by Elizabeth Citrowske
When I was in fifth grade, I believed the stereotype that children who were homeschooled were abnormal and needed to be kept away from the rest of the world. This misunderstanding came from the reactions I got when I admitted to others that I was homeschooled. Oftentimes I received confusion, pity, and barely concealed abhorrence. “Do you like it? Do you struggle with learning? How do you make friends?” were the common questions.
Were they right? Could there be something wrong with me that caused my parents to homeschool me from the time I was in kindergarten? Was I missing out on something by not going to a “real school”?
Although I continued to receive mixed reactions from co-workers, friends, and even family about my mode of schooling, I started to realize that I cared less and less about what other people thought. I was not only content being homeschooled, I was happy. I grew to love learning. My mom taught me history, my aunt taught me literature, and my grandma taught me science. I cultivated deep relationships with my siblings by having the opportunity to spend more time with them. I developed lifelong friendships with peers. When I started high school, I got a part-time job and I didn’t have to wait to start working until after 3pm as my traditionally educated peers did. Best of all, the seeds of my faith were planted inside of a spiritually rich Christian home with the leadership of my father and the education of my mother.
Every night as a child, my parents would gather the family to read together. That early impact of sitting around to enjoy a story being read to me implanted a love for reading that continued to grow throughout grade school and high school. My mother made sure to assign enough reading in my curriculum to challenge me but not so much as to make me dislike it. She was always sure to let me pick out a “fun book” for the simple sake of enjoyment. This technique nourished a love for learning, a hunger for research, and a sense of curiosity about the world.
Somehow, the “real test” of how beneficial homeschooling had been for me seemed to be my transition from high school to college. As one of the first children in the family to be graduating from homeschooling, there was a heavy pressure to survive and excel in the tumult of college years. In my first year of college, my mom was constantly asking me how I was doing, biting her fingernails with the anxiety of whether or not she “had done enough to prepare” me.
The truth? I not only survived, but I excelled.
I wouldn’t attribute my success to a special diet or fancy study materials. I don’t have a single doubt that homeschooling is what helped me succeed in college.
In college, even the classes which were challenging and unfamiliar were enjoyable because I loved to learn. Additionally, I knew how to read well, and I loved to read.
The second equally important quality that homeschooling instilled in me was independence. Yes, there were times when my parents caught me red-handed in procrastination. Yes, there were years when my math lessons crept into the summertime. But I quickly realized that if I wanted to do well and complete my work in a timely manner, the responsibility was on me and me alone.
It wasn’t until I observed other college students that I realized how rare this skill was. So many college students do not know how to study. They do not know how to pick up a textbook and read it. They don’t know how to create flashcards, organize a study routine, and be independent.
Some would just call this knowing how to work hard. But I think it’s more than that. I think it’s a certain mentality that says, “I will not be babied anymore. If I want to succeed, it is up to me to be disciplined in my studies.” Homeschooling taught me that. It taught me it takes some grit and confidence to succeed. Best of all, it taught me to fall in love with learning and understand that there is a balance and connection between academics, family, friendships, and faith, which is fostered best in a loving home.
So the next time someone asks me where I went to school, I will proudly say, “I was homeschooled, and it made me who I am today.”
Elizabeth Citrowske is a recent college graduate of St. Joseph’s College of Maine. She attributes her academic success to her background in homeschooling. She has a degree in theology and currently teaches various middle school classes in St. Louis, Missouri, where she is always trying to bring her students to a deeper understanding of God’s love.
Copyright 2020, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms. Read The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com, or download the free reader apps at www.TOSApps.com for mobile devices. Read the STORY of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.