“The question is not, — how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education — but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” – Charlotte Mason
I’ve acutely been overly concerned the past two years with telling others how aware I am that homeschooling my children is odd.
But I’m realizing how WRONG I’ve been.
I’m not concerned with homeschooling being cool. It’s just, my husband and I have prided ourselves on being a little strange. Contrarians even. So my assumption has been to offer an immediate, automatic follow up when I tell strangers we homeschool with: “yes, I know, we’re strange.”
And this is how I’ve acted until recently because my belief that homeschooling is reserved only for us weirdos has been blown to bits. Everyone’s doing it, so to speak…
Almost weekly I run into other parents who homeschool their kids. More accurately, I run into parents who desperately WANT to homeschool their kids.
I run into them at Starbucks. At the grocery store. At the park. On the street.
These parents are everywhere. And I live in one of Oregon’s highest-rated cities for its schools.
These once offbeat, contrarian hermits only met whilst passing through small, rural areas are now everyday suburbanites and urbanites who fill up my social calendar with hikes, science meetups, sports, crafting parties, mini-classes, gaming get-togethers, nature days and so forth. These once *crazy folks* are also filling this mama’s soul with amazing friendships – lifelong, hopefully.
Conveniently, now, when I’m hanging out with my kids on a Monday morning and notice another mom hanging out, drinking coffee and surrounded by her children furiously studying – or run into a dad at a park on Thursday before public school lets out, I often get asked; “Do you, by chance, homeschool?”
Crazy, right? Not really anymore.
USA Today reported that in 1999, homeschoolers made up a tiny sect of the American population. “An estimated 850,000 students nationwide were being homeschooled. By 2011-12, that number had more than doubled to 1.77 million.”
In one state, more children homeschool than attend private schools, says one article.
The reasons? According to the U.S. Department of Education, roughly nine out of ten parents who homeschooled their children during the 2011-12 school year said school environment, meaning safety, drugs, and peer pressure, contributed to their decision.
And I’m pretty darn sure Common Core didn’t help. Or literally deleting “God.”
The independent film, Class Dismissed, looks at the growing popularity of home-schooling in the U.S.
“We live in a time where education is under siege from every angle; over-testing, teacher layoffs, overcrowded classrooms, budget cuts, and failing grades,” according to the movie’s website. “In response to such grim news parents all across America are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the state of public education, and a growing number are choosing to pull their children out of school to seek alternative ways to educate them.”
In one Boston Magazine article a parent describes their motivation: “McDonald’s first homeschool rule was to throw out the book and let her children guide their learning, at their own pace. “‘I wanted them to be in charge of their own education and decide what they were interested in, and not have someone else telling them what to do and what they were good at,'” she says.
And by any measure, it’s working. McDonald’s daughter Claire—the third of her four children to be homeschooled—will enter Harvard College as a freshman this fall.”
Yes, I was the one who needed convincing that homeschooling isn’t only normal but it’s quite awesome and works! It only took me two years of actually homeschooling my kids and meeting other parents who homeschool and doing tons and tons of research.
But here we are. Almost at the end of year two. Our son will be technically entering second grade next fall but he’s surpassed and completed much of the second grade “work” in math, reading and writing I had for him.
Guess I’ll just have to get creative.
Homeschooling looks different for everyone. I’ve found whether you love Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Waldorf, Classical Education, Unschooling…etc., you’re in good company. Most parents move around in many of these areas as they learn the best approach for themselves, their kids and their family. So everyone totally understands each other.
It’s not like the public school where everyone’s competing for attention. Instead, homeschooling – I have found – is a lovely, carefree, truthful, natural and beautiful way to educate our kids.
I oftentimes have to pinch myself as I meet up with other homeschooling groups. I look around and wonder “Why hasn’t everyone chosen this route yet? Why does this seem so secretive or strange? It’s really totally cool!”
Hopefully, if you’ve been considering homeschooling, these tidbits have been helpful in encouraging you that no, it’s not weird or crazy anymore. There are more resources available than ever before. Just listen to your heart… your kids are totally worth it and you, your children and your family are UNIQUE and deserve a unique, tailored, limitless education.
“I feel ashamed that so many of us cannot imagine a better way to do things than locking children up all day in cells instead of letting them grow up knowing their families, mingling with the world, assuming real obligations, striving to be independent and self-reliant and free.” – John Taylor Gatto
And, to sum it up… who doesn’t love some infograph eye candy?
One for the road:
“School is a twelve-year jail sentence where bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know.”
– John Taylor Gatto
Boston Magazine: Our Kids Don’t Belong in School
USA Today Article: Out of the Classroom: Parents Explore Home-Schooling
The Washington Times: Homeschooling – Outstanding Results on National Tests