End of the Semester Thoughts on Homeschooling

Suffice to say, this has been a weird semester. For many of you this was probably your first foray into an online class, or if you’d taken an online class before, having them exclusively online has been new. As soon as I heard that classes would be online I laughed. I was homeschooled officially from kindergarten to 4th grade with my two siblings. When I was 10 we moved across the country and ended up going to a co-op, which is a private (often christian) school that has some days in class, and other days at home with work. We did that for 3 years before leaving, tried traditional homeschooling again in my 8th grade year, and then I went to cyber school for my 4 years of high school.  

Overall it was a very unique experience. As you’re all coming to realize now, there’s a lot you can do, and a lot you can avoid doing, when you’re home alone for extended periods of time.  So while there were parts of it that I enjoyed, like wearing my PJ’s and reading as much as I wanted, I had a very complicated relationship with my schooling. It’s an interesting subject to bring up with people because although it was absolutely normal for me, it’s a very odd thing that I’ve found many of my peers can’t relate to. There’s a lot of myths about homeschooling, some true and some not. There’s a few that I got from Resource Hub that I’d like to break down, with my own personal experience. 

  1. 1. Home school children don’t socialize

    Keegan Acton and friend laughing

    Yes, and no. This is honestly going to vary for every family. For myself, I would say that we were a lot more social before we moved. We had a homeschool group that we would go on fieldtrips with, have play dates, and they had a regular meeting every week at a local park where we would either just play, or have fun events. I also did a kids program similar to a scouts program called AWANA. We went to church, where all of my best friend’s went too. As I got older we socialized a little less but mostly because my family is more introverted, and my mom had gone back to work. I think that we were socialized enough overall, but personally I wish that I had been forced to be social when I didn’t want to, because it would have made things easier to handle when I re-emerged into an academic setting.

  2. 2. Parent’s aren’t qualified to teach

    I will speak to my experience only. I love my mother and she’s very wonderful, but she also suffers from depression and anxiety, which at points made her a very absentee teacher. She did well with the tests, and big main goals. However I feel as if I’ve mostly taught myself, especially the older I got and more proficient at reading I was. The co-op I went to was another story, with some teachers actually having degrees, but most of them not. They were simply parents who were asked to also teach at the school. For example my mom, who did not finish college, taught 3rd grade spelling and grammar for two years. The problem with having “teachers” with no teaching degree means that they were never taught all the skills teachers are taught, like how to handle multiple personalities at once, figuring out each student’s learning style, or how to maintain control over a classroom. In 7th grade there was an instance where a female teacher got into a verbal screaming match with an 8th grader boy. I was thankfully not there for the event, but even at 12 I remember thinking how unprofessional that was, and then realizing she did it because she *wasn’t* a professional, just a parent.

  3. 3. If you’re homeschooled you can’t get into college

    Purdue Sign Sunshine Buildings College.Jpg

    I mean I got into 5 of them so...Next.

  4. 4. Homeschool kids can’t function well in the real world

    two women sit in front of a computer. there are plants on the desk. they are wearing blazers.

    Now here, my answer is complicated. Because there are a lot of moments in my life where I feel like I’m struggling with being a normal, functioning adult. I think that homeschooling is a small part of it however, just something that made it even harder to relate to my peers after I developed depression and anxiety. A lot of it had to do with my particular family’s dynamic and lifestyle, and that just happened to include homeschooling. I was sheltered in a lot of ways other than just being at home, all of which makes me feel at odds with the “real world” sometimes. They say that being in school helps you develop a lot of interpersonal skills, and I didn’t believe that until I got older. 

     

  5. 5. Very few people homeschool their kids

    classrooom and students with a projector

    According to the article I took this list from, that isn’t true because 1.7 million kids in the US are homeschooled. Personally, everyone that I really knew was homeschooled or went to a private christian school, and that was a decent amount of people. While it is a minority, there are whole subsects of communities who homeschool avidly across the country. 

     

  6. 6. Homeschool kids don’t learn as well

    Anna Schultz-Girl On Computer Stress

    Again, this actually all depends on the kids, which I saw in my family growing up. My sister did really well being homeschooled. She was an A student, super motivated to go above and beyond in school, even starting her own little cake business in highschool. My brother was the opposite, and he never really liked school. I would often wake up to him screaming at his computer in frustration. I did okay, my grades were good when I actually did the work, but I was prone to procrastination because of bad time management. Even though I was smart, I did also cheat. I did no math all 8th grade, and in highschool I’m sure I only passed chemistry with help online. I regret this, because if I had been in school I would have been forced to learn it, and I would have been better for it. College hasn’t been too big of an adjustment, the worst really has just been test-taking. My first semester in college had me take my first in person exam since the 7th grade. 

     

  7. 7. Extracurricular activities are unavailable

    Cameron Smith-Girl Smirk Smile Hat Laid Back Theatre

    Super false. I used to do ballet, take piano, and play soccer. Not to mention the homeschool group I mentioned previously, and special physical education courses we do with them. The only thing I’ll say is that being homeschooled definitely makes it harder for students who are a little more introverted to find a fun extracurricular. I ended up trading going to my schools fine arts program for having a job at 15. While I learned a lot from work, I wish I had followed through so I could have felt more comfortable joining clubs in college. 

     

  8. 8. Families who homeschool their kids are all alike

    Family eating dinner

    This one is silly only because no family is really alike. I knew a variety of families that homeschooled, but because my family was in a religious circle, most of them did homeschool because they had more conservative religious world views. Again like many communities, homeschoolers share the same morals, or at least the ones who interact find those who homeschool for similar reasons. 

  9. 9. Homeschool services are all the same

    a hand holds a pen writing on sheets of paper on a wooden desk. there's a coffee cup and a notebook in front of it.

    By this I think the website is referring to homeschooling programs that parents can use to teach. I know from experience that this isn’t true, and I should have mentioned it earlier. While yes, parent’s aren’t necessarily qualified to be teachers, they aren’t completely on their own. These home-school services basically do the real teaching work for the parents as they come up with a curriculum, learning materials and activities, quizzes, etc.  My parents used a few, when we were younger they mixed up a few to find a good blend that we all liked. But in 8th grade my parents selected just one program, which had packets for each class. Each packet contained multiple booklet’s, which were each a “section” of the course. You’d read the information in the booklet, fill in the homework, take occasional quizzes, and when you were finished you would take a tear out test that you could compare your own answers from. It was an odd, but easy, way to pass the year.

I hope this helped in some way to break down some of the myths about homeschooling. It is important to remember that some kids have a positive attitude about being homeschooled. For me it’s always been complicated but I’m slowly realizing that I would have had just as turbulent of emotions about public education. In the end I’m thankful for being homeschooled if only because it absolutely turned me into the person that I am. I hope that as we end this online semester, with no idea if we will be returning online in the fall or not, you all congratulate yourself on finishing a semester (or half) online. It really isn’t easy to be your own teacher, especially when your actual teachers don’t understand the platforms they need to use. Be proud of yourself for sticking it out day by day, getting your work done (even if it's late), and finishing the weirdest semester ever. 

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