But let me go back a few years......
Imagine me, a cute little third grader back in 1980-something. I knew of only one family that had taken their children out of public school so they could homeschool. And I'm not gonna lie....they were weird. Like, super weird. That was my only personal experience with homeschoolers.
Fast forward ten years....I'm a freshman in college and my best friend had been homeschooled. She was (and still is) far from weird. People often question the social skills and experiences of homeschooled children. She was the least socially awkward person I knew. Quite the opposite really. She was a social butterfly and pretty much knew everyone. And still remembers most of them. I barely even remember college. It's rather annoying. Anyway, at the time I thought that her (and her family) must be an exception to the "homeschoolers are weird" rule. Because, homeschoolers are weird, right?
Fast forward a few more years. Let's say.....fifteen more years. (I know! It's hard to believe I'm that old! That math was upsetting.) My sweet Lolly girl was a cute little first grader and I had just found out that the older kids at her elementary school were snorting over the counter drugs during recess. In elementary school! I was appalled.
I happened to go to dinner with another friend who was a teacher and school administrator. We were discussing my frustration and going over my options. I was just at a loss. I told her that I would love to homeschool my kids but I didn't want them to end up being weird! She looked at me, laughed a little and said, "of course they wouldn't be weird because you're not weird!".
It was a total Oprah Ah Ha Moment.
Those homeschool kids I had known when I was a kid were weird because they were weird. It had nothing to do with homeschooling. They were weird when they were in public school too. Now, I'm sure they've grown up to be functional adults, even if they're still weird. Let's call it quirky. As an adult, I'm a lot more accepting of weird/quirky. I've grown up to be a functional adult as well. Most days. And my friend from college was socially successful because she was raised by socially successful people.
This Ah Ha Moment has gone on to help me in a variety of ways. Not only in my journey toward transitioning to homeschool (which didn't happen for three more years) but also in my interactions since making the decision. The socialization card is frequently played by those that don't agree with homeschooling and it's an easy way to make a new homeschool parent second guess themselves. Or if they're like me, 472nd guess themselves. It's a passive aggressive way of saying "you're totally messing up your kids by homeschooling them" since a child couldn't possibly have any social skills if they're not in public school. But here's another little nugget of wisdom that has also helped me.
Forced association is not the same as socialization.
That's right.....association is just not the same as socialization. And if you're planning on the public school system teaching your children all their social skills then you need to rethink that plan. Teachers have more to do than they have time to do it all. They are trying to work miracles in their classrooms where there just isn't enough money, time, teachers, resources to go around in order to teach all the core subjects. They shouldn't have to worry about teaching social skills. That's a parents job.
Well, that was a little more ranty than I had planned on. I guess it's no surprise that I feel strongly about the parents role in parenting. Mainly, I feel like parents should, ya know....parent.
So, here we are now....just a couple months left of our first year of homeschooling. I have learned a lot. I hope my girls have learned a lot. It's so easy to get caught up in all the little details of school that's it's easy to forget the why. But the why is the most important part.
Why did I decide to homeschool anyway? Sometimes I feel like it chose me more than I chose it. It was just something always hanging out in the back of my mind, nagging me with the potential. Last winter as I went back and forth trying to decide what was best for our family I often thought I had either lost my mind or was becoming so much more enlightened. Was it possible that we could be happier not doing what everyone else was doing? Could we really live a more fulfilling life if we ventured off the beaten path? And maybe, just maybe.....not everyone is meant to go through life in the same way. Maybe homeschooling could be amazing for us just like public schooling is amazing for some families and charter schooling is amazing for other families and private schooling is amazing for other families. Maybe....there isn't only one right way to do everything. And maybe that's okay.
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do. ~Steve Jobs