I sing in a chorus, and after one of our recent concerts, my daughter chatted up the percussionist.
“She’s a networker,” pointed out one of my fellow choristers. The woman was impressed, but to me it was nothing new. “That’s just like a homeschooler,” I thought to myself. Like many young people who are home educated, my daughter isn’t uncomfortable in social situations, and she likes meeting and talking with people.
It got me thinking about the characteristics of many thriving homeschoolers I know. At the risk of indulging in generalizations, here’s my list. I don’t think of these as absolutes. Rather, they’re my commentary on the potential of homeschooling, the reasons I homeschool, and my personal wish list for my kids.
Confidence Yeah, I know talking about self-confidence and self-esteem can reek of cliche. They’re still right up there with the qualities I want to cultivate in my kids. How does homeschooling help? Read on and you’ll get the idea.
Intrinsic motivation Homeschoolers are more likely to do things for reasons that come from within. While homeschoolers certainly strive to excel, their pursuits are grounded in a desire to learn, and a love of the subject or activity at hand. I’ve seen how this has helped my own kids withstand criticism and weather the times when their hopes aren’t fulfilled. When the flame burns from within, criticism doesn’t cause discouragement or setbacks. On the contrary, it becomes another useful tool in working toward improvement.
Curiosity Remember the inquisitive toddler who drove you crazy wanting to know everything about everything? When kids are not shuttled from one subject to the next on an hourly basis, made to sit through day after day of classroom lectures and activities, and forced to complete reams of schoolwork that’s often unconnected to their lives, that kind of zest for knowledge and intellectual curiosity remains blessedly intact.
Social savvy Yeah, I know that “What about socialization?” is one of the biggies when it comes to the general public’s doubts about homeschooling. Oh, the irony. The fact is, homeschoolers can have a big advantage in the socialization department, something my daughter figured out for herself when she was 11. Homeschoolers can spend lots of time in the community mixing with people of all ages, and are spared from dealing with excessive amounts of peer pressure.
Self-knowledge To thine own self be true can be easier said than done. Homeschoolers have a leg up. Why? They haven’t spent their childhoods being graded, evaluated, and told what they’re good at by educational professionals. Instead, they’re free to learn at their own pace, experiment with different ways of learning, and figure out how to expand on their strengths and address their weaknesses. They also have more time to spend in solitude, a crucial component of developing self-awareness.
Joie de vivre All that play, social interaction, and pursuit of passions makes for a happy person. I don’t know about you, but for this mom, that makes it all worth it.