I’m probably pretty rare: I don’t worry about how my kids will function after they graduate from high school. After all, I’m doing ok, so I assume that my homeschooled kids will be fine too. I’m probably one of the few homeschooling parents NOT worrying about their kids’ future, so I thought I would write a bit about why I’m blithely unconcerned.
I’m writing about this from my viewpoint as a homeschool graduate. Please know that I’m not the all-knowing parent of a 5-year-old setting out to tell you how things are – I’ve walked this walk, graduated, and successfully moved on as (former) homeschooler.
Every parent worth their salt worries about their child’s future. Will they be successful? Will they get a good job, do things they enjoy, find someone they love? Will they end up as president or in prison? That’s all part of being a parent, right? Well, homeschoolers have an added burden: homeschool guilt.
“Did I teach them everything they needed to know to get into college? Can they function in the social quagmire of college? What about a job? Can they handle the pressure of a schedule, and the expectations of a boss? Did I do it right?”
Calm down and breath. I have a secret to tell you. You’re doing it right – because you care.
I’ll admit, there are homeschoolers out there who fail their children in every way. They are the bad examples that everyone holds up to us: to flog us about our choice to homeschool. There are certainly cases of neglect, of abuse, of not caring. It’s sad, but we need to realize that’s not the norm. There are neglect, abuse, and pure ignorance in the general population as well. It’s never right. It exists for everyone, not just homeschoolers. Most homeschoolers care deeply about their kids and that fuels their choice to homeschool and guides their decisions.
If you are a good parent, you can be a good homeschooler.
People often say that homeschooling isn’t for everyone. What they really mean is that homeschooling is a major undertaking that you shouldn’t attempt unless you’re fully committed. It’s not for the unmotivated, for the undecided, or the people who crave a morning to themselves. You have to be able to tolerate being around your kids all the time. I won’t lie, that’s hard.
I read this recent Redbook article about challenges former homeschoolers faced when they went out into the wide, scary world of adulthood. I laughed, because there was so much fear-mongering and ignorance. And then I felt really sad because this is what people believe about homeschoolers. They really think that we’re all socially awkward, weird, naïve, and sheltered. Heck, sometimes even we homeschoolers think that too!
I would never say public school kids are all conformist sheep who have trouble thinking for themselves outside of the peer group or the structured school setting. Why? Because I’m smart enough to know that we’re all different. Stereotypes get you into trouble every. single. time.
Sure, there may be some public school students who act like sheep, but there are a ton of smart, curious, interested kids learning in the public model. There are some socially awkward, naïve homeschoolers, but there are also inquisitive, bright, social butterflies out there too. People are people, and they come in a wide range from weird to hilarious. It’s called being human.
So keep doing what you’re doing. As long as you do your best, love them deeply, and admit it when you can’t teach a subject well (and find an alternative) your kids will do fine. Seriously.
You’ve got this!