Defending Homeschool

I had numerous misconceptions and misgivings going into home-education, reservations which rendered me too terrified to make the leap years before we finally did. And as is also true of any new undertaking, one can rarely really know what it’s like until they actually jump in… or know someone who will pass along insider information.

Accordingly, I’d love to clear up a few stereotypes, debunk some archaic myths…

Myth #1) Home-education fosters social incompetence. In fact, I have found the opposite to be true. My kids naturally swing to the outgoing side of the pendulum (shocking, no?), I’d sooner call them hyper-social than socially stunted. Since I broker out many of their regular activities, they are often the newcomers, having plenty of practice in boldly extending themselves to develop friendships. They have ample opportunity to mingle with peers in several different settings and can comfortably carry a conversation with children or adults, alike. (e.g. the way they virtually pounce on our sweet next door neighbor- a new mom in her early thirties- every time she steps foot outdoors.) Through volunteering at a nearby retirement home, they have similarly learned how to appropriately engage the elderly residents. Besides all this, they constantly make an effort to get along with the SAME kids (i.e. siblings) on a daily basis, which  I’d argue requires more social finesse.

our 4th grader got to sit & participate in her pal’s 5th grade class during our recent Oregon trip… she was stoked i snapped this photo

Myth #2) Homeschoolers are too sheltered. We all churn butter, braid hair, and sew dresses– right? Frumpy denim jumpers our official uniform? Not in my house. My children are quite normal, well-adjusted, modern pint-sized hipsters. We don’t aim to alienate them from their culture in a bubble of our own fabrication, we wish them to be attuned- relevant– to the world around them.

Myth #3) Moms homeschool so they can gallivant with girlfriends all day. Truth: Homeschooling mercilessly massacres the social lives of mommies[daddies]. For reals. Goodbye coffee dates and pedicures. So long workout buddies. Sayonara lunches with Besties– Mama’s got school to teach! I’ve elected to pull back from most weekly commitments for the sake of my kids’ education.

Myth #4) Once we start homeschooling, I’ll get SO much done during the day– the house will be so clean! I did believe this one. Rookie mistake. I relished the notion of an ever-immaculate home, since, you know, we’d be here all day. Um? False. Here’s a hint: We’re home ALL DAY. Dirtying the house, dirtying the dishes, sloughing our skin cells all over the darn place. When I finally get a moment to clean something, my little hurricane toddler is right behind me making another mess. All the live-long day.

Myth #5) Homeschoolers are lazy. I get it, just because we stay in our pj’s until noon everyday on occasion you think we’re slackers. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. My kids still get up and unload the dishwasher, make their beds, brush their teeth and hair, and feed the host of critters that we house as pets. On the educational side, we move on as soon as we master a skill, no “no child left behind” equalizing to wait for. With minimal classroom distractions (save for aforementioned toddler), we plod along at our own pace and find our kiddos to be advanced for their grade levels. A veteran homeschooling mom encouraged me to homeschool when our girls were tiny; she raised three brilliant daughters– and I believe more than one of them got a perfect score on her SAT’s! Lazy? Not so much.

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oft our most persistent distraction
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he likes to ‘help’ his sisters with their schoolwork

Myth #6) Parents homeschool their children in order to indoctrinate them. To brainwash them into cookie-cutter minions who regurgitate their parents’ ideals? I’m not one for any variety of rote memorization. My aim as an educator is to instill in my children a passion for learning, an attitude of inquisitiveness, a teachable spirit. I want to teach them how to learn. Newsflash: No one will ever know all the stuff. Our brains simply lack the capacity to comprehend and retain every silly fact we ever learn.

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studying marine biology this year– planet ocean

Myth #7) Homeschoolers get a sub-par education with holes in it. Dude, I’m the first to admit I’m lacking a teaching degree. I’m not making this stuff up as I go along! There are amazing, cohesive educational resources out there, these days, and I am eternally grateful to be following the lesson plans of educators far smarter than myself. I assure you *ahem, Grandma, ahem* we are NOT winging it. No one cares about the quality of a child’s education more than their parent.

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an impromptu lesson in paying attention to detail as I orated the description of the sea serpent they were to replicate from the voyage of the dawn treader
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keeping lil mister content (and contained) whilst completing our lesson

What other stereotypes have you heard about homeschoolers?

***Since posting this, I have added another:

Myth #8) Homeschoolers hate [public/formal/real school teachers]. Dude. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Since embarkin upon my own teaching gig, my respect has only multiplied for the educators who bravely pour their lives into today’s youth. I instruct only three precious pupils– they rock a classroom of 20+ students! Teachers, you are my heros. Mega props, for realsies. We still deliver first day, Christmas, and last day treats to my girls’ former teachers. We even scored the class guinea pig for Christmas break again last year, though my daughter was no longer a part of the class. (Too bad the poor thing died on our watch, though that is entirely besides the point.) Teachers rock, end of story.

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