If you’re thinking of home schooling your children, or if you’ve always wondered — it seems kinda weird… is it really a good idea?— then I want you to know: as someone who was home schooled from preschool to senior year, I wish I’d never been home schooled.
Do I stand before you as the victim of homeschool-horror? Did I suffer:
No Chance to Meet Boys,
No Summer Vacation,
No Social Life?
On the contrary. I loved being home schooled. I was immensely proud of it. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that homeschooling can be a mixed bag (I’m looking at you, creepy boy who grew up so isolated he can’t handle meeting anyone) (I’m also looking at you, girl who was so lethargically behind in school that she graduated a year late, just to catch up) but I had EVERYTHING most parents hope for when they home school their kids.
I was sweet. Innocent. I made eye-contact with adults and regularly got compliments at my parent’s parties for how well I discussed things with the “grown-ups.”
I had plenty of friends. I had vibrant social circles on a tri-weekly basis. My friends were kind. Accepting. Jovial. I was never bullied, not once. No matter how weirdly I dressed or how awkwardly I handled life, they accepted me. We were all oddly socially naive, and we all got along great.
I got superb grades. We’re talking 99th percentile, with killer standardized test scores.
I was every parent’s dream.
And now, 8 years after my high-school graduation, I wish my parents had stuffed their dream in a trash can.
In some ways, it’s hard to say that, because my school days were lovely. Idyllic.
I was sheltered from all that was wrong with the world. I was pillowed in the plump perfection of a social Disney World. I never smoked weed. I never had the opportunity to underage-drink, let alone the pressure. I was never bullied.
Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?
And really, what parent wouldn’t want that for their kid? It’s precisely why my parents home schooled me. They wanted to protect me from the real world.
…Do you see the flaw in that? Are you sensing the punchline?
Stroll along with me, for a minute. Take a walk through my schooling experience. See the flowers, the sunshine, the twittering birdies. And now, at the end of the road—we come across a gate— a gate that says — adult life.
Gasp. What’s beyond that gate?
Well, it’s on the sign.
It’s considered poor (if not abusive) parenting when parents give their child everything he or she wants. Why? Well, because real life doesn’t work that way. Sooner or later, your child has to get used to the idea that the world is full of boundaries, of “nos,” of genuine disappointments and rejection.
How else will they learn to cope?
How else will they properly build their mettle, their get-up-and-try again muscles?
At the end of the day, I find my parent’s decision to home school me well-meant manipulation. They wanted a “better” kid. They wanted a kid who never went through a rebellious teenage phase. They didn’t want to deal with drugs and sex and dirty lyrics.
Forget peer-pressure. I had parent-pressure, which produces different results but is just as deadly.
My friends have suffered, too. I see it in all of them. We bear the odd, nearly-invisible marks of a stunted upbringing.
What are some of my side-effects now, almost a decade later? I still struggle in social situations. There are vital interactive skills I simply do not have. Yes, I blame this on being raised inside my own house. Yes, I had a top-notch social life for a home schooler, and yes — it wasn’t enough. I am relationally disabled, and homeschooling did that to me.
I am constantly terrified by how cruel people are. I have blundered into heartache, into misery, because I naively assumed all people were kind.
8 years later, I’ve had to adjust to the truth about home schooling:
I didn’t grow up in time.
Parents, I know you want your children to live in a safer world. But they do not. The world is not safe, and you cannot ultimately control that. Home schooling is a fantasy, because it equips us for a world that isn’t really there. My parents kept me in a wheelchair because they were afraid of what would happen if I walked.
Parents, I know you’d rather that we not go to war — but I wish I’d had a sword and uniform when I found myself on the front lines, instead of sitting in the mud in a yellow cotton dress, wondering where the popcorn stand was.