Hello everyone. My name is Sarah, I’m 23 years old, and I was homeschooled my entire life until college. Nice to meet ya’ll.
I always get a lot of questions asking about being homeschooled, so I thought I would write a blog post for the curious. I mean, I’m the typical southern homeschooler. Catholic raised I went to Sunday School every week. My parents are Republicans. Can I get any more stereotypical? But today I’ll answer a few of the basics; why I was homeschooled, what it was like, how I was taught, how did I socialize, and how do I seem so normal now? Let’s get into it!
I am the youngest of three children. I have two brothers, 6 and 4 years older. I grew up on the East side of northern Austin, which for anyone who lived in Austin 15 years ago, wasn’t exactly the nicest part of town. It wasn’t anything like East Austin today, though my neighborhood was never as bad as some parts. See, my Mom grew up in the same house, having moved there at the age of 7 and has told me stories of how there were just fields surrounding the house. You could run to the river, which is now in peoples’ backyards, and explore. Not anymore.
Anyway, so this was my home. A typical little suburban neighborhood. A two-story house with a 5 member family. A Dad who did the 9-5 every day and a Mom who stayed at home to raise and homeschool the kids. We were the quintessential family. So why homeschool us?
My parents are very rational people. They’re very intelligent and so they quickly saw how kids can lack an education by going to a public school. Especially the ones around us. See, my oldest brother went to public school until 3rd grade and the middle brother went to kindergarten but after just a few years my parents decided that was enough. They realized that their education was suffering. My oldest would come home and tell them they didn’t learn anything that day because some kids were causing trouble and the teacher punished everyone because they simply just had to control the kids. They didn’t have much choice. It was just a daycare basically.
Now, the rest of the schools in my area were similar. Really, they only got worse as you got older. The middle school and high school were then, and still I believe, known for drugs, violence, and gangs, and my parents were not about to send their children to that.
So they did what they thought was best. They took a look at their finances, realized that they could potentially afford to make homeschooling work, pulled my brothers out of their classes, and began homeschooling them, and me once I was old enough.
As a teenager, I hated it. But as a 5-11-year-old, I loved homeschooling. I got to hang out with my brothers all day, we would ride our bikes, scooters, go exploring around the neighborhood. We played video games, we made up games. We had a lot of time to be kids and use our imaginations which I think is seriously lacking in today’s education.
Of course, it wasn’t all just fun and games. We did learn a lot but it was definitely not an 8 hour day with extra activities for us, which was nice. My mom had a structure to our day. At 8:30am we would sit down in our “classroom” and have a discussion. We would read the newspaper, talk about things we learned or found interesting and talk about it. This helped our debating skills, our speech skills, and critical thinking skills tremendously.
After that, we would do our own separate workbooks at our levels, with our Mom helping us when needed (especially in math for me). This included Math, Grammar, and Writing. That usually went on until 11am, which would then be our lunch break. We’d have a two-hour break then at 1pm, meet back for our other topics of science, history, and geography. This was my least favorite for a few reasons. 1). When you are homeschooled with your brothers you dislike everything they like and they quickly realize that so they will tease and taunt you. 2). I prefer learning from reading whereas this part of the day was listening to our Mom read out of the book. I was an angsty stubborn kid that didn’t want to listen. But somehow I managed.
That was the general structure of our day with some exceptions. Sometimes for writing, my Mom would let us watch a historical movie or documentary then write a paper on it. Sometimes she had us read certain books then write a book report on it. There was a lot of writing with homeschooling but I think that was also because my Mom tailored me to writing a bit more. She knew I loved it and, the good thing with homeschooling is that you have a little more flexibility to work on what you like and what you’re good at.
Now, as I said before, once I got older I began to hate homeschooling. I was constantly asking my mom to be put into public school to which she always responded no. I’m very grateful for it now but of course, as most teenagers do, I wanted to get away from my parents and start spreading my wings.
Now, how does a homeschooler socialize is one of the biggest questions I get asked. I mean, it’s a valid question but my goodness, I wish I got a dime for everytime someone asked me that. Yes, there are homeschooling groups to socialize with other homeschoolers, though we didn’t partake in many. Mostly because everyone has different reasons for homeschooling which can vary from overly religious parents, parents who don’t care about their kids education, parents who care a lot about their kids education and going to an ivy league school, and then those like my parents who just want their kids to have a normal life, a good education, and grow up to be functioning adults.
In any case, so a lot of the other kids were just very different than my brothers and I. Two of my best friends, however, were homeschooled and happened to live in the same neighborhood as I. We hungout every day and they were just normal cool girls.
We made other friends by networking really. You meet someone at a mall, they introduce you to their friends, and soon you’ve got a bunch of friends from a certain school. Then you do the same with people from another school. And the rest is history. Easy peasy, socializing done.
Though I will admit, by default as a homeschooler you are sheltered. I mean, you just are. My parents weren’t overly strict but you just aren’t exposed to as much as if you went to a public school. So, my social skills did develop a little later but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing in this day in age. I mean, when 13-year-olds look like 17 with all of their makeup and are talking to 18-year-olds trying to “hookup” with them. Yeah… no thanks.
Moving on! So though my social skills developed later, I’m also always given the speech of “but you seem so normal!” Thanks?
I’d say my normalness was something I earned over time. There were times when I was horribly shy, nervous, and not at all confident, but I made it through. I developed. I started taking community college courses at 16 which helped me have confidence in my knowledge and helped my social skills a bit. I also started working as an assistant karate instructor which improved my speaking skills. I just began throwing myself into life and rolling with the punches.
And not to pat myself on the back but I think I turned out alright. I mean, despite all of the obstacles I’ve made it this far. I may be a 23-year-old back in school but that’s because I took the past 3 years off to travel the world. I had fun. I worked hard. I chased my dreams and now I’m off to chase more.
But I think it all comes down to how you are homeschooled. My parents, while they did raise us in the South, going to church school, and being Republicans themselves, always taught us to have our own opinions. They taught us that we should be critical and not just to believe something because someone says it. Question it. They taught us to believe in ourselves, to chase our dreams, and to be kind, hardworking individuals. They taught us to respect opinions, look at why someone might think that way, and how we could think.
I’m now a more-so-democratic, spiritual but not religious person, who’s lived abroad and traveled to many different countries. I’m vegan, I’ve learned to think for myself and do what I think is right. I’m very different from my parents because they raised us that that’s okay. Do what you think is right, be kind, and you’re good.
I could go on and on about what it was like homeschooling honestly but there just simply isn’t enough time in the day to cover it all. If ya’ll have any specific questions about it, please, leave a comment below I’d love to answer them!