Wednesday, June 13, 2012


"You have chosen a difficult road," Mary said to me.

I blinked.

I didn't understand what she meant.

I felt like I had just claimed my very own island, complete with free staff to wait on me hand and foot, and bordered by a tempest-free sea, where my own little boat would gently rock on the perpetually warm, shark-free waters.

Mary had just spent an hour telling me how she homeschooled her kids, and I was avidly writing down everything she said in preparation to do the same for Josh.

It sounded fun, and exciting...romantic, even. And with my own homeschooling experiences behind me, I felt like this was going to be magical.

So, I sort of pshaw-ed her statement.

And, horrifyingly to me, the sharks showed up, in stormy waters no less.

The first shark was curriculum. Finding what was right for Josh was a total nightmare. We went through three different reading programs until we found The One. I think it was a mixture of Hooked on Phonics and that the whole reading thing suddenly clicked for him, and he took off.

I battled that shark, and beat it into the shape of a seal and set it free in the sea...

I felt pretty smug.

Just look at my bad self, I thought, beating that darn ol' shark into submission.

Then came the rest of them.

Nothing prepares you for the total mayhem that erupts when you let people know that you are homeschooling. I got criticism from places I never thought I would get it.

What's the big deal?

Public school is a modern convention. It's been less than 150 years since free-education has been in place, in the United States at any rate.

So what did people do before that? Lay around and be stupid?

No, they actually learned things. At home.

I'm not saying public school is bad. I actually like public school. I'm not one of those crazy anti-school homeschool moms.

I'm just a traditionalist. Super old traditionalist.

The way I see it is that some kids do great in school, some do great at home, what's the big deal?

I don't think that public school is the devil.

I'm not criticizing you because you put your kids in school.

I don't think you are a bad parent.

I don't think your kid is going to become morally corrupt.

I don't think that I'm better than you.

In fact, I wasn't thinking of you at all when I decided to homeschool my son.

Because it wasn't about you.

It was about him.

Josh isn't built to sit at a desk. He is built to jump on that desk. And I am okay with that.

Do I think that my kid is going to be socially backwards?


If my kid is messed up, it's because of my parenting style, and he would be like this in school or out of school.

My hope is that Josh will learn how to behave from me and Jeremy. And while Jeremy and I aren't always mature all the time, I see nothing wrong with Josh having two adults be his templates. And he has a bevy of sisters to torment play with.

There are no, I repeat, NO facts backing the whole "socialization" argument. It's a rumor that people like to pass along. There IS, however, lots of information that says the otherwise. Many studies have been done that indicate that homeschooled kids are just fine socially. Who'da thunk?

One of my favorite homeschool bloggers is Keith Wilcox. He has a very pragmatic view of homeschooling, and is often very funny. He has a great blog about the socialization issue.

So, my child isn't going to turn out warped because of homeschooling. He's going to be warped because of me. A fact which causes me no end of consternation.

This morning I logged onto LDS.ORG and typed "parenting" into the search box, and found all sorts of articles, which all, basically, boiled it down to this: Your kid will behave how you behave. Treat them nicely and respectfully, with lots of love and praise and acceptance, and they will be freaking awesome. Treat them otherwise, and you have a mess on your hands. Good luck.

Now, is homeschooling magical and exciting? At times.

But it is also really hard.

We have good days and bad days, just like any other little kid would have in public school.

So, instead of looking at public school and homeschooling as Good Vs. Evil, think of them as Top Hats Vs. Ski Masks. They both cover your head, it's just a matter of style preference.

So, that is my two cents on that.

Mary was right. It has been (and will be) a difficult road. But it is one I am willing to tread on for Josh.


Sarah Stufflebeam said...

Elizabeth Bennet was home schooled, and she turned out fine:0) A fictional character, yes, but I like to look at Benjamin Franklin. I believe he completed only two years of public school, but it wasn't the right fit for him. He left, but loved books, so he self educated himself. Some of the greatest minds in history learned outside the classroom.

Trillium said...

I think much of the criticism comes from people who were victims of peer pressure which they "learned" in public school. As impressionable children, they found safety in being herd-followers. As grown-ups, they now irrationally feel threatened by people who think for themselves and march to the beat of a different drummer. Some of the critics are living in the Great and Spacious Building, and they like to mock. However, like the people on the path to the Tree of Life, you will only be successful in your homeschooling if you "pay them (the critics and mockers) no heed." This is the path of safety and peace. When you know what is right for your child, don't look for approval from your "friends."

FINDING PEACE IN 2012 said...

And I feel so blessed to know people who are homeschooling so in a couple years when I get to that point I can have YOU as a great resource! I have always planned on homeschooling my kids because I never seemed to fit I the cookie cutter mold of public education. Many kids do. I did not. I want to be able to find my children's learning style and adapt my teaching style to fit it. I only survived because my mom worked with me a lot at home to make things hands- on. Her own health problems prevented her from being able to fully homeschool though, but her efforts made all the difference to me. In a classroom with 30 kids, teachers are just trying to survive and keep order. There is little room for "getting your hands dirty" learning. God bless our teachers. They are making a difference the best they know how. As a mom, I feel empowered that I can make that difference too, just in a more personalized way. I think it's great you are looking at your sons needs and trying to fill them. I love it when people say, "public school is just reality. It's just the way the world works!" I always think, "it's not the way my world works! I think I will change reality! Why do I want to send a five year old out into the world?" on the other hand, my niece started school and her confidence has grown immensely by it. So it depends a lot on the child's temperament and their home life. Props to you!!!

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