Writing Contest Winner: Maddi Burton

Our sincere thanks to everyone who entered the Homeschooling Teen Writing Contest — you all did such great work that it was a challenge for the judges to decide! While we liked the realistic representation of homeschooling in this one, and it left us with a good feeling, the essay’s organization and structure was what won us over, especially the way the beginning and ending tied together so neatly.

Just a Regular Teenager

By Maddi Burton

Over the years I have been asked many questions about being a homeschooler. Do you do school in your pajamas? Do you sleep until ten o’clock in the morning? Do you like homeschooling? Do you have any friends? Why do you even need a cell phone, because it doesn’t seem like you would use one that much? While the answers to these questions vary, I find that I am really not that different from other teens in many respects.

As a homeschooler, I get to spend more time with my family and get to know them. My very best friend is my big sister, and we get to have a sleepover every single night! We talk until our eyelids cannot be pried open with a crowbar. Of course, I have other friends not in my family, and I love them and being around them. I look forward to seeing them each week. Another advantage of homeschooling is that I have a flexible schedule; so I can go on a spontaneous vacation or take a break from school when family members have health problems. When my family was receiving an adoption placement in our home, I was able to take the day off from school to witness the arrival of a roly-poly one-year-old boy who is now my brother; I learned more from that experience than I would have gotten out of a textbook anyway.

I do not get distracted while doing my school like I inevitably would in a classroom watching the kid across the aisle swing his feet or the cricket meandering casually across the front of the classroom. My parents, instead of a principal who does not know me or my needs, choose my course of study, curriculum, and classes. They guide me down the path I should take and choose what influences me. I do not have to deal with peer pressure as much as many of my publicly schooled friends.

I also get to experience the interesting process of watching my younger siblings grow and learn. Every day I listen to math problems such as “Austin, what is four plus nine?” And then my little brother who is fascinated with football, answer with the name of a college running back who has jersey number thirteen. I am available to help my little sister with her fourth grade geometry work when she can’t remember the difference between perpendicular and parallel. It makes my day when Austin tugs on my sleeve and asks when we are going to play Pick a Sound From the Merry Go Round, a version of Go Fish using the sounds of the alphabet. And watching his face light up when he beats me makes it that much better. When I need to stretch my legs and take a break from chemistry I can race down the winding driveway to the mailbox with a younger sibling and the black streak of a dog leading the way.

I have a social life that is similar to any other teen. With the vast assortment of homeschool sports teams and academic clubs, homeschoolers have the opportunity to have the same social events as kids who go to public schools. Almost every weekend, whether in cold or heat, wind or rain, we troop down to the sports fields; and during the week, we go to numerous extra-curricular activities and practices. Whether it is Austin reaching for the touchdown, Emma slamming the ball into the goal, or Kayli playing a Vivaldi concerto on her violin, my family always stands by to cheer each other on.

Homeschooling has always been the best option for me and for my family. I enjoy being homeschooled and I enjoy the opportunities that are available to me because I am homeschooled. When people ask me questions about being homeschooled, I will keep giving the answers that I always have. I do not do school in my pajamas, I get up at six, I love homeschooling, I have friends, and a cell phone is very useful. And yet maybe I am not quite the same as other teens after all…and maybe I don’t want to be.

Maddie Burton, 14, is the second of four children residing deep in the heart of Texas. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, and playing piano.

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