I think we need to hear more voices from men on the topic of homeschooling/unschooling, and I am lucky to have my husband back for another guest post today. He’s sharing more of his perspective on choosing to homeschool, and busting some common misconceptions…
Homeschooling – I bet this brings all sorts of weird stereotypes to mind, as it did for me.
I will say this though…It isn’t what you think it will be, but it will be exactly what you make it.
What a cop-out statement to make right? It’s true though.
Your homeschooling life will look exactly as you make it, so really whatever your purpose for choosing this lifestyle (and it is a lifestyle, not an educational pathway) will shape the way your life will look with homeschooled kids.
I want to challenge you on some myths of homeschooling that some of us Dad’s might care about. I’m going to talk about some things that were challenging for me when I pictured life as homeschoolers before we dove in…and just how wrong I was.
Disclaimer – this is my story, not yours…so I don’t profess to cover all angles and situations.
#1 My kids won’t get to play sport
This is a serious statement. This was one of my first concerns and it was a legitimate one in my mind.
I played a lot of sport through school and sport is still important to me. But when I really think about it, although most of my sport was played during school years it was played outside of school hours.
Rugby, hockey, swimming, water polo, triathlon – these were all done at Clubs that had no association with my school.
As I type I wonder how cool it would be to have unlimited time and energy to pursue my sporting interests, to really test how far I could take my body and the physical capabilities I have. I could learn so much more about the physiological makeup of my body and what I need to do to be better prepared for the sports that I enjoy; to learn the techniques and training programs that would give me the best outcome; to spend more time with other athletes with similar mindsets; and to find more opportunities for competition.
Unfortunately, I have to work…thankfully my kids don’t have that problem. They all do ballet, some do acrobatics, and I have no doubt as they get older and are exposed to more sports they will add to that list. They’ll get to meet so many people, learn from people of all ages and backgrounds, and have the time to truly invest in their interest…should they wish to.
#2 We will live in a tee-pee and sing Kumbaya
I won’t even bother responding to this one. You know when this is raised as a concern that the person is grasping at straws.
Your home life doesn’t change at all and you won’t change; you’ll just be busier and more philosophical… It’s like Chandler Bing once said “Can open, worms everywhere”. You’ll start to question everything and anything, which is exactly what our kids do. Cool huh?
#3 We’ll need desks and a blackboard
Yep. And craft tables. And spare parts. And paint and pencils. And bits and bobs. And laptops. And music. And space to dance and wrestle. And memberships to zoos, museums, art galleries, and theatres. And football boots, ballet shoes, gumboots, and raincoats.
You won’t be standing in a room teaching your kids. You’ll be on the floor next to them as they teach you. You’ll be inside wondering where your kids are because they’ve been outside for hours building a fort with plumbing, insulation, and mini-kitchen.
Your life won’t be in a classroom. Life will be the classroom.
#4 I’m not qualified
Did you ask yourself that before you had a baby? Did you challenge yourself that night before you “did your bit” to create that baby? Did you question your qualifications when your baby learned to roll over, crawl and then walk? Were your baby’s first words “You aren’t qualified”?
You are perfectly suitable, no… you are the perfect and MOST suitable person to create the environment necessary to promote curiosity, investigation, learning and happiness. Because that’s all you need to do, create the environment. Your kids will do the rest. They’ll ask a million questions each day, and you get to help them work out ways to answer those questions – sometimes it’ll be you, sometimes friends and family, sometimes the internet, sometimes libraries or museums. It’s how you and I answer questions we have, and it’s no different for them.
#5 It will be a lot of work
Yep. It will. Millions of questions and the “learning” isn’t confined to 9am – 3pm Monday to Friday. It’ll happen at 5.30am when they wake up to take apart an old stereo to see what’s inside; it’ll happen at 9pm when they are asking you to write out maths sums; it’ll happen on Christmas Day when they realise their Aunt is a paramedic and knows lots about body parts…but how cool is that!
To put it bluntly, homeschooling is more work than sending your kids to school. You aren’t outsourcing their education; you are taking the most active role in it.
I was asked recently if we homeschool our kids in line with the school term, as in “do you have Christmas off?” My response is that we don’t confine learning and delight to 4 terms of 10 weeks each, our kids go at it 365 days a year and I fully expect the same level of enthusiasm and wonder for new things on Christmas Day as they would at 9am on a Monday morning.
Hard to imagine, but if you don’t have any agenda whatsoever for the activity you’re doing other than you are excited and motivated to do more of it… the day of the week you’re doing it won’t matter! And it won’t really feel like ‘work’, it will just feel like life!
#6 People will think I am weird
Yep. Anyone who does something that breaks from convention is seen as weird. This is a good weird.
But you need to own it. People will be curious and ask questions. Sometimes you’ll feel like being honest and answering those questions, sometimes you won’t. It’ll challenge some people, and for others it’ll seem like a personal attack on their own belief systems – so be it. That’s their issue, not yours.
The thing is though, if this is the one thing stopping you from homeschooling your kids then you really need to get over it and pronto. Whatever your insecurities around telling people you homeschool, you are delaying the positive and exciting opportunity for your kids and yourself.
#7 It’s not real-life and my kids won’t learn to deal with difficult people
I’m going to call you out on this one and ask you to cut the B-S.
What you’re really saying here is that you’ve been exposed to bullies and/or adult-figures that made you feel insignificant or worth less than you are, and because you weren’t given any option as a child to remove yourself from that environment you think all kids need to have this “rite of passage” so they don’t suffer when they are older.
And yet now that you’re older you don’t stand for that crap any more. You know you have options to either attack the situation head on (e.g. a boss you don’t like) or to remove yourself because life is too short.
We give our kids the same rights. Sure they have disagreements and arguments with their friends, and sure they are exposed to kids they don’t know well who do things they don’t like, but our kids know that they can talk to us about it…and if they choose to they can avoid being in environments with those kids again.
This is not running away. This is not avoiding confrontation that is “so important to kids”. This is allowing a child to have the same right to choice as adults and letting them make that choice.
My kids have a wide range of exposures to kids and adults in a variety of settings, and it’s this variety that is so important to their happiness – because they choose who they spend their time with and ultimately do so to make them happy.
Isn’t that the point?
So here is thing. Whatever your beliefs, thoughts, or concerns are for homeschooling your kids, please know that the choice to do so will actually open them up to a world of possibilities.
You just need to overcome your own insecurities…easier said than done but once you do you’ll wonder why it took you so long!
Like this? Check out these other guest posts from my awesome hubby…