Sunday, June 1, 2008

How To (and Not To) Treat Your Homeschooler

If you claim a homeschool Mom as a friend/sister/daughter, I hope to give some insight into her life and how you can best support her.

Homeschooling/homemaking is a full-time job. Just because we are home, does not mean that we are available to 1) babysit 2) volunteer 3) answer the phone every time it rings. We are called to our families first. So don't be upset when we screen our calls or let the answering machine do its job. Remember, we're doing our job.

Homeschooling means that we're home. A LOT. That means that our house is a mess. A LOT. We cannot keep a Good Housekeeping home and live by the priorities we've been called to. This is huge for me, and I have a feeling for many other homeschool Moms. Homeschooling only adds to the clutter, with all the books, science experiments, books, nature finds, books, pencils/pens/crayons, and books (I think you get the point).

God has called us to homeschooling, so realize that by serving our families, we are serving God. It is not being selfish, unsocial, or reclusive to spend our child-raising years focused first on our family. Comments like, "when are you going to take some time for yourself" are not helpful or encouraging, but rather promote a selfishness that is tempting, but not God-honoring.

Just because God has called us to homeschool does not mean that it's a smooth ride. If we share a struggle or frustration with you, please do not offer comments such as, "maybe it's time you put the kids in school." This only adds to our frustration and creates a barrier in our relationship, precluding future communication.

We love our own kids, but that does not mean we are "kid people" who enjoy spending our time with everyone else's kids. The choice to stay home and raise our own children is a sacrifice of love and does not automatically mean that we're eager to babysit, teach Sunday school, be the adult who occupies all the little ones at a party, or work in the nursery. Quite the opposite may be true: we need time at church and other social occasions to be with adults and have adult conversation. This can be vital to our sanity!

We do not receive any curriculum or assistance from the government schools. Nada. Zip. Nothing. Now, I'm not complaining (though a tax break would be nice). Personally, I'm glad. One of the main reasons we homeschool is because we feel we can give our kids a better education than the government school system can, void of political correctness, revisionist history, evolution, "character" training, sex mis-education, and boredom! Thank God for every freedom we enjoy as Americans!

Homeschooling is a huge sacrifice. Not only is the family typically living on one income, but they are buying all of their educational supplies (in addition to funding the public school). If you'd sincerely like to help, some practical ways would be to ask if you could purchase something on her wishlist, or even just take her out for an evening. Many activities two-income families take for granted are not possible for one-income families.

If you are ever tempted to utter the phrase, "what about socialization," slap your mouth shut first and bite your tongue 'til it bleeds. Okay, maybe that's a bit extreme, or maybe not, but you get my point. Since when is being trapped in a room with people all your own age socialization? Think about it.

Don't accuse us of being over-protective--as if that's a bad thing! We are protective. It is what God has called all parents to be. Romans 16:19b: "but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil." 1 Corinthians 15:13: "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character.'" Matthew 18:6: "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 is too long to post here, but you may look it up here.

If you would like to buy our children birthday or Christmas gifts, please feel free to ask what would be most beneficial. We usually do have a wish list of resources, games, books, and videos we would appreciate. But please do ask before you bring the latest pop-culture fad into our homes.

Do not say, "I wish I could homeschool." If you want to, you can. It is legal in all 50 states. It implies that we've been given some special dispensation. The fact is, we make huge sacrifices.

Along the same lines, do not "accuse" her of having some special allocation of patience that you do not possess. I am not a patient person (just ask my kids). It is only through my reliance on Christ and my love for my kids that I can homeschool. I have a feeling the same is true for most homeschool moms. God does not give us patience before we need it, but rather gives us the opportunity to develop patience. Homeschooling is an incredibly growing and challenging occupation!! Check out this clip from Evan Almighty.

Just for your information: every state has their own homeschool laws. Some require testing, many do not. The government does not know my children exist, and I like it that way. Public schools are a very new invention, so do not fall into the misguided idea that publically-funded, government-run institutions are the only ones capable of teaching. No one can love, know, or guide my child like I can.

Homeschooled kids do not require a GED. And they do not have to meet state requirements for graduation. Universities, for the most part, are willing and eager to accept homeschooled students based on the same criteria as other students: transcripts, ACT/SAT, and portfolio. Read this article about homeschoolers at Harvard.

Don't bring up the homeschooler in the news when they've been caught in a wrongdoing, unless you're also keeping tabs on the public schoolers in the news as well. It's unfair to generalize a group of people based on one shared criteria. We're already under enough pressure without having to carry the weight of the reputation of every other homeschooler anyone else has ever known or heard of!

Finally, please do attempt to put aside any fears you have that learning cannot take place without a certified teacher. I believe this is a myth that is on its way out as the statistics keep rolling in. Here are a few from HSLDA.

I hope this has been helpful. It is not meant with any guile whatsoever, but simply with the aim in mind to providing a peek into some of the struggles of homeschoolers and what you can do (and not do) to be the best friend/sibling/parent you can be!


Smockity Frocks said...

WoW! And Bravo! I came here throgh WFMW and I'm so glad I did! This is so well put! I fee like I should be giving you a standing ovation. I have said or thought (or mumbled under my breath) everything you have stated here. May I link?

Marty said...

Great synopsis of home school. I've already sent it to someone who I think needs to read it. I wanted to homeschool when my kids were in 1st, 3rd and 7th grades. My husband wasn't in agreement b/c he didn't think I was qualified or would follow through. I should have pushed for it more. I'm proud of you and all homeschoolers. And I know quite a few now.

Kim said...

Please do. I envision people being able to send this to their "loved ones" who may need a little insight into their world. Hearing something from a third party is often more effective.

DangitAnge said...

VERY well said! Hooray!

Susan said...

I could just hug you! Wonderful article!! As a homeschooling Mom, I have experienced many (if not all) of these and you put it in words so nicely. Thanks for posting!

Kim said...

I'll take that hug!! So glad it has been helpful and encouraging.

StacyB<> said...

Very lovely. Thanks for saying this so well!