It is with deep affection and admiration, I introduce you to Lea Ann. She is a homeschool grad who came from an abusive homeschooling situation, yet went on to homeschool her own children lovingly and successfully. You will be inspired by her story, and I am so thankful she was willing to share it.
Name & Age
Lea Ann Garfias, and I’m *gasp* 41.
How many years were you homeschooled?
I was homeschooled in the dark ages of the late 80s, early 90s. This was in Michigan, which was one of the two most horrible states to homeschool in. We were in deep hiding, never telling anyone we were homeschooled until we graduated. I was homeschooled from 7th grade through graduation, which I completed in five years by homeschooling year-round.
A favorite homeschooling memory.
Finishing Saxon Calculus. This was back before the solutions manual had the problems worked out, so it would take hours for my dad and me to grade and correct every paper. And we dared not skip a single problem, because of the litigious system that could swoop in and inspect us at any moment. We were extra careful to finish every problem on every page of every book. So when I finished that course, I literally threw the textbook down the basement stairs in glee. My parents were horrified, but it felt so good!
I didn’t have an emotional attachment to my high school curriculum because we were pretty close to “school at home.” Each book and workbook represented something I had to finish to get to my goal: graduation. I loved reading for fun, though, so working on my homework as fast as I could so I could go read, that was my reward.
Worst homeschooling memory.
I was physically abused until puberty, right around the time we started homeschooling. Then it was just verbal and emotional abuse. That tainted a lot of my homeschool memories, the pressure to get 100% on everything and the anxiety over tests and quizzes to avoid an ugly scene. This actually made me not want to homeschool my own children. I’m so glad my husband convinced me that we could, in fact, homeschool differently.
Most difficult lesson/subject for you?
Spelling. Hands down. I still can’t spell, and I’m a published author. Spell check is the best thing EVER!
What did you choose to do after graduating?
I went straight to Bob Jones University (yes, that college) after graduation and studied Church Music (violin and piano). After two and a half years, I eloped with a hot immigrant from Peru, and we’ve been married happily ever after for the past twenty years.
Why you chose to do that.
I choose music because I had studied classical violin and piano seriously for a decade, performing and competing around the country. But I didn’t want to go into music performance because I was burdened to serve and because the music career is grueling (worse than homeschooling, if you can imagine!). I eloped because of my issues with my family; I was running away to safety, and God graciously healed my heart over time through my husband’s loving counsel. And now I write and speak because I want women to know the God still has a great purpose for them, no matter their painful pasts.
Will you homeschool your own children if you have any?
Yes, I joke that our four children “have never been institutionalized,” except now our homeschool grad is away at Liberty University, so he had to learn to sit in a classroom eventually. Poor guy. I didn’t originally want to homeschool, but my husband challenged me to try to homeschool differently for “just one year,” and then I was hooked. I loved being part of those “lightbulb moments” of discovery, and I loved the daily life of motherhood. I’ve been surprised, pleasantly surprised, by homeschooling.
Why or why not?
So I started off homeschooling because of the deal my husband made me, but we stuck with it for deeper reasons. We want to pass on our core values to our children: love God, love others, work hard. That’s it. So whether or not they get all A’s, whether or not they go to college, whether or not they achieve fame and fortune, we know God will bless their lives if they just remember to love and keep working. But we really have a lot of fun, too.
Any regrets directly related to being homeschooled?
It’s more common for homeschool grads like me, who came out of bad situations, to be jaded about homeschooling itself. They blame the isolationism, the cultural superiority, the abuse of power for their own neglect and abuse. I see it much differently. Sin happens in all corners of life, even in the church and even in the best of families and even in homeschooling. Homeschooling isn’t the problem — sin is the problem.
Anything you wish you had been taught?
I got the best academic education anyone could ask for, and I received one of the highest grades that year on the ACT, garnering me full-ride scholarship offers from Ivy League schools (which I turned down to go to a Christian college). Academically, I have nothing to complain about. But I learned there are much more important lessons: love, forgiveness, loyalty, grace. I pray that’s where our focus remains in our current homeschooling.
How did homeschooling prepare you for what you are doing now (college or work)?
I’m a homeschool mom, author, and speaker, lol! Homeschooling taught me to work hard, to study hard, and to find the answer to any problem by looking carefully. But homeschooling in my life also taught me to boldly pursue a new path, to courageously embrace a new vision for a different family than I had ever experienced.
What is the worst misnomer about homeschoolers?
That we’re weird. Yet there are weird people everywhere. And you’ll find every kind of problem and every kind of success in homeschooling that you can find in traditional schooling. We’re just people. People who survived homeschooling . . . and bravely tried again.
LEA ANN GARFIAS, The Genuine Homeschool Mom, believes there is enough coffee in the world to make even dreadful Thursdays tolerable. As a homeschool author and speaker, she helps ordinary moms realize their extraordinary influence. When she’s not homeschooling her four children, shouting at soccer matches, or performing on the violin, she’s passed out asleep. You’ll find evidence of her existence at lagarfias.com.