Tuesday, August 11, 2009

When Your Family or Friends Don’t Support Your Choice to Homeschool

In the ten years I have been homeschooling, I have heard stories from disapproval homeschoolers that have absolutely broken my heart.  One of the ladies in the support group I belonged to years ago actually had to move to our state from her home five states away because her parents and siblings were giving she and her husband constant grief about their choice to homeschool their child. Another acquaintance of mine, who was a former school teacher, had been ostracized by all her former colleagues when she pulled her daughter out of school and began to teach her at home. 

And the story that has touched me most of all is a dear lady from my former church whose husband divorced her because she insisted on homeschooling their three girls - - two of which had special needs that were not being addressed in the public school system.  He so resented the loss of her income, that he said she had to choose between being married to him and homeschooling their children. These stories wrench me because going against the educational “grain” of society is difficult enough for homeschooling families without having the added disapproval of close family and friends. 

The truth is that almost every family who chooses to homeschool a child has seriously weighed their options and decided that teaching their child or children at home is the best choice for them. Some families believe that home education is the best way to instill their personal or religious values in their children, others recognize the failings of their local school system and know that they can provide a more adequate education for their child, and still others are “accidental homeschoolers” who have tried and tried to fit a square peg in a round hole, but have come to realize that their child’s particular special needs simply cant be met with the school options available.

If you are a homeschooler who has felt the friction from family and friends because of your choice to educate your child(ren) at home, you are certainly not alone.  Even today - - when there are more homeschoolers than ever before - - there are still people who are predisposed to think of homeschooling as either arrogant, foolish, or even damaging to children. 

The most important thing to remember if you are in that situation is that no one can fully understand your family and your children better than yourself.  No one - - no matter how much experience they have with public education - - can say with certainty that your child would get a better education in a classroom setting than they would in the intimate setting of your home.  And you can remind people who doubt your ability to teach your own child that you, yourself were educated in a classroom, and if you aren’t able to pass on your knowledge, then the school system might not be as successful as they thought.

Finally, if your closest relatives, or even your spouse, worry about the effect that homeschooling may have on your children’s social skills, tell them you will be glad to talk to them about it - - AFTER you have gotten back from your playdates, co-op classes, music lesson, volunteering at the local nursing home, and intramural swimming time at the Y!

I have yet to meet a homeschooling family that simply woke up and decided to teach their children at home.  Homeschoolers think long and hard about every aspect of their decision - - from what homeschool curriculum to use, to how to schedule their day, to how their children learn best. 

If you are dealing with the disapproval of family and friends with your choice to homeschool, be sure to surround yourself with a strong support system, including a local homeschool support group if it is available, friends you know who have been successfully homeschooling their own children, and even online help in the form of homeschool parent support forums and email groups.  These people can provide you with advice, experience, and the affirmation you need to continue on in the path you have chosen - - especially when the people closest to you oppose your decision.

The “naysayers” may have plenty of opinions about what you should and shouldn’t do regarding your child’s education.  But whether homeschooling works out for you and your children or not, the only ones who will be dealing with the ups and downs of each day of learning together are you. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for joining the discussion!