Ten years ago, when I started to homeschool my children, I think my family thought I had a screw loose!
They thought it was such an odd decision on my part and they always wanted to know why? The topic of my qualifications were brought up, over and over again, as were the questions:
1) "Do you think you might be harming the kids?"
2) "What about the kids' socialization?"
Now, ten years later, I don't think homeschooling is the issue it once was. In the last decade, homeschooling has become more mainstream. People get it now. They understand the shortcomings of the public school system.
They've heard that homeschoolers do really well on standardized tests and get into excellent colleges. They've read articles and seen news spots about incredibly successful students—that just happened to be homeschooled. As a result, I don't have to explain as much anymore. But still, when family and friends ask, I tell them the following:
I came to the decision to homeschool my children after being a substitute teacher in our local school district. Before being in the schools, I thought learning occurred six hours of the day. I really had no idea kids were in school for six hours, but less than half of that time was spent on academics. Also, I had no idea, how disruptive a classroom of 22 students could be, or how a class could be held hostage by three or four children that just didn’t want to learn. I didn't want my children to be stuck in such an environment.
Before I started homeschooling my children, I actually had my kids commuting 50 miles a day (there and back) to attend a school I really liked—so you can see that education was always important to me. It's funny too, because I was sending them to a small school out in the country, that I affectionately called "The Little House on the Prairie" school. In reality, a true Little House school would have been in my home, around my kitchen table and in my back yard. Isn't that how education has been for centuries?
Yes, I can be my own children's teacher! After all, who loves my kids more than I do? Love and affection combined with learning—you just can't beat that! And really, haven't I been doing it all along? I was there when my children learned to walk and talk. I taught them how to use the potty, how to button a shirt, and how to treat others with respect. I taught them their numbers and ABCs. Who is better qualified to continue teaching my children than me?
Besides, homeschooling isn't so much about teaching, as it is an entire journey in learning. It is a journey that occurs 24/7—not from 8 am to 3 pm Mondays through Fridays. I now realize that my children learn from every experience and situation they encounter. Grocery shopping is a learning experience, as are chores, baking a cake, and helping others.
And as you all know, socialization is NOT a problem. My kids are in community sports, the scouting program, they have jobs, and they have mentors. Believe me; they know how to interact with others!
So now when people ask about why I homeschool, and really, they don't ask very often anymore, I cite all the above. But I think nowadays when people ask, it's usually because they see the value in homeschooling, and they're interested in doing it too.
Times... they are a changing!
Ann Simpson is the Newsletter Editor and the Regional Advertising Manager at Homeschool.com. She also writes the thrice weekly, Homeschool.com blog. Ann has her Master's degree from the University of Utah. Ann homeschooled through High School and has a passion for helping the homeschooling community.