Homeschooling is it really the best option?
Some say yes, some say no. But for me, home-schooling placed me far ahead of my age group in all subjects, with literacy being “ground zero”. I was homeschooled for seven years of my life, from kindergarten to the 6th grade. My mother was my sole instructor, and she had a very hands-on approach. To school, learning, reading, writing, arithmetic, you name it! And questions. To my mother, there was never a wrong or stupid question. Questions, it seemed to me, that my mom anxiously anticipated when I would ask. You could see the excitement and light in her eyes start to sparkle, because she knew that a question meant we were going to get to do a project! She had a knack for developing and creating a science project for almost every question I could possibly ask! This way, she concurred, I could not only see how things were done, but see the how, and the why behind the answers to those questions. All in all, I think I got the best education that one could possibly get in their earliest years.
I really wanted to attend public school. My mom never understood why I would want to go to a public school, and on the contrary, I never understood why she would not want me to go! After about two years of pouting and stomping my feet, I finally won that battle. My mother, the only teacher I had ever had the pleasure of knowing, eventually gave in. She was finally going to allow me the experience of a public-school education. I was so excited that I was going to get to go to school with other kids, as I had never been in a class with anyone other than myself. I had no idea that my very advanced academic levels and effortless mastery of subjects and assignments, would cause me to be the subject of verbal, mental, and psychological abuse. Abuse brought on by students in my same age group that had a serious problem with someone several years younger than them, achieving exceptionally higher grades, and outscoring them at every quiz or test. Jealousy, as it turns out, can cause children to be very mean and insecure, and I will elaborate on this more a little later.
You see, back during the years I was homeschooled, there were no homeschool groups, the Internet, or any of the other group related homeschool activities that there are today. Furthermore, to go to school, I had to take some standardized tests offered by the School Board in our county of residence. This was to test my academic level of education, in relation to what grade I was going to be placed in. Now I have always been a good test-taker, but to say that I was nervous is an understatement! I had butterflies making my stomach go up and down, giving me the feeling of being on a rollercoaster ride, but standing still at the same time. I can remember my palms sweating so badly, I kept having to wipe them on my shirt to dry them off enough to hold my no. 2 pencil appropriately. After all, this test was going to decide whether I was Public School material or not, and I had not had anything in my life that had so much weighing on the outcome of my results. Little did I know at the time, I was way ahead of the game. As far as my home school grading scale went, I should have been going into the 7th grade. However, at that time, whatever grade level your cumulative score put you in, was the grade you were placed in. Ultimately, I found my seventh-grade aged self, starting my freshman year of high school as a 12-year-old. Now, no one prepared me for any of the things that I may encounter in public school. Especially not one that is two years younger than everyone else in her class, and based on scores, much more advanced than anyone in my class. The kids that I was in school with, which were what I was most excited about, turned out to be the absolute worst part about school.
I had never even witnessed bullying, let alone been the subject of it, at the time I entered 9th grade. Here I was, just learning about menstruation, training bras, and the blossoming of a young woman, when all my fellow classmates had boyfriends, were already sexually active, or were studying to get their learner's permits to drive a car! I was underdeveloped physically, yes. But that was not the real problem. The level that I was at academically, was what ended up causing my dismay. I just wanted to go to school with other kids...... and have friends...and slumber parties! Overnight parties where we would all paint our nails, brush each other's hair, and talk about boys! What I ended up with was straight A’s (with little to no challenge involved in earning those A’s), and a whole school full of jealous kids, that were not anywhere near my intellectual or academic level. At the same time, they were also two years ahead of me physically and socially, which seemed like light years, to someone who had little to no social experience. I took part in brain bowls, debates, science teams, and book clubs. Some may have said I was somewhat of a nerd. This caused me to fall victim to (sometimes) incessant bullying. I was constantly being called names, and made fun of because I was staying after school for a book club, rather than detention. The fact that I had never been in school with other kids, left me completely unprepared for the level of crudeness I encountered in those years in public school. Looking back, I never understood why the bullies were so worried about MY grades, or MY after school activities. Especially when they were struggling to get passing grades in the classes I seemed to excel in. As an adult however, I can see those kids for what they were; victims of the public education system. This is where all my one-on-one instruction, and “book battles'' that I had with my mother/teacher, truly advanced me far ahead of kids my age. A “book battle”, by the way, is where my mother and I would flip a coin on what novel to read, set the timer to see who could read it the fastest, and upon both completing the read, discuss what we learned from the book. I had a 4th grade reading level in 1st grade, and by the time I was in 6th grade, I far surpassed my mother when it came to speed of reading, and comprehension level! Great for anything scholarly related, yet bad if it made you too smart for your own good! However, I was able to take verbal, mental, emotional, and psychological abuse I was subjected to from the class bullies, and turn it into motivation, a high GPA, and lessons learned from a very difficult learning experience.
In conclusion, I was able to use these lessons learned in my years in public school and apply them to the things I teach my son. From what he tells me, things have not changed very much, and kids in public school are still mean, with bullies that are troubled youths. I ended up getting a few slumber parties, a lot of experience in painting nails and brushing hair, and spent hours upon hours talking about boys! I also got a lot of experience in the social settings of a public school and learned a lot about how good of an education I received within the walls of my home, and how I really wasn’t missing much by not attending public school. If I had it to do over again, I would have stayed in home school, and just went to college early. I have found that college is not nearly as judgmental as high school kids are, and there is wide variety and diversity on college campuses worldwide. I was given the option to homeschool my son, but opted out of that choice, because I wanted him to be socially accepted and have a ‘normal’ childhood, with an upbringing around peers that were his same age. He just got a lot of one on one, home-school themed instruction at the house. For me, Home Schooling gave me a great head start. I took honors classes, had a lot of fun in all of my extra-curricular activities and clubs, and ended up graduating with honors at sixteen years old! I see now how it was hard for my mother to let go and let me find out for myself. Had anyone told me what I was going to endure day after day, year after year in public school, I would have stayed home with the best teacher I have had to date, Mrs. Mom!