NextGen Homeschool looks at today’s homeschooling experience through the eyes of four homeschooled sisters — from two different families — who have chosen to pass along the gift of homeschooling to our next generation — our own children. Though we share the common experience of having been homeschooled ourselves, we each have our own reasons for choosing to homeschool our children — and we have different approaches to implementing homeschooling in our families.

This blog will explore our similarities and differences, our common faith and foundation as well as our unique perspectives. But together, we share a point of view that can be eye-opening and inspiring for first-generation homeschoolers, previously homeschooled parents weighing options for their next generation, and anyone who’s curious about what homeschooling looks like a generation later.

Homeschooling is currently experiencing a second wave of implementers — often attributed to the fact that many of today’s public schools are more crowded than ever, private options are more expensive than ever, and our country’s economic challenges are bringing educational quality issues into the the spotlight. There’s a growing concern about lack of school resources, enormous class sizes, dropping test scores, lack of college readiness, and more. However, modern homeschooling really found its wings in the 1980s, and the students from these “first-adopter” homeschooling families are now adults and, most likely, parents themselves.

Have you ever wondered how these ground-breaking students fared in the real world after graduating from the homeschool experience — and what decisions they’ve made with their own children? Statistics support the notion that homeschooled students tend to do quite well — and often excel — in advanced education and in the workforce. But research aside, what’s going on in the life of the homeschool graduate who now has his or her own family?

While we can’t speak for our entire generation of homeschool graduates, we can tell you our side of the story. We can share with you where we’ve been and where we are going today as a result. We look forward to taking you along this journey with us, and encourage you to share your own experiences and point of view!

But first, a little history…

Dean & Karen Gotcher and their three children: Rosanna, Kenny and Elizabeth.

Dean & Karen Gotcher began homeschooling their three children — Rosanna (then 12), Kenny (then 9) and Elizabeth (then 4) — in 1984 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. What started out as discontent with their public school’s administrators and their lack of respect for parental input turned into a journey to investigate the history of modern public education and its unexpected — and revealing — philosophical roots. While Dean Gotcher taught his three children during the day, he also spent countless evenings and hours researching educational history and philosophy — the result of which became The Institution for Authority Research books and public speaking. For more on what Dean Gotcher discovered — and how it affects every facet of our society today — read these key excerpts from his books on “Dialectic & Praxis: Diaprax.”

Today, their children — Rosanna Ward, Kenny Gotcher and Elizabeth Thomas — are all homeschooling parents. Rosanna Ward has already graduated two daughters (Hannah and Virginia) and currently homeschools son Joel (7) while keeping up with her toddler Leif (2). Elizabeth Thomas homeschools four daughters — Stormie (13), Rachael (12), Faith (10) and Cadence (4), and gave birth to daughter No. 5, Melody Rosanna, on October 28, 2012. Both Rosanna and Elizabeth have not homeschooled from the start: You can read more about their homeschooling “why” in the “Why We Homeschool” section. Kenny Gotcher is my husband: More about him later.

Jose & Yolanda Beltran and their children (and son-in-laws Kenny Gotcher & Michael Clark) & grandchildren in 2002 with Grandma Senaida

José and Yolanda Beltran have eight children — Renée, Cristina, Rosana, Cynthia, Carol, Helena, Bethany and Isaac — whose ages ranged from newborn baby to 15-year-old when their homeschooling journey began in 1988. All eight children are homeschool graduates, and today, their three daughters with children — Renée Gotcher, Cristina Eklund and Rosana Clark — are currently homeschooling as well. Both Renée and Rosana have not always homeschooled, whereas Cristina has been homeschooling her two children, Elijah (7) and Arielle (4), from preschool age. Between the three sisters, there are 10 children being homeschooled this year!

I (the editor of this blog) am Renée Gotcher, the eldest daughter in the family who was just two years away from graduating high school when my mother decided to include me in the homeschooling journey. Although I certainly didn’t feel it then, I am now extremely grateful for what those two years of homeschooling meant to my personal spiritual development and how they would come to influence my future in such an unexpected way.

As I mentioned, my sister Rosana and I have not always homeschooled: Cristina will be the first sister in our family to homeschool from the start. You can read more about our homeschooling “why” in the “Why We Homeschool” section.

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