Ever wonder what your kids would tell a college professor about their homeschooling journey? Well, I found out what my daughter had to say after she submitted this paper for her ENC 1101.31 class when she was just a freshman at the university she attended.
October 10, 2006
Does “Home” + “School” = Freak?
What comes to mind when the words “home” and “school” are combined? Is homeschooling really just schooling at home? For many, it has quite a negative connotation, often rendering poor assumptions. People may think, “Does the kid have a social life, and is he/she even socially acceptable? How can they be challenged in that environment?” Often, the younger generation’s statements don’t differ much, “Wouldn’t the kid be bored all the time? How can he/she stand to be around their family all day every day? What about sports? Are they all nerds?” How might I know this? I was homeschooled, and while a few depictions of us may be true, some families, like my own, have put an entirely new twist on the concept.
Let me just begin by saying that, no, homeschooler’s aren’t always stereotyped. But since the lifestyle can be such a mystery for public and private school children, often it leaves room for some interesting and somewhat humorous responses. Every time I was asked growing up, “Where do you go to school?” I almost immediately felt like an alien when I saw the utter confusion on the kid’s faces at my reply. It’s not that I cared so much, I actually loved homeschooling, but I did find it more and more frustrating to explain as I got older. All thirteen years of my education, prior to college, were spent at my home; thirteen years I wouldn’t trade for any other experience.
So does a homeschooled child’s education really differ from a public or private school student’s? Of course it does; it’s an entirely different approach to education! But the opinions expressed by my peers couldn’t have been further from the truth. I can honestly say there was never a time when my social life was lacking. I confess my social life probably dominated way too much of my life, but what kid complains about that right? Elementary school was perfect. I woke up, did some chores, finished my school in just a few hours, and was free to play the rest of the day. There was a plethora of field trips, track and field competitions, and events that my siblings and I attended.
In middle school I began to see other aspects that were beneficial other than extra “playtime”. I was able to learn things I was interested in. Also, my mom was able to assess the different ways my siblings and I learned, and therefore created custom teaching methods for each of us to accommodate our individual learning styles. Also, because I didn’t have the pressure of keeping up with a classroom of other children nor was I forced to stay behind with them, I was able to learn at my own pace. If a subject was difficult, we just slowed the pace and made sure I understood the material before moving on.
High school years were a blast. Not only was school becoming more my responsibility, (when and where I wanted to do assignments) but I was actually becoming my own teacher in some areas, and not relying on lectures and labs to ace subjects. It definitely required discipline and hard work, and I believe helped prepare me for college. As far as sports go, since homeschoolers have the option of playing for private and public schools, I had the opportunity to participate on a competitive varsity basketball team all four years for a private school. My friends understood how my situation worked, but it was pretty complicated trying to explain to others how I could be homeschooled and still play basketball for a “real school”.
Luckily for my family, home schooling is becoming a commonly used alternative to the public school system. Parents are able to control what curriculum is used; the teaching methods applied, and can even integrate their religion freely into the child’s everyday learning. A quote by the Family Research Council gives an idea of how much parents can influence a child in education especially, “…the truth is mothers – and fathers – exert far more influence over their children’s intellectual development than is commonly realized. In fact, more than three decades of research shows that families have greater influence over a child’s academic performance than any other factor – including schools” (Family).
A common misconception is that homeschoolers do all their school at home. Wrong! I commonly did school on the go: in the car, at a friend’s house, on vacation if need be, etc. As far as I knew, other kids couldn’t take off days or “double-up” on homework whenever they wanted. They couldn’t take off a week in the middle of October to go on a cruise. They couldn’t do school sitting on their comfy bed or go to Disney World several times a month for “field trips”. To me, and many of my friends who were also homeschooled, it was sheer bliss.
“Home·school: To instruct (a pupil, for example) in an educational program outside of established schools, especially in the home.” (Homeschool). This definition is often about the extent of what is known about the complex style of education. Hopefully by now however, the common belief that homeschool is just a school at home has been broken. Not all of us are little recluses living in secluded forests. In fact, those elite few of us that were able to experience this great way of gaining information will usually proudly proclaim that homeschooling is the way to go!
All in all, it’s a great way for a kid to grow up. Beyond the positives of learning self discipline and hard work, it allows a child to find who he/she is without all the pressures of fitting in and conforming to the ways of their peers. They can discover their passions and gifts and really pursue them as far as they wish. Homeschoolers aren’t “freaks” secluded from the real world. As the popularity of them grows rapidly in America, in many ways, they’re on a great path to success.
- Family Research Council, The One-House Schoolroom,
Family Policy, September 1995
- homeschool.” The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 02 Oct. 2006. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/homeschool>
- Mary Pride, “Taking Homeschooling Out of Your Home”,
Home Life, Inc. PHS #35, 2002
Moms, I can’t tell you these will be the words your college student would say but I can tell you this, your kids are your life’s greatest work! There is nothing you could ever do that would matter more. You are shaping the next generation of leaders in our community. When you really think about it that’s a really big deal.
Funny how our society tries to tell you otherwise. Don’t be deceived! I was told so many times I would ruin my kids. Nonsense! I shaped them into who they are. That’s the Power of Moms.
Since the time of this writing Jeannie has graduated from the University of Central Florida earning the title Magna Cum Laude. She is a Fine Arts painter and published Photographer who brings beauty to this amazing world through her work. You can see some of her work on Facebook at: J. Albers Studios. Her website is coming soon.