Yes, I Was Homeschooled Which Means My Classroom Was My Living Room

Yes, I Was Homeschooled Which Means My Classroom Was My Living Room

What it was like going from my living room to a University with 45,948 other students.

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For some mysterious reason, Cincinnati people are obsessed with asking what high school you went to, so my answer usually raises a few eyebrows.

Once people find out where I went to high school, there's typically an inevitable barrage of questions that soon follow...Here's my attempt to explain my education history in a little more than an elevator pitch. Just as a disclaimer: there are many ways that someone can be homeschooled, and I can't speak to every one of them, only my own experience. To introduce myself a little bit, I went to preschool and began my homeschooling journey as a kindergartner. My mom taught my younger sister and I all our subjects, using a mix of different curriculum. Some families choose one publisher and stick with them for all their subjects but others choose different publishers depending on the subject.

We had lesson plans for each day, and as long as we got our work done - whether it was by 12 p.m. or 4 p.m., we had the rest of our day to do whatever we wanted. Legal regulations for homeschooling in Ohio are pretty simple compared to some other states. Parents have to submit an annual notification to the school superintendent to excuse them from compulsory attendance, provide 900 hours of instruction per year, and provide an assessment of the student's work, either through standardized testing or a third-party evaluator.

How did you have friends?

I did a lot of extra-curricular activities, like clubs and dance lessons, where I made my earliest friends. My childhood was pretty normal - I liked playing outside, watching Cyberchase, and staying up past my bedtime. But it definitely started to get lonely in middle school, so I begged my parents to let me go to "real school." Seeing how unhappy I had become, my parents enrolled me in a homeschool cooperative (co-op) that met twice a week and the social butterfly in me came out from the cocoon. I had teachers for different subjects and classmates (like 14 classmates, but classmates nonetheless) so I made friends with everyone I possibly could. There, I met some of my closest friends that I still hang out with today. I think being homeschooled pushed me to go out of my comfort zone and seek out friendships since I didn't always have a class of kids who were my age to socialize with.

What about prom?

Our homeschool co-op hosted a school dance every year, between the two different campuses that each had around 150 students in 7th-12th grade. Most years it was at a fancy event hall, and one year it was at the Newport Aquarium!

I bet you didn't have to do any work...

I wish. I read Romeo and Juliet like everyone else did in high school. My co-op was also college-preparatory, so they made us read Dante's Divine Comedy in its entirety and I wrote 13-page papers about the "Development of Individualism in Fashion."

Did you like it?

Most of the time, yes! I'm a very independent person, so I liked being able to do most of my work whenever it was convenient. Being a night owl, that was usually late at night. It gave me the flexibility to work in high school as well, so I was able to work two part-time jobs at one point while also being involved in what I was passionate about, things like community service and music. Piano lessons and show rehearsals consumed a lot of my time. Balancing homework with a job, social life, and sleep... I pulled way too many all-nighters.

I definitely did school in my pajamas. All the time.

Homeschooling isn't for everyone. Sometimes, I wonder what I would be like if I hadn't been homeschooled if I maybe missed out on the quintessential high school experience. But it has made me who I am today, so I wouldn't trade it for the world. Transitioning from being the only student in my 4th grade class to being one of thousands at the University of Cincinnati has been crazy and exciting, but I think the values of independent learning and time management prepared me well for college and I can't wait to learn for the next four years from all the people I have the privilege of going to school with.

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time


Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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10 Things I Learned From Growing Up In A Town Smaller Than A College Campus

A town straight out of a country song.

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With a population of just over 1,000 my hometown has given me so much in my nineteen years of life. It's taught me things I would've never learned anywhere else (whether that be good or bad).

1. You know everyone and everyone knows you

This is so true, especially if you're apart of a big family. You're not only somehow related to everyone, but everyone knows which family you belong to. I can't go anywhere in town without at least one person recognizing me (which isn't a bad thing). If you were in the newspaper, there's a slight chance that multiple people will tell you as soon as they see you.

2. High school sports (especially football) are no joke 

As someone who cheered for four years, there's truly nothing like home football games. The sound of the crowd roaring behind you, the tunnel at the beginning of the games and the sunsets gleaming onto the field. My senior year the football team almost went to state for the first time in 22 years. It was a HUGE deal for the community. The football players were like local celebrities and it was such an exciting time for everyone. There truly isn't anything better the spirit that surrounds small-town sports.

3. High school homecoming is a big deal for everyone

Unlike larger schools, basketball and football homecomings in my small town were like one big reunion for everyone. We have an elaborate theme for each homecoming and the Stu-co spent all day decorating it. The gym and sidelines were usually packed with people coming home to see old friends, to find out which candidate gets crowned queen and to cheer on the athletes.

4. You live about an hour from just about everything

When I tell my college friends that I live an hour from the nearest Target, they think I'm joking. I'm being completely serious. If you needed some new clothes and shoes for school you had to make a whole day out of it. You also tried to schedule all of your doctors' appointments around the same time so you didn't have to make so many trips. An idea of a family outing meant going to a nice restaurant in "the big city" and seeing the newest movie. Something fun to do with my friends meant driving thirty minutes to get coffee, Sonic, or even just fooling around in Walmart. If we were really desperate, we even cruised the backroads listening to our favorite music.

5. You have so much respect for farmers and agriculture

I come from a family of farmers and my good friends in high school were daughters of cattle and dairy farmers. The farmers in my town are some of the kindest, smartest and most hard-working people I will probably ever meet. Seeing agriculture work in an out of my town has caused me to have so much respect for farmers and the industry. I've been caught behind a tractor and learned the hard way to not stop close to a stop-sign if a semi is turning my way. Yet I truly wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

6. High school relationships can get a little tricky

Dating in a high school of one-hundred-something people was pretty hard. They were either related to you, taken or like a brother to you. If you did find someone to talk to, there's a 90% chance that they've also talked to one of your friends. Most of the drama in my high school was an effect of someone dating someone else's ex.

7. You know everyone you graduated with

You don't just know them, you really know them. You know their full names, what their families do for a living, and who showed up at their kids sporting events and who didn't. When you graduate with only thirty-something other kids, it's hard not to know everyone on a super personal level.

8. When times get tough, people are always there for you

When a family of the community suddenly lost a loved one, the community immediately wrapped their arms around them and comforted them. Whether it was bringing meals to the grieving family, selling memorial t-shirts and bracelets, housing benefit dinners, or just being there for the family. If you were going through something heavy, someone always had your back.

9. You feel so loved coming home from college

I remember sitting in a lecture hall half the size of my hometown on the first day of classes and feeling overwhelmed. I thought: 'how is anybody supposed to make friends at a college of 35,000 people?'

The first night home from college, I was welcomed home with open arms by everyone. I was reunited with former teachers, coaches, classmates, old friends and adults of the community. As much as I love college, it was so nice coming home to a place where everyone knows me.

10.  You couldn't of asked for a better upbringing

As much as I was ready to move to a bigger place after high school, growing up in a small town was the best thing I could ask for. It gave me a sense of community, support, and love that I wouldn't have been able to get elsewhere. My town sent me to college with enough support and encouragement to last a lifetime.

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