What’s it like being homeschooled?

Apparently today is the most depressing day of the year (in the UK) which I can well believe as I sneeze away while receiving texts from family and friends living or on holiday in South Africa, New Zealand and Qatar. This made me want to do something productive so I’ve written this post so I can refer people to it from now on rather than answering the same questions over and over.

Anytime someone asks me where I go to school I do an internal sigh and say, ‘I’m home educated’ then wait for one of three responses. The first one, which I’ve had a couple of times, is ‘I haven’t heard of that school’ and they are always very embarrassed when I say, ‘No, I’m taught at home’. The second one is ‘that’s so cool’ and the third one is ‘oh’ in a slightly disapproving tone. All three are followed by a barrage of questions, up until I was about fifteen the first one from people my age was always ‘How do you make friends?’. Now it’s always something along the lines of ‘How do you take exams?’. When I talk to parents it’s always ‘Do your parents teach you?’.

Question 1: How do you make friends? I make friends through activities I do such as tennis and music. I also have friends who we have lived near, friends who’s parents were friends with my parents from the past and friends who we I’ve met though other friends. When we were younger we met other home schooled kids through meet up groups and Education Otherwise (a sort of home educated families phone book) but we haven’t done that for several years. I have stumbled across other people who are home educated over the years in unexpected places but just like going to school with someone it doesn’t necessarily mean you like them, not to say that I don’t have really good friends who are home schooled, because I do, just not everyone who is home educated is the same.

Question 2: How do you take exams? I don’t. Ok, that not entirely true but you don’t have to do GCSE’s or A levels, a fact that seems to surprise most people. When I was thirteen I started doing a degree with the Open University. We found out about doing this as a young applicant through some home ed friends. I have studied lots of different subjects but in my second and third year courses which are the ones that really count I have done music and creative writing. I also studied French, maths, natural science and sports science at first year level. I have only ever taken one written exam in my life and that was grade 5 music theory. All my Open University work is marked by tutors in a continuous assessment format.

Question 3: Do your parents teach you? Until I was thirteen, yes, the mothership taught me. She was not a teacher by profession but she would quite happily pay people to let her help them with their maths (this is what we think she’ll do when we all leave home, she’ll be the most in demand maths tutor in the country!). We have done masses of different work books, courses and online stuff over the years for all different subjects. These days I do Open University, my brother does GCSE’s at an online school and is applying for 6th form and my sister does German through the same online school as my brother but everything else she still does with the mothership. Of course, the mothership still reads through my writing and helps me if I get stuck.

Question 4: How much work do you do in a day? I don’t do a timed about of work like you would a class, I just have an amount to complete and it depends how long it takes me. With the Open University I have deadlines for all my assignments so I have to make sure I’ve done all the workbook activities, etc, up to that point. Some days I might do none and other days a lot.

Question 5: Do you have to do homework? No, all my work is at home. I used to get this one a lot when I was younger but not so much these days. Maybe people work it out in their head before asking it now!

Question 6: Do you stick to school holidays? Not really. When we were younger I don’t think we really did at all. We would always go on holiday during term time and probably do school work during the holidays but I didn’t know when school holidays were. Now we do vaguely, mostly because we do so many more outside activities which run to school terms. We still mostly go on holiday during term time but right beside school holidays. Also because my brother and I do set curriculums now they stop for school/university holiday anyway.

Question 7: What time do you get up in the morning? It depends but normally sometime between eight and nine. I’d really love to get up earlier but it’s so hard in the winter.

Question 8: Do you wear pyjamas all day? No. I know kids who went to school then left do this (rebellion against uniform) but I have never been to school and I’ve always been quite happy to get dressed in the morning.

Question 9: How do you make yourself do work? Obviously you do have to be self disciplined but I think that if you grow up with it then it’s not a big deal.

Question 10: How are you going to apply for uni? I am already doing a university course. I think it would be fun to do a traditional university degree after but I’m not yet sure if there’s anything I want to study. I might go and do a more specialised course in something. I don’t think that not having A levels/IB will hold be back. It will probably make me stand out and be more interesting for universities if anything.

Question 11: Don’t you want to go to school? Not particularly. There have been moments when I have thought about it but given the amount of times we have moved I think it would have been tough. Maybe it we had been at school we wouldn’t have moved so much, I don’t know, but I’ve never had an enormous urge to go to school.

Question 12: Why did your parents decide to home educate you? The local primary school where I would have gone when I was four the mothership disliked a lot. Her solution was to home educate me and she just carried on doing it.

Question 13: Where do you do your school work? Everywhere. In the kitchen, in the car, in the garden, on holiday, in bed, at a desk, on the floor, at the tennis club, while walking the dog (don’t say that this is impossible because I have read books while walking the dog before and besides, you’re learning the whole time).

Other things about being home educated:

  1. I don’t get the whole ‘not being friends with people who are in different school years’. Most of my best friends are not the same school year as me!
  2. Families who’s children are really unhappy at school won’t be friends with you. (We’ve had this several times.)
  3. The fact we don’t have a TV is not to do with being home educated. We know homeschooled families who have TVs and traditionally schooled family who don’t. And no we’re not Amish (probably wouldn’t be able to write this blog if I was), we just don’t have a TV!
  4. The fact I don’t have Facebook, twitter, snapchat, instagram, whatsapp, etc, is not because I am home educated and don’t have anything against them except that I don’t really want to become addicted.

That is everything I can think of right now but I’m sure I will come back and add to this post when I think of or get asked more questions.

To finish with here are some picture of the snow on Saturday.

IMG_3032IMG_3013We went sledging in a sheep field which meant that our dog didn’t get to do her favourite activity of chasing us down the slopes.

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