I remember when I first decided to bring Doodlebug home from private school. It doesn't seem all that long ago, though I know I'm in my fifth year of homeschooling him (that doesn't seem real... seriously). What I do remember, though, is fielding a lot of questions and offering a lot of explanations. In fact, one of my first blog posts was actually spent answering some of the questions I was hearing on a regular basis.
Now that at least one child (and probably both) will return to public school - or, rather, go to public school for the first time ever - next fall, I am discovering that the criticism and skepticism is equally strong on this side of the fence. It is, if anything, even uglier.
I'll be honest. I didn't expect it. I'm not sure why. I know, logically, that many people homeschool because it fits their ideology. Just like some parents who have a kneejerk reaction against homeschooling, some homeschool parents find the notion of sending their child to a public school anathema. I know this. But since I hang with what I consider to be an open-minded bunch, I really didn't expect to be grilled and criticized for my decisions for my kids.
It irritates me.
I don't feel like I should have to justify a decision, whether it is to keep my children at home or to send them to public school or to ship them to military boarding school or to put them in private school. And yet, people push:
Why would you want to send them back?
Why do you let your children have any say in where they are educated? You're the parent! It's your choice!
But they'll just become one of the crowd. How do you expect them to learn anything in a class of 24/30/random number?
Won't you miss them? I just couldn't do that. I'd miss having them around.
Don't you worry about the influence of the other kids?
ERMAGHERD, PEOPLE. Don't you think I've considered all these things already? And why, really, does it matter to you? Does my decision threaten you in some way? I hereby solemnly swear not to corrupt your children with stories of happy children attending public school.
I understand. I really do. Change is hard for many people to accept. I'm not immune to that. When people make life-altering decisions, it usually takes a while for me to get used to them. I am human, after all. But I really try hard to not question the decision and to simply be happy for the person. They've gone through the process of asking themselves everything I could possibly throw at them, and they've made a choice. That in itself is difficult!
I'm trying to be gracious in my responses:
I will send them back because I think they'll be happy - Boo especially.
I let them have a say because that's how I do things in my house. My children get a say in their future. Is it the final say? No, but it's certainly a large portion of all the things I consider before I agree or not. I don't want them to resent me as adults because I made all their choices for them.
I expect them to learn just the way I did when I attended public school as a child, the way millions of other successful children do.
Of course I'll miss them! My house will feel empty and lonely for months, I'm sure.
And no, I don't worry about the influence of other kids because studies have shown that it's what is taught at home that largely counts, and my kids and I have a good relationship (I think). I've taught them what to expect from real friends, and I've taught them how to be one (I hope). They're going to be exposed to the same things sooner or later, so they might as well learn to avoid the ugly stuff now. I've never sheltered them from the truths of the world, so I don't think there will be any culture shock.
It's still frustrating. I'm sure folks will get used to the notion sooner or later... as will I. Just like when the kids were young and I could no longer attend daytime events for moms because I had my kids in tow, it will be weird to no longer be able to attend daytime events for homeschool families because I won't be part of one. I'll have to step away from several groups. Extracurricular activities will have to be arranged after school. There will be an adjustment period.
I know my true friends and I will keep in touch. But it will be interesting to see who hangs around and who doesn't. Friends are there for a reason, a season, or a lifetime - time to find out who my seasonal friends are!