We all know that there are a lot of misconceptions about homeschoolers, and, while most of those tend to be centered around the kids, there are a lot of misconceptions about homeschool moms (and dads), as well. I'm often surprised to hear some of the things that people who don't homeschool think about homeschoolers. I guess I shouldn't be. I used to be a public school mom (for two years) and I imagine that I thought some of these things, too, though it's been so long, I really can't recall for sure.
Anyway, I'd like to make some homeschool mom confessions (at least, as relates to this homeschool mom). Oh, and the title just sounded fun. No negative implications intended there at all. Some of my best friends and favorite relatives are public school parents.
1. We do not have superhuman patience. I can't tell you the number of people who say to me, "I couldn't homeschool; I don't have enough patience" or some variation thereof. Let me tell you, my name and patience rarely occur in the same sentence unless someone is saying, "Kris has no patience."
I have told people, "I know that homeschooling isn't for everyone and I'm not suggesting that you should homeschool, but if you're going to give me an excuse, you'll have to come up with a better one than that because if I have enough patience to homeschool, anybody does!"
When we first began homeschooling, I told the neighbors, "If you come home from work one afternoon and there is yellow police tape around the house, you'll know that one of us [the kids or I] ran out of patience." So far, we've all survived, but seriously? I've done homework with my oldest when she was in public school. So far, my worst day of homeschooling hasn't been any worse than my worst night of homework.
2. We don't homeschool because it gives us the warm fuzzies. There are probably almost as many reasons to homeschool as there are homeschoolers, but I don't know of anyone who does this just because it makes them feel good because, you know what? Some days, it does not feel good. Some days involve tears, whining, yelling...before breakfast...and not necessarily from the kids. Which leads me to confession number three...
3. Some days, we watch with envy as that yellow school bus drives by. We don't do this because it's easy or a cop-out. Some days, homeschooling is just hard. Some of us have been known to threaten to send our kids to public school (my kids can tell you exactly how far we live from the public school because I've mentioned it a time or two). Some of us have spent more time than we'd care to admit daydreaming about what we might do if our kids were in school all day. And, there are some days when it takes every ounce of will power not to chase down that school bus. However, when push comes to shove, we know there is nothing else we'd rather do than homeschool our kids.
4. We don't think our kids are better or smarter than yours. Most of us are average moms and dads with average kids who have their areas of strength and their areas of weakness -- academically and personally -- just like yours. We have our hopes and fears, doubts and insecurities just like you do. Do some homeschool parents have gifted kids? Absolutely! Do some homeschool parents have kids whom the parents think are gifted, but in reality, not so much? Yes. Do some public school parents have gifted kids? Yep. Do some public school parents have kids whom the parents think are gifted, but in reality, not so much? I think you see where this is going.
We all -- public, private, or homeschool parents -- think our kids are pretty special. That doesn't mean that we, the homeschool parents, think our kids are better than those not educated at home.
5. Our decision to homeschool is not a personal commentary on your decision not to. Contrary to popular belief, we do not think that homeschooling is for everyone. We don't think that you're a bad parent or that you don't care about your kids as much as we care about ours because you don't homeschool them. We see educational choices as yet another personal parenting choice and we realize that you are making the choices that you see as best for your family, just as we are.
6. Our decision to homeschool is not a personal commentary on the jobs of public school teachers. Many of us do have a beef with the public school system as a whole (I don't think that is exclusive to homeschoolers). Although we may see the system as flawed, this observation does not typically extend to individual teachers. Most of us realize that the majority of teachers are good people, doing a good job with a whole lot expected of them for pitifully low compensation based on the time and effort their jobs require.
7. We realize that there are homeschooling families who probably should not be homeschooling. However, this is true in every area of life. There are public and private school teachers who have no business in the classroom. There are parents who have no business having kids.
We, who are so often judged, try not to judge others and we definitely do not want to our rights as parents restricted because of a few sensationalized cases. The majority of parents who homeschool are doing so honestly and with integrity, raising kids who are just as ready for life after homeschool as any other kid is for life after graduation.
8. Just because we're Christian doesn't mean that we are "religious homeschoolers." There are a huge percentage of us who, while we are people of faith, would not necessarily say that we are homeschooling for religious reasons. Being able to share our faith with our kids and looking at our studies with a Christian worldview is a huge benefit of homeschooling, but many of us would not consider it the singular reason we homeschool.
9. We don't do this to shelter, over-protect, or isolate our children. People who don't homeschool often don't realize what is available to homeschooled kids. Our area offers band, soccer, baseball, football, tennis, track, volleyball, prom, monthly socials, graduation, graduation banquet, year book, co-ops and classes, and so much more. These kids are not sitting at home by themselves every day. They're out with other kids enough to experience their fair share mean kids, bullies, and, for the older kids, teen-aged angst.
And, look how many of us have more kids than the national 2.5 average! Seriously, if you have siblings, you know that there's no one better to help your practice interpersonal and conflict resolution skills than siblings.
10. We don't do this to annoy you. We homeschool because we feel that it's the best choice for our families. We don't ask you to think it's the best choice for your family. We did not wake up one morning and flip a coin to decide on this lifestyle. We prayed about it, researched it, and talked about it long before deciding that homeschooling was the right choice for our family. We do not come to your blogs or corner you at the soccer game to tell you how bad we think your decision to send your kids to public school is because we don't care -- not in the negative "don't care" way, but in the "that's your family's decision and we respect that" way. You are doing what you feel is right for your kids and that's exactly what you're supposed to do. It's what we're doing, too.