Monday, August 6, 2007

Homeschooling with a Family Business

When I was in third grade, my Dad quit his engineering job in Silicon Valley to start a small business out of our home. The business was computer-related, and by the time I was in high school (which is when we started homeschooling) my dad had moved the business into an outside office with a demo-room, office space, warehouse and shipping area. Naturally my younger brothers and I spent a lot of time at the office, doing our school work in the warehouse loft and helping out with the family business. Now homeschooling with a family business certainly had its ups and downs. While my parents were both nearby to answer questions and they made resources and support available to us, they weren't able to focus on education and we did most of our work independently. A family business isn't for everyone, but our family benefited greatly from the closeness and the business experience we gained at a young age.

One year in particular my sister and her husband, who also ran a small business, rented space within my parents' office. John and Darlene were very interested in academics and we had lots of interesting discussions about astronomy, math and philosophy. Lunchtimes were the best because my two older brothers (who were both married) often dropped in from their nearby jobs to join us at lunch. This was such a rich experience for the three of us who were homeschooled (who at this time were in upper grade school to mid high school). Our four older siblings had a huge impact on our academic interests, our developing philosophies of life and our interest in getting into college. One of the best parts of homeschooling, for me, was the extra time I was able to spend with them and their families that would have never been possible if I was attending high school.

Besides the ability to interact with our family more, my younger brothers and I benefited greatly from our work experience under my Dad. He was a tough boss who expected a lot from us because he loved us. I learned to answer telephones, work various computer programs and handle various stages of customer orders. I can testify that when I worked through a secretarial temp agency during my college summers, I was offered a job by every single place I worked for. I think this was very largely due to the time I spent in high school working with my dad.

The family business never offered my parents better security, less stress or a better income than a traditional office job would have given. But my parents have never regretted this as it allowed them to raise their family the way they wanted to. It played an integral role in who our family was and who we have become.

contributed by Alicia from Wisconsin

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