Every so often someone will say to me that it’s hard seeing all the back-to-school photos or graduation photos their friends are posting. While they are happy for them, it also makes them wonder if their own children are missing out because they have chosen to homeschool, or unschool.
It’s true. If you choose to homeschool you will miss certain milestones that have been linked with childhood in our culture.
The first day of school pictures.
Being student of the week.
School sports teams.
Book week dress-ups.
Starting high school.
All the certificates, assemblies, parades…
You won’t share in those memories. Your child will ‘miss out’ on that.
It can be easy to worry that you are taking something away from them. These things have become synonymous with childhood. Can you really just decide to have none of them?
The thing is, these aren’t childhood milestones, they are school milestones. They have nothing to do with what children really need, or how they really grow and develop. They are not crucial for childhood. In fact, a lot of them are just there to control and encourage conformity.
Maybe when we look back at our own childhoods, these are the things we remember. That’s because school is where we spent most of our time. Maybe they’re the only things we remember because the rest was not all that memorable. We may worry that we won’t have that shared experience with our children, however, instead of them having some vaguely similar experiences, what we will get is to spend those years with them. We get to actually live life together.
You can safely say goodbye to school milestones. If you actually take a look at the list, it’s quite underwhelming anyway. Would we give up a childhood of freedom and joy for a few certificates? Trade 10,000 hours of our children’s time for that? Of course not.
There is much more we can do with that time.
So no, you won’t have certificates praising your children’s behaviour to tuck away into a box, but you can cultivate something even more precious.
Many many memories from years spent living and learning together.
Children who are intrinsically motivated.
Passionate children who were allowed the freedom to decide what they were interested in and learn about that.
Children free to be themselves, with their self-esteem intact.
A connected family.
A choice in what each day looks like.
An active homeschool community and healthy friendships.
Endless time for play.
A childhood free of stress, pressure, judgement, and coercion.
A joyful education.
You can even still go on field trips, and hold sports carnivals, if you like!
I feel like making it to adulthood with your self-esteem, motivation, love of learning, and a strong sense of who you are as a person intact is a pretty awesome milestone. I’ll take that over anything school can provide any day.