Sunday, October 18, 2009

Homeschooling Post

This is a homeschooling post. Since I don't often mention too much about my (current) personal life, you might be wondering what in the Sam Hill suddenly inspired this real true-life admission. (Despite the obvious answer - I haven't finished my current book yet.) Well... I recently read a post about some self righteous homeschoolers making some poor public school family feel bad. (Insert big sigh).

Disclaimer: I homeschooled both of my kids all the way through high school, graduated them from our homeschool, and sent them both off to college. We were rigorous school-at-home homeschoolers. Starting at an early age my kids wrote papers and book reports and took tests. Many of my dearest, long time friends are/were homeschoolers and we met through homeschooling.

Now, I am the first to admit that all homeschoolers aren't perfect, but then, nobody is perfect. And, as my family moved around and we homeschooled in four different areas of the country (one area twice), we ran into a wide variety of homeschoolers. Yes, some were self righteous and overly proud. Some were disorganized and unfocused. Some kept to a schedule. Some were busy doing activities every day of the week. Some kept mostly to themselves. Some think every homeschooled kid is gifted or above average. Some homeschooled for religious reasons. Some homeschooled for academic reasons.....

You get the idea - homeschoolers represent a wide variety of people not easily lumped into one category anymore. Almost all the homeschoolers I've known have a pretty firm idea of what they believe and why they believe it. But, gracious, I see the same types of people in all families, no matter what their educational choices were or are. Yes, homeschoolers are basically just like everyone else only they've decided for some reason to homeschool their children.

Have I seen or experienced homeschoolers saying something_____ (fill in the blank - unkind, odd, strange, self-serving, etc.)? Yes. Even to me, another homeschooler. (I have some stories I could tell...) But, again, people who aren't homeschoolers are guilty of ALL the same things.

I am going to step out on a limb here (a big, sturdy Sequoia limb) and say that I would imagine that many more homeschoolers have had negative comments made to them by family, friends, casual acquaintances, and strangers than any person has experienced at the hands of homeschoolers. And, again, over the years I've known some really rabid and odd homeschoolers.

The best advice given to me when I first started homeschooling was "Never say anything negative about the public schools to people who have their children in the public schools." This has been my standard. When talking to other homeschoolers about some law, requirement, or interaction, some negative words toward public schools most assuredly did cross my lips. But never to anyone who had their children in public schools. Never.

This begs the question: Why Lori, did you have negative comments made to you about homeschooling?

Boy-o-boy! Do you really want me to go there?

You do?

Let me just say that we had strangers come up to us, if we happened to be out during public school hours, and ask what my kids were doing out of school. All the time. This occurred almost every time we took a field trip. Our requirement was that school work had to be completed in order to take a field trip. During much of this time (my kids were mostly grade school age at this time) we often had my mother and sometimes my father with us. Yet, strangers, all ages, still felt they had the right and responsibility to come up and ask my kids, even with two to three adults with them, why they weren't in school.

We had family extensively talking trash about us behind our backs. Then, to our faces, they felt they had the right and responsibility to ask us pointed question about our homeschooling - questions that would have never been directed at them. We received lots of unsolicited advice from all generations. Some family members put us on trial every time they saw us.

Talk about education and everyone suddenly becomes an expert.

We suffered through years and years of all kinds of people from family to strangers telling us what we were doing wrong and handing out all sorts of "advice." Yes we burned inside, but we were always nice and polite to everyone. Because of this I refuse to feel sorry for some poor public school parent who has had a couple silly homeschoolers tell her that her kids are too nice or well behaved to be public school kids. We went through YEARS of it being open season on homeschoolers and negative comments fell around us like rain. If I ever hear one more question like, "What about socialization?" in regards to homeschoolers it may finally push me over the edge. Somebody will be going down and it won't be me.

I no longer need to be nice about this. While other kids are off having all kinds of issues, my kids are grounded, received a sound educational foundation, and turned out great. I think much of it is due to homeschooling. My son, when in high school, took all the big tests the public school kids did: State high school proficiency test, PSAT, ACT, SAT. During the PSAT, taken at a public high school, the teachers harassed him while he was taking the test. In spite of that he ended up a top scorer and was a National Merit Scholar. He has a full academic scholarship to the college of his choice. He's an honors student, in the honors program, involved in research, and doing well. My daughter worked hard, graduated from high school in three years, and went off to a community college to explore different career options. She is also an honors student, has blue hair streaks, and is doing very well "in the real world" for a poor little sheltered homeschooler.

So you know what? Stop talking trash and lumping everyone into one big group. Stop thinking you know what's best for everyone. Talking negatively about homeschoolers is exactly what you are accusing them of doing to your public school students. As long as we have the freedom to make choices concerning the education of our children, private, public, or homeschool, let's allow everyone the right to exercise that choice. Maybe everyone needs to stop the self righteous behavior and get on with their lives.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on schooling your kids successfully. I'm sorry for all the negativity that dogged you and your kids. Thank you for writing this post.

Lori L said...

Hey, no worries, Stephanie! Anyone can find negatives in any group of people if they try.

Lisa said...

I occasionally consider homeschooling, usually when I read some blog about the fun things homeschoolers do. Unfortunately, high school sports are a huge thing in my family (in laws) and if my kids are at all athletic I'm sure they will want to participate in all of it. All the cousins in school are very involved in team sports and I'd hate to take that away when it's clearly the family's culture. (I should also add that so far all the cousins are on either A honor roll or A/B honor roll, they don't ignore academics.) I know some public schools will allow homeschoolers to participate in parts of the school but I wouldn't want to do that dual life thing either. Our schools aren't bad, either. So.

Lori L said...

My family and sports: (crickets chirping)
You've proven my point, Lisa - it's wonderful that we can all make those educational decisions for our own families. I'm hardly going to try to talk you into homeschooling unless you really want me to, LOL!