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Learning outside the lines: Home schooling in Kansas

Rain Quinlan deals with home school stereotypes

May 13, 2007

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Learning outside the lines

Since I was 6, the most constant question in my life has been "What grade are you in?"

It's a fairly basic question, and most children can answer it without thinking. It categorizes children in people's minds, unless a child simply doesn't fit.

Most people assume that home schooling is just the same as school, except at home. While for some people this is true, for most it's not. Home schooling, like most things, is a wide continuum, ranging from people who spend eight hours a day with a curriculum to people like me.

I spend my days doing things I love and learning from those things. Unschooling is essentially living life and learning from it.

Some people think that, because I don't go to school, I won't be able to function in the world. I've always thought that was a bit silly. School is about preparing you for the real world, but I have always been in the real world.

When I was 6, I lived near a juice shop where I went fairly frequently. The man who worked there would offer me a piece of bubble gum if I swept the front step, and most times I would. It was simple economics; I would do a little work and get something for it. When I was older and got a job as an actress at a dinner theater, I knew I had to get there on time and fill out my time card if I wanted to get paid.

Another issue people have with home schooling is socialization, although truly home-schoolers have an extra eight hours a day to be with friends, take classes and go places. There are home school groups almost everywhere and large networks online. With park days, coffee nights, formals and proms, I don't think home schoolers are missing the social aspect of school.

One last misconception: I will not be living in my mom's basement forever. Home schooling has not made me more dependent on her; if anything, it's made me more independent.

As opposed to being in school where people tell me what to learn, I'm learning through the life I choose to live. Home schooling has given me the opportunity to be in charge of my own education, and I'm grateful for that because I think that the freedom to do that has shaped me as a person.

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