Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How To Deal With Family and Friends Who "Don't Get" Homeschooling

I have yet to experience anything remotely jarring regarding our choice to homeschool our boys.  I think the most annoying thing my boys get asked is "don't you miss your friends?"  As if they live is a vacuum and don't socialize with others their age.  Plus, is that the main concern about kids going to school, socialization?  Not learning...really?  Mind boggling! 
I read this over at A Brave Writer and wanted to share.  It's a really good post on what to do when They Don't Get It. 
We decided to pull Cody from public school over Christmas break of last year, we really didn't have to deal with family and friends questioning us at holiday parties, at least not that I can remember.  The one question that I do get asked, with sympathetic eyes no less, when at social functions is "did you do it for religious reasons?"  And the answer is no, we didn't.  Which I think throws them off, because if not for that reason, they why? 
I really like this from They Don't Get It

2. Focus on the enjoyment you get from being with your kids.
More important than discussing the failures of the school system is emphasizing how much you love being with your kids. No one can take that away from you. Most parents are startled to realize that being with your own children 24/7 is a pleasure, not a dreaded task. To argue with you means they are admitting they don’t enjoy being with theirs in the same way.

Now, I love my children very much.  I appreciate them more now.  You see, I don't have to deal with a decompressing from school child for a limited 4 hour time frame every day where all they want to do is NOT be with me.  Now, though, I have the opportunity to be with my children and appreciate them for who they really are.  Think about it, because I have, that child of yours who comes home from a long day of school being bombarded with stuff other than that which will enhance their learning processes, how much of what you deal with is really who your child is, deep down to their core?  I'm not saying it's easy, it takes time for a child to adjust to being at home and not in a school setting.  Our homeschooling experience is not anything close to a school setting.  Right now Cody is sprawled out on the couch doing his Biology work and Chris is sitting next to me at the dinning room table doing Art copy work with his bare feet swinging, humming something. 
But I do try to justify our choice to homeschool.  I am SO totally guilty of this

1. Don’t justify your choice by touting your credentials or qualifications.
Even if you have a teaching background, leave it out of the equation. The homeschooling movement benefits from a bold declaration that parents are adequate to teach children to read, handwrite, and calculate times tables. Let skeptics know that you are as much educational coordinator as instructor, as your kids get older. Remind them that they are making educational choices on behalf of their children too!
 
I don't have an education background.  I could never be a teacher.  I like my kids, I don't necessarily like yours.  I know my strengths (organized, detail oriented, anal retentive with a dash of perfectionism) and I know my weaknesses (loud noisy rooms filled with undisciplined children) - that's why I can't be a teacher.  My degree doesn't even lend itself to homeschooling.  I have a BA in Poetry with a Photography minor.  I love my parents for this - they didn't make me go to college to get a degree to get a job.  I got to study what I love.  Anyway, my husband on the other hand is in the education field.  I use his expertise to lessen the cynical blows that I may get from others.  Though after reading this and deep down I know that I as my childs parent am a good teacher.  So are you!  
Think of all the things you taught or are teaching your baby, toddler or preschooler.  Think about all the help you give your child if they are not homeschooled with their homework.  Think about the trips and adventures that you have taken you child on that have been learning experiences, to the zoo, nature center, museum, on a hike, or to a relatives home to hear about family history.  This is real life learning!  Which brings me to this

3. Talk about ‘family learning’ instead of school or education.
Many parents imagine assignments, grades, and lectures when they think of homeschool. They can’t picture imposing all that discipline and structure, while retaining a happy family atmosphere. Homeschool is different than institutional learning because the family is learning together. Discuss how everyone gets involved at their own level when working on a history topic or science experiment, when freewriting or listening to a novel read aloud. Tell them about tea times and poetry. Resist the temptation to explain how what you do matches what a school requires.

I learned very early on that my great ideas do not translate into good curriculum for my kids.  Here is one example.  Here
What I do need to remember going into the holiday season this year, with the multiple work, family and friends parties is this

4. Validate their authority in selecting the educational choices they’ve made for their kids.
This is perhaps the most important thing you can do—talk about educational choice. All of us make choices in how we educate our children. Let them know that you support their enthusiasm for the school system and that you can see how that’s working out for their kids (find whatever good is occurring in their lives and support it). Then share the unique joys of homeschool.

When I read this I thought DUH!  See, when I am questioned I get defensive.  But what if I turn the tables and instead of question their choice, support it.  Brilliant!
I am so grateful for this post from A Brave Writer.  I hope that you were able to get something out of it as well. 

3 comments:

  1. As I think I mentioned before, my daughter is finishing high school in an online program from home for a variety of reasons (none religious). I probably don't get out enough because there's really only been one person who has put me on the spot about this choice (my sister, who has a habit of putting me on the spot about just about everything, which is really another story).

    What I really thought about when I read this is the same thing I think about the way parents get into other raging debates about "major" choices like breast vs bottle, or staying at home vs working outside the home, or to circumcise vs to not, etc. People tend to get very wound up and go on the attack in defense of their decisions--and all too often it leads to personal attacks on people who have made a different decision.

    I really think at the heart of all of it is the idea that YOUR decision reflects somehow on MY decision--as though a choice I make somehow makes your choice less valid or vice versa. It would be nice if we could all just realize that there are many different, and equally valid options, in all areas of parenting.

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  2. I think also, in my experience at least, that my non-going with the masses decisions make other people question if what they are doing is valid or correct. When in actuality I could care less what school your child goes to or your decisions regarding that. Because - it's your decision.
    I agree with you that there are valid and different options in all areas of parenting. The tizzy some get into though makes me question what is up with them that my decision is making them react in that way.

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Hello there and thank you for taking the time to post a comment over here at Educational Anarchy. In encouraging you to comment with differing opinions, I also ask that you keep all comments "nice". I reserve the privilege to not only delete your comment if I feel that it is offensive, a personal attack or otherwise obnoxious, but to also use it as possible future blog post material.