Homeschool parents are often misunderstood by parents who do not homeschool. It seems as though, with the exception of parents who live in states with obscenely strict homeschool laws, that the only people who really understand homeschooling parents are other homeschooling parents. We are constantly bombarded with the same old questions and same old comments… and one comment in particular, honestly, really throws me off, and I think it’s time things get settled.
“Homeschool parents are taking the easy way out.”
I don’t get this. I don’t get this one bit. There is absolutely nothing easy about homeschooling. Just because everyone gets to work in pajamas does not mean that any of this is “easy.” These same parents go on and on about how tough teachers have it (and they do- 30+ kids you barely know to one teacher is extremely stressful, and that is one reason why I am against public school. There isn’t enough needed one-on-one student-to-teacher interaction and the teachers often get understandably overwhelmed). These teachers are often times given state ran curriculum to work with. Their lessons, and answer sheets, are laid out in front of them. Unless you live in a state where state-ran cirriculum is mandatory and you are supposed to use the same books as teachers… you don’t get everything planned for you. Most of the time, parents who homeschool don’t want to use the state ran curriculum. We don’t trust it. Text books still go on about how great Christopher Columbus was, how George Washington chopped down the cherry tree, how Betsy Ross made the first American flag, and so many other debunked lessons. I, personally, would rather teach my kids the truth. This means planning. Lots of planning. We have to dig for lessons, look for worksheets, buy more craft supplies than parents with their kids in school do… we have to take out eight hours a day to teach our kids everything. We have to sacrifice time we could spend having alone time, watching shows we want to watch, going out, even working, so we can teach our kids every single day. That is how important this is to us. We also have to learn what they learn to make sure they are doing everything correctly.
You know when the last time I just sat down and watched a show was? April. It’s now September. It has been five months since I have found time to watch a show. I used to play video games daily. I’m lucky if I can twice a month now. My free time is spent educating myself so I can educate my kids. I don’t get to chill in the tub and relax. I don’t get to sit around and read a book. I almost never even get to leave the house… as in, I only get to, on average, once a month. That is not easy.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t say this out of bitterness. This is my choice, because I believe this is the best for my kids. My ultimate dream is to raise my children into inspirational and fantastic adults, and I have absolutely zero faith that a blanket curriculum ran by a corrupt government can teach my kids properly. It is my, and my husband’s, decision to take on that task ourselves.
I want to take this moment to look at one of the most influential people of all time- a personal hero of mine- J.R.R. Tolkien.
I’m sure you know him, the author of “The Hobbit,” “Lord of the Rings,” and “The Silmillarion.” A man who was fluent in multiple languages, a major history and folk tale buff, one of the most imaginative and creative writers of all time, whose tales have spawned countless other stories, characters, and more.
Have I mentioned that he was a fan of anarchy?
He also was homeschooled.
His mother, Mabel Tolkien, was widowed when J.R.R. Tolkien was just four years old. Mabel was left with no money, and after she converted to Catholicism, money she received from her family came to a halt. That did not stop her from putting her all into her children’s’ education.
“Mabel gave Ronald more than a lovely world in which to grow up; she gave him an array of fascinating tools to explore and interpret it. We know little of her own education, but she clearly valued learning and vigorously set about transmitting what she knew to Ronald. She instructed him in Latin, French, German, and the rudiments of linguistics, awakening in him a lifelong thirst for languages, alphabets, and etymologies. She taught him to draw and to paint, arts in which he would develop his own unmistakable style, primitive and compelling, Rousseau with a dash of Roerich. She passed on to him her peculiar calligraphy; he would later master traditional forms and invent his own. She tried to teach him piano, although that proved a failure.” -Philip and Carol Zaleski.
According to this article, she homeschooled him until her death, when young Tolkien was just 12. By then, he had already been well-educated for a boy his age, and his thirst for knowledge had not left him. He took it upon himself to expand the skills his mother blessed him with, and he became one of the most famous authors of all time. He was a good man, one who even essentially gave the middle finger to Nazi Germany. While trying to get his book published in Germany, he was asked by German officials if he was Jewish. His response:
“If I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people.My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject—which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.”
In other words:
Are we to say that Mabel Tolkien was taking the “easy way” out? A widowed woman who desperately needed money and sacrificed all until her death to ensure that her children were raised to be brilliant people… she was just being lazy?
Minus the death part, Mabel is exactly what I aspire to be as a homeschooling mother. Obviously, she was a success. She loved her children. She obviously did what she fully believed was best for them. That is exactly how we, as parents, should be. We all have different freedoms and limitations, depending on where we live, our credentials, etc. I am blessed to live in one of the states with the most freeing homeschool laws in the nation, and I do not take that for granted.
As my children grow, their interests will likely separate more and more. That means I will need to learn more and more topics to ensure they are doing everything right. Of course, there will, in all likelihood, be tutors and classes in subjects that I have no knowledge in (or I am just not good at- Lord above help me if one of them ever wants to be a poet), but that is to be expected. We can’t do it all. We can give our all, but we can’t do it all. Homeschooling will make us more and more aware of our own strengths and weaknesses as well as the ones in our children. It’s a trying, laborious experience. It takes me hours to plan out their weekly studies, plus print them and get them sorted, plus actually doing the studies with them takes several hours each day, plus writing up their progresses. That is okay. I fully believe it’s for the best.
Today has been one of those days where I want to pull my hair out. Any thing I try to cook, clean, do at all, even whenever I use the bathroom, they are right there directly behind me. Touching me. SCREAMING. Not angry tantrums, just loud and obnoxious shrieks, yelling everything they say, constant, “MOM. MOM. MOM. LOOK AT ME. MOM. MOM. WAITNOMOMIGOTTAHUGYOURIGHTNOOOOOOOOOW STOP FLYING AWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYY” (yes, flying away, according to Fox). I have to constantly remind Fox look at the paper when he practices his writing. I have to remind my daughter to slow down, focus, stop flailing and scribbling, take your time and don’t just shout random answers. Some days, they are excellent and really focus! Other days like today, they are, according to my mother, “Mexican jumping beans.” But, they’re kids. That is to be expected.
Some days, I have little patience dealing with them and I have to hide for a few minutes (not leaving them unattended, just popping in a Signing Time DVD as I check e-mails or something). With that said, that is parenting, and honestly, I would so much rather have to deal with this than constant anxiety of how other students, or even teachers I hardly know, are treating my children. Many times, there are cases of teacher incompetence, and even teacher bullying. Hell, one of my own teachers was arrested for molesting students (he would bribe female teens with good grades for racy photos of them, and take the photos himself. It’s suspected I was a target, as he flunked me and made me retake the class despite my grades being B or higher, right before I changed schools and he was arrested).
Of course, there are some wonderful teachers out there, but there are also far too many bad apples, and even the good ones are overwhelmed with too many students, and subject to using state-chosen text books and lessons. I’d rather handle it myself.
That is not laziness. That is protecting my kids from evils that children should not have to experience, and allowing them to grow more and learn how to handle these situations before being forced into them. Kindergarteners complain they are fat, ugly, and stupid. Six-year-olds use racist and homophobic slurs because other kids do. Dress codes harass and target girls for being themselves. Students are constantly pressured and shamed for not fitting into a handful of social norms. They are too young to be desensitized to damaging behavior, and often times, this is simultaneous to having their spirit and confidence broken. They numb themselves as a defense mechanism. They lose their interest in education as school becomes a hell-hole.
We all recognize there is a bullying epidemic. We know the good teachers are underpaid and overwhelmed. We know there are hundreds of cases of perverted school workers. Why are we still forcing our kids into it, if we have the choice not to? Parents consider homeschooling right after the rare school shooting, but somehow, we are in the wrong for not wanting our kids in an environment full of daily bullying and perversion, being fed propaganda, misinformation, and flat-out lies?
If you choose to place your kids in public school, then that is your parental decision. I get that not every parent can homeschool. I do not judge you for using public school when that is the social norm and expectation, especially since there are so many incorrect assumptions and myths surrounding homeschool. It’s intimidating. However, do not call me, or any other homeschool parent, “lazy” for not conforming with what you do. We are doing what we believe is the best route for our children, just like you.
If widowed, destitute, shunned Mabel Tolkien can raise someone like J.R.R Tolkien, then I am confident that pretty much anyone can raise the next hero. Even you.