When I decided to homeschool my daughter Adi, I knew it would be challenging. What I didn’t know was that the biggest challenge would be dealing with people who have problems with homeschooling. Once it gets out that Adi doesn’t go to school (it doesn’t take long) we are barraged with tons of condescending questions from strangers who really don’t have any business meddling in the educational choices my family makes. It’s really exhausting answering these questions ALL THE TIME. Do you know a homeschooling family?
Here are some questions to never ask them:
8. So, is this some kind of weird religious thing?
That’s the first question I get from people. Every time. Like overcrowded schools, low standards, lack of art and music, and lunches made of mystery meat aren’t good enough reasons to consider school alternatives. Is religion part of our lives? Yes. Did we learn about different animals using a Noah’s Ark play set? Also yes. Is that any of your business? No.
7. But what about socialization?
Ah yes. Socialization. From what I understand, it’s stuffing a bunch of kids who are the exact same age in a small room together and making them sit still all day for months on end preparing for a standardized test. All my homeschooler does to socialize is play with other homeschoolers in the park, and take various classes around the city with children of a variety of ages and backgrounds. We also have Girl Scouts and a Sunday school class involving that weird religious thing everyone keeps talking about. Yes, there are chunks of the day where it’s just the two of us going over an academic subject, but there’s so much more to homeschooling than that. So, to answer your question, no. We aren’t engaging in forced socialization. Socialization is for dogs.
6. How will your child learn to deal with other people?
We live in a city. We shop in stores. We take public transportation. There are people all around us and they are all dealt with. Honestly, my kid is better at interacting with adults and other kids than her traditionally schooled peers. This is probably due to the fact that she deals with people all day instead of sitting at a desk staring at the clock waiting for school to let out.
5. But does your child know this? How about this?
If there’s anything anti-homeschooling people love doing, it’s quizzing my daughter on random facts and figures that their kids have to memorize in school. On what date was the first shot in the Civil War fired? Who was the 11th president of the United States? What’s the capital of South Dakota? How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?
First of all, understanding why the Civil War happened is way more important than learning exact dates, James K. Polk was a mediocre president at best, we’ll learn about Pierre, South Dakota, by actually visiting there, and the amount of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop will be figured out later today during our math lesson.
Secondly, Adi isn’t a computer or that weird guy from Jeopardy who won 4578978923 times in a row. Kids don’t like it when adults assault them with random questions. They don’t like the stress of being judged harshly for not knowing something perfectly. If I wanted my kid to experience that, I would put her in a public school with high-stakes testing and a fistful of Ritalin. As someone who grew up going to schools like that with enough Ritalin to make a cheetah sit still, I can tell you that my ability to remember the state fossil of New York is pretty useless and not worth the drugs. It’s Eurypterus remipes, in case you’re wondering.
4. Does this mean you’re anti-school?
Not at all! You know whats great about America? I can educate my own child the way I see fit. You know what’s even better? I can decide to not give a Eurypterus remipes’s behind what you do with your kid. Do I wish schools were better? Sure. Would I send my child to one even if they were? Probably not. Do I think you’re less of a parent because you send your child to school? Not at all. I’m doing what I think is best for my family. Unless your idea of what’s best for your family involves sending everyone to a North Korean-style prison camp, I’m not judging you. You’re doing great.
3. But how will you teach X, Y, and Z if you aren’t an expert?
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m bad at math. It’s a good thing that I was finished up with school long before Common Core was a thing, because that nonsense would have reduced me to a weeping pile of anxiety that probably would have only been cured with even more Ritalin. Luckily, my husband is a computer programmer and pretty decent with numbers. The liberal arts grad student/barista at our local coffee shop is also available for hire as a tutor.
2. Your husband gets to have a career while you’re stuck at home homeschooling. Is this really a good example to set for your daughter?
My daughter has a mother who is doing what she wants to do. She also has a father who works his butt off so we can have a good life. She is also surrounded by tons of different types of women, many of whom work full time. A nice home life and a childhood full of fun and educational experiences is the best example I can set. I don’t consider myself stuck, either. Seriously, in my spare time I literally fly airplanes. An hour from now my daughter, myself, and a Cessna will be about 3,200 feet above being stuck at home all day. How’s that example any worse or better than me putting on a pantsuit and doing whatever it is that women who wear pantsuits do all day?
1. But what about college?
What about college, indeed. On average, homeschooled children score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized tests. They also score higher on SAT and ACT tests, and have higher rates of college attendance and success than traditionally schooled children. The question I have for parents of non-homeschooled kids is…What about college?