Friday, August 25, 2017

If the only thing holding you back from homeschooling is fear...

The past few days on Facebook, I have seen some pretty bizarre reports of the LGBT agenda being pushed at younger and younger students. From a story of a teacher who traumatized very young students--kindergartners--by having one of their male classmates leave the room, return in girls' clothing, and then tell everyone that he is really a "she," to the report of Canadian elementary school teachers attending an "Inclusiveness Training" workshop to promote acceptance and support of--wait for it-- LGGBDTTTIQQAAPP students and peers, the task of teaching school children that the traditional family of mom, dad, and children is just a meaningless lifestyle choice no different from (or possibly inferior to) the choices made by a mom who used to be a dad and zir two or three pansexual and genderfluid partners seems to be right on schedule.

Rod Dreher's got a lengthy and thoughtful post about all of this up today on his blog; it's amazing to ponder how quickly this is all happening.

When things like this make the news, I start hearing a lot of people say things like: I would homeschool if I could. I wish I could homeschool. I thought about homeschooling, but I just don't think I can do it. Before my youngest homeschooled daughter graduated from high school and went to college, I used to write more about homeschooling, and it occurred to me that some people might find my perspective, as a retired homeschooling mom, helpful these days.

In the first place, I want to offer recognition and respect to the reality that yes, some families cannot homeschool--maybe not right now, maybe not ever, maybe not for every child in the family. If you are relying on two incomes and losing one of them means losing your home, for instance, you probably can't jump straight into homeschooling. If you have some serious physical or mental health issues that would interfere with your ability to keep your children at home and try to teach them math or spelling, homeschooling might not be right for your family. If a child has special educational needs that you can't meet without the support of the local public school, you may need to keep him or her in school, even if you decide to homeschool his or her siblings. There are other situations, too; the reality is that even if you really, really want to homeschool it's not possible to wave a magic wand and make it instantly possible for your family.

The same thing is true about putting your children in the local Catholic schools, or getting them into a private Christian school, and so on. Sometimes it's possible; sometimes it isn't. We have to do the best we can with what we have as parents.

Having said that, what if your situation is simply this: what if you are increasingly aware that your own local public schools have boarded the transgender bandwagon, your third-grade daughter will be enrolled with a "female" classmate who was a boy last year, your first-grade son will be hearing books like "King and King" and "I am Jazz" read aloud during story time as the children are prepared to embrace the full LGBT agenda, and your fifth-grade daughter's best friend has started to insist on a gender-neutral name and refuses to wear any clothing not purchased in the young men's department of the local department store? What if, in addition to all of this, your part-time job during school hours has disappeared and your cousin who home schools her children keeps urging you to give it a try?

What if, in fact, you actually want to homeschool your children, and there's really nothing stopping you but your own doubts and fears?

If that's the case, then it may actually be possible for you to homeschool, and it may even be a really good idea for you and your family. The truth is, I can't tell you to go for it because I don't know your actual situation, but what I can tell you is that a lot of the fears people express--and I mean real fears, not excuses you make when you really don't want to homeschool but people in your community or church or family keep pressuring you to try--aren't always as scary as they seem. Here are a few of the ones I've heard most often over the years, in no particular order:

1. I'm afraid to homeschool because I don't think I'm smart enough. This gets expressed in lots of different ways, but particularly seems to center around the fear of being able to teach math and science, which many of us struggled with in our own student days.  Interestingly enough, this fear gets expressed by people ranging from high school graduates to those with advanced degrees. It's good that we revere elementary school math teachers as much as we do, but honestly, this is the kind of fear that gets blown out of proportion.

My answer to this one is: today, far more than when I began to homeschool, there are plenty of sources of outside help. From online classes to free video tutorials to local co-op classes to private tutors, aids to teach your child that tricky subject or two abound, and don't require huge amounts of money, either. Sure, if you want to sign your child up for a full-scale online school-at-home program, those might get a bit more expensive, but they exist (they did not when we began our homeschooling years) and can take all the pressure off of the nervous new homeschooling teacher mom. If you're pretty sure you can handle kindergarten numbers, but the thought of long division sends you into panic mode, there's no need to worry.

2. I'm afraid to homeschool because I don't think I can control my kids and make them do lessons. I've said it before, but this fear really has nothing to do with homeschooling and everything to do with discipline and proper respect for parents. If you can't discipline your children, if the after-school and weekend hours are endless parades of chaos and misery, then chances are your school isn't teaching your children discipline either (and they may say it's not their job to do so). Honestly, when people tell me this, I try to respond (gently) that whether they homeschool or not the real issue is the discipline situation. Since children are usually only at school for seven hours a day, five days a week, the question then becomes: how do you control them during the approximately ninety-one hours a week that they are out of school, at home and awake?

3. I'm afraid to homeschool because I don't want my kids to miss out on socialization. Bearing in mind that these days the problem is often: what, exactly, is the direction of the socialization the school is providing? there is also the reality that the notion that homeschoolers are all unsocialized misfits is less true today than it has ever been. True, the media sometimes likes to trot out some homeschooling family from the Second Church of the Leafy Covenant of True Religion, or something (congregation: 84, except in summer when Mrs. Bleek's arthritis gets well enough for her to attend) who don't believe in socialization, television ownership, songs written in 3/4 time, immodest clothing that reveals a woman's wrists, or the consumption of any foods that have ever been advertised by a clown or a singing chicken--but these are hardly the norm when it comes to homeschooling families and their children. Your children can have as much social interaction as you and they wish to have.

4. I would homeschool, but my one child really likes [fill in the blank], and I don't want him to have to give it up. Again, these days, you probably don't have to, unless [fill in the blank] involves sneaking up to the school roof to conduct gravity experiments with Styrofoam balls and ball bearings, and even then he might be okay depending on how tall your house is. But if [fill in the blank] is a sport, or a musical activity, or art or drama, or a club, or any other learning enrichment, chances are good that he can still do it. Depending on your state, he may even get to stay on the school's team or squad or gaggle of Galileo impersonators. But if he can't, there's probably a group of homeschoolers he can join.

5. I really do believe the public schools are cesspools, and I'm terribly worried about what my kids are getting exposed to, and I'd really rather homeschool them, but I can't, because I'm the State Secretary of Education. Okay...I admit it. I've got nothing. :)

If what's going on at your child's school is pushing you closer and closer to homeschooling, and if the only thing holding you back is fear, I encourage you to give homeschooling another look. You and your family are the only ones who can make this decision, but homeschooling is more accessible than ever, and more socially acceptable, too. Maybe the time really is now. Or maybe it will be, when it's your six-year-old who comes home crying because she's afraid she, too, will one day turn into a boy...

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I'd rather write books

It's been a long time since I last posted! I've been doing some fiction writing over the summer.

And--let's face it--blogging just isn't, anymore. I admire the people who keep doing it, but I haven't been one of them for a long time.

I'll keep coming back from time to time out of habit, I'm sure, but I'd rather write books. :)