Can I talk about home-school stigma for a sec, please? I want to preface this by saying how thankful I am to live in the United States of America, specifically in Oklahoma where I have so much freedom in my homeschooling choices. Many states in our nation have strict laws regarding home education, but several do not, and in Oklahoma, it is written right into our state’s constitution that homeschooling is our right. SO, I home school. If you do not, I respect that, if you private school, that’s great, if you public school, awesome (I LOVE teachers! They seriously get so much heat for short comings that are not their own! And they work SO SO HARD!). SO, we have a choice and our choice was homeschooling. I mean, I get it, homeschooling isn’t for everyone; neither is pizza (though I’ll still be your friend if you don’t choose to home-school, if you don’t like pizza, we may have a problem).
It is actually an interesting story how it came about that we made this choice…some things happened, events occurred, and I sheepishly went to Scott one day and told him I felt like we needed to pull Isaiah out of school and home-school him…you know what Scott said to me? Well, I was floored because his response was “I was wondering why you ever put him in public school”. WHAT! (Communication, friends, it’ll save many confusions)! The Lord was REALLY guiding us in this direction because six months after we pulled Isaiah out of public school Scott was diagnosed with cancer. Our choice now meant our family could stay together during this long trial which was quite difficult but also made us stronger as a family.
ANYWAYS, so I want to talk a little about the things people say to home-schoolers that they THINK are kind, but in reality they are often just responses to cover shock (I say this in jest, and I am smiling as I do; please don’t be offended). So, when we made our decision to home-school here are some of the things we heard: “home-schoolers are weird, they are isolated, what about socialization, are you qualified to teach them, what about sports, what about Isaiah’s Asperger’s?”. These are just a FEW of the MANY questions we were asked, but you get the picture; so did I. For a short while I felt guilty about my choice, like I was somehow robbing my children of normalcy, average, or standard regarding education.
THEN, I found out that my kids are totally my version of normal and everyone has their quirks. If you’ve read other posts, you know Isaiah loves track and Noah baseball. You may not know that we participate in a home-school co-op, pe class, and are a part of a very large home-school community in our county which holds various activities including things like awards night, soccer, and even graduation and prom. SO, the point I am getting to is simple, and I will get there, eventually.
First, I want to tell you three recent experiences when we told people we home-schooled our kiddos. First happened as we visited a church and a man asked what grade my kids were in…I guess you could say we are quite typical home-schoolers because we ALL had to think about that answer! His response: “Oh, ummmm, well ok, that’s ok”. The next experience was from a therapist (NOT Isaiah’s btw) who very kindly and subtly expressed her concerns regarding socialization in a child with Asperger’s who is being home-schooled while telling me how well she thought Isaiah was doing regarding said Asperger’s…and also expressing to me how she has neither the time nor patience to do such a chore. The final encounter was at another church when a woman asked what school the kids attended and they simply said “home” and her shocked response was “oh! That’s ok too”. *sigh*
Seriously, you guys, I KNOW homeschooling isn’t for everyone. It is NOT the right fit for everyone and everyone should not do it. Just as not everyone should be a teacher or doctor or drive, not all people are meant to home-school and I am not one of those people who think that all people who choose a different schooling option from mine are terrible and setting their kids up for failure! For MANY, public school is the ONLY option! For many, private school is the ONLY option. For many, online school is the only option! The point is, we have options! PLEASE don’t be critical (either internally or verbally) of our choice! SO, here is my rebuttal to each encounter.
Ok, the first one was just kind of cute and I really don’t have anything to say about it…the poor guy was just caught off guard, I just really wish telling people that we home-school didn’t come as such a shock, though. Seriously, with the looks we get I sometimes wonder if I left my shower cap on or forgot to clean my face mask off! Why is it such a big deal? It is MUCH more common nowadays, so the surprised looks still throw me off.
The second encounter is a bit more difficult to address as this is a person in the medical community. My main response to that is we have had Isaiah evaluated and his doctor is confident that we made the correct decision for him. After the first six month our family doctor actually said he had never known a child with a social delay to thrive so much in a home-school environment; I call that a good report! We did not take this decision lightly. I mean, my children’s future is literally in my hands. I am SOLELY responsible for their education or lack thereof (and while I am on this horse, please do not try to quiz my children when you see them. I promise they are learning, they don’t need an inquisition as many kids freeze when asked questions on the spot anyway). To the final encounter…do I have three eyes? Is my shower cap or face mask still on? Seriously, it isn’t a big deal!
If you have questions, just ask, but please, don’t admonish us for our choices unless our children show obvious signs of neglect. My kids are in “grades”, but different levels. Noah does a higher than 2nd grade level for math and reading and history, but is a bit slower in science. Isaiah is a grade or two lower in math and language arts but excels in reading and science (and wrote his first poem today by the way!). They are being taught, it just is not in the “traditional” way many expect. We do school every day, but they do not have 100 worksheets a week to show for it. Our schooling looks different because it is, it isn’t only different from others choices, each of my boys learns differently so their individual school looks different as well. SO, ask me questions all day long, just be nice, please! I love that we have choices! I love that you are able to make your own choice and I am very open to answering questions about my choice, but I don’t want to be overly criticized about it. I love that we are able to make our own choice. I LOVE most of all that we all are doing what is right for our children because that is EXACTLY what God has told us to do!
Proverbs 22:6 “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (NIV).
All they have to do is learn and our job is to give them the best environment to do that in whether that is your home or a classroom. It doesn’t matter in the grand scheme as long as we are starting them off right! Training them up, teaching them, leading them, and guiding them is our job. If we show them how to demean others for their choices now (even if we are doing it unintentionally) that is what they will learn. We have options, friends. Let our children learn that options aren’t always bad. Accept diversity. Doing what us home-school moms do doesn’t take some crazy amount of patience (trust me on this…I have my days), it takes trust in God for leading us down this path and in ourselves that we won’t fail our children. I am no better than you, I may even be lazier because I’ve been known to stay in my pajamas…a lot…please call or text BEFORE you pop in LOL. We have a LOT of pajama days LOL! There is nothing special in me that makes me feel superior to you, I don’t want you to think that I think I am better because I home-school, but I also want my decision to be accepted by you. I’m a little quirky, a little crazy, and a whole lotta loving. I am also flawed as I was born a sinner through and through. I have my bad days, and my very bad days. I have days where I longingly watch the yellow bus drive down the street and for a brief moment think of what it would be if my kids were jumping on it. BUT, I chose this path, I was not forced. We didn’t make this decision lightly and I don’t take it lightly, but please know, this is my job. My occupation at this time reads “home school mom”. If you wouldn’t criticize a public school teacher for their choice occupation and all their hard work (seriously, props to my teacher family and friends bc the job can seem thankless at times, I am very close to my aunt, I see what she goes through, but I also see her love and devotion for the job), then please don’t do it to me and mine. I love my job…most of the time;)
Basically my point was, give us a break, please. I KNOW you don’t mean to come off as critical, but that is how it feels. If I am in need of correction then by all means, be critical according to the Word! I might get mad, but if I need it, I need it! BUT, if you just think home schooling is ridiculous, don’t tell me, please!
Remember: “let us build one another up” (Thessalonians 5:11). This parenting gig is tough stuff so let’s build together. It really does take a village!
FINALLY-enjoy the photo! That was our first official day of school this year! We get donuts every first day since Isaiah started Pre-K and I am so happy that we continue it!