So, you’re homeschooling now. And you’ve been racking your brains wondering what all the fuss was about. It doesn’t seem nearly as hard as you thought it would be. Plus, nobody really knows exactly what you’re up to anyway; so, anything you screw up today can always be fixed tomorrow.
But, once in a while — every so often – it grabs you. The fear. The self-doubt. The selective memory.
Let me remind you the reasons you chose homeschooling, if I may. In case you forgot all the reasons you thought homeschooling might be a good idea. The stuff you hated about school mornings before. And the things you worried your kids might miss if you pulled them away from that place to begin with.
Friends & Social Interaction
This is one of the most common, so it makes sense to start right here. So, before you started homeschooling, you worried your kids might have no friends, or not be properly socialized. How is that going for you? Are there really no other people where you live?
Just remember, the people your children hang out with now are pretty much within your control. You participate in whatever you like. Or not. Your choice. And you get to talk about their relationships afterwards.
Let’s face it, school “friends” are over-rated anyhow. There’s actually no time to socialize in school, unless you count standing in line for the bathroom and the couple of times the teacher forgets to silence the kids during lunch.
Just a reminder, real life isn’t about being stuck in a room with a bunch of same-age kids anyway.
Besides, if you really want your kid to keep in touch with the class cut-up, the mean girl, the bully, the parking lot smoker, the mouthy delinquent, or any of the members of the promiscuity club, you can always arrange a weekend play date. Your house, of course.
Events, especially in high school
Who said homeschooling was just about staying home? It certainly wasn’t any homeschooler I’ve ever met. Between baseball and chess club, archery and debate team, orchestra and karate lessons, there’s plenty of stuff to do, right? Don’t forget homeschool co-op, a full roster of amazing field trips, and park days every Friday, too.
Afraid they’ll miss Graduation and Senior Prom? Homeschool’s got you covered there, too. But, if you’re worried it won’t seem like the “real thing”, feel free to slit your daughter’s dress to the thigh and toss a couple of six-packs into the limo for the after-party.
Preparation for Life (a/k/a All That Learning)
So, you’re worried that homeschooling cannot possibly prepare children for real life; stuff like being productive people, good citizens, holding jobs and earning a living. That homeschooling could not possibly match the quantity of learning that occurs in classrooms. That homeschooling could not possibly result in educated people. Basically, that your kids could not possibly be prepared for real life.
And yet, when you boil it down, there is very little time actually spent learning in American classrooms. Between listening to announcements, shuffling off to 3rd Period, handing out papers, sitting through silent lunch, and waiting for little Jimmy to think of the answer to yesterday’s math problem, there just isn’t a lot of quality time left in the day. Sure, once the books have been distributed and the class finally settles down, teachers can probably squeeze in a good 10 or 15 minutes here and there. But overall, being in school doesn’t equate to much actual learning. And despite what you’ve read about using that time “wisely”, the fact is, we’re talking about real people, not wizardry. Time is time. It’s either spent learning something new, or it’s not.
On the other hand, observing mom and dad, living in an academically rich environment, and being mentored by older brother and sis are lessons in themselves. So is learning throughout the day, instead of when the clock says it’s time to start and stop. Home education is a 24/7 kind of thing.
Still feeling you’re “missing out”? You’re more than welcome to ring a bell throughout the day, lock your kids in a room for 55 minute blocks, and restrict drinking water and restroom use except in absolute emergencies. Further simulations could include learning to read using scribbles on bathroom walls, grabbing a neighborhood kid to teach sex education, and hearing new vocabulary by hanging out at the mall post-3:00pm.
Parents sometimes lament not having access to the same activities as school children receive. However, many parents do not realize that homeschoolers are invited to participate in many of the same local activities as children in the public school systems. And in districts where homeschoolers are not allowed to participate, homeschoolers host these programs themselves — often out-numbering the programs offered in budget-crunched schools.
Whose idea is it to make female adolescents stand on street corners in bikinis and cutoffs, waving “Honk if you’re dirty!” signs anyway? Why must young men be forced to stand sun-burned and bare-chested in sizzling parking lots to draw attention to trivial causes, or to raise monies to help schools accomplish their basic missions?
Homeschoolers have a world of opportunity beneath their feet every day of the week. Bees, contests, team competitions, fairs and more are accessible for homeschoolers coast to coast. Participation in these activities usually doesn’t require jiggling an empty donation jar or standing outside Walmart on the weekends, either. Unless you want to (may I recommend a lemonade stand?).
A College Education
Finally, the pudding. As in, ‘The proof is in the’.
Those afraid their homeschoolers may never get into college may officially sleep easy. ‘Cause homeschoolers not only get in to colleges and universities, they get in at soaring rates, score better, last longer, enter with more credits, and finance it with more aid, too.
Still skeptical? Ask a college admissions officer who stands out more. Is it the student with the 4 English and 4 math credits? Or the student who has written a novel, started a business, produced a play, designed a web site or given a keynote address?
So, what’s really missing?
The ability to bend, swerve, and dodge a spit ball? The reflexes needed to duck a punch? The training needed to stay alive during lock-down, or better yet – a real emergency?
Or maybe it’s the strength of will to ignore the constant chatter, the invalidating criticism, or stop focusing on the number of times a classmate uses the word ‘like’ in a sentence?
Maybe it’s the joy of waking a young child (or, worse, a teenager) at 5:00 a.m. just to make the bus at 6:00? Or was it the fun of eating dry Cheerios in the car on the way to the bus stop?
Whatever you’re missing, leave it as a COMMENT.
Or if not, go off and have an extraordinary homeschooling day.
Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau is a college professor who traded in her tenure to become a homeschool mom 20+ years ago. A homeschooling pioneer and the founder of many groups and organizations, she works to advance home education, and is an outspoken supporter of education reform coast to coast. Her book, Suddenly Homeschooling: A Quick Start Guide to Legally Homeschool in Two Weeks, is industry-acclaimed as it illustrates how homeschooling can rescue children and families from the public school system, and how anyone can begin homeschooling within a limited time-frame, with no teaching background whatsoever. A liaison for regional school-to-home organizations, a homeschool leader, and a women’s life coach and trainer, Marie-Claire mentors in a variety of areas that impact health, education and lifestyle. A conference speaker, she has appeared at FPEA, H.E.R.I., Home Education Council of America, Luminous Mind, Vintage Homeschool Moms, iHomeschool, and many other events. Her articles have appeared in and on Holistic Parenting, CONNECT, Homefires,Homemaking Cottage, Kiwi, Circle of Moms, and hundreds of sites and blogs nationwide. Marie-Claire can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.