Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home
I have never, in a fit of the frustration that is unique to homeschooling moms, threatened to flag down the proverbial Big Yellow Bus.
But here is the flat-out honest truth: I have wondered every now and then if I should. My oldest son attended public school for kindergarten and first grades. As far as I know, he never desired for one second to go back. But there were times when he was in high school that I would think,
“Is this all going to work out right? What if we’ve messed up his whole life by homeschooling him?”
My daughter loved the Junie B. Jones and Ramona Quimby books. Most of the action in these series occurred at school. Such fun things happened there! Parties, plays, recess, glitter-laden Valentine’s cards. Walking home on tree-lined streets. Crossing the street with Henry Huggins. When she was nine, she saved up all her birthday money to buy a “Play School” kit, complete with name tags, report cards, and a chalkboard. Her dolls and younger brother would be her classroom, and I must say she was a natural teacher.
Sometimes I used to think, “This little girl would love to be in school.”
She’s in middle school now, and again, many of the books she reads and movies she watches take place in a school setting. She knows that kids in public school don’t randomly break out in song a la High School Musical. But every once in a while, she’ll say, “I think it would be fun to be around a bunch of people every day.”
And again, I wonder, “Are we on the right track?”
And then there is my youngest son, who is ten. I would be surprised if he has ever had a yearning to go to public school. For him that would mean giving up climbing trees in the middle of the morning, hopping on his bike at lunch break, and munching a snack while doing math.
But in public school, he would be the leader of the pack—the social pack, that is. He would be friends with everyone, and the teachers would roll their eyes and excuse his talking in class because he’s so darned likable. He’d be the prom king and the boy every girl wants to date. Every now and then, the thought crosses my mind:
“Is he missing some calling in life by not being in public school?”
I will admit to having these kinds of thoughts throughout these 11 years of educating my children at home.
Don’t we all wonder, every now and then, if they are missing out on something? It doesn’t take much for me to snap out of the “missing out” funk. We can watch the nightly news or peruse a few blogs to read stories about public education that make our toes curl. Hearing stories of abuse in my own area school system is certainly like throwing a bucket of cold water over my head.
But truly, it’s the positive results of homeschooling that convince me much more than the negative reports of what’s going on in public schools.
I have the benefit of seeing an outcome: my firstborn, my most experimented-upon guinea pig, is in college. Thriving in a college that is three hours away from home. I can tick off a list of all the things any parent wants:
- his grades are excellent
- he has self-initiative
- he has a good rapport with his professors
- he has friends
- he can navigate in a large city without getting lost much
- he seeks out cultural events
- he eats at least two meals each day
- he can do his own laundry.
Any parent would be satisfied with this outcome.
But the measure of success is so much more that what one sees on the outside.
Here’s the thing: He is embracing life.
He never learned that life is drudgery, that “school” is about waiting for the next Valentine’s Day party. He did not spend 12 years in monotonous routine dictated by the ticking of the clock and the buzzing of alarms.
He never learned that books make you sleepy and teachers are boring people, and that it’s always safest to fly beneath the radar. Photo by Princess K8 He has a deep love of learning. He never learned the art of regurgitation. He’s responsible, yet he has a heart of adventure. He’s willing to take risks, and he’s not worried about what people think. He’s unique and confident in his uniqueness. Because he grew up surrounded by unconditional love, he is emotionally secure.
Any fears that he would be labeled a weirdo because he was homeschooled are put to rest. No one cares; no one asks. And as much as he loves college, he enjoys being home with us, as well.
My husband and I have remarked to each other several times that, had we met our son in college, he would be one of our best friends. We would want to hang out with him. And what’s really awesome? He would want to hang out with us, too.
That bus can just keep passing us by. Whatever doubts I have now and then dissipate when I take but one minute to reflect on what really matters.