My little brother and I are six years apart. This is a big enough age gap that most people assume that we wouldn’t be close growing up, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. We are, and always have been, best friends. That being said, we have vastly different personalities. I was outgoing, popular, and involved as I went through grade school. I did well in school, I had plenty of extracurricular activities, and I always had friends to hang out with. My brother, on the other hand, never had a lot of friends, he was shy around new people, and he had trouble focusing, which contributed to his extremely poor grades in school. While I was flourishing in the public school system, he was failing.
In the second grade my mom made the decision to pull my brother out of public school and homeschool him instead. The decision was one that was not made lightly, and one that I couldn’t really understand at the time. In my mind, how could he not love school? He, on the other hand, was thrilled.
Anyone who believes that homeschooling is a walk in the park or requires less of the student (or the teacher!) is wrong, and since I saw both types of schooling firsthand I’d say that homeschooling requires even more of the person administering the schooling. It took a lot of trial and error. There were a lot of tears – both from my brother and my mom – while they worked out the logistics of homeschooling. My mom had never taught anything in her life, and now she was tasked with teaching my brother his entire education. It was an intimidating time for her.
After the transition, though, they settled into a routine. My brother started to do better in school because the experience was more hands on. Where I thrived by being around peers, my brother thrived by being by himself. He needed more attention and for someone to ensure that he stayed on task. Where I needed more independence to do my work and succeed in school, my brother needed someone that was able to focus solely on him and help him when he faltered.
Homeschooling and traditional schooling don’t even come close to being the same type of schooling. However that doesn’t make one or the other better or worse than the other, because they provide different things. I was able to implement self-discipline when it came to balancing school, friends, and extracurricular activities, but my brother was not. He needed the more intimate structure that homeschooling provided. He also never suffered from the socialization problems that so many homeschool skeptics decry; in fact, my brother was more social when he was pulled out of public school than when he was attending it. This is largely because he was involved in activities that centered around his own personal interests, and not classrooms he was forced to sit in.
While homeschoolers may not have the same experience as public schoolers, that doesn’t mean that they’re school experience is lacking. Different people thrive in different situations – especially when it comes to education – and my brother and I are a prime example of that.
Heather Smith is an ex-nanny. Passionate about thought leadership and writing, Heather regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and parenting blogs/websites. She also provides value to www.nanny.net/ service by giving advice on site design as well as the features and functionality to provide more and more value to nannies and families across the U.S. and Canada. She can be available at H.smith7295 [at] gmail.com.