According to the U.S. Department of Education, over 1.5 million students were homeschooled in 2007. I was one of those numbers for my elementary education. During my homeschooled years, I did not think much of my educational experience and how it differed from those around me. I knew my mother was the teacher and my siblings were my classmates. I took part in engaging and exciting lessons ranging from raising caterpillars into butterflies to writing about the history of the United States. My day was full of activities that I had a passion for including chess and reading. I was challenged with extensive math problems and science experiments, and our house was a place of play, imagination, and academic exploration. I was like any other child, but unfortunately to the rest of the world, I had an “unusual educational experience.”
When I attended my first “traditional” school in 2012, I realized how different my educational experience was compared to my classmates. By the time I reached 7th grade, I was so used to being an independent thinker that I failed to realize some students do not have the opportunity to own their education. While I did not have extensive gym class participation, and I was not in advanced Algebra, I had a passion for learning and an understanding that nothing gets done unless you, yourself, make the initiative.
When I founded my non-profit in 2014, I wanted students to experience what I did in homeschool. While chess provides critical thinking that is invaluable when analyzing problems and determining multidisciplinary solutions, I did not want my students just to go to class to learn those skills and become the next Bobby Fischer. I want them to understand the world around them, question conventional practices, and discover solutions to the most difficult problems our community faces.
Chess is so valuable because it is education for the twenty-first century. Students can develop cognitive skills and learn by playing chess. Perhaps most important, students use chess to form their own non-profits and contact local leaders. It is a tool in their kit for the future. My early experiences encouraged me to be bold, to not be afraid of standing up for what I believe in, and perhaps most importantly, to take on responsibilities at a young age.
Let’s empower our students to start their own organizations, to contact leaders in their fields, and to use the world as their classroom. When we introduce the job world early in life, students learn finances, communication, and the other subjects taught but not practiced in school. Let’s encourage boldness. Age is, in fact, just a number, and the future of learning is grounded in experiential learning.
I believe the only way to encourage boldness is to understand that homeschool is just a home used as a classroom. “Traditional” schools have specific buildings that are designed as classrooms. Real learning takes place everywhere, and when we teach youth this, we are taking the first steps into being bold ourselves.
More About the Author
Ashley Lynn Priore is a homeschool graduate, Pittsburgh native, and a current undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in English and Philosophy & Politics with a minor in Economics. An award-winning and nationally ranked player under the United States Chess Federation, Ashley is a competitive chess player, politics enthusiast, writer and poet, social entrepreneur, and public service scholar. Ashley is also the founder and President and CEO of The Queen’s Gambit Chess Institute. In 2019, Ashley entered politics and was a candidate for the Pittsburgh Board of Education, District 4. A catalyst for change who started her own business at the early age of 14 years old, Ashley seeks to empower all to use their passions for good. Read Ashley’s gameschooling articles on Homeschool.com here.