Some people just don’t understand homeschooling at all. That’s OK, its not something that most people have ever come across or researched. It’s not “normal”, school is the best thing for kids in the conventional mindset.
Surely it’s compulsory?
It’s not compulsory, it’s a choice, parents have a legal obligation to provide their children with an education, you can choose to sign that duty over to a school, or, you can take full responsibility for their education yourself. This is the option I prefer for my family.
In my experience objection to homeschooling runs high in the community, this may be because we seem to be rejecting the choices others have made for their children. It’s natural to be defensive. Only those that know us well or fully understand what is involved tend to support us. I’ve run into some negativity even within my own family, surely they should know me better by now?
Of the objectors, some just roll their eyes and let us carry on doing our thing, gossiping behind our backs a bit, but they mostly just ignore us.
Some like to call social services, that’s easy, I have a certificate from the government to prove that they’re OK with me keeping the kids home from school. I’ve been checked and approved.
Some make nasty comments to our faces. It’s the nasty comments that get to me because I’m not good at reacting to unexpected criticism with no chance to plan my witty, intelligent response. I’m a bit rubbish at confrontation and thinking on my feet.
Here are some of the anti-homeschooling remarks I’ve had aimed at me.
“You are denying them an opportunity.”
I don’t understand this one at all. What opportunity would that be exactly?
Do they mean the opportunity to get an education? They are getting one, a good one, I would say a better one than the schools are handing out.
Do they mean the opportunity to go to university? If they choose to go, they will go. You don’t necessarily need a high school certificate, or similar, to meet entrance requirements. There are alternate entrance criteria and if they need pieces of paper these are easily obtained through night school, Open University, i GCSEs, TAFE, or similar ( in far less time that the school system takes). Universities actually like homeschoolers as they are self motivated and there to learn.
And is University really what we should be aiming for anyway?
Do they mean the opportunity to have all that fun in school? We tried school, it wasn’t fun, it was torture for all involved. I’m sure many kids enjoy it, mine didn’t. Looking back to my school days, I enjoyed some of it, but I enjoyed weekends a whole lot more.
Do they mean the opportunity to use the sort of equipment they have in school? We have computers at home that work, the ones in school often didn’t work and D had to watch someone else have a computer lesson. Any equipment the boys would like, I can buy.
Because we travel, I can take my 2 to the best places on the planet to learn about anything first-hand, be that London’s amazing museums, a Mayan temple in the Guatemalan jungle or a Muslim country and it’s mosques, you can’t beat learning at source. ( see how much learning happened in our first year of travel by clicking through here)
I can’t think of any other opportunity they could mean, if you have any ideas please let me know.
I do know that my children have the opportunity to sleep, eat, play, move about, read and even go to the toilet, when they like, nobody is enforcing an artificial schedule on them.
I know they have the opportunity to learn about whatever captures their imagination to whatever depth they choose, when they choose and in the way that best suits them.
I know they have the opportunity to be surrounded by love, encouragement and support, not strangers and criticism and bullying.
I know they have the opportunity to spend time with their family, even when Dad’s only day off is a Thursday.
I know they have the opportunity to travel, to see the world for themselves, at any time of the year and get that education as we travel .
I know they have the opportunity to socialise with many people, from babies to old age pensioners, from all backgrounds, nations and careers, all day, every day, if we choose. We only have to leave the house.
I know they have the opportunity to do their learning when they feel like it and if they don’t, it’s not a problem, we’ll go to the playground and try not to learn anything for a few hours, if that’s actually possible!
So no, I don’t think I’m denying them an opportunity.
“Will someone from the school come and test them?”
Not so much a nasty comment as a daft question, frustrating after I’d explained homeschooling extensively to the lady in question.
No, we are nothing to do with the school, my kids do not have to jump through the artificial hoops that school creates, they are not expected to memorize xyz by a particular date. They are not required to memorize xyz at all, unless I or they think they should for some purpose.
We are not learning the same stuff as they do in school. I write the curriculum with a heavy bias towards what interests us as individuals, we cover everything you would expect plus a lot of material that is not taught in our local junior school at all. Plenty of research goes into my curriculum, it’s extremely comprehensive and we cover it naturally through life and through fun.
” He’ll turn out a Cissy.”
Yes, it’s true, somebody actually said that to me. Followed up by “How will he toughen up?”.
These are possibly the most ridiculous arguments against homeschooling I’ve ever heard. What sort of parent would want their child bullied, physically and mentally hurt, in the name of “toughening up”?. I don’t think any further explanation is necessary.
“He won’t be able to socialise.”
Well, when I unlock the cellar and let him out, he does have this habit of playing with other kids. I’ve tried to stop him but I can’t!
Crazy, just crazy, why does this old chestnut keep cropping up? They meet other people all the time, from a far wider demographic than that found in your average classroom.
There are other homeschoolers about, lots of them, we form groups and clubs and networks . We hang out and play, we have weekend camps, sports clubs, choirs and drama groups.
If that’s not enough, they can go to all the regular clubs school kids go to. But they’re a bit lame, they only happen after school and on weekends.
In a nutshell, they socialise in the same way adults do, in the real world rather than in an institution.
” But you’re not a teacher.”
No, and I’m not standing in front of a class full of other people’s kids trying to keep them in order and get them all to the same point at the same time. I don’t need to be a teacher.
I do have a fairly academic background, which reassures some people, but the only qualification you need for this job is to love your children and want the best possible outcome for them.
As a point of interest, there are many. many teachers that reject the system they are a part of and choose to homeschool their own children.
Home education isn’t for everyone
I can fully understand that homeschooling isn’t for everybody, not everyone would or should or could even consider it. For us, at the moment, it’s just perfect.
The only thing I ask of these people is that, before passing judgement and writing us all off as a lunatic fringe of hippies and earth mothers, do a bit of homework, find out a bit about it, look at the research.
I think it’s a great way to live and has endless benefits for the children and families involved. There have been many homeschoolers that have gone before us and I hope many more to come after us, the movement is growing and I’m glad. I hope more people will come to realize that mainstream school is not compulsory, preferable nor the only option.