Recently, my neighbor invited me over for a drink. As we talked, she asked if I still homeschooled the kids. I said I did. She started telling me how much they would like the local school, how her kids went there and they turned out fine, how they needed to learn to socialize, how I should send them to school so I could get a job and pull my own weight around here. (That last comment is going to be a future blog post)
I told her that the kids did practically nothing but socialize, they don’t know any strangers. Plus, they love being homeschooled, I don’t know that they would go if I tried. She then said “You are the mother, they don’t get to make the decisions, tell them they have to go so you can go get a job.”
Then, of course, she thows in the obligatory remark about how she knows this one homeschooling family, and they don’t really teach the kids, it’s just an excuse to be lazy, and their kids are extremely awkward. That most the people who homeschool are religious nuts who only do it so their kids aren’t exposed to anyone or anything that isn’t “right”.
On that last part, I know she has a point, that is the majority of people who chose to homeschool. In fact, that is why I was homeschooled. I do not think my siblings should be, I’m sorry. They are handed a couple text books at the beginning of the year, and told to work in them until they are done. I don’t agree with that at all.
It aggravates me that there is such a stigma about it. It is to the point that the boyfriend and I rarely ever admit we were homeschooled, because we don’t want to be automatically grouped in with these people. So, unless it is somehow relevant to the conversation, you won’t hear us admit it. And, as far as the stereotypes go, I definitely consider him successful. I may not be doing anything to impress anybody, but, I’m able to stay home with the kids, which wasn’t my dream job, but it was what I wanted when we had them.
I know people, my mother for one, who will almost attack anyone for sending their kids to public school. She will tell them how horrible it is, and how she loves her kids too much to do that to them. And, I definitely think a lot of the criticism of homeschooling applies to her. But, for the most part, I am not going to say anything about how or where your kids go to school, so, why attack me over it?
The thing that gets me the most, is, the people most likely to jump all over my case about this are the least likely to care about actually looking into it. I was reading a study recently that showed that the average grades on standadized tests for public scholled students was 57%, I believe. The average for homeschooled and private schooled children was 87%.
Another thing addressed in the study that I found interesting was that homeschooling seemed to help eliminate some of the negative effects of certain socio-economic factors. That if the parents were poor and uneducated, their kids actually did BETTER being homeschooled than public schooled. Also interesting, to me, was that having one parent with a college degree teaching did help, it pushed kids from the 75th percentile to the 85th percentile. Still higher than most children in public school.
The whole study is here:
Let me just say, I am not trying to put down parents who send their kids to public school. I am not. I think a large part of the disparity is the fact that if you are homeschooling your kid, you have more time and are more invested in their education. Most people don’t chose to do this so their kid can watch more tv. I think parents putting in the effort makes the difference, whether through homeschooling or through being involved in your kids life and education while they go to school.
If anyone who wanted to criticize me actually cared, they could see that, there is a lot of work and care that goes into this. Every Sunday night, I spend a few hours printing off that weeks school work, making copies where needed, separating everything into the days we need to do it, penciling in activities that will reinforce a concept. Trying to watch for where the boys are struggling and find things to help them. That sometimes the whole week gets rearranged because I realize one of them needs more than 2 days to learn this concept.When we go on trips, which is fairly often these days, the boys get worksheets about the states we visit, they get info sheets, I go to the library and find books about the states, about the history that happened there. They would see all the money that is spent on books and flash cards and various other things. They would see how much I LOVE doing this and how much the kids love it too.
When people complain about their lack of socialization, I wish they followed us for a week. They go to Lego playgroup at the library, they ride their bikes down the street and talk to anyone who is outside doing yard work, they play with the children of my friends, they go to the YMCA and play pool and air hockey with dozens of kids a week. They go to the pool and the splash park and always come back with stories about their new friends. They are in soccer. They go to church. At their dad’s house, the babysitter babysits 5 other kids besides the boys and their “step”sisters. They talk to the neighbors there as well, and volunteered to train the one lady’s new puppy. I spend half my day trying to stop the socialization! Meanwhile, the two little girls who live on either side of us aren’t allowed out to play, they sit in their windows and watch my kids play. I can hear them asking their moms if they can come over, and I honestly don’t care how many kids are here, but they have to stay inside and sit and watch my kids play.
I am not fanatical about this, if this stops working for us, then we will stop doing it. But right now, it’s working extremely well. Both boys have a step sister at their dad’s who is the same age, who go to public school, and I am able to keep up with what they are learning there, and my kids are right on track, and even ahead in some things. They aren’t awkward. I don’t shelter them. I am not religious, though Aussie is, so they are getting a bit of balance there. They are well behaved, I have had people ask us to go out so they can babysit! I just really hate that people are so quick to jump to conclusions.
Please, if you hear somebody say they homeschool their kids, talk about it. Ask questions. I know, I will willing talk about it all, as long as you aren’t acting like you are trying to trap me and prove this is bad. As long as your kids are taken care of, I don’t care how you do it, so please don’t jump to the assumption that mine aren’t being taken care of.
Eta: I borrowed a book from the librarytoday, tips and tricks for homeschooling kinda thing, in the intro the author says she was determined to find out if homeschoolers were normal before she chose that for her son. She went to a convention and said that they were obviously not. They were polite and helpful, they didn’t wear baggy jeans, or weird haircuts, they didn’t have blue hair or peircings. And she decided she didn’t want “normal” kids, she wanted these kids. So, I suppose the assumptions go both ways. My sons have baggy jeans, as well as green or blue hair. They are extremely polite and helpful, but they have been asking to get an ear pierced, and the only thing stopping me is the tantrum their dad will throw.