My name is Nate Shenk and I was a “weird” homeschooler until my freshman year of high school.
A fact, I believe, qualifies me to be able to speak publicly about homeschoolers & this form of education.
When I tell someone I was homeschooled, they usually pause for a second and then say: “Really? I wouldn’t have guessed that.”
Which, I cant lie, causes a little spark of happiness to light up in my heart because there are two types of homeschoolers:
1) The “forever” homeschoolers carries on homeschooler characteristics beyond the home base (e.g. into adulthood) and,
2) The “temporary” homeschoolers only expresses homeschooler characteristics for a short, non-specific period of time (e.g. after “graduating,” or when switching to another form of education the homeschool identity is lost).
Thankfully, I was lucky and can identify with the latter. The main reason, as to why I turned out this way, is because I had an abnormal amount of siblings (6) and got all my homeschool weirdness out of the way, long before the “point of no return”- which will be discussed later on.
From my homeschooling, private schooling and public schooling experiences I have compiled a short 3-list essay on why non-homeschoolers believe homeschoolers are peculiar. If you’re ready for this; continue on.
1.They Run Away From School Busses
And one of those threats is being seen [during school hours] by any public school entity.
In this particular case, it was the big yellow school bus. I’m not sure if the school bus was actually included in the official threat list, but regardless; the thing terrified us.
When we were finished with our homeschool sesh for the day, we’d usually go play outside and make up our own games, that could be played with however many siblings were available (note: “siblings” and not siblings + neighborhood friends/friends, the only friends we had were other homeschoolers and we only saw them twice a month at our “homeschooler meetings”).
These sibling-only play times could be at any time of the day, it just depended on how quickly we finished our required material for the day. But, many times, was before 3pm, which is around the time the scamper-inducing school bus drove by.
Many times we would be playing a game outside and all of a sudden one of us would scream “BUS!!!!” Within seconds; everyone would disperse and conceal themselves behind a tree, under a wheelbarrow, or whatever we could use as camouflage in order to not be seen by the bus driver and/or evil, misguided victims inside.
I always thought we were pros at being invisible, but was informed otherwise during my junior year of public high school. It was when I, in fact, had to take that yellow bus home because my car was in the shop (calm down I had friends, this was just a rare occasion).
I sat in the back of the bus and knowing that I was most likely the only junior on that bus, felt confident that nothing would happen to me. Well, as soon as the bus started going, around 5 kids turned around and started asking me a million questions.
They had never seen me before, on the bus, and wanted to know who I was, so I started talking to them and everything was fine. I was the oldest and they respected me…until they figured out where I lived.
When the bus was halfway through with its route, we entered my neighborhood and a few of my peers started asking which house I lived at and why they hadn’t seen me before.
I made up some random excuses and, in the middle of one of my run-on sentences, was interrupted by a sweet “little” girl by the name of Corvette asking; “Wait, are you one of those homeschool kids that live in that two-story blue house and would always run away whenever the bus showed up?”
Ehhh….ummm….damn. There was no way out of this, so I just started laughing, but they weren’t satisfied; they wanted answers.
Their expressions were more out of bewilderment than anything else and another member of the yellow bus inquisitive committee asked: “What was the point of that, I mean the whole run and hide deal?”
I honestly had nothing to say and right at that moment the bus lady (bless you Miss Tammy-Lou) barked at me that it was my stop.
I stood up, walked down the seemingly endless rows of seats, looked back at my peers [before getting off] and said: “Homeschoolers can be cool too!” And with that, ran off the bus and into the comfort of my blue, two story house.
One crisp, fall afternoon, we had run out of things to do and somehow came up with the brilliant idea to dig a hole.
Not to bury treasure in, or to say farewell to a beloved pet, but just your ordinary, small pond-sized hole.
I want to say that the idea was to dig a whole and then cover it with a roof made from a tarp and some stolen 2x4s (thanks dad!).
However, we didn’t take two things into consideration: 1) That it would eventually rain and, without a proper draining system, would also eventually fill with water and 2) One day that hole would have to be filled. Those issues didn’t matter at the moment, we had made up our minds and wanted to dig that hole!
A few hours into the project, tempers started flaring and interest in the project was quickly fading, but a few of us were determined.
In the middle of one of our many quarrels, neighbor David strolled up to his side of the fence, peered over at us, twitched his mustache back and fourth and in a very perplexed manner, asked: “What kind of squirrelly activity is going on here??” If he hadn’t already been warned of the fact that we were homeschoolers, he probably would have called the police and reported the very odd “projects” we worked on.
We explained excitedly what we were doing and the only thing he said was “Does your dad know what y’all are doing?” Of course not. Why would we tell him? Our poor father, I honestly don’t know how he still loves us so much.
We were so good at, not only destroying his yard, but making sure his tools that we “kidnapped” never made it back safely. But don’t worry, they were usually found a few months later…little rust never hurt nuffin.
The ambitions for our newly created hole seemed to disappear faster than my dad’s tools and ,not long after completion, was abandoned, but no worries, the older kids made sure to blackmail the little kids into filling it.
If you look out your window and see a hole being constructed and as long as you don’t live next door to a cemetery, you most likely have homeschoolers as neighbors. Congratulations, you now have your own, free, source of entertainment.
3. They travel in herds
Well, they do and don’t you worry, every homeschooler in the surrounding counties will swarm in on those days.
If you ever find yourself at one of the above attractions, on that dedicated homeschool day; may the force be with you.
In other words, you’re about to get a very large, unexpected dose of homeschoolers than you’re probably used to and it might be an interesting/educational experience, or it may be one that will take you straight to your local psychologist.
Think of homeschoolers as gazelles and what happens if you [a non-homeschooler] approaches a herd of gazelles? They run, they R.L.H. – that’s what happens and anything non-gazelle can cause their internal homeschooler instincts to activate.
If you find yourself at say, Six Flags [on homeschool day] don’t panic, just calmly explain to your non-homeschooled children/friend/whoever you’re with what the situation is and reschedule your outing.
The worst thing that you can do is end up in the middle of the Six Flags theme park and startle the herd of homeschoolers around you, because if you do, you better kiss your kids goodbye and send that last “farewell” text message; you’re about to become pancaked.
And yes, the little gazelles/mini-homeschooler
will get some popcorn and watch the show.
In all seriousness, there’s nothing wrong with homeschooling, or homeschoolers, in fact, I’m a firm believer in it AS LONG as you let your children/students experience life outside the nest and not when they turn 16, I’m talking young- even if its at the local McDonald’s play-place.
Just let them at least have the opportunity to interact with other children and YES, it is ok if those children aren’t home-educated like your little treasure.
If you’re considering homeschooling, remember that, along with education, social skills are essential in “the real world” and without those skills, your child’s opportunities can be significantly reduced.
Educate your children in the way that you see fit and if you’re worried about your child’s social skills, have seven kids, that’s what my crazy mum and dad did and we turned out alright…I hope.
We didn’t turn out too bad…
In fact, I’m sadly the only one who didn’t gradute from college as either summa cum laude, or with a GPA above 3.7. We may be weird, but we aren’t stupid, that’s for sure! (not counting the little ones…obviously).