Working through the Criticisms and Questions
The toughest job I’ll ever love – homeschooling. Not for the faint of heart. Not a decision to make lightly. And apparently, a decision that more and more families are making in the United States. I recently read an article with a statistic that shocked me about homeschooling – and I am a homeschooler – so not much surprises me.
The number of children who are in primary grade levels whose parents decide to homeschool them is growing 7 times faster than the rate of parents who are enrolling their children in public schools.
No wonder homeschooling has growing in popularity among families who choose this educational path by 75% in just the last 12 years. Suddenly homeschoolers don’t have to feel quite so alone.
Homeschooling is one of those things I never thought I would do. Then I had children and I realized that my vision of their lives far-surpassed what I wanted them to experience behind the walls of the same school building for 12 years. Plus – I was having way too much fun watching them thrive and seeing them grow at their own paces. I wasn’t ready to push their own interests aside when I received those sign-up sheets in the mail for preschool readiness. The interests and abilities of my kids don’t fit neatly inside 4 walls – maybe it was my claustrophobia – but I felt like I would be holding them in confinement instead of teaching them to go as far as they could.
Homeschooling is Hard
As wonderful as it is, homeschooling is hard. There have been days when the educational and life successes of my children has weighed so heavily on my mind and I wonder if I somehow forgot to teach someone to count by threes or how to identify prepositional phrases. These self-doubts weigh heavily enough. Then as homeschoolers we some days feel the added crush – from the in-laws, the neighbors, the clerk at the grocery store who wonders why you’re there with a full minivan at 9:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. That crush can sometimes make those challenging days of self-doubt squish you more than a minivan full of your own kids – plus their friends – all piled in for “park day”.
I used to memorize statistics of the benefits of homeschooling, armed and ready to tackle the critics and the questioners. Then I realized that in a way my family was a curiosity more than something people were criticizing. Sure – there are still those critics who feel perfectly justified telling me of the multiple ways my children (who are all thriving) will undoubtedly be ruined by homeschooling. But for the most part, people are curious and sometimes it just comes out awkwardly and uncomfortably for all of us. Which is why over the years I have tried to move from defense – relaying all of the positives about homeschooling, to humorous offense – having fun with my life and being proud of our decision to homeschool.
Top Questions Homeschoolers Hear Every Day
(and how to answer them graciously with a side of humor)
Are all of these kids yours?
My stretch-marks would confirm for you that, yes, these children are all mine. However, I don’t want to invade your personal space and comfort zones by showing you my mother-tattooed mid-section, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. My favorite one is the kid who brings me fresh coffee every morning (FYI – none of my kids bring me coffee in the morning so ergo I don’t have a favorite).
How can you stand spending so much time with your kids?
Before I know it there won’t be any choice and they’ll be off living their own dreams. Although, some days going to the bathroom without interruption would be ranked as a significant accomplishment. When I am older and greyer I will probably spend sad moments in the bathroom when no-one comes knocking, needing to know at precisely the moment I sit upon the porcelain throne what we are having for lunch, where he put his math book, and how many pieces of gum I guess he just fit into his mouth.
(This is the one question that actually bothers my children the most. They always remark about how sad it is to hear parents speaking of the relief they feel when fall rolls around and it is time to send the kids back to school.)
Do you work at a real job, too?
There is nothing more real than raising the next generation. I just don’t get paid to do it in cash or check – just love and fulfillment.
According to my coffee mug I am a domestic engineer.
How long do you plan to do that?
Make plans and God laughs. We “plan” to do this until it doesn’t work. Right now it works. It has worked for more than 12 years. I’m less worried about how long I plan to do this than I am with how can I make this continue to work for our family as long as possible?
No school today?
Oh my gosh – we forgot!!! (smile)
We homeschool – every day is a school day. Poor kids don’t even get snow days or time off for parent/teacher conferences – that’s just me talking to myself – again.
Are you worried that your kids won’t be socialized?
If you mean socialization by spending 8 or more hours a day with loud and sometimes obnoxious teenagers who text and drive, speak rudely to adults, and worry more about what their 549 friends on Facebook think of them than what they think of themselves, then, hmmmm. Nope.
Full disclosure – I know that there are wonderful kids who attend public schools. Some of the best friends of my kids (gasp – my kids have friends!) get on the school bus every morning. I just don’t think that my kids would thrive most on the socialization that occurs when kids are in age-segregated groups in a socioeconomically flat environment where the classmates are from similar neighborhoods. Although some days I do dream of a day when I could seclude my kids away from the rest of the world like those fake visions of homeschoolers so that I wouldn’t have to get out of my lounge pants and remember which activity needed the snacks and which community education class needed the samples of pond scum – you do not want to be the mom who messes up those two things. Socialization – check.
If you homeschool – how do you handle all of those questions from curious people?
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