“So where did you go to school?” Once such a simple question, but one that now just annoys me. Why is that? Because I was homeschooled from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Now don’t get me wrong- I was so happy with my homeschool experience, but what I’ve learned over the years is that not everybody gets homeschooling. When people find out that I’m homeschooled, I’m immediately slapped in the face with a giant STEREOTYPE. The labels- weird, shy, introverted, socially awkward, no friends- the list goes on of what people are so quick to assume must be true. I’m here today, because after dealing with this for fifteen years, I’m tired of it. So I’m sitting down and writing it all out. All the questions I get asked, all the labels I’m given- these are my truths from a homeschooler.
That’s the immediate question. In today’s society I guess I’m still surprised how many people know nothing about homeschooling. Everyone’s story of why they homeschooled is a little different. My story goes like this: My parents started homeschooling with my older sister, because it worked for their current situation, and my Mom enjoyed it so much that they continued. When it came time for me to start kindergarten, my Mom homeschooled me, and I loved it, so we stuck with it. That's the short and simple answer for how my family got into homeschooling.
Is your family extremely religious?
This is the only question that actually bothers me. Its funny- you’d think I’d get mad when people insinuate that I didn’t go to “real school” or that I must be academically behind because I was homeschooled. None of those questions really hurt me like this one does though. I think it’s because it's more of a personal question, and as someone who is a strong Christian, it's hurtful when people make critical assumptions of what they think your faith is like. No, my family is not part of a cult or some weird religious sect. Yes, we are Christians and our faith is a big part of our life, but that was not why my parents chose to homeschool.
Did you do school in your pajamas?
Okay this question really deserves an eye roll because it’s just that stupid. Um, yeah I sometimes did schoolwork in my pajamas, but who cares?
Did you do "real school"?
Again, stupid question. I get that there are some “homeschoolers” out there who totally deserve the stereotype, because they make the rest of us look bad. I can tell you straight up though that I worked just as hard, if not harder than anyone going to public, private, or virtual school. Because that’s the thing- homeschooling is still school, it’s just a different way of doing it. That doesn’t mean it’s weird or wrong or not as good. It’s school, with tests, hard classes, and every other thing that school brings with it.
Are you dumb?
People will never say this straight up, but they will totally insinuate it. Really? You want to compare test grades? With the flexibility of homeschooling I actually had enough classes done that I started going to community college part time my sophomore year of high school. I graduated with about seven classes already under my belt, and I finished high school (college classes included) with a 3.8 GPA. I’ve been on the honors roll at college for a few semesters and I’m in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor’s Society. So ask me that question again. Am I dumb? Well, I’ll just let my grades answer that.
How did you make friends?
Well I don’t know, how did you make friends? This was actually one of the most asked questions I received from my peers growing up. I had just as many friends as anyone else did, and I met them from lots of different places. I met two of my best friends in ballet, a few from church, and another two through a mutual friend. Just because I didn’t have all the socialization that a public school experience brings, I was never lacking in friendship. If anything, I think being homeschooled made me a friendlier person, because I learned at a young age that it was up to me to get out there and make friends.
Were you happy?
I think a lot of times people just assume that I was forced into homeschooling, and never had a say in it. Funny thing is though that I always had options. Over the years my parents and I looked at public, private, and virtual schools. My parents always asked me if I wanted to keep homeschooling or if I wanted to do something else. I really considered other options a few times, but at the end of the day I was happy with homeschooling. My elementary school years were filled with so much happiness, because I got to spend every day with my Mom and my sister. I can recall the fondest memories of my Mom teaching me to read, or teaching me how to write in cursive. I remember all of the wonderful field trips she took my sister and me on, and how she taught me multiplication. I continued to love homeschooling in my junior high and high school years, because that was the time that I learned independence and discipline. I learned study skills, and how to set a schedule for myself and follow it. I loved the flexibility that it brought, because if I had something pop up one day, I could just adjust my study time. I loved that when I was a senior in high school and we got a puppy, I was able to have her by my side every day, because I was homeschooled. I recognize now that I had a significantly better relationship with my parents in middle school and high school than any of my friends did, and I credit a lot of that to homeschooling. My point is- there are pros and cons to every type of schooling, and there is a different perfect fit for every single kid. For me homeschooling made me happy, and that’s the simple answer.
Are you anti-public school?
This one just makes me laugh. I see where people could get this idea, but I’ll tell you honestly- I don’t think any one method of schooling is better than another. I’m happy with my experience, but I by no means think that homeschooling is the only option. I think it depends on what works best for each person. If I could do it all over again, I would have actually liked to try a few years at a public school, just because I’d like to have that first hand understanding of what it’s like.
At the end of the day, it’s not about where we did our learning, it’s about how it impacted us, how it defined us as people, and what we learned along the way.
So take a few notes, and next time- don’t be so quick to judge what you don’t know.