Lifelong Homeschooler Madeline “Demi” Shea: The Advantages of Learner-led Home Education

Madeline Sheaby Madeline “Demi” Shea

I am fourteen years old, and one of four children in my family. I’ve been homeschooled all my life-really, since I was born! It’s always just been a natural part of life for me, and I remember being shocked when kids asked why I didn’t go to “real school.” At first, I’d just say something about how homeschooling was “real school” to me. Later I’d say “Because I’m gifted,” and when people asked, “What’s that mean?” I’d say, “It means I’m really smart” and that our local schools did not have the kind of programming that would allow me to thrive.

One of the reasons I love homeschooling is it allows me to focus on whatever my passion is at the time. I’ve had years where I’ve been obsessed with horses and Greek mythology, planning all my work around that. This year, it’s feminism. I started reading about women’s history, and I realized I have a lot of opinions about feminism, and I wanted somewhere to share them. That’s why I have my YouTube channel. It’s a collaboration with my best friend, where we discuss what we think is good and bad in the world. It’s neat having somewhere to express myself that way.  That’s one of the reasons I’m really interested in the camp I’m going to this summer. It’s a women’s history program at Smith College, and I’m excited about  it! People who take feminism for granted may not realize how different life was for women just a generation or two ago.

Homeschooling gives you so much freedom and flexibility. There are almost no limits to what you can do, and I think that’s a really wonderful way to grow up, especially being gifted. If you can imagine something, you can almost certainly do it, and that’s something that has definitely contributed to my creativity as I’ve gotten older.

I’ve had an enormous variety of learning opportunities, from the homeschool co-op I’ve attended to the college courses I’ve taken online. Those have included topics such as Greek Mythology, Ancient Greece, and one all about the music of The Beatles! I especially love the experience I’ve had at my co-op, because it is basically a whole building of gifted kids coming together to learn. My family travels over an hour each way to attend, as it is such a unique and supportive community. I’ve also taken a lot of other online classes with other gifted kids, which has been amazing because the teachers are usually parents of gifted kids themselves. I love that.

Growing up as a homeschooler has really added a whole other dimension to my learning experience. I tend to approach things in a different way, and I am constantly asking questions. I don’t assume that   any one person or resource is an authority on a particular subject. I can definitely say that I don’t think I would be the person I currently am if I hadn’t grown up this way!

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