For lots of people, mid-August means back-to-school-shopping. It means new clothes and new backpacks and new haircuts. It means family traditions or special breakfasts, and fresh-faced smiling pictures in front of the fireplace, or the house, or out on the sidewalk. It means kids excited to continue seeing their friends, and excited to see what the new year will bring.
For lots of other people, mid-August means the official start to another year of opting out. It means another year of sleeping in. It means another year of charting their own course, choosing a different path, and learning on their own terms. It means kids excited to continue seeing their friends, and excited to see what the new year will bring.
For still others, it might mean something else. Maybe they homeschool, but still utilize the public school part-time. Maybe they’re a homeschooling family who chooses to adhere to a school’s schedule. Maybe they’re a full-time traveling family.
All of the above are valid, acceptable, well-founded options, depending on the family.
We chose homeschooling (specifically, unschooling) for our family a long time ago. Spencer was really just an infant at the time, so the decision was made over 17 years ago. It’s a decision we continue to make, year after year, because it’s the right decision for us. We’re happy with homeschooling. We’re like… completely, blissfully, disgustingly happy. And in the grand tradition of “promoting what you love instead of bashing what you hate,” I love to talk about it. Write about it. Share other articles about it.
Isn’t that what happy people do?
I love to hear happy stories and see happy pictures of my friends’ kids, no matter where they do, or do not, go to school.
Unfortunately though, not everyone is happy. Sometimes the parents are unhappy, sometimes the child is unhappy, sometimes the family in general is unhappy. It’s for those people especially that I think the homeschooling discussion is important. Not necessarily because they need to choose homeschooling, but because it’s important that they realize there are options. It’s important that people can take a step back and say, “Okay. This isn’t working. What can we do/change/try to fix this?”
That’s a big part of the reason I continue to write about it, and honestly sometimes it’s the only reason, because talking about homeschooling is not always fun. I get a lot of defensiveness when I post or write about homeschooling. A lot of it. I once lost a dear friend (she literally just stopped being my friend) when I posted on Facebook that it was back to school time, and we were happy that we were once again opting out. She told me that she couldn’t believe I had such “vile contempt” for people who sent their kids to school, and ended our friendship as of that day. It didn’t appear to matter to her that I hadn’t actually said anything about people who sent their kids to school, let alone something that conveyed “vile contempt.”
Being happy with my choices does not equal contempt for your choices.
Here’s the thing: If you’re happy and secure in your own choices, great! If you’re defensively yelling at me and calling me names and making big speeches, I might question how happy you really are…. but if you truly are happy, great! If you tried homeschooling but ultimately decided that public school worked better for your children, great! If your kids are happy and healthy and thriving and love going to school, great! You don’t have to defend your choices to me. My choices shouldn’t matter one wit to you.
Because (and I mean this in the nicest way possible) I don’t care where your kids go to school. I really, truly don’t. I love homeschooling, and for that I make no apologies. But I’m not on some one-woman crusade to convince the world that everyone. must. homeschool. I have my own family of 6 to think about – a family that’s currently off the rails with a totaled car, an insurance mess, an upcoming surgery, and 6 short weeks to finish putting a conference together – so I promise you, I’m not taking the time to make any judgments about yours. I wish I had the kind of time people think I spend judging others!
I fantasize about pulling down my blog often, but until/unless I do, chances are very nearly 100% that I will continue to talk about homeschooling. It’s my life; it’s what I love. If reading about homeschooling makes you angry or defensive or wish something bad will happen to me and my family…. might I suggest you simply don’t read those posts? You can stay and yell at me if it makes you feel better, but I assure you it’s not necessary.
The internet is a big, big place. There’s room enough for all of us.