Demystifying homeschooling

Photo by Wirawat Lian-udom used under the Creative Commons license
Photo by Wirawat Lian-udom used under the Creative Commons license

Rachel Whatley, Staff Writer

   Whenever people learn that I was homeschooled, there are usually two distinct reactions. Some people respond with sparkly-eyed interest and surprise: “Oh, really? That’s neat!” However, I often get the dreaded question: “But how were you socialized?”

   Sometimes I just want to groan because they really have no idea. I was part of a school-like atmosphere with other homeschoolers, as well as participating in band, concurrent college classes and music lessons. You bet I was socialized! I still have two really good friends from my middle and high school era.

   The beauty of homeschooling, as you may have noticed already, is that there are so many options. Or too many, I might say. Yes, you can keep it all at home, even do school online, but you can also fill your week with so many activities that you do not have time to breathe. Name an activity, and chances are, homeschoolers are banding together to do it. Every extra-curricular, every sport. Chess? Probably. Drama? Definitely. Football, volleyball…I had a couple of friends who even did fencing (which I would have loved to do if I was not so busy. See what I mean?). A little Googling or word of mouth did the trick. Even some groups like honor bands will let homeschoolers participate. Also, to foster a more “typical” high school experience, a homeschool formal takes place every spring.

   The “school-like atmosphere” I mentioned before is also known as a co-op, but instead of requiring parents to lead classes, like most co-ops do, I had the same set of certified teachers every week. Once a week classes were all it took, which left the homework to be done at home.

   Although my program was rigorous – and most are – there is a broad range of students that develop from different methods of homeschool education. For me, there was plenty of college-preparatory work. Critical thinking, questioning the world around me and research papers – they were all there. On the other hand, I have heard of some families that let their kids do whatever they want for the day. No regulation, no supervision, nothing. In some cases, that may turn out well if the students are extremely motivated achievers. Other students, though, wouldn’t be so successful in this atmosphere. If it were me, well…let’s just say I need some structure.

   Due to the nature of my rigorous education, I have done pretty well in college so far. A lot of homeschoolers do, after all, having received the benefit of working at a fast, challenging pace. However, the college course load is a bit heavier than what I am used to. The biggest change for me is going to school every day, sometimes from eight to six, versus just one full day of class plus a concurrent course a few times a week.

   Another change from homeschool life is the size of the university. Coming from my “high school,” it seems to me that SNU has a lot of students. However, I know that it is quite small in comparison. Just to give you an approximation of the size of my “high school,” there were nine seniors in my graduation ceremony. I know, tiny.

   It is true that each type of education has its advantages as well as drawbacks. When it comes down to it, you have to pick what works best for you. Homeschooling, for some, offers greater flexibility, inflicts less social pressure and encourages individuals to achieve.