Oct 07, 2011 0 Share

Home Schooling


Colorful school textbooks.
iStockphoto

A large portion of my primary education was spent being taught at home by my mother. My parents removed me from the public school system because they had a major point of contention with the district’s program coordinator who was not willing to work with them as a team regarding my needs. Therefore, they decided to take me out of the public school system after third grade and home-school me. Over the course of many years—up to the point when I earned my GED—my mother used special courses and classes to teach me about the world. There were many benefits to me being home-schooled which helped me to improve mentally, emotionally, and socially. 

My home schooling was mainly conducted using two sources: a series of packets with content similar to textbooks, and a more traditional set of textbooks from another company. Both sources were written using a heavily Christian slant and proved to be excellent sources of information for all my subjects. The material presented in each book was very advanced, so much so that the state tests I took at the end of every school year dealt with material I had learned about two to three years before. The vast difference in the level of the material made me feel strangely empowered whenever I talked with my friends about what they were learning about in school.  

There was one case, however, in which the material was so different that I could never completely wrap my head around it, no matter how hard I tried. This was algebra. In my experience, it was a convoluted set of formulas in which numbers needed to be calculated in a particular way. If a calculation was even slightly off, the equation’s logic would be broken into a million pieces like a delicate Faberge egg. I could handle small groupings of three to four numbers and equations of only a few steps with relatively no problems, but once they increased beyond a small threshold, I had difficulty keeping up. I was able to get through my first year of basic algebra with my head above water, but for the rest of my home schooling and into college, I was never able to completely master the subject. 

I was not completely isolated from the rest of the world while I was being home-schooled. I still kept up with the happenings of my elementary school friends at religious education class, informal meetings, and other occasions. I also took part in a variety of extracurricular activities. I attended jazz dance classes, was part of a private treble choir group, and took piano lessons. I still study the piano. All these activities included some type of public performance at various times during the year. Being part of the treble choir put me in front of audiences many times. From the time I was in preschool until the time that I finished being home-schooled, speech, occupational and physical therapies were part of my life. As I did my therapies. I had to adapt to whatever social situations were occurring. These therapies gave me a chance to get out into the community and learn good communication skills. I also participate in a number of sports programs designed to accommodate people with special needs. I participate in Special Olympics and Challenger League Baseball and have done so for many years. I have met many people while participating in these activities, and have gotten to know a few. I have one very good friend that I do many activities with. 

Home schooling also helped me to learn how to deal with frustration, an emotion I often felt as I did my schoolwork. There were times during study sessions when I would become hung up on a particular fact. I would become very frustrated with my inability to recall this fact during times when it really counted. When this happened, my mother would take me away from my work for a while and perform drills with me where I would repeat the fact numerous times until it was firmly implanted into my mind. After performing these drills, when I encountered the fact again as a question on one of my tests, I would remember the information and answer the question without a second thought.  

In addition, when I was getting particularly frustrated about my schoolwork in general, my mother would give me sensory input like deep pressures on all my joints and do brushing therapy. When she did this, I became much calmer and was able to think more clearly when I sat down to do my schoolwork again. Also, by being at home, I was able to take more breaks when needed in order to calm down. Another great therapy that helps me a great deal is a listening program. It helps with loud noises and also helps calm me. 

Working at home did offer a unique advantage that I never would have gotten if I had stayed in the public school system. I could enjoy looking out the window at pleasant sunny days and calm scenery, hearing almost nothing but the sound of a gentle breeze at times. I almost never got such opportunities at the elementary school I used to go to because the classrooms and lunchrooms were always crowded, generating levels of noise which I had great difficulty tolerating. I still enjoy this advantage to this day because I attend college online and work out of my home. 

I feel that my home schooling provided a solid foundation for the rest of my life. I learned much about the world and social interaction. I will always cherish the new friends I made and the opportunities that learning at home brought me. I was not confined to my home; instead, the world opened up to me.