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Note: This is Part 1 of a 2-part series of reflections from homeschool graduate, Lauren Meeks. If you enjoy this, you may want to go on to read Part 2, and another related post, Letter from a Homeschool Graduate.
A while back I read an article entitled “12 signs you were definitely homeschooled.” I have to say I found it very unsettling.
I was homeschooled my entire life, and this article seems to be doing nothing more than perpetuating ugly stereotypes of naïve, socially awkward kids with no fashion sense as the “typical” homeschooler.
Yes, there are homeschoolers who still have a lot to learn in those departments…but frankly, there are plenty of kids who went to public or private schools who also do as well. There are strange people everywhere, regardless of how they were educated as children. To pigeonhole all homeschoolers into the same rather unkind box devalues their incredible potential and the value that they have to add to society.
But instead of continuing to rant and perhaps perpetuate the negative stereotypes that seem so difficult to eradicate, I decided to make my own list of what homeschooled kids really learn...and here it is:
12 things that you definitely learned if you were homeschooled
1) You learned how to get along with people of all ages.
When I was homeschooled, I worked once or twice a week as a babysitter, held down a part-time job, and volunteered at a senior center. That means that I had interactions on a weekly, if not daily basis with babies, middle-aged adults, and senior citizens. I didn’t spend every day with people just like me. And so I learned how to adapt, and was generally much more comfortable in unusual social situations than my public school peers.
2) You learned how to work hard.
My family was a single income, working-class family with 5 kids. I did not get anything handed to me without working for it. Even the things that my parents eventually paid for, I still had to do chores and such before they would fork over the cash. This instilled a work ethic that allowed me to graduate with 2 degrees from an expensive private university, and earn a master’s degree a few years later, with no debt and life-changing experiences.
3) You learned how to be self-motivated.
Homeschoolers do not have a teacher nagging them every day to get their assignments done. Especially in a family like mine, where my mom was busy taking care of my younger siblings when I was in high school, so I ended up more or less teaching myself throughout high school. Mom just did the grading. So either I remembered to do my assignments, or I failed the class. This self-motivation came in very useful when I went away to college – while all of my classmates were struggling with the unexpected increase in course load and responsibility, I was sailing through with all A’s.
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4) You learned how to handle money.
Money was in very scarce supply when I was growing up. We never lacked for things we needed, but there were plenty of things that we wanted that we never got. But rather than allowing me to mope around the house complaining that I never got all of the cool toys my friends had, my parents taught me how to handle the little money I had coming into my piggy bank. I learned how to be frugal and save money so that I could discern what things I really needed vs. which ones were just passing fads, and that I would be actually able to afford the things I decided I really did want. This is how I bought that Bejewel-it! kit when I was 10 (in hindsight…definitely a mistake), how I have paid for my cell phone since the first day I got it on Christmas morning as a 16-year-old, how I worked my way through college, and how I survived as a graduate student on $800 a month – and managed to not take out a single loan!
5) You learned how to find learning opportunities in every situation.
Mom used to say “every day is a field trip.” It sounds rather silly and I would roll my eyes when she said it, but that attitude did teach me an important lesson. Learning, life, and adventures are everywhere. You don’t have to wait for that “next stage” before you start enjoying yourself. Life is now – grab it by the horns!
6) You learned to stick up for your values and beliefs.
I was raised in a deeply religious home, and that became what was important to me, as well. I didn’t have the uncertainty of competing priorities vying for my attention, and so I developed a solid foundation that I was certain of, and not afraid to defend when the occasion required it.