Geneva Varga

WR 122 Essay 2

3 May 2017

Homeschoolers Are Not Abnormal

I have never been to public school. When I tell people this fact they are always surprised. I have grown to expect an exclamation of disbelief, even from people my own age. Despite the growing popularity and rising numbers of homeschoolers, there is still a strong aversion to it. People frequently ask me: “What about prom? Do you have any friends? How do you make friends?” I make and have friends just like anyone else, except age is not a restriction. I connect with people based on shared interests and experiences thus I have strong friendships with those younger than me, as well as with adults. Homeschooling has also enabled me to explore my passions without having to encounter obstacles in my path. I discovered who I want to be and what I want to accomplish in my lifetime far earlier than others because I am homeschooled.

Homeschooling, in concept, incorporates a diverse spectrum of approaches to education. Some of the popular methods include but are not limited to Classical, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, “School at Home”, Unit Studies, and Unschooling. My family considers us an eclectic blend, particularly Charlotte Mason and Unschooling. The Charlotte Mason philosophy believes a child is a person and we must educate the whole person, not just her mind. In Mason’s words, “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life”, which my mom repeated to me throughout childhood. It is a gentle approach that incorporates living books, narration, time outdoors, and modern languages. The Unschooling approach is more relaxed whereupon we have the freedom to explore whatever peaks our interest at any given time.  We also take part in a variety of extracurricular activities (e.g Boy Scouts, swim team, service learning projects, and volunteer experiences) which provide opportunities to connect with others and build community. In my mother’s words, “We follow the ebb and flow of life, allowing life to lead the way.”

A handful of stereotypes have emerged because of ignorance in regards to what homeschooling is and how it is achieved. The public school system, from my perspective, pushes the idea that homeschoolers are weird, uneducated, and abnormal. There is an automatic assumption that homeschoolers are unable to perform properly in society. In contrast, this could not be further from the truth. Albeit, many families choose this lifestyle because of religious reasons, disagreements with the vaccine requirements, or are concerned that their children will not thrive in a “traditional classroom” due to learning disabilities or physical handicaps. In reality, homeschoolers act more mature at a young age, are generally more willing to help around the house (either with chores or helping with younger siblings), and are more enthusiastic about their schoolwork. They realize the value of tasks, such as folding the laundry, in building their skills for the future. Monotonous busywork like comprehension worksheets and vocabulary crossword puzzles are unnecessary. The student is thus afforded the time to pursue long-term passion projects that meet both academic and future goals.

My mom decided to homeschool my brother and me for multiple reasons. When I was five years old, I told her that I wanted to learn to speak Chinese. Immediately she knew that no traditional school would be able to provide me this opportunity, at least where we lived. Foreign languages were not even taught until high school in most school districts at this time. Eventually, she found a private instructor and I began my journey towards Mandarin fluency. If she had made the decision to send me to the local elementary school, I never would have had this unique experience. Additionally, I likely would not have discovered how intriguing and unique different cultures are until much later.

Furthermore, my brother and I make friends in a natural way without feeling required to have friends of the same age. When my family went to the Galápagos a few years ago with a travel group we connected with two retired couples and another family with grown children. My brother connected with a grandfatherly figure who looks remarkably like Charles Darwin. Every morning, they were the first to wake and would be found on deck sipping cocoa and telling tall tales of their adventures. Similarly, I became friends with fellow a Harry Potter fan, Karen, and was “adopted” by another family when my parents wanted to go for a panga ride and I desired to go for a hike with the other group. Karen and I would often reminisce about our favorite books and discuss the art that we each loved. After we had all spent a week in the Galápagos, our family along with the two couples we became particularly familiar with joined another travel group to go to Machu Picchu. Our friendship and camaraderie with these two couples was so familiar that the people from this new group quickly made the assumption that we were traveling with both sets of our grandparents, even though this was not the case.

People who were taught at home often become successful entrepreneurs as living on the “outskirts of society” has allowed them to think outside the box and discover solutions to problems with ease. From an early age I have had the goal of pursuing a college degree. Since the age of eleven, I have focused on pursuing my academic goals with more fervency and have developed a plan for how to pay for college without incurring debt or student loans. Upon realizing that there was an absence of bubble tea vendors in our local area, I had considered opening a food cart style business. After completing a market research survey and writing a business plan, I discovered just how much money I would need up front and how much time I would be obligated to work. As I am a full time student, aiming to complete my Associates degree while I also complete high school, I realized this was not the best option for me. I have thereby opted to pursue other means of financing for college and now rely on art commissions and a variety of odd jobs. When I am older, I will most assuredly take on a part time job and have already made promising inquiries.

By homeschooling, I have been allowed to explore who I am without being pressured to like the same things as everyone else. My taste in art, literature, and music are different than my peers because I have not been expected to follow the crowd. I have been independent from an early age and my travel experiences, foreign language studies, and extracurricular pursuits have molded me into the person I am today. I stand proud knowing I can defend my opinions without worry of how I am perceived.

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