Monday, April 30, 2012

Why We Homeschool: Myth-Busting

We homeschool for one main reason: I firmly believe it is the best choice for my kids, especially Little Professor. We have come across criticism from various people along the way, and surprisingly, most of the critics are relative strangers to us, and know very little about homeschooling! The majority of our friends and family have been mostly supportive, or at least willing to take the time to learn what homeschooling means, and why it works for our kids.

Myth #1:
"You just want to keep your kids sheltered!"
Nope. In fact, my kids are out in the "real world" far more often than kids in brick&mortar schools. They are exposed to a larger variety of people, cultures, and beliefs than most in-school kids. Also, being atheist doesn't mean we never discuss religion. We probably discuss it more, if anything, because we talk about different beliefs of many different religions, with no one way being presented as better than any other.

Myth #2:
"Your kids aren't going to know how to handle themselves in the real world. Being bullied will make them stronger and/or they need to develop a thick skin!"
Yikes. Again, my kids spend a lot of time in the "real world." They handle themselves just fine. Also, being bullied doesn't make anyone stronger. And personally, I don't see how a "thick skin" is such a great thing. Having a thick skin just means you're not showing how you feel; it's not changing the feelings! Instead of trying to "toughen them up," I am working on building self confidence. If you believe in yourself, it doesn't matter what the bullies of the world say, because you know it isn't true.
Also, homeschooling doesn't eliminate the possibility of being bullied. It just means that I am usually *aware* of what is going on, because I am either nearby, or because my kids share everything with me. We still spend time with other kids (and adults), and that means sometimes there is bullying. Sometimes *my* kids are the bullies. But in either event, I can help them come up with better ways to handle the situation, whether to stop the bullies, stop BEING bullies, or reaffirm that the bullies are wrong.

Myth #3:
"Your kids are going to be anti-social weirdos."
Well....Little Professor probably IS, but he would be if he were in school, too. That's the Asperger's, not the homeschooling. The main difference about being homeschooled is that around here, it's OKAY to be weird! Annoying as hell sometimes, but still okay :) We're not going to tell him that there is anything wrong about the way he does things (unless he's actually hurting someone, of course). He knows his diagnosis, and he is more or less aware of what it means...but he doesn't think there is anything wrong or different about him!
As for the other kids, they socialize just fine. They make friends easily and everywhere! And they are more tolerant of the other weirdos out there, because they know that everyone is different, and different is good!

Myth #4:
"You must not care about what happens to public schools. If public schools are so bad, you should be fighting for change from the inside!"
This is actually an argument I've heard from other atheist parents, or other very left wing liberal parents anyway. First of all, we took Little Professor out of PRIVATE school to homeschool him. If anything, private school is more of an attack on public schools! However, having had him evaluated twice, by two different public schools, since then, and being told that homeschooling is probably the best option, well, I think I'm inclined to go with the schools on this one.
I used to teach public school, too, and I quit because of how awful it was. Could I have stayed and been one of those public school teachers that they make movies about? theory, maybe. In reality, it was so depressing, and I was so miserable, I wasn't even being as effective as the (very low) standards the school expected. Well, I guess that's not entirely true, since I *did* manage to get all the kids on the bus alive at the end of the day, which is the goal I was given to shoot for.
So, do I want to sacrifice my child's current emotional and educational well-being in an effort to maybe make a tiny improvement for the next generation? Absolutely NOT! My job, as a parent, is to do the best *I* can to help my kids achieve the best *they* can. Right now.
That doesn't mean, however, that I don't care about what happens to kids in public schools! I do! For one thing, I have young relatives in public schools across the country! And even if I didn't, the majority of the population is in public school, which means these kids are going to be growing up and getting jobs and entering politics and affecting life for all of us in every way from bagging our groceries to running the country. So YES! I care about the quality of education they receive! And I pay attention. And I VOTE.

1 comment:

  1. FANTASTIC!!!!!
    The "bullying" piece hit home with me. Not long ago, while my daughter was a "pre teen", SHE was a bullier in our homeschool group. Not in the threatening people with physical harm, but in the "If-you-are-her-friend-you-are-not-my-friend" genre. It was painful to see.
    But, as you so astutely remind us, *I* was there. I was aware and familiar with all of it and I could actively be working with her about it.
    Furthermore, I was able to talk with the other parents and they could talk with me.

    WELCOME to another Atheist Homeschooler! A growing demographic that I am proud to be a part of!