I’ve had the privilege of homeschooling since I was half-way through kindergarten. My mother disliked the public school system and pulled me out during my first year of enduring it. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, around the age of 5 is when I started to first experience symptoms of anxiety and OCD. This being said, my anxiety was not the reason I started homeschooling.
I started homeschooling because my mother cared deeply about being hands-on with her children. She wanted to make sure we were treated decently and were being taught adequately. And when considering that my sister was dealing with ADHD and I was dealing with anxiety, it seemed that God was leading my mom to homeschool us.
During the past 11 years of being homeschooled, I’ve been asked many questions and been interrogated by many public schoolers and their parents. I’m used to it, and I have my automatic responses to these ridiculous questions. What I didn’t expect, however, was to go to my monthly psychiatrist visit and be interrogated by my mental health professional.
My psychiatrist doesn’t seem to approve of homeschooling. Yesterday as I was sitting in her office, instead of asking me about how my anxiety was doing with my new medication, if I was experiencing any side effects, or if I had any concerns, these were the questions I was asked:
“How is school going?”
“Do you have any friends?”
“Do you have a social outlet?”
“You are wanting to go to college, right?”
“What are you wanting to do after college?”
“Are you content with spending so much time with your family?”
“Do you follow some kind of schedule?”
This went on for a while until I finally got her back on the topic of medication. To answer these questions, school is going well, I have friends, I love spending time with my family, I am planning on going to college to become a behavioral analyst, and, (I’m surprised I have to even answer this), of course, I follow a schedule!
I felt that because I was in a psychiatrist’s office for anxiety, I was being accused of being subpar compared to public schooled clients. I told her that I’m finally able to leave the house without crippling anxiety, and I feel as though she believes that my agoraphobia was all because I’m homeschooled.
This encounter shocked me, but it gave me inspiration to write about a topic I’m very passionate about: What It’s Like Being A Homeschooler with Anxiety.
Why I prefer homeschooling
I obviously prefer homeschooling to public schooling, considering I’ve been homeschooled for so long. The advantages I’ve noticed make me thankful for the opportunity to be educated in my own home.
I have more difficult curriculum, but this assures that I am being prepared for college. I can work ahead if I want. I can organize my whole day according to what time I’m finished with school work. I don’t have to miss classes to go to appointments. I don’t have to deal with rude teachers or classmates. I’m not pressured by my peers to do things I don’t want to do. I can eat and use the restroom whenever I need.
The list goes on and on.
There are many, many misconceptions concerning homeschooling such as the thought that homeschoolers are uneducated, anti-social, sheltered kids with no hope of getting into college.
The main one that bothers me, though, is that homeschooling causes social anxiety.
This statement could not be more untrue, and here’s why.
Being homeschooled does not mean that we are barricaded in our homes with no human contact; after school is finished, we can socialize as much as we want. Nor does being homeschooled mean that we have no friends; We have as many friends as we wish to make.
So, if homeschooling doesn’t prohibit human interaction, how can it cause social anxiety?
The answer is: it doesn’t!
Why This Thinking Is Toxic
I wish the way people chose to think didn’t affect other people, but it does. The thought that social anxiety is limited to homeschoolers is an especially toxic thought.
The belief that all homeschoolers have anxiety is absurd. I have met tons of homeschoolers who didn’t struggle at all with mental illness. Relating a group of people with a mental disorder is frustrating to those who aren’t struggling and to those who are.
If we admit to having anxiety, we are judged; some may start to even believe that this unhealthy labeling of homeschoolers is true. And, if one won’t admit to having anxiety and it goes untreated, they could spiral into something way worse.
Another reason this thinking is toxic is because it delegitimizes the suffering of public schoolers who have social anxiety. If we continue to believe that homeschoolers are the only sufferers, we underestimate the severity of others’ struggles.
Can we stop making homeschoolers feel guilty for having anxiety?
Can we accept that anybody, homeschooled or public schooled, can suffer from mental disorders?
Can we as a society stop stereotyping and judging and start understanding and supporting?
Thanks For Reading!
I hope one day all of the stereotypes surrounding homeschooling and anxiety will vanish and we will learn to accept and support each other. But until that day comes, we will continue to combat the stigma of both homeschooling and mental illness. This article is not meant to offend anyone. I don’t disapprove of public or private schooling; homeschooling is just what worked best for my family. We should all be kind to everybody, no matter what!