Senator Gen Olson: A homeschooling hero


Minnesota State Capitol Senate chambers

On Friday I volunteered for a short time at the MACHE Legislative Training Days program(LTD) at the Minnesota State Capitol. My sister and I had gone through the program a few years ago and were asked to come back and share some of our thoughts with high school students and their parents.

LTD is a wonderful program. It’s a two day experience, involving both students and their parents. They learn about the legislative process, experience session and committee hearings, meet legislators and other staff, and ultimately participate in a mock committee where they play the roles of legislators and lobbyists.

This year was special, however, because were we honoring Senator Gen Olson, a long-time advocate for homeschooler’s rights. Senator Olson is in her 30th year in the Senate and will be retiring after this session. We were allowed to meet with her in the Senate chambers and present her with a framed picture signed by the students and parents participating in LTD.

Most touching, however, were their brief speeches. Students talked about how homeschooling has given them countless opportunities, academically and relationally. Parents thanked Senator Olson for her untiring efforts to ensure that they can give their children the best possible education. The plentiful tears and laughter contrasting with the sprawling majesty of the Senate chambers made for an interesting morning.

The whole experience made me realize how passionate about homeschooling many people are. We may be widely scattered, but we are united by belief in the value of home education. If you’re thankful for this opportunity, consider sending Senator Olson a thank-you for her efforts. Homeschooling is alive and well in Minnesota thanks to her and others like her.


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Missing out

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Today was a great day because my article made the front page of my college’s newspaper. I was walking on air today. I felt famous, accomplished, on top of the world. Then I realized why I was so excited: I missed out. I’m ashamed to say that because I was homeschooled, I never got to write for my school’s paper. There is a common concern among family and friends of homeschoolers that homeschooled children are missing out on the joys of public school. Prom, sports teams, debate, theatre, you name it, people are pretty sure homeschoolers don’t have it.

I don’t know about your experience with being homeschooled or with your homeschooled acquaintances, but my homeschooling community successfully provided volleyball, basketball, theatre, choir, band, cross country, and even a senior formal dance (we call it “prom”). Contrary to popular belief, homeschoolers CAN and DO participate in many of the activities provided by a public school; we often just have smaller groups. I played basketball and volleyball for six years, sang in choir on and off for about three years, and watch my little sister in all her theatre productions to this day.

So, despite my sorrow at not having the opportunity to write for a school newspaper before I came to college, today I have realized just how much I have been able to do because I’m homeschooled. Don’t worry, homeschoolers have just as many, or more opportunities as kids in public school.

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Why I love (and hate) libraries

Libraries and I have a love-hate relationship. Well, that’s not really true. It’s mostly love. Really, I only hate libraries when I have procrastinated a big paper and finally have to force myself to get started on it. So that’s really hating the self-induced torture that just happens to usually take place in a library. Libraries, when used the way they are intended, are incredibly spectacular places.

As a homeschooler, I think I have a rather unique perspective on libraries. Growing up, the library was one of my favorite places, right up there with Grandma’s house and the cab of my dad’s combine at harvest time. My mom took my sisters and I there about once a week, and we reveled in it. We would scatter among the shelves, gleefully selecting books to devour in the days to come. Eventually, my mom was forced to set a limit (I think 5 or 6 books per fanatic) so that the plastic orange crate which held our library books remained a reasonable weight. The librarians knew my sisters and I well, in addition to all 14 digits of my mom’s library card number. We were fixtures and I loved it.

As I have grown older, my feelings about libraries have not changed. Life, unfortunately, has moved on, often leaving me precious little time to bask between the shelves. Nevertheless, I wistfully await the day when I will have nothing to do but read. I hope it comes soon.

What is your relationship with libraries?


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Saying Thank You

Throughout my years as a homeschooler, there were many people who had a profound influence on my life. I had many great role models through church and 4-H. I was also blessed to have both sets of grandparents and one set of great-grandparents live nearby, and I have many wonderful memories with them. Without a doubt, however, the most influential people in my life have been my parents. Simply the fact that they chose to homeschool my sisters and I has completely changed my life.

As kids, I think it is so easy to take our parents for granted. And perhaps there is a purpose in that. A child needs to know that her parents will provide for her, love her, and always be there for her. It’s a good thing for them to take that for granted.

As I grow older, however, I am beginning to realize how much my parents have done for me. The decision to homeschool completely changed their lives. In my case, it meant that my mom stayed home to teach us, making my dad the sole provider for a family of seven. In some families, it may even mean alienation or at least some separation from others. There’s no way around it: our parents sacrificed when they decided to homeschool us. Only now am I finally beginning to appreciate it.

If you’re a homeschooled student, think about what your parents gave up to homeschool you. Chances are they wouldn’t go back and change it for the world, but may I make a suggestion? Thank them. Thank them for the hours they spent helping you understand grammar and algebra. Thank them for financial and social sacrifices they have made. Thank them for choosing to homeschool. If they’re anything like my parents, it will mean the world to them.


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What’s wrong with my comfort zone?

As a homeschooler, I often have trouble stepping out of my comfort zone. Growing up with my siblings, parents, and best friends (who were also homeschooled) around me was very comfortable. Throughout high school, I was convinced that I was an extroverted people-person. Then, I arrived at college and discovered my true colors.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love people. The hard part for me is stepping out of my comfort zone and meeting new people. Orientation week of my first semester was not quite a nightmare, but I was pretty homesick. I missed my family and my friends from back home: the people who I didn’t have to try to befriend because they already understood me.

I quickly learned that stepping out of my comfort zone and introducing myself to my fellow students was hard. Not just because it was often awkward. Frankly, trying to make new friends and get to know a person on the spot often fails miserably. On the bright side, going through those many awkward encounters yields a few wonderful friendships.

So, whether you’re an introverted homeschooler, or just an introvert trying to feel at home at college, get out there and meet people. You’ll fail miserably, but you’ll also probably meet your future best friend. Meet one new person this week. If it fails, it’s okay. But you will never know until you try.

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Good Ol’ Homeschooler Initiative

Homeschoolers are initiative-takers. It’s really what defines us. The idea of homeschooling itself is based on people recognizing the value of a more personal education and stepping up to act on it. We also take initiative when it comes to connecting with other people. We form co-ops and organize educational competitions and clubs. In fact, homeschooling is what it is today largely because homeschoolers have gotten involved in making sure that our government continues to allow us this freedom.

As we look ahead to the 2012 election in November, however, it’s easy to let that initiative slide. The Republican presidential nomination has been a hotly contested race and looks to continue that way. As a conservative, I sometimes think that none of candidates are people I would want leading this country. But this is not an excuse to let our homeschooler initiative falter! Whatever your political affiliation, take pride in your homeschooler status, as well as your freedom to voice your opinion. Please take the time to become informed about the important issues and how candidates (presidential or otherwise) stand on them.

For my fellow Minnesotans, the Republican caucus is next Tuesday, February 7 at 7:00pm. You can go here to find out where your district meets. Take a step and spread that homeschooler initiative around!




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All about Tebow

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I want to marry Tim Tebow.

Well, we would have to get to know each other first, but I really think it would work out well. Tebow is a man of God, he’s athletic, and attractive. He has taken a lot of heat for his beliefs, yet he remains steadfast (at least from what the media has said). Tebow’s unique blend of straightforward beliefs, humble attitude, and skilled athleticism makes him something of a rarity.

Perhaps, strangest of all, Tebow was homeschooled for most of his pre-college education. His parents were missionaries to the Philippines until 1990, and his dad is a pastor. This well-muscled professional quarterback contradicts the stereotype about ALL homeschoolers being uncoordinated and non-athletic.

Taking so much heat for his beliefs has boosted Tebow’s presence in the conservative community. Lately, his habit of taking a knee in prayer before, after, and during games has sparked controversy. But for those of us who do have an intensely personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it’s just really great to see someone “tebowing” on TV before we take to our own knees before bed. This interview with Jimmy Fallon will have all you girls and your moms saying, “Awww, what a GREAT guy.”

So, I’m not actually serious about marrying Tim Tebow. I mean, if the situation arises, then I won’t complain. But my main point is that Tebow is someone that good girls daydream about just a little. He may not be my Prince Charming, but his vibrant love of Jesus and courageous stance for his beliefs are qualities that good (read: Christian) guys should have.


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