Do you know any homeschool parents? Here’s a few things they might want you to know!
Homeschool parents aren’t always quick to volunteer the information that they are a homeschooling family. Not because we don’t want to talk about it, but because once it comes up it can easily monopolise the conversation. Other people have questions. Fair enough. Read on for some things homeschool parents want you to know.
1. We don’t have more patience than you.
Homeschool parents do not have unending amounts of patience. I promise. But this is most often the first reaction I get from other mums. ‘You must have more patience than I do.’ No. No I do not.
I’m just desensitized.
I’m used to being around my kids pretty much 24/7. Sometimes it drives me crazy to be around them all day long (shhh…don’t tell the parenting police!). I swear there are days where one more extra-loud belch or a sibling squabble will send me over the edge.
I have a limited amount of patience, and over time I’ve learned to deal with it. Just like you would if you suddenly found yourself with your kids 24/7. I can’t imagine if I suddenly pulled them out of school at their current ages. That would definitely test my patience. But I promise you, you would adjust. And I promise you, I do not have more patience than you. Ask my kids.
(Or maybe please don’t ask them…)
2. Sometimes we dream about putting our kids in school.
Yep, sometimes homeschool parents see those school buses go by and experience a pang of envy. Since, like I said above, being around them all day can make us crazy. Or maybe because we are overwhelmed and want to give this huge responsibility over to someone else. Because we’re tired of explaining why we don’t worry about socialisation. Because it would be nice to be able to clean the house and have it stay that way for more than a second. Because we’d like to be able to get some work done without kids around.
Because sometimes we fear we aren’t doing well enough at this.
Because we’re normal parents who get tired and run-down and occasionally fantasise about a different life.
3. We don’t all do this for religious reasons.
There are many, many non-religious families who homeschool. The reasons for homeschooling are so many and so varied, but there are certain stereotypes that persist. My favourite comment in reaction to finding out we homeschool:
‘But you’re so normal!’
People expect homeschooled kids to be socially awkward with conservative, very religious parents who overly shelter them. And those families do exist. But they aren’t the only kind of homeschooling family. There are plenty of homeschool curriculum resources out there that are not in the least religious.
These days so many families turn to homeschooling because the school system failed them in some way. They never imagined they would ever homeschool. Even for a religious family it may have less to do with feeling called to it and more to do with feeling it is the best choice for their family, for their kids.
4. We aren’t that nervous about teaching high school.
I never took calculus, and I’ve never needed to know it. But if I suddenly found myself needing to learn it, I’d have plenty of options in front of me. I could watch some videos online (and that’s probably where I’d start). Or I could, after carefully researching and looking at samples, order a calculus book and work my way through it. I could ask a math-y friend for some help if I run into problems. Maybe take a class in my community if one were available. I could definitely do an online course. And I could certainly hire a tutor.
All of these are options we can use to teach our high school students. There is no rule that says the homeschooling parent has to do all the teaching. If one of my kids needs to learn calculus, we will employ the above methods until we find the one that works.
Did you catch that? I wouldn’t be doing the teaching. In fact, depending on the subject, homeschool parents might be doing the learning right along with their child.
(Notice I said we aren’t that nervous about teaching high school. There are plenty of other reasons I’m nervous about having a teenager!)
5. We don’t think kids need to experience bullying as a life lesson.
‘But don’t kids need to go to school and experience bullying so that when they encounter it later in life they know how to deal with it?’
I am always flummoxed when I hear this one. Actually, it makes me a bit furious. I can feel my heart beating faster as I write this, just trying to form the words. I’ll try to limit myself to the homeschooling aspect.
First, going to school does not guarantee your child will experience bullying. I don’t believe that at all, but we hear about it so much in the news or in school policies that it seems bullying is unavoidable and that every child will be touched by it at some point. It’s a terrible assumption that makes it seem like an inevitable rite of passage in today’s society.
Second, homeschooling your children does not guarantee they won’t be bullied. You do not have to go to school to experience it. I think that’s a given in today’s online world, but also any social situation your children are involved in where they see the same kids week after week could potentially include bullying. It doesn’t have to be school.
So the question as it relates to homeschooling is, in my mind, void.
But the idea that a child who is emotionally and physically immature needs to experience it to ‘toughen up’ or be able to deal with it later in life is mistaken. An emotionally mature adult should be able to reasonably deal with any bullying encountered in life. And so I think it is appropriate that we focus our parenting on raising children who become emotionally mature adults with the tools to deal with bad situations (of any kind) while protecting them from bullying in childhood. I’m not talking about sheltering them from teasing or hurt feelings, I can’t protect them from that. But when it crosses the line into bullying, yes, I think they should be protected from that as much as we as parents are able.
I’m going to stop there.
As I’ve been writing this my list has gone way above just 5 things, so another post will be on the way. After I calm myself down from number five. (As a preview…the next list will include ‘Quit quizzing our kids!!!’)
I want you to know, dear homeschooling parent, that you aren’t alone! Were you nodding along as you read this list? Or do you completely disagree? What do you as a homeschool parent want people to know? Leave me a comment below.
PS- Does the Aussie spelling drive you crazy? Monopolise, socialise, fantasise? (And nope, school buses don’t look like that here. American school buses are so cute!)