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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Homeschooling Stereo-Types

This is the second in a series on homeschooling:
Disclaimer on this and all posts here on My Balancing Act: I fear admitting I homeschool, and writing about it here, leaves me open to grammar and punctuation critque.(you know, oh she shouldn't be homeschooling her kids, she forgot to capitalize her proper nouns and dot her I's) As a very busy homeschooling mom, usually posting in a 10 minute time-frame, one handed with a baby and cat in my lap....I rarely take the time to spell-check but alone go back and correct my many run-on sentences and such. Please extend some grace, and take my articles for what they are, and don't assume my kids will graduate illiterate because of my seemingly lack of proper grammar!

When you hear the word homeschooler what comes to your mind? Is it the picture perfect family with a dozen or more children, all well mannered and neatly dressed and groomed? Mom, soft spoken and grinding her own wheat for the families bread while helping the above average intelligence children recite their Latin and Greek lessons? You, know the family with the 6th graders doing advanced Calculus and the others entering Harvard in the ninth grade!

Oh...that's not what you were thinking of? Then surely it must be that family there. You know the one, the one from the "other" side of town. The one in the tin trailer. The one that doesn't "really" homeschool. They just say they do because poor mom can't keep those kids in school, they keep getting kicked out. You know, the ones who are graduating a highschooler this year who can't read "Dick and Jane" or write his own name. The ones who are really saying they're homeschooling to avoid getting caught for abusing those poor children.

Yes, sadly when I tell people we homeschool, these are the stories I start to hear about the homeschoolers they know. Then of course they assume we must all be like that.

While there are homeschoolers who have very advanced children graduating early and entering prestigious colleges at an early age, and sadly some who are homeschooling in name only, and yes trying to avoid truancy or abuse charges most homeschoolers are just regular people like you and me. People who love their children and want to provide what they feel for what ever reason is the best education they can.

The kids are just normal kids. Just like kids in public school, some are exceptionally gifted and some are a little slower to catch on. Like most kids many homeschoolers may be gifted in one area such as math and barely keeping his or her head above water in another like spelling. The beauty of homeschooling is these children can work at their own pace in each subject area. In a public school setting these poor children may be held back in all subject because they aren't performing anywhere near grade level in others.

There are as many kinds of homeschoolers as there are people. There are homeschoolers of all religions, races, economic backgrounds, etc...There are many who are very involved in their churches and communities, many involved in sports at competitive levels, many involved in different areas of activism, and some who just like to stay at home and live simpler, slower lives.

Some homeschoolers use very traditional classroom style methods of learning, using textbooks, maps and such. Some like to use good literature to mentor their students. Some prefer using the Bible as their sole curriculum. Yet there are others who use no curriculum at all, the world is their classroom.

There are just so many variables, it is hard to define just what is a homeschooler. Many homeschool privately, either all on their own, establishing themselves as private schoools. While others join up with a local church ran or private school. They school at home, but their children can participate in classes and field trips. Yet there are others who sign up with a "charter school" which is basically a home based public school. These parents are provided with texts, computers, access to teachers and testing and everything else involved with public schools. With homeschooling becoming so popular many public schools are even offering home based educational choices as well.

My purpose in this series is not to debate which method is correct or not acceptable. Those who know me either in real life or from other places in cyberland know where I stand on the issue, for me and my family. It is not my job to choose what may or may not be right for yours. My intention is to educate those who are curious about homeschooling just for curiosity's sake or because you want to become more informed because homeschooling may be something you are considering or you know someone who is homeschooling.

Homeschooling and homeschoolers are to broad a topic to cover in one post or even in a series. Books have been written on the subject! There is always more that could be written!

Today's post was mostly to hopefully inform you that there are many kinds of homeschoolers out there. Please don't judge us all based on your experience with one family, or worse yet, a family you "heard" about. Even the seemingly "good" stereo types such as the whiz kid is potentially damaging, as that is a pretty hard standard for those of us "average" folk to live up to!! Our kids are normal kids...don't put too high expectations on them, or us as parent educators!! And on the other hand, just because you know a family that said they were homeschooling when they weren't, don't assume we're all like that.

I can tell you after eleven years of doing this, I don't think there are many out there doing this and not doing it well, giving it their best. This is just too hard to do and not be sincere or convicted about it. I love my kids, but there are days when the easy thing to do would be to send them off to the assembly line, cookie cutter school, but I am not looking for easy...I am looking for long lasting eternal results!

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