I’ve been seeing sooo many people post about homeschooling lately. Whether they’ve always done it, this year will be their first time, or they haven’t yet decided whether they should, my feeds are full of it.
I was homeschooled from 2nd-12th grade, so I’m here to tell you about what it was like for me in hopes that some of my experiences can encourage anyone who is unsure or nervous about it.
I’ll start with my back story: I went to public school for kindergarten and first grade. Kindergarten was a great experience thanks to an amazing, kind, gentle teacher; first grade was something entirely different.
I have exactly one memory from first grade. In kindergarten, when we had to go to the bathroom we would go up to the teacher’s desk and quietly ask for permission. So when I got to first grade and I had to go, I went up to the teacher’s desk and asked. She told me I had to go sit down at my desk, raise my hand, and ask from there. In other words, to my complete dismay, I had to announce to the whole class that I had to go to the bathroom.
I was mortified at the thought—I was a very shy kid. I sat there for a long time as my need to pee got progressively more intense, and I could see the teacher and the assistant teacher watching me, talking about me. They were doing the whole “how long do you think she’ll last before she gives in” thing. Placing bets probably. Eventually, I did give in because I suppose telling the class I had to pee would not have been as bad as peeing my pants in front of them, but I was immensely embarrassed.
As far as the rest of the year, I must have blocked it out. I have no recollection of this, but my parents told me I would get off the bus crying every day. I never told them why, and I certainly couldn’t tell you now, though I suspect it may have had something to do with my insensitive, belittling teacher.
In the end, they decided that the following year I would start homeschooling.
As with anything, there were both positive and negative aspects. For me, the positives vastly outweighed the negatives so I’m just going to focus on the fun part: my 7 favorite perks!
Whenever anyone asked me if I liked being homeschooled, my first response was always “well, I mean, I get to wear my PJ’s all day so I can’t really complain” which would lead to some laughter and a “wow, I wish I could do that!” As silly as it sounds, to me that was definitely an upside. Not necessarily just that I could wear my pajamas if I wanted to, but in a broader sense there was no pressure for me to wear certain types of clothing or accessories in order to be considered cool or to fit in. I didn’t stress about my outfits because I didn’t have to. Some may look at my middle school photos and suggest that this was actually NOT a good thing, but I digress.
- Flexible Breaks
I wasn’t on anyone’s schedule but my own and my teacher’s (mom’s), so I was able to take breaks when I needed them. We aren’t robots, and I’ve learned that forcing myself to keep pushing when something isn’t clicking doesn’t always work. Even as an adult sometimes I need to step away, take a breather, get some air or a snack, and then come back to the problem with a fresh mindset. Homeschooling allows the flexibility for endless possibilities.
- Personalized Learning
I had plenty of one-on-one time with the teacher; I never had to wait to get a question answered, or wait for the rest of the class to finish something I had already completed. In the same sense, I never had to feel like I was the one holding everyone else back if there was something I didn’t understand. My mom was able to personalize lesson plans based on how I learned as an individual, and that’s something that I have always highly valued.
- Lots of Free Time!
On any given day I would wake up, get a start on all of my schoolwork, and most days I would be able to finish by lunch. I was spending an average of 3-4 hours per day on school, as opposed to the 7-8 hours of public school. On top of that, when I was finished for the day I was completely finished. I didn’t have any extra homework to do in the evening, so I found myself with significantly more free time than what I had when I was in school. A lot of times I would even double up on a subject or two every day so I could have a 3-day weekend! These are the types of things that make friends jealous 😎
- No Required Reading
My mom didn’t do “required reading” in the traditional sense. I had to read, but I was able to choose which books I wanted to read. I was never forced to read a book that I thought was boring or that I wouldn’t have been able to understand at various ages (I personally think a lot of high school reading requirements are beyond their comprehension level). This fostered a massive love of reading that I maintain to this day, and now I find myself actively interested in reading the classics—1984, The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, Animal Farm, etc. I’m understanding and enjoying them now because they were never forced on me at a time when I wouldn’t have appreciated them.
- No Bullying/Peer Pressure
When I was at home I knew I was safe from being picked on, pushed into a locker, made fun of, having my lunch money stolen, and any of the other various things that can happen when dealing with a bully. I was also safe from the potential peer pressure to smoke, do drugs, have sex, etc. so I never did. I’ve always been a rule-follower so even if I had been faced with the decision to go with the crowd or say no, it’s likely I would have resisted, but I do appreciate that I was able to surround myself with people I trusted and who never forced me into those uncomfortable situations.
- Unique Opportunities
Because I had such flexibility in my school schedule, I was able to do things that other kids my age were not. For example, I was able to babysit any day, at all times of day, so I was popular in the parent community and was always making money. My first real job at 16 was at a catering company owned by a family friend, and I was able to work 6am-12pm 3 days a week and do my school around that schedule. I was also able to graduate high school a year early. I wasn’t quite ready to go to college yet, so for what would have been my senior year, I went to Cosmetology school instead. It was an amazing experience that I’m really thankful I was able to have. And I’m still licensed in New York State! ✂
Ultimately, you know your child best. If you decide to go the homeschooling route, the one-on-one time you’ll get to have is priceless. It’ll try your patience and present all kinds of challenges you may never have thought of, but it’ll be rewarding in so many unexpected ways too. And who knows, maybe later in life they’ll look back on their time being taught at home and write an appreciative blog post. 😉
You absolutely got this. Good luck!
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