Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of homeschooling, how it fits in with doing what’s best for YOUR family, and the fine line between explaining your decisions and defending your life choices.
You’re homeschooling? How lovely. WHY would you want to do that?
Going against the mainstream opens the door to big questions about big life choices to random strangers at the post office.
You’re so brave. I could never do that. Is that even legal? Home all day with your kids? Do you think your kids are too smart for school? Do you think you’re a better teacher than real teachers? Do you not trust schools? Do you hate teachers? Are you teaching everything? What makes you qualified to do that? How will you know your kids are learning? Are you going to do this forever? Are you completely insane?
For us, homeschooling is a lifestyle choice. A big, life changing decision. We put a lot of thought into it, talked it through, and decided that this is the direction we want our lives to take. The pros seriously outweigh the cons. There are sacrifices, but they’ll be well worth it.
Doing What Works
We don’t fit the typical homeschool stereotypes. You know what they are. We are your completely average, right down the middle class, suburban family. There was no big event that pushed us to choose homeschool over public school. We aren’t anti-anything or pro-anything in particular. We are just a family trying to do what works.
Pros and Cons of Homeschool
I’m a list-maker. When I started thinking about homeschooling my oldest son, then only just turned 4, I wrote a massive pro and con list. I was shocked when the pros flowed right out of the end of my pen. The cons were harder to think of, and after just five in the con column I was out of ideas.
Deciding to Homeschool
The decision was fairly easy to make after a little research and a lot of getting-over-myself. I’ve found the most difficult part of homeschooling has been a “con” I hadn’t expected: Explaining – sometimes downright defending our decision to homeschool.
I understand the curiosity. Before I started this journey I knew exactly one homeschooler. The majority of people I talk to know zero. None. It’s new. It’s strange. Outside the norm. Something you hear about on TV – and not in a good way. Only around 3% of all school aged children are educated at home.
I may be the first weirdo homeschooler you’ve ever met, but I won’t be the last. Alternative schooling is on the rise, whether it’s traditional homeschool, virtual school, a hybrid, or something in-between.
The Hierarchy of Curiosity
Not all curiosity is created equal. Not everyone is owed an explanation. I’m looking at you old lady in line behind me at Pack and Ship. Did she just? Did she say? Oh no she didn’t.
Family and Friends
People close to you will range from passive to confrontational, but whatever their reaction, know they care and only question us out of genuine concern. These are the questions I don’t mind.
Everything is gonna be okay. I promise, I won’t screw up the kids any more than I was going to five minutes ago. I’m just doing it a different way.
People you sort-of know who feel like they knew you before you completely blew their mind. Oh-my-god-you’re-homeschooling-I-can’t-believe-it-you-of-all-people-why-would-you-ever-do-that?!? Then quickly, How nice for you.
Look Acquaintances, you didn’t know me as well as you thought you did. I didn’t mean to startle you with my odd behavior, so I’ll answer this way: It’s what works for us. It’s what we really want to do.
Haters. You’ll get those. The eyebrow raise that says, “I’m surprised you’re not in denim bib overalls, wearing a bonnet, riding a goat.”
How to identify a Homeschool Hater: They don’t call you by name. Your new name is “The One Who Homeschools.” They say things like, “Sometimes I’d like to keep my kids sheltered, too.” Or they hint around that it’s nice that you can “afford” to do something like this.
Clearly this says more about their frame of mind than it does about my lifestyle.
Embrace the haters. Let them spur you on. To them I say, Oh yes, we homeschool. We homeschool so hard it’ll make your head spin.
People you run into on the street, at the bank, in the toilet paper aisle of the grocery store… they’re going to ask a lot of personal questions and will see a lot of resting bitch face. I’m just here to buy some stamps. Stop questioning me and my kid and mind ya business.
Not everyone is so combative, but meeting people outside of education and homeschool that are both knowledgeable and accepting is infrequent at best. I’ve only been at this for a short time, and I’ve already had some thrilling experiences with the public.