“Wait, so you never went to, like, a real school?”
I honestly cannot count the number of times I’ve heard that phrase after telling someone that I grew up home-schooled. I never went to day care, I never went to elementary school and I never experienced typical high school. I’ve been told high school is nothing like “Mean Girls,” which is disappointing, but also probably a good thing. Despite never stepping foot inside a classroom to start an academic semester, I still did “real school.” I’m currently in my junior year, and I’ve noticed there are a lot of misconceptions about growing up home-schooled. So, let’s talk about it.
Growing up, I was expected to be up around 8 a.m., and I’d eat my favorite cereal before getting started on my schoolwork for the day. Yes, I did do school in my pajamas some days, and it was wonderful. On a typical day, I would spend the morning and maybe the early afternoon studying school books and doing homework. I joked a lot that all of my school was homework; it made me feel cool, but it was probably just awkward to my public school friends. My mom played a vital role in my education. She spent a large chunk of her time making lesson plans and doing research to make sure that my brother and I were learning things that would be valuable in college and the real world. My afternoons were spent playing outside, learning about things that interested me, spending time with friends or participating in 4-H activities.
My freshman year of college was a big adjustment. Not only was I adjusting to being on my own, I was also adjusting to classes, homework, due dates and professors who weren’t my parents. It was stressful and overwhelming at times. But, I also found a joy in experiencing something new. Going to classes was new and exciting to me, and I enjoyed being able to learn from lectures.
When people in college first find out that I was home-schooled, they either respond with “Wow, I was home-schooled too,” or “Wow, I never would have guessed. You seem so normal.” This has always bugged me a little bit. Is there such thing as a normal person? There are definitely home-schoolers out there who exceed every home-school stereotype you can think of. There are also people out there of all ages who currently are or were home-schooled and are smart, socialized members of society. I participated in a home-school co-op, home-school park days and even played on a basketball team, which I quickly learned was not for me. I credit most of my socialization to my 12 years of 4-H. It gave me a lot of leadership and service opportunities that helped shape me and make me socially ready for college and life.
Home schooling helped me develop a strong sense of self-motivation and helped me nourish a great relationship with my mom. Some of my favorite memories from my high school years are having talks with my mom while making lunch.
Most home-schoolers are pretty chill, interesting people. Sure, some of them might have different viewpoints on things, but don’t we all? Whether you grew up in public school, private school, home-school or a combination of all these, we are all people and we each have our own stories.