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I Was Homeschooled Until Highschool - Homeschooling Pros and Cons, Benefits and Need For Socialization
I was homeschooled from the youngest age all the way until high school. There is surely no universal answer to the question of whether homeschooling is “good” or “bad” for a child. I believe it will vary from one individual situation to the next, but it will depend a great deal on the methods employed and the personalities/teaching styles of the parents. My experience was a mixed blessing. Overall, if homeschooling is done right, I believe it can provide children with phenomenal advantages that far outweigh any minor disadvantages.
My own parents were strict Christian fundamentalists. My education was left, more or less, to my mother. The curriculum my mother used was mostly from Bob Jones University Press and A.C.E (Accelerated Christian Education). Scripture memorization was a regular part of my daily study. The homeschooling groups and social activities my parents involved me in were all with likeminded families who were seeking to raise their children the same way my parents were: conservative Christian. We did not have a television at home. For entertainment, I had the World Book Encyclopedia.
First, I’ll give the good news. I believe that homeschooling conferred on me some profound benefits that will last me my entire life. For one thing, I learned to learn. That is, my mother taught me by basically handing me books and then answering any questions I might have as I read the books for myself. There was really no “lecture” style teaching. I learned to absorb information through reading. I believe that this is a skill of monumental importance which is terribly lacking in most students today, and is the reason why many students begin to struggle in college. In college, many students expect to get all their information via “taking notes” in class. I have almost never taken notes in class, and my cumulative GPA after four years of college is 3.88. The only reason it isn’t higher is because, for better or worse, I partied too much in my earlier years of college. This isn’t to say that taking notes is universally bad or not to be practiced. I can only say that I believe I have succeeded in college because I love to read and absorb new knowledge through reading. I usually finish reading the required textbook before the semester begins, so that during the semester I can focus my energies on thinking critically about the lecture information, and interacting in class rather than mindlessly and frantically trying to copy down the lecture material.
My love of reading, I believe, was also largely instilled in me by the
fact that we did not watch television. Reading was my primary source of
entertainment. As a child, I learned to love reading, and to do it
voraciously. This habit has not left me. As extreme as it may sound, one
piece of advice I feel I must give parents is cut out the television, This doesn’t necessarily mean you must rid your home of it altogether, but please, limit television time to a reasonable
amount, and monitor what your kids are viewing. When kids get to watch
two or three hours of reality shows a day, instead of reading, will it
come as any surprise if they don’t particularly care about learning and
critical thinking as they grow older? Looking back at my life, I can not say I regret the lack of television in my childhood, or feel bitter towards my parents for it. Rather, I'm quite thankful towards them.
But for all the intellectual advantages I’ve received from being homeschooled, I’ve suffered enormous setbacks in social skills. These setbacks have followed me into adult life and have caused great difficulties and have been quite challenging to overcome. While this was the case for me, personally, I absolutely do not believe this to be an inevitable result of homeschooling. My parents homeschooled me in a way that effectively put me in a bubble of social isolation. Sure, I had the occasional social outing with like-minded homeschooling families, but the killer words there are “occasional” and “like-minded”. If you’re going to home school, you should provide regular, not occasional, opportunities for real social interaction. Growing up must be as much (or perhaps more) about learning to interact as a member of a social species as it is about growing in knowledge. For most children, this socialization process comes largely from school. If you’re going to take this avenue of socialization away from a child, you must adequately replace it.
I also pointed out that word “like-minded” in the prior paragraph. My parents tried to shelter me from anything ugly or potentially non-Christian. They didn’t want me to lose the positive values they were trying to instill in me. From the curriculum they used to the children I was allowed to associate with, mine was a life within a fully integrated, seamless Christian bubble. But here’s the catch: I grew up. And upon growing up, I ventured out into the world and was shocked to discover that not everyone thinks, believes, or behaves exactly the same. In fact, some people aren’t even all that nice or “Christian” at all. I learned this the hard way, being conned and hustled and taken advantage of.
I also had considerable difficulty fitting in with people, because I had only really experienced one type of “people”, and now I was thrown into the real world, where “it takes every kind of people”. So finally, dear parents, although it is admirable to want to shelter your children from some of the uglier aspects of life, please do not over-shelter your kids. A part of growing up--indeed, a vital part of “education”--is gradually being prepared for real life. Grown up life. And real life has some harsh aspects. It’s also big, diverse, multi-faceted, and often ambiguous. It is not black and white. It is not simple and reducible to an all-encompassing ideology. And if we, as adults, find ourselves thinking or even wishing that it were, perhaps it is because we still have some more schooling to go through in the school of life.
May yours and your children's be everything that it can be. Life is beautiful. Much blessings.
- Social Opportunities for Homeschoolers
This is one of many pages on the web that suggests ways to adequately socialize your homeschooled children. For additional information, a Google search for "homeschooling socialization" can be quite informative.