I'm not ashamed of being homeschooled, but sometimes when I'm around people I don't know, the only thought going through my head is, "Please don't ask me where I go to school. Please don't ask me, just shut up." See, I'm not very good at off-the-cuff responses to these questions, and it's complicated by the fact that some people don't seem to believe my answers.
I don't mind when people ask silly questions as long as they're just curious, but some people either try to trip me up or seem to think they know everything about homeschooling even though they only heard of it five minutes ago.
So here they are, the ten silliest questions I've been asked and my eloquent responses to them, which I think of hours after the fact.
I very rarely sound even half as intelligent when I actually answer these questions.
Question: How do you meet people?Answer: Hello, I'm right here talking to you. Are you a people? You look like a people. Do you really want to know how I meet people? There's 4-H, Junior Leaders, softball, Academic Superbowl, college classes, and I used to do spelling bees and participate in a STEM group called Discoveries Unlimited.
Question: So, are your parents really smart?
Answer: I guess. (No offense, Mom and Dad. Read on!) They're smart and well-educated. More importantly, if they don't know a subject, then I learn it some other way. Homeschooling doesn't mean your parents teach you everything at home. For example, my mom took Spanish in school but wanted someone else to teach me because they'd be able to explain it better, so I'm in a college Spanish class. Also, to those people who asked me this question when I was in like fifth grade - nice going, you just insulted my parents. If adults don't know fifth-grade subjects, then they've really got a problem. Especially since most of them went to public school and they should have learned that stuff there.
Question: So, are you really smart?
Answer: I'm advanced in my schoolwork, if that's what you mean. As a sophomore, I've just started pre-calculus and apparently I write better than some seniors in honors English classes. I think it's probably due to all the one-on-one attention I get. I think everyone has the potential to be be really, really good at schoolwork.
Question: Why do your parents make you homeschool?
Answer: Haven't you heard of nagging? If I really, really, really, really, really had my heart set on going to school, I'd be there by now. And my parents aren't evil. They'd probably want me to keep homeschooling, but if I really wanted to attend school I think they'd let me.
Answer: No, I'm actually an atheist. Plenty of homeschoolers are religious, but there are secular homeschoolers, too. Also, not all religious homeschoolers are Christians, which is what most people seem to think. Why is this even a question? You would never assume that all people are religious, so why do you assume that about homeschoolers?
Answer:: Duuuuuude, peace out! No, I'm not. This is just like the religion question: Why would you assume all homeschoolers fit a stereotype when you wouldn't assume that about other groups?
Answer: If I were breaking the law, why would I be telling everyone about it? Of course, it's legal.
Question: But don’t you want to go to college?
Answer: Actually, I'm already in college. This is my second semester studying Spanish at a local university. I got an A my first semester. College is pretty cool. You should try it. Oh wait, you can't. You're in school.
Question: But don't you want a boyfriend?
Answer: Are you insinuating that homeschooled girls are too lame to get boyfriends? What does this even have to do with being homeschooled? There may not be any other boys in my school besides my brother, but that doesn't mean I can't find any. I'm pretty sure I know what boys look like. And when did school become a boyfriend-finding factory? I thought you went there to learn?
Question: Aren’t you worried about missing out on the high school experience?
Answer: No. What worries me more is that I haven't gotten my Hogwarts acceptance letter - it's been five years! Hurry up, McGonagall! Wait, what was I saying? Oh, yes, the high school experience. I'm not missing out - I am in high school. Oh, you mean public high school? But isn't that the place you were just complaining about? The cafeteria food is icky and unhealthy; the teachers don't necessarily know the subject they're teaching or even how to teach; you have to get up ridiculously early even though studies have shown that teens need loads of sleep; you sometimes get bullied? I'm not missing out on sports because I play in community leagues. I don't really have any interest in attending the prom other than for "research purposes," because I write and it could give me interesting story ideas. I'm not interested in having a big graduation ceremony either. So, no, I'm not concerned about missing out.
Unfortunately, I'm not asked very many normal questions. I very rarely am asked what subjects I study or even why I'm homeschooled, which seems glaringly obvious. No, people are more concerned about my boyfriend-less-ness and whether I might be a hippie.
Lizzie Chesak is a sophomore in high school. She has been homeschooled for the past eight years. For fun she likes to read, write, and daydream. That makes her sound like a clichéd nerdy girl, but it’s true. She also enjoys writing in the third person. You can read her blog at Musings from Neville's Navel. Lizzie writes the monthly column "Thoughts from a Homeschooled Valedictorian" at Mindful Homeschooler.