Editor’s Note: This Guest Post is from Lisa Nehring. She lives rurally in the Dakota Territories. She has 1 husband, 2 graduate degrees, 5 kids and a black-belt in homeschooling.
I’m delighted to be sharing on Rural Ministry about Rural Homeschooling. I wanted to start our journey together by sharing a bit about me. Our family has homeschooled for 23 years in CA, OH, NM and SD, two states that are heavily populated and clearly metropolis, and two that are sparsely populated and quite rural. We have 5 kids, ranging in age from 10 to 27 years old. Our three oldest have graduated from Homeschool; our oldest daughter was awarded a full ride scholarship to college and graduated last year, after having spent considerable time in Europe. Our second daughter graduated last year from Cosmetology School and our oldest son is working full time as a landscaper and taking college classes; paying as he goes. We are still homeschooling our two youngest, a 14 year old son and a soon to be 11 year old daughter.
My husband is a Christian Psychologist who has been involved in rural mental health delivery for almost 20 years. He has graduate degrees in both theology and psychology and his true joy is in leading people to the Lord and helping them to become firmly established in the faith. I have a couple of graduate degrees in the Social Sciences which I have used as a stay at home Mom, homeschooling my kids and ministering to other homeschoolers by starting class days, co-ops, hosting Moms retreats and writing. I’m an avid blogger (Golden Grasses at http://goldengrasses.blogspot.com) guest blog, test products and curriculum and write about it all. I also work part time for an amazing educational company.
We began homeschooling 23 years ago in Los Angeles. As you can imagine, L.A. is about as far from rural homeschooling as you can get. We had access to free events all the time, a world class library and museums within walking distance, field trips and amazing educational opportunities at our fingertips; from listening to world class musicians or watching professional actors perform to hiking in the San Gabriel’s or discovering baby octopi in the tide pools at Leo Carrillo beach. Since then, we’ve lived mostly rurally- first in New Mexico, in a small town 12 miles from the Texas border and lately ½ an hour from the largest town in the Dakotas. Homeschooling rurally has been rewarding and challenging and certainly different than homeschooling in a mega-tropolis. There are some things I miss about big city homeschooling but I wouldn’t trade the freedom and wide open space my kids have experienced homeschooling rurally; their internalized understanding of nature and weather patterns, their love of the outdoors, for much of anything.
I thought I’d get this party started by listing some common challenges and rewards of rural living. I’d love for you to join the conversation, so feel free to leave a comment and let me know your thoughts such as particular challenges you are enduring or a specific praise or resolution to a challenge. My goal is to make this column as helpful and practical as possible so let me know where you are at and what you are struggling with. I think we have a lot to learn from each other.
Challenges of Homeschooling Rurally
Lack of readily accessible friends- hard to build relationships from distance
Mediocre/poor library systems
Lack of co-ops/class days
Expense of driving to co-ops/class day
Missing out on field trips, educational museums, etc. due to gas money and time involved.
Having to plan for trips to acquire educational purchases rather than just running to the store.
Strategic planning required for every trip to town, including for snacks, naps and meals.
The lack of extra-curricular available like dance, classes, scouts, sports, etc.
Lack of part time entry level jobs available for older kids.
Lack of access to dual enrollment for older kids
Mom is often isolated
Spacious property for kids to roam on with no worries about homeowners associations or city by-laws
Freedom to explore nature and to “experience it up”
Ability to grow an extensive garden and to raise animals
Ability to understand construction- freedom to build and create on large scale
Get to relate to Little House on the Prairie
Become best friends with the librarian who gets you anything you possibly need
Make the field trips we DO take that much more special because they are few and far between.
Astronomy lessons rock when you can see every star brightly shining
What about you? What challenges and rewards are you experiencing first hand? Where are you located? What is God speaking to you about this spring?