I was in high school. I forget how I learned about him being homeschooled, but I think high school was his first “school” experience.
I attended a pretty progressive liberal arts school, so I can now see how it was a perfect continuation of his educational trajectory.
At that point in time, I didn’t know what to ask and I’m not even sure I fully understood what a homeschooler was. Maybe I thought it was the typical lifestyle reserved for the extremely wealthy (private tutors and all).
Nevertheless, he was brilliant, sociable, funny, cool, and had his own sense of style. I remember him wearing wide legged pants that dragged on the floor, and he made his own electrical tape wallet with a matching belt.
The second time I met a homeschooler was a decade later as an adult. I was serving on a local board, and a father-daughter homeschool duo were my fellow board members.
At this point, I had had a child of my own and was super grateful they shared what homeschooling meant for their family.
They introduced me to another homeschooling family whose kids had grown and gone on to pretty prestigious colleges and universities. I began to see that homeschooling wasn’t as rare or unattainable as I thought.
Now that I had a vested interest in potentially homeschooling my own child, I began to notice and seek out way more homeschoolers.
I was pretty impressed with this next homeschooler, who was around 8 or 9 years old. We were at our local library, and the kid was sitting across from a man who looked to be in his 40s playing an intense game of chess.
While he was seriously concentrating on every move, he also seemed to enjoy every moment. I was blown away by this child's calm, respectful and confident demeanor as well as his knowledge of the strategic game.
Weeks later a mom brought her four homeschooled children to that same library. The kids ranged in age from adolescent to a newly turned one year old.
More weeks passed and this time a dad brought his two homeschoolers to that same library. We were the only two families there in the late morning, so I asked him if he homeschooled. He said “yes” and we soon formed a small group with two other families in hopes of allowing our children to connect with other homeschoolers like them.
I observed another homeschooler while on tour at a local arts program, where many homeschooling families send their children for the day. Being a hair enthusiast, I was first struck by his super thick free-formed locs. Then I watched as he eagerly worked on a project with his peers. He was genuinely excited about whatever they were creating. Again, I was blown away by this young boy’s excitement for learning and the freedom he had to focus on his curiosity. I wanted to know so much more about his family and their decision to homeschool, but of course his parents weren’t there. I left the program with many unanswered questions, but an excitement about this secretly abundant world of homeschooling families.
I’ll end this post with one of my favorite homeschoolers, who later became a close family friend. She was 11 at the time playing with a group of kids half her age at our local playground. I remembered being super impressed with how she handled a conflict the kids had over who was “it” in their game of tag. She was a great listener and compassionate towards the needs of everyone in the group.
I was eager to find out what kind of academic institution produced this gorgeous, articulate, well-mannered, inclusive, athletic, brilliantly creative and energetic, pre-teen.
I excitedly asked her, “what school do you go to?”
Her response, “I’m homeschooled.”
I’m super thankful for every encounter I’ve had with homeschoolers. From my high school classmate, Justin, who planted the first seed to the many homeschoolers we’ve met who continue to encourage us on our journey of natural learning.
If you are searching for your homeschool community, please know you are not alone. We are out here, even if you don’t see us at first.
Until next time,