“Are these your kids?” It’s a question I tend to get frequently, usually with a kind of sense of wonder and amazement. I guess we just don’t look like we go together.
“Yes these are mine.” I already know where this conversation is going, I’ve had it many times before. I’m blessed with two daughters who are naturally very kind and polite, but we have worked hard to nurture this wonderful tendency. While they are far from perfect, their strengths are noticed by many casual observers and I tend to get the credit. I’m so proud of my little treasures.
The girls are not shy at all about our lifestyle, and love to tell people they are homeschooled on a boat when I am quizzed regarding the school they attend. Responses have always ranged from confused, to outright disdain, and everything in-between. For the last couple of years, though, I’ve noticed an increasing trend. More parents have been responding with: “Oh, I’ve considered homeschooling too!” Suddenly, my counter-culture lifestyle is cool and trendy.
The reasons people homeschool are as varied as the families themselves. Some of them cite religious reasons, others have special needs they feel the schools can’t address, and yet others just don’t like their local school. So we all take on this grand experiment in educating our own children. At first it is completely overwhelming. The amount of knowledge they are expected to attain feels monumental and if our kids don’t grow into successful, happy, socially responsible people, we can’t point fingers at anyone else. A special kind of bravery is required to take the plunge and challenge the status quo.
Why do I homeschool? It’s pretty simple, I live on a boat. As time has progressed, though, I find I have so many other reasons to continue homeschooling. My kids are helpful at home, they get along with one anther because THEY HAVE TO, and we can spend as much or as little time on anything as we want. We have a great relationship and work out our differences while trying to focus on our family’s core values; my kids have had a lot of experience figuring out compromises and treating one another with love and respect. They hang out with other children who likewise have been socialized by their families. This has created in my daughters an expectation of how others SHOULD be acting and they are, as a result, selecting their friends based on this expectation.
My daughters first pointed out to me that kids on playgrounds at school sure yell a lot, whereas the kids in homeschool groups tend to be very calm. They have a lot more free time to run around, and frequently less homework to do in general. Homeschool kids I interact with are incredibly respectful, and usually delightful. I’d like to add that includes kids with all kinds of disorders. ADD, ADHD, ODD, spectrum and 2E kids are all capable of fantastic behavior with devoted parents willing and able to work with them and pay attention to their constantly changing needs.
Homeschooling is hard work. I’m working harder now than I’ve ever worked in my life. But as they say, nothing good comes easy.