Years ago, a friend of mine asked me if I would homeschool any children that I might have in the future. I replied “Of course!” without missing a beat, and she was very surprised. We talked briefly about my experience and why I had found it to be so beneficial, and it really seemed to impact her; she later ended up homeschooling her own daughter.
Make no mistake: Homeschooling is not for everyone. Being in a position where you have the time and resources to devote to it is a privilege many do not have, and since every child has different needs, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Some people thrive in public school – and others, like myself, thrive through home education. While there is far more to discuss than I could cover in one article, there are three key benefits that I would point to in analyzing my own personal experience.
Developing my Resume
Homeschooling had a direct impact on my career as an adult, because it gave me the ability to begin developing my professional resume at a very young age. As a child, I always wanted to be a writer when I grew up – even before I knew how to read! – so I started as early as I could. My first piece of published writing appeared in a homeschooling magazine, Growing Without Schooling, when I was 13. The following year, I applied for a job as a freelance writer for the community section of our local newspaper. They later offered me a position as the editor of their Leisure section, which I had to decline due to child labor laws since I was only 15 at the time. At 16, I served on the Editorial Board of Contributors for another local newspaper. Being homeschooled allowed enough flexibility in my schedule to be able to take these opportunities and build a strong portfolio before I was even an adult – and as my mom said at the time, “Working for a newspaper is a great writing class!”
I’m always amused when people say that homeschooling is bad for children because they won’t have the opportunity to develop social skills. When I first started writing for the newspaper, my assignment was to cover what was happening in the community – which meant conducting interviews with local business owners as well as approaching total strangers on the street and asking them if they’d like to give a quote about local issues. Many adults would get nervous doing those things, never mind a 14-year-old girl, so this should give you an idea of how gregarious I have always been!
As an adult, I often write about entertainment and frequently travel to Hollywood and New York City to attend press conferences for new movies, where I interview actors such as Meryl Streep and Charlize Theron. People have marveled over my ability to be comfortable in these situations and remain calm and outgoing while talking to high-profile people, to which I would say that I am not confident in spite of being homeschooled – I have confidence specifically because of my experience being homeschooled!
Becoming a Self-Starter
One of the most valuable life skills that homeschooling imbued me with was the ability to be self-motivated and take the initiative in learning how to do things and solve problems; the inherent self-directed qualities in homeschooling set me up to cultivate this. My dad told me recently that a very satisfying moment for him was when I taught him how to use a computer in the 1990s. I was an early adopter of technology, and when our local library got a computer with the Internet, I started going there every day to get online. I taught myself everything that I know about computers – priceless skills that I now use every day in my job as an adult. I showed my dad how to use a computer and get online when I was in my early teens, and at that moment, he knew everything had come full circle: All the time he and my mom had invested in homeschooling me had paid off, as I now had the skills to learn things on my own and become a teacher to him.