Thursday, December 16, 2010

Homeschooling from a Homeschooler's Perspective: Part 1

I've had this conversation plenty of times:
New friend: “Oh!—you’re homeschooled...?”

Me: “Yes, I’ve been homeschooled ever since kindergarten. We kept thinking I’d transition to traditional school, but it hasn’t happened!”



“Do you like it?”

I always tell them yes, because the good parts over the almost-twelve years I’ve been homeschooled have well overwhelmed the not-so-good parts.

But then the problems. “I was homeschooled for a while, but I was a really social kid, so it was horrible!” Or, from the adults’ perspective, “The whole socialization factor—I’m not sure it’s wise to have my kids not spending much time with other kids.”

I must say I don't always understand this. Soon I am transitioning to college. I have a job on campus, get along very well with the college students and staff, and am not encountering any problems transitioning socially. I make new friends easily, have only met a few people who really didn't like me (and they're my friends now), lead a small Bible study group, and have never had any problem despite my "lack of socialization." So why does homeschooling get the reputation it has? In my opinion, this reputation is rather over-exaggerated, but does have some truth to it. I have met many college students who quit homeschooling in their grade-school years because they were too lonely. I won’t say it’s for everyone, but I will say that if you are thinking about it, give it a try! Part of a year won’t kill your child or you, and it might be a great thing.

In most parts of the United States (other countries are more difficult), churches, church groups, homeschool co-ops, and similar groups allow you or your kids to have a great deal of interaction with other families. No, it’s not every day, but on the other hand, you learn lessons you wouldn’t learn so easily if you were in school. For example…

--My brother and I get along well and have been friends almost our whole lives. When you live together all the time, you have a lot more incentive to get along!

--I can take care of laundry, cooking, cleaning, the dogs, etc. any time if Mom needs me to. As long as no terrible disasters come up, I can pretty much run the house for most of the day if it’s needed.

--I have received individual attention on subjects like math and science (my difficult areas) that has enabled me to do above average on college entrance exams.

--I can now give individual tutoring on subjects like English and writing (my strong points) ;) to my friends and brother, whenever they need it. And learn valuable teaching skills in the process! :)

--I have time to have a job, with people I (usually) enjoy, doing useful things, and sometimes getting to bring home recipes for my mom!

--I have time to write, take pictures, and practice my instruments, honing my God-given talents and preparing for my future career.

--Most importantly, I have learned to be myself.

I think this latter point is what makes homeschoolers different, more often than not. Homeschooling forces you to be yourself—there is no crowd you can hang out with and imitate all day long, every day. Either you simply copy what you see in your family, or you decide for yourself where God’s calling you, and you go that way. This point is also what lets homeschoolers often be more comfortable with adults than their traditionally-schooled counterparts are. I have struggled hard with this idea, but finally I think I’m starting to “get it.” It’s all right to be what God’s calling me to be! It’s all right to be different (in a good way) from a lot of my acquaintances! That’s okay!

But there’s a balance to walk. Most of us don’t believe that living in a hermitage is healthy or right. If you’re a parent, how do you teach that to your kids without having them jump full-length into unhealthy things? Coming up in part two, some things I’ve seen (and experienced) that seem to work quite well!

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