Guess what? I homeschool my children, and I DON’T have a degree or background in education. Well, I spent one semester in college as a secondary education major. That probably qualifies me, right?
Seriously, though, when you announce your desire to homeschool your children to people who are ignorant of homeschooling, you’re opening yourself up for attacks. Sometimes they are well meaning, sometimes they are just hateful, but they sure do feel like attacks either way.
It’s true, I do not have a background in education. Some homeschoolers do, some don’t. I also do not have to control thirty children all the same age and at different levels like a public school teacher does. Educating my two children and educating a classroom are two totally different things.
What? Really? But… My children are in the real world ALL THE TIME. They are not tied down to a desk for eight hours a day, 180 days a year. The whole world is their classroom.
All kids are weird. Every last one of them. I was weird. I was painfully shy and awkward. I was a public schooler. My kids are totally weird. We went through a few years where they took the “don’t talk to strangers” thing so literally that they would just stare at the cashier at the grocery store when she said hello to them. Now we’ve hit a point where my seven year old will talk to anyone who will listen. He thinks he’s a comedian. Still weird, but in a completely different way. I have never met a single child in my life that wasn’t weird in some way, regardless of how/ where they were educated.
Do people still ask this? I wouldn’t think so because it just seems so silly, but oh yes, they do. Some people are convinced that, when you say you are going to homeschool, what you really mean is that you’re going to lock your children in the basement for the next twelve years. Most of us aren’t going to do that, and if we were, we probably wouldn’t give ourselves away by announcing our evil intentions to the whole world. But if you want, feel free to humor them and let them know many libraries, parks, YMCAs, and local museums offer special programs for homeschoolers. There are also co-ops of every shape, size, and opinion that you can join so your children will learn how to sit in a chair and listen to another adult teach a lesson.
If you want to know what I believe and what I teach my children, feel free to ask me. I have nothing to hide. But please do it respectfully. Some people get really snippy because they assume they know everything about you based on one aspect of your life, whether that’s your homeschooling, your religion, or your favorite food. Again, it’s silly. Personally, I can guarantee you will not figure out what I teach my children based on any one single factor about me. I see it as my job to raise good, thinking young men. I want my children to question everything and make their own decisions. I want them to treat others with respect and not judge anyone without getting to know them.
I will not deny that homeschooling, like everything else in the world, is flawed. No matter where you are or what you are doing, there will be someone who is taking advantage of the system. Are all homeschoolers good people and doing it for the right reasons? No. Just like all police officers are not good people who have the public’s best interest at heart. But most of them do. Most are good people making the best decisions they can. Unfortunately, it’s more fun for the media to highlight the bad cases.
If you are considering homeschooling, do your research and try to meet these arguments with kindness and knowledge. I have found that my lifestyle has been the best defense of homeschooling I can offer. Words don’t mean much, but actions do. Try your best to just smile and nod, then go back to raising the best examples of what homeschooling really is.