Hi all! With the recent negative developments in America’s public education system, courtesy of our asshole senators, I believe many people have begun seriously considering homeschooling as an option for teaching their kids. Well, what do you know! I was homeschooled the whole way from kindergarten to high school graduation, I am now a successful undergrad finishing up her last year at college, and I am open to sharing what I know with all of you. I can’t answer necessarily all questions—my parents would be more prepared to answer some things—but I can talk at length about the pros, cons, huge advantages, general philosophy, subjective outcomes, and handy things-to-know of homeschooling, and will happily try my best with any question you see fit to ask. Since my mom was my teacher, I know more about the educational process than you might think!

Just to get out of the gate swinging, and get the obvious question out of the way: yes, we do get socialization. A common fear among many people is that by denying homeschooled kids a classroom, we become total hermits and don’t know how to interact with other people. The idea is that homeschooled kids are somehow locked in closets, denied human company and only eating algebra textbooks and loneliness, while public school kids thrive among their peers. But the truth is much more complicated than that. It’s true; we are denied the unique social atmosphere of the classroom and cafeteria. Instead, I filled out that time by getting to know my 93-year-old neighbor (who just turned 100!!), and the nice lesbians who lived down the street who had traveled the entire world, and the professors my parents knew who could tell us stories about meeting Marcel Marceau or climbing Hawaii’s mountains. I also did community theatre, where I mixed around with public school kids, and of course the neighbors had children that I played with too. My socialization happened at dinner tables and in backyards, among many generations—not just the kids vs. teachers socialization that public school kids tell me they received.

Besides getting to know grown-ups, I was also lucky enough to live in a town with an “assistance program” made by and for homeschoolers, where parents particularly skilled in one thing—like art or science or writing—could volunteer to teach it to however many homeschooled kids were interested. That system was great for covering what my mom wasn’t able to provide; through it, I got to learn a little Spanish, hang out with people in art classes and PE classes and sewing classes, and be in a play every single year with other kids. Later on, I was able to dual-enroll at the high school, so I could be involved in choir and drama and have a life beyond my house that way.

But I said that things were complicated, and so far I’ve only talked positives. Homeschooling is great for promoting individuality and new ways of approaching the world, and I know it doesn’t have a huge impact on your kids’ ability to be a nice person or to make friends. However, I would be lying if I claimed to have never felt excluded, or just incredibly socially awkward, because of my homeschooled background. Being homeschooled means missing out on the minute social cues or shared experiences that build up in the culture of a public school. While I was spared the peer pressure, I lost some of the conformity that can be so helpful sometimes—though as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been more and more happy that I had the chance to live for so long without conforming to the norm.

Anyway! That was just to kickstart the discussion; I’m sure you have questions of your own to ask. Let’s do this AMA!