Technically Homeschooled

March 5, 2013
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The following is a Guest Blog post from reader Stephenie, about being “technically” homeschooled.  🙂

I grew up with two cultures: Chinese and American. With a strict, typical Asian Tiger Mom (a term from Amy Chua’s “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”), actually, my mother was The Mother of all Tiger Moms, I grew up with a fully-packed busy schedule. However, my mother also did allow me daily study breaks; I was encouraged to go outside to meet with friends and neighbors.  I was encouraged to play sports, play basketball, and join the track & field and tennis teams. I would have to say, despite given the opportunity to play the piano and violin (typical instruments for Chinese children), and to go through intense Chinese school lessons every Saturday, I had the opportunity to grow and develop into who I am today. Today, as an Educational Consultant, Educator, Author, and Blogger, I always think back to how it all started and I see the benefits of Homeschooling.

I went through the public school educational system. Every day, I woke up at 6:00AM, took the school bus to school, went to homeroom and began the full schedule until 1:53PM. Then I would stay at school until 5:00PM for tennis or track practice. I was involved with every school extracurricular club. And if there wasn’t a club at our school, I would ask to start it. Fortunately, this allowed me to take on leadership roles.

My public school teachers were all great teachers. I respect each and every one of them. However, I felt that the school was always lacking something, and I didn’t know what it was. I felt homework was not sufficient (and I couldn’t announce this in school, otherwise the other students would all hate me), so I had to ask the teachers, if there were more readings that needed to be done after classes. They were always surprised by my asking and didn’t expect any student to approach them for MORE homework. That’s when I realized I would just have to go ahead and learn things on my own. I would gather other resources, use other textbooks and look up things online. I was beginning to self-teach myself a lot of subjects. I did this for all my school classes. When I was done with homework, I would continue to stay at my desk to look at the next few chapters (basically previewing for the following weeks to come).

I was such a nerd, I went ahead to even create my own homework assignments, in secret, of course. If the school teacher asked for 10 words to look up, I looked up the next 20 on my own. If the teacher asked us to only read chapters 1-2 in our AP English Literature course, I read the entire book. It’s not that I wouldn’t follow directions, but education was addicting. I wanted to always learn something and to learn more. I think this was something my mother had instilled in me; time was never wasted, and learning is forever. I even learned AP Biology on my own, when my school schedule didn’t allow for me to take both AP Calculus BC and AP Biology simultaneously.

After my piano lesson, I would go home to practice what my instructor assigned to me, then I went ahead to learn the other parts of my piece on my own until I mastered it, and then, I’d go on ahead and play the entire musical number until I perfected it. So when my next piano lesson came along, I’d be able to move onto another musical piece. When I began to teach other students privately, I knew that I couldn’t expect the same from my students. I would need to break a musical piece into 5 parts (usually taking one month long to learn one entire piece) for the student to understand, practice, and master. I didn’t want to be that Tiger Mom figure and scare my students.

My mother’s strictness of not letting me get up out of my seat while doing homework, making me practice the piano or violin daily for 1-2 hours, and not letting me quit Chinese school so easily, has allowed me to develop into who I am today. Once I am involved with something, I do not easily give it up; I am determined to finish what I started. I was given opportunities to learn and expand my horizons. Back then, I hated the fact that my mother was “molding” me, “so mean” and “forced me” to do things, but I have learned to enjoy and appreciate that I was given the chance to foster techniques, learn new things and these activities have become my passion and interests. With my mother’s sacrifices and encouragement in education and learning, I have technically homeschooled myself in many ways. As an educator now, I feel that I can relate with many of the homeschooled students I work with and I have learned many things from them, as well.