Questions I Am Asked As A Homeschooling Mother
Let me start off by saying...
For the most part we don't mind answering questions. We get it. It seems like a really crazy thing for us to be doing. It seems hard and frustrating and sometimes it really IS hard and frustrating. We enjoy your curiosity as it gives us a chance to have interaction with other adults. As long as that curiosity is real. Some people ask us questions to make us feel insecure in our decisions or to make themselves feel superior in theirs. We do not feel superior to you, I promise. Homeschooling isn't for everyone. It's not wrong to not home school just like it's not wrong to home school. Every family is different and that's okay. So if you really are genuinely curious about our lifestyle, please, ask away. We will happily chat with you and maybe make a new friend.
I've compiled a list of some of the questions we get, both genuine and passive aggressive. These should answer some of your questions about how and why we do this crazy thing called homeschooling. And they might make you want to come over to the dark side. We make cookies whenever we want, you know, for home economics!
1. Do you have some sort of higher degree in education?
Most of the time when someone asks me this, it's always with a sneer and a tone of voice that tells me she/he already knows the answer. They seem to be implying that someone who doesn't have a degree in teaching couldn't possibly home school. I know that a lot of homeschooling parents actually DO have degrees and have been or still are teachers. But many more do not.
That's okay, though. Homeschooling doesn't require any special degree. Just a drive to want to give your child the education that you want them to have, or that you didn't think that they were getting in the traditional classroom setting. There are so many incredible programs that you can work with, so much information that you can find online or through libraries or book stores, that creating a curriculum for your children is a breeze. It's not hard to give your children a fascinating and fun education, no matter how high you yourself made it in your own career as a student.
2. But how do they learn social skills?
This one! This one seems to be the go to question for most people who don't agree with your choice in homeschooling. Social skills. What are social skills, anyway? The skills we use when dealing with others?
If that's the case then children don't learn these skills at school when most of their day is spent sitting behind a desk. These skills are learned at home, interacting with their parents and siblings. Watching how our parents and siblings are interacting with others. The child who is a bully is so because they are bullied, or are around people who are bullied. Usually because of a parent who is a bully. The child who is kind, grows up seeing kindness. Social skills are given to us from our home environments. Not from the fifteen minute recess on a school playground.
3. Are they socialized?
This question, I believe, is often asked out of concern for the child. Most people believe that home schooled children never see the light of day and have no friends. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Most home schooled kids have tons of friends. It's easy to meet other kids when you are attending art classes at galleries, or during karate, or gymnastics or during co-op groups that exist in most communities. Because we home school we have a lot more time to go out and explore the world, which gives us more opportunities to meet other kids with similar interests.
Home schooled kids also still have sleepovers and play dates and holiday parties. Home schooled kids are every bit as social as traditionally schooled kids, they just aren't forced to socialize with the same group of kids every day.
4. Are they learning at grade level?
This is a genuine question, I believe. One that usually stems from curiosity due to the asker's own desire to possibly home school. Not every child who home schools is at grade level. Some are below and many are above.
Homeschooling usually isn't about staying on any governmental standard, but rather about teaching your child at their own pace. Most children excel differently in different subjects and can also be above grade level in one subject, on target in another and below in a third. But that's okay. As long as your child is learning and thriving and happy, he or she is a successful home schooling student.
5. How do you ever find any time for yourself?
This varies greatly from person to person. Homeschooling doesn't mean that my entire day is spent teaching my children. Personally most of my children's learning is self taught and I just have to make sure that they are staying on task. They are older and it was more hands on the younger they were. But I still feel the need to have some quiet time every now and then.
There are always sleepovers to be had, or trips to the store with their father. I can take a walk or find somewhere comfy to curl up and read a book. Honestly, I find time for myself in the same ways as any other mother and like any other mother I cherish those times. But more so I cherish the extra time I get with my kids. The memories that we wouldn't have if they were gone most of the day. The times that I got to experience that moment that they learned something new. To me, those are the priceless moments. The moments to live for.
6. But how do you do it? Isn't it hard?
We didn't always home school. Our children have known the confines of the traditional school classroom and may know them again if they choose. My son wants to attend high school with his cousins, which I think is great, but my daughter wishes to continue homeschooling. Which is also fine.
I have fought the homework battle. I understand the hell that is getting your children to complete work that they have no interest in completing, especially after having just spent 6 hours at school. Homeschooling has very rarely ever been as hard as any one single day of helping my kids with their homework. Homeschooling has always been a breeze when compared to the hours spent after school trying to reteach whatever lesson it was that they didn't grasp in class because of the large student to teacher ratio and time restraints. If given the choice between homeschooling and homework, I will every time without a doubt choose homeschooling.
7. What's your favorite part?
There are so many incredible things about homeschooling. Your child can spend extra time on things that they truly are interested in. (My son is teaching himself coding and at twelve could create a simple text based game.) You can go on field trips any time you want. School work is often completed in your jammies and lunch time is a great excuse to teach your child to cook something new. You get to witness when your child finally grasps that subject that was giving them trouble and you get to share in that pride with them. There are so many many things that I can talk about here. So many wonderful and valuable things.
But to me, the most important thing, is that I don't have to worry as much about their self esteem. They are surrounded by people who build them up. Their friends, their family, their own sense of accomplishments. They hardly ever have to deal with bullies, but because of all of the positive people and positive feedback in their lives, when they do have to deal with them, they are better prepared to handle it.
There are bullies everywhere in life, in person and online. Home schooled kids, for the most part, are so used to positive reinforcement by their family and peers, that when they do run in to a bully they are better able to shrug it off. It's like when someone tells you that grass is purple. You know that they are wrong, that grass is green, so their statement is invalid to you. It's unimportant and doesn't matter.
My daughter sometimes gets trolled online. She creates how to videos on YouTube for video games. As a parent of children who are active online I understand the importance of monitoring their online activity. The way she deals with the random troll is with humor and logic and grace. The troll loses and stops commenting almost immediately and she comes out of it with an even stronger sense of security in who she is. She's never rude or mean to the troller. She just knows exactly what to say. And for a 12 year old, that's amazing.