Red and Fred refer to me as the principal, although I do very little to warrant this title. My wife does 97% of the work supporting our homeschool. My three percent contribution stems from teaching when I am able, recess and reminding the kids that their mom is their teacher and she deserves respect. I cannot take credit for the direction of this journey we are on, but I am more than happy to accompany Red, Fred, and the Teacher, as we figure it all out.
My acceptance of the possibility that we could provide an education that would be as good as the public-school system was gradual. But I am pleased to report that my confidence in our ability to succeed as a family is growing as we work together through this first year. Lately, I have felt more connected to Red and Fred. I believe this connection is because I am more aware of what they are learning about. Another perk is that I am learning, and relearning, with them throughout the school day. It is a pleasure to look at the world around us together and find ways to apply what we are learning. I consider our family to be very lucky to have this opportunity. I look forward to the day when Red and Fred become my teachers but, I fear that day will come before my pride is ready.
Let’s Tackle the Question on Everyone’s Mind
What about socialization? This question is the most common question I field after I inform someone that we are homeschooling. Sometimes it is followed by an example of a homeschooled child that was just a little “different” or couldn’t function very well in the real world. This is a justified question and a valid concern, but who is to say this is a result of the child being homeschooled? Many factors and influences go into the development of an individual. We are electing to have a little more influence and control over those factors, hopefully for the best, but that is yet to be determined. We do our best to socialize Red and Fred in any way we can. We frequently attend museums, go to church, and participate in our local YMCA’s homeschool gym and swim program with other kids. We also travel a lot. During these travel times, we encourage the kids to be brave and talk with others. There have been times while traveling on airplanes when we don’t always get to sit next to one another. The kids have then ended up engaging in small talk with their new seat partner. It is fun to hear the stories they come back to us with. One of my favorite memories of Red was when we were in Scotland. We met a woman walking her dog, while we were in a park. We ended up all walking in the same direction for a while. Red walked next to this woman and had a long conversation about what kind of dog she had, what she did for work, what life was like in Scotland and much more that was lost in her short report back to us. It was a great moment to see her striking up a dialogue unprompted by us. Fred is a little more cautious, but still randomly surprises us with his willingness to talk with strangers and other kids. A challenge we can see ahead is to not become homebodies. Although we do get out often, I think we are all introverted and would be just as happy hanging out around the house. I have no fears regarding Red and Fred’s socialization. It is not something that we ignore, but we also will not force it.
Before we considered homeschooling, we were concerned with lack of social interaction that would result from taking our children out of the public-school system. After we committed to the idea of keeping the kids at home, I had images in my mind of our kids staring out the window each morning crying at the sight of the other neighborhood kids boarding up the bus for another fun day at school. Even though last year, as the bus approached the bus stop, we would be running around the house arguing about getting dressed in whatever themed clothing was necessary for the day; getting their shoes tied; finishing last-minute homework; packing lunches, backpacks and snow gear; forcing food into their mouths and anything else that became an emergency situation as the bus entered the neighborhood and made its way to our house. There were many mornings where I was not the ideal parent. I was not patient. I was not kind. There was a lot of pressure to get them out of the door on time and that would typically result in raised voices on both sides and a half-hearted hug before they ran out the door. No matter what we did to make the mornings easier, there still was a feeling of being rushed during those last few minutes of the morning. Was this the image we wanted our kids to have of us while they were away at school? This concern was often in our thoughts after the house was quiet once again. Returning to my fear of the kids crying at the window, that fear was unfounded. This year the kids are not sitting at the window crying, they are not fighting with us about what they should be wearing and I am patient and kind.
Something we have noticed missing from not being in public-school is the social drama of playground antics. The kids seem to be much less stressed out. We still have conflicts about book reports that need to be completed, expectations of what work needs to be done and sometimes household chores, but these are minor compared to what came home from school last year. Red and Fred seem to be very happy and worry-free. They are not concerned with who said what about who, or who is doing what to who. I find it hard to see the benefit of them having to deal with these situations at this age. I agree that kids need to learn to cope with certain situations. We do not intend to shelter our children in any way. We hope they will be able to make informed decisions based off of their thoughts and feelings, rather than what is expected of them from others. We as parents are trying to instill common sense, empathy, kindness and conflict resolution techniques by setting good examples. We hope that these types of social skills will serve them well in the future.