We are hiding… our awesomeness. Image Source: http://singaporehomeschooling.com/
“You’re homeschooled? Oh… cool… yeah… so, don’t you worry about socialization?”
Oh, don’t I ever! I go to the movies with my friends on weekday mornings, shop at Target at 8AM, and go to parties and dances on the weekends. Sometimes I worry I socialize too much… wait, that’s not what you meant?
According to a quick poll among my fellow homeschooled friends, this is one of the most common comments we receive after outing ourselves as homeschooled to our peers. People frequently assume that because we are not sitting in a classroom for seven hours a day, breathing the air of our fellow teens, that we can’t hack it in the real world, which is obviously a social one. I mean, why else would teenagers be texting each other all the time and stammering when they talk to their own parents? It’s a social world, and we are simply sitting ducks with our impeccable communication skills and unique insights carefully honed during our time learning outside of the classroom.
Speaking of not learning in classrooms, it is only natural to assume that homeschoolers are not “well educated.” We are not educated like everyone else, so there has to be something fundamentally flawed with how we learn. Right? Right??? Perhaps I should just let my SAT scores and plethora of Jane Austen quotes do the talking, but I will elaborate instead. Homeschoolers learn three-dimensionally. We communicate with adults more frequently than our colleagues, so we tend to have more mature grasps on worldly issues spurred by such conversations. For example, while some of my public schooled peers were chattering on about Twilight, I was seeking just one kid who could talk about the fiscal cliff with me in as great depth as my father could. As a homeschooler I also took accredited classes online and read myriad books on topics ranging from Japanese culture to holocaust and genocide studies. While I took the classes to put toward my credibility as a student, the other things I learned, yes, for fun. I know I am not the only homeschooler who feels so alienated by ignoramuses that I take it upon myself to constantly be outperforming my public schooled peers. This is merely an obligation I feel for my fellow unorthodox students. In short, homeschoolers feel pressure to prove themselves as smart in order to avoid people questioning their intelligence; reading between the lines, this may mean that we are in fact more educated than some of our colleagues because we have to prove our abilities, not just skate by on general education.
Not all reactions to being homeschooled are negative. Some of my friends have heard remarks like “wow, you’re so lucky!” and “that means you get to sleep in, right?” Both of these statements still come from a place of ignorance, but they are a little less hurtful than comments like “so do you live on a farm?” and “I would miss socializing too much.” Yet I must say, the worst comments are the ones not even said at all – the glares, the stares, the looks of utmost horror, and of course, the newfound disinterest in befriending such a “weird” kid.
Since I have been homeschooled for ten years, I have faced all of these reactions after telling people that I am homeschooled. Admittedly, I was ashamed to admit my homeschooled status, because as soon as I would be getting along with people my age, once I outed my education situation, I was suddenly:
- Living on a farm
- Socially awkward
- And totally friendless
All of these things are far from true, yet it is hard not to feel like you’re trapped in a “homeschooled closet” when everyone has the same opinions of you based on how you have chosen to be educated. People fail to realize that homeschoolers come from diverse backgrounds. I cannot even count how many times I have asked kids “why did you start homeschooling?” because I know that every story is different. People homeschool because they have learning disabilities, have high aptitudes, felt slowed down by traditional education, wanted more time to pursue the arts or sports, were bullied, or simply liked to learn a little bit differently.
In the end, we homeschoolers are just kids and teens trying to make it through puberty. We have to seek out friendships and work hard to show people that we are “just like everyone else,” and yet completely different in our own special ways. Some of us dual enroll at colleges, others take classes online, and others just stick to the books. Few of us live on farms. All of us have friends. Finally, we are all just students, even if we aren’t initially treated as such – but some of us may have published books or ridden rollercoasters all day on a Tuesday.
If you haven’t talked to a homeschooler yet, I highly recommend you give it a try; you will be surprised, and most likely, delighted.
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