As our homeschooling journey comes to an end, it feels bittersweet. I am proud of the person my son is growing into, yet reaching homeschool graduation means we close a chapter that has been so meaningful in our lives.
I know it can be hard to see the end of the journey when you’re still on the path, so I would like to share with you my thoughts on what it means to receive an education handcrafted to focus on a learner’s strengths, challenges, and passions — something all homeschoolers gift their children.
Dear Homeschooled Students
You have been raised and educated to think critically, to think outside the box, to spend days tunneling down rabbit holes, to dig deeply into academic topics, to appreciate your own intelligence, and to understand the way you as an individual learn. This is powerful stuff!
It is people like all of you who will be best prepared to tackle and solve the complex and myriad problems facing the world right now. You are the people in your peer group who have the skill set and who are best poised to change the world.
You have been educated to be innovators who see the world through a different lens. And it all started at home with parents who respected your unique intellect. At some point in your life, your parents looked at you and decided to gift you with a special journey through learning.
The Gift of a Handcrafted Education
For many of you, homeschooling probably has not always felt like a gift. All of this has most likely made you feel very different, even when you didn’t want to feel different. It has probably made you feel “special,” even when you didn’t want to feel special. Sometimes, it has probably made you feel isolated, when you didn’t want to feel that way. Here is the thing though: you are an adult a lot longer than you are a child or a teenager. The skill set you have acquired thus far will benefit you for the longest part of your journey — the part when you are an adult.
Homeschooling, by its very nature, is different for each homeschooled individual. That is where some of the specialness comes from. There are some commonalities you see for all homeschoolers, no matter what teaching methodology has been used: academic, classical, unschooled, child-led, eclectic or whatever.
Homeschooled students learn in an environment that fosters thinking while focusing on understanding and creativity. This leads to an intuitive recognition that knowledge is not static — a very important trait that all of you now carry into adulthood.
As a homeschooled student, you have been raised in a manner that shows respect for your insights and understanding and that has given you the opportunity to articulate your core self. I promise you that a connectedness with your core, true self is an invaluable trait to take into adulthood. This connectedness leads to an understanding of how to rewrite core parts of your journey, something every adult does more than once. How lucky for you that you already have skill in this area.
How You Learn is Unique
As a scientist, it is only natural that I think of the way homeschoolers are taught as akin to the scientific concept of theory. A scientific theory grows, changes, and morphs as more information is acquired. Learning in an environment that values thinking and emphasizes understanding and creativity leads to the recognition that knowledge grows, changes, and morphs as you learn more.
It is a trait of homeschooled kids that they are fearless about their ability to learn new things. Homeschooled kids grow up understanding that they can learn anything through doing. These are the most important traits of a lifelong learner.
All of this happens when your primary teacher is someone you live with 24/7. It happens when your primary teacher respects and values the way you as an individual think and learn. It is the heart of why every parent I have met who homeschools puts in the time and effort to homeschool their children. The traditional system treats the acquisition of knowledge as linear with one best approach. Because of your eclectic journey through learning, you have an insight that there is no one best approach for everyone. This is an important understanding to have as you enter adulthood.
The Gifts of Today
You are graduating during a tumultuous time in the world — a world without one best approach for solving what needs to be solved. For some of you, this will fill you with promise. For most of you, it makes the next part of your journey seem uncertain and impossible to plan for. For many people, this uncertainty causes them to freeze as they worry about where to put their foot next in their journey.
My son likes to tell me that yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, and today is a gift. Do not spend too much time worrying about the mystery that can only be guessed at, a mystery that must be solved by living it when tomorrow becomes today.
Instead of worrying about tomorrow, focus on the gifts that today brings as you find purpose in your journey. Do not ever let self-doubt or insecurities keep you from being everything you want to be. You cannot find the possibilities without dreaming big and believing in yourself. You cannot reach the stars without reaching for them. You will stumble. It is a guarantee. That much about tomorrow is not a mystery. Every single adult in this audience has stumbled. It is a part of life.
As homeschooled students you probably already know it is not the answers you get correct that matter. The important answers are those that you miss, the ones you stumbled on. Those are where you find an opportunity for growth and where you need to focus. You have been raised to be life-long learners. For people raised with a deep understanding of how they themselves learn, nothing is outside of your ability to learn and grow into. No area is closed to a lifelong learner.
The Gift of Connecting to Purpose
You have been raised and educated with the understanding that connectedness brings meaning to what you are learning and improves your relationship with the knowledge you acquire. In order to acquire knowledge – or change the world – you need to recognize first where you need to focus, where you need to spend your energy, what questions you do not know the answer to, and where you – the unique person that you are – can connect and find purpose.
In this chaotic, crazy world you are going out into, believe in tolerance, work for equality, search for the truth that will make this a world where everyone can live in peace. All of you, because of the thoughtful, handcrafted education you have received, are particularly well-poised to be the change you want in the world. You have the opportunity to rewrite history.
Having purpose brings meaning to your life. Make it matter that you walked on this Earth. But you define what that means for you. Do not be afraid to be original. You define what will make your life matter for you. If you think about it, this is the heart of what it means to be a homeschooled student.
My tips for you as you go out into the world
- Those who are generous are lucky. I have found this to be a truism my entire life. A generosity of spirit is an important trait, and the best way to make your own luck.
- Happiness is worth striving for and for some reason it is the most highly underrated component of intelligence! Be brilliantly happy. An important component of being a happy person is to be nice, not because of how someone treats you, but because you are a nice person. Be brilliantly, happily nice!
- You look at only one face in the mirror every day of your life; make it a face you like.
- Time is the money of life. Spend it wisely. Many people live their lives like their days are limitless; do not fall into that trap. Make the moments and days of your life count by your own unique definition.
- Vote, please vote!