Perspective from a Homeschooling Graduate
by Lauren Dymmel
Relationships. First, a nostalgic smile of excitement, then a wrinkled forehead of questions and potential fear because I have so much to learn. Those thoughts immediately come to mind when I think of relationships, a never-ending, always growing experience. Humans nature craves a sense of connection and community with others. As a home-educated student, I will be tailoring this topic of relationships as it pertains to being a homeschooled student. Please enjoy!
The Sibling Connection
A deep connection binds my two bothers and I. This bond is inseparable. We are each other’s best friends. We love doing anything together, simply because we love being in the same room. The experiences, both hard and delightful, that the Lord has led my family through, created this bond. One of them, is homeschooling, which, as one can imagine, gave us bountiful amounts of time together. Over the years, I have not merely come to learn how to deal with my brothers on an hourly basis, I have learned to love them. Not just love being around them or doing things with them, but love them: their character, the way they think about things, what they bring to a conversation, and the quirks that make them unique. Truly, I wonder how many hours we’ve spent together over the years, many of them filled with lego building, imaginary games played outside, acting out characters and making soup over a pretend fire with mom’s empty spice jars, hiding from detectives and running in the yard until our small legs collapsed in laugher and exhaustion. These are fond memories.
When homeschooled, it is not absolutely necessary to learn to love one’s siblings, but it makes life a whole lot easier and a whole lot more enjoyable. When the three of us were very young, we spent the majority of the day together. Today, I live a very different life than my brothers, mainly due to my attendance at a university in another state. But because of the foundation that we built years ago, we remain extremely connected, despite the distance. When I come home for breaks, I don’t feel like a stranger. Despite the changes of life that ensue, we get caught up on each other’s lives, and our connection and care for one another continues. At school, I miss my brothers terribly; when I come home, they sweetly make me know that I was missed, too. No one could replace them.
In grade-school, my brothers and I fought nearly everyday. Learning to love one’s sibling is a difficult process, but a beautiful one. When speaking to my oldest brother about the younger one, my mom used to say that if he could learn to love his brother, he’d be able to love anyone else he’d ever meet in life. There is so much hope! Today, my brothers are some of my best friends; I pray they always will be. I trust them. They trust me. We are each other’s biggest cheer leaders that line the side of a field or sit in a concert hall, smiling wide. We have a mutual bond that we are together, and have each other’s best interest in mind. Through humility God allows siblings to become each other’s fans, to want what God wants for them. It’s pretty exciting.
If I could go back and tell my younger self something, I would say: siblings are gifts; learning how to live selflessly with and breathe peacefully beside them is preparation for real life. I know my mom tried to impress this on me years ago but my stubborn mind did not let it penetrate until I found it out myself. My pride stuck its foot in the door. Praise Jesus His sovereignty parades over me and my selfish ideals. He is so much greater!
This whole idea of a deep, lasting connection and love between siblings seems uncommon. It saddens me that I do not see this kind of connection often, and I know that if we hadn’t spent so much time with each other, we might not have it either. I am very thankful to have been homeschooled.
The Impact of Conversation
In every relationship, conversation is key. When a young person is able to articulate himself/herself well with an adult, people comment. When a young person looks an adult in the eye during a conversation, it is noticed. When a young person asks genuine questions after answering one posed to him/her, unspoken credibility builds. I am sure these aspects are common, in either supplied or lacking, when trying to hold a conversation with a young person. While I do believe having respect and developing the tact of making conversation can be cultivated in many environments, mine was cultivated through my home educated network of people. These elementary but essential parts of communication are dying.
The art of having a conversation strikes as something lacking in young people, missed by older people, and something that is over looked too often because of today’s virtual communication outlets. That could keep me up at night. Electronic signals are not a replacement for the kind of connection that two people get from sitting next to each other, breathing the same air. Virtual connection may never equate. Humans have a natural craving for close interaction, to trust and to be trusted. We need to be in relationship with each other.
In a generalized sense, the above qualities are lacking in today’s the average young person. By being homeschooled, the environments and opportunities that I was given, allowed me to effectively cultivate these skills and others like them. And to first, become aware of them. I find it quite ironic how many people are concerned for homeschooled students, fearing that they will not know how to interact properly with adults or other students who are not related to them, when the most articulate young people I’ve interacted with, are or have been homeschooled. Growing up, I was not just around kids my age; I have spent my whole life around adults and had friends older than me. Part of this is due to my father’s vocation and the business I started at age thirteen, which lead me to interact with many adults and their children, but part of it is undoubtably because of homeschooling. The community I grew up in proved to be an inquisitive one. If one knew how to communicate well and ask questions, someone always wanted to talk. This community of people is heightened in a homeschool community because kids, overall, are more outgoing, confident in themselves, and comfortable with who they are.
When trying to cultivate conversation skills, one must be intentional. I consciously try to make these qualities (articulation by being sure of oneself, eye contact with one’s converser, and question asking) part of every conversation. Try is the key word. In one sense, it implies I fail at it sometimes, which is true. And in another sense, it indicates that it is a process which is continuing despite failure, which is also true. The bottom line is that the art of having a conversation needs to be molded, pointed out, talked about, and practiced. It may not come naturally, but these elements make an impression. Adults notice. Teachers noice. Grandparents notice. Friends notice. I have had many conversations with teachers at the university I currently attend, as well as the community college I took dual enrollment classes at. When I tell them I was homeschooled, many times I am answered with a smile and a knowing look. There is something different.
Know Who You Are
Despite the rise in popularity of homeschooling in the last couple decades, the stereotype of homeschooled students being shy, always kept-to-themselves, and just plain weird, still hangs around. From personal experience, and countless other families that I have come into contact with, many homeschooled children have an assurance about them. They often times do not feel the pressures that a regular school setting presses on students, and therefore they are free to be themselves. And when someone is accepted for who they are, for their quirks and strengths, as well as their weaknesses, s/he will flourish. They can’t help but flourish. They beam because they are figuring out who they are, not trying to be the people around them. This has been my experience. I am very confident that I would not be the same person if I had not been given a holistic environment to grow in, to learn and fail in, and to figure out who I am in.
Home-educated students are alive, they know who they are. Or if they don’t, they will find out. Time is afforded and space given so that they have the freedom grow into who they are becoming. They have not been forcibly shoved into a box or line that a small percentage of people fit into comfortably. For someone to never find out who they are, is a miserable thought. Thinking about this actually grieves me. Every student has potential. Every student has a learning style. Every student is beautifully unique. Thinking about students who were never given the space and time to be their own person or whose mind and interests are never tapped into because immense social pressure burdens his/her shoulders, my heart is dejected. A homeschool education is such a rich gift, a platform to spring from. Use it.
Meet the Author
Lauren Dymmel is a college student seeking to further her relationship with the Lord in everything she does, as well as finding excitement and motivation in everyday life. Writing, investing in people, spending time outside, performing music, and most of all teaching are what fuel her passion and make her soul smile. She is currently a student at a private university where she is studying TESL (teaching English as a second language) and minoring in Cello Performance and Linguistics. Lauren was homeschooled throughout her entire grade-school career, encompassing an array of homeschooling experiences, including taking part in Classical Conversations and finishing high school while being dual enrolled in a local community college. Lauren’s discoveries and experiences are exactly that: Thoughts and ideas based upon what the Lord has allowed her to walk through. I hope you enjoy Lauren’s perspective on homeschooling!