“Do you have friends?”
I can’t even count the number of times I was asked this question while growing up in Southern California. The reason for this rude and seemingly random question is simple: I was homeschooled. In fact, I was homeschooled from my first day of preschool to the moment I received my high school diploma. During those years I was asked a number of questions regarding homeschooling, many laughable and a few insulting. The root cause of these questions was stereotypes. Some stereotypes are positive, depicting homeschoolers as the people who win spelling bees and geography contests. Over the years, homeschoolers have been seen as people who excel at school. These stereotypes are flattering. Let’s be real, though—when most people think about homeschoolers, they visualize socially-challenged nerds walking around in long denim skirts and high-rise camouflage pants. Without a doubt, the first group of stereotypes mentioned is backed up by reality. The second, however, is an entirely different matter.
An incredible aspect of being homeschooled is the individualized education which each child receives. One of my personal strengths is words—I love spelling, grammar, and writing, and my SAT scores placed me in the 99th percentile for both the Writing and Critical Reading sections. Being homeschooled allowed me to focus on these strengths and to move at a faster pace than would have been possible in a class with forty other students. My mother recognized my love of English and intentionally chose curriculum which grew me as a writer. Math, however, was a more challenging subject for me. In this case, being homeschooled allowed me to spend extra time working on it. Instead of striving to merely pass the current math class, I was encouraged by my mother to put time and energy into truly understanding the subject. Homeschooling gave me the foundation needed to thrive in future math classes. Because my education was personally managed by my mother, someone who saw my weaknesses and helped me overcome them, I was able to place in the nation’s top quarter for the math portion of the SAT.
What about the social aspect of homeschooling? In my experience, the general stereotypes regarding this matter are utterly false. I’ve literally had strangers ask me if I had friends, if I “talked to people,” and if I got enough “socialization.” My answer to these questions was always a resounding ‘yes’. Socialization was never lacking in my journey as a homeschooler. In high school alone, I was involved in a homeschool support group called VCHEO, a homeschool co-op named New Hope Christian Academy, and another homeschool organization known as Christian Heritage School. I played volleyball during my sophomore and junior years, took dance classes, and participated in academic courses with other homeschoolers my age, gaining hands-on knowledge in subjects such as history, chemistry, and American Sign Language. Each of these activities gave me the opportunity to “socialize” and to interact with other students. Throughout high school, I attended monthly events organized with other homeschoolers, including scavenger hunts, Bunco game nights, and formal progressive dinners with over fifty high school students. I made friends and I made memories. Instead of having prom in a garage with ten other people—yet another false stereotype—I attended my senior prom at the historic Mission Inn, located in downtown Riverside, California. In June of 2012, I graduated with over thirty other high school seniors, thus completing my homeschool journey. I am, beyond a shadow of a doubt, glad to have been homeschooled. It was an incredible journey spanning over twelve years, and I would not trade it for anything.