Reanna G.: “Homeschooling was not in MY best interest.”

My goal one day is to help give children a voice about whether or not they wish to be homeschooled or go to public school.”

I was homeschooled. It has to be the worst aspect of my childhood. I was raised by a relative, whom I called mother, and who ended up homeschooling me because I suffer from anxiety. (My biological parent thought it would be a great idea to have me be homeschooled so that I did not end up doing drugs behind the high school dumpster like she had.) I was behind in some subjects in school early on, and having panic attacks during class further prohibited me from learning. The idea was that if I was homeschooled, I would be able to learn more and focus better. (Mind you, I was not excruciatingly behind the rest of the class. I did not have an IEP, but I did attend a smaller reading group.) 

My complaints about homeschooling, and the reasons I would like to advocate for efficient accountability for the homeschool parent and student, have been on my heart heavy lately. My mother did not give me a choice of being homeschooled. Instead, I was forced to be homeschooled regardless of my own wishes, starting from the 5th grade up until I dropped out in my senior year because I needed to move out of my home due to various reasons. I feel that I was cheated out of having a sufficient education. There were months where I would not have the opportunity to study certain subjects like math or science because my mother did not have the time to teach me. 

I also had to help my sibling out considerably. My sibling is very smart but has a learning disability that makes it harder for them to keep up. Every single assignment we had, we had to do it together. I’m talking about if we had to read a 500 page book and write a report on it, we had to take turns reading the book out loud and write the paper together. Even in high school, we had to do every single assignment together. 

My mother’s religious agendas were also a hindrance to my learning. Instead of studying history in my freshman and sophomore year of high school, I was forced to read out loud the Old Testament and then the New Testament. Every subject in school was faith based. Because this naturally made me behind in history, when I needed to remove myself from my home at 18, my mother told me that I did not have enough credits in history to walk away with a high school diploma. She told me that I had sufficient credits in everything else to graduate except history because I was made to study the Bible instead. (I also took Spanish class for 6 years straight, plus Latin for two years, and German for two years. To my knowledge, that is a lot of language credits, and more than I feel like I needed to spend my time on.)

Life at home was likewise just as miserable. I was very sheltered and was only allowed to attend my church and church youth group. Although I enjoyed my church and youth group, I felt like I was shut off from the rest of the world. I was the rebel, however. Every rule my parents made, I found a way around. This later led me to pick up a two-year drinking habit and other unhealthy ways of coping with the rules and isolation. I was not “allowed” to have a cell phone, social media, wear makeup, listen to the radio, watch most t.v., go for a walk by myself, or date. Again, I did everything anyways in secrecy, but this is to just give a representation of the life I was expected to follow. 

Once I moved out/dropped out, my mother told me that if I wanted to get my high school diploma, I needed to take two history courses at the local community college that I had already been involved in, and that I would then need to contact my public school district for my transcript, and viola, I would have proof of graduating high school. I did not know it at the time, but this information was incorrect. I paid out of pocket for two history courses at the local community college, only to find out that the school district has no record of me ever being homeschooled. Even if there have been records of my being homeschooled, I know now that it is parents, and not school districts, that issue homeschool diplomas. At 22, I decided to get my GED; I passed on the first try. I wish I had known that trying to follow the requirements my mother told me would be a dead end, because if I had I would have just gotten my GED in the first place. I am currently working on an Associates in Human Services. 

My goal one day is to help give children a voice about whether or not they wish to be homeschooled or go to public school. Homeschooling can be great for some people, but for me, it was not. Although my family had the best of intentions, sheltering me and keeping me at home to school was not in MY best interest. My education suffered as did my need to be around other people. It is not healthy for a child to be home all day with family and have no opportunity to grow socially and academically like every other child gets to when they attend public school like a normal child. I should not have had to be my sibling’s helper, or stressed out because I had to take a year off from studying math because no one would teach me. 

Even though I am from Massachusetts where we have some of the more stricter laws regarding homeschooling, if you really look at them, they are not that protective for the child. Something needs to change, and I hope to be a part of that.

Reanna G. was homeschooled from 2006 to 2014 in Massachusetts.

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