Sunday, April 11, 2010

Homeschooling for the Rest of Us

The annual homeschooling conference for our area is this coming weekend and the burning question of the week will be DO I OR DON'T I? Go. Try. Consider. Hide. Thursday night I'll be a bear. Friday morning, worse. First session, cranky and critical. Third session, considering. Final session, DONE. Overstimulated. And by Monday? I'll have my kids enrolled at their current school.

Confession: I feel like a failure for not homeschooling. It doesn't matter that 99.9% of the world would think I was crazy if I did. Lots of things don't matter. I could make lists, and you could all comment and try to alleviate my feelings (or compound them, however well intentioned your "you could totally do it"), but let's spare ourselves, why don't we?

I read a book last Christmas that liberated me from these feelings of failure, but they do occasionally spring up. Like when...

Confession II: I hate (that's a strong word for a strong feeling) homeschool jargon. There are about three phrases that make me want to yank out my hair every time I hear them. I won't post them here because I have truly wonderful homeschooling friends who say these things frequently and I know they really and truly mean them and I don't want them to feel like they have to not say those things that come so freely off their tongue. I need to get over myself and my hangups. I know this. The reason I hate them? They make me feel like a failure. Even when they are not directed at me.


(have you forgiven me yet?)

Take the rest of what I say with a grain of salt and more than a little grace. I have people on both sides of the fence that read this blog and I am not out to make enemies or stir up a debate. I will probably even turn the comments off so don't prepare your rebuttal or your praise.

I read Homeschooling for the Rest of Us. I've been considering bringing a child or two home next year for varied reasons. I am also preparing to bring Princess home in two short years even if I DO send everyone to school next year because I am not about to send her off to the inhumane torture referred to around here as Middle School. It was awful in 1988 and it can only be worse now. End of discussion. I hoped for some encouragement telling me I Can Totally Do This.

She started off by telling me that she wasn't going to tell me how to school my kids. Great. Check.

Chapter two she told me about the pressure on homeschool families. Tell me about about pressure on schooling families?? How about the pressure in Christian circles no matter WHICH choice you make anymore? Why must we all debate it? Why must we blow out other people's candles so that ours can shine brighter?? And while we're at it, why don't we throw out a few statistics to make our choice sound like the best one? I live it. Reading it was torture. Because more than a couple of my touchy phrases were written. I have thin enough hair as it is.

I had to put the book down and take a few days off. And then, so help me, the next many pages felt like she was telling me how to homeschool. Oh, not how to schedule every moment of my days, not which curriculum was best. Just in the If You Don't Get A Handle On This, You Are Doomed To Stress. (That's what us non-homeschooling mother's call the You Can Totally Do It speech that turns into As Long As You Make Them Love To Learn, Obey, and Keep Family First which some of us hear as YOU WILL FAIL.) What she really said was read to your kids, spend time together and, OK, train them to obey. Which sounds all well and good and fuzzy kittens, but, (deep breath) is TOTALLY OVERWHELMING.

But, I have to admit, that after a bit, a few more pages of statistics and catchphrases that left me bald in a couple places, I finished the book thinking:


You didn't expect that, did you?

So, in a roundabout way I'm telling you this: If you are already homeschooling and you want to be encouraged, there is a better than 90% chance you will love this book. I imagine she will give you a sense of freedom. And I'll bet she won't say things that make you want to yank your hair. And heck, she gives you permission to have a messy house.

If you are on the fence about homeschooling and you sometimes hate homeschoolers because they say the exact WRONG thing when they think they are being encouraging....hmmmmm, you might like this book and you might not make it past chapter four.

However, if you are on the fence and you are really hoping that someone will push you on to the side of homeschooling and you can muscle past your own bad self and prejudices (as well as the homeschooler prejudices put forth), this book may also be the encouragement you are looking for.

Wow. That was about the most gut honest review I've written, ever. And I probably just eliminated about half my friend base (I really REALLY DO LOVE YOU. even when you say things I don't like. And yes I DO KNOW that I say things you don't like, too. Thank you for your forgiveness.)