We homeschool. And, against all stereotypes, we don’t live in quarantine and we do leave our house. There are classes and activities to attend, groceries to buy, friends to see, places to visit, and lifetime memories to be made. I could personally do without the trips to the grocery store, but the rest is pretty fun.
Once in a while when we’re out and about and in the natural flow of conversation, my older daughter gets asked how old she is. Being petite, she could probably pull off being younger, and I have a feeling that’s what the vast majority of curious strangers expect to hear. “Seven!” she’ll exclaim proudly while I start to count down. Five, four, three, two, one… “Seven, you say…” Insert a few seconds of silence. “But… Shouldn’t you be at school then?!?” Cue a pair of raised eyebrows and piercing eyes glaring my way that look serious enough to have a truancy officer on speed dial.
“We homeschool,” I smile.
“Oh, that’s wonderful!” I hear back. Sometimes. Or an avalanche of questions starts cascading my way instead…
#1 “Is that even LEGAL???”
Crap. I’ve been caught, and I’m about two steps away from being fingerprinted and booked. Of course it’s perfectly legal. Otherwise I wouldn’t be telling you…?
#2 “Oh, so you’re a teacher?” Followed with: “Don’t you have to be a teacher?”
The answer to both is no. No!!! I don’t have a degree in teaching, and you don’t need one either in order to homeschool your kids. It’s not required from the legal standpoint, and it’s definitely not necessary in order to successfully educate kids at home.
#3 “It must be so difficult to teach the extent of the school curriculum at home…”
Huh? Well, we don’t actually follow any curriculum. (This one is a tough one to swallow for many people.) We transitioned to interest-led learning within the first few months of homeschooling. It works. It’s amazing, really. But if we wanted to follow a curriculum, I imagine it would still be a piece of cake…?
#4 “Aren’t you worried about the lack of socialization?”
Drum roll, please!!! Hands down, this one wins the Most Frequently Asked Question Award.
Well, socialization is about connecting, right? The definition of socialization is as follows: 1) The activity of mixing socially with others; 2) The process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society. And, um, you just had a long conversation with my homeschooled child…?
#5 “Do your kids have friends?”
No. We’re trying to follow the strict criteria for raising little sociopaths. Friends are not allowed and we strive to eliminate the stubborn ones as we go. Look, our kids don’t have a whole class of peers to invite to a birthday party out of courtesy (thank goodness) so it may look like they’re being socially deprived. But they see other children and spend time with them. I promise.
#6 “Aren’t you worried they won’t have NORMAL childhood?”
Define normal. Peer pressure? Bullying? Overcrowded classrooms? Lack of physical exercise? Having to fit in a box? Being educated within a failing system? No, I’m not worried about not giving them all that.
#7 “But it’s only for now, right? Because you can’t homeschool the whole time…”
Yeah, I actually can. I can legally homeschool my kids all the way through high school. If it makes you feel any better, we’ll only continue to homeschool as long as it works for us.
#8 “What about PROM!?”
Bahahahahahaha. Good one!!!
Wait, you were serious?
Right. Prom. Prom is important. Two words: Homeschool Prom. It’s a real thing – for those that are interested. (No, it doesn’t take place in a basement. Although it could. Don’t judge?)
#9 “But wait, that means no college!”
Believer or not, nothing prevents homeschooled kids from applying to college even if they’ve been educated at home all the way through high school. They may even start early if they’re ready. Shocker, huh?
#10 “How do you grade you child?”
Oh I have this great system and keep all our records in my yellow spiral notebook, and…
I don’t. I check my child’s work for accuracy and effort. Other than that, real life progress, happy child, and thirst for knowledge is how I grade. But if you insist, she is a straight-A student. Best in her class, actually.
#11 “So… You gave up your life by making the decision to homeschool, right?”
Well, I’m a parent. Parents basically give up their lives, that’s pretty much how this parenting thing works. The life I knew was over when I held the 7-pound ball or warm flesh for the very first time and when realized that I was responsible for keeping this tiny human alive and well for as long as I live. My kids are my passion and joy (and the reason I drink), and nothing is more important than them. I’m really hoping to raise well-adjusted, happy, conscious, open-minded, and self-sufficient adults with a sense of who they really are, and if that means I don’t have to wear a business suit and heels and pretend that something else is more important than my family, then I think it worked out pretty well for us.