Whether you're entering the world of home schooling or you've been doing it for years, you may feel as though you're missing something. Find out how to turn these common complaints into advantages!
“I have no social life.”
In elementary school, it may have been cool to tell friends that you had school in your pajamas, but the joke’s old. As a home-schooled teen, you may feel left out because you’re not hanging out with friends all day.
While home schooling can feel isolating at times, it actually gives you more control over your social life. You can choose the friends you want to invest in, instead of being bombarded by peers who may not share your values. The idea that home-schoolers lack social development is a myth. Studies show that home-schooled students tend to have higher self-esteem and relate better to adults, which puts them ahead when applying for college or seeking a job.
Feeling socially starved? Get involved in extra activities. Participate in youth group. Try out for a community play. Join a city-league sport. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Get a part-time job. Not only will you meet new people, you’ll gain nice bullet points on your college application.
“I can’t participate in extracurricular activities.”
A major complaint among home-schoolers is the lack of opportunities to participate in athletics, band, cheer squad, student government or the school newspaper. If you find yourself passionate about a particular school club or event, check with your local district to see if you can participate. Many schools allow home-schooled students to play sports, take driver’s education, play in band and participate in other activities.
Don’t be frustrated by dead ends. As a high school student, I was interested in journalism but couldn’t join a school newspaper. I began publishing my own newspaper for home-schooled teens. I learned a ton about the editing and publishing process and earned a college journalism scholarship.
“I’m missing out on school spirit.”
My uncle once sent me a single-panel cartoon. It pictured a man sitting in a chair in the middle of a living room. He wore a party hat and blew on a party favor. The banner above him read, “10-Year Home School Reunion.” Many home-school students can relate to that comic. We wish for the community that a student body provides.
As a high school student, I mooched off of my friends’ school spirit. I would accompany them to football games, band concerts and school plays. I made memories with friends and showed them I cared. Not to mention, I sing a mean fight song!
The home-school community also offers its own special kind of camaraderie. Most states have home-schooling networks that organize conferences and group events. When I graduated from home school in the state of Washington, I attended a “Grad’s Night Out” that included a trip to the Seattle Science Center, a buffet dinner in the Space Needle and a carriage ride through downtown. I had a blast tossing my hat, and I made friends with whom I still keep in touch.
“I’m missing out on academic opportunities.”
Academic achievement may have been a challenge in the past, but today home-school students are leading the way, garnering some of the best scores on college entrance exams and CLEP tests. With ample information available on the Internet, there’s no reason to graduate with gaps in your education.
Don’t panic if you think you’re slipping behind in an area! Many cities offer home-school co-ops where students gather each week to learn a subject from a knowledgeable teacher. A tutor is another great option. As a home-schooler, you can supplement your learning by picking and choosing educational opportunities. To prepare for tests such as the SAT and ACT, you can find excellent study aids at your local bookstore.
“How can I be ‘salt and light’?”
As a home schooler, I remember feeling frustrated because I didn’t have the same witnessing opportunities as did my public school friends. I prayed for someone with whom to share my relationship with Christ. Through community theater, I made friends with people who didn’t know Christ. We had conversations about faith while waiting back stage.
Home-school students also have more time to serve their churches. I provided child care for a young mothers’ Bible study, organized outreach events for my youth group and even led a children’s choir. While these activities aren’t necessarily evangelistic, you’ll impact people who will reach others with Christ.
“I feel as though I’m alone.”
My friend Calvin found home schooling isolating because he spent most of his time with family. While this may be a disadvantage for home-school students, you don’t have to look far to find others in your same situation.
Contact a local home-school organization to learn about events in your area. When I discovered more than a dozen home schooled teens lived in my small town, I organized a monthly game night and other events. Calvin recently told me those were bright spots in his life.
As a home-school student you can turn seeming disadvantages into rewards by finding ways to creatively compensate. Home schooling provides the chance to strengthen family relationships, the flexibility to pursue things you love and the time to serve others. And those are opportunities you won’t want to miss!