I spend so much time with homeschool families and around homeschool families that I’m surprised it can still seem so foreign to people. The misconceptions people have can be amusing at times and frustrating at other times.
In light of running into a few of thsoe lately let me just say a few things:
1) My children see plenty of other children. In fact, sometimes they are with friends until 8 p.m or later. They are well-socialized and regularly interact with people from babies and toddlers to older adults whom they love and respect.
2) We don’t spend our days like mole rats, hiding from the light of day with books and pens and paper. We do school at home, a few (for us, just a few) classes at Home Connection, Carolyn has girl scouts and riding lessons. We have tons of appointments. My kids are interacting with people and the world as much as any child, and sometimes maybe even more that some kids. My favorite days are the days when we sprawl out on the grass and read and learn and warm our bones.
3) We LOVE Home Connection But, for the most part for our family, it is a place where my kids take enrichment classes.
They take classes like sewing and art and exploring clay and piano. They get to dive deep with things they are interested, with other kids who share those interests, and with teachers who they love.
BUT those are not the “Real Classes” of their education. I’ve run into a couple of people lately who have made comments that make it clear that they see Home Connection or co-op classes as the REAL education and the stuff at home as “the fringe.” Nope. Not so much. *I* teach reading, and math, and science, and history, and writing, and civics. I LIKE it that way and I WANT it that way.
Even for those whose kids do Core at Home Connection (which is more of the math, literature, English, etc) parents are still co-educators. All the pieces of a kid’s education are “Real.”
4) My kids work together and learn together. They help one another. They aren’t locked in a room with me for their education. They also work with friends. Sometimes they have homework parties. Sometimes they take on extra projects with friends or sisters. Collaborative and cooperative learning happens a lot around here.
5) They aren’t just playing hooky and watching TV every day. They do have more down time than kids who are educated in other ways might. They are learning all the time. And they don’t like it when you ask them to prove that by quizzing them on what they know in conversation.
6) On the flipside, just becuase we homeschool doesn’t mean that I am churning out super geniuses. It is my hope and desire that they will all love to learn and pursue knowledge but they are kids with struggles and challenges and they aren’t super smart just becuase we’ve homeschooled them. (Though seriously, I think all my kids ARE super smart) When things like dyslexia are in the mix, I am especially grateful for the ability to tailor education specifically to my kids and their needs. We don’t focus so much on “grade level” as much as we focus on their individual levels and working them into the next one that comes.
8) I don’t do school at home. I don’t set up desks and give pop quizes and tests. Sometimes we do testing. Sometimes we practice taking tests so they are ready for that when it comes at them in other capacities, but by and large we learn things and find ways to interact with what we’ve learned. It doesn’t look like the way I remember things at public school, but they are learning and engaging a lot more deeply than I remember being able to.
9) I did not get hit over the head by the Patience Fairy’s wand when I decided to teach my kids at home. I am not any more patient than any other parent. I sometimes DO go head to head and toe to toe with my kids on their learning. I am often exasperated. They respond to me as Mom rather than as a neutral educator and that can be very challenging some days. I still do it. We work through it. Homeschooling doesn’t mean we are more virtuous or patient than other families. It often means that we’re always in a pressure cooker together where our flaws and humanness come to the surface constantly. That means we get to love one another through them and figure out how to move forward on the days that the kids just want a quit and Mom is out of patience. It’s messy and it’s tiring and frustrating some days, but it’s also beautiful and a chance for all of us to refine ourselves daily.
10) I love homeschooling my kids and it continues to be the path we choose for many reasons. But it’s not all that we are. They aren’t “just homeschoolers,” and I am not “Just a homeschool Mom.” We all have interests and talents and responsibilities outside of what we do as homeschoolers.
At the end of the day, this is just a choice my family has made because we believe it’s best for *our* family. We love it a lot of days. We feel ambivalent others. But, it continues to feel like the most right choice for us. It’s good stuff. It’s a different way to approach education. It’s a little out of the box and that’s one of the things I like the most about it. So we’ll keep doing it and doing the best we can just like I know all families do in the paths that we choose.