As many parents navigate their new roles as homeschoolers this year, they may find themselves battling self-doubt and worry. The road less traveled is rarely an easy one.
Who better to seek wisdom from than The Homeschool Expert, Anne Crossman. A former homeschool student, Crossman attended Stanford and Duke, taught in public school, authored a few books, and circled back to homeschooling as a mom of four.
I asked her about her experiences as a homeschool student and teacher. Her insights may be just what the new homeschool parent needs to hear.
The Epoch Times: You were homeschooled yourself. What was your experience as a homeschool student like?
Anne Crossman: Homeschooling saved me. Prior to that, I was enrolled in a school that turned out to be a socially toxic situation. It was 1986, and there weren’t a lot of other options back then, so even though it was barely legal to do so and resources were limited, my parents decided to homeschool me. I am immensely grateful they did.
My parents academically educated my two brothers and me on a frugal budget, investing significantly in experiences outside our home interacting with people from all walks of life. The real world was our best classroom. We were encouraged to push ahead in subject areas of strength—so that, at times, I was able to complete two math books in a year because I loved the subject so much. To dive deep into subject areas that were compelling and unusual, such as learning a less popular language or doing significant research into subjects like poisonous plants or comparisons of classical composers, and to spend extra time on subjects that didn’t come as easily without feeling like “less” for doing so. Homeschooling also gave me the opportunity to restore some of my lost confidence from those early elementary years.
As for friends, I am so grateful for the other homeschooled students in our circle. Those outside the community may not realize that there is a disarming openness to homeschooled children—eager to welcome new friends, no matter their age, grade, or label. As a child, I found that incredibly healing.
Learning from home gave me space to grow and decide who I wanted to become. I ended up attending our local public high school, where I was named valedictorian of my class and elected student body vice president, and went to nationals in speech and debate. Eventually, I went on to attend Stanford and Duke universities. Not that my résumé matters much, but it proves the point that homeschooling didn’t turn me into a wallflower—quite the opposite.
The Epoch Times: How has being homeschooled prepared you for life?
Ms. Crossman: In many ways. It wasn’t until I reached my freshman year at Stanford, and got to know bright students from around the world that I realized how my time learning at home had developed my taste for academic rigor, nurtured my strength of will to set high expectations for myself, and fostered a yearning for achievement—not because of others’ opinions—but because of what I wanted for myself. Because of homeschooling, I learned how to be driven and self-taught, how to analyze the value of an argument for myself rather than based on what was popular, and how to be a lifelong learner.
The Epoch Times: What were some of the disadvantages of being homeschooled?
Ms. Crossman: Part of the challenges of homeschooling we faced no longer exist. For example, because it was so new in the ’80s and ’90s, there were very few resources or co-ops available. My mom quickly discovered there was no teacher in the box of curriculum she had purchased—she had to figure out for herself how to teach from home. At the time, there were no resources like Homeschool Expert to guide her. What she could have learned in hours from experts instead took years to solve on her own.
There is a lot of pressure on the parent-teacher to get it right from the beginning—and rightly so, this is a child’s education we are talking about. Just buying good curriculum is not enough—parents need to learn how to teach. Homeschool Expert recently conducted a national poll and found that only 37 percent of parents feel confident to teach from home during COVID. That means over 60 percent of parents need help learning how to teach.
The Epoch Times: What was your favorite part about being homeschooled?
Ms. Crossman: I loved the flexibility and freedom that came with homeschooling. So often, I could get up early and have my work done by lunch so that the afternoon was free for reading, creating, or exploring the outdoors—rescuing wild animals, learning horticulture, and building forts. I loved being able to get together with other families for dinner in the evenings and not have to worry about cutting off the fun by a certain time because we had school the next morning. We got to go on a lot of trips as kids we otherwise could not have taken, both because of the cost savings of traveling in off-peak seasons and also because we could flex when to school and when to travel without worrying about attendance issues. It was an idyllic childhood.
The Epoch Times: You now homeschool your four children. What drove you to decide to homeschool them?
Ms. Crossman: I chose to homeschool our kids because I wanted to give them the same gift of a childhood I had received—the gift of extended innocence, freedom to explore and love learning, and to build friendships in creative ways with children and adults of all ages.
The Epoch Times: What is your overall strategy for homeschooling your children?
Ms. Crossman: Because I grew up in the homeschool world, I can say confidently that there are a lot of ways to homeschool. My degrees in college were in education and English, with a focus in psychology. I then went on to teach in the public school system, as a private tutor, and in military barracks before authoring three books on education.
All those experiences went into creating an education model for our children. It’s been decades of work distilling all that information into practical tools. Honestly, it’s the main reason why I founded Homeschool Expert—to make all these resources available to families, saving them years of wasted stress and frustration trying to figure it out themselves. The tools families need to succeed this year are all there—in a digital video series that takes less time to watch than a superhero movie, podcasts with guest experts each week, practical articles, and the book “Homeschool Like an Expert” coming out at the end of September.
My goal is to teach parents how to teach so that homeschooling can become accessible to all families from any background.
The Epoch Times: With so many parents trying out homeschooling for the first time this year, what do you think is the most important advice you could offer them?
Ms. Crossman: The best thing I can tell new homeschoolers is: Don’t try to figure it out for yourself. It takes years of trial and error to track down enough resources to assimilate them into something that works for your family. You are not alone—Homeschool Expert is here to help. After developing the course based on advice from education consultants, psychologists, behavioral therapists, and over 100 successful homeschool parents, I can confidently say it is the definitive guide teaching parents how to teach from home. Use our practical tools and resources to make this year a success right from the start.