Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Life of One Home-Schooled Teenager

This blog might be a good place to answer at least a few of the many questions I get about being home-schooled. What, it seems many people wish to know, is it like to be home-schooled?

Good. Bad. And many things in between.

I can't, of course, speak for every home-schooler out there. I know one home-schooling family who travel and enjoy themselves at leisure and learn about random things and involve very little paper; I know another whose children write reports and solve math problems throughout the entire week, including Saturday and Sunday. So I speak from my own experiences as a person who was in school for a while, and then was taught at home.

Upon hearing I'm home-schooled, many people ask questions. Some people are mildly curious about how much I enjoy it, and then let the subject drop; and others practically grab me by the arm and sit down to interview me about it.

I'll try to answer some of the questions I am most frequently asked.

Why are you home-schooled?

In February of fourth grade, my mother took me out of my elementary school, which, like most of the schools in my town at that time, was in certain turmoil. As a nine-year-old, I didn't observe nearly as much as she did, but I did know, from listening to reports on television, that many of the schools were overcrowded; and I deduced, from the mere fact that it was on the news, that my having to pick up the cafeteria floor by hand along with a handful of other students before going out to play as punishment for the high noise level during lunchtime, was not right.

One of my brothers, Benjamin, was in second grade at the time, and Jack was in kindergarten. William, who is now almost seven, has never been in school.

Home-schooling my mother felt she should at least try.

Is it hard to make friends?

Have you ever thought about how many ways there are to make friends? Camps, clubs, sports, events. Activity in the religious community. Talking to people on the beach or at the grocery store. No matter where you are in the schooling system, the amount of yourself that goes into society is your choice.

Many home-schoolers like the get-together sort of events that are sponsored by home-schooling associations (like Rhode Island's RIGHT and SOS) or home-schooling parents. These allow home-schooled kids and parents to meet somewhere and make friends with one another, or to catch up with old friends.

Don't forget that there are children and teens who are in school five days a week and find it difficult to make friends due to shyness.

Do you have a set curriculum?

My mother might be in the Top One Hundred Most Organized People on the Planet (no, there isn't really any such thing). It's not that she's a neat freak but that she really knows what she's doing when she puts things together for school work. So yes -- my brothers and I have schedules referring to what should be completed that week; mine tends to be organized by subject: which pages ought to be done in my math, language arts, and science books; what pages I should read in World History, etc.

Some people want to know whether I have assigned, or required, reading. No, not usually. I do so much reading on my own.

Don't you get sick of being around your family all the time?

Yes. The trick is to focus on whatever work needs to be done; and no, I am not very good at it. In fact, I have an astonishingly low tolerance for fingers drumming on the tabletop or feet kicking a chair leg.

Sometimes I take my work to the library (which can also be distracting since I know pretty much every single librarian, and we end up chatting).

Do you have homework?

No -- if we don't finish all of our work, we'll have to do it later. Occasionally we work well into the evening. Everything has to be completed eventually.

Again, people home-school for different reasons and in different ways. I know I must have missed some crucial topics on here, and if you have any questions about home-schooling, please ask in the comments -- I will happily respond!