There are some homeschooling myths out there that won’t go away no matter how many times they are refuted. These myths are not, mind you, as simple as the socialization myth. Much has already been said and written about that one already – perhaps enough to make naysayers think at least a little before mentioning it.
No, these more subtle, insidious myths have more to do with the parents than the children. They are about the burden, the difficulty, rather, the impracticality of educating one’s own children.
These three myths speak to the fear, if you will, of “striking out on one’s own” as an homeschooler.
The Myth of Being Driven
I have mentioned before that when I tell someone we’re homeschooling, I receive either incredulity or outright admiration.
“You must be incredibly driven! And organized!” I’ve heard more than once as I’m propped up on a pedestal. I will admit to being more organized than most, but that is not a prerequisite for homeschooling.
However, I am not incredibly driven. I do not wake up every morning and repeat affirmations about memory work in front of my mirror. I am not determined to raise rock stars of math, spelling and grammar. There are days when I get bored, days that are frustrating, days that we literally dump the books. There are as many tears as there are smiles.
But you know what? That’s the nature of life!
I cook dinner every night, too. If I burn it one night, I don’t go running into the arms of the state to give my family food. We make do. It’s the same with homeschooling as it is with the rest of life – you do what you can with what you have where you are. And that’s it.
The Myth of Being a Recluse
People like to believe that homeschooling students are this little odd group that stays home and memorizes Bible verses everyday.
And the homeschooling mom, oh, don’t get me started on the mom. She must be this larger than life figure that has it all under control, right? The Homeschooling Mom attends homeschooling conventions, puts together a curriculum, makes her list, checks it twice, ensures the kids are doing the work they’re supposed to every single day, keeps the home running smoothly at all times.
She must have two heads, right? And ten arms? Or, at the very least, she must be waking up at 4 in the morning and going to bed past midnight. She must be burnt out.
Um, wait a sec. You just described Elon Musk. (Without the two heads and ten arms part. As far as I know.) And none of the homeschooling moms I know – not one – fits this description.
As far as me? I spend one – count it – one hour ensuring my children are doing what I’ve asked them to do. I do put together our own curriculum but that’s because I enjoy it. It’s not work for me, it’s play. There’s no rule in the world that says you have to do it this way. In fact, the best thing about homeschooling (or unschooling) today is that you can make up your own rules as you go!
Homeschoolers truly are not alone. The majority are not reclusive.
While I firmly believe families should be left alone to make decisions for themselves, this does not bar them from getting together with other families who believe what they do in order to get a fuller, richer experience. This includes forming co-ops, homeschool associations, meet up groups, play groups, various classes, the list goes on. So while you make the decision alone – as you should – you do not take the journey alone.
The idea that you have to choose between being reclusive or associating with an agent of the state who will wrest control from your hands from over your own children is ludicrous enough to be laughable.
The Myth of Having to Know it All to Teach
Also, here’s another news flash, which is not news to most homeschoolers, I assure you. Your children are learning anyway. It is in their very nature to learn. How they learn is not as important as what they learn.
You do not need to imitate public schools, not in their nature, their teaching methods, their times, their agendas or even their curriculum. Oh, and you don’t need their help. You don’t need them to give you a time table on which you can proceed to “let” your child grow.
Are you really that concerned with when exactly the child needs to learn about the continents and the second law of thermodynamics and figure out what x and y stand for that you’re willing to be dictated to by an agent of the state in your own home? Really?
Because, you know what, my four year old can put all fifty states in their proper places on a map of the United States. He can’t name them all perfectly, but he knows where they go. How is this? He learned it with an app! My seven year old knows the laws of thermodynamics. He perhaps can’t apply them yet, because he’s still in the grammar stage of learning, but he knows them. How is this possible when the state isn’t supervising our every move telling us when to do what? How? Is it possible that *gasp* children learn and thrive under that one word we seem to have forgotten – freedom?
Children need a guide, not a funnel.
You do not need to become the repository of all knowledge. You do not need to have any esoteric understanding of how it is all put together.
Let me be the first to break it to you: there is no grand plan that public schools work toward.
There is nothing esoteric about what they do, nothing you are missing out on, nothing, in fact, that they can help you with. The moment you ask them for “help” in educating your children, you put yourself on an unequal footing. They have far more power in the relationship, even if they wield it behind a smiling face. And before anyone accuses me of fear, let me say that this isn’t about fear – it is about a healthy caution.
Clearly, I need another blog post about state agencies, but for now, to wrap it up, I’m just going to say this: if you’re considering homeschooling, think long and hard about what you believe about it, be brutal in tearing down any myths you might have inadvertently bought into and be assured that you – yes, you – can do this.
You can do this.