I did not want to write this article. I don’t think my story is special nor does it need to be told. The only reason I’m telling it is to clear up misconceptions about homeschooling. With Harvard’s help, the narrative around homeschooling has festered into a disgusting, drag-out battle of “who is right.” I am not here to tell you what is right for your family, nor do I care to. All I’m here to do is to tell you my story.
My parents decided before I was born that they would homeschool our family. My mom had been a teacher in public schools for years, and my dad had come from a long line of public school teachers. This decision was not popular with my dad’s family but my parents held firm to what they thought best and didn’t enroll us in public school.
By the time I was six, two younger brothers had come along and it was the three of us happily schooling at home. Living on a farm gave us ample opportunities to explore the natural world. We had barn owls, tadpoles, dogs, cats, and goats. The time from preschool to fifth grade was filled with hands-on sciences, reading books, and listening to audio dramas. My favorite time was when I could listen to Les Miserables come to life and hear “Viva La France” yelled as the rebels stormed the bastille. That’s probably where I learned to love classic literature.
When I was ten or eleven my parents decided to place us in a Co-op, where once a week families would gather and work through the curriculum as a group. In those eight years of my schooling, I was taught Latin, American sign language, and writing. We had engineering projects, including bridge ingenuity and safety. We studied aerodynamics and dropped eggs from tall places to see who could keep it from breaking using limited supplies. We worked through a rigorous poet program where I memorized a poem over 900 words long.
Not only is this practical, hands-on learning a great way for kids to retain information, but it’s also helpful if they choose to go into an engineering field. Last January I had the honor of traveling to UC Davis for an Engineering conference. While there, the attendees were given a project to design the best machine to sling a ping pong ball with only straws, rubber bands, tape, and popsicle sticks. My teammates grumbled about not knowing what to do. I asked them if they had ever built anything like this before; none of them had.
These were engineering students at some of the best schools in the state. Those silly bridge-building and egg dropping projects had actually given me a solid background in practical engineering to know that a triangle is strongest and that we needed to go for practical, not flashy. We ended up scoring second in distance and first in design.
Not only does homeschooling favor a classical education—one well rounded in the arts, science, and history—homeschool students tend to outscore their pubic school counterparts. A study conducted by Michael Cogan, professor at the University of St. Thomas, showed that homeschool students graduated with a high school degree at a 9.2% higher rate than the public school students. The same study found that homeschool students got an ACT score that was on average almost 11 points higher, and held a higher GPA in college.
Why such success? The answer is simple: homeschooling is the most adaptable, changeable, most forgiving way of teaching your children. It’s customizable for each child every day of their life. Each year my parents decided what curriculum they would use to help us. They spent thousands of dollars out of pocket to teach us. Before you even think about it, no we aren’t rich—a single paycheck household that took no money from the government to homeschool.
The single most insulting question I get asked is, “what about socialization?” Homeschooling allowed me a freer schedule to be active in my church and get a job at 16. My parents taught me how to converse with people of all ages, and how to ask intelligent questions. If public school students are considered well socialized, then so are prisoners. How is being shoved in a classroom for 8 hours of your day with kids the same age and from the same neighborhood socialization? It’s not, but when people ask homeschool students if they are being socialized they are really asking “do your parents abuse you and lock you up?” Instead of seeing homeschooling for the beauty of it, people automatically assume parents choose it because they are introverted and hate social interactions.
So the next time you run into a homeschooling family, please do not ask them about their socialization; they are talking to you for crying out loud. Instead, ask them about their science projects. Ask them if they are learning a new language, if they are reading a new book, and if all else fails, ask them about building bridges out of popsicle sticks.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.