I know what you’re thinking. Home-schooled kids are freaks…or their weirdly religious or something…-Cady Heron (Mean Girls)
Yes, I was home-schooled. Most of my life actually. The only times I went to public school were in first, eighth and ninth grade, and I guess now that I’m in college that counts too. I like telling people that I was home-schooled, their reactions are funnier than you’d think. Some express their jealousy, wishing they had been able to awake whenever they wanted and to do whatever they wanted. I can tell you right now that was not the case. Others eyes bulge and they ask, “how did your mom do it!?” They really lose it when I tell them that 12 of my cousins joined my three siblings and I in the classroom. One phrase that is always fun is, “but you don’t seem like a home-schooled kid!” And I guess I don’t, I leave the usual stereotype far behind me in the dust. My siblings don’t meet the criteria for “weird home-schooler” either, and believe me they, myself included, are plenty weird, just in a different way.
Those early days of school were the best. With 16 of us in our converted second-garage classroom, freezing in the winter as we all tried to draw warmth from the kerosene heater in the middle of the room, and sweating in the summer. I don’t remember why mom decided to home-school my 2nd cousin’s kids, my 3rd cousins, but I was happy about it. Once she decided to do it we set to converting the garage, dad built long desks onto the walls, added carpet and sealed up the garage door. We got to help mom paint the walls, and then we put things up at our own individual stations, calendars and pictures. The “stations” were clearly laid out by the giant old computers at each spot. Each had a number for which grade was downloaded.
I know that we were home-schooled with my cousins for quite a while, however I seem to remember the year I was in fifth grade the best, or they just all blended together in a smoothie of learning, fun and frustration. Although my computer had a five on it I soon learned that I was doing the same work as my older sister and cousin who were in sixth grade. One of the beauties of home-school, you can skip grade if you are ready and not even know about it. I don’t know why mom didn’t just tell me which grade I was in, perhaps so the other girls didn’t feel bad, whatever the reason when I found out I was really happy and was flying for a week.
The ages in our little classroom ranged from I think a year old up to the older boys in tenth or eleventh grade. Every morning my siblings and I would wake up and get ready for the day. Before starting the school day we always had to watch ‘Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood’, that show is my childhood and will be forever cherished. Our cousins would arrive and we would congeal in the classroom. One of my favorite installations in that room was undoubtedly the large board next to the door. On that board was a table with a list of requirements on one end and our name on the other. If we completed these tasks, or followed certain roles, we would receive a sticker and at the end of the week if we had a certain number of stickers we were able to retrieve a prize! The memory of this board always makes me think of the ‘School of Rock’ movie where Jack Black sees the list with demerits and stars.
What kind of a sick school is this!-Dewey Finn (School of Rock, Jack Black)
He proceeds to tear the paper up. Most of the children look on with glee, Summer on the other hand gasps in horror. I am pretty sure none of us felt any hatred towards that list, but the similarity always cracks me up. Anyways, the prizes where awesome and the humiliation of not having any stickers by the end of the week did a great job of keeping everyone on task for the most part. My mom kept us on task. We had a large garden where we learned about the environment, computers for the more complicated stuff and we had each other, a large group of crazy.
I guess with such a large family I never had a chance to fulfill the home-school stereotype. Even with all that I was still nervous when I did attend public school. At that point I was used to really only talking to strangers that where customers at my grandma’s daycare or restaurant. It was strange and nerve-wracking at first, but eventually I got used to it. Now I make friends very easily and can talk to most anyone, which comes in handy for my chosen profession, journalism. I used to be so quite and shy, not socially awkward really, just quiet. And now being so loud and boisterous sometimes I forget that my craziness might be a bit too much for some. But back to being home-schooled.
Although at the time I didn’t know it, everything I learned during that time has shaped who I am and how I do things. I guess we never realize how important little aspects of our lives are until we can are older and can look back. There is more to this story, but I will save it for another time. For now I’d just like to say thank you to those in my life that pushed me and taught me such valuable lessons. And to those out there going through school, or anything for that matter, you can do anything, don’t limit yourself by your own thinking, don’t limit your dreams. And everything you are doing now will accumulate into your future, making the future you. Who do you want to be? – With love, Lillian