Are you sending your child to school? Did you give it any consideration, or just accept that it was inevitable?
School is so widely used now that it has come to be seen as the default option for childhood. Most people don’t even question if they will send their children to school, only where and when. It is just assumed that all children will attend school when they are around five years old. People are usually surprised to hear that you homeschool because it doesn’t fit in with what has now become the normal view of childhood.
This often makes you feel that you’re the one doing something different or ‘weird’ for homeschooling. I’ve come to think of it differently though. Just because school is the path the majority chooses, doesn’t make it the default option for life. Think about it. We begin life with our family, surrounded by those who love us and know us best. It’s where we learn to crawl, walk, talk, and everything else we do up until age five. We learn all of these things with ease, just by living. We never question that our children won’t be able to learn them, or how, or if we are qualified to ‘teach’ them (in the absence of medical conditions of course). We don’t consider outsourcing the job of teaching our child to crawl to someone who is qualified. We trust that it will happen naturally when they are ready, and we know that as parents we are the perfect people to support them while they learn.
It doesn’t make sense then that suddenly when a child turns five, all this changes. Somehow we are suddenly unqualified to continue to support them in their learning? I don’t think so. Things can change, if you choose for them to. But they don’t have to. You can send them to school where their education will now be taken care of by someone else in whatever way they deem best. Or life can happily continue as it has all along, with children still learning as much as they ever did if you don’t interfere with the process. The default option, I believe, is for children to keep learning the way they have been since birth. School is an altering of this process. School is the alternative.
If you see school as the normal path to adulthood, it can feel hard to justify homeschooling. You feel like you need to give school a try first to rule it out. People ask questions like ‘But what if they want to go to school?’, ‘Aren’t you going to at least try it?’, and ‘Won’t they be missing out on all the things that we did?’. You can feel like people believe you are depriving your child of a normal childhood. But you don’t need to have a bad school experience to have a legitimate reason to opt-out. It’s not really about school. It’s about living a life that you believe in. I happen to believe that the best place for my children to be educated is in our family and community. To me, school is not the default option. Home is.