Homeschool Alumni Interview: "Learning is a lifestyle"

Posted in Homeschool Voices on April 4, 2017 - by Justin Dew


Learning is a Lifestyle

My name is Justin Dew. I’m 23 male, agnostic, and I live by myself. I’m live in Michigan. I graduated high school in 2012. You can find me on Twitter and a Instagram.

I homeschooled from Kindergarten, which I started when I was seven, until Junior Year in High School, which started when I was seventeen. I homeschooled every year with the exception of 8th grade. I homeschooled for ten years. Homeschooling was not financially difficult on our family.

I currently attend community college. I’m majoring in Communications. I work in Fast Food, but I also do graphic design and affiliate marketing as a side business.

Learning more about Justin's homeschool experience

My parents chose to homeschool me for a number of reasons. I’m the youngest of seven. By the time I was school age, my other siblings had already left the house. My mother had dealt with sub-par public schools and decided to try something different with me. She also homeschooled me for religious reasons.

I was the only one homeschooled -- all of my siblings had finished high school by the time I started school.

Did you follow a specific homeschooling method?

We did have text books, but we followed the unschooling method. I really had trouble concentrating when I was younger, and it was easier to let me choose what I wanted to work on.

We used a variety of different curriculums. The only thing they really had in common is they were all Christian based. (Bob Jones University, ABeka Books)

Would your parents have allowed you to attend another type of school if you had wanted?

Yes, I chose to go to private school in 8th grade. I also choose to finish my last two years of high school in public school.

Do you think your parent/parents were 'qualified' educators?

Yes, for the most part. When I was in grade school it was fine. However, my education was lacking in math.

An Average Day In Justin's Homeschool

Overall, my day was very relaxed. I would wake up, and have breakfast. Then we would work on school in the morning. We usually finished before 1pm. After lunch my mom would run errands if she needed to and we’d come back to home and finish any left over work. Then I’d feed my animals (I had two rabbits) or read and that would be my day. Roughly twice a week I’d go to Homeschool PE at the local YMCA.


Did you feel like homeschooling provided you with enough experience to be considered “well socialized?”

I was very socialized.

I’ve always been very good in crowds and with different groups of people. The only thing I’m lacking in is when I’m introduced to a new group of people, I’m always quiet. It’s odd because this is entirely different than my normal personality. Luckily I’ve learned to recognize this and learn to work around it.

We lived in the bible belt in a town with a very active group of homeschoolers so I never really felt left out. Looking back, I was grateful for that. I never really had an experience of feeling out of place or "weird."

I was involved in a number of extracurricular activities. I was in the 4-H. I participated in sports through my church. I was also active in Youth Group.

Do you think homeschoolers have less exposure to new experiences, ideas, and fields of study?

It all depends on your location and how you homeschool. If you join co-ops and different groups like the 4-H then you will definitely learn a lot and be exposed to a lot.

Homeschooling + Society and Your Family

Did you dread being asked “what school do you attend?”

Not really. I’d just say I was homeschooled and they’d nod. Like I mentioned earlier, homeschooling was very accepted in my town. I never had to deal with judgement from society about being a homeschooler.

Did you have the support of your extended family in your decision to homeschool?

My siblings were supportive and I really didn’t have any other family besides that.

Valuable Takeaways from Justin's Homeschool Experience

This section should be where homeschooling parents gain the most insight into "the good, the bad, and the ugly."

What were the best parts about your homeschooling experience?

The freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted to. Before I started public school, I had no idea that everything was so regimented and scheduled out. Not to mention that lack of freedom. It was awful.

Opportunities & limitations

Opportunities: We were able to travel and go to different places during the off season or during the week when everyone else was in school.

Limitations: Homeschooling limited me because while my mom focused on math, I never really cared about it.

Missing out by not attending public school

I missed opportunities like band trips to Disney World and school trips, I attended High School during my Junior and Senior Years. I attended a small town high school and basically everyone had known each other since kindergarten. Because of this I was an outsider of sorts. I had no trouble fitting in, but I wonder how it would have been if I had grown up with my classmates.

Looking back, what would you tell your mom before she started homeschooling you?

Really push math as a subject. I am horrible with advanced math like algebra II and Calc and this stems from me hating math in elementary school.

Focus and attention at home

I had a lot of trouble focusing on things as a child. I probably had some form of undiagnosed ADD. Homeschooling helped with this because I could jump back and forth between subjects at will.  I still do this with assignments and tests.

Did you ever ‘cheat?’


Advice and tips for homeschool parents

You’re the parent, but you are also the teacher. You have to be strict with them sometimes. You need to push your child to get their work done, especially in the subjects they dislike. If you don’t it will have negative impacts on them in the future.

Advice and tips for homeschool students

Listen to your parents when they’re trying to teach you something. At the same time, don’t be afraid to test your boundaries and explore different subjects. The twelve years you have for grade school are precious. This is the only time you will have the freedom you want to explore without worrying about college deadlines and jobs and all the chaos that comes with adulthood. Use them wisely.

What was your favorite book?

For high school years: Guilty pleasure time. High School was when my parents started giving me the freedom to read what I wanted. This is when I read the Harry Potter series. I tore through it in a week. I loved that series. I also started reading the Dresden Files during this time.

From early years: This is tough one, I read a lot during my school years. I was really interested in history when I was younger, and historical fiction is still one of my favorite Genres. I’d have to say it’s not one book, but more of a series. The Trailblazer Books by Dave and Neta Jackson are great for teaching kids about history.  Another good series was the Adventures of an Artic Missionary by Gloria Repp, and the Between Two Flags Series by Lee Roddy.


Let's talk curriculum!

Favorite curriculum and course

There are two courses I loved and I’d recommend.  There’s a curriculum for Math called Math-U-See. This is the curriculum that taught me math. Without it I’d probably have never learned division. I’d say that was my favorite one. Another great curriculum source is the Apologia Company.

Stay away from:

Switched on School House. When we used it in 2005 or 2006 it was filled with technical errors including lost work, and lots of headaches.

Are there any subjects in particular that you were glad you could tackle as a homeschooler?

History. I loved History when I was younger and I was allowed months to spend on different eras. The Alaskan and Kansas frontiers, early American history, and the Civil War era were some time periods I remember being interested in.

Anything you would highly recommend to a homeschool parent?

You know your kid the best. When your child is acting “burned out” or fidgety, change what you’re studying. Learn to read your kid and anticipate when they want to study what. Also pay attention to what subjects interest them and what do not and try to incorporate the subjects they like into the ones they don’t.

Education, Belief, and Religion

Currently I identify as agnostic. I was raised Baptist and my parents only chose Christian curriculum. I think that if you really want to teach your children your beliefs, then fine. But, when it comes to subject like science and history, you need to teach them Darwin’s Theory of Evolution as well as the Creation Myth.

Do you think that your parent’s religious beliefs were forced upon you?

Kind of yes. I had to go to church every Sunday, and Youth Group. I also went to a lot of Vacation Bible School. There were so many churches in my area that you could go to a different VBS every week in the summer and in a way it lead to an indoctrination effect. I definitely believed in everything I was taught. I even won a prize for most bible verses memorized in a week. I was not allowed any video games or tv shows that my parents disagreed with like Power Rangers or Pokemon because they were “evil” or had “witchcraft”.

However, as I grew older and begin questioning these beliefs and exploring different religions, I realized that I no longer identified as Christian and that my parents were wrong in many of their ideals.

Homeschooling’s Impact On You

Do I think I was sheltered? Oh definitely.

I was only allowed to watch Christian TV shows and movies, my parents refused to allow me to play video games. I didn’t even have any sort of exposure to music other than Christian or country until I started exploring entertainment on my own.

Did homeschooling impact your approach to learning?

I’m always trying and learning new things. Without these new experiences you become stagnant. You may reach adulthood, but you never stop learning.

Looking back, if I could do it over again, I would still choose homeschooling. However, I’d push to learn more STEM skills and different subjects that have helped me later in life.

I don’t plan on having children. If I do, I will probably send them to private school.

What was the most formative thing about homeschooling?

I learned to think for myself, and use research to come up with my own opinions before my peers did.

I also learned to stand up for myself and to be self-sufficient.

Did homeschooling give you more free time?

Yes. I could finish my work by the one or two in the afternoon and have the rest of the day to do whatever I wish.

Your College Experience as a Homeschooler

Did homeschooling prepare you for college, academically?

Homeschooling taught me how to think and study for myself. These are crucial skills for college.

Looking back, I would definitely study math and science more. These are two departments I am lacking in.

What was the college search like as a homeschooler?

Honestly, I can’t answer this question. The high school I went to during my last senior year allowed me to apply to schools under the school.

What was the application process like?

I’ve only attended a community college. The application process was extremely straightforward.

College advice for homeschoolers:

If you are a homeschooler, avoid the trap that is Pensacola Christian College. They seem fine, but you can’t transfer to another university or college because they have no accreditation. They are also extremely strict in regards to dress code and “acceptable” behavior.

How should homeschoolers prepare when they reach their last few years of high school?

I strongly suggest taking dual enrollment courses if you can. I didn’t when I was in High School and I regret not taking them. They would have saved me a lot of time in college.


I received a 26 on the ACT. When I first started attending college, it was extremely important. Now, it was just another test. I don’t recall any preparation tips.


Do you think your educational background had any influence on any aspect of the job hunting/application/interview process?

I don’t think so. This could be because I have a public high school listed on any applications I present.

Does your education as a homeschooler have any resonating effects that influence you on a day-to-day basis?

I sometimes have trouble concentrating at work and I’m an excellent multitasker. I think being able to switch tasks and subjects while homeschooling gave me this skill.

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About the author: Justin Dew

Justin is a 23 year-old Michigan resident who homeschooled for a total of 10 years. He currently attends a community college where he is majoring in Communications.

You can find him on Twitter and a Instagram.