by Christopher Gooch, age 16
I am a senior in high school, and I’ve been homeschooled all my life. I’m going to graduate this year, at the age of sixteen. I’ve never been to a public school system in my life. Do I like homeschooling? Yes—emphatically—and you’ll see why later.
First, let me get into socialization. One of the most popular questions about homeschooling is "What about socialization?" Now, don’t be fooled. The public school student is in school every day of the school year and sees his or her friends every day. But, to the best of my knowledge, that is not exactly beneficial—as it results in venomous fights, vicious enemies, and disputes, and so on and so forth.
In all my experience as a homeschooler, I have never had any problem with socialization. And I’ve had plenty of good friends. (I’ve never had a bad friend either!) I see my friends usually on a weekly or biweekly basis and am never known for my poor manners (generally, homeschoolers tend to be far more kind and compassionate than their public school counterparts). Where did I get all these friends? Our co-op, AWANAs, church, sports, and so on.
Homeschoolers generally have a much wider range of socialization. If you’re in public school, generally you only hang out with the kids in your grade—kind of a tunnel-mentality. Homeschoolers, on the other hand, can easily befriend everyone—from two year-olds to adults. I have friends who are in their early twenties and I have friends that are five or six.
And then there’s always that forgotten aspect of socialization—siblings. When you’re homeschooled, you are with your siblings 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Sure, there have been many arguments, but I know my brother and sisters much better than if I was gone for seven hours a day.
Have I ever wanted to go to public school? I honestly don’t believe I have ever wanted to. Homeschooling is—first of all—the only thing I’ve ever known. And, second of all, public school students have heaps and heaps of backbreaking homework.
Now, homeschooling is without a doubt, drastically different from the public school. School in my house has always started whenever—usually after we finished eating breakfast, but it’s not that big of a deal to wait a few minutes.
When I was little, my mom used to read us good historical fiction—we all loved that. But it wasn’t as rigid and consistent as the public school—my mom probably only read those books three or four days out of the week. And then as I grew older, more and more of the studies were my responsibility.
So, all in all, my schooling hasn’t been anywhere near as rigorous as the public school students’. (Let me tell you a little secret: I was talking to my public-schooled friend the other day, and she told me that she doesn’t have a life. She’s in school ‘til about four, then she comes home and does her homework until about eleven. Then she sleeps. I think this is true for MANY public school students—either they don’t have a life or they don’t have the grades.)
Now, some people might think that because my schooling wasn’t quite so rigorous as my public school counterpart, I got the worse education. Here is where I beg to differ -- I really mean it!)
When I was probably about eight, I became a voracious reader (in fact, I still am!). I would read Hardy Boys books in a day, and pretty much everything I could get my hands on. This included BASIC programming books, which I read with the same amount of interest as if it was a video game. (And I have never lost that interest for programming languages—I also learned a few others.) I would most certainly have not become a voracious reader if all I was reading were those dry textbooks or poorly written "juvenile" fiction that I would be constantly reading in public school.
In addition to programming languages, I have always been pretty adept with the computer—and I still am. That wouldn’t have happened if I was in public school either.
I have racked up over 150 hours helping teach the children in church, VBS, our co-op, and so on, and that’s something that a public school kid couldn’t have done.
I’ve even done some accounting work for my dad the past couple of years, and I wouldn’t have had that experience if I wasn’t homeschooled.
And I had another strange hobby—learning foreign languages. I know French (written French) passably, and Spanish a little better, all because I wanted to. (None of that was because I had to.)
And I had yet another weird hobby—accelerated learning. I have probably spent hundreds of hours reading about, learning about and using nearly all the accelerated and advanced learning techniques on the entire planet. I would say that I’m an expert on it—and I wouldn’t have had time for that if I was public schooled.
I don’t think I would have such wonderful manners and such great diversity of friends if I was public schooled either.
But finally, and most important of all, I wouldn’t have my writing. I have written (let me brag a little here) over a hundred (yes, a hundred) short short stories, 25 short stories, over fifty articles and essays, a novella, two novels, a nonfiction book, and so on—and I’m still writing now! None of this writing was "assigned" or anything (and if it was assigned, I would probably have hated it)—it was all done of my own volition.
So, if I’d been not been homeschooled, I wouldn’t have had my voracious reading habits, I wouldn’t have learned all those programming languages, I wouldn’t be a computer genius, I wouldn’t have helped all those kids (and learned from them), I wouldn’t have gotten that experience in accounting, I wouldn’t have learned those foreign languages, I wouldn’t have become an expert in accelerated learning, I wouldn’t have been so courteous, I wouldn’t have had such diversity in friends, and I wouldn’t have written all that stuff (and found a wonderful hobby and vocation).
You can homeschool your kids (and risk all the above benefits), or you can public school them and watch their brains go down the drain (not to mention their lives). You choose.
Sure, in choosing homeschooling, you agree to live at home with your kids 24/7, you agree to live through the annual depression in January, you agree to go crazy juggling between teaching and cleaning the house, you agree to give up your free time, but that means that you automatically agree to the wonderful benefits from homeschooling—smarter kids, more friends, and, most importantly—the students of homeschoolers are better people.
I have, as accelerated learning expert (or whatever you want to call someone whose hobby is learning how to learn faster and better), for a long time, pondered homeschooling. I honestly believe that homeschoolers are more intelligent than those in public schools. First, the homeschooler always has someone to listen to him or her—and that helps develop his/her brains (it actually helps him/her understand things so much better!). And second, the homeschooler’s creativity and intelligence have never been squelched.
In public school, you learn very quickly not to use your creativity or intelligence because you risk being laughed at ("That’s a stupid idea!" "I don’t think that’s right!" and so on). Thus both your creativity and your intelligence are squelched (or stopped) at an early age.
So, you’ll notice, that since I’ve never been to a public school in my life, I’ve never had any of those things squelched. (Yup, they’re all intact—and, yes, I know that I am lucky!)
In fact, if you’re not new to homeschooling, you probably know that homeschoolers have outscored the public school students for years now, so there’s no real question there.
Let me close by saying this: I have absolutely no regrets about being homeschooled my entire life, and I can say that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I will homeschool my kids (when and if I have any). If you’re a homeschool mom (or dad) and you’re feeling kind of low now (believe me, I think it is a yearly epidemic—all homeschooling moms get depressed right after Christmas, because they haven’t kept up to their schedule, or don’t think that they’re adequate), remember, it’s not the schedule or the teaching that’s important. All of those wonderful benefits I mentioned that I received from homeschooling were not something that I learned from a textbook. In fact, all of them were the result of my mom letting me run free and wild for most of the day.
And think of all of those wonderful benefits and how your kids will probably one day thank you a million times over for your decision to homeschool them (like I am now—THANKS MOM AND DAD!). Don’t give up—even if your kids aren’t doing any "school", they are still learning—believe me! – C.G.
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