Yesterday I found myself in an all too familiar position- one where I was defending our choice to homeschool. We went to see some family members we hadn’t seen in a while and, of course, when they heard we homeschool we got a lot of raised eyebrows and pointed questions which I patiently and politely answered(though some of them had me feeling very defensive and on edge, more from tone than the questions themselves).
Later when I was talking to my aunt about the disapproval some had expressed she said they were all overly critical because one member of the family wasn’t homeschooling ‘the right way’. She then went on to list all of things this individual was doing wrong and all of the ways her children were ‘behind’. Again, I tried to patiently and politely explain that what I’d seen and heard didn’t indicate to me that her kids were behind and also that it’s hard to know what someone else is truly doing from the outside. But later, the conversation came back to me and something was nagging at me; the same thing that always nags at me when I have similar conversations…
Why does everyone assume that all homeschoolers are the same unless it is pointed out to them that we aren’t? And why does everything that goes wrong in a homeschoolers life have to be the result of homeschooling? No one makes these assumptions about school (in spite of the fact that schools are DESIGNED to be exactly the same, or ‘standardized’). I know you mean well when you share that horror story about the homeschooled kid who grew up and wasted his life. Or the one who graduated at 15 but had no friends. And also the one who can’t hold a job. Oh, and my personal favorite, the one who’s in prison. I hate to break it to you folks but each and every one of those outcomes is just as possible when you go to public school. Yet no one looks at a mug shot and says, “I knew that would happen if they sent him to school!”
I have often (and I would wager so has every other homschooler who’s been doing it for more than a month) found myself in a position where I was defending homeschooling to someone who has a story about neglect disguised as homeschooling. We aren’t neglecting our kids, physically, emotionally OR educationally. Furthermore, we aren’t anti-social. Nor are we over protective. Nope, we are not evolution-denying fundamentalists. Heck, we aren’t even hippies (though we do know a few 😉 ). The point that everyone seems to be missing is that homeschooling is not one size fits all. In fact the very reason many of us chose homeschooling is because we don’t like the one size fits all institution of school.
So please, try to remember… we are not just like that homeschooling family you met that one time. Or saw on the news. Or lived next door to. Or grew up in. We are having our own unique homeschooling experience- just like every other homeschooler out there. 😉