“I could never do that!”

Not June played around with my header image and reformatted it a bit so that it crops better. It looks so much better…thanks so much. My friends take such good care of me…

And check out Not June’s reflections about folks who say they could “never homeschool”. I agree with her about not writing them off as lost causes. I wrote a post awhile back on Life Without School called “I Don’t Know How You Do It” that talks a little bit about how I deal with this question (that does come up frequently).

My take is that it is not that these folks are incapable of grasping homeschooling. It is just that they do not understand what homeschooling is because they really have no experience with it. They think “school at home”. They think that if they struggle to get their kids just to do their homework then to actually have to teach them would be even worse.

But that is not what homeschooling is about. And there are folks who can and do eventually see that. Not June was one. I usually just say that it is not as hard as you think. That I don’t sit and “teach” the kids for six hours a day. I don’t do “school at home”. That what I do at home is much more relaxed and natural then what they do at school. That there are so many things I can do at home that make learning so much easier. Things like:

  • Being able to follow my kids interests.
  • Being able to go at my child’s pace.
  • Being able to stop and change if something is not working.
  • Understanding and teaching to my child’s learning style.
  • Being able to teach on their schedule (for us that means 10-15 mins here and there).
  • Not separating learning from living.

I could go on and on. I also point out how some things are easier…I don’t have to make them do homework or tests because we do the work together and I know what they know and don’t know. I also do not have to keep him up (or hold him back) because of some arbitrary standard. If he gets it, we move on. If he needs more time we take it. I don’t have to worry about where the class is or if he is going to be left behind or bored. Or that the teacher is not teaching in a way that works for him.

I remember talking to a neighbor a couple of summers ago. Her son (who was just a bit older then Kyle) was actually a grade ahead of him in school (he had a late birthday and they did not hold him back). The small private school felt that he needed some extra help over the summer with reading and math…since he was a bit “behind” the other kids and the next year was going to be even more challenging. So they gave her work for her to do with him over the summer. Needless to say, he was not overly motivated and did not want to do a lot of the work. Battles between them ensued. While we were talking she swore she had no idea how I did this year round. The thing is, that what she was doing and what I do are two totally different things. She was trying to make her son be at a certain level that the school needed him to be at regardless of whether he was ready to be there (and over the summer no less!) My personal feeling is that he just needed more time and would get there eventually…but she did not have that luxury. Because he would be “behind”. And they needed him to be able to “keep up”.

Because I teach my boys at home, I can give them that time. Because we can change the focus as needed. If they need time in one area, we can focus on another. Learning does not stop because they get stuck. We can keep moving and come back as needed. Our learning is based on what the boys need as individuals. Not on what the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) or Fairfax County say. This makes all the difference in the world.

Often when I bring up these points, people start to nod their head. Sometimes, they look disbelievingly at me. But it usually makes them think. And I have to think that some of them might, like Not June, get it. (and I have actually known some folks who do)

Yes, there are many people who, for various reasons, could never homeschool. But I really think that we need to give people more credit rather then just writing them off as incapable. I know that the first time I heard about homeschooling, I did not think it was the path for me. That changed as I learned and read more about it. Knowledge and information are wonderful things.