Earlier this week Jamie at Simple Homeschool asked the question: How do You Talk to Others About Homeschooling? And I have to say that after eight years of it I don’t feel as compelled to justify why or how we homeschool as I once did. We just homeschool and the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. For all the times that we don’t do everything perfectly. We still manage to have grown a couple of avid readers with a broad general knowledge and a couple of kids that are following their passions. They don’t know everything (luckily!!!) and they are not the best ever scholars, and I am far from the perfect teacher… but we get by and we are all getting educated in the traditional sense and learning so much more than that, in the untraditional sense!!!
I started to comment on her post and realized it was getting a little long for a comment!!! I thought I would respond to Jamie’s question with a post. Since on a typical outing we do get asked: “So where do ALL your kids go to school?” And I will respond: “We homeschool.” And the conversation continues with any one of the following responses:
- I could never do that: I always want to say “sure you can” but inevitably I say you probably could if you felt called to do it. I know I couldn’t dream of any other way of schooling for us but lets face it if you have the organizational skills to get your kids to school in the morning with all their forms signed and their lunches packed, if you can get your head around multiple extra-murals for your kids, if you can read bed-time stories and enjoy doing stuff with your kids then you most likely can homeschool. If you really wanted to!!! Not everyone wants to – and that’s okay, even I have days when the thought of it is less than appealing!!!
- Do they learn anything? This is an interesting question… No one ever quizzes a regular school kid to see if they are learning anything and yet they feel a need to quiz homeschool kids!!! We get this all the time: My kids are asked some obscure question and must come up with the date, the name, the location!!! Seriously, my kids are learning, I know because I am learning and since we are learning together and read aloud and talk about what we are learning we must all be learning!!! I wonder if I asked a couple of kindergarden kids we know about the water-cycle or photosynthesis – what exactly would they come up with!!! Not that it matters really, it isn’t a competition!!!
- When are you going to stop? I am not sure about this one… stop what exactly? Schooling, learning, or having kids!!! I will assume they are asking about schooling and I can honestly say it has never occurred to me that I would send my kids to school!!! I don’t have any teenagers just yet, but I have a feeling that as they get older, kids need your more, not less… and hopefully by the time my kids reach senior school they will be able to be pretty self-sufficient in their schooling. To be honest regular school, which is a total drag for most “on the brink of leaving school” kids, will be more of a drag for my semi-independent learners.
- Will they be able to go to college? Well, wherever my kids intend to study after school they will have to have to get the appropriate school leavers certificate and we will write the relevant exams when we get there. Not next week, mind you, we have about six years to prepare for this still!!! Also I don’t know about overseas, but certainly in South Africa, you have to write entrance exams for every tertiary education spot… and my kids will write what they need to when they need to. If they decide to study overseas then we will have to look at the entrance requirements for overseas… really it is only something you can address when you get there… even if you are preparing bit by bit along the way.
- My kids really need friends. This is true – my children need friends too, some of them need friends just to breathe!!! That’s another great reason to home school… We certainly don’t school in isolation and they have so many opportunities to meet a wide variety of folk that pass through our lives daily that they would never encounter in a class room with forty-same-aged kids. I love my kids friends all sorts of folks in different ages and stages, from different cultures and walks of life – it really helps to live in the Rainbow Nation.
- So your children will finish school really young, like fifteen? When I hear this I wonder of my kids have a special sign that says “super brilliant” in a banner above their heads that only I can’t see!!! Really they are regular kids, brilliant to me of course, doing their school and doing their time. And for the odd lights of brilliance that shine through and I do have one or two brilliant spotlights… they don’t shine in every area by any means!!! I am a firm believer in spreading brighter kids knowledge wider rather than higher… I certainly don’t want to be sending my fifteen or sixteen year old off to varsity!!!
- What about sport, my kids really need exercise? Let’s be honest all kids need exercise, and limited screen time can only help. My kids get plenty of exercise and while none of them have shown any Olympic potential yet, it could happen!!! If and when it does we will approach the relevant local club and sign the relevant kid up for its potential passion, just as I would if my kid was in school. Meantime we will continue to spend lots of time outdoors and get our exercise wherever we can… riding bikes, going on hikes, running on the beach, going to gym… I think we have the exercise thing pretty much covered!!!
- Are you qualified? This one really gives me an internal chuckle!!! So while I am qualified I don’t really see why I have to launch into my educational experience with a total stranger. Just to prove that I am qualified to Homeschool. How qualified do you have to be to love learning and to want to spend time teaching and learning alongside your kids. Will a school leavers certificate do, a tertiary diploma, and degree, a post-graduate degree? A doctorate? Just what is the magical qualification necessary to be the “Homeschool Parent of the Year Award” ? I just don’t know!!!
And the Se7en + 1th Thing:
You will meet people that question your decision to homeschool and you will meet people who support your decision. I think the point is that it is your decision!!! I guess like all parenting decisions that we feel very strongly about, home birth or hospital birth, nursing or not, vaccination or not… homeschooling or not… there is a time in our lives when we feel really strongly about advocating our decision and there is a time when we just accept that that is what we do and soldier on!!!
This Post is part of The Thirty Minute Mom’s Challenge at Steady Mom.