“You’re homeschooled, right?” The public schooler asked me.
“Sooooo, does that mean you get to stay in your pajamas all day?”
“Yep!” Twelve-year-old me replied mischievously “I just stay in my pajamas, eat chocolates and relax on the coach all day long.”
“Whoa”. the public schooler said, his eyes glistening with longing, “I wish I was homeschooled too“.
Teasing public schoolers was one of the many pleasures of being a homeschool kid. I usually let them in on the joke afterwards, and revealed that being homeschooled wasn’t that much different from being public schooled: we just did our math, history and spelling at home, with our Mom as our teacher (so you better believe we weren’t getting away with hanging out on the coach eating chocolates all day!)
I was homeschooled k-12 along with my five siblings. Public school kids were always incredibly curious about what it was like. We were so mysterious to them, and to be honest they were just as mysterious to us. What would it be like, I wondered, to get on a bus and go to school every day?
Note: before I get into my opinions about homeschooling, I do want to state that I believe everyone needs to figure out what is a best fit for their family! Homeschooling isn’t the perfect option for everybody. Every family should discern what works best for their kids! Okay, public service announcement over.
Why did your parents start homeschooling you?
When my parents first child (my eldest brother, Matthew) got to be old enough, my Mom really didn’t want to send him to school just yet. So she convinced Dad to let her homeschool him for just a year or two. Now, twenty-five years later, she is still homeschooling my youngest brother Malachi. There were a lot of people concerned about Mom and Dad homeschooling, but as friends and family saw what a great job my parents were doing, and how well-behaved we all were (most of the time, ha ha!) those critics became advocates of homeschooling!
We were really the first generation of homeschoolers. Homeschooling was illegal in our state up until a few years before my parents started homeschooling my eldest brother. Only thirty years ago, homeschooling was actually illegal in every state. That meant that there were no adults that we knew who were homeschooled. In fact, most adults seemed suspicious of the whole thing. This definitely made us feel unique, and we loved that! I don’t think any of us ever felt the pressure–that many public schooled kids feel–to be like everyone else. On the contrary, we didn’t want to be like anyone else. We gloried in being different. Each of us followed his or her unique path: my brother Matthew just got his PhD in Medieval Literature, my second brother Andrew is a graphic designer, designs board games and is a stay-at-home-Dad, I graduated with a degree in Theatre, my little brother Timothy taught himself how to design websites, skipped college, and went straight into the workforce, my little sister Amalia is a freshman in college as an English major, and my little brother Malachi is still being homeschooled, and loves art, science, and videography.
How do you feel about being homeschooled?
Homeschooling definitely didn’t hurt us any, if anything, it gave us the freedom and flexibility to pursue the things–unique and quirky–that we truly were interested in. We’ve all thrived, and I attribute that largely to our fantastic parents (thanks Mom and Dad!), and the great education we received. My parents protected our childhood, and in an increasingly more troubled world that meant a lot. I will always have memories of competing with my brothers in our own personal spelling bees, repeating Latin conjugations with my siblings, playing tag football together out in our pasture, asking Dad for help with math, learning watercolor from my Mom, and memorizing Bible verses together over breakfast. I honestly really miss those homeschool days when I got to spend so much time with my parents, and siblings. I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world.
Homeschooling has grown in popularity, and I think the stigma attached to homeschooling has started to fade. Colleges have realized the quality student that most homeschoolers are, and have started marketing specifically to homeschoolers. They discovered that homeschoolers, by and large, were self-starters, used to teaching themselves, and excellent students. Universities have started offering “homeschool days” when homeschool kids can go check out their schools.
Homeschooling opens the door to many opportunities: we traveled to New Zealand in February as a family, and just did extra school work before and after the trip. We went to the Gulf Shores in the off-season, and gloried in the fact that there were no other tourists there. We were able to study areas that fascinated us, and Mom would assign us projects based on those interests.
Aren’t you worried that homeschool kids won’t be socialized?
One of the questions I got the most from adults, growing up, was “aren’t you worried about socialization?” Which, thinking back, was a weird question for an adult to ask a kid in the first place. And, no, I wasn’t worried about deficiencies in socialization then, and I’m not now. Homeschool kids aren’t hermits. We were involved in homeschool choir, homeschool theatre, we played sports in the summers and were in plays in the winters. If anything, I think homeschool kids are exposed to more types of people because they aren’t spending 80% of the day with primarily kids their own age! We hung out with adults a lot more, and were very comfortable talking to people of all ages.
Honestly, there are awkward homeschoolers, and awkward public schoolers. Homeschooling is just a smaller pool of people, so I think sometimes someone will know one homeschooler and think every homeschooler is like that individual, but that isn’t true. There are as many types of homeschoolers as there are families that homeschool! There are Christian, Catholic, non-religious, extroverted, introverted, awkward, social, genius, average, mathematical, artistic homeschoolers just as there are a thousands of types of public schoolers.
What did an average day look like?
Every homeschool family has their own version of normal, of course, because homeschooling is nothing if not flexible! I had friends who did school four weeks on, and one week off all year round (they didn’t take a summer break), other friends who took their vacation in the winter time (one perk of being homeschooled is you can travel in the off-season, which makes everything cheaper and less crowded!), some who slept in and started their school day in the afternoon, and others who were done by noon every day.
In our family, we tended to get up between 6-7, and do our chores first. We had a rotating chore schedule–one month I would be in charge of folding laundry, the next I would help make breakfast, etc…we would get our chores done, and sit down for breakfast at the table with my Mom. Then, as we ate breakfast, Mom would read aloud the book we were reading as a family at that time (we read through many fiction and non-fiction books such as the Ralph Moody series), then she’d read a chapter from a devotional, and then we would do our Bible lesson for the day. While Mom was reading we would eat, and then when we were done we would be doing our art lesson from an art book. After we cleaned up from breakfast, we would get started on our core subjects such as creative writing and grammar, Latin, French, spelling etc…Around mid-morning we would have a snack break where more often than not we would all get big bowls of my Mom’s homemade salsa, and grab a bag of chips. We would sit around in our living room, warming ourselves by the wood burning stove, and Mom would read from our history book. We would often get side-tracked discussing, in depth, all sorts of historical events. I often had a knitting project I would work on while Mom read. We’d have lunch, and then after lunch we would often fit in a math lesson, a reading hour, and practice our musical instruments.
Will you homeschool your kids?
Saia and I have talked a lot about homeschooling vs. public schooling. He went to school at Maui High (where he grew up in Maui, Hawaii). His family is all incredibly athletic,and while he is in favor of homeschooling, his main concern is that our kids have the opportunity to play sports if they so desire. Every State is different in its laws concerning homeschoolers involvement within the public school system. Nebraska public school systems haven’t been very open towards homeschoolers’ involvement up until the last year or two when they passed a new law that homeschoolers only have to take two classes in order to play sports. Since that law passed, many homeschoolers have chosen to be involved in choir and phys ed or something like that so they can also play sports within the public school. Saia and I share concerns over several things we disagree with in the public school system, and we really want to shelter our kids from a lot of issues there. We are planning on homeschooling. We will, of course, allow our kids the option once they get to high school to go to public school if they so desire, just like my parents would have let us if we really wanted to.
Speaking as a mom, I am so excited to start teaching (and learning with) my kids!