Encouraging Letter

to a

Reluctant Homeschool Teen


~ from Sharnessa ~



Intro from Mom/Barb:  The following is a letter written in 1997 by Sharnessa, our oldest daughter, whom we homeschooled "from scratch."  (By "from scratch" I mean "from the beginning, Kindergarten, all the way through to Graduation)  She was almost 20 at the time she wrote it.  


A homeschooling mom had expressed her concern about her high school age son who didn't want to homeschool ~ he was burned out on traditional methods. This mom then "discovered" my book Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+la and as her thinking about "education" began changing, she began turning things around in their homeschool. Unfortunately the boy's heart still didn't change toward homeschooling.  So this mom wrote to the "Senior High Form+U+la list" (based on my "Form+U+la" book; click here to find out more about it), and I then forwarded this mom's email to our daughter, Sharnessa who wrote the following letter to the boy.  


Knowing there are many others who could be encouraged by her words, we share it here.  She has her mother's "gift of gab" but many moms have told us that both they and their teens have been greatly encouraged by it.



Hi!  I'm Sharnessa Shelton, Barb Shelton's daughter!  My mom sent me an e-mail letting me know that you don't want to homeschool ~ you want to go to public school, but your parents won't let you. Listen, man, your parents know what they're doing.  ^_^   Trust me!  I homeschooled from the beginning, (age 5) all the way through to graduating from high school, and I am SOOOO thankful my parents did this!


I LOVED homeschooling! ~ and I'm not your "sit-at-home-and-do-nothing" kind of person!  It was seriously such a blast! Instead of being stuck in a classroom for six hours a day, and then an added 1 to 3 hours of homework, I was able to focus on the areas I loved and was passionate about! I mean, I still had to fill all the credits required by my mom, but we got to fill them with such awesome, hands-on experiences!


We went to seminars, workshops, historical sights and museums all around Washington (and some in Oregon and California as well!), conferences, on field trips, watch videos, and much more ~ it was incredible!  Plus sometimes we did some classes with other homeschooling friends!


But the main thing that I was so thankful for, like I said earlier, was that I got to focus on what I LOVED, which is the Arts ~ dancing and singing. (I also love history and government ~ I am still considering becoming a Constitutional Lawyer.) 


Here's one example...  When I was sixteen, I directed, choreographed, and produced a Christmas production ~ and I mean production!  It wasn't just a short nativity scene thing, which is great, but this was a 30-minute show that included choreographed dramatic-worship and dance. It was at our church, and I was in charge of 25 kids my age!  [Note from Mom/Barb: I got MANY raving compliments from parents who were on-site during the rehearsals ~ which the church required for them to be able to use the facility. They all told me she was amazingly mature in how she directed these kids ~ keeping 25 teenagers orderly while not being a dictator!] ... It was awesome! And you know what? I got to count that as part of my school requirements! (It went under Fine Arts!) My mom let me do less academics during the month we were involved in that so that I'd be freer to focus on that!


I was able to learn in such a creative, free, hands-on way, and that's something that public school kids are seldom, if ever, able to do. They're stuck in their classrooms, reading dry, dull textbooks -- their desire to learn is just sucked right out of them!  What little time they have left after doing all their required stuff leaves them pretty much drained. All through my homeschooling experience, my public school friends SO wanted to homeschool! I felt so bad for them!


Actually, I did go to a public school, for ONE day every year (in high school) with a friend who was a year older than me, and I have to tell you, it was a joke! My mom was really worried that, once I had visited there, I wouldn't want to homeschool any more!    ^_^    But I came back home even MORE sure that I didn't want to go to traditional school!  I told her, much to her relief and delight: "It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to try to get my education there!"  The teachers were great; so were many of the students. But kids were talking, eating, sitting on desks ~ no, not at lunch, that was right during class!!  It was sad!  I mean, I'm a VERY social person, but that's just the thing, school should be for learning, and socializing should be for later!  By homeschooling, I was able to focus on academics and then focus on socializing ~ not trying to do BOTH at the same time!


Now, if you're worried that you'll become a "social reject" or something, forget about it! I had SO many friends, (still do!) of which most of them were "public schoolers"!  So don't think that just because you homeschool, you won't have any contact with people. That's something you and your parents can work out together.


That reminds me, a little side-note here. Have you heard of the pop group "Hanson"?  You probably hate them ~ most guys do!  But did you know that they homeschool?!  They have since the beginning!  And my point is ~ look at what they're doing!  They're doing what they love!  Because of their parents taking the time to teach them at home, they were able to focus on their passions!  And not only that, but I've seen them in interviews, and all three of them are so mature, eloquent, and sweet!  So that's one more example that homeschoolers are NOT "socially retarded" ~ as everyone fears they will be!  And they're Christians, too!


Just keep up your friendships, have some sort of an activity (what do you love to do?), and maybe get involved in youth group ~ if the values are good. School's not supposed to be primarily a social place anyway!  Also, just enjoy hanging out with your family!  My main times to be with friends were at church, youth group, and on weekends ~ also, I took dance lessons. So PLEASE don't let any social issues get in the way.


This is honestly going to be a very precious time in your life. Your parents know what they're doing. Personally, from my experience in homeschooling, I believe that I came out of high school with so much more than any of my friends. I came out of it with the desire to learn even more, with an awesome relationship with God, with strong relationships with my family (you'll realize how important that really is), with more maturity (than my peers), with solid character, strong morals, values, and standards, and with true friendships. (Just ask my mom, she'll "amen" every word of this!) I came out of it totally satisfied, not feeling at all like I had wasted four years of my life ~ instead, it was a time of preparation. I wasn't in high school living from weekend to weekend, and anticipating getting out like other kids do to the point where they aren't able to enjoy the moment.  But I was! I have NO regrets.


See, I think that, by homeschooling, I was able to escape the superficiality that's so predominant in the public school scene, and build on the areas and friendships that would (and have) last(ed). I am so blessed to have the parents I have. Seriously. (And my mom is not paying me to say this!) Not many are willing to give up their time so their kids can have the ultimate experience in education, and I have many friends who wished theirs would've. Don't take it for granted. It's one of the greatest gifts you'll ever receive!


In case you're wondering what I'm doing now...  I'm 20, and I'm a nanny over in New York, about 25 miles north of Manhattan. I'm working here for a year (I'll be done in August) to earn money for college in London this fall! I'll be going to the International Bible Institute of London's "School of Creative Ministries." (Yes, it's IN London.)  I had to audition in singing, dancing, and acting (by video) to get in, so this school is right up my alley!  Besides the arts, this school focuses on developing an intense relationship with God.  My heart is to reclaim "the Arts" for God!!!  (See her article: "Sharnessa's Vision for the Arts")  The enemy has had that arena for too long!!!  The arts were God's idea to begin with, but then Man, with all his fleshly sensuality, took them over.  I'm SO excited to get them back for GOD'S glory!!!!  And to draw the unsaved to God through that medium!


Take care and God bless!                              
Sharnessa   ^_^


P.S. Here are a few awesome resources you should consider looking into. First, the video "Why Homeschool Through High School"; the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye; and the tape "A New Attitude" ~ all by Josh Harris. I highly recommend ANYTHING by him!  I also recommend the book, Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto.  





To get any of the above resources,

you can order them at our online catalog.

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From Mom/Barb: (in 2001)

God has taken Sharnessa quite

a ways from when she wrote this

letter!  Read this to see "the next

step" after her year at I.B.I.O.L.!

(International Bible Institute of London)

And then see this page

for what happened in August

of 2000!






To our Main Lobby (here at Homeschool Oasis)


To the Article Chart  /  To Sharnessa's Page


To our High School Helps Main Page




I got this

lovely background at:

...and I got

the bar of lilacs





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