The cashier at Walmart seemed friendly enough, as she rang up box after box of crayons. I bought 10 because at $.50 a pop, how can you say no?
“Are you a teacher?” She asked.
“Um? Well no, I mean yes. I homeschool.”
There it was. The “look.”
I am quite familiar with the concerned/confused/interested expression that flashed across her face. Almost every person has it when they learn about our schooling situation. Following the “look” are the burning questions they have about home education. Here are the most common questions strangers ask me about homeschooling:
You homeschool? Are you like, super-religious? I feel like this is the first thing that comes in to many people’s minds. They hear we homeschool, then notice that I am not wearing a long skirt or head covering. I look like every other mom in Target on a Wednesday morning, so what gives? Okay, so yes. I am a Christian, as is my husband, and I am thankful we are able to teach our children our faith. But, that is not why we homeschool. In fact, we don’t even have “Bible” scheduled as a class in our homeschool. We view our faith as a part of our family life, not necessarily a class to check off during our school day.
You homeschool? Do you think people who send their children to public school are wrong? Of course not! Just because it is what we choose to do does not mean I think everyone else should too. I am thankful to live in a country where education is accessible to all children. Simply put, I disagree with the education model for my children, and am exercising my right as a parent to educate my child as I see fit. I absolutely do not think it’s wrong for parents to send their children to public school.
You homeschool? Are you trying to shelter your kids? Oh, quite the opposite! We home educate so we can expose our children to the world! Nature study, world geography, and music appreciation are well loved aspects of our curriculum. Not only that, but there are a ton of co-ops and supportive groups for homeschooling families to connect right here in RI. Three off the top of my head are: RIGHT, ENRICHri and RICHES.
You homeschool? Your kids must be pretty weird. Okay, this one is completely true! I have four little weirdos running around here, and I am not the least bit concerned. If they grow up weird, I will feel great knowing that I raised kids who cared more about being authentic than pleasing others.
Can I just ask, why are we so afraid of our kids being weird? We are constantly telling them “be yourself,” and “you’re special just the way you are.” What we really mean is “be yourself, but dial it back so you don’t stand out as strange.” or “you’re special just the way you are, unless you are too intense. That’s not special, that actually needs to be changed ASAP.”
It’s like we only want them to be unique in a way that brings us pride. Be a great artist or musician and share that with everyone! Don’t share your love of bugs or geometry though. That’s less socially acceptable.
I find that double standard irritating and confusing. Maybe instead of focusing on our kids not being weird, we should focus on helping our kids accept other people’s quirks without labeling them as an outcast. Yes, yes, I know you know some weird homeschooled kids, but I also know a lot of weird public schoolers too. Maybe it doesn’t matter where you are educated. Maybe weirdness is just one of those things that transcends man-made boundaries. Don’t hide your weirdness, embrace it!
Aaaaand I’ll step down off of my soap box now. Sorry about that.
You homeschool? You must have a lot of patience. And money! No and no. I yell. I get frustrated and have to cool off, just like every other mom. Of course, I try to have patience, and some days are good. But it wasn’t like I woke up one morning and thought, “Wow. I am a really patient person. I would be great at homsechooling.”
Have you ever heard that when you ask for patience, you don’t get patience, just a lot of opportunities to grow in patience? Homeschooling provides a LOT of opportunities to grow in patience.
As for money, we sacrifice to be able to live comfortably on one income. We have prioritized home education over other things like vacations, restaurants, and new cars. We believe it is well worth the sacrifice.
Anyway, I hope this helped address some maybe-preconceived notions you had about homeschoolers. As we all get ready for a new school year, I wish you all lots of luck and a great year, no matter how you choose to educate your children.