes in it so that her legs could fit through). She says a project like this incorporates arts and crafts and motivates kids to research, learn and present their findings.
When I asked Bethany what her personal feelings were toward her education, she said, “Homeschooling to me was natural and fun and never something that I considered a chore. My siblings and I soaked up information like a sponge, and I have many fond memories of being taught together (albeit, in different levels) at our kitchen or dining room tables. I feel privileged and blessed to have been homeschooled, and truly believe that it gave me an edge when I went into high school and even college, since I had had such an eclectic background in so many subjects.”
She also said, “I don’t think I realized that other children were schooled differently until I was much, much older!”
Bethany received a bachelor of arts with honors from Berry College in Rome, Georgia, where she graduated with a double major in Spanish and Government. She is currently attending the University of Georgia and pursuing a masters in Spanish Literature. She says that her future goals are to use her passion in the Spanish language to help others in some way, though she’s not sure whether it will be as a teacher, business professional, translator or something else.