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Anna Schwab Homeschooling

[Note: Ryan & Teri Schwab, Anna’s parents, have said that some of the reports I read before writing this post are erroneous. I have no reason to dispute their statements. Please read the comments to read their full position.]

Anna Schwab, a girl from Orcutt, California, aced the SAT in December, with a 12 on her SAT essay.

Not bad. Did I mention, she is 13 years old?

Overall, she got 2190 out of 2400.

Not bad. Did I mention, she is 13 years old?

Let’s not ignore he older sister who also got a perfect score on the essay last year. Did I mention, she was 13 years old?

How did these homeschoolers accomplish it? Well, honestly, by not acting much like regular homeschoolers. (Is that a contradiction in terms?)

The sisters (who were likely pretty bright to start with (read that “profoundly-gifted-but-not-as-great-as-Alison’s-kids”)) reportedly took two years off from the regular schooling to study up for the SAT at home. They used AP biology, chemistry, and US history texts, counseling from a “young scholar” program, and online courses for gifted student from Stanford.

I don’t know what this proves either about homeschooling or standardized tests but now you have the formula. The Anna Shwab Homeschooling Method. Let us know how it works out for you.

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • spande2 February 23, 2008, 8:57 am

    Yeah. I guess it all depends on how you want to do school. πŸ™‚

  • kiar February 23, 2008, 9:06 am

    Ack, more pressure for me to look froward to next year!

  • mollymormon February 23, 2008, 4:44 pm

    Well here’s an interesting thing. This blog says that Anna and her sister just took two years off from school to study for the SAT. http://justenough.wordpress.com/2008/02/03/anna-schwab-a-homeschool-success-story/

    Personally, it seems to go against my personal homeschooling philosophy, which is that I want my kids to love learning and to learn because they want to, not for a test. BUT… perhaps these girls did love to do it. And I’m not against studying for a test, since that’s so all-important to get into college.

    OK Correction – this article (which seems a more authoritative source) says that the girls were homeschooled. http://www.santamariatimes.com/articles/2007/12/28/news/centralcoast/news04.txt

  • agardner February 23, 2008, 6:52 pm

    I don’t homeschool, although I’d really like to someday.

    This has been on my mind lately, though, for a couple of reasons.

    We have some good friends who have homeschooled their children until now. The oldest is 10, and they are just registering them for private school for the first time (they are working overseas with his company and the company owns the school).

    The school assigned them to grade level based on their ages, and then our friends petitioned the schools to place the children higher based on their academic abilities. Long story short, they ending up leaving one at his grade level because of some behavior issues, but the others either moved up a grade or two grades.

    I’ve also been looking in to the gifted programs here in our local schools, for my children. What I’m finding out is that what the kids do is work on the grade level above where they are at for language arts and math, and then spend the rest of the school day with their class. So for instance, in my daughter’s 1st grade class, there are 3 children in gifted and they go for the morning and do 2nd grade work, and then join with the class in the afternoon for science, social studies, and their enrichment classes.

    I’ve been contemplating what the real advantage of this is. Moving children up a grade or several grades, having them enter college early, etc. – does it really enhance their lives all that much in the long run? They might have a year or two more of earning power that way, so I guess in that sense it is worth it. But I guess somehow I really thought the gifted program would be more than just doing work a grade level ahead. When I was in gifted, we did all kinds of fun projects and stuff. We didn’t just go into another room and do work out of the exact same books as the kids a year older than us.

    My children don’t really want to go to gifted classes and I really don’t see the need to do it right now. If all they are doing is the same curriculum that the kids would do the next year anyway, I don’t see a whole lot of advantage to it. Instead, I supplement their learning at home until I can hopefully bring them home full time when the finances are better.

    I guess all of that is kind of off-topic, but I guess my point is – why the push for kids to do work “ahead of time”? I’m all for them learning at their own pace, but taking the SAT at 13? Is a 13 year old really ready socially to enter college? What do they do at 16-17 when they are a college graduate and yet not emotionally or socially ready to be an adult? Grad school at 18? Fine, but are they missing out on a lot of the true learning that takes place in college that way? For instance, learning to manage their own money, or get along with roommates, or keep their apartment clean?

    I don’t know, I’m not saying it’s a bad idea for everyone, but it seems to me like kids who grow up too fast this way are missing out on an important part of their “education”.

    I’m just thinking hmm…we take two years off of “school” to study for the SAT/ACT at 11?? Then ace the test at age 13? For what purpose?

    At any rate, congrats to these sisters. Quite an accomplishment. I guess I just think that it would be just as much of an accomplishment a few years later.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 23, 2008, 8:39 pm

    I don’t like most “gifted” programs for that very reason. They just accelerate. So you have a 15 year old college grad. Then what?

    Rather than go fast, we decided to go broad. The kids get the basics done pretty quickly and have lots of time to do other cool stuff, instead of wasting time sitting around in class, lining up, etc.

  • mollymormon February 24, 2008, 7:46 pm

    With gifted children, you do need to challenge them! They get so bored if left where they are in regular public school, that’s the problem.

    When I first started homeschooling, that’s how I envisioned it – look at the great advantage your kids could have! They could graduate from college early, and then life! When I heard Susan Wise Bauer speak, however, she made it clear that that really wasn’t an advantage. The advantage is that you can do all the “requirements’ and then you can do whatever you want educationally. Your kids could:

    get college credit at home (many can get an associate’s degree from home)
    start a business
    Go into “scholar phase” and do in-depth studying of what interests them.
    Learn a trade
    Do an apprenticeship

    Wouldn’t all that prepare them for college and life so much better than hurrying them through school?

  • Alison Moore Smith February 24, 2008, 9:50 pm

    Amen to that. Compare this: when I started college, I got a part-time job at Burger King, wearing a brown, orange, and yellow polyester uniform with a dorky cap. When Jessica started, she got a job as a web programmer for Independent Study. In today’s dollars she earned about three times as much AND she got to wear normal clothes AND she didn’t have to be embarrassed about her job.

    That was because one of things she became interested in at age nine was web site creation. And she had TIME to do it. (Some of her other interests were ancient Greece, mythology, writing, dog breeding, and English jumping and dressage (horse things).)

  • ryanone August 26, 2010, 5:18 pm

    This blog is completely false!

    I am the father of the girls this article is titled after.

    Not only is this blog false, but I’ve repeatedly corrected the blogger, asked her to take this article down, and received no response. I’ve also complained to Google a number of times. It appears that the blogger did not even bother to read the article carefully she is referencing. I also think it’s a shame that this blogger can make false statements on the internet about someone else’s children, and not bother to correct her error.

    Our two daughters were home-schooled since Kindergarten. We did not remove them from school to study for the SAT for two years. This is a complete fabrication. Our youngest was home-schooled from Kindergarten through 8th grade. then she began attending boarding school because we could no longer accommodate her academically. She was already burning through curriculum until we had to give her AP books to study out of in 8th grade. My oldest was home-schooled all the way through her senior year of high school. The first time she stepped into a classroom was in her senior year of high school to take a community college class to fulfill her University of Caifornia A-G requirements.

    Please take this blogger’s words with a grain of salt.

  • jennycherie August 31, 2010, 9:15 am

    Posted By: ryanoneThis blog

    Ryanone – I am having a hard time understanding your post. Which part is false? just how the schooling is reported or that your daughter took the SAT and scored well? Or are you referring to one of the other blogs that was linked?

  • Alison Moore Smith September 18, 2010, 9:18 am

    ryanone, very interesting post – considering that I am the blogger. You have never contacted me in any way.

    So, please feel free to tell me what is false about the post. Are the scores false? The ages false? The resources used false? Or was it that you took off from regular schooling to study for the SAT? If the latter, you’ll note that I didn’t say they were taken out of public school, but that they REPORTEDLY took off two years from regular coursework to study for the SAT. Again, that is what was reported. I have no problem with you correcting the reports, but I simply brought up what was REPORTED. That simply is what the news articles I found said about the issue. If the posts that made those claims as fact are incorrect, start there. I simply pointed out what the reports said about the situation.

    Before accusing others, you should probably read more carefully.

    Most importantly, you have never contacted me before. You are free to correct the reported stories, but please refrain from false accusations.

  • Alison Moore Smith September 18, 2010, 3:37 pm

    Just got a really charming — ahem — email from Ryan. I told him that if he felt that the reports I read incorrectly described his schooling he was welcome to make any corrections here and I’d let them stand if they are civil.

    He said he emailed me from the site multiple times. There is no contact link or form here. The old site has some long-defunct emails, but the new one (up for about four years now?) has none. He also seems unaware that Google does not control internet content and seems more than a tad ticked off that Google won’t remove my post. ???

    So, Ryan, get the chip off your shoulder and contribute to the conversation. Clarify or correct anything you want.

    As an aside, I’d say that if you don’t want people talking about your kids’ test scores/schooling/methods, you might not want to take them public.

  • jennycherie September 19, 2010, 9:08 pm

    Posted By: Alison Moore Smithif you don’t want people talking about your kids’ test scores/schooling/methods, you might not want to take them public.


  • littleredgeometro June 19, 2013, 4:41 pm

    Hello there. I see the last comment from this post was almost three years ago, but I feel it’s only fair and honest to clarify a few things. Perhaps this isn’t very “Christian” of me, but I don’t know very many other ways to tell my side of the story.
    My name is Anna Schwab. I am almost 19 years old, and I am the girl you were talking about. When I first read this post a few years back, I was pretty offended. You guys don’t know me, you don’t know my parents, and what else do you have to with your lives other than to criticize others? Well, I’ve learned that when people see something wrong, it’s probably a good idea to get it out there. Well, sometimes. πŸ™‚

    Ryanone is my dad, and you are right to say he has a chip on his shoulder. He always has and probably always will. I live in Oregon now and will be visiting Orcutt in a couple months, and the last thing I heard from my parents Teri and Ryan was that they did not want to see me when I returned home. The reason I ended up in Oregon was because I have suffered severe clinical depression/symptoms of bipolar disorder since middle school (when all this news stuff happened), and was finally diagnosed and hospitalized just one day before my senior year of high school began. I came to Oregon after being hospitalized again in July 2012, to be with my cousin and his wife (some of the first loving family I’ve experienced), and to heal and get away from the drama in California, as well as the drama in New Hampshire, in which I attended Phillips Exeter Academy.

    I know it feels like I’m rambling, and there are many things I could say about my family: the secrecy, the lies, the emotional, verbal, and physical ab*** (as well as the horrendous ab*** of religion), the fights, the isolation from friends and family, the being locked in our rooms, and the fear, but I think it would suffice to provide a snapshot of those times.

    My father’s quote:
    “She was already burning through curriculum until we had to give her AP books to study out of in 8th grade. ”

    It’s funny, because I remember the AP books quite well. The one I remember most is the AP biology book I was told to read one chapter of every day (some of these chapters exceeding 50 pages), and then told to take the online quizzes so that “AP biology” could be put on my application for boarding school. I remember staying up until past midnight trying to finish the reading, but finding it extremely difficult to concentrate because I couldn’t stop crying. I knew I had to be up in less than 6 hours to start the torture all over again, and there wasn’t anything to look forward to. We (my sister Sarah and I) were rarely allowed out of our rooms, even to go into the backyard for some sun (and if we were, we were either forced to be in the tiny yard for 30 minutes and come back in for more studying, or only allowed five minutes as a “break.”), and were rarely allowed to see friends (besides the “friends” we had at church but could not hang out with during the week, and our one friend that lived down the street, with whom we were not allowed to be with for more than 30 minutes, including the walk there and back). I actually started cutting myself when I was 12 (please don’t be alarmed or grossed out: this is something real that happens to thousands of adolescents), and I cried all throughout the summertime because we were allowed one week of break from school and when we came back, I remember sitting in front of my window watching the boys across the street ride their bikes and play basketball, and I cried for hours at a time. I even remember plastering myself against the window, hoping one of them would notice and maybe invite me to hang out (because yeah, that’s totally how super cool middle schoolers make friends πŸ™‚ ). One time one of them waved but looked weirded out. I laugh at this memory, because I actually do have the ability to make friends now.

    It is 100000000% true that we took 2 years off school to study for the SAT. To be honest, I don’t have much memory of these 2 years because they were 2 out of the 3 worst years of my life (the third being my senior year of high school and the trauma and illness I went through), and I suppose it’s a defense mechanism my mind uses to block out the disturbing memories. But I do remember taking practice tests over and over and over, my parents taking us to Barnes and Noble every weekend to buy new vocabulary CD’s, prep books, practice tests, etc., and even taking tests like SAT II literature and SAT II English Language to improve our essay reading and writing skills to prepare. And we didn’t take the real tests just once: we would take at least 3 or 4 a year (starting in 5th? Maybe 6th grade for me?), and my father finally reported my highest score. Yeah, the SAT was my life before boarding school.

    I won’t go into the rest of my story because you all have busy lives and hopefully happy children to nurture and love :). But I will beg you to please never hit, scream at, violate the privacy of, abuse mentally, or force in any way your children to do things that are not healthy for them and things that maybe you want them to do, but they don’t want and don’t need to survive real life. I ran away from home for the last time when I was 16, and I haven’t been back since. It’s a long, long, story, but I’m still battling depression, low self esteem, trauma, and grief from my childhood and it did indeed take me a long hard time to know how to keep an apartment clean or how to manage my money: well said. It’s true. Keep shouting out the truth, Mormonmommas: I respect every one of you.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 19, 2013, 6:52 pm

    Anna, thank you for writing your thoughts here. I’m so sorry for the pain you endured, but so glad to see you are moving toward the life you want.

    I hope you can, one day, forgive your parents. I am old enough β€” and my kids are old enough β€” to realize that even the very best prayerful intentions of parents can seem very different to a child. I’m not at all doubting your side of the story, sincerely. But I can envision a scenario where parents really thought they were giving their children the best possible start in life and giving them advantages that would serve them, and the child was actually hurt.

    Perhaps what your parents did would hurt any child and were way beyond the pale. (It did seem extreme to me.) But perhaps some children would thrive and be grateful for a similar experience.

    There is one homeschool family I read about early in my homeschool adventure. Their last name was Swallow. If memory serves, the kids ALL (and I think there were 10 or so) got their bachelor’s degrees by 15 and their master’s degrees shortly after, while still high school age. They took almost zero days off (Christmas and birthdays, I think?) and had a very rigorous schedule six days per week.

    I thought it was nuts, but one of their daughters wrote a book called, I think, No Regrets, where she touted the benefits of her mother’s methods.

    Suffice it to say I’m so sorry for your experience, but I know how hard it is to raise kids just right. I’m a dismal failure most of the time.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…This is What Pro-Choice Really MeansMy Profile

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