Believe it or not, I am not particularly confrontational about the “weird” parenting stuff I do. Homebirth, intact boys (not circumcising), nursing on cue, supplementing with donor milk rather than formula, cosleeping, not vaccinating… those are the right decisions for my family. Homeschooling is a fairly hot button topic because I talk about it on Facebook and in parenting forums, and also, like, DUH, I’m out in the world with my kids who aren’t in school. Everyone seems to have an opinion about it.
The decision to homeschool is different than the decision to have a homebirth; it’s more of a long-term process rather than a YES or NO thing. I’m constantly evaluating and re-evaluating how it’s going and what I’m doing right and wrong. However, for all my insecurities about what I’m doing, I am going to continue homeschooling.
Why do you homeschool?
I do not like packing lunches. I do not like getting up early. I do not like doing homework. I do not like mandatory meetings with staff. I want to be my childrens’ teacher. I want to spend time with them. I want to teach them important life skills that I missed in 17 years of public education. I want to shelter them. I believe they learn better from my instruction than from one teacher with twenty or thirty students. I want to teach them a different way. I do not think they need eight or nine hours of instruction. I want them to enjoy their childhoods. I do not want them to become institutionalized. I want to give them options. I want them to experience the real world, not being in a building for many hours a day. I want them to socialize with people of all ages, not just their own 12-month-birthday span. I like to stay in my pajamas. I like being able to go to museums when they’re empty during the week rather than crazy on the weekends. I want them to learn to cook. And do laundry. And clean. I want them to know how to calculate mortgage costs. I want them to understand that education is a privilege. I want them to figure out what they want to do, what they like and don’t like, rather than blindly follow a set path. I like to print things.
But my children go to public school and they’re XYZ! and they’re NOT abc!
How nice for you. Congratulations. My decision to homeschool my children has nothing to do with you or your children. Please do not take it personally or we are going to have some issues in our relationship. Because, honestly, it gets old explaining why public school is perfectly fine and why you and your children are lovely special snowflakes but I’m still going to homeschool mine (who are also perfectly fine — mostly — and lovely special snowflakes too). When it comes to school, I do not care what you and your children do.
I find it so obnoxious that people question homeschoolers when I’d never dream of saying to my friends who send their kids to school, “But don’t you worry that all they know how to do is TAKE TESTS?!?!?! Don’t you worry that they have no critical thinking skills!!! In the real world, they’re going to have to make decisions for themselves; how will they learn that in public school?!?!” I’m sure most kids will find their way,whether they learn at school or at home. And if you tell me that you have absolutely no patience for your children, yes, it is probably better that you don’t homeschool them. Jeez.
What about when they’re in higher grades? What about calculus? How will they go to college? How can you teach them Spanish?
I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know if they will. I will teach them French.
You’re holding them back! They’re going to work in tollbooths!
First of all, I don’t think tollbooths actually employ workers anymore. Second of all, I think I’m helping them. If they are not ambitious, I do not want to spend $40,000 on higher education — or have them take out $40,000 in loans. If they are ambitious, they will discover that I can only take them so far, but I’ll help them find other ways to learn. If they want to be some kind of skilled worker, that’s okay.
Here is where I feel it turns into a class warfare thing.
I grew up in an upper middle class neighborhood in Michigan. Everyone went to college. I mean everyone. (Also, nobody got pregnant. Nobody. Either everyone was too scared to have sex, everyone was smart enough to be on birth control or abortions were rampant.) So, I went to college like everyone, had no idea what I want to “do” with my life, got my bachelor’s degree in psychology and creative writing and… ***crickets.*** Yes, I have my education and nobody can ever take it away from me, but a bachelor’s degree in psychology and creative writing is about as helpful as… a bachelor’s degree in sociology or humanities. And yet, I was expected to go to college, and people expect my children to go to college. It’s taken me a long time to get away from that attitude, but with the economy in shambles and the cost of education rising, I’m okay if my kids don’t go to college.
And that is all I’m going to say about that. For now, at least.