Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bring on the Denim Jumper Jokes

I have hemmed and hawed about posting on this topic for several weeks now, but if this blog is to be a place where I share about my life then I better just put it out there.  I know this may be a controversial subject for some of my readers (both of you), so please know in advance I am not the controversial type.  I'm not out to change anyone's mind - I just want to share what is on mine. 

We are home schooling.

I know.  I know!  We're going all Duggar on you.  I'm growing my hair long (because it is my crown and glory and I am much more spiritual when it is up in a bun), and I am spinning wool to sew my own denim jumpers to wear (because good women don't wear pants).  


But we are home schooling our three kids this year.

I have good friends in both "camps" (pro homeschool vs. pro public school...they meet on the off days of the stay at home mom vs. working mom battles), but one of the benefits of getting older is that I have learned how to love more people, but care less and less what people may think.  Of course, I am (hopefully!) not one to parade around with a chip on my shoulder, so I wanted to explain why we're doing what we're doing, and dispel any myths that might come to mind about our decision.

We have to homeschool Alina because of the Visa on which she's legally here in the States.  She cannot be enrolled in a public school as a full time student on a travel and tourism Visa.  While that may make people cringe from an educational standpoint, it does have some wisdom from an attachment standpoint in our situation.  Often when families adopt an infant, they begin practicing a style of parenting called "attachment parenting" where the primary goal is to meet all the child's needs immediately and solely until the child feels assured, safe, and attached to the parents.  Mark and I don't ascribe to all the facets of that style of parenting (nor have we ever), but in our specific older child adoption, we can work at instilling this sense of trust, assurance, and "I got your back-ness" through homeschooling.  Of course, there are many, many ways to build that kind of bond, but for us homeschooling seemed like an important emotional component.  

While joining our family was a huge change for Alina, it has also been an adjustment for the boys (who adore their sister), and we felt like their emotional needs were just as important at this very specific crossroads.  Having the three children home with access to a parent and even more importantly to each other just made good sense as we looked at everyone's needs.

Since we will be home schooling Alina at least until the adoption is final, we weighed how having three children on two very different educational settings and schedules would affect everyone (and by "everyone" I'm mainly talking about my friend, Miss Mom's Sanity).  One party would be interrupting the other over and over until no one learned anything except the car learning the drive from home to school and back again.

There are other smaller contributing factors that affected our decision to homeschool, but the dynamics of our family at this time was probably the greatest catalyst for the change.  Of course, the minute I say we're homeschooling, I feel like I need to clarify and address a few points often made by folks on both sides of the schooling debate.  Here are some of the myths I just don't subscribe to.

Myth #1 - People homeschool because the public schools are evil.
Uh, no.  It's a little hard to subscribe to this train of thought as the daughter of two retired public school teachers.  While they didn't always get me everything on my Christmas list, they are a far cry from evil.  My parents are the two teachers I most respect in the world, and even if we weren't related I would feel that way after seeing firsthand the positive effect they both have had on many, many students' lives.   Heck, if they lives closer they'd be homeschooling my kids.  The boys have attended a very good public school, and for the most part we were OK with their experiences there.  But there are some things I have wanted to add in and some things I would choose to remove from their education, and homeschooling gives us the freedom to do that.  Could we supplement their public school education at home and achieve this goal?  Not without a heck of a lot more nap time for this mama.  I know there are parents who can, and do, do this well...but I'm not that girl and our family doesn't want to dedicate more time to education on top of the 8 hours we already spend.  That's just us.  I'd rather do the eight hours myself.  (I say that now...)

Myth #2 - Christian children should be in the public schools to be salt and light.  Homeschooling just shelters them, and keeps them from effective evangelism.
Public schools are not the residence of Satan and all his minions all the time.  If that were true, how do you explain all the demonic activity in the Walmart check out lines?  I think it is insulting to assume that all children in the public school are lost or faithless.  (I also find it ironic that I have heard this "they need to be salt and light!" argument from adults who would rather shove an icepick under a fingernail than invite their unchurched neighbor to a Christmas Eve service.  Apparently in their mind, children can get the short stick of evangelism until they get old enough to be creeped out by it.)  Keep in mind that Jesus didn't start his ministry until he was 30.  (I wonder if Mary sent him to Hebrew school each day hoping he would lead more 8 year old boys to...Himself...) In some ways, I hope homeschooling shelters my kids.  If I had to hear one more time that so-and-so's mom lets him play Call of Duty in 3rd grade, I would have open my own can of whoop...well, you know.  So there are some things I am happy to avoid by keeping my kids home.  But I am homeschooling them, not hatching them so they won't be hiding between my stomach fat and my big feet like a baby penguin all day every day.  

Myth #3 - Homeschooling people are religious freaks.
I know what you're thinking.  Here she goes - going to grow her hair long and wear skirts and sensible shoes and no make up and frown upon anyone with an ounce of style.  My toenails are currently sporting blue sparkle nail polish that matches my blue flower tattoo, and can you imagine how often I would have to actually shave my legs to go all skirt on you?!?!?!  Uh, I don't think so.  Being "religious" (a word that creeps me out even as a believer...) has nothing to do with where you educate your children.  And I will only break out sensible shoes when I get bunions.

Myth #4 - Homeschooled children are less social.
From your lips to God's ears.  (Anyone who has been trapped in a car with any of my kids for any length of time will understand.)

So...we're homeschooling.  Right now.  Don't know for how long or even how it will look at the end of the year.  But I do know for sure that, for us, it is the right decision for where we are in our crazy life right now.  

I'm off to shave my legs.


Kat said...

As a home schooling mom of 5 (with three toddlers soon), it is the hardest and most wonderful choice we've ever made (we're on our fourth year). I have two HAPPY high schoolers with MUCH less drama. We are part of a home school co-op for the subjects that are beyond me twice a week and the only "your a home schooler, right?" comments are "You go to home school don't you? You are so polite and comfortable with everyone." (directed to our kids)

I believe God leads people to school in all different and wonderful ways too. Yet, like I said, we LOVE it!!!!

Renovation Girl said...

Well, my dear, you have to do what is best for you. While I am not a proponent of it for many reasons, there are instances where it is the only feasible alternative. I teach in a cyber school (and have for 7 years now) and I feel the same way about that. For some kids, cyber school is the best option for their learning styles and/or lifestyles. I have had many homeschooled children come to the private, religious high school I teach at (bricks and mortar school, not cyber) and they have done very well there. The biggest issue they have had was their inability to meet a deadline and understand that they don't always get an A. But this is easily adjusted to after the first few beatings. (Even as a private school teacher, do I get labeled evil??? Probably because it's a Catholic school...) ;) Good luck with it!!

Norwood Mama said...

Don't worry, sweetie. We'll be there right next to you, roller skating in long denim skirts with hair that has never been cut.