Homeschooling, by Narrelle Gilchrist

Narrelle is a homeschooled teen from West Palm Beach, Florida. In addition to writing, she enjoys singing in a choir and playing piano, and loves literature, politics, history, astronomy, and physics.

When I was three years old, I envied my six-year-old sister, who was starting first grade, and yearned to do school myself. Because of this eagerness to learn, I began preschool a year earlier than normal, allowing myself to remain a year ahead as I progressed into elementary school. Eight years later, when I was in sixth grade, I accelerated again, this time completing seventh and eighth grade in one year and entering ninth grade at the age of twelve. Had I not been homeschooled, this achievement would have been neither possible nor plausible. Outside of the constraints of standardized education, the flexibility and adaptability of my homeschooled education enabled me to take an active role in controlling my own learning.

In the public school environment, the “average” achievement level sets the bar for academic progression, not the individual drive and capacity of each student. As a homeschooler, I was able to realize my potential, take the reins of my own education, and accelerate according to my capability. Homeschooling benefits other students in the same way by allowing them to work independently from their peers at their own pace, whether faster or slower than that of the average student. In school, one must always be constrained by the status quo, the“average” expectations, and the failings of both teachers and students. The reality is that one-size does not fit all; one method of learning is not right for everyone. Some are visual learners, while others prefer a teacher to read material to them. For many, the strict school schedule would only be constricting. For me, every day is a school day, whether it is on the weekend, a holiday, or during the summer. When my schedule dictates otherwise, I bring my work in the car. In school, I would be kept at the pace of my classmates, forced to keep to their schedule.

Homeschooling allows students to explore what’s right for them themselves, instead of being forced into a learning environment that may not be best for them. In school, students who learn slowly are left behind, while those who learn more quickly are forced to stay behind. Homeschoolers can spend more time on subjects that don’t come naturally to them, and less time on those that do. A homeschooled education is a specialized education, one in which each student is given individual attention and where the learning process is specifically adjusted to fit that particular student’s needs. Students don’t have to adapt to fit their school; homeschooling adapts to fit them.

However, despite its advantages, homeschooling is not for everyone. The “one-size does not fit all” doctrine does not end with internal homeschool decisions; it includes the acknowledgment that, while many students flourish in a homeschool environment, others would receive better education by attending a public or private school. Many students prefer a school environment in which learning comes through social interaction rather than from studying in solitude. Others need a regulated schedule with set deadlines, specific requirements, and scheduled classes to keep their schoolwork on track. Many families simply do not have the organization or the time to dedicate to a proper homeschooled education.

For many, however, homeschooling provides children with an alternate educational system that can adapt to fit their needs in an oftentimes flawed and failing school system. Homeschooled students perform well in colleges and universities because they have been well equipped for independent, higher-level learning. They have developed an understanding of their own capabilities and know how to utilize them to achieve the best results. When I chose to accelerate my education, I took the initiative, planned my own lessons, and achieved the results I wanted through hard work. This situation models the advantages homeschooled students around the world have in an adaptable student-oriented environment. In a way, the time-old question of “Do you do school in pajamas?” is a perfect example of the true nature of homeschooling. In the end, it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, where you are, who you’re with, or how you do it. All that matters is the method of learning that suits you best. And if that means studying in your pajamas, then so be it.

Each month we will publish a random entry from our writing contest for your reading enjoyment. To see the winners, click here and here.

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