Society’s view on homeschooling in today’s world is surprisingly ignorant. I can say this without apology because before I started homeschooling my daughter, I was part of that ignorant society.
Let’s face it, on the whole, homeschoolers are seen as religious fanatics, nature freaks, hermits or worse. There’s a good chance some homeschoolers are that and more. But there’s also a good chance they’re not. In my three years of homeschooling, I haven’t met anyone like that. Though I expected to.
We took our daughter out of middle school after just two months of it. I will get into the reasons for that at another time. For now, I’ll explain the adjustment period we experienced.
Via the internet, I’d found a homeschooling support group in my area. I was amazed to learn how many homeschool families there were in New York City. In my ignorance, I assumed homeschooling was reserved for those in the Midwest, South or even way upstate NY. Surely not in Brooklyn and Queens. I was wrong. At last check, at least 10,000 children within the five boroughs were being homeschooled.
I was also wrong to be afraid. We decided to attend an activity organized by this new Homeschool group BEFORE we made a final decision whether to make the change ourselves. I will never forget the anxiety I felt walking into the building where a Thanksgiving feast and lesson was to be held. I didn’t know what to expect and was afraid I was taking my little family into some type of ritualistic, secret society meeting.
Instead, my first thought as people introduced themselves and welcomed us was, “Wow! Everyone here is so… normal!”
And they are. We are. Yes, some members of our group hold opinions and ideals that might seem extreme to others. But some – most – do not. Just like in the ‘real world’. I happen to belong to a secular homeschool support group where our diversity of culture, religion, non-religion, learning styles and such are both celebrated and unseen. We’ve learned from each other. We’ve found common ground, formed friendships, discovered new ways of teaching and of learning. Our children have enlarged their buddy lists and now have the time with which to enjoy themselves – yes, that means socialize.
Homeschooling has gotten a bad rap over the years. Ignorance says the homeschooled family shuns society and all it has to offer. That we cloister our children, allow them to read the Bible and nothing more. Dare I say there isn’t a bible in my home? Can I tell you we socialize more now – individually and as a family – than we ever did before?
The choice to homeschool is a personal one and should be made with only thoughts about the benefits to the child and family. My child, my family, has benefited in so many ways. This was the perfect choice for us and though we’re heading into our fourth year of it, I’m still learning, still growing, still amazed by all wonders the homeschooling lifestyle has to offer.