From Your Friendly Neighborhood Homeschooler

by Erica

“Do you wish you weren’t homeschooled?”

If there’s any question I hate more than the “how do you make friends?” question, it’s that one.

Every time, my placid response of “eh, I’m fine with it, I’m graduating soon anyway,” seems to always disappoint. I don’t know what they want from me.

I suppose they expect some kind of emotional extreme—either I ought to burst into hysterics and crumple to the ground and rock myself back and forth as I tell them about how I wish I went to a real school, or I break out into a smile a mile wide as I talk about how I just love homeschooling and my siblings are my best and only friends and having my dad as the principal is just loads of fun.

And I guess my unemotional, halting response doesn’t ever cut it.

But that’s just it—I have no intense opinions about it all. I don’t dream of setting fire to public school buildings. I don’t dream of spitting upon non-homeschoolers and tattooing some pro-homeschooling mantras onto my forehead.

The reality is that I’ve never really thought much about what it would be like to go to a brick-and-mortar school, nor have I cared about thinking about it very much. What would be the use? I’m a senior in high school, nearly two decades into life and quite a ways into schooling, and thinking about what it would have been like to attend a real school for the past twelve years of my life wouldn’t change a thing. It’d just make me more disappointed, more restless, and more dissatisfied with where I am now.

I’ll be honest—I don’t like telling people I’m homeschooled. But it’s inevitable; for some reason school seems to always be the first or second or third topic that comes up when meeting someone the first time. The usual progression is “what grade are you in?” then “where do you go to school?” then I grimace and sway slightly and utter the phrase “I’m homeschooled” as quickly and unassumingly as possible and move the conversation on to something else.

Perhaps I don’t like mentioning that I’m homeschooled because of the all-too-popular connotations that come along with it. I’m sheltered. I’m antisocial. I have no friends. I’m a raging conservative. I wake up whenever I want and do school whenever I want. And overall it makes me sound like some weird person with impaired social skills who doesn’t have to work as hard or do as many things as the public-schooled equivalent.

“Oh, I go to an online school,” I say, trying to explain better my schooling situation.

“So you get to just watch the videos whenever you want?”

“No, they’re live classes.”

“Oh, but you can, like, walk your dog and play video games and sleep and do other things during these classes, though, right?”

“Well…”

“And you can basically just cheat on your tests because you’re not in a real classroom, right? Your teachers wouldn’t know.”

No matter what I say or how hard I qualify my schooling situation I can’t fully establish the fact that I too, amazingly enough, work hard and do things and am busy. I too take actual, live classes and have to deal with homework and projects (that are shockingly not assigned by my dad), I too have a job and have extracurricular activities, and I too have friends to do things on weekends with.

I too feel partially dead in the morning when I wake up at 6:15 for my 6:30 classes and have to deal with school-related stress.  It seems insane that a homeschooler could actually be stressed about school (because can’t I just ask my dad to change the due date or something?) It seems insane that a homeschooler could have a busy schedule (because aren’t homeschoolers’ schedules inherently flexible?) I don’t particularly enjoy letting people know that I’m homeschooled because it often times diminishes my academic capability/credibility in their eyes.

But I suppose that’s just people’s perception of my situation and not the situation itself.

All things being said, I’m happy with going to Veritas, I’m happy with being homeschooled, and I’m happy about the twelve years of education that led up to where I am now. There were some weird experimental phases of homeschooling that my dad went through, and some points where homeschooling definitely seemed like the most abhorrent thing I had been forced to undertake, but despite all that, I’m proud of where I am now.

Homeschooling is different. It’s different good and different bad and it definitely isn’t for everyone and I’m not going to wildly advocate it and say everyone should be homeschooled or go to VPSA and fall in love with it because not everyone will be satisfied with it.

But to answer your question: no, I don’t wish I wasn’t homeschooled.

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