Homeschoolers are like everyone else in so many ways. Yet there are ways we are different, too. But keep in mind that being different can be a good thing!
And, speaking of being different, let’s talk about one of the ways homeschoolers tend to be different than other kids. Let’s talk about how to spot a homeschooler by how we say hello.
How to Spot a Homeschooler by How We Say Hello
As I watch my 5-year-old circulate the dugout during her first softball practice of the season, I can hear her eager little voice as she introduces herself. She is repeatedly saying, “Hi! My name’s Kora. What’s your name?” I fill with a mixture of both pride and “internal cringe” as she is met, with zero variation, by blank stares from each small teammate.
None of the other kids are introducing themselves, and no one quite knows how to respond to her doing so. I am happy that she knows how to introduce herself and that she is using the manners she’s learned. There is also a part of me (if I’m being honest) that worries this experience is going to make her the “weird kid” on her team.
However, in typical 5-year-old fashion, the little girls are soon all playing, climbing the fences, and not worrying so much about actual conversation. I briefly think that it would be nice if adults felt comfortable climbing the walls of fences to diffuse awkward meetings. But I also have to think that –realistically speaking– climbing the walls probably wouldn’t serve me well socially, as an adult.
Today, we’re continuing the How to Spot a Homeschooler series by talking a little bit about “weird, unsocialized” ways that homeschoolers meet other people (AKA “how we say hello”). From young homeschoolers all the way to fully-grown homeschooling alumni (like me), there are a few things we members of the homeschool tribe do to give ourselves away when saying hello to others.
1. We use old-fashioned manners.
Okay, so let’s get back to that softball field scenario for a minute. I firmly believe that introducing yourself and asking for someone’s name is the right thing to do when you’re meeting new people. You’ll never convince me otherwise. However, it’s also possible that this practice– among younger generations, anyway– is now considered an atypical (AKA “weird”) practice.
I don’t just mean that “proper introductions” are uncommon among 5-year-olds, either (Here’s looking at you, Gen Z!). Even as a millennial, I feel as if it’s kind of rare to meet someone who smiles and introduces himself/herself in this way. But, what can I say? I was #homeschooled. I think that sometimes that makes me weirdly old-fashioned in some ways.
Now, am I saying that only homeschoolers have old-fashioned manners when it comes to meeting people? No, not at all.
Some homeschoolers probably don’t follow old-school protocols at all. Likewise, some public- or private-schooled children are friendly, polite, and old-fashioned when meeting others. A lot of it probably depends on whether it’s something your parents emphasize (or don’t emphasize).
I just think that homeschoolers, in general, obviously have a lot more exposure to adults who make an effort to instill this kind of thing in them.
Like ambassadors of their parents and grandparents, younger generations of homeschoolers go out into the world decidedly eager to make a stellar impression using – what else? – the old-school manners they have been taught. This tendency stands out, especially among younger homeschoolers.
It’s not just things like being sure to give your name when you meet someone, either. There are many other old fashioned “hello protocols” that can help you spot a homeschooler such as:
- Being sure to use someone’s first name often after meeting them (to help you remember it better).
- Introducing two friends with a conscious effort to tell them what they have in common (so they feel comfortable and have things to talk about).
- Boys opening doors (and car doors) for girls. I know this one may possibly get some negative feedback today, but I have to say that it’s something my husband (Yes, he was homeschooled too.) has always done for me. My little old-fashioned heart swoons every time.
Today, many of these rituals of meeting are becoming a thing of the past. However, the typical homeschooler is likely to be more in touch with these ancient trends of ye olden days thanks to strong influences from parents and grandparents. Maybe it’s too clean-cut, outdated, or too old-fashioned a vibe today.
But I also think it’s important to recognize that to me, and to many other homeschoolers (and homeschooler alumni) out there, good manners aren’t about showing off or “being fancy;” they are about making the other person feel respected and comfortable.
2. We use unsocialized pop culture references.
This might seem a little at odds with the last point, but – let’s be honest- homeschoolers aren’t always the pure, model citizens of yesteryear when it comes to the interesting ways that we say hello. Sometimes homeschoolers are awkward. Sometimes, homeschoolers do come across as “unsocialized.” We’re among friends here. We can be real about this, right?
This aspect of “sticking out” may present itself in a few different ways. One that I’ve seen in my years of studying the homeschool tribe is that homeschoolers can use pop culture references (or what they assume to be pop culture references) in a way that doesn’t make sense to the mainstream demographic—often as part of a first impression!
Sometimes, I think this is because we try too hard to be cool. Sometimes, it’s because we live in our own universe that’s just slightly different than that of our peers. (As a result, we honestly could not care less about being cool.)
What does an unsocialized use of pop culture references look like? Well, it can look like a lot of things, such as:
- When you’ve been binge-watching shows from the 90s with your family, so you throw down Buffy the Vampire quotes immediately upon meeting someone (because Buffy is cool, right? I mean, she is though.)
- When you greet someone using hand gestures from your favorite show or movie (AKA the “live long and prosper” wave, or the solemn salute from The Hunger Games).
- When you are a theatrical homeschooler, so you greet everyone with a different accent– because it’s a great way to test your skills!
- Greeting people in Elvish is usually also a dead giveaway.
Doing any of these (or similar things) may sometimes cause homeschoolers to stand out from the crowd and/or come across as unsocialized. However, a peculiar use of pop culture references may also occasionally help a homeschooler connect with his or her tribe.
If you make a friend who digs your weird pop culture references from the start, you can bet that friend will appreciate you in all of your fascinating complexity.
3. We use a lot of enthusiasm.
You may spot a homeschooler by old-fashioned good manners or unabashedly weird pop-culture greetings. One common feature of “homeschoolers saying hello” is enthusiasm. Despite the fact that we may joke about homeschoolers being unsocialized, the truth is that most homeschoolers are very social and friendly.
When we are out in the world– whether at a job interview, at church, or at an extracurricular activity– we are usually eager to forge friendships. We are conscientious and into making connections. When we meet you, we want to know you. (We probably even want to like you!)
Depending on the homeschooler, this enthusiasm may look a lot of different ways. Maybe it takes the form of being friendly and making an effort to put you at ease by showing you good manners/respect.
Or maybe our enthusiasm greets you as we pounce on you with out-of-place pop culture references as soon as we meet you! Maybe we seem like anyone else, just a little more excited to connect.
Yes, there are unique, weird, and unsocialized ways that you may spot homeschoolers. If we are “saying hello” out in the wild, the most common way you can find us is by our unabashed enthusiasm.
4. We greet both young and old with equal enthusiasm.
Homeschoolers tend to be around people of all ages. After all, if we have field trips or holiday parties, there are people of all ages there! There are new babies to grandparents gathered for the occasion. For that reason, we are accustomed to introducing ourselves to everyone from young to old!
For that reason, most homeschoolers greet both young and old with equal enthusiasm. Our children (for the most part) don’t feel intimidated by introducing themselves to people outside of their own age range.
This happens to be something I particularly love about homeschooling! After all, when my daughter grows up, she won’t be around only people her own age. (She’s not around people who are only her own age even now!) She’ll probably regularly interact with people who are much younger and much older than her (and all ages in between)!
It makes me happy that she can introduce herself to people of all ages. It’s a skill she will need throughout her life.
If you enjoyed “How to Spot a Homeschooler by How We Say Hello,” you might like to read more articles in our “How to Spot a Homeschooler” series! Check out:
Do you have something to add to How to Spot a Homeschooler by How We Say Hello? If so, please tell us in the comments! We love to hear from you!
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Katie Gustafson has been a member of the world of “weird, unsocialized homeschoolers” for a long time–first as an alumnus and now as a homeschooling mom to a fiercely fun little girl! She’s very into anything creative, especially writing, dancing, and painting. She’s also particularly passionate about literature and owns more books than she will probably ever be able to read. However, she reassures herself with the belief that, in the event of a digital apocalypse, she’s cultivating a much-needed physical library for future generations. Katie is happy to contribute articles to Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers, Hip Homeschool Moms and Sparketh. She also has a personal blog on writewhereuare.com.