The word “nerd” has a nasty connotation, doesn’t it?
A kid with braces and glasses. Few friends. Fewer social skills. Lonely. Isolated. Weird.
Or perhaps somebody who just puts learning above all else.
And so it always puzzles me when people think that homeschoolers will struggle with nerd-dom as they grow up.
In a world without Breakfast Club demographics, are nerds even a thing?
And yet, people ask me sometimes – “Don’t you worry about your kids making friends? About them fitting in?”
Right now it’s so easy – I think of their core group of buddies – an awesome gang of funky, spirited kids. I genuinely like them all. I sit at birthday parties feeling grateful.
So do I worry about raising homeschool nerds? Not at all. Let me tell you why:
- I’m good with the reading. Once upon a time, I was a public school kid who closed myself up for a couple of hours every summer day to read Nancy Drew. I want my kids to love reading, and I want them to have lots of time to discover the books that speak to them. Homeschooling allows them that freedom.
- I’m OK with quirky. I’m a big believer that all kids have quirks. Homeschooled kids may wave their Quirk Flags a little higher because without the pressure to “fit in,” they can. I embrace my kids’ little eccentricities, and I love watching their personalities unfold.
- I want my kids to know that learning is cool. As a “nerd” myself, I still take classes – felting, sewing, knitting, photography. I don’t want my kids to get some misguided idea that learning only happens in a certain building during a given set of hours. I want them to know that life is learning, and you can carry curiosity with you wherever you go.
- I want my kids to be passionate. My mom recently bought my musical son a trumpet for his birthday. “Gotta love the Andersons!” she joked – a way of saying that allowing a trumpet into our house with a novice player is … brave. But I love listening to him figure out the notes. I love that he won’t put the thing down. I love that he has found another love – a loud, cheerful, joyous, merry, LOUD passion!
- I want my kids to strive for big things. There’s going to come a time, someday, when my kids hear words like can’t or won’t. But I hope by then, that they will know those words are powerless unless you listen to them. I hope by then, they’ll be buoyed by the kind of self-belief that comes with knowing who you are and what you want.
- I want my kids to have friends they actually like. I think we’ve all had friends who we connected with out of convenience or even fear of loneliness. I like that my kids connect to their peers, but also adult friends and mentors. They’re learning that friends are the people who feel good to be around, not just the people you’re forced to be around.
- I’m not going anywhere. I’m OK with my kids turning to me when they encounter a difficult situation. At 7 and 10, they are still learning to navigate their way through life, so I’m good with being here to give advice and support. Someday, certainly, they will face the world on their own, but for now, I’m OK with them turning to Mom and Dad when they have questions and need back-up.
The truth is, I don’t often find myself worrying that my kids will be nerds because I consider that term nothing but a mean label, unfairly applied to a group of kids who are smarter than average, but who perhaps, struggle a little socially.
And frankly, I don’t want my kids to ever have to worry about being average. I don’t want them to fret about being smart.
I want them to be themselves, and I want them to be happy.
So do I worry about raising homeschool nerds? No. Because I see my kids each day, making their way in the world without concern for people-pleasing or fitting into cultural cubes.
I see them busting through doors and ignoring labels, and I know deep in my heart, that we’re on the right track.
Do you worry about raising homeschool nerds or do you wave your Quirk Flag with confidence?