My name is Teaghan Rose and I am 18 years old. I began homeschooling when I was seven years old, stopped at 12, and started again at 15. I have two brothers (six and 12) and a sister (16) who all follow a self-directed learning path, too.
My schooling path has been a world of contrasting learning environments. From traditional school to online and an adventure at a Performing Arts School, my academic explorations have always led me back to self-directed learning and to truly being in charge of my education.
I attended kindergarten and continued with traditional education through first grade. I can remember as a six year old thoroughly disliking the classroom environment; all I wanted to do was play. Focusing was extremely hard for me, and I could never quite comprehend what the teacher was talking about because I simply did not care. Granted, not everything was a negative experience. I enjoyed the friendships that I made in school and made some connections that I still enjoy today. However, academically, traditional school was somewhat of a disaster.
After first grade my mother decided to start homeschooling me. I liked this a whole lot better. I could play as much as I wanted and explored what interested me. If I didn’t want to do something, I didn’t have to. And I certainly did not have to sit around all day while information passed straight through my head.
I spent most of those first homeschooling years outside, building, playing, and creating. But as I got into the middle school ages, I started to worry about my education. I worried that I wasn’t learning enough or learning the right things. I would hear my traditional school friends talk about their classes and felt under- educated. At this point I decided I was finished with homeschooling. I thought that if I were going to be successful later in life, I needed to know certain things.
I can remember my friends discussing a history class of some sort and not having any idea what they were talking about. I am sure they’ve now forgotten all the facts and information that were being discussed, but in the moment I felt bad that there seemed to be general knowledge I knew nothing of. I love to read and did it all the time, but felt I was lacking in mathematical and scientific knowledge. I thought maybe attending traditional school would awaken some deep scientific appreciation within me. And, in time, I have come to really enjoy science a lot and I love to learn about it. However, that appreciation certainly did not come from traditional school; instead, it stemmed from a curiosity about the world that I was unable to pursue in the direction I desired within the traditional school environment.
Instead of believing in myself to teach myself the things that I wanted to know, I opted for having others choose for me. I wanted to be smart and felt that I wasn’t, and that pushed me away from homeschooling.
At the time my neighbors were attending an online charter school that also offered a Performance and Fine Arts Center for interested students, and after talking to them I signed up. The Performing Arts Center was somewhat selective, and I had to submit art work and prepare a dance audition. After weeks of waiting, I received my acceptance letter and ecstatically started my online work.
The first two years of online school went well. I was doing all my work on time and felt very fulfilled and productive. I was also enjoying the Performing Arts Center and created many friendships there.
However, my enjoyment of online learning did not last long after that. When I graduated from 8th grade, I was excited about 9th grade. My fellow students were always complaining about how hard it was to balance online work and the arts assignments, but I had always juggled the work load well. Until 9th grade, that is.
High school was overwhelming from the start. The workload was huge, both academically and at the Performing Arts Center. I was constantly working, would stay up well past midnight on most nights and worked on weekends and holidays. I never had any time to explore what I was interested in because I was always learning what other people thought was important.
Throughout 9th grade, I was exhausted and soon decided that I needed a healthier learning environment. My sister and brother had been homeschooled the majority of their lives and had recently begun attending a center 45 minutes away called Open Connections (OC). Every Tuesday and Thursday, after my art classes, I would drive over to OC with my mom to pick up my siblings. I loved to sit in the quiet space of the Barn and read; it was wonderful to have a few moments away from schoolwork to focus just on myself. I also enjoyed coming to OC events, the Pausing Ceremony and Music Night. The community was so positive and laid back, I felt instantly welcomed.
The choice to begin homeschooling again and to attend OC was an easy one to make. I desperately wanted to be in control of my learning—and I soon was. I created a schedule and curriculum for myself and started to really love learning again. It felt so natural to be teaching myself, and learning what I knew was important to me. I realized that this was where I belonged all along, and that learning at my own pace was what would truly make me successful.
I began homeschooling and attending OC in 10th grade and am graduating this year. I got into my top three colleges with good scholarships (woohoo!) and have big plans for the future. If it weren’t for making that vital decision to begin homeschooling again, I don’t know if I would be in this position, ready to attend college. I don’t know if I would have realized my potential as a scholar and person, and if I would have taken the initiative to succeed. The homeschooling and OC communities are warm, encouraging, and truly enabled me to set big goals and then achieve them. I am so thankful for the the community and opportunities that have presented themselves through Open Connections and self-directed learning!
– Teaghan Rose