This week on one of my favorite websites, 12most.com (full disclosure: I am a contributor), there was a fascinating and eye-opening post and follow-up conversation about homeschooling. I voiced my opinion – as I have been known to do – that I believe that public school, when maneuvered correctly and with parental involvement, can offer an excellent education for our children.
I was amazed at the passion with which the homeschooling parents and supporters of the idea came out to comment on this 12most post. I have to admit, I don’t know anyone personally who homeschools, and I cannot imagine ever choosing to do so myself – and for this my parenting skills and commitment to my children have been questioned.
One of the great things I’ve learned as a blogger and participant in online conversations is that there is always someone with a different opinion than yours. In real life, this doesn’t happen as often, because we tend to surround ourselves with people who generally see the world the way we do. I’ve learned a lot from and about people online who have vastly different viewpoints than I, and this time was no different.
One commenter asked me what kind of parent I am that I would want to send my children away each day for eight hours of school – “institutionalizing” them was the word that was used. Also, what kind of children do I have that I wouldn’t want to spend extended periods of time with them. I was dumbfounded by this question – because I loved spending time with my kids while they were growing up, and in fact was the quintessential stay-at-home-mom, greeting them as they walked in the door, listening to them talk about the events of the day, helping them to unravel problems and celebrate their successes. I was deeply involved in their lives, both in school and out of school. Now that they’re in college, I am still very much involved in their lives, but from a distance, which is good. I am very close to my kids – they both trust me and my husband with things many kids don’t share with their parents – and they have a strong connection to their extended family, also. Overall, I’d say they’re pretty terrific people – but I may be a little biased.
Despite this love for my children, I could never have homeschooled them, both for my sake and for theirs. I am someone who needs “me” time – and if that makes me a bad parent in the eyes of some, I don’t care. I enjoyed the days while my kids were at school – I volunteered, I saw friends, I did part time work. I managed our home and cooked meals. And my kids liked being in school, too. They didn’t always enjoy every class, or how much homework they had, but I would imagine a homeschooled child might feel the same way. They loved being part of their school and the community, and have very positive memories of friends, teachers, and other parents who they got to know and love. More importantly, I don’t believe I would have had the patience or commitment to spend 4-6 hours per day educating my children. Again, if that makes me a bad parent in the eyes of some, that’s ok. My kids both were fortunate to find teachers that reached them, coaches and choir leaders who connected with them, and other adults to look to for advice and as role models besides myself and my husband. To me, that is a good thing.
I am in awe of those that choose to homeschool, much like I’m in awe of those who run marathons. It’s something so far from what I can or want to do that it’s amazing to me. But please don’t question my love for my children or my commitment to them. My way of parenting may not be yours, but it worked for us.