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 am 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 a legal standpoint, and it’s definitely not necessary in order to successfully educate your children at home.
#3 “I imagine it has to be extremely difficult to teach children the extent of the school curriculum at home!?”
Huh? Actually, we don’t follow any curriculum. (I know this one is a tough one to swallow for many people.) We have moved to interest-led learning within the first few months of homeschooling. It works. It’s amazing, really.
But if we wanted to follow any type of a curriculum, I imagine it would still be a piece of cake. A home setting is entirely different from the traditional school environment. It’s oriented directly towards the child, and it’s much less time consuming. If your child needs more help with any particular subject, you have all the time needed to focus on that area until you move on to the next thing. You can basically tailor the education plan to the strengths and weaknesses of your child and STILL complete the school year ahead of time.
#4 “Aren’t you worried about the lack of socialization?”
Drum roll, please. Hands down, this one wins the Most Frequently Asked Question Award.
The connection between school and socialization has been repeated long enough that the majority of the population wholeheartedly believes one cannot be achieved without the other. But the thing is, socialization is about connecting. 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. The problem is that there is very little of 1) happening at schools, and 2) can’t be achieved in silence and by separating children by age.
#5 “Do your kids have friends?”
No. We’re trying to follow the strict criteria for raising little sociopaths, so 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.”
Um, yeah, I actually can. I can legally homeschool my kids all the way through high school. And as long as it continues to work for us, we’ll keep on homeschooling.
#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 your basement. Although it could. Don’t judge?)
#9 “But wait, that means no college!”
No college. Unless they want to go. In that case they may actually start early. Nothing prevents homeschooled children from applying to college even if they’ve been educated at home all the way through high school.
#10 “How do you grade you child?”
Oh I have this great system and keep all records in my yellow spiral notebook, and… I don’t. I check my child’s work for accuracy and effort, and I can see her progress. She doesn’t learn in order to “pass” or to get an “A” but to master and retain new information or skills. 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 realized 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. My goal is 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.