When there can be so much misinformation and controversy over a topic like homeschooling, it can be quite scary starting out or thinking of starting homeschooling. When we were setting out on our journey, I had so many fears and insecurities bouncing around in my head: What if the work we were doing wasn’t going to be enough, and what if I fell behind and my friends all ended up ahead of me? Was I going to be motivated enough to work without someone hovering over my shoulder? Would homeschooling affect my relationship with my parents and was it going to affect how they see me? A student in their class rather than their own child in our home? Would I be able to take responsibility for my studies or would I have just swapped a school’s control for a parent’s control?
Now don’t get me wrong, I was really excited to be homeschooled and had plenty of positive expectations about it, but all of these daunting thoughts were also circulating round and round in my brain and making me nervous about the path ahead, instead of completely enthusiastic to start. Unfortunately, it is with this mentality that I started homeschooling. I was always comparing my work with what my friends were doing and focusing on making sure that what I was doing was on par and equal to their work. I was concentrating on their journey instead of creating my own. And even though those early months weren’t a great experience, it was something I had to go through in order to grow, find my own path and begin the exploration of authentic learning for me. I had to realise, and my family as well, that we were on a different route of learning and that I shouldn’t compare my learning approach to that of my friends in a “normal” school.
Another thing I struggled with when I started homeschooling was procrastination. I procrastinated doing the work that I had and didn’t feel like completing it because I had a pretty much identical curriculum to that of a mainstream school. It was the same as sitting in a classroom and doing exactly what my school friends were doing. Now that I didn’t have a school teacher constantly checking up on me and making sure I was completing projects, I could put them off and delay finishing them. There was this expectation of having to do something rather than wanting to do it, to achieve a goal. It was a process to finally take the steps to deviate from what we were used to and what we considered safe.
After we came to the realisation that we were on our own path, I started to delve into how homeschooling and learning truly worked for me, instead of procrastinating with the ‘typical’ schoolwork that I didn’t want to do. I then had the chance to find out what made me come alive, and ask myself important questions like what did I most enjoy learning about, what bored me to tears, and also, what style of learning worked best for me? I’ve found that everyone has their own style of learning that suits them best and stimulates their curiosity to learn more. Homeschooling offers the opportunity to learn about yourself while learning for your future. Are you a visual learner, do you learn the most from a practical experience, or are you more of an auditory learner? Homeschooling also gives you the opportunity to learn outside of a textbook. Instead of having a textbook as the one thing that you just sit through and read to get to the end of a syllabus, a textbook becomes a resource that you utilise for its most important parts. One of many resources that are available out there. Everyone has to find the ones that are of the greatest benefit to them. There is no lack of resources on offer which provide a vast variety of alternatives to the traditional mainstream syllabus. Many of these are free and just waiting to be explored. Instead of continuing a vicious cycle of procrastinating work that I didn’t enjoy and then feeling guilty about it, like many people at a mainstream school still end up doing because they can get away with a rush job, I had now found my authentic learning style and I learnt how to motivate myself without someone hovering over me - a learning opportunity I would not have had the chance to experience in mainstream schooling. I became self-directed, something that is not only useful to learn at my age but something that will aid me in my life going forward into adulthood where I will need those skills. It will serve me for the rest of my life.
When I started writing this article, I sat down and thought of what homeschooling meant to me. What came to me is something that I unequivocally believe: homeschooling is learning, but unlimited.