In this day and age more and more people are opting to make the switch to homeschooling rather than sending their kids off to public school. As you may well know from our previous posts that we are one of the many families that have chosen this route, and here’s why. This is not a repeat of that post, but rather the things that a lot of people do or say to homeschooling families that, well, for lack of a better term, “offend” us. We understand the stereotypes, the awkward, un-socialized homeschooling families that most people think of when the idea is new to them. What we don’t understand is why these stereotypes are usually applied across the board to ALL homeschooling families. We do not like to place people that send their children to public school in a stereotype, and we would like the same attitude in return. So, without further ado, here are 5 things you shouldn’t do to a homeschooling family.
1. Stop asking us how our child gets “socialization.”
This question is usually the very first question to be brought up the second someone finds out that my wife and I have chosen to homeschool our children. I understand the this stems largely from a stereotype right up there with the idea that we churn our own butter from our cow in the back pasture we milked this morning… (Neither of which we own) This idea that our children will not possibly achieve the ability to hold a common conversation or engage in common dialogue on any intelligent level is quite insulting at times. On the contrary, anyone who has met my oldest daughter knows she can hold a conversation with anyone, about anything. However this is not the root of the issue here. It does not matter whether someone is public-schooled, private-schooled, or homeschooled, this does not affect the outcome of a person’s “social” ability. My wife and I were both sent to public school as children. I am extremely outgoing, my wife on the other hand is quite shy. Both of our children are going to be homeschooled. Our oldest daughter is more outgoing than I am, and our youngest is just as shy as her mother. On the same note, while public-schooled children are surrounded by little more than their own age group, I would state the claim that our daughters probably get more “socialization” than they do as they are not restricted to speak to a certain age group. Our children will be able to hold a conversation with anyone, of any age, much like you see in society once a person graduates from public school and enters society.
2. Stop asking about our curriculum.
Curriculum is a touchy subject even among the homeschooling community without the “public-schoolers” getting involved. This question doesn’t get asked quite as often as the previous, but I have received it a few times. The problem with a “public-schooler” asking a homeschooler this question is it seems to attack OUR intellectual level as if they are up to date on all the current various curriculum and can somehow judge us by which brand we use. There are people who make a full-time living just reviewing curriculum. If the person asking this question truly knew the depths of curriculum options and availability, they would know this question is ridiculous. There is no curriculum that is a “one size fits all” and that is the pure beauty of homeschooling. One of the greatest things about homeschooling is that we can switch gears, change it up, and identify what works best for each individual rather than taking the public school approach of “cookie-cutter” students that can be molded into a uniform package. A great example is an English curriculum we chose that had virtually no compatibility with our daughter’s learning style. It was largely audio based learning, and out daughter is kinetic and a visual learner. We struggled with this curriculum for months before we switched. Things have been smooth sailing in English, and we are glad to have the ability to choose these options.
3. Stop asking for my wife’s “credentials.”
One of the most offensive questions I have been asked is whether or not my wife is “qualified” to homeschool our children. I do not understand the purpose of this question because few, if any parents have EVER checked with their child’s teacher to even speak with them much less see if they feel that the teacher is “qualified” for THEIR children. But rather than go through all of that let’s look at the basic concept here. If you were just starting to homeschool your children and they were currently in high school, I could understand some concern. after all, you might need to brush up on algebra, or chemistry perhaps. However, our children are beginning their homeschool journey (much like the majority of the rest) from either kindergarten or 1st Grade. The idea that my wife does not have the intellectual capacity to teach our children how to read, count, identify colors, and so on, is VERY offensive! The other part of the equation is the fact that my wife will be teaching all of the introductory material in the same steps the child is learning them. Thought builds on thought, idea builds on idea. Does my wife have a teaching degree? No. Can my wife teach my children how to count, and then how to add, and then how to multiply, raise to powers, substitute variables, and eventually reach the same education level or more than that of a “public-schooler?” Yes, she can. So please stop acting like my wife or any other mother is not “able” or “qualified” to homeschool.
4. Stop quizzing our children.
This one ranks right up there with the previous action. There are few things that can raise the blood pressure of a homeschooling mom than when someone first discovers she homeschools her children, and then feels compelled to “quiz” the children. Please don’t ask our child who the 1st president was. Please don’t ask our child to solve math problems on the spot for you. Please don’t ask our child to spell a word that you think should be on her level. The main problem with this thinking is that you are automatically making a comparison to public school level, when there may not be any comparison at all. A homeschool mom already struggles with the idea that maybe she’s not doing it right in her own head enough without your help. Trust me, it bugs her. She worries about it, she loses sleep over it, she feels like giving up at times, it is overwhelming, overstimulating, and frankly rather frustrating at times. She doesn’t need your input or your judgement on where she’s at in her child’s development, because chances are, you don’t know the child. This is the prime problem about the outside community and the way they look at homeschooling is that they think that it’s all about the parents. I can promise you that it isn’t. It’s about the CHILD. The child you are quizzing may not do well at reading, or writing, or math, or history, or whatever else you can think of, and that’s precisely the point I’m trying to make. In quizzing the child you are judging the mother by the child which is unfair in almost any situation. The mother knows where the child is in their development, and you do not.
5. Stop asking how long it takes
This question stems largely from the public schooling community and the main question goes something like this, “So how long do you homeschool per day? How many days per week? How long is your semester?” This can come across as offensive as well, as it seems like if the mother was to give any answer other than the local public school schedule, it’s simply not good enough and now she is neglecting her children. Look, we don’t have to take as long because WE DON’T HAVE AS MANY CHILDREN. My wife doesn’t have 30 children from all walks of life, different experiences, different upbringings, different attitudes on the importance of school, different morals, different rules, and different abilities. She has TWO. Now this is not to underplay the homeschooling mothers that have 5+ children. My hat is off to you, really, I have a deep respect for you, but that is not the point at hand. The point is we don’t have to corral and round up 30 children, sit them all down, and get them all to understand one major point for the day in unison. We don’t have to have breaks between subjects. We don’t have to squeeze in recess, time between classes, roll call, etc. You would be surprised as to how much time is wasted during “public school” time. Mostly because public school is designed to occupy children while the parents are at work, but that’s another blog post altogether. So my answer from our homeschooling experience is not that it’s shorter, but MORE EFFICIENT. We focus on the topic at hand, and as soon as the child gets it, she gets it. However, I will admit that there is a flip-side to this coin. since we are the parents and the teachers, we find that our child can ask any question, about anything, anytime she wants to. This makes for an ongoing 24/7 teaching/learning experience that a “public-schooler” typically doesn’t get. There have been many times that our daughter would ask a question and it lead into a full blown teaching moment where we break out the dry erase board and everything.
In the end this post is not made to target people on how they choose to educate their children. I do not look down on those who choose to send their children to public school. This post is not an attempt to attack, convince, or push you into changing the education you have decided on, but to possibly shed some light and give an understanding on what it is like on this side of the fence. Believe me, there isn’t a question you can ask about the pros and cons of homeschooling that my wife and I haven’t given serious thought to, lost sleep over, and even argued about. However, in the end, we were the ones who came to this decision to homeschool our children, and all we simply ask is that you be considerate, and show some respect for our decision, and we will do the same for you.