(This article was written by Jenny: homeschool graduate, Guilt-Free intern, and computer whiz.)
To homeschool or not to homeschool — parents often have a hard time making this decision. I want to provide you with the view of a homeschool graduate, giving you an idea of how a child might react to the proposal to homeschool.
I have now graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, but how I was able to make it to this point is the real story. I started out in public school, where I was educated until the summer before fifth grade when my parents made the decision to educate me at home. The deciding factors in the situation were all issues that I agreed with them on completely, but it was the idea of homeschooling that I was not as in agreement with. In fact, I was against being homeschooled from the beginning.
My objections were numerous, I had no idea how my parents thought they were going to teach me — after all, what could they possibly know? Secondly, I was objecting to the loss of all my friends from school. Another qualm that I had was merely a fear of the unknown, I had friends who were being homeschooled, and although they seemed normal and happy enough, I knew very little about homeschooling. Overall, I really did not think homeschooling was the education for me, though I knew how much I hated the public school system.
In the summer before we started homeschooling, I was upset and scared. I had an attitude typical of children in public school — I thought my parents were not smart, and I did not have confidence in them to trust them with my social life or education because I did not think they really understood me — or could ever understand me. This common misconception was dispelled soon enough, but it did take some time.
The fear I had decreased after I talked to a good friend who had been homeschooled for his entire education. He encouraged me to try homeschooling, and explained to me a little bit about how homeschooling would work, and the many benefits I would have because of homeschooling. After this conversation, I was more willing to be homeschooled, but I still doubted that my parents were capable of such a task.
The first few weeks of schooling were certainly a testing period. Mom was unsure of her capability as a teacher, and I was just as unsure. At first it was like play, we did workbooks and educational exercises, and it was like pretend school — it was kind of fun. The reality set in later that this was school, and as that reality dawned, so did the reality that homeschooling was actually school, and it was a great alternative to the public school system I had been in.
I was also enjoying the benefits of homeschooling. I liked being able to take a break for a snack or bathroom break anytime. I did not have to watch the clock pass time away as I sat and did nothing because I was ahead of the other students. I also did not have to work hard later in the evening to catch up on the homework that I was slower on than the other students. Strangely enough, mom could also teach math so much better than the teachers that I had in public school. We also were able to watch the Andy Griffith show during lunch, providing a pleasant break and laugh as well as some family time between subjects. My favorite aspect of homeschooling throughout the experience was that homeschooling took so much less time than the 7 or so hours that we had been held captive at public school.
By Christmas of the first year, I was thoroughly enjoying my homeschooling experience. I realized that mom was a LOT smarter than my friends had convinced me that parents were. I also liked being able to hold it over my friends that homeschooling took little time, and that I actually was enjoying the assignments that I had. I could listen to whatever music that I wanted to, in my own room, and start school at any time. For a while, I got up at 6am and did my work before anyone else was up, so I could play by 10am. At other times, I would sleep in and start my work later in the day. My puppy could sit by me while I worked or in my lap if I could manage it.
Socialization was not a problem either. I soon realized that the children I had considered friends at public school were hardly people that I wanted to spend time with, and the few that I did like to be around I remained friends with through outside activities. I still had all my friends from church and clubs, and I was able to do many “social” activities with mom, like going to the store during the day. Our family also joined a couple of homeschool groups, with which we could do group activities like field trips and coop classes.
By high school, the benefits were great: I could do my work at my own discretion and was able to get ahead by an entire year. I took college classes during my senior year, and was able to be acclimated to that culture in advance (another good “socialization” opportunity that I had because I was homeschooled). I got along well with the teachers, and even was commended by them several times for the wonderful education I entered college with. Many of my teachers were amazed at how well I could grasp the topics they were teaching, or even that I could write full sentences with some semblance of grammar.
Today I am fully convinced that I got the best education at home. Beyond that, I was able to avoid many of the downfalls of the public school system and benefited from advantages of school at home. Our family has become quite close through homeschooling, a result that I doubt we would have gotten if my brother and I had gone through the public school system where peer pressure encourages children to disregard their siblings and parents as stupid and useless appendages. I intend to homeschool my children as well when I have a family, and I trust they will have as successful of an experience as I have had.
I encourage everyone to try homeschooling. I believe that once you give it a chance the benefits will outweigh and overrule your doubts.