Thoughts on Homeschooling

I was over at Veda’s looking around since she came & commented on my blog last night & ran across this Now this is a subject near & dear to my heart. I am actually surprised how little interest people have in hearing what people who were homeschooled have to say about how it went for them. I mention it occasionally & almost no one has ever said to me ‘Really? How was that for you? Did you like it?’ I guess it’s easier to think about the whole thing in theory rather than in reality.
becky70093.jpgMy mother was a big proponent of the unschooling type of homeschooling- in theory- in reality she was very controlling in a passive aggressive way. (not a good combination) I won’t get into all the unpleasantness that ensued over the years, though when she began homeschooling in 1978 the whole movement was in it’s infancy & for the first couple of years it was ok- I was only 10 after all & I did learn a lot from her in the beginning. As I got older though, things went rapidly downhill, I had been in ‘free schools’ before my mother began homeschooling & I know some people looked upon me as ‘ruined’ having been in school already rather than being purely homeschooled as my younger brother was. I also see now that being homeschooled was more about my mother’s need to ‘help’ my brother try to overcome his obsessive-compulsive tendencies rather than having anything to do with helping us become educated, well rounded people.

the-fam-2002147.jpg I will say that I would never homeschool my children & wouldn’t have done so when I was married either. The #1 reason is that old saw: Socialization. My family, on my mother’s side, is painfully shy. Just talking to someone they don’t know could bring my mother or grandmother to tears, one of my mother’s given reasons for homeschooling was to save me that & keep myself & my brother sheltered & control the environment that we met people in. (my brother was outgoing- so not really a problem for him either way) Not a good idea because it fed into my shyness & added to it. To this day my mother still says I’m 100 times more outgoing than she ever was but I can’t just strike up a conversation with a person I’m walking past in a store or at work. Case in point: the director of my call center is from Massachusetts too. He ends up walking into the call center at nearly the same time I do every morning & he always says hello to me, if we pass in the center during the day he always makes sure to say hello to me too. I can’t for the life of me bring myself to say anything more than hello to him. I know he knows I’m from the same area he is because we also have a general manager who’s mother lives in the town I grew up in in MA. & we have had some small discussion about this & he told me the director is aware I’m from the area too. (once again though, I know this about the GM only because my ex aunt in law used to work there & she had a conversation with him about this in front of me & drew me into it) I pretty much go out of my way to avoid face to face small talk. I excuse this in myself- to my kids also, in that I have to make small talk on the phone as part of my job & so am tired of doing so & don’t want to be in situations where I have to do so on my days off. (True but I know in my heart it’s an excuse, I just don’t want to talk to people face to face)

As a homeschooler I attended ballet classes, Music appreciation & Campfire girls among other things over the years, I was always the odd one out because the other kids knew each other from school & didn’t want anything to do with me, kids know, they can tell when you’re odd or not the same as them- We got flack at church, (and I was brought up Unitarian, the most accepting church in the world, I think!) At the grocery store, at museums we’d visit in the off hours & on the street. The only place where there was ‘real’ socialization was when my mother started a homeschoolers group & we met once a month with other homeschoolers in the area in a rotating homes setup which allowed all the kids to play with other homeschooled kids. Technically, this is how I met Chrissea in the first place. Because her mom homeschooled her for a year. I haven’t kept up with any of the other homeschoolers over the years, there were only 4 or 5 others who were in the same age range as I was, most were closer to my brothers age or even younger than that. I often got on better with the parents, much to my mothers chagrin- I believe she took it as a personal affront that I preferred to talk to these women rather than to her.

beck84100.jpgAt about 15 I decided I wanted to go to school, I went to my mother & asked for her help in the spring of that year, to prepare & learn what I needed to know to go to school the following autumn, she refused, saying I didn’t realize how horrible it would be & that the kids would eat me alive, I’d hate it & would want to quit after a day. I disagreed, after all, Chrissea was there, I knew other kids through her who were friendly enough to me when I was with her & I felt they’d be ok to me at school, yes, maybe there’d be others who weren’t so friendly but I wasn’t really worried. Nope, no way was my mother going to allow it. A few months later I lucked into going to my Uncle’s house & babysitting his kids ‘for the summer’ I stayed 6 months & did a little school work from there which I sent to my mother to grade, but it wasn’t anything I did with any real feeling. I was pretty upset about not going to school when I wanted to, the point was supposed to be about choice & in not allowing me to make one my mother ruined the homeschooling idea for me. When I went home because at the end of 6 months I had found that my Uncle & Aunt weren’t much more mature than I was & did not value my time enough for me to feel comfortable there anymore, I had already turned 16, old enough to drop out of school & get a job which is exactly what I did & I never looked back. I eventually got my GED but I’m old enough now that it hardly even matters anymore.

I realize things have changed somewhat these days in regards to socialization for homeschoolers, but I truly feel homeschooling set me back & kept me from functioning normally in day to day life for many years & I could not do that to my kids no matter how much they think they want me to- which they routinely say they do. I tell them they don’t know what they’re talking about. Another thing having been homeschooled has done to me, it makes me very leery in school situations, times when I have to go to the kids’ schools & deal with teachers or principals I get very edgy. I don’t do PTA & have a rather lax attitude about attendance. As long as their grades stay ok.

cam-pout.jpgAs I often tell my kids when they fuss at me about ‘you never had to go to school-why do we?’ Attending public School, at the very least prepares you for adult life in that you have to get up every day & go someplace you’d rather not be & do things you don’t much want to do because someone tells you you have to. I’m also a big proponent to them of the fact that sometimes you just have to do certain things (like study history or do math equations- or in my own, personal case, at my job tell people that it’s going to cost money to have someone come to their house & fix their DBS system) That you don’t want to do, that aren’t pleasant or easy & that you just have to get through it & move on. I feel like School prepares you for that a lot better than Homeschool & these are lessons it took me most of my twenties to learn rather than my teens like ‘normal’ people. (I admit though, there are plenty of people out there who never ‘get’ that- my ex is one!)

Really though, there are plenty of good reasons for homeschooling, it’s just for me, none of them outweigh the bad ones.


13 thoughts on “Thoughts on Homeschooling

  1. My Alaskan brother and his wife tried the whole homeschooling thing. What they got out of it was one child who could NOT interact with anyone. So what did they do? They enrolled him in the Junior NRA. Yeah, give a child with no socail skills a gun!! All 3 kids are now in public school and getting along just fine, although the older child is known in the family as “God JR”. He still thinks he can behave whichever way he see’s fit. I’m glad you turned out the way you did. I don’t think you are as shy as you think you are. You met me didn’t you? I’ll be the first to admit that we are polar opposites when it comes to just walking up and talking to people, but its not like you refuse to be sociable. I happen to think you are the best!!

  2. Hi. Michele sent me.

    I think this is a choice that a child and parent have to arrive at together. My friend was homeschooled because she asked her parents for it. Because they were able to work it out together, it was a great experience for her. I consider homeschooling for my child, but I think we will probably go the small private school route; it seems to be the best middle ground. Whatever we choose, our child will have a say in helping her father and I reach our final choice.

  3. I’m so sorry that you had this experience. šŸ˜¦ But this does sound like a grass is greener view point. I have known so many people that have told me that school made their shyness one of the most painful things of their childhood, because they were constantly hammered at school about being shy.

    I had a similar experience, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I finally got over my inability to make casual conversation and feel like I even knew who I was. I was a really good student too. For me, it wouldn’t have mattered where I went to school (or didn’t), childhood would have been rough. And I’m thankful for my difficult childhood now. I have learned so much, and become a better person for it.

    I think your message here is incredibly important though – family makes the difference. It doesn’t matter where the kid goes to school, family relationships and parents trusting and respecting their children is the number one most important thing.

    Again, I’m sorry you had such a tough childhood. Big cyber hugs that you can move on and not let the past control your choices in the present.

  4. but I truly feel homeschooling set me back & kept me from functioning normally in day to day life for many years

    Was it homeschooling? Or your mother?

  5. I love the photo of you and your brother.

    This is an interesting subject. I used the unschooling method of homeschooling for my sons when they were young. Josh had a lot of input into what he wanted to do and was always one with a life plan. He said, “I want to homeschool for a couple of years, then try Blue Mountain, and then public.” He did them all. I think homeschooling makes a lot of sense when kids are young. They are natural learners and sometimes not ready for so much structure and peer pressur. I think public school is somewhat of a cultural indocrination that I wanted my kids to have more of a solid sense of self before they undertook it. I do think there comes a time when a sense of bellonging is very important. Josh got that from Blue Mountain and then public, He’s turned out very well. Dylan on the other hand only homeschooled for such a short time and then started BM at age 7. He wasn’t as self motivated as Josh so homeschooling was not best for him.

  6. My take is simple: to each his/her own.

    I just want to know why all the national spelling bee finalists always seem to be homeschooled. It’s as if there’s this vein of super-smart kids who’ve never set foot in a real school. Weird.

  7. Hi. I guess there are pro’s and cons to each type of schooling. Socialisation is a good reason for going to school though. Shyness is an awful thing to deal with. I used to be very shy but am much better now but still I have my moments!

    Michele sent me to say hi.

  8. I guess the grass is always greener. I would have loved to been taken out of my miserable school environment, where I was bullied and teased and never really learned much of anything. My cousins homeschool, and I believe it is the best option for their children.

    As for preparing for an adult life where you have to get up every day and go somewhere you don’t want to go. . . I hope your children, no matter what their education, don’t feel tied to that type of existence. (I know I am. . . but at least when I was a kid, I had hope of something better. . . lots of people grow up to love their jobs!)

  9. Sorry it took so long for me to get to this and comment back. I’m glad, too, that we’ve hooked up through Michele’s. I think I could come up with a bazillion questions for you!

    Not that it matters personally to you (but it does some, to me), we’ve offered the option of school and would not refuse a child to check it out. If it worked for the kid, great. We just started out the other direction – hs first, ps if there’s a reason.

    Otherwise, you’re right, the situation socially is incredibly different today compared to the early eighties. And I can understand – my aunt was homeschooling her kids then and they were rare anywhere outside of their church (where there was one other family doing it.) Also, being that you started off in ps, I’m not surprised to hear that you were the black sheep among the others. It’s sad that it’s taken as many years as it has to alter that mindset, but it has changed. Now, kids that took your same route are looked upon with awe that they made it out alive! ;p

    I’ll post again on the topic. Replying to this and to Margalit’s comment on my last post re: h’schooling.

    Oh, hey! Glad to meet you! šŸ˜€

  10. I’m sorry that your own homeschooling experience was a bad one. I homeschool my son and I must tell you that if he was still in public school, he would have been one of those “dark” kids we all hear about. He was very withdrawn and shy. He would talk to people only when they spoke to him. He probably would have either committed suicide or been the one taking the gun to school. That is where I envisioned him being if we had not decided to homeschool him. Now though, he is very friendly and talkative. He has many other homeschool friends that he associates with. He’s not afraid to be himself like he was in public school where he was ridiculed and made fun of. The kids he hangs out with now accept him for who he is. He has turned from being a social outcast to being my social butterfly. All of this was achieved through homeschooling. I’m sure that if you were to be homeschooled today, it would be much better. Things have changed since the early days of homeschooling where the parents were afraid to let anyone know what they were doing and to let their children out of the house. Good luck to you in your own children’s education. I hope your own children do well in public school and that they will be one of the few who do succeed.

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