This year, when all of the kids our son’s age were entering pre-k, my husband and I made the final preparations on our plan to homeschool.
We looked into all of our options and decided that, while homeschooling is by far not the only good way to educate a child, it is how we have decided to educate ours.
I thought that my explanation would need to go no further. I assumed that most people would give the same response I give whenever a friend tells me their child is going to the local school, “That’s great!”
I was wrong.
I didn’t realize that when I decided to homeschool I was opening myself up to be interrogated by strangers, neighbors, and people I’d barely consider an acquaintance.
“Wouldn’t you rather be in school?” our neighbor regularly asks my son who meets her question with a blank stare. I’ve never talked to him about school, so he isn’t sure what it is. Though he does know what learning is.
Usually I smile, bite my tongue, and try to usher my boys quickly into the house as she mentions something about the one word all homeschooling moms dread hearing, the curse word, “socialization.”
It’s the same word I heard from the check out lady at Target yesterday. “Awww, don’t you get to play with any kids your age?” she asked him, while looking at me with hard, squinting eyes until I found myself quietly but swiftly pushing my cart away, knowing that most people’s preconceived ideas about homeschooling fuel their apprehension of it. And instead of learning what it’s really about, they ask accusatory questions, not looking for answers but for more evidence to support their idea that homeschooling isn’t right.
I’m silent when I feel like meeting her rudeness with my own hard stare and declaration, “I don’t care what you think!”
The check out lady doesn’t know all of the preparation that goes into homeschooling or that most homeschooling parents treat it like a full time job. She quickly dismissed my son’s obvious chattiness with the idea that he’s starved for human interaction, not that he was comfortable talking with her because he spends half of his week with kids and adults of all ages.
For some reason, many people feel that it’s okay to question a homeschooling family’s motive when they would not appreciate having to defend how they choose to educate their own children.
But here is a homeschooling secret, lesser known than the “socialization myth” or the secret that homeschoolers actually graduate with degrees. This is a secret I’m happy to make known to the world:
We, who choose homeschooling, don’t need approval from those who don’t, so please quit asking us to explain ourselves.
For more on those tricky education choices, check out why one family chose Jewish day school over public school, the Jewish mom who sends her son to Catholic school, and how Mayim Bialik handles homeschooling her kids.