I’ve been trying to write this for weeks, and something just keeps coming up! What a crazy three months we’ve been trying to fit into one here. Anyways.
I asked on the facebook page a little while back for some obstacles to keeping your kids home instead of sending them away each day. While the site was pretty quiet, I did get some responses in different ways.
- Socialization– I didn’t think this was still a thing. But here we go. Homeschoolers are generally more active in society than their public school counterparts, both in early years and as they grow and start their own families. This may be because having 29 other kids from the same socioeconomic background in the same room doesn’t actually mean one is getting “raised” or is learning the proper way to deal with different situations, conflicts or problems. The best way to learn to deal is from someone who is more mature. Socialization is absolutely a thing for dogs- but for children, it really doesn’t make sense. Now, if when people use it as an excuse they mean it for the “social life” aspect- that’s a bit different. In our area, and with our board, we have an almost ridiculous amount of activities to join. We do a small percentage because we actually need to get some bookwork done, but we often hang out with other families. One of our fav highlights is when a group of us get together every other month or so- I think there’s maybe six or seven moms? But when we get together, there are over 40 children, ages newborn to teens. It’s so beautiful. The kids literally all play together, regardless of ages, and there are limited disagreements or problems (literally, I think only the toddlers fight!). They do crazy games outside involving sticks and possibly other handmade weapons. Rarely an injury. These kids know how to PLAY, and how to make the most of a big group. We always look forward to these days (thank you Cyndi!).
- Education- Everyone knows the story of little Johnny who was homeschooled and didn’t learn anything, and now lives in a box by the river. It’s terrible, unfortunate, and very wrong. As parents, we take on the responsibility of actually educating in some form or fashion, and you can NOT pass the buck. It doesn’t matter what methodology we adopt or enact, WE are responsible for making sure that our children get the tools that they need to succeed. I will offer you, however, that there is also a percentage of children that go through government-run institutions and come out the other side unprepared. This article from the Business Insider offers some great reasons as to why homeschooling is the smartest way to teach children, currently.
- But, we don’t actually “like” being with our kids– Honestly, I get this one the most, whispered with an embarrassed glance (sometimes whispered, sometimes in earshot with no care in the world to the ears that can hear.) Sometimes it’s called “missing the breaks,” or the time alone. Yeah, that’s unfortunate. But I will mention- the reason that you may not get along with your child is that you aren’t the primary influence, or the one who is currently raising them. If they are gone for the majority of the week, they are going to take on attitudes and beliefs from those they are around the most. Whether it be their teacher or friends, it doesn’t matter. Have you ever worked in a negative work environment, and felt the strain? It’s the same for children, but they don’t have a solid foundation from which to reach from. I bet if they were home with you, after some time together (it always takes awhile to deschool) they will be just as weird as you, and you will love hanging out with them.
- But they are supposed to be a light! This one is such a travesty. For one, government-run schools were not a thing in those times. It was just accepted that when you had children, you kept them. Some children went off to religious type schools, but it was in order to increase their faith and their knowledge of the Torah. It wasn’t to learn all the different pronouns that people can be referred to as (*Please see note at bottom.) The Bible never intended that verse for children, it was written to the mature believer. Not a child. Our job is to raise them to get there, and in the meantime give them a solid foundation. I try my hardest to be a light wherever I am. But I know there is not any point in going to the bar every night- I know some people are successful in that, but for me, it would be a whole lot of wasted time. Time better spent making relationships with people, and forming friendships. School is not set up for our kids to be lights- it is set up to snuff them out. Oh, this is a good one too, about the philosophy of public schools.
- But, it’s hard! Dude. You don’t even know. Maybe I can’t debunk this one. But aren’t we told that life will be hard? Aren’t we literally promised that? Blessings come from the hard things. Not the easy things. Seriously, it’s so hard. But I can already see the good coming from it.
- It doesn’t prepare them for life– Sigh. And classrooms do. I literally never know what to say to this without it coming out condescending (although, in all fairness, it’s being said as a judgment to me, sooo.) My oldest children are 11, 10 and 8. They are able to meal plan on different values (they each plan a meal once a fortnight) and cook it from start to finish. They can each make three or four simple meals from memory. They can clean a kitchen- starting with washing dishes, to drying, to putting everything away, wrapping up leftovers, sweeping, mopping. They can take care of babies or little children’s needs. They can answer the phone and take messages. They are capable of carrying on a conversation with just about anyone- even though one of them is pretty shy. They are able to read social cues and sense when someone is uncomfortable and try to help them. They do well in public speaking. They all read at, literally, double their respective grade levels, and are able to discuss the ideas presented. They know how to do laundry. The two boys are able to do some car things- change tires, check and replenish fluids, etc. They don’t have the physical strength or size, but one has helped me to charge the battery in the car and hook up an air compressor under the hood to inflate things. The older two are able to budget for short and long term purchases, and make decisions to reflect that. Actually, our oldest son saved his allowance for six months to plan a Huge Party. He had a pretty amazing DJ, a full snack buffet with gluten/peanut free options (although no one at the party had an allergy, he was prepared) fireworks, a talent show, a website and a guest list of 70 kids invited (40 showed up). It was pretty amazing. So yeah. I feel like they are on their way to being prepared.**
Now, my notes:
*If the pronoun thing comes across as rude- I didn’t mean it that way. But it literally took me ten minutes to explain to them that there are people who prefer to be referred to as different pronouns. Not a whole class. Not hours. And then it’s something we talk about along the way. And if you doubt me, here’s a story. My son went to a birthday party for a fellow homeschooler. Her cousin, grade 6 at a Catholic school, confided in my son after ten minutes that she was a pansexual. When I asked him how he felt about that, or what he did, he said he just kept hanging out with her and playing with her. He also felt bad that her mom didn’t know, and thought she seemed sad. He was sad that they weren’t close, like we are. He mentioned that he was glad he can tell me anything. I found out later that her teacher at school had offered up this buffet of identities, and the kids got to “choose one.” Whatever the case. I didn’t realize that the schools were doing so well in math and reading scores that they are also able to aptly help children find their own identities. That’s awesome. I don’t pay that much attention to what they are teaching, but it sure sounds like they are getting lots done. Due to this situation, and others that I have personally witnessed, I can confidently say that my children are able to connect with children of different backgrounds, orientations and cultures, and treat them kindly and respectfully. That doesn’t mean they are perfect by any stretch of the imagination but that 8 times out of 10, I can expect them to do the right thing when I am not around (Not with each other, mind you. Man they fight.) I’ve also been able to make sure they’ve been in lots of different situations, with me. They learn from watching, and then they learn as I gently lead them.
**The reason that our kids are capable in these ways is not through any big effort on my part. Please don’t take it as a list of our big accomplishments. It’s just what happens when you have babies and need help and slowly train them to do just that. I think it’s just as important my boys can run the house as my girls. For outside and car stuff, my HH is an amazing teacher and always takes the time to show them what he’s doing. Home education literally doesn’t end- it’s alllll the time.
So. Time is running out. If you live in Alberta, you have under a week to take the plunge, and still be able to easily sign up with a board. If you are in another province, there isn’t the same pressure, but there is. I know someone in every province, willing to help you get started. We only have a limited time with these amazing children. One shot to get it right. It might seem long now, but it’s really not. One of my precious-est friends spoke on the weekend about losing three of her children at a young age. She was so thankful for the years they spent together, growing, learning and loving. I was so encouraged that even though this is super challenging, it is the best way to live with no regrets. One day, I’ll be old and bored. Until then, I will raise these children with my husband and the Lord.