Today, driving summer camp kids to and from a field trip, I had the privilege of having a 15 year old camp counselor share with me her experiences and interests. She was raised locally until age 10, moved away for 5 yrs and has recently returned. Adjusting to her new school has been a challenge. She's never made friends easily, would rather do art than sports, reads voraciously, and hasn't yet found a friendly peer group or BFF. I found her to be kind, well-spoken, and thoughtful. I don't have teens yet, and I'll never have a daughter, so it was a treat for me to have some time with this young lady.
When she learned that my kids are homeschooled, she told me that I should really send my kids to school by the time they reach high school. She felt strongly enough about this to bring it up more than once.
"I can tell the kids who are homeschooled" she told me. (Although she had been surprised to learn my kids were homeschooled.)
"How?" I asked.
"Well, I don't mean to be rude, but they are so attached to their parents." (In a tone that implied that this is a negative thing.)
I was intrigued by her concern for my children and asked her why she thought attending high school was so very important.
"You learn so much there that you just can't learn at home."
I asked her what she thought she'd learned in school that was most useful.
She answered "How to, you know, make friends."
"Not that I'm good at that" she admitted with a wistful voice.
"Go to class. You learn how to get to class."
"You have to deal with mean and bad people."
"How to get on the right side of a teacher. If you get on their good side you can wear clothes that don't meet the code."
"You learn how to dress."
She was talking about that elusive thing that seems to haunt the thoughts of so many when they think of homeschooling. The word I think she might have been reaching for was "socialization".
The school this teen attends is a well scoring classical school. Yet, according to this student the most important lessons she's learned are how to dress, brown nose, get to class, and deal with bullies.
Sigh.... I don't even know where to start. By trying to articulate what she saw as an important difference between school and homeschool this youth unintentionally highlighted some of the advantages that bring teens and their parents to homeschooling.