Monday, September 5, 2011


First things first: No, that title is not a typo, despite what Microsoft Word tries to tell you. Everyone outside of the homeschooling community thinks that it should be two words (home schooling), but we're the ones doing it so we get to decide how it should be spelled.

As i mentioned here, my relationship with public school is not a happy one. It's a long story, and i have to start with a lot of history.

Maryland used to have a law (though it has since been changed) regulating the age of admission into kindergarten. It used to be that if you were going to be five by the time school started, you would start school that year (which is the same as in most states). But there was a clause saying that if you were not going to be five by the time school started, but would be five by December 31st, you could start this year or wait until next year. It was your call. (Or more realistically, your parents' call.)

I was born on December 20th, 1989. I therefore turned five on December 20th of 1994. I was one of the privileged few who got to choose what year i wanted to start school.

I taught myself to read at the tender age of two and a half. By the time i started kindergarten, i was reading at a 6th grade level. (Technically, my reading level was a little higher than that, but since i was only four, a lot of material written for higher grade levels was emotionally and psychologically beyond me. But i still understood all the words and followed the stories, even when reading Sherlock Holmes).

If you can read, no door is closed to you. Math may not be your strong point, but you can still attain a certain degree of competency if you are literate, even if you don't have a teacher. If you can read, the sky is the limit.

So i started kindergarten in 1994, because my parents figured that there was no reason to keep me at home any longer. Kindergarten was fine, because you're not really learning things. You're really just learning how to be at school: how to listen to people who are not your parents, how to get along with your peers and do your work quietly, how to follow a schedule and do assignments.

But when i started first grade, it was clear that i needed more challenge and stimulation in the classroom. I began doing some of my classes with other grades, because my teacher had allowed me to work at my own pace and i had finished all of my first grade work. By Christmas, i had finished all computer class work through fifth grade. My math was at a third or fourth grade level and my reading skills were too high to test. The administrators met with my parents to recommend moving me up to third or fourth grade.

Remember that, by Christmas, i had just turned six. I was the youngest kid in my class. I was also extremely introverted and had very few friends. I was not socially or psychologically capable of advancing that many grades all at once. For one or two classes a few times a week, sure. But not full time.

There was a family in our church who homeschooled their daughter. Think of every stereotype you've ever heard about homeschoolers being socially awkward and just plain weird. This was that girl.

When my parents told me about the proposal to move me forward, i flipped my shit. I regressed and began wetting my pants at school every day. I would cry uncontrollably and not be able to say why. My moods and physical health were steadily declining. I began begging my parents to homeschool me. But, thinking of the family in our church and fearing that i would turn out the same (since i already showed a strong tendency toward introversion and general weirdness), they at first refused. But as the situation deteriorated it became clear that things could not continue as they were.

My parents agreed to homeschool me, thinking privately that they would do so only for the rest of the year, after which they would figure out a permanent solution for my education. But the homeschooling worked so well for me, and was such a pleasure for my mom, that we decided to continue with it.

I graduated from high school when i was sixteen, one year earlier than the rest of my class. Valentine's day of 1996 was my last day of public school. Everything else was homeschooling.

And look how i turned out.

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