Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

I Was Homeschooled and I Turned Out Okay

I don’t know if I’ve talked much about this before, but I am a homeschool graduate. I was in public school through 9th grade. Our freshman campus was separate from the senior high school, and when my mom saw the newly erected 6′-plus, barbed-wire topped fence go up around the senior high school, she decided that any place that needed a barbed-wire wrapped fence to keep the kids in (or criminals out) was not a place that her 15-year-old daughter needed to be. I remember that. Yes, it was pretty much exactly that wording.

She withdrew me after 9th was over, and I started homeschooling in 10th grade. After a few weeks, she decided to withdraw my sister and brother as well, and homeschooled us from that point on. My mom did a mix of things with us (which is probably where I get my eclectic outlook from), and she also organized our local homeschool group. My sister and I (and several of our cousins, and many, many of my childhood friends) graduated from American School of Correspondence; an accredited correspondence high school. When my brother got to high school, he opted to take the GED exam so he could start working with our dad. That was a ‘questionable’ decision, according to many, but it was the best option for my brother then, and one my parents still defend.

I’ve seen questions raised recently about how homeschoolers function in the real world, with comments like ‘not being ready socially, or educationally’. I’ve seen negative comments regarding college preparation and homeschooling parents called out for denying their kids the ‘high school experience’. Some of the accusation is ludicrous; the repeated and consistent admission of homeschoolers to virtually every college, from Ivy League to local community colleges, makes it clear that not only are homeschoolers adequately prepared, they’re often more prepared for college studies than their traditionally educated counterparts. As far as social preparedness, I find that, overwhelmingly, homeschooled students are open to and able to communicate socially with all age groups, in almost any setting. They seem to do just as well as students who graduate any other way, if not better.

Since graduating high school, I’ve worked a variety of jobs that have been in line with what I wanted to do or had previous experience with, mostly secretarial and office management type jobs. I like organizing things and scheduling and making sure things run on their proper time and place, so that was a good precursor to what I do now. I’ve worked as a full-time nanny, waiting tables, and other small jobs here and there. Since I’ve had children, I’ve taken classes and workshops so that I could start working as a lactation counselor and doula. In those roles, I’ve worked with new mothers and learned how vital a woman’s network of support is to her success in reaching the goals she sets for herself. To that end, I’ve started several local organizations, some more successful than others, and worked pretty consistently with the same business partner now for almost 10 years.

I’d say that’s a pretty good turn-out. Nothing truly spectacular; a pretty ‘normal’ life, I think. I don’t know how much of what I’ve accomplished can be attributed to homeschooling, per se. I do know that some of the opportunities I’ve had would not have been feasible if I was in a classroom setting; travel, mostly, but I do think that being encouraged and allowed to work and move at my own pace, and to pursue things that interested me rather than being told what and how to study, helped. Could I have accomplished the same thing if I’d stayed in a brick and mortar school? Yup. Would I have gone to college? Maybe; that’s hard to say and complicated due to several factors. The religion of my childhood discouraged secondary schooling, but allowed trade schools, or courses to help you gain employment. I never felt like college was ‘in my future’, but if I’d pushed for it, I probably could have. Even now, it’s not ‘too late’; I’m quickly reaching the point where my kids will be graduating high school themselves, and I’ll be re-inventing myself yet again.

As a homeschooling parent, obviously, I feel that this is (at present, and while reserving the right to change my mind in the future) the right choice for our family. But being a homeschool advocate doesn’t make me blind to the advantages of public school – and yes, despite what some homeschooling advocates may say, there ARE some advantages to being in a brick and mortar school.

I actually started working on this post back in May of last year, when my BFF’s son graduated high school. We went to his graduation ceremony, and was I struck with some interesting feelings. His school is a small one; their graduating class had only 19 students. That’s an *amazing* teacher:student ratio, and the closeness of the senior class was readily apparent. They had fun together, and the speakers mentioned several times that they made this journey together. They spent 4+ years as a class, day-in and day-out. I’m sure there were squabbles and personality conflicts, but overall, the class flowed as a unit, and I can only imagine the bond that some of those kids will have that stems from such a small class size. As I was listening to the students talk about their classes, their classmates, and most importantly, their teachers, I was surprised to feel sad that my kids were not going to have this – the experience of learning with their peers, from a variety of teachers (with different methods and styles and ideas). As many advantages that homeschooling has, there are some things that a homeschool environment can rarely emulate. That’s not to say that things like a structured co-op or a dual credit class can’t offer, but the consistency and familiarity that a small school like that has is enviable.

On the other hand, I start considering how few people from school, no matter how close we were while attending school, are still part of my life: a handful only, and most of those relationships were established well before school started. The one exception is my Loverly Husband, whom I met in Kindergarten. You might say that we’ve maintained a close friendship. But even those few that I felt close to in high school have moved away and developed lives that just don’t interconnect with mine, which is as it should be. School fosters and artificial closeness that’s not generally maintained outside of that environment. Even with work, you may change jobs may times, and co-workers, many times over the years. It’s sort of comparable, but as an adult, you have more options and choices than you do as a child.

I’m happy to say that since then, our homeschool group has gained quite a few older kids, and we’ve developed several clubs and programs that engage the older kids and meet their needs better than we had previously. It’s hard to focus on any age group that’s not one your own kids are part of; since I didn’t have teens, I wasn’t as focused on that age group. It’s amazing what difference a year and a half makes! More and more, I am seeing these same kinds of bonds developing between my kids and their friends, and I’m happy for them that they have that sort of similar bond with their peers. We haven’t ruled out returning to school in a couple of years, thought it’s been my plan for a while to continue homeschooling through graduation, who knows what the future will bring.

In any case, I wanted to post this for a couple of reasons. Mainly, to illustrate that homeschooling parents (and graduates) don’t see their experience as something that’s going to launch them into the realm of riches or any particular special status as an adult. At its core, homeschooling is just another way to assimilate the basic information one needs to be a productive, functioning adult in the real world. There are homeschooling students that are spectacular and just as many that are completely ordinary, just like there are in other forms of school. Secondly, to point out that homeschooling parents also understand that there are limitations and drawbacks to their choice. We’re not blind to the fact that this is just another option, with pros and cons, just like every other option. At the end of the day, do what works best for your family, right now.

Whatever you decide to do, your kids are going to turn out just fine.

 

CAM02890-1

my graduation photo – 1995

Warmly,

~h

 

 

 

 

 

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2 responses

  1. Good for your mom! Also, yes, you did turn out great because you are a great writer! There is such a myth out there that homeschooled people are not going to be able to:

    -fit in in society
    -write
    -do math
    -get a job
    -get married

    Crazy. Some people who talk to me are extremely worried that my kids will never “meet people to date.” They are concerned my kids may meet only “other homeschooled kids” which, according to them, do not count as real people.

    Oh, my.

    March 24, 2016 at 1:36 am

    • Aww – thanks! How funny that meeting ‘other homeschoolers’ would be a bad thing. We have an amazing local group and we spend probably as much social time with them as the kids would if they were seeing their friends in school. It all balances out, I think.
      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment – I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts! ❤

      ~h

      March 26, 2016 at 10:21 pm

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