This is a very late post--but that's okay, because some of my readers are night owls. And those of you who aren't are probably early risers, so you'll see it first thing tomorrow morning; it's all good.
In my online wanderings lately, I've had to sigh a bit as I've noticed a familiar end-of-the-year theme relating to homeschooling. I've seen this sort of thing crop up before, and it always tends to take one of these forms:
A: Thank the good Lord I don't homeschool! I'm not that crazy! Besides, I don't want my kids to grow up to be freaky wimps! But, waaaahhh! Summer's almost here...my kids are going to be in the house all summer long!!! I'm going to go insane! I mean it...
B: I homeschool. But I'm horrible at it, ha, ha! My kids are practically savages! Foreign languages--oh, please, they barely speak English! And our idea of science class is a walk in the park. Literally. And then math is counting the number of scrapes and bruises Jenny got on the slide (mostly because Jimmy keeps pushing her off.) Can eight-year-old boys have homicidal tendencies? No, just kidding, glad he's not some freaky wimp with manners, or something. I mean, we already homeschool, and that's weird enough...
C: We are finally at the end of our year-long homeschooling experiment. I've only been griping about it since September 26. As I predicted, it has been a total failure. The kids are signed up for real school next year. I can't wait. Sure, the Super Duper Catholic people will judge me, but I knew I was going to hate this and fail at it, and so it's no surprise that I did. But that's okay, because I've decided that homeschooling is insane, and anyone who does it is insane, and their kids are all going to turn out to be freaky wimps...
Can I just say, on behalf of reasonably successful homeschoolers everywhere: enough, already?
I get that sometimes people might feel somewhat intimidated by people who homeschool and actually enjoy it and get a lot out of it and forge good relationships with their kids two of whom have decided to listen to Japanese language cds for fun when the "regular" school work of the day is over (no joke--they really are, though the third daughter is holding out so far, which will probably last until her sisters start telling secrets in Japanese, or until triple-digit summer temps make foreign language cds seem relaxing and distracting, whichever comes first). I understand that sometimes it might seem as though homeschooling moms look down on moms who don't homeschool, because some do--newsflash, even homeschooling moms are human beings prone to sin, so sure, some homeschooling moms can be jerks about it.
But lots of us are homeschooling because it's what works best for our family. We don't need to "keep it real" by pretending that our children are running wild (or did when they were little) because they didn't--but then, homeschooling and discipline are two different issues, aren't they? We don't need to pretend that we're raising geniuses (unless we are--but we, personally, are not, and that's fine). We don't look down our noses--most of us--at our fellow Catholics who public school or Catholic school or co-op school or small private school, because we're big believers in doing what works for your family. And we don't have some burning need to make-believe that the only sane people are the ones who tried homeschooling for a year before coming to their senses--because we've been doing it for a long time, and it still works for us.
So, here's the deal: if you would never in a million years consider homeschooling because you know that it wouldn't work for you: that's fine. Great, even. But please stop assuming that it doesn't work for anyone who isn't, you know, insane.
And if you homeschool in a totally relaxed and undisciplined manner which works for you because you're cool with ER visits and a really slow approach to things like spelling: that's fine. Great, even. But please stop assuming that all homeschoolers do things your way and that those who say they don't are just lying through their teeth, because it's not true.
And if you grudgingly and reluctantly started homeschooling last September 1 and regretted the decision by September 2 but clenched your teeth and got through the torture one dreaded workbook page at a time for a whole school year, that's fine, too. But please don't think that every homeschooling mom secretly hates her life and her work as a homeschool teacher, because some of us are fine with it and even love it, and would do it all over again if we could ('cause the elementary school Catholic workbooks are even cooler now then they were when I started this!).
After all, I do try to avoid sweeping assumptions about families who choose public school or Catholic school or private school. If they're doing what works best for their families, if their children are happy and have good, positive relationships with their parents and with each other, if life is good in general--then there's no problem.
So if my fellow Catholics would agree to avoid sweeping assumptions about families who homeschool (even if some of those assumptions are coming from families who homeschool), that would be nice. We're really not all freaky wimps out here. Especially the "wimps" part.