We don’t wear pajamas all day. We have among the highest test scores in the country. We have social lives. If you’re ready to have your stereotypes shattered, then read on, because I am a proud home-schooled graduate.
Many negative stereotypes persist about the home-school image and that greatly irritates me. This image is both mass produced and inaccurate. I can just as easily say all public school students are stoners who get a “D” average in school. I won’t say that, because I know how ignorant it is to assume one person consumes an entire group of people.
Everyone to whom I’ve told I was home-schooled from kindergarten through grade 12 cannot believe it. “You’re so normal!” most say. I like to think I am, but I also want to explain what a home-schooler is so the rest of this negative image can be dispelled. I have met some odd ones for sure, but we’re not all jean skirt and sneaker wearers who think Harry Potter is evil.
My parents decided to home-school me because they were already home-schooling my older sister due to the fact she was not enjoying the private school she attended. We both took to home-schooling so much my parents stuck with it until we both graduated from high school.
Home-schooling is exactly what it sounds like: school at home. Parents choose the curriculum, which has to be approved by their school district, and teach their children 180 day’s worth of lessons. After that, a portfolio of every subject the student has learned during that year is submitted to the school district for review. In addition, a state-certified teacher interviews the student to make sure all Pennsylvania school standards are being upheld. Home-school students are also required to take standardized tests.
Both my sister and I moved more quickly with our work than the public school kids and so we were able to skip grades. I would not have been able to do that so easily in the traditional school system. My high school graduation ceremony was with several hundred other home-schooled kids at the Rotunda in Harrisburg. I wore a cap and gown and received a state-accredited diploma- just like a public school student.
I sometimes did envy the kids I knew who went to school dances, had lockers and took the bus. My parents drove me all the way to Pittsburgh to go to an official home-school prom my junior year (yes, we danced to mainstream music!) and to Chester Springs for my senior prom.
I kept myself involved with plenty of extracurricular activities too. I took three different types of dance classes, volunteered at my church, was part of the teen advisory board at my local library and played on a home-school baseball team. No one can say I didn’t have a social life!
I loved being home-schooled and would never trade it for a traditional school system. It certainly isn’t for everyone, but I enjoyed the personalization it gave me in my work. For example, my mom was able to pick from a huge array of science curricula and one year we studied the chemicals that make up different spices and made potpourri bags. I don’t know any public school student who has that much choice in their classroom.
When I talked to people about my home-school experience I hope they begin to see that it is not so different from the traditional school system. We have the same priorities and goals, but just take a different route to get there. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing I got the education that worked best for me and grew as a person while I achieved it.