It all started with an invitation to a conversation.
We were at a family wedding. My teens were happily socializing, introducing themselves to others, and having intelligent conversations with those around them. Someone who I’ve known for years (who I also strongly suspect is a homeschool skeptic), approached me thoughtfully.
“Can I ask you some questions about homeschooling?”
(That’s like asking me if the sky is blue.)
What I didn’t expect to come out of our much-lovelier-than-anticipated conversation was a crystal clear understanding (on my part!) of why our family homeschools.
The woman I was in conversation with told me she had recently been working with the most respectful, considerate, and responsible 25-year-old man. Somehow in their dealings, it surfaced that he had been homeschooled.
This was the first person she had truly interacted with that had been homeschooled.
Often, people have a negative view of homeschool because they only know the stereotypes, they don’t know the actual people.
She readily admitted to me that his homeschooling background surprised her - and that there must be something to this homeschooling thing after all. She had been looking forward to seeing me at the wedding so she could ask me more.
Right away, I saw this as an opportunity to be a homeschool ambassador, to share our story and hopefully sway opinion in the homeschool direction.
She began asking me a series of questions:
Did I think this young man’s personality traits were directly related to homeschooling?
People that make the sacrifices and commitment to homeschool generally will take the time to train their children in character, discipline, and social graces.
Homeschooling is a lifestyle that puts our families in contact with other like-minded families. I won’t apologize for that. When our children are in their formative years it is essential they have like-minded peers. Childhood isn’t the time to expose our children to “everything that’s out there”.
How did I locate these other homeschool families?
It took time to find “our tribe”.
We initially joined a homeschool co-op, and then became members of a Classical Conversations community. My oldest also attended classes at a local Classical homeschool hybrid school.
These “searching” experiences and joining new groups were invaluable for my children. They learned to meet new people, try new things, and go outside of their comfort zones.
What about homeschooling high school? How do you teach the “hard” things?
(This is the question I get most these days)
I don’t homeschool high school alone. There are abundant resources online and also in person.
One of my children learns most anything on his own - give him a textbook and he teaches himself. I am just the educational guide at this age.
You can take just about any course you want online. My son takes Spanish through Homeschool Spanish Academy. My daughter took AP classes through Memoria Press Online Academy. Math has been made easier with Mr. D and Shormann Math.
What about getting into college?
And there we have it… the question that people really want to ask first.
How do you tell someone who is so deeply entrenched in higher education that college isn’t the goal? How do you explain that a spirit of lifelong learning and inquiry can be equally as valuable? How do you explain that there are many paths to a college education that don’t involve going away to a traditional 4-year institution?
It dawned on me that we’re so far out of the box with this thing called homeschooling that we can’t even SEE the box anymore… once we gave up the idea of traditional school it changed our thoughts about a lot of other systems and expectations society has that just don’t make sense.
And that’s when I said it —
You know, we don’t homeschool for the academics. We homeschool for their hearts.
What good is it if a person has all the degrees and smarts in the world and doesn’t care to make the world a better place for others? What good is it if they can’t show compassion for their neighbors or show humility?
So many people today lack integrity, compassion, convictions, faith, and motivtion. If I could instill those things in my children through homeschooling then I consider the whole thing a success.
That pretty much ended our conversation. (HA!)
Kudos to them, however, for caring enough to ask and then actually LISTENING. I love that spirit of inquiry and welcomed a healthy conversation about something I care about so deeply.
I would like to think our conversation truly caused this person to contemplate homeschoolers and homeschooling in a different light. I would like to think that maybe her dealings with my children swayed her opinion. I have a feeling that our family might have begun to chip away at a long-held belief about homeschoolers.
Ten years ago I would have cared A LOT about what someone thought.
Fast forward to the present day and I know those affirmations from others (while they are nice to have) don’t matter so much.
What matters are the precious ones I’ve been given to educate, and that I am doing my level best to nurture their hearts and souls. I have to believe that if I put those things first, then the rest will follow.
I wish I would have written down my reasons for homeschooling when we first started - I think academics would have been pretty high on the list. Now that comes last. My conversation at the wedding solidified this belief. I just had to articulate it to someone else - to hear myself say it out loud.
And you know what? It feels good.
What is your reason for homeschooling? Has it changed over time?
Leave me a comment below!
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