When I first experienced a homeschooled kid it was 1996. I was in my middle school chior class & she was seated next to me in the soprano section. She was kind and silly. I enjoyed talking to her and was curious why she wouldn’t join us for the rest of our classes, or why she was even in our chior class to begin with if she was homeschooled.
I went several years after this experience not thinking much else about homeschooling. It wasn’t until after I started Cosmetology school in 2013 that I interacted again with anyone who had been homeschooled. My main feeling towards these individuals were no different than any other peer at school who happened to have been public schooled. They studied hard, made friends with ease, & grew as individuals. At least I’d have to assume so because I literally saw no difference in their day to day conversations compared to anyone else. It was clear to me that homeschooling didn’t make them some anti-social weirdos who couldn’t sit in a classroom.
These students embodied you’re typical 18-19 year olds (I was an elderly 28 at the time) so I never really had a personal negative experience on homeschoolers. It was society that made me feel really weird about the subject. As my kids thrived in public school I often wondered why would you homeschool? Do your kids hang out with other kids their age? How do you know what to teach? The list goes on & I was certain at this point you had to be glutton for some sort of punishment to decide to homeschool your kids.
Then, my public school loving self met my first homeschool mom friend. I didn’t judge her, she didn’t judge me. We liked wine, argued politics, and laughed about the trials and tribulations of small business ownership. She listened while I choked back my emotions about moving from my hometown in Iowa to Colorado Springs. She gave me advice when I first entertained the idea of homeschooling while we searched for a home in a great school district in The Springs.
Ultimately, we decided to go to the public school that was within the boundaries of our rental home (I chronicled that experience here) knowing we would be changing schools once we bought our new home. After it was clear that, that plan was not working as well as we’d hoped, the thought of homeschooling trickled back into my mind. It was at this point that I finally researched the topic. Like, up all night, down one rabbit hole after another, obsessive type research. If I was going to do this, I was going to be prepared. I googled every type of homeschool question imaginable with the words ‘peer review’ attached to it & began to set our learning plan officially in motion.
I decided to reach out to my homeschooled cosmetology peers. I needed insight into how this decision would affect my kids. They were open to all my questions and freely shared their experiences as homeschoolers. Remarkably, their answers were similar in many ways & they both gave a very non-judgemental tone towards all educational options available. I felt 1) they had an overall, very positive educational experience 2) homeschooling isn’t for everyone just as much as public school isn’t for everyone 3) they intend on educating their children (slightly) differently than their parents had educated them. All in all they were grateful for their experience & wouldn’t have changed it. This was a comfort to me at the time because I felt I had no choice, I was homeschooling out of necessity.
I sit here today, much less ignorant about the homeschooling world. Nothing is wrapped up in a perfect little package. Taking a public schooled kid into a homeschooled world is not an easy task. I’m proud of us & I’m thankful for the time I’ve had to bond with my kids. I think they’re exceptionally cool & I want to allow them an equal say in the way they are educated.
I guess I’ll end this on a cliff hanger of sorts. We have some big changes on the horizon. Until next time…