Where do you go to school?
The question arises frequently. Whether at the doctor, dentist, orthodontist, local YMCA, or new activity, the kids answer with, “We homeschool.”
Over the years, homeschooling has become more and more accepted and, dare I say, popular. The follow up questions used to be, “Do you like it?” or, “Is that legal?” Now it seems the follow-up statements and questions are more along the lines of, “That’s awesome!” or, “Do you go to a co-op?”
On rare occasions when the kids’ answers are met with disconcerted looks, I quickly jump in and try to rescue the moment or bring the tension down with, “We believe in parent-directed education, finding what works best for your family, and walking that path.”
Homeschooling is Not Required
I have given workshops at homeschool conventions and enjoyed conversations with mothers in different seasons of life. Several of these chats have been with mothers who were overwhelmed with homeschooling, yet discussing the possibility of putting their kids in school seemed to provoke a panic attack.
Just as I have to quickly explain to the orthodontist that homeschooling is not the answer for everyone, I realize that there are homeschooling moms who need to be told, “It’s okay to put your kids back into school.”
Somewhere along the line, we have forgotten that homeschooling is a method of education. Instead, we use it to define ourselves as good or bad parents.
Education is one aspect of raising a child. We feed, clothe, and aid our children all day long. If I were to tell a parent that buying our clothes at Target made me feel like a failing parent because I didn’t grow the cotton, spool it, and render garments, people would consider me weird.
Note: Ok, yes, I know there are people out there like that, but that’s another article altogether.
What about food? Are we beating ourselves up because we buy store-bought bread (ok, I think I’m getting close to home now) or don’t can our own food? Allowing Kraft mac and cheese to rescue us on those busy days doesn’t define our parenthood.
When our kids have a toothache, do we proceed to pull out dental equipment and try to fill the tooth? No! We set an appointment and get ready for the bill.
I know what you’re thinking. Food, clothing, and medical doesn’t define who my children will become. Education is far weightier, and to do anything but homeschool would ruin my child. Well, this is where I would challenge homeschool moms to put on their thinking noodle, take a step back, and just stop for a moment!
I will agree that education has more lasting consequences than clothes. I dare not argue the food issue with moms who drinks a smoothie with spinach every day. But, with two adult children, two in high school, and the last kid about to approach his teens, I have learned a great deal about what defines me as a good or bad parent.
What is Good Parenting?
Parenting is 50 percent example and 50 percent other, including food, clothing, training, educating, etc. As a parent, I want to produce an adult who can be guided by the Holy Spirit, humbly serving his fellow man, and living his life to the fullest as he brings God glory.
Where does the method of education fall into line here? None of the qualities I just mentioned happen to do with math, science, or language arts. The majority of your child’s education is not in books, but in watching parenting and learning how to live life.
There is the argument that parents need to be the primary influencers and homeschooling is the key. But think on that for a moment. If mom is stressed out and yelling more often than instructing, I dare say, put the kid in school, regain your sanity, and show an example of learning your boundaries.
Either resolve to meet the kids at the bus stop with cookies and a clean house, learn to embrace the messy house and quick fixes for dinner because of homeschooling, or take a Superheroes 101 course and learn to have both. Either way, homeschooling is tough, it’s a choice, and it’s only one part of the process. Choosing what works with your family is all about priorities.