When someone says, "I've been homeschooled," what comes to mind? A 10+ size family wearing matching clothes, speaking in Greek, eating homegrown organic meals? A single child who has befriended "Fred," a freshly picked scab that looks like the state of Idaho? Uncontrollable kids that are obsessed with potato gun cannons, and have an unsettling familiarity with both Tolkien Mythology and the current state of Israel?
While other people may have those connotations, I, on the other hand, think of a very happy childhood. These are a few reasons why I will always cherish my homeschooled youth:
1. Drama is in television, not school
I never experienced that "he said, she said" rush of betrayal. My friends never betrayed my trust; I never really had the chance to tick somebody off. Looking back, the most drama I experienced in homeschool was when my oldest little sister tried to convince me that I was the result of a magical wish in an alternate universe where she was the oldest and I was the youngest…to clarify, the 6-year-old "Karen" believed that she was the oldest in her family. But, because she wished for an older brother on a shooting star, time was reversed and I was born first. This was the cause of many fights to come for months.
2. Algebra in my jammies
The dress code in my grade school was very slack. Sometimes, there was no slack (double entendre and pun intended). There were days when I didn't change my clothes until the afternoon, when I had to go out either for work or soccer practice. However, even though there was no dress code, a sense of style was still highly encouraged. One day in middle school, I decided to where my favorite red t-shirt with my favorite red shorts. I was all red! My (evil) sister thought I looked fine, but my grandfather, of all people, told me to change.
3. Best family vacations
It should be noted that homeschooling families' vacations are, in fact, school on wheels. There is no escape from the textbook! With that said, homeschooling families can travel the entire world, budget permitting. My family would spend at least a month between Minnesota and Georgia, visiting family, friends and historical landmarks. Mom made sure that we were learning about the areas we were traveling through. To this day, I still remember that one thing in that one place that had something or other to do with that one thing that happened way back when…thanks, Mom, for those memorable and educational vacations.
4. No bullies
If there was a bully in my school, it was my oldest little sister. In grade school, aside from believing that she was the sole reason that I even existed, she also convinced our 5-year-old sister that swallowing food posed a high-choking hazard (and that choking on food was a leading cause of death). To this day, "Rosie" still looks on food with questionable caution.
5. Uniquely crafted education
One of the more universal pros to homeschooling is a unique education crafted to fit your own needs. Mothers or fathers who really care for the education of their children are able to put in the extra work and attention needed to focus on their child's weak points, while solidifying their strong points. There is no mass, cookie-cutter curriculum that must be adhered to. We are hand-formed cookies!
6. The strangest friends
By "strangest friends," I mean straight-up crazy-weird. If you know a homeschooler, any homeschooler, you know what I'm talking about. There's one homeschooling mom who only spoke in Spanish to her kids. The mom took Spanish as a second language in college, but raised her children to speak it as their first language. Admirable? Sure. Weird? Definitely. I don't think it's ever the children that are strange. It's almost always the mother. Specifically, the mother. I mean, they tend to be the reason why their family is homeschooling in the first place.
7. Strong family relationships
The best benefit of homeschool is the strong relationship you form with your parents. I don't mean to say that non-homeschooling families have inferior relationships to the homeschooling family; nor do I mean to say that homeschooling families appreciate their relationship more. To be honest, there are probably millions of families with strong and healthy relationships that have never even pondered the idea of homeschooling. But what homeschoolers do have that is unique is a daily life relationship with your family. Because they will be with your mother all day, everyday; they will see your mother at her highest moment of joy, as well as her lowest point of despair. They'll have the privilege of being cared for by her at every moment, as well as the responsibility of caring for her when she needs it, which, by the time they graduate, is almost always. And this relationship extends to siblings, as well.
Perhaps what I'm trying to say is that homeschoolers have a solid example of endearing love.
If my family loses this love we've come to k now through the years of our childhood, perhaps homeschooling was a waste of time. Of all the things Mom has taught me over the years, it's what she didn't teach me that I value most. She never taught me how to stop loving my family.
I simply don't know how.