Thursday, May 26, 2011

Homeschooling Magic.

Yesterday was a sunny afternoon so the boys spent a few hours running around the yard with (SUPRISE!) weaponry, while I gardened. A passing neighbour asked if the boys had a day off school.

"No, we homeschool." I said.

"Oh. **long pause** Really?" was the response.

"Yes. But we are normal. We're not even Christians. We're not loons. We don't hate science. Mr Wrath doesn't have 4 other wives. It's just me! And our totally normal children who do totally normal school in our TOTALLY NORMAL HOME!"

Like a three-legged unicorn trying to open a bag of Junior Mints, I am magically awkward.

Despite my inability to succinctly explain why we homeschool, I'm not ashamed or uncomfortable speaking about our decision. I merely lack the conversational adroitness to express it in a neutral, breezy tone of voice. I'm afraid people will assume I'm a Michelle Duggar-esque, anti-educational, pro-fundamentalist dogma misfit. When I attempt to establish that I'm not a freak, I come across as an anti-Christian, anti-teacher, quasi-libertarian who is judging other people's educational choices. I'm none of these things. I'm just awkward.

To sort out my thoughts, I composed a "Homeschool" page for this blog. See it's up there on the "tab" menu at the top of the page! What if I print off copies of that page and hand it out to anyone who asks about homeschooling? That wouldn't be awkward, would it?


  1. Instead of handing them our, you could just set up a box of them at the end of your drive so people can help themselves.

  2. I should also say, that I've long been interested in homeschooling - even years before I ever had kids. And yet, against my better judgement, I'll be sending my son to full day kindergarten in the fall. He *really* wants to go. His need to constantly be with other kids is super high and so I'm going to give it a try. I keep reminding myself that if things don't work out, I can change it. Though as September nears, I'm getting a little more panicked.

  3. Where was that Habitrail habitat when Marley was doing her toddler worst? Hmmm....

  4. I'm glad you answered the question, because I *was* curious. You make homeschooling sound like fun in a way no one else I've read ever has. It's just not on our radar here (must be because it never gets down to -40 on the east coast!) but we do a fair bit of supplemental teaching anyway, just to fill in some of the gaps for our scary-smart oldest boy.

    And please tell me where I can buy that Habitrail. I have a feeling this winter I'm going to need one.

  5. Oh - so thank-you, and, er, sorry for asking. I think your reasons are actually completely satisfying. I did used to think a lot of those stereotypical ignorant things about homeschoolers, and the ones I've come in contact with are vastly different. I really love our school and the teachers, but I completely agree there are big problems with the school system as an institution. I also agree with all the positives you hold about homeschooling, although for me personally they don't outweigh the negatives. Except when I think about the lunches. I can't think about the lunches too much.

  6. Magically awkward. We could start a club. I may change the name of my blog to this. I absolutely love your wording. You should trademark that sentence and make note cards and tshirts.

    We are similar, but sort of the other way. We are Christians, but also believe in science. We send out kids to public school, but also pray as a family. Always seeking balance, trying to figure out what works for our family.

    I think #1 on everyone's list of how to run their family and choose their education/free time/hobbies/etc is to DO WHAT WORKS for you. I'm becoming a very 'live and let live' kind of girl.

    [Why won't your blog let me log in with my google acct any more? So weird.]

  7. Mr Wrath doesn't have four other wives - whew! Heh, around here I get the gears for not putting my child in a Montessori or other alternative program. I love my PUBLIC REGULAR SCHOOL THANK YOU VERY MUCH. People just love to be weird about schooling choices, I think.

  8. I started writing a comment but it got waaay too long so I made a blog post about it :-)

  9. Teeheehee, but you're such a CUTE three legged unicorn trying to open a bag of junior mints! Also, try explaining it whole holding some large weaponry of your own, my sources tell me it helps.

  10. I love this!! I too am extremely awkward when answering this question, so I usually clam up and look at the ground further enforcing the awkwardness. I just cannot remember my well-thought-out response in the heat of the moment. I guess I need to have some cards printed up! We live in the southern US, so the fact that we don't homeschool for religious reasons is "awkward" to explain! I say "Live and Let Live"!! :)

  11. I homeschooled my kids until ~5th grade. I had a bunch of reasons, but I've never in my life been a politically conservative religious zealot, as so many people assumed when they realized my kids were schooled at home. The religious right in the States is so numerous and strident, they overpower all we quieter, non-proselytizing, a-religious homeschoolers. (In fact, I'm not a-religious, but my liberal and socially-progressive Christianity was not a factor in the decision to home-school.)

    Probably my proudest moment as a homeschooling mother occurred when my eldest at age 11, having been in institutional school for six or seven weeks, came to me, puzzled and frustrated with the other kids' attitude to education. "It's like they see learning as some sort of bad-tasting medicine," she said. "They know they have to take it, they know it's supposed to be good for them, but they sure don't have to like it." Smart kid.

    "Also, mum? You have to ASK PERMISSION TO PEE!!!" Yeah, honey, I know. Weird, huh?

    My kids are now 19, 23, and 26, with various university and college degrees/diplomas earned or in the works. (My eldest has a degree in anthropology!) My reasons for schooling were validated over and over again when they showed themselves to be, even when attending institutional schools, friendly, socially competent, independent thinkers who loved learning.

    All parenting is a giant experiment, but I count the decision to home-school as one of my unqualified successes. Does that mean I think everyone should do it? Not for a second. The longer I've been a parent, the more convinced I become that there are a million great ways to raise a child; further, that it is very, *very* hard to truly screw up a child.