Random Thoughts on meeting homeschooling families

HomeschoolinG: How to support these families and what not to say

Image of chalkboard with hand writing with chalk “HomeSchool”

Image of chalkboard with hand writing with chalk “HomeSchool”

I never thought we would be a homeschooling family; for me it was an unfamiliar path until my second child was on the way. A very dear neighbor was starting with her now school age children and I asked what made her come to that decision, I was genuinely curious as no one I knew (or that I knew of) was homeschooled. So we had tea once a week and just talked life; I watched her sweet family gather at the table while we talked and they would work in their workbooks and eventually go off and play together! As my first was getting closer and closer to school age I began to panic. What about the school shootings? What about homework? I had number three on the way, am I sending them on the bus or will I be waiting in the carpool line with a newborn screaming at me for an hour? Gosh this was stressful! But then thinking of homeschooling was also! Where do I start? Will the state come arrest me if my child isn't reading by 6? What about standardized testing? What about curriculum (oh that is a week worth of writing in itself)?

Image of chalkboard books and pencil holder with Apple

Image of chalkboard books and pencil holder with Apple

In the end, this sweet friend reminded me of the end goal. Each state is different in their requirements, but the end goal is an educated well rounded human. In the end it will not matter when they start to read, or learn to count to 100 (really!) because as the human brain develops in each of these angels sent here for us to care for; they will find their way, they will learn, and they will get there. And they will not get a medal for being there first, but whenever they do get there, they will have the reward of knowledge and a love for learning gained. A Love of learning. Those words hit me hard—I do want my children to love learning, but did I love learning? I only found this love of learning in my adult life after the pressure to do it for a test, for a grade, for a degree stopped. Everyone's path is different, and public/private/montessori or co-ops are all something each family will have to choose, and there is no right or wrong, just different paths! But if you find yourself feeling uncomfortable feelings in conversation with a homeschooling family (no we are not all the same), there are some supportive things you could consider saying! Here are a few, and maybe a few things not to say, because those are also not helpful!

Children practicing their ABCs on the floor

Children practicing their ABCs on the floor

Consider supporting with kind words:

-Not all homeschool families may have siblings that get along all the time, but their bonds are strong from time spent exploring together, complement their family dynamic!

-Compliment all the information the children do know, their thirst for knowledge, their questions they ask trying to find out things!

-Those parents hold many conversations throughout their time with the children showing them things, discussing things and working on guiding the children to enjoy their time and their life as it comes without the pressures of testing constantly, but more use.

-Beyond strong bonds with siblings (if there are any) the children are generally also creative and happy to have time to themselves to explore, consider interacting with them one on one, saying “wow! You have learned so much!” These words can help a child feel like they are floating on clouds for the day!

Kids running and playing outside in the yard

Kids running and playing outside in the yard

What not to say:

-Aren't you worried about Socialization? (are they farm animals?) We as a family have lots of friends and family outside the home- school is not the only place to make friends!

-Aren't you worried they are behind? (behind what? All brains develop differently) That’s the freedom of being home schooled! No one else to measure up to and learning on their own time!

-They won't know how to be in the real world (They experience it and talk about it every day, following the parent's example)

-They won't know how to problem solve bullies. (Is this really something limited to schools only? They are out there in the neighborhood, they are out there in the work force. Less than kind humans are all over, even in the grocery store, the parents help them learn how to deal with those situations in real time.)

-Aren't you worried they won't get into college? (This is probably a top concern for all homeschooling parents yet is maybe not even the way we should be thinking. This is equivalent to what about them taking the SATs – they will study just like the rest did, and again teaching them to study for a test vs seeing their life as a test vs something to enjoy. How about alternatively considering that child may want something different like a trade school-the world is changing beyond what we can even imagine by the time they will get to college age, it may be a different set of measures by then. Most home schooled high schoolers can take college classes in high school as well!)

You’re Kidding!!! Right....?

Growing up as a little girl with 2 and then eventually 3 brothers at home, I dreamed of having a sister! Someone to share clothes, play dolls with and keep all of my deepest and darkest girlie secrets safe.

Time passed and I grew up. I became a horseback riding instructor and trainer for girls of all ages. My dreams shifted towards having a daughter or daughters of my own. Girls to teach and support and watch blossom into amazing, strong young women, like the girls I taught and spent so much time with each day.

When I became pregnant for the first time at 24 years old, my husband and I were beyond thrilled! We couldn’t wait to plan and learn all about our new little one who would join us! So when given the option of finding out the gender mid way through our pregnancy, we said yes without a second thought!

The technician who performed our ultrasound gave us all of the important news first, that the baby was healthy and all looked to be developing normally! We were overjoyed to hear this and a weight lifted immediately. And now, “for the gender!” I remember her saying. “It’s a boy!” My husband literally jumped up out of his chair and shouted with joy! I was also excited that he would be getting a son, which I knew he very much wanted. A little, “mini me,” as he referred to him in our conversations talking to my belly in the evenings. But I couldn’t help but feel just a slight pang of disappointment, that this would not be my perfect little princess whom I had been waiting for, for so long now.

Of course I adapted to the idea and by the time my first son was born, I was just smitten with him and wouldn’t change anything for the world!

Well, fast forward a bit more. I’m 35 years old now. And have found myself as the mother of FOUR boys to date! Each time I was pregnant, I could not wait to find out the gender of our new little addition. And each time I was told, “it’s a boy!” I couldn’t help but feel that same pang of disappointment, followed by the guilt for feeling that way at all, because of course I know that it shouldn’t matter! I have been blessed with four healthy, precious earth-side babies and for that I am eternally grateful.

My dreams have shifted quite a bit from when I started my journey into parenthood. My dreams of dresses and dolls and getting my nails done with my perfect little princess, have been replaced. Instead, my boys and I play with trucks and dig for worms. I chauffeur them and their friends all over town for baseball games and to get to the best fishing spots. We throw the football in the backyard and look through Pokémon cards together.

You just never know where your path will lead. And even when it doesn’t go where you had hoped that it may, you may be surprised by how much you love the final destination anyway. So cheers to my fellow boy moms, girl moms and everyone else as well!

-Sarah

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