Saturday, February 24, 2018

You Might Be Wrong About Homeschooling

Before I begin spilling all I know (it happens), I do need to tell you that I don't speak for all homeschoolers.

That would be ridiculous and, frankly, impossible. There are a plethora of reasons why a family might consider homeschooling.

I have found, however, that many people have strong reactions in homeschooling. Most former schoolteachers I have met think it's a wonderful thing. Most folks who don't either don't have any experiences with anyone who has homeschooled or they have that one relative who took her kids out of school because they got mad at the principal. And wouldn't you know it! That lazy girl didn't make her kids do any work!

At least, that's what I heard.

And then there are those who heard about some awful abuse case on the TV. You know the one. That's when you start seeing articles about the dangers of homeschooling and how we need to make people accountable, dang it!

Please, please. Don't react to the awful and despicable actions of a few. Homeschoolers are as varied as the rest of society. We have some good'uns. We have some bad'uns.

But I am not doing to address those kinds of issues (such as the ills of society) today. Instead, I want to share with you some common things I have heard over the years while talking to others about our personal homeschool experience.

Some of it has just been plain wrong.

And, yes. I have had all of these things said to me.

Homeschooled Children Don’t Socialize 

You know I had to start out with this one. I have heard the “don’t you want Josiah to be with kids his own age?” argument more times than I can count.

Would it make you feel better if I told you that it was my intention all along to deprive my son of a peer group? Was that what you were hoping to hear?

It’s simply not the truth.

Let’s be honest. Being able to interact and get along in a society filled with people of all ages, racial and economic backgrounds has little to do with what a child does behind a desk in a classroom all day. 

Frankly, I would rather my son emulate the people who have filled or are filling his life with great adventures, important truths and kindness. Like the 96-year-old World War II veteran who worked for the Secret Service. Josiah used to paint her fingernails (yep…she was one brave lady).  Or our retired friend who supervises Josiah’s weekly job of vacuuming the church. Josiah gets paid in biscuits and gravy. This man is precious and we don't know what we would do without him! 

Josiah does attend a weekly homeschool co-op with (imagine this!) teenagers and other kiddos of varying ages. Though, at this point in his life he does have more senior citizens as friends than 16-year-old boys.  But guess what. He is perfectly fine with that.

The beauty of homeschooling, my friends. You get to make the rules.

Parents Aren’t Qualified to Teach

Some homeschool parents didn’t attend college. What’s worse is that some didn't even bother to step into a “math for teachers” or “child development” class.

Another truth is that our homeschool laws don’t require a homeschool parent to have a formal education. Somewhere along the way, wiser heads and hearts decided instinctively that parents are the most important teachers in a child’s life.

Before I move on…I do need to make a disclaimer. Not every parent needs or wants to assume this responsibility and it’s perfectly okay. But for those of who chose to become our child’s primary teacher, a university education isn’t necessary.

For my part, I did attend college. I have more college credits than most people that have questioned my ability to teach my son. And yes, I did have “math for teachers, “child development” and countless other education-type courses.

Not that it made much difference. Let’s face it… taking philosophy in college did little for me in my real world life. (Though I could have used an “how to be awesome at editing your own blog posts).

Homeschooling has been as much of a learning experience as my 5+ years of college. The beauty about our lifestyle (and yes, it’s a lifestyle) is that I am constantly learning and growing. I read. I listen. I ask questions. I also rely on from time to time, those who know a bit more than I do about any given subject. There have been plenty of online lectures, courses at local universities and input from friends "in the know" for my boy. 

You do need to be self-motivated and a little bit of a crusader to be a homeschool parent.  It is also helpful to be just a little bit crazy.

True story.

Homeschoolers have to follow requirements put out by their local public school

Ummm. No.

Homeschoolers have to follow the guidelines set forth by the Homeschooling Laws of their state. My current state, Indiana, and my previous home, Missouri, have very broad homeschooling requirements.  This means that my husband and I get to choose what requirements we set for our son to have by the time he graduates.  The benefit to being the Queen of my Homeschool Castle is that I can decide what my son studies…based on his own interests. On his inclinations. On his particular developmental and learning needs.

 In fact, this year he has been following quite a few rabbit trails on his own. Some of those rabbit trails involve a few too many long-haired 80’s bands for my taste, but he has also included anatomy in his current obsessions…so we’re good.

Homeschooling is a truly individualized education experience. Some of us fit into that box better than others. Some of us need to have a set of expectations given to us. Some of us have no trouble in creating our own.

I know the idea that some kiddos are under a different umbrella than the public school system makes some out there absolutely NUTS. Before making your mind up, I urge caution and doing a bit more research. Most who react negatively to homeschooling simply don't know enough about what it all actually looks like. 

If You’re Homeschooled, You Can’t Get into College

This is a common misconception. Let’s talk hard facts. Did you know that many colleges eagerly seek out homeschooled students? In fact, (and this where it might get rough for you) most don’t care if your course work was accredited or not.

Many homeschoolers I know begin their college experience at the local community college well before they were of college age. Dual Enrollment is a popular thing in homeschool circles, but even that is not necessary for many colleges.

I will be honest. Some of what we do is a great experiment. I don’t think Josiah has an inkling about what he wants to in his future life…other than play video games. I, myself, have adjusted my life goals several times. What I imagined myself doing when I was 16 is completely different than the reality. I believe in following your passions and being a being faithful in whatever you chose to do.

Homeschool Students have a harder time fitting in

I suppose if you’re worried about fitting into a particular societal mold this might be an issue.  In truth, I think fitting in also has more to do with one’s personality or stage in life than where he or she goes to school. Not to mention the group one is anxious to fit in with. 

I personally start twitching whenever I think about going to an event with a lot of people. I am not great at small talk and I would prefer to spend the majority of my time with a good book and a hot cup of tea. 

This isn’t to say that I am not a friendly person.

It’s just who I be.

My son, however, the child who only went to one year of public school happens to love meeting new people. And, yes, he can be a bit odd.

He has taken to wearing sun glasses all hours of the day. One visitor to our church was concerned he had vision problems. Can you imagine that conversation?

“No. My son just thinks he looks cool like that. He really isn’t worried that people think him weird. In fact, he probably prefers it that way.”

He is not afraid to dance in public and still loves to give me a kiss on the cheek once in a while. He fills whole notebooks with football stats, interesting song lyrics and names of some of those 80’s hair bands I’m hoping he’ll outgrow.

Some of his favorite past times involve hanging out at the local Dairy Queen or body shop with a group of older men. He knows more about local politics than I could ever hope to. Almost every time we go out he sees somebody he knows. I will see him across the Walmarts.... eagerly shaking the hand of someone I have never laid eyes on. It so happens that the group at the Dairy Queen gets around.

Josiah doesn’t see race, class or ability. Every Sunday he sits somewhere different in church. By the sweet young widow who lost her husband last year. By the older couple who pass him a dollar every once in a while to “buy a Coke.” By the friends who took Josiah hiking. By the gentleman who let Josiah drive his golf cart the first time we went over to their house.  He follows his Sunday School teacher (a precious young man who has an important job at a bank) like a puppy. When this same friend gave him a Broncos jacket for his birthday, Josiah didn’t take it off for 2 weeks.

I think he’s fitting in just fine.

As I said before. Homeschooling isn't for everybody. It is more of a lifestyle than an educational method. Some days you are going to feel like you are winning life! Some days you question your very existence and wonder why it necessary to teach our young anything! 

But it's worth it. Every bit of it. And I'm not wrong about that. 

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