ATTENTION: DO NOT BE PUT OFF BY THE LENGTH OF THIS POST. I know it’s like, over a thousand words long but if you get bored you can just stop reading half-way through. Or something. Whatever, it would just make me really pleased if you read this 🙂
I have put off doing this post for so long. The reason being that there is so much to say on the subject that, rather than figuring out how to put it all together, I’ve been procrastinating. But now, I’ve decided that no matter how I piece together this post, there will always be a “better” way I could have written it, so I’m just going to get going without worrying too much about creating the “ultimate explanation.”
I’m homeschooled. Usually when I tell people this, they immediately start bombarding me with barely considered questions regarding me and my life, making stupid assumptions about my way of doing things. I could go on forever complaining about these people, moaning about their blunt interrogation (Yes, it is interrogation) techniques. In fact, if I went into those complaints, I’d end up filling this this post solely with grumbles and rants rather than answering your original question: What’s it like being homeschooled?
So here are my answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about home-schooling:
Q: Is it legal?
Yes, I actually get asked this question… the stupidity of some people these days is astounding. Firstly, do you really think me and my parents would do something against the law like home-schooling illegally? And secondly, if we did, would we tell you about it?
A: In case you didn’t guess from that paragraph, it is in fact legal. There are, however, a few countries that ban it (Germany for example) and some (like France) that only allow it under strict conditions. But you’ll find that most countries are cool with it.
Q: Do you have to do some kind of test to show the government that you’re learning everything you’re meant to be learning?
A: No, I don’t have to do any kind of test.
Q: How does the government know that you’re learning the right stuff then?
A: They don’t. Anyway, what is the definition of “the right stuff”? (Wanna know?) There is no definition. Different people have different interests, desires and needs in terms of education.
Q: Do you have to do SATS/other normal tests?
A: Homeschoolers aren’t required to do any formal tests. They can do maths tests set by their parents and stuff like that, but that’s down to the individual family. I personally don’t do any tests.
Q: Why are you homeschooled?
To spite you, of course!
A: So that I can learn about what I want to learn about, not just what a school teacher who doesn’t know me or my interests wants me to learn about. With home education, I’m able to follow my hobbies and passions SO much more easily. Like I said before, every individual has their own learning style. Home education allows parents and carers to cater to their child’s individual desires (God, I sound like a retailer).
When you’re in a classroom, you’re lumped with a group of kids the same age as you so, generally, you only end up socializing with people in your year, whereas when you’re home-schooled you have more exposure to people of all ages, just like you would as an adult.
Q: Do you have a curriculum?
Yeah, it’s called the “How To Endure Hours Of Relentless Questions From Strangers” curriculum.
A: You don’t have to follow a curriculum if you’re homeschooled, but you can. It’s your choice. I personally do not follow a curriculum. Also, not everyone who learns from home learns in the same way, or has the same structure to their day.
A term commonly used in home-education is “unschooling.” Unschooling is a type of homeschooling where children are given as much freedom as possible; instead of being taught with a curriculum or official “lesson times,” they’re encouraged to follow their interests as they arise. You could describe unschooling as a freer, more relaxed type of homeschooling. Unschoolers tend not to make a distinction between “work” and “play,” and they don’t give “academic learning” a higher status. In that way, much like the way adults absorb information, kids learn from life, picking things up as they come along. And really, who actually needs to use Pythagoras’ theorem on a daily basis? Unschoolers only learn things that are practical to them, or that interest them. I’m thinking of doing a post on this another time. I’m not an expert or authority on unschooling, but for now if you have any questions about it, post them below and I’ll try my best to answer!
I’d consider myself an unschooler. Most home-edders are somewhere in between “normal home-schooling” and unschooling, and a lot of them don’t bother to try and classify themselves.
Q: How do you make friends/do you have friends/how do you meet other children/what about socialization?
What are friends? What, really? You can actually meet and chat to other people? Wow, I never knew that! No, of course I don’t have friends. What made you think that? My family and I are actually hermits. Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention that we’re also evil Satanists. And we make regular animal and human sacrifices to the god of cannibalism. I’m currently working on a project on ways to harness dead people’s energy by drinking their blood. Wanna see my workbook?
When people ask me how I make friends, it totally makes me want to tell them to F-off. But then I remember that I’m not Ginger Baker. So I punch them in the face instead (No, not really.) I mean, of course I have friends, man! Do I look that unlikeable to you? And since when are my friendships any of your business? My social status is completely unrelated to my method of learning.
A: I go to lots of classes so there are plenty of chances to socialize with people my own age there. Also, I just make friends normally and naturally like an adult would. I talk to people (Of ALL ages if you must ask)… I take an interest in them and S-T-A-R-T A CONVERSATION. There are millions of opportunities to meet and talk to people in a day. Also, my parents happen to be members of Couchsurfing which is a great way to meet people.
Q: Do you do sports?
A: I used to do swimming classes (I was pretty good in case you’re wondering) but I hated them so I quit. I occasionally go swimming but I don’t really enjoy it. Sports isn’t really my thing… but I don’t spend my day cooped up in the house either.
Q: Do you do school in your pyjamas?
WTF? Yeah, I do get asked this question fairly regularly. I have yet to discover what makes it significant enough to leave the mouth of the interrogator…. ahem, questioner.
A: Uh, yeah… sometimes, if I want to. But I like getting changed first.
Q: Have you ever tried out school?
A: Yeah, in year five I was curious about it so I went for a year. And in year six I decided I wanted to be flexi-schooled, (I only attended two-and-a-half days a week each week) but school isn’t really my thing.
Q: How will you attend university?
I might not. Oh, how will you deal with that, dear questioner? I see you growing pale at the prospect! I hope you make it through the night. Of course it was totally your business whether or not I’ll attend university. Why, ask again if you please.
A: I might not want to, I’ll see when I’m older. If I want to go to university I can sign up to sit a test at a school.
Q: What about qualifications?
What about taping your mouth shut? That would be fun for me to watch. It would also save you the hassle of opening your mouth to ask questions.
Err… you don’t need qualifications to have a career these days.
A: Of course if I want them I can just work towards them like anyone else. But these days there are a lot of jobs that don’t require qualifications. Also, I can be freelance and pursue something I enjoy. Not everyone has to work 9-5 in an office.
Q: Who teaches you?
A: My parents, and myself.
Q: Are your parents teachers?
If someone was a teacher… wouldn’t it just be easier for them to send their kids to the school they work at than to homeschool them? And where would they find the time to teach their kids? You don’t have to be a teacher to teach your kids at home.
A: No, they’re not.
Those are just a few of the questions I get asked. If you have any more, feel free to drop them below in the comments section and I’ll try to answer! I won’t be mean in my answers, I’ll just respond normally 🙂
There will be follow-up posts!
Try not to click this link (That’s my way of trying to tantalize you into clicking it.)
(Oh, and in case you’re wondering – about the link – Courtney Love is a rock star. She’s in the band, “Hole.”