Lost in Translation: Talking To Home Schoolers

As a former home schooled student, I felt it was time to put my thoughts on this down for the first time. I have grown up hearing the same questions, jokes, and snide remarks concerning my “social” life, my naivety, and even my “big” brain. Some of these stupid things people have said to me are out of a need to tease or bully. But a lot of times, it’s just genuine ignorance to how home schoolers think or how the process works. So I’m going to give you a little run down of how to talk to a home schooler… and why they may look at you a little funny.


“When I was in high school…” versus “When I was a teenager…”

For most of us home schoolers, our high school years do not particularly stand out compared to the rest of our school years. A lot of us have been home schooled for much longer than the four years of high school, and since we never change buildings, classes, teachers, or lunch periods, it doesn’t stand out in our heads. Instead, we usually say something like “when I was a teenager” to talk about the period of life that a public schooler would refer to as high school.

Some of you might think the fact that high school doesn’t stand out is a sad or disappointing fact, but let’s be honest – who among you (that aren’t in high school right now) think that high school was honestly the best years of your life? Do we honestly want them to be? What if you completely screw up high school – is it all just downhill from there? Everyone makes such a big deal about high school affecting you throughout your life. You *have* to be part of a sports team, you *have* to go to prom, you *can’t* miss the football games and after-school clubs, etc. That is usually the argument that people make when they try to tell me, and my home schooled crew, that I missed out.

They completely miss the fact that I was in sports, I did go to prom, I saw many football/baseball games, and I was part of a lot of different clubs. Home schoolers just don’t make such a big deal out of everything. We’re too cool for school drama (well, most of us anyway). ;D

“Yeah, they act *very* public schooled.”

Ha ha, here’s where the home schoolers get themselves into trouble. Public schoolers accuse home schoolers of acting very “home schooled” as if that’s a bad thing, and home schoolers do the complete opposite. If you act “home schooled”, generally that has a negative connotation in the world meaning that you act awkward, you don’t know how to interact socially, you’re a snooty genius, you’re too religious, and/or you’re too much of a goodie-two-shoes. I don’t see how much of this is a problem, but because of this view of home schoolers being taken out on us, we’ve put up our dukes to throw that right back in the faces of public schoolers.

So, when home schoolers say someone acts very “public schooled”, they mean it in a bad way. Although most of the world would not understand this, the minority of home schoolers do. To act public schooled means to act immorally, to have problems with authority figures like parents and teachers, to get into trouble, to not be religious enough, and to be too focused on superficial things like popularity, dating, growing up, and being “cool”.

Neither accusation is very nice and picks on the stereotype of each group. Stereotypes are based upon seeds of truth, and when looking at a wide range these people, these stereotypes of course tend toward being true. However, it also depends upon what your basis of comparison is. For instance, “public schoolers get into more trouble than home schoolers”, or “home schoolers are more holier-than-thou than public schoolers”. Most of the time, people only judge the other group based upon what they have experienced inside their own group.

My point is- stop judging each other. Though I was home schooled, I had/have plenty of friends who were not and we get along fine. Same with my public schooled friends who hang out with me- and my boyfriend, who went to public school and who I love very much. Don’t judge based upon where they went to school or how they grew up, be a judge of their character. That’s what matters when choosing your friends or forming an opinion about someone. Look at where their heart lies.

“I take that class during first period.” vs “I take that class…. period.”

A lot of home schoolers have no idea what periods are besides what happens at the end of the month or the end of a sentence. Unless someone who has gone to public school explains this concept to us, we are oblivious to what “periods” mean. We label our classes and, since a lot of us do not have strict schedules, we wouldn’t know what “period” those classes fell into anyway.

“I’m a Sophomore in high school and college.”

A lot of home schoolers who are in high school also take college classes in order to finish college much sooner than their peers. Because home schooling allows a student to customize their curriculum to their own pace, and because we don’t have to deal with 27 to 30 other students either slowing us down or providing distractions in class, we get done with our coursework more quickly and therefore can seize the opportunity to also get started early in our classes.

I’ve met a lot of public schoolers who don’t understand this process and, if they do understand it, they don’t condone it. I think it goes back to the stereotype people hold of home schoolers being snooty geniuses or something. Honestly, home schoolers who take on college classes don’t have much more homework than public schoolers. We’re just getting our classes over with as quickly as possible. 😛 Most of us don’t like school any more than public schoolers do.

“Wait… you have more than one teacher?”

Popular belief is that home schoolers’ only teacher is their mother (or father). This is not true! Yes, parents are heavily involved in their child’s learning, especially in the earlier years like in Elementary school, but the older a home schooler gets, the less involved the parents become. In fact, for a lot of home schoolers, we take over our own learning in Junior High. For the subjects that we obviously can’t just pull out a book and teach ourselves (like P.E., choir, and art classes), we utilize a number of free programs that our community offers to all individuals, through churches, community centers, and colleges. These programs are low-cost or no-cost and provide a well-rounded curriculum for a student whose parent is not apt at all subjects.

These programs are offered to everyone, not just home schoolers, though a lot of the time they take place during school hours, thus drawing crowds of adults who have time off of work, and, of course, home schoolers.

“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

To home schoolers, this phrase only applies to our Pokemon card collections. Considering the fact that we are not surrounded by hundreds of our very annoying peers for 6 to 8 hours a day (oh come on, admit it- middle and high school students are SO annoying), we often don’t understand popular terms, slang, or innuendos. Again I ask, why is this considered a bad thing?

Don’t people complain all the time about the loss of intelligence among our youth when teenagers say words like “selfies” and “YOLO”? Aren’t we sick of being blasted left and right with sexual innuendo and explicit content? Why is it considered socially awkward, then, for home schoolers to be a little more free of the strangling immaturity of society for just a little longer than others? We already get blasted with it when we become adults. Let us live in innocence for as long as we can!

So, this has been a small look at what a home schooler’s brain is like. Remember, just like in every situation in life, think before you speak. The jokes you could be getting ready to tell, the eyeroll you feel coming, or the “concerned” questions could be seen as rude or ignorant. And for all you home schoolers who have been made to feel like the outcasts, the prudes, and the geeks, don’t let that spoil your attitude toward people. Just be polite.

Just keep being awesome and let the world catch up to you.

Featured Image by TaurusMom


3 thoughts on “Lost in Translation: Talking To Home Schoolers

  1. That was a very interesting read, I’m English so home school does not really exist over here, technically you can teach your children yourself, but not that many choose to do so. You seem to me to be a very intelligent and socially aware person so I would say home schooling has had a great effect on your life overall.

  2. I may be a public school kid, but I agree with you points here. Look at the person for who he or she is. Everyone is different and affected differently by places, people, and events. Just because someone’s experience is different than yours, doesn’t make it weird or wrong.

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