Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Homeschooling Rant

There are days when I really think that I can’t hear one more repugnant comment about homeschooling from people who just can’t seem to grasp the fact. There are days when I see my tolerance of such to be a glass full of water and one more drop will lead to over spillage and a mess to be cleaned up. There are days when I’d seriously like to sling comments back in their direction full of judgment and speculation about their parenting styles.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been collecting a sort of ridiculous list of homeschooling comments that seriously make me contemplate saying, ”Oh yeah, school, my kids go to school…love it. We’re TOTALLY into public schooling” and then try to conceal my obvious gagging on my own words.

I hosted a party not so long ago. Its normally like a neighborhood event where you know most of the people, some better than others, and its all talk about sports and weather. Good times. Good non-confrontational times. But this year I really wanted to invite some of the homeschooling families in our group because I enjoy them. I should have seen the writing on the wall that sports and weather would not be the main topics of conversation.

Some of the neighbors assumed this party was neighborhood exclusive—I really don’t understand why but anyway, when they (God forbid) didn’t recognize some of my guests they had to ask, “How do you know Jen?” The common answer was “From homeschooling”. As this crept from my friends lips, you could hear the worms slithering on the floor as the open can lay there. There were some in my neighborhood who didn’t know I homeschooled. Ok—who isn’t being “socialized” now? I practically wear a banner on my chest declaring I’m a homeschooling mama. Then there were those neighbors who somehow were ok with our homeschooling since, after all, I was a TEACHER. That somehow makes it all ok. So my homeschooling friends were grilled the usual questions as they slowly side-stepped towards the open bar. Were YOU a teacher? How do YOU know what to teach? What will YOU do when your child learns more than you know?” Needless to say, the wine flowed heavily that night as I shot apologetic looks to my friends.

The latter of those questions got asked to me and I took a l-o-n-g sip of my wine while I carefully crafted my response since my initial knee-jerk response was to ask this man if he thought I were some kind of idiot or something. His question was how will I teach my children once they are in like 6th grade. So am I to presume that this man-a guest in my home, drinking my wine and eating my food thinks my education is limited to topics under the 6th grade? Trust me it was a really long sip of wine.

Then there was the gentleman who said how I was depriving my kids of great events like (wait for it) SNOW DAYS. He said my kids would not know the joy of waking up to find out that they do not have to go to school because the weather is so bad. He’s right, my kids will never know that joy because they have never been forced to attend school in the first place. And while his kid is whopping it up on that rare January day when its so cold outside; my kids are reveling in the parks when its sunny and warm outside on a weekday in the middle of Spring all day long. How sad for my kids. And by the way--what about kids in Florida or Arizona? They too are deprived of snow days. Maybe we should lobby for their rights.....

Then there was the person who asked me HOW my kids ended up getting sick. I stood there totally puzzled thinking I needed to give a lesson on how germs get passed on from one person to the other and she completed her thought with “I mean since you guys are homeschooled you don’t come into contact with other people.” Wow. I had no idea we lived in some kind of germ-free isolation bubble. I wonder if that would bring down our health insurance premiums? A discount maybe?

A few days after the party I was commenting to someone about what time the party actually ended—which was around mid-night. She asked who stayed that long listing a bunch of possible choices. I told her it had been the majority of the homeschooling friends I had invited and I went on about what a great time we had. Her response: “That’s so weird that the homeschoolers stayed late. Maybe its because they don’t get out much so they were excited.” Umm, they are homeschoolers, not social-leapers thank-you-very-much.

Then there is the random comments that all end with “ because they are homeschooled.”

Your son is good at karate… because they are homeschooled.

Your child is so sensitive….. because they are homeschooled

Your children are_________ (insert ANY adjective here) because they are homeschooled.

Who will your child invite to a birthday party? They must have no friends because they are homeschooled.

Or another one of my favorites is the whole “WOW I could NEVER do that (the word “never” comes along with feverish head shaking and hand waving) OK—sorry you are apparently incapable of parenting your child for more than a few hours a day. But I’ll have to take your word on it.

And lastly, If I misspell something on Facebook—it is not an opportunity to ask how I will teach my child spelling. It is the result of a stupid tiny phone keyboard not an evaluation of my education. And this is doubly true if it is the middle of the day on a weekday—I know why I’m home but shouldn’t YOU be working NOT Facebooking??

If you are a homeschooler- you know ONLY too well. If you aren’t a homeschooler but somehow come face-to-face with one in a (gasp) social setting, please realize that it is an educational choice almost akin to that of going to a private school. It does not make us freaks, or shut ins, or cult-living people.


SAHMinIL on January 23, 2010 at 9:05 PM said...

I can totally relate to the HOW did they get sick comment. My son had surgery in Nov. It was original scheduled to take place in Oct, but we all were sick with the flu. We had gone in that day in Oct, only to be sent home. (We weren't sure what would happen). While there the NURSE came in and said "You homeschool right?" We said yes and then she said "Well how did he get sick?"

Kelli on January 23, 2010 at 10:48 PM said...

I feel your frustration. The people who make comments like the ones you listed do it out of ignorance. We as "home educators" know that the choice we have made to teach our children at home is the road less traveled and truthfully I expect even welcome comments such as those above so that the MYTHS of homeschooling can be dispelled. With so many families choosing to educate at home, we have a voice. Parents who choose to send their children to public schools are not repeatedly asked to defend their decision yet we are scrutinized for ours. Anyway, I'll stop here. I could go on for day. We must direct those who question to look at statistics that PROVE That children who are home educated perform high on standardized tests, "ACT", adapt extremely well in social situations, and are even being highly recruited for colleges. I say the proof is in the pudding.

Bobbi on January 23, 2010 at 11:10 PM said...

I usually respond with, I can't imagine NOT spending the day with my daughter.

One of Maggie's good friends is our next door neighbor. She is 7. She goes to school, spends the day there then comes home to 1-2-3 hours of homework, every night! It makes me very, very sad. :(
I can never figure out when exactly is family/kid time.

Jessica on January 24, 2010 at 12:13 AM said...

Hi! I found you via twitter, via the everything mom blog. I left a comment there, but felt compelled to do so here as well. You ROCK! This rant is *everything* I've ever wanted to say to my judgemental "friends" that think I'm some sort of freak. Thank You Thank YOu Thank You a thousand times to actually saying everything I've been thinking!!

Brigitta on January 24, 2010 at 8:19 AM said...

WELL SAID!!! Some people are so ignorant... I usually get the OMG I could never spend the whole day with my kids?!! I always feel so sad for those moms, I love spending time with my kids. I wonder what kind of parent doesn't want to spend time with their kids. And yes I could go on for days as well :)
I love reading your blog.

||| laura frantz ||| on January 24, 2010 at 8:51 AM said...

Wow. I didn't realize there were other comments besides the one I received. Didn't realize you were being inundated that night!! My favorite line: “That’s so weird that the homeschoolers stayed late. Maybe its because they don’t get out much so they were excited.” . Yes, yes , in fact I was so excited to go to your party that I actually shaved my legs and took of my aluminum foil hat for the first time in months.

Homeschooling Mama said...

I feel for you. I think at some point all us homeschooling parents feel like this. I, too, feel bad for all those families where the parents can't handle being with their kids all day. I hate when the kids get a week off and I all I hear from parents is how they can't wait for school to resume. What?! I don't understand.

I'm sorry you had to feel that way at your own party.

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