Spending 12 years in homeschool as the oldest of 4, I learned a thing or two. Public school kids think we’re somehow deficient on common experiences, but let me put this to rest: there are dozens of things that only homeschoolers understand.
1. There is no correct way to spell “Homeschool” Home school, Home-school, Homeschool?
2. That awkward moment when an adult wants to be called by their first name and you still add “Mr.” before their first name.
3. You have heard tales of this mystical thing called a “sick day” where you lie in bed, don’t do school and watch tv. Sick day for you means your mom quarantines you in your tv-less room with a stack of books. When school is done, they might come in behind the fog of Lysol they are spraying ahead of themselves with some movies and you might see your facemask bedecked siblings looking in from the doorway.
4. You take your morning dress code cue based on mom’s mood. Is she energetic? Looking like leaving the house is an option? Get dressed. If not, pj’s are perfectly acceptable and create less laundry (should the argument come up, this is your speedy first response and it usually works).
5. Field trips – any outing of any kind. Somehow your mom capitalizes on every teaching opportunity. Grocery store? She makes you help meal plan, shop the cabinets, clean out the fridge, look at your budget, write a shopping list, assist in getting everyone ready and in the vehicle (usually a van or station wagon), armed with cash envelopes and a calculators you go through the store shopping. When you get home you help put it all away. Home economics: conquered!
6. Vacation. See #5. If you beg, mom might take a break, but you can guarantee you’ll be learning stuff whatever you do wherever you go. We went hiking on vacation once and my mom heard there had been bears nearby recently. Hiking was completely ruined by reciting times tables to scare off the bears- one of my mom’s fondest memories as she met a teacher by profession on the way who complimented her for keeping up the learning.
7. “School out today?” a question you are asked on every single outing that happens before 3pm.
8. Envy of bigger families is a real thing because people just part like the Red Sea and leave them alone.
9. Having at least one relative judging and criticizing no matter how well you do in any area of life – God forbid you should struggle in any subject for even a limited amount of time because that’s when the judgment train really gets chugging. Honor roll, passing state tests grades before you should, huge social life, too many sports to keep track of? Doesn’t matter. You’d be better off in public school like your cousin who just mastered burping the alphabet and has a mixture of grades at all times.
10. Learning to choose the better of two evils when above Judgy McJudgingStuff visits. If your parents leave the room because it will be “POP QUIZ” time which if they are cleaver they will attempt to hide as a game of Trivia. This causes kids to cling to their parent’s sides or hide, which then reinforces their idea of us being anti-social and having an unhealthy emotionally stinted bond with our parents.
11. Wondering what the heck do public schooled kids do all day. Your school is usually done before their second class finishes. Seriously, how do they sit for that long every single day?! This is also a witty comeback when public schooled kids ask you what you do all day. Learning to politely turn the tables is something people don’t expect from a kid.
12. Learning how to teach via younger siblings. Have a school project? It will somehow become play. Learning the ear canal? Expect there to be a model built by your kids in the backyard in surprising detail using cardboard boxes- and there will be games that involve the functions of each part of the ear canal. The whole neighborhood will be amazed at the depth of knowledge that every kid in that neighborhood has on this subject thanks to the self-invented non-required game.
13. Hooked on phonics is enemy number one. Thank God for spell check. The next generation of homeschoolers will have a different struggle because so many of us will make sure our kids are strong in this area.
14. Realizing your parents have a favorite time in history, because you read about it EVERY SINGLE YEAR. They spend weeks planning and anticipating it. If you are nice, you roll with it. They work hard, they deserve to look forward to something as if it’s the first time year after year.
15. Having to prove yourself to adults in most social situations and usually quickly becoming the one who can be trusted and in charge. 10% of the people do 90% of the work. You are that 10%. After all, you have the time….
16. You have learned your lesson about letting too much school build up – worst week of your life you had to pull regular school hours to catch up. THE HORROR!
17. School pictures = family pictures = the only day a school uniform is required and you match your entire family. Roll with it, pretend you are in a Japanese parade as the dragon. If you are going to draw attention anyway, make it entertaining.
18. Becoming a teenager and getting grounded is the worst thing ever, because you really won’t leave the house at all until said grounding is lifted.
19. Begging your mom not to purchase a jean jumper. They somehow can reproduce on their own and will take over your mother’s entire wardrobe. She might purchase a decent one to start and wear it with cute sandals, but it’s a slippery slope from there. Within a year she’ll be wearing white tennis shoes with bobby socks and a jumper with turtle neck – extra points if it is a dickey or has a print of any kind. DO NOT give in.
20. Going crazy over sugar or television time – these are treats (in part because having a house full of sugar crazy kids would be a form of suicide for your mom and few parents can survive that kind of crazy).
21. At some point in your life expect to start your own company and create jobs for others. It’s going to happen, just accept it and start learning your tax codes now.
22. The realization that someone’s views on homeschooling will greatly impact your decision in who you marry.
23. Having people wonder why your house isn’t spotless because you are home all day. Um, it’s because we are home all day messing it up!
24. The amazement when you grow up and people talk poorly of homeschooled kids/families in front of you. Smile to yourself, sometimes give in and let them fully set the trap they are about to fall in. But don’t leave once they have fallen, be there to be the person to lift them out of their own trap with grace and compassion. After all, your mama taught you to be charitable.
25. Few words can make your hair stand on end like the word, “sheltered”. But when you turn 30 and realize how amazing your childhood was, “sheltered” ceases being the “s” word and becomes something you thank your parents for because it allowed you to have an amazing childhood you wish you could relived,