By Catie Gosselin
Where I once second-guessed whether I wanted to volunteer that we are a homeschooling family in conversation, it has now become a matter-of-fact declaration for me. Considering my initial doubts about my ability to pull this off, this is very big step for me. I remember my friend Julie saying that she has gotten to the point of declaring her family's choice in a tone that clearly implies, "is there any other choice?" This is the type of pride I am approaching, and it feels wonderful.
Along with my growing confidence and comfort level, I have already grown tired of explaining myself in conversation. A discussion I had over the holiday season, typifies the response I get from a great many people. It went something along this line:
"You are kidding! I could never do that. You don't have any time to yourself. Don't you worry your kids won't be socialized?"
At this point, I run through the laundry list of things we do outside the house with people of all ages that are not family members. I remark on my oldest son's progress, that both boys have already requested to continue homeschooling next year, our happiness with this lifestyle, and so on.
"Well, what about High School?
This receives a blank look from me. "What about High School?" It is enough for me to live each day than to worry about several years in the future.
"How will they be prepared for college if they don't attend public High School? Don't all kids need to know how to deal with a variety of people, and handle going to different classes in different rooms when the bell rings?"
With a sigh at my well-worn answer, I make my reply. Public schools group children of the same age in the same classes. In what other situation in a human's life will he or she ever be limited in this way? What job only allows same-aged employees work together? The idea is ridiculous. The 24 year olds work on Project X, the 25 year olds work on Project Y, and the 26 year olds work on Project Z. I don't think that would work. High School is not the same self-directed learning environment as college. It is not even close. In High School, a bell rings, you go to your next class, get your book and told what you need to know. Once you enter school grounds, you are shuffled from one place to another within the system, given materials to teach what the local school board feels you need to know. This is world's apart from my college experience. It was my responsibility to set my schedule, get my materials on my own time, get myself to my classes on time, with a group of graduate/undergraduate/professors/administrators of various ages and cultures.
In homeschooling, we choose what, how and at what pace our family learns. In our weekly activities, classes and errands, we are exposed to a collection of adults and children both similar and vastly different from us. We are responsible for getting materials, completing projects and exploring new ideas brought up by our studies. The responsibility lies with me to offer an enriched environment and with my son to learn, explore and question. This sounds considerably closer to the college experience to me. Should we decide to homeschool through the high school, I can say in good conscience, my son will lack for nothing in his education. As long as he asks the questions, he is free to develop his mind in his own way.
Despite the number of naysayers and skeptics, we are comfortable with our choice, although weary with explaining it.
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