Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Have Issues - Professional Homeschooling

OK, pet-peeve alert here: there are no professional homeschoolers. Not the book authors. Not the magazine article writers or editors. Not the bloggers.

No, not even those bloggers whose sidebars are filled with sponsors and whose posts are filled with product reviews and giveaways.

How did people who were independent enough to buck the entire educational system of our country fall prey to a bunch of women (and men) who are just like us?

This really hit me at the last homeschool convention I attended. I am a homeschool graduate and a homeschool mom.  I've read the books (magazines, newspaper articles, blog posts...). I understand the theories, the methods, the fads, the curriculum and, most importantly, my own children.  I'm qualified. I am an expert, if I do say so myself. Yet the vendor hall almost sent me into a tizzy.

What if I didn't start with this curriculum, would my daughters be scarred for life? (Probably not.) What if I started this too early would they fizzle out too soon and hate all learning, books, and me? (Um, possible, I suppose but, again, probably not.) What if I didn't have these shiny math manipulatives and we used beans instead? Made our own multiplication charts? Our own teaching clock with a brass fastener instead of shiny plastic or wholesome ("none of that poisonous plastic for us", say some homeschoolers) wood? What if I don't have a timeline on my wall?

If I, as a person intimately familiar with homeschooling both as a graduate and a parent feel this overwhelmed, what must the newcomers think?

The problem with "professional" blogs in general (this includes magazines too, I suppose) and with conventions: they make it too complicated. They make it too hard.

I feel for the newcomers because they must think that choosing to educate your children without school buses, classrooms with thirty children, and ahem, professional teachers, is the most complicated thing since NASA put men on the moon.


If you can parent, you can homeschool. In fact, you already are. Did your toddler learn to walk? Learn her colors? How 'bout numbers? How about what sound a cow makes? (Not sure why that's important but I know I've taught my kids and my nephew all about barn animal sounds like they were going to be tested on it. "Oh, I'm sorry. She thinks a pig baas like a sheep. Back to level one. One more animal sound wrong and we call CPS.")

Sure, a little parenting advice now and then is appreciated. And encouragement never goes out of style. But really, when's the last time you read something in a parenting magazine or article that you didn't really - deep down - already know?

We homeschoolers must attempt a tricky balance: encourage each other without intimidating the newcomers. Talk about pros and cons of certain curriculum in our circumstances (never with blanket judgments). We must try to balance the good and the bad (as Jimmie so eloquently pointed out in this post). We shouldn't pretend our lives are perfect and we shouldn't whine that they're so hard, either.

So, by all means, read the books, subscribe to the magazines, follow the blogs of your choice. Just don't think that those folks have it all figured out or that they do something you could never do.  I'll continue to share my curriculum selections and cheer-lead for homeschooling in general. I'll try to balance out the good and realistic in my posts.

Parenting - no matter what method of education you choose for your child(ren) - is one of the most difficult yet rewarding blessings God gives us.

But you probably didn't need a blog, a magazine or - irony alert - me to tell you that.

(Caveat: I have made some wonderful new homeschooling friends via blogs. I do not mean this post to step on your toes, whether you're a "professional" homeschooler, product reviewer or not. I have chosen to limit how many of those type blogs I link to but it's nothing personal.)


Elisabeth said...

You always make me feel guilty that I don't homeschool. I consider it ever year. I just don't know why I can't make the leap and just do it.

Karen@Candid Diversions said...

Don't feel guilty! I repeat, do not feel guilty! Education choices are personal.

I cheer-lead for homeschooling because that is what I know and what we choose. Most of my friends in real life (you included!) do NOT homeschool and that is OK.

Julie Munroe said...

I love this post. And seriously, the CPS thing made me laugh out loud. Sorry, I don't "LOL". I'm not 14.

April said...

Yes, yes, and yes. I am learning to trust my instincts but somedays I worry I'm not doing something right because it shouldn't be this easy, right? But yet there they are, happy, cared for, and learning.

April said...

I felt I needed to clarify the "it shouldn't be this easy" comment: I don't pour over curriculum choices or lesson plans-- sure I make sure we have good picks, but I don't agonize over them and I don't put undue pressure on myself or my children to complete X amount of lessons or learn such and such by this time. But it is work, and requires consistent effort!

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