“You don’t know this? Oh, that’s right, you were homeschooled.”
“They have no social skills. They were homeschooled.”
“I would hate being homeschooled.”
“Homeschooling is the worst thing you could do for a kid.”
“I forget, you were homeschooled. You didn’t have any friends.”
“So and so was homeschooled, which basically means they did nothing all day.”
I smile like I’m not offended and swallow my annoyance. I have been dealing with this my whole life. People say stuff like this all the time, sometimes in jest, and sometimes before they know I was homeschooled. They hasten to assure me I am the exception to the rule, or they say silly things like, “I love you anyway.” Neither response serves to sooth my injured sense of identity. What I feel like they are really saying is, “You came from a horrible situation, but by some miracle you managed to turn out okay.” I feel like they are negating all the good my parents did for me by homeschooling.
I do not subscribe to the idea that homeschooling is the only correct way to educate or parent your children. I recognize that it does not work for every family. I recognize it has been done well and that it has not been done well. I support your decision to send your child to public school as long as you don’t check out on your child’s education and leave everything up to the system. I feel the same way if you send your child to private school. I feel the same way about sending your child to Bible class at church.
However, I do have a problem with the argument that homeschooling results in unsocialized, uneducated children. False. Lack of intentional interaction results in unsocialized children. Lack of intentional educating results in uneducated children. There are children in public AND private schools that have poor social skills. This is not a result of the system. They came to school that way. I’m not saying it is entirely the parents’ fault either. How many of you can say you were NOT socially awkward at one point in time or another? I am a result of a homeschooling family. When I am socially awkward it is because I am shy, not because I don’t know how to interact with other people. I also happen to be an introvert. This is not a result of being homeschooled. This is my personality.
It is not the school system’s job, public or private, to raise your children into self-sufficient, socialized adults. That is your job. In my role as a teacher in a Christian school, I do my best to challenge my students in different ways, academically as well as socially, and I am allowed to do so from a Biblical perspective, but I have limited power. I cannot raise your children and I cannot fulfill all of their social-emotional needs. Does that mean I shirk my duty while they are under my care? Of course not! But what it does mean is that if you depend upon me to raise your child eight hours a day, your child’s needs are not going to be met, and it could result in social (or even academic) discrepancies. You are the person they come to at the end of the day to process. You are the constant who has been with them from the moment their life began. You know the whole child. I only know that child I see during the school day. I don’t know how they interact with their siblings, what’s going on at home, or how far they have come from when they started school. I don’t know what struggles they have had in the past or what baggage they bring with them when they enter my classroom. You DO!
Let’s flip the coin a bit. If you are a homeschooling family you have more influence over your children, and you have more flexibility in how you raise and educate them. However, if you want to raise well-educated, socialized human beings, you will need to take advantage of some outside resources. You will need to allow, and encourage your children to interact with other people outside your home, of different beliefs, different age groups, and different cultures. For instance, if you take a trip to Europe because you can, you might have to make your eleven-year-old daughter order hot chocolate and a pastry in a German cafe….in German. You might have your children attend different youth group events at church, or participate in the adult discussion in your small group Bible study. You might really challenge them by allowing them to take classes at the community college for supplemental fine arts. All of these scenarios are going to involve you partnering with other people outside of your family for the development of your child. If you do none of these things and simply look for curriculum or educational resources for teaching your child to read, you will need to partner with someone else.
The keys are intentionality and teamwork. If you recognize a need that your child has that is not being met, you look for a way to meet it, whether that means homeschooling or sending them to someone else. If I recognize a need your child has that is not being met, I’m going to ask for your insight. If your child’s academic, social, or spiritual development is being hindered in some way as a result of being in my classroom, I will more than support your decision as their parent to take them out of my class so that their needs can be met. We are a team. We want the same thing.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.”