Sometimes I feel the need to defend why we homeschool. I don’t know why exactly, just insecure I guess. I don’t really think it needs defending, but I guess I think that maybe most people feel the way I felt before I was a mom. I didn’t understand why anybody would homeschool. I thought it was absolutely crazy. I still think it’s a little crazy. The public school system wants to take my kids FOR FREE Monday-Friday for 8 hours, 9 months out of the year. FOR FREE!!! And I have decided to keep my kid home and teach him myself and give up hours of free time every day. Why? Why would I do that?
There are so many positive reasons to homeschool, but I guess if I could narrow it down to just one reason, I would say it is to protect my child’s worth. Or rather to protect my child’s feeling of worth. So much of school is worrying about how others feel about you.
“What do other kids see when they look at me? Am I cool enough? Do I have the right clothes? Do I listen to the right music? Is my house big enough? Am I worthy? Am I worthy of your approval? Like me. Please just like me. What can I do to make you like me?”
I think all of us can identify with this stuff. Some of us are scarred well into adulthood because of these questions. We carry them into adulthood and they continue to permeate every aspect of our lives. We carry insecurities. We carry shame from things we did to be accepted and loved. And I understand that some feel this is just a necessary rite of passage to adulthood. Many people argue that children who are homeschooled aren’t being “socialized” whatever that means. Any public school teacher can tell you that kids aren’t really allowed to socialize all that much in school anyway and much of the socialization isn’t even positive. Some feel that if we don’t sort through this as a child we won’t know our place in society or something along those lines.
But is it really necessary? Is it really beneficial? Can you honestly look back at some of your worst memories of elementary school, middle, or high school and say that those experiences made you a better person? Did feeling inadequate because of your weight or your Pro-Wings or your acne really prepare you for college? Did having to look perfect everyday help you become a better mom? Did going to all those parties really make you a more committed employee? Did dating her really make you a better husband?
I think that right now my child needs to find his self worth from people who adore him. He needs to be built up. He needs the foundation of knowing that he is good. He needs to know that God created him and that God doesn’t make mistakes. He needs a firm grasp of these things so that he doesn’t believe the lies that the world will tell him. He doesn’t need his education clouded by wondering what the kid in the next desk over thinks about him.
Do I think homeshooling is best for every kid or every family? No, I definitely don’t. Every kid is different and every parent is different. Some kids take everything that others say to heart, while other kids are able to take it with a grain of salt. Some parents are able to provide a safe at home learning environment, while others aren’t. Some parents are very involved with their child’s education even if they are in public school, while other parents turn a blind eye and trust that the school system is doing a fine job without their help.
I know myself well enough to know that if I truly want to be involved in Jackson’s education, then I need to teach him myself. I also know my own tendencies toward anger, and I know that I have to keep that in check to be able to provide a safe environment for my kids at home. I know Jackson well enough to know that at this time in his life his spirit can be crushed by what others might say or think about him. I’m trusting my instincts and God’s guidance to show me when the time comes that homeschooling may not be what Jackson needs. As far as Mikey, I’m not sure at this time if we’ll homeschool him or not. My guess is that we probably will at some point. Mikey and Jackson are as different as night and day. And the way I’m able to relate to them both is different too.
Many children have wonderful public/private school experiences. They thrive in ways that they simply wouldn’t have at home. Parents of kids in school should remember though that their kids are getting 40 plus hours a week of influence that they know very little about. They need to recognize when these influences are harming their kids, and they need to be willing to step in if it’s too much for their kid to handle on their own.