When you think of homeschooling, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
I am going to guess that some negative stereotypes are the first things that pop into your mind. Am I right?
Homeschoolers are weird. Homeschoolers are religious nuts? Hippies? Those weird kids are all maladjusted and unsocialized. Well, I won’t argue that some are. Interestingly enough, an equivalent proportion of public and private schooled children and their families are, as well. I think it has more to do with environment and heredity more than with educational preference.
I won’t argue the first point, my family are weirdos. You bet we are and proud of it. If this is disturbing, then please stop reading now.
Religious nuts? Well, we are totally crazy about peanuts and we love Jesus. So I guess we could be considered a little nutty – except hazelnuts, can’t stand ‘em.
Hippies? Well, no. I think all the surviving Hippies are enjoying retirement right now. And they’re probably all republicans now, too.
Maladjusted and unsocialized? Well, these ideas are some that I believed, that is until another homeschooling parent enlightened me during my quest for information. Why did I believe this? Because someone else said it and the thought somehow became a fact. Funny how that happens. No, not really funny. No, I do not lock up my children. They are allowed outside. In fact, I encourage them to get outside. Oddly enough, there are other people outside too. Weird how that happens.
Our children seem to be well adjusted and socialization is not a primary concern. Why do I believe this? Their behaviors and the quality of their relationships are evidence enough. Our children socialize with others their age throughout the week and with many adults, as well. They interact with people, just like they would in a public school. The only difference is that they are not separated into a classroom full of other kids their age. This is a great idea to maximize productivity and minimize cost; however, not exactly a mechanism of positive or effective socialization. “Here let me fill up a room with all sorts of little people that lack social skills and let’s call it socialization.” Uh, not quite. The process of acquiring their identity and the learning of social norms, values, and social skills is least likely to occur in an environment saturated with mini-barbarians who are all on variable schedules of physical and moral development. Call me crazy, but this would be an instance of “The blind leading the blind.” And just how is a teacher “qualified” to teach my children social norms, values, and social skills when many haven’t learned these themselves. And what is acceptable to one teacher is not necessarily universal. They are responsible for teaching subject material and the school is responsible for the well-being of the child during school hours, while on school property. That’s all folks. Teachers are given all sorts of extra jobs and burdens that are unrelated to the instruction of their students. Again, call me crazy, but some jobs are the responsibility of the students, their parents, family, and even the community.
Our kids picked up all sorts of bad habits and had questions about things that are completely bizarre, all this from the socializing with their peers who seem to be experts in the field of childhood oddities. This I know is natural and normal, but frustrating when my kids are inundated with misinformation all day long. You cannot unlearn or un-know something. Once an idea is expressed, it’s out there. We must consider that their education is not solely from the teacher; it comes from everything within their environment; indirect and direct.
Our kids spent approximately nine hours away from home, which included bus time. They spent more time away from what we have been teaching them from birth, away from the values and morals that we uphold, and away from people who actually care and love them. I realize people scoff at parents and say that they are not “qualified” teachers. All I can say is “Really?” We have been teaching our children since the day they were born. I have met plenty of “qualified” teachers that are inept and are a complete embarrassment to their profession. Of course, there are teachers out there that are: a) compassionate, b) actually like to teach, c) like children, and d) know their subject material and are competent its delivery.
After two years of mediocre to poor schooling, we decided to pull our kids out of school. The teachers, the students, and the closing military community made this decision rather simple. I would never have dreamt that I would homeschool my kids. Why? Because homeschoolers are weird, they are not well-adjusted, they are not socialized, and the parents are not qualified. I was a non-believer in home education. I admit it. However, now that I have experienced what it is to be a homeschool parent, after deciding that my children were not receiving a proper education, I have come to the conclusion that I was wrong.
[Don’t tell my husband that I said I was wrong.]
Our children are involved in community activities and they do have a few close friends and many more regular pals. Coincidentally, they have the same friends that they had when they were attending school. I think this is a testimony that friendships are not dependent on going to school and sifting through the kids and hoping one will be your friend. If you want a friend then you must learn to be a friend.
You may be wondering why I am making this argument. I just felt like I had to get this off my chest. I had two encounters with the elementary school personnel that made me feel like a leper, from the school counselor and from the principal. These reactions were from “well adjusted” and “socialized” adults and I think they were inappropriate and unprofessional. Are they biased? Sure, they work at the school. I will say, in defense of the school system, that the middle school staff responded to us in a positive way. By no means am I attempting to point fingers at public schooling. I am a product of public schooling. Nearly every person I know attended public school. I am merely expressing my discontent with the local Department of Defense School that is offered to us. We had positive experiences in the past, but it appears that the ongoing transformation in our particular area has greatly affected the quality of education and educators.
Homeschooling works for us during this particular season in our lives. Who knows what we will be doing in two or three years? I sure don’t. We don’t even know what country we’ll be in.
This is all from my perspective. I’m sure Matt has his own thoughts on the subject.