I learned differently. That was evident early on. I did not process things as quickly as the other kids. I could study for hours and still not retain enough of the information to make A’s on my tests. I would have such bad test anxiety, that I would look at the test and forget everything that I had learned and studied. I wondered, was there something wrong with me? Why wasn’t I getting it like my fellow classmates?
I started in public school like any first born child does when they turn a certain age. I headed off to kindergarten, and then made my way through grades 1, 2, and 3. I loved my teachers, I had many friends, but I still always felt like I did not fit in. Like I didn’t belong, the odd one out if you will.
Once my brother was born, my mom quit her job as a public school teacher so that she could be a stay at home mom. Once my brother turned that certain age, she decided to home school. She saw from a young age that he was smart, but he would do a better job learning if he could do it at his own pace. Instead of the school dictating how fast he had to learn, she decided to home school. That was the summer before I was due to start 4th grade. It is one of the few, distinct memories that I have from my young childhood. We were sitting on our front porch. It was a bright, sunny day and we were playing outside. She asked if we wanted to be home schooled. She never forced us, she asked us. Even though we were kids, she always valued our opinions and never made us feel like we couldn’t be open and honest with her about what we wanted or how we were feeling.
In response to her, I think my words were something like, “Sure, that sounds fun!” Thus began the adventure of being home schooled until I graduated high school. It was an adventure that I will always look back on and treasure. I was able to spend invaluable time with my family and learn how I learned best. I was able to learn at my own pace and that is what I needed.
Here are some valuable things I learned from being home schooled.
The relationships I gained with my family and siblings were priceless. We spent so much time together that we butted heads a lot, but we always made up in the end. Our relationships with each other were strengthened as a whole. The days when we had “adventures” were days that I will look back on and treasure forever.
The one on one time that I gained with my parents and siblings was something I looked forward to. We would laugh, make priceless memories, butt heads hard, but love each other even harder. The relationship that I have with my immediate family, I owe it all to the way I was able to grow up. I feel like if even one thing was different, our relationship with each other could have been very different. By being with each other for hours upon hours, I truly realized how important family is.
2. Test Scores Did Not Matter
Now, let me preface with this, it is important to know if you are retaining the information. In some cases test taking and test scores matter. For example, scoring higher on the ACT or SAT to receive more funding for college. However, the letter or number at the top of your test, does not define who you are, how smart you are, or how successful you are going to be in life. I’ll always thank my parents for instilling that mindset into me. I learned that my worth did not come from how well I did on a test. What mattered more was if I was able to love well, problem solve, and push past the “I don’t get it” phase to “how am I going to figure this out” phase.
3. Real Life Experiences Were Important
Book learning is important, but one of the things I learned during my home school career was that real life experiences were just as important. My mom taught us how to balance a checkbook, helped us stumble through making a meal, and taught us how to clean up after our messes. Our study breaks often involved going out to shovel the driveway or dig up weeds in the garden. Bored was a word she never let into our vocabulary.
She also took us on many field trips. Whether a jaunt over the pond to the library, or somewhere a little bit further like the Air and Space Museum. She made sure that our learning was not just chained to a book. She made sure our learning did not just stop at math equations and memorizing Latin verbs. She made sure we got our hands dirty, and learned how to survive with real life skills in the real world.
4. Our Focus
Our focus was always God and putting Him first in every area of our lives. Whether that be through our schooling or real life. One of my most treasured memories was when we would sit down at our kitchen table, coffee or tea mugs at the ready, and start our mornings with His Word and prayer. It was a way for us to build our foundation on His promises, and not feel like the world around us was too much. My parents made sure that God came first and schooling came second. I learned first hand how to keep my priorities straight.
I learned how essential community is while being home schooled and how easy it was to be around people. One of the largest myths about homeschooling is that we are not socialized enough. Quite the opposite is true. During my years of being home schooled, I was involved with many extracurricular activities. I was actively playing soccer year round, and going to different co-ops that met once, maybe twice a week. I learned how important those truly were to my overall growth as a person. The time that I spent with others, helped grow lasting friendships and memories that will stick me for the rest of my life.
Home schooling can sometimes feel lonely and sometimes you can feel like you are missing out on what your public school friends are getting to par take in. However, through the community I had, I never felt like what I was getting through homeschooling was not enough. I valued the community I had during that time, and learned just how important spending time with others truly was.
To end, none of the above things that I found valuable during my home schooling years, should take away from anyone who decides to go the public school route. Teachers are underappreciated for all they do as they are mainly, and solely responsible for influencing these children to make the right choices in life. Sometimes, these teachers are the only kind smile they see or the only person they feel comfortable sharing their inner turmoil with.
Both my parents were public school teachers so they saw both sides of it. They saw how public school could be beneficial and valuable. They also saw how detrimental it could be to a child’s self esteem. So, they decided to go an alternate route with how they chose to school us, and these were some of my extended thoughts on what I learned during that time. School is valuable, regardless of whether you decide to school in your home or send your child to a brick and mortar school. We never stop learning.