Home School Stereotypes

Long hair, too smart or really stupid, mentally ill, Mormon, uber-religious, Amish, freakish, antisocial, lazy, boring, out-of-style, lonely, 20 siblings, farmers, hippies, sheltered, friendless.

The list goes on and on. I used to hate it when people would ask me where I went to school because I knew what would follow when I answered them and said: “I’m homeschooled.” The immediate reply was always some whacked out interpretation of what they thought home schooling meant. Ideas like; Does your mom teach you? Do you have a tutor? Cool, you can stay home all day and play video games! Does your mom give you a good grade even if you fail? Can you cheat? You’re so lucky, public school is way harder! How do you make friends? You get to wear pajamas all day! Well, they were all wrong. My mom doesn’t teach me, and I don’t have a tutor—I do my schoolwork by myself. Don’t get me wrong, of course I go to my mom or dad when I need help with a question or don’t understand something, but they aren’t my school teachers.

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Each September, my parents order me a curriculum for my current grade from Keystone National High School. The curriculum consists of lesson manuals and textbooks by publishers such as Holt and Rinehart, Pearson, and McGraw Hill, just like yours are in public or private school. I’m enrolled in the Keystone diploma program, so I have to accumulate enough credits in my high school years to receive my diploma. Just because I learn at home, doesn’t mean it’s easier than regular school. I have tons of quizzes, essays, projects, and journal assignments that I must complete and mail in to Keystone where it gets graded and put onto my transcript/report card.

I’m not required to take Regents exams, but I am required to take the C.A.T. (California Achievement Test) every year which gets graded by the Family Learning Organization then sent to the Board of Education for approval. If I fail the C.

A.T. I get held back, but thank goodness that hasn’t been the case, every C.A.T. I have taken thus far has been 94% or above, which you know is an A.

I also must do my schoolwork because the Board of Education can send me back to public school, if Keystone notices I haven’t mailed in my quizzes in each subject, it gets reported, again that hasn’t been the case of course! So just like in public school, lack of interest in studies does come with consequences. I don’t play video games all day, but I do like to play Wii from time to time….I mostly write or read in my spare time though, I find it more educational and rewarding—call me a nerd, I don’t really care. When people ask, “How do you socialize?” I look right in their eyes and say, “I’m talking to you right now correct? That’s how I socialize.” I’m very out-going and I like to meet new people, some ways that I meet people my age are by volunteering and interning at Alley Pond Environmental Center, at Barnes & Noble Fresh Meadows where I teach a poetry workshop, and by taking extracurricular activities such as dance, drama, and vocal lessons. With so much going on, there is seldom a day where I stay home in my pajamas….

but I have had my fair share of PJ Saturdays. My family also enjoys going to the beach, mall, movies, and on nature walks during the school day. Believe me; you have never had the real shopping experience until you’ve seen how empty the mall can be on a Wednesday! Taking weekday road trips and vacations during September or any other month when school is in session is also amazing, aside from cheaper hotel and touring rates; the areas are generally empty and very peaceful. To keep in touch with things, I watch award shows, listen to Ryan Seacrest’s American Top 40, and I subscribe to Teen Vogue. I love fashion and music, it’s such a free way to express yourself and let the world know how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. I’m guilty of having long hair, but I get it cut once or twice a year so it doesn’t get too long.

I’m a straight A student with an occasional B in math, no one is perfect! I don’t have 20 siblings but I do have 2 younger sisters who are both home schooled as well. I don’t think 2 siblings is so freakish…it’s quite average actually. Things are a little different for them; mom and dad teach them from a curriculum. I even get to help sometimes, I like to teach them art and I like to make up projects for them to do. We do not live on a farm; we live in an apartment in New York.

Against stereotypes, I am not sheltered from the world. My parents do their best to guide and advise me about certain things so that I can be cautious and aware of my surroundings but I’m far from afraid of the world. Sure there is crime, disease, liars, and frauds out there but if you live life constantly worried about everything that’s out there, then you’ll miss out on all the rest the world has to offer. I’m very consumed by writing, it’s my entire life. Being homeschooled gives me the time to do what I love. When you’re in public school, you are there all day learning at the pace of a 1 teacher to 25+ student ratio, there is no time to focus on things you like doing.

At home I can learn what would take all day plus homework, in a matter of hours. I’m usually done with a day’s schoolwork before noon. I also don’t have to wake up early which means I can learn with a clear, well-rested mind. If ever I want to take a break from schoolwork, whether it is for a day, or even a month, I can take that break. I have about 9 months to finish my year of schoolwork.

If I skip any time, I can double-up my lessons until I’m done. The free time allowed me to self-publish my poetry collection, “Alternative”, as well as complete a lot of artwork such as drawings, photography, acrylic paintings, and collages. I can study any language I want to study, so I chose Greek for this term, next term I’ll choose another language to learn! Instead of gym class, I take Ballet classes. The freedom to choose my courses means I’m never stuck learning something that I don’t like working on. A lot of people consider homeschooled students inadequate when really; we’re overqualified for just about everything.

I’m not saying that home education is the right path for everyone. It happens to work out really well for me because I have amazing parents. They act more like wise friends who are always there to lend a hand instead of figures of authority from which I should be afraid to turn to. They understand my artistic abilities and they let me drink coffee at night and stay up until morning then sleep until noon the next day because they know that I write best at night time. They drive me to all of my activities and they support me at my poetry workshops and performances. They don’t force me to be homeschooled either; they always ask me if I want to go back to public school, but after living the past 4 years in such a free way of education, why would I ever want to go back? Am I eclectic, eccentric and, nerdy with hippie-ish beliefs? Yes.

But just like most sixteen year olds, I wear skinny jeans and Converse Chucks, I’m attached to my iPod 24/7, I check my Facebook from time to time, my nails are painted black constantly, I read the entire Twilight series, and I think that I’m right even when I’m wrong. It’s just the way the world works. So when you ask someone what school they go to and they say, “I’m homeschooled” don’t jump to conclusions and stereotype them because not everyone abides by the norms of society, and no one should be judged for their eccentricities.