Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Are Homeschoolers Weird?

A young woman who reads my blog, Lana, has her own blog called Wide Open Ground...an Unfundamental Conversation. She often talks about her frustrations about having been brought up as a homeschooler, and feeling that she was very isolated during her teen years, years that she feels are the fundamental and essential years of friendship formation. Lana recently wrote a post called Home School Girl (and Learning that it's Okay) that grabbed my attention. 

Lana, an excellent thinker, an excellent person, feels the need to put her truth out there:  being homeschooled was NOT a good socialization situation for her. She feels outside of groups, unable to relate to "normal" kids, and longs to be "normal". And, furthermore, she has readers who absolutely shared similar experiences.

I can honestly say that my daughter, The Doctor, Liz, goes through periods such as this. The Doctor is a terrifically emotive person. She is so in tune to herself and others and she notices so much and she questions so many things. She doesn't get groups of kids from school.

The Doctor decided to go to school a time or two as a result of this feeling. She wanted to know what "normal" kids do. She wanted to become a part of that giggly group of girls at the mall, walking along, texting on their phones, and telling secrets. She wanted to know what those normal kids had that she felt that she didn't have.

So she did go. She took the bull by the horns went to school. She's been to school during kindergarten, third grade, and eighth grade. Looking for "normal". I was proud as hell of her and I supported her in total.

She had supremely high hopes. But what she found was far different than what she expected. Kids weren't nice. Kids were rude to their teachers and to each other.  Kids were cruel to one another very openly. Kids weren't open to meeting anyone new. She definitely wasn't befriended.

Her overall experience was fine, she wasn't offended at not having been befriended. Instead, after having been "inside", she felt informed. She felt grateful to not being a part of these kids who were all worshiping fad clothing, Justin Bieber, and the popular kids. She felt gratitude and deeply proud of her homeschool friends who are all very unique, very well-spoken, and very open with who they are. She actually felt sorry for the kids who had their uniqueness squashed, teased, tormented. She saw, with new eyes, that those girls in the mall are a small piece of a very large puzzle and those girls don't represent most of the kids, only the most visible part.

My Daughter,
The Amazing  Doctor,
She totally chooses homeschooling.

I think you are amazing.

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  1. Is The Doctor your daughter's nickname or is my homeschooling getting in the way of me understanding this?, LOL.

    Anyway thanks for weighing in on this important topic. You are also awesome. I still love homeschooling because of its freedom. I just feel it did not do me well socially. I have thought a lot about what you've said. I mean, I get it. I am a dreamer and so would be different than the crowd no matter if I had gone to school or not. (And heck, why would I want to be a copy of everyone else, anyway?!) But I never worked in groups, never had to socialize with people different than me -- like ever -- and that has affected me. Its not that I want to be like other people. I just want to know how to socialize with them.

    Of course, I'm not saying school is the solution, just merely pointing out that homeschool did not serve me well here.

    Oh, and my name is Lana. Lara is another blogger.

      I fixed that!
      Yes, The Doctor, is my daughter's screen name! She does love Doctor Who a bit...

      Oh, I get that distinction. I'm sorry you didn't get those chances. They ARE essential.
      I went through some weird times coming up too and during my twenties, I often felt like I was kind of 'raising myself'. Giving myself opportunities that my upbringing didn't offer me, teaching myself things that I felt I was missing, generally making up for things I was lacking.
      I felt sad for myself at the time, now I'm proud to have picked myself up by my boot straps and to have made something of myself!
      I think you are doing that now!
      It is TRULY never too late!

    2. ALSO, would you consider writing a post you can submit to a blog carnival? Blog carnivals, in case you don't know, are when a group of bloggers of a certain ilk (in my case, homeschooling) get together and share posts. I am hostessing the Carnival of Homeschooling the first week of April and I think a post by you would be wonderful...
      Maybe you have already written something you would like to see read by a larger number of readers or maybe you would like to write something new...
      What do you think?

      I need submissions pretty soon though!
      If you want to submit something, send the following information:
      Name of blog:
      URL of blog:
      Title of post:
      URL of post:
      Summary of post:
      To this address: http://WhyHomeschool.blogspot.com
      Your submission will come to me.

      Thanks for thinking about it!

    3. hmmmm...are you doing a linky, or do I need to email this to someone?

    4. Lana, THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      You can email it to: http://WhyHomeschool.blogspot.com
      and it will come to me.
      THANK YOU! I was hoping you would write something!

    5. That's a URL, not an email?

  2. Some of my very best friends are people who went to school and always felt weird and on the outside. Have you seen the movie "Amélie"? There's a tiny moment in that movie that really replicates my husband and I. It goes something like "while Amélie was suffering from a lack of friends [she is homeschooled and quite isolated], Nino was suffering from an over-abundance of them" [it then shows boys at his school putting him into a garbage bin].

    1. What a great movie that was! The kids and I just recently watched it again!

      Yeah, I was definitely one of those kids...I still feel like her sometimes...

      Maybe we all experience those parts of ourselves that we feel are ill-prepared for adulthood?

  3. My daughter did the same thing as The Doctor at approximately the same age, and found the same things waiting for her there. I think we all have those "if only.... " things in our lives, and it's great when we get to taste that greener grass and find out for ourselves whether it's actually any tastier.

    1. Ah!!!!!!!
      Thanks so much! This is exactly what I thought...but I wasn't at all sure if *I* needed to do something...

  4. That desire to feel normal and fit in occurs even if you go to public school. I went to public school, and was not like most of the other kids - I read too much and liked weird things like science fiction and fantasy, and had very little in common with most of the kids around me. Just because you go to public school, doesn't mean you'll be well socialized. This is especially true when you care about things that are outside the "popular" view.

    I guess I just don't want parents to think sending your child to school will fix the problem of socialization. As your daughter has found, it just creates different problems.

    1. Exactly. I was TOTALLY not "in", and I'm still not!
      For the most part, she is proud to be able to be WHO SHE IS. Other times...well, we all understand those times.

  5. All of you have good points! No matter what "side" someone is on, it is easy to paint home-schooling and public school as a black-and-white choice, and the truth is more complicated than that. Everyone has slightly different experiences, and it's important to be aware of the possible positives and negatives of each choice.

    I was home-schooled K-12 and now I'm about to finish college. As a child and teenager, I almost never had friends because there was only a small group of church kids to choose from, and I had nothing in common with them, especially since all media was off-limits to me. I was much more physically and culturally isolated than the other home-schoolers at church. They did co-op and many other activities. Since I've been in college, I've had lots of friends because I've been able to meet people with common interests and because I now have cultural literacy. The lack of cultural literacy was more because of my fundamentalist parents than because of home-schooling.

    I think that public-schooled kids are less likely to grow up without friends because there are more people to choose from in a public school, so it is more likely they will find someone like them. Then even if they are an outsider, they won't be the only outsider. I know this is not always true, and the choices may not be great, but I still think the odds are better. However if home-schooling parents try very hard to give their children social opportunities, then lack of friendship may not be a problem. In my case, my parents had very little time and money to take me to social events, and thought 2-4 hours a week was plenty.

    1. Thanks so much for your input!
      You are right, I think, that kids, regardless of HS or not, who are more unique, less "Like" everyone else always have those feelings... At the same time, I think that THOSE kids, in HS, have a far better approval/acceptance/celebrate rate than they do in school.

  6. I don't think this is a homeschooling vs public schooling issue, but a personality issue. Some kids will adapt and excel no matter where you put them, others find traditional schooling boring and painful, and some will not be best served in a homeschool academically or socially. But isn't the grass always greener where we ain't?

    My kids sound like your daughter. They are thrilled to be individuals, and valued for their individuality to boot. They are horrified by the idea of going to a traditional school, and are planning to fast track college with dual enrollment and online options.

    My oldest graduated from our homeschool in 2006, and went into the military. He is out of the Army now, and going to college. No one knows he is homeschooled unless he tells them. He notices, though, that he is less affected by peer pressure than his friends, isn't afraid to stand up for others who are being harassed, and can think on his feet. He doesn't standing around waiting to find out what the general consensus is going to be before he takes action.

    As for longing to be 'normal', could someone please explain to me what 'normal' is? ;)

    1. I agree that personality plays a terrific part in this issue, and all issues, really. That is why stereotype of all kinds are completely false because we could all name dozens of school kids who are _______ (Fill in the blank with descriptor) and dozens of homeschool kids who are _____ (ditto).

      I guess that this is the point I am trying to make in the post!
      So nice seeing you here, Susan.


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