This post is the first in a new series I am calling “Homeschooling Myths.” I hope you will share it with your friends and let me know what you think in the comments!
I began homeschooling in 1990. It was a time when homeschooling was still very much on the fringes (and in some states still illegal). Frankly, like many homeschooling moms I tried to not have my kids out-and-about during school hours because I quickly became tired of having my decision to homeschool questioned by every single person who learned we were homeschoolers.
Still, inevitably we would be somewhere, say the grocery store, and my children would be asked by someone, say the bagboy, “Where do you go to school?” An innocuous question perhaps but without exception the conversation would quickly head south once my children replied, “We’re homeschooled,” or, better yet, “We don’t go to school.”
Now those of you who have been homeschooling as long as I have can probably predict what came next. First the look. Then the question: “But what about socialization?”
I will address the “myth of socialization” in a future post but suffice it to say that after 20+ years of being asked the “socialization question,” I’m totally over it. Don’t ask me. It’s stupid. Moving on.
Over the years the #2 comment I have gotten from people after I tell them I homeschool is, without a doubt, something that goes like this: “If I homeschooled my kid I would kill them!” Yes, people actually say things like that.
The idea that homeschoolers are inherently more patient than other parents should be so utterly, apparently false that it is a wonder parents think they can get away with this excuse…but they do!
In my whole life I think I’ve met two people that I believe had a natural tendency towards patience. And both of them, interestingly enough, are nurses. And I suspect that if you asked them if they believe that they are naturally patient people their response would be, “Say what?”
I can tell you I am most definitely not a patient person by nature. Far from it. Have I learned patience over the years? Sure. On the other hand, is it patience that causes me to just not care anymore when my 9-year old son takes over the kitchen to make it his raceway while I’m in the middle of fixing dinner, or is it just being oblivious? I’m not sure. I’m getting so old that the number of things I get huffy over keeps dwindling year by year.
In any case, I didn’t say to myself one day, “Wow, I am such a patient person I should homeschool my kids!” And I can’t tell you frustrating it is when someone tells me, “You must be incredibly patient!” or “Oh, I could never do that – my kid and I fight over him doing his homework!”
I’d like to let you in on what seems to be a heavily-guarded secret: if you battle with your kid over their homework there’s something wrong with your parenting. You’re the parent. If you haven’t figured out how to get your kid to do their homework without it being a battle then I would say you might want to work on your parenting skills. I suggest you read my post on “How To Be a Not-So-Average Parent.” Of course, that would also mean that you have to be willing to change your parenting methods. Are you?
Let’s take that one step further – don’t tell me that you can’t homeschool because you aren’t patient enough. That is an excuse for not homeschooling, not a reason.
Over the years I’ve heard lots of excuses why parents don’t homeschool but I don’t think I’ve yet heard one good reason. When you consider that there are single parents out there raising and homeschooling their kids on very limited budgets, it becomes even clearer that perhaps there aren’t any legitimate reasons not to homeschool, only excuses.
I have decided that when parents declare that they aren’t patient enough to homeschool what they are really doing is making a self-deprecating statement intended to elicit a certain response. The response they are looking for is something on the order of: “Oh, how wise you are to realize your limitations.” In actuality when I hear that statement I know that what that parent is really saying is that they have made the choice to not homeschool their children. They are saying that it’s not worth it to them to work on their character a little in order to be able to give their child a superior educational experience.
I also know that it’s not worth trying to change that parent’s mind about their decision not to homeschool, because their choice really has nothing to do with whether they are patient or not – that is merely an excuse. I’m very willing to help parents who want to homeschool by giving them advice, whether here on my site, in person when I meet them, or those who contact me via e-mail (by filling out the form on my “Contact” page). But my time is valuable and I will not waste it on a pointless exercise.
On the other hand, I will also not run away screaming the next time a parent says to me they are too impatient to homeschool. I might like to but I will choose, instead, to be patient with their rather patronizing remark. Because patience, like so much else in life, is really essentially a choice.
P.S. The “myth of the patient homeschooler” is alluded to in #23 of “The Bitter Home-Schooler’s Wish List.” If you’ve never read the “wish list” I suggest you do because it’s a hoot!Print This Post