As soon as someone mentions they are homeschooling their kids, out come the questions. It is normal because it isn’t a “common” thing to do so people are curious. I will list out the more frequently asked questions that I have gotten, even in my very short time homeschooling, and my answers to those questions. Keep in mind that not everyone that homeschools will answer the same way. In fact a lot might answer quite differently.
1. How will you socialize them/make sure they aren’t awkward?
This is by far the most common question asked to homeschoolers. It seems as though people think if you homeschool you hide at home with your child and don’t expose them to the world or that kids that go to public school aren’t awkward (which I can tell you from personal experience isn’t true).
In reality school isn’t the end all be all for interacting with other people. The first reason is that the kids are exposed to one age group, their own. A first grader sits in a room full of 6 year olds all day. In the real world, once school is done, it is rare to be with JUST your own age group. It is very important to know how to interact with all age groups, not just other 6 year olds. There are also plenty of kids with bad habits in public school. I can tell you for sure all the dirty jokes I learned when I was little, I learned in grade school from other kids. The same goes for many other behaviors. This isn’t to say that I plan on “sheltering” them but I will at least be nearby to explain why we don’t sing the “Chinese Japanese” song, which wasn’t true when Big Kid came home off the bus singing just that.
As to what WE plan to do, being homeschooled has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for Big Kid (and later Little Kid). When he was in school he would come home tired, cranky, and generally done with dealing with other kids. Now that he is home and learning different things without needing to compete with 19 other kids he has a lot more energy and focus for things like keyboard lessons, TKD, scouting, basketball, tennis, swimming, theatre, etc. He will also be attending music class at the local public school once a week not only to maintain contact with his classmates but also to be in the performance which he really enjoyed last year.
2. Why did you decide to homeschool?
The short answer to this is “many reasons”, of course most people don’t want the short version. I thought about homeschooling for K but decided not to. I was worried school would be “too much” for my Big Kid and it was a big change since he had never been to preschool or daycare. In the end I sent him to public school and I think it was good for him in a lot of ways. Once we got to 1st grade I was planning on having him attend the whole year but it soon became clear that what was being taught was below, well below, his abilities. I don’t say this so you think my kid is a special snowflake or something, I know he isn’t, but when you put a room of 20 kids with one teacher obviously the teacher needs to concentrate most of her effort on the students that are further behind. This means that BK, who can read anything you put in front of him, wasn’t getting a lot of challenges and was getting bored. Like I said before, this is NOTHING to do with the teacher, it is the system, his teacher was/is awesome.
The other thing that factored in is that BK loves to learn. He begs me every AM to start school now that we are homeschooling. This is in stark contrast to the kid that was coming up with any excuse under the sun to not go to school for 1st grade. I was extremely concerned that he was going to end up so bored that he didn’t think of learning as fun anymore. Seeing that light in his eyes when he is learning something new melts my heart and I would hate to see that fade away.
The last thing that factored in was the simple, “because I can.” I am educated. I have learned all kinds of things and am prepared to learn many more. I know that I do not know everything there is to know, even at a 1st grade level and I want to learn right alongside my kids. I am also lucky to be in a position where my husband has a good job so I am able to continue to stay home to teach my kids, and he is okay with that too.
3. Are you homeschooling because you are religious?
It is well known that there are a lot of homeschoolers that do so for religious reasons. We are not one of those families. I am non-religious, to put it lightly, and my husband is the same. We plan on teaching BK/LK as much about as many of the religions out there as possible, which is something they aren’t allowed to do in public school.
4. How long are you going to homeschool?
Honestly, I am not sure yet. The plan right now is to get to 3rd grade and see where we are at. From there if all is good we will go to 6th grade and see what the kids think. If they want to go to public school they will be able to, knowing it is a whole year commitment (I am not pulling them out part way through the year unless there is a HUGE problem). If they want to stay home longer we can do that too. I compare this to my choice to breastfeed. My first goal was 3 weeks and every goal beyond that was just that, a goal. It wasn’t an endpoint or a failure if I didn’t make it, just a plan.
5. Are you crazy?
I can’t say for sure. I ask myself this every day. However, I did the same before I started homeschooling too so it isn’t anything new.