About the only thing that makes people as nosy as walking around hugely pregnant with your three other kids in tow is being out in the middle of a weekday with school-aged children. And while the obnoxious questions about large families have mostly ended for me, they’ve unfortunately been replaced with ridiculous questions about homeschooling.
The conversation usually starts with asking my kids “What grade are you in?” and while they can easily rattle off the grade level at which they’re currently working, it doesn’t mean anything. Grade levels are completely arbitrary, a random way to assign same-aged children to a group that has nothing to do with a child’s knowledge or ability. My children are not working at the same level that corresponds to what would be their school assigned grade and if we lived in a different state or country, my children could easily be assigned to a different grade level.
And this, unfortunately, is just the tip of the iceberg, the conversation starter. And while there are many different questions about homeschooling I often hear from strangers while out minding my own business, there’s really only one thing anyone needs to know about my homeschooled children:
My children are learning.
But, being the polite person that I am, I often feel obligated to nicely answer all the other questions about homeschooling that we often hear. Not just to be polite, though, but also to help change the cultural mindset around homeschooling.
These are the questions about homeschooling I often hear, and the (not so polite) answers I actually want to give:
Shouldn’t they be in school?
They are in school, it just so happens that they are educated at home, individually by me, instead of by a stranger at an institution where they’re minimized to a statistic and test score. Their classroom is their everyday world and their teachers are every person they meet.
Is that legal?
In every single state (and many other countries) and I assure you I am completely abiding by the laws and regulations in my jurisdiction. (More about homeschooling in Florida, where we currently reside.)
Are you qualified to teach them?
As it turns out, I have a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction and hold a teaching license BUT (it’s a BIG but…) that does not in any way make me a better home educator than any other parent. The amount of help available to homeschooling families is enormous, any parent that is committed to homeschooling is qualified and capable of educating their children.
What about testing?
What about it? My state doesn’t require testing so my children have never taken a standardized test. I assess their knowledge and learning in many different ways throughout the year, I don’t need a bubble sheet to tell me if my kids are learning what they need to know. (More on testing in our homeschool.)
Don’t you worry about socialization?
You mean because they don’t sit silently at a desk 6 hours a day, raising their hand to speak and surrounded by other people just like them? And because they aren’t spending most of their waking hours in an environment where respect, kindness and manners are ignored (because that’s the responsibility of parents, not schools.) I mean, I guess that’s one form of socialization, but it’s not the one I want for my kids. I prefer them to be able to ask questions, talk to many different kinds of people, and to use all those glorious hours to teach them to be kind, wonderful people (I could go on but I already wrote a long-winded article about socialization.)
Don’t you ever get tired of being around them all the time?
I’m going to assume you mean “isn’t 24/7 parenting exhausting?” And yes, yes it is. That’s why we have daily resting time for all. But what I’m not tired from is waking up early; rushing through breakfast and making lunches; wasting an hour in the car line (twice a day); struggling over homework and then topping off the day with a stressed, crying child who is being bullied or talked down to or treated poorly at school. I’ll take being tired from getting to raise and educate my own kids any day.
How do you do it? I can’t even handle homework!
I get you there, I couldn’t handle homework when my daughter was in public kindergarten either. But homeschooling is not anything like homework. There are no strict deadlines and I’m not implementing another person’s expectations. Because I’m fully in control of what and when my children learn, I’m also in control of when to fight over an assignment and when to take a snack break or hang it up for the day. I also get to decide what and how my kids are individually taught so face very few real battles over school work.
You aren’t going to homeschool for high school, right?
I don’t know, we might. We aren’t married to homeschooling, we love it now but are also flexible to make a change in the future if another option is a better fit for our family. But, I’m not worried about my ability to homeschool my children through high school. As mentioned above, there are plenty of resources available to help teach every subject so I wouldn’t have to do it completely on my own. Plus, I kind of feel like middle or high school is the worst time to throw a kid into public school (those years are hard enough for kids who have been it their whole lives!)
Don’t they have to have a high school diploma to get into college?
Well, technically, no. They can always get their GED. Many colleges will also accept homeschool transcripts/diplomas showing that a student completed all high school level work, in addition to SAT/ACT test scores, of course. But another option that many homeschoolers take advantage of (and that I see being a good future fit for our family as well) is dual enrollment at a local college. It allows homeschooled students to get used to college courses while earning credits and once a student has a college transcript, a high school transcript and diploma are generally not needed.
What other crazy questions about homeschooling do you hear all the time?