We homeschool. Those two words can evoke a range of emotions from anger, to annoyance, to curiosity, to awe, to indifference, to defensiveness. I’ve fielded questions about my competence to educate and my children’s abilities, gently defended against common misconceptions, and encouraged those on the fence with honest questions and concerns. Most days I don’t mind because it comes with the territory of choosing a different path. Homeschooling is growing rapidly, but there is still mystery surrounding the lifestyle. I hope to normalize homeschooling and clear some of the misconceptions. This is what we homeschooling mamas want you to know!
1. We’re not mad at the schools.
I’d guess this is true for the majority of homeschoolers (or the ones I know, anyway!). Inevitably, there are those who have had bad experiences with schools and pulled their children to homeschool, but many of us homeschool for reasons that have nothing to do with the schools. My family lives in the top public school district in Louisiana, my husband and I attended these schools, I worked in this district, and I still have close ties with some who work in the district. Yet those things hardly played into our decision. My husband’s and my decision to homeschool was based on the overall freedom that a homeschool lifestyle affords. Many times when I talk with people about homeschooling – strangers and friends – they get defensive about their children attending local schools. It’s not necessary. I’m truly happy for the majority of my friends who are satisfied with the education their children are receiving from traditional schools. We’ve chosen differently, and that’s okay!
2. We’re all different.
Homeschoolers are stereotyped. In fact, if you don’t already know me, you probably have an image of me in your head. I might be wearing a denim jumper and have my girls in matching homemade garb while they play the harp. Or I might be wearing a tie-dyed shirt, my girls in recycled potato sack dresses, and frolicking barefoot in the garden. The truth is most homeschool families don’t fit the stereotypes, and we are as varied as the world we live in. We are all races and religions and even non-religious. We come from all socio-economic levels. We have high school diplomas, PhDs, and GEDs. We are young. We are old. We have large families that reach into the double digits in number, and we have only children. We are strict, relaxed, mainstream, fringe, conservative, liberal, city, country, and suburban. We are even single moms, working moms, homeschool dads, and everything in between. There are as many “types” of homeschoolers as there are homeschoolers.
3. We don’t have more patience than you.
“I don’t have the patience,” is the most common response I get when talking to a non-homeschooling mama about homeschool. Let me let you in on a little secret. Homeschooling mamas didn’t get a special patience gene when we were born. In fact, if I based my decision about my children’s education on the amount of patience I possess, my kids would be on that yellow school bus every single morning. Yes, homeschooling can be frustrating at times, especially when a child sits down to do work with no pencil in hand. “Where is your pencil?! Don’t you know every day when we sit to work, you need a pencil?” the homeschooling mama scathes. We deal with the frustrating scenarios of parenthood in much the same way you would. We don’t have special qualities that the rest of the population is missing.
4. Our children are social.
The number one way to make a homeschool mom roll her eyes is to ask how her children are socialized. It’s a valid concern, sure. Children do need to learn to get along with others. However, if you open the day planner of any homeschool mom, all concerns of socialization are sure to dissolve. Our days are filled with co-op classes, dance lessons, group piano lessons, clubs, church, play dates, and group field trips. We rarely have a day spent only at home. Additionally, my children have opportunities to interact and socialize with people of all ages all throughout the day. Just today my seven-year-old swapped salad recipes with an elderly friend. It was charming to watch and amazing how easily she found common ground with someone decades older. This skill might have been missed if she spent most of her day with only people her exact same age.
5. We love homeschooling!
Yes, homeschooling can be hard. No doubt. Most worthwhile endeavors require blood, sweat, and tears. Lots and lots of tears. That does not damper our love for this life we’ve chosen. We love it for the freedom of going to the zoo on a Tuesday and the beach in September. We love it for the satisfaction of watching a child grasp a difficult math concept and celebrating with her. We love that we can provide a safe place for our children to fail and try again. We love that our academically struggling children can be free from labels and social repercussions. Children can shine in their strengths without being held back for their weaknesses. We love that we can challenge our children and dig deep into the subjects they love. We love that we can use any method or curriculum that works for our children. We’re free to change our minds about a curriculum and try something different if it is not working. We love that we can wake up late and still finish all of our school work before noon. And because there is no homework, our evenings as a family can be spent any way we choose. We love that learning doesn’t stop when the book is closed. Playdates and co-op classes can provide unhurried playtime with children of all ages where kids can be kids. I could go on, and other homeschooling mamas can certainly provide examples I haven’t even considered.
We homeschooling mamas are all different, yet not so different from you. We’re confident in our decision to homeschool and do not regret it – most days! We support your decision or need to send your children to school, and we’re glad for you if you are satisfied with your children’s school. If you ever want to entertain the thought of homeschooling, we’d be more than happy to talk you through it, support you through all the tears, and listen enthusiastically when you fall in love with homeschooling.