Homeschooling used to be an uncommon, odd sort of lifestyle. Growing up, I knew a couple homeschooled kids. They fit the stereotype–socially awkward individuals who dressed differently, talked differently, and played differently than the rest of us.
They were a little, well, weird. And because those kids were unlike any other kids I knew, I assumed their mannerisms were a direct result of their homeschooling. After all, it was the only thing I could think of that made them different.
I held the strong opinion for a very long time that homeschooling was a mistake. It messed kids up. Left them without friends. Held them back academically. Prevented them from reaching their full potential.
But then, about ten years ago, I had a change of heart. I started to homeschool. And I realized the number of families homeschooling in the United States has grown exponentially since my childhood. I am part of an ever-growing, pretty cool club.
I enjoy homeschooling and all the opportunities it offers our family. But since I have not always felt positively toward school at home, I have a sense of humor about some of the innocent questions I am frequently asked. Many people are, after all, simply curious about our choice. They are concerned about the well-being of our children. Sometimes, they are trying to decide whether or not homeschooling might be a viable option for them.
I decided to share some of my favorite questions here today:
1. Do your kids wish they could go to “real” school?
I like this one. While it is always asked innocently, it implies that the education my children receive is sub-par, being that it is not “real.” If our homeschool is anything, it is very, very real.
In response to the question, though, all three of my kids do attend the public school for one or two classes each. When my oldest daughter enrolled in the sixth-grade band, I asked her repeatedly whether or not she felt deprived of a normal childhood because of our educational choice to keep her at home.
For a while, she refused to commit to an answer. I interpreted that to mean she felt we were ruining her life. About a year ago, though, she told me that band at the public school is great, but she prefers doing everything else at home. She feels more productive at home and likes the flexibility to do things her own way. Our other girls feel similarly.
2. Do you wear your pajamas all day?
No. I do not.
3. Do you just watch TV and drink Mountain Dew all the time, instead of doing school?
This is a question my girls get frequently from their peers, especially when they are at the public school. The girls think this is funny, because they know the truth. Jocelyn and I start school together shortly after 8:00 a.m. every day. Abbie and Natalie begin by 9:00 a.m. at the latest. We usually pack it in sometime between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
Our state law requires at least four hours of homeschool, 175 days a year. We study all the traditional subjects, including math, language arts, science, music, social studies, art, health, and even physical education.
Everyone has a list that needs to be accomplished every day. There is no TV time for anyone until everyone is done. Even then, the amount of daily screen time is less than an hour.
And we do not have any soda in the house, Mountain Dew or otherwise.
4. Is homeschooling hard?
5. Do you have to be organized to homeschool?
Nope. I have to be organized to homeschool because I have an extreme Type A personality. I know plenty of people who consider themselves disorganized, yet run very successful homeschools. I find them fascinating.
6. How do you choose curriculum?
Some people like to order what I call “school in a box.” They find a catalog, choose an all-encompasing curriculum for whatever grade their child is in, and proceed. I have a more eclectic approach.
I compare between ten and twelve websites for curriculum reviews and prices. I follow about that many homeschool blogs as well. I get a whole stack of catalogs in the mail every year. Todd and I discuss options extensively. And I visit with lots of vendors at homeschool conferences.
We use a different publisher for every subject. Not because I like to make life difficult, but because I am very intentional about my choices. I want to make sure what we use is going to meet my children’s educational needs in the best possible way.
I usually start planning for the next academic year (we start school in August) sometime in January. By late May, I usually have things narrowed down enough to start building our schedule and designing my big picture lesson plans.
7. Don’t you wish you could ever just send them to the public school?
Ok, well, I will be honest here. Sometimes, when we have one of those rare (but really challenging) days, I wonder what life would be like if we no longer homeschooled.
I would have a cleaner home. I could spend my time working on my career, rather than working on lesson plans. My children could go out in public (at a school) during the day without being stared at.
But we would have to give up a lot to do that. We only get eighteen years with them before they become adults. Selfishly, I want to enjoy as much of that time together as possible. I really understand my kids inside out, and I know that would change if I sacrificed homeschooling.
We could no longer tailor academic plans to specifically meet interests and needs. Our daughters would lose some of the friendship and connection they have with one another as siblings. And we would give up some of our identity. Homeschooling is not just math problems, history books, and grammar assignments.
We do not just “do” school. We “are” school. Every day. All day long.
So, no. I pretty much never wish I would come to my senses one day and send my kids to the public school full time. Even on the bad days.
Do you homeschool? What is the best question you get asked about your choice? Send me an email or comment below!