Thursday, May 10, 2012

5 Things I Wish You Knew About Me (Because I Homeschool)

We homeschool because it has been the best choice for us, but....
2007-only half of the birthday crowd

I do not look down on you if you make a different choice. Among my friends are families with siblings attending homeschool, public school, and private school at the same time. I trust you as a parent to know what is best for your family and your student at any given time. Can you trust me to make the same decision for my family and my child?

I hold our homeschooling privilege with a loose grip because I realize life changes in an instant. So, I try to prepare my child for the fact that I may not always be his teacher. Whether life changes with choice, tragedy, or graduation, this season will end. He will move out of 'my' classroom and into the world. I want to do my job, so his future teachers will say I made their job easier. 

I wonder why you ask me about socialization (before you even get to know us).

No, I did not choose to school at home because I think your child will somehow sully my child. Did my children, because of their learning challenges, need a different kind of structure than a traditional school setting would provide? Yes, they did. I did not 'shelter' them by providing that. In fact, I often demanded more of them in the way of socialization than would have been demanded during a traditional school day.

Both my boys would have qualified for some sort of 'resource' LD program if not a self-contained class room program in traditional schooling. Their only peers would have been students with the same challenges. We had the freedom to move around our community. My sons learned to interact with a variety of people in a variety of places in a socially appropriate ways. When Son #1 was in 6th grade, he stunned a Walmart employee by handling an exchange and refund without any help from me. Son #2 now ends his PE at the local gym by playing pool with Octogenarians who break into a smile when they see him coming.

The next time you see a homeschooler and wonder how we define socialization, remember: your child's socialization does not end at 3:30p when the school bell rings! Our socialization is not dependent on the ringing of a school bell. Instead of asking, “What do you do about socialization?” just ask us what fun things we do. Then you'll hear about it without ever having to ask 'the question'. 

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
If you know a homeschool family that is floundering, do not assume that all of us flounder all the time.

We are just like you. We fail at some things, succeed at some things, and swim like mad to stay afloat most of the time. Are there folks who should not be homeschooling? Of course there are. Just like there are teachers who should not be in the classroom, public or private. Don't expect us to be super-human anymore than you expect your local school faculty to be super-human.

Applaud me when I succeed, empathize with me when I fail, offer me assistance when the struggle is long and hard. After all, we all want the same things for our kids no matter what schooling model we have chosen. I want to offer that same encouragement to you in the midst of your schooling years. Sadly, I often feel that you won't let me do so because you disapprove of, or are threatened by, my choice. Does it have to be that way?

I didn't take the easy way out just because we have the luxury of doing school in our PJ's on rainy, sick, or stay-at-home days.

There are days I look at you in your late model car and go-to-meeting business clothes and wish we could trade places. I wake up wishing I could open the door and shoo my kids out when the big yellow bus drives by. Yea. True confessions. Compared to my days, your days look pretty glamorous. Sometimes, I want a piece of that.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
It's a scary thing knowing there will be no one but me to blame if they reach adulthood and fail to launch or flounder when they do. We sacrifice a lot for this choice that requires all my attention and most of my time: vacations, the latest in technological gizmos, clothes from brand name stores. I wouldn't trade any of it for the chance to know my sons the way I do because I have been their teacher. But, I want you to know taking the less traveled road is not glamorous nor is it always rewarding.

I want you to encourage your children to get to know mine so that they can encourage each other.

Does it ever occur to you that our children might have something in common even though our schooling choices are so different? Did you know your children often tell mine that they are 'weird' or 'dumb' because they homeschool? Did you know my child is bullied because he is the only homeschooler on the cul-de-sac? When you ask me about socialization, I want to tell you about that dynamic. Instead, I bite my tongue and think of something conciliatory to say that won't hurt your feelings even though you and your children have hurt mine.

Courtesy M. Horrocks
Teach your children to value their neighbors no matter what their educational choice. Encourage them to be friendly to mine by being friendly with and accepting of me. I promise, I look for ways to extend that courtesy to you even though you haven't asked. Tell your student that it is ok to tell mine, “I wish I could do that too,” or “Do you ever get lonely or bored?” The truth is if asked, most kids would say that would like to homeschool at least for a while. And, our kids do get lonely and bored...just like yours.

I am your fraidy cat friend. I know that, like me, you are getting thru this fraidy cat world the best you can. The next time you see me, it's ok to say, “Hello.” Who knows? It might be the beginning of something wonderful. For both of us.

2010 - Courtesy B. Creasy
Love you long and strong. See you soon?

I Peter 4: 8-10 (NIV)
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you. I hoped I spoke with eloquence and put into words what so many of us think/feel!

  2. I *never* understood that "socialization" question... how does sitting in a room full of people your own age without being able to talk to them in ANY way make you ready for the real world?? Right now my girls are begging me to homeschool them, and I'm praying that I accomplish enough this summer that Brian says we can keep them home in the fall :/

    1. That question is the one that homeschoolers most often get even as widespread a practice as it has become. I pray that you and Brian will have sweet reassurance if the time has come for your family to take the plunge. If you do...don't forget the fine arts center for your wonderful musician! In fact, a lot of kids who are as talented as she, leave public school so they can attend FAC! Just a thought! ;-)

  3. Even though homeschooling really wasn't known as such when I was raising my kids in the 70's, I've had lots of younger friends who have homeschooled. I have nothing but respect for the hard work and dedication it takes to do it successfully. Sending congratulations and blessings your way!

    1. It is amazing how much the landscape has changed in 14yrs! Now everyone knows someone who homeschools. Hold off on the congrats till we get post this next 4 yrs. I don't let out my breath till the 1st year of college is over. At that point, I will know if I did my job the way I wanted to! I do think both my boys will take a non-traditional route to college degrees as Will did when he took time off to work in Australia as a consultant one semester. It's a roller coaster ride, but then isn't parenting that way?