As wonderful as it is, homeschooling is hard. There have been days when the educational and life successes of my children has weighed so heavily on my mind and I wonder if I somehow forgot to teach someone to count by threes or how to identify prepositional phrases. These self-doubts weigh heavily enough. Then as homeschoolers we some days feel the added crush – from the in-laws, the neighbors, the clerk at the grocery store who wonders why you’re there with a full minivan at 9:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. That crush can sometimes make those challenging days of self-doubt squish you more than a minivan full of your own kids – plus their friends – all piled in for “park day”.
I used to memorize statistics of the benefits of homeschooling, armed and ready to tackle the critics and the questioners. Then I realized that in a way my family was a curiosity more than something people were criticizing. Sure – there are still those critics who feel perfectly justified telling me of the multiple ways my children (who are all thriving) will undoubtedly be ruined by homeschooling. But for the most part, people are curious and sometimes it just comes out awkwardly and uncomfortably for all of us. Which is why over the years I have tried to move from defense – relaying all of the positives about homeschooling, to humorous offense – having fun with my life and being proud of our decision to homeschool.
Top Questions for Homeschoolers
(and how to answer them graciously with a side of humor)
Are all of these kids yours?
My stretch-marks would confirm for you that, yes, these children are all mine. My favorite one is the kid who brings me fresh coffee every morning (FYI – none of my kids bring me coffee in the morning so ergo I don’t have a favorite).
How can you stand spending so much time with your kids?
Before I know it there won’t be any choice and they’ll be off living their own dreams. When I am older and greyer I will probably spend sad moments in the bathroom when no-one comes knocking, needing to know at precisely the moment I sit upon the porcelain throne what we are having for lunch, where he put his math book, and how many pieces of gum I guess he just fit into his mouth.
(This is the question that actually bothers my children the most. They always remark about how sad it is to hear parents speaking of the relief they feel when fall rolls around and it is time to send the kids back to school.)
Do you work at a real job, too?
Nothing gets more real than taking on the responsibility for the education of children for 20 years. My paycheck must just be lost in the mail. (BTW – I also work at a real job as a writer and editor, but I don’t worry too much about handing out my resume. I also don’t ask other people for their resumes unless I’m working.)
According to my coffee mug I am a domestic engineer.
How long do you plan to do that?
We “plan” to do this until it doesn’t work. Right now it works. It has worked for more than 15 years. I’m less worried about how long I plan to do this than I am with how can I make this continue to work for our family as long as possible?
No school today?
Oh my gosh – we forgot!!! (smile)
We homeschool – every day is a school day. Poor kids don’t even get snow days or time off for parent/teacher conferences – that’s just me talking to myself – again.
What about college?
Been there, doing that. With one senior and one freshman in college what we’ve learned is that colleges embrace homeschoolers. In fact, in my daughter’s first semester one of her professors made a general announcement in class that in his years of experience, there are two kinds of students who do well in college: homeschooled kids and music students. They know how to independently study and ask questions.
Are you worried that your kids won’t be socialized?
If you mean socialization by spending 8 or more hours a day with age-segregated groups in a socioeconomically flat environment, then, hmmmm. Nope. If you mean the stereotypical kinds of socialization (prom, bus ride antics, etc.), some of my kids get that, too by participating in public school sports (and I’m pretty certain they would still thrive without those experiences).
Full disclosure – I know wonderful kids who attend public schools. Some of the best friends of my kids (gasp – my kids have friends!) get on the school bus every morning. My kids also have friends across age and experience demographics, and feel comfortable in a wide variety of social situations. They have the time to experience more in their homeschool classroom – their community (or wherever we happen to travel). Although some days I do dream of a day of seclusion from the rest of the world like those fake visions of homeschoolers so that I wouldn’t have to get out of my lounge pants and remember which activity needed the snacks and which community education class needed the samples of pond scum – you do not want to be the mom who messes up those two things. Socialization – check.
If you homeschool – how do you handle all of those questions from curious people?