If you have been homeschooling for a while, you are likely to have heard, spoken by friend or stranger, the phrase that often follows admission of involvement in such practices – “I could NEVER do that; I’d kill my kids!” This lighthearted exchange is usually accompanied by peals of laughter on both sides and, often, genuine admiration from the non-homeschooling parent. I have to admit, though, that as a mother who has never had to deal with the hectic conventional schooling schedule, the admiration is all mine.
Not having to shed my warm pyjamas at five a.m. and rouse grumpy children for the school run, would, perhaps, not make it onto my formal list of reasons why we chose to home educate eleven years ago. But it sure is one of them! (And no, I don’t believe that children will not be able to keep jobs if they don’t practise punctuality by getting up early for school twelve years in a row. That kind of maturity is just a by-product of homeschooling.) I consider it a major benefit of home education that the relentless pace of the rat-race is brought within my control. In our homeschool, we honour our daily obligations, including extra-mural activities and tutor sessions, but unhealthy amounts of stress can be, and are avoided, and the all-important lesson modelled, that I am driving my life; not the other way around.
There are so many dedicated mothers out there who are making often impossible circumstances work. I can only imagine what it must be like to drop children off at school and then work a full day; pick them up from aftercare and rush home to cook supper, only to have to drag them through hours of homework, while still trying to prepare for the next day. Let’s just say, I feel like “I could NEVER do that!”
And so, the question: is our little “pedestal” actually deserved, my fellow homeschooling moms? (And dads!) Well, I daresay yes. But, perhaps not for the reasons people think of at first. I don’t imagine we deserve it because it can be said that we DO more. Perhaps not even that we sacrifice more. What I do believe, and most often see reflected in eyes that hold a flicker of admiration, is that we risk more. We are brave! Knight-in-shining-armour brave, choosing to lay convention upon the altar of a child’s happiness every single day, and twice on Sundays. We don’t know, often, whether we can or we can’t, but we decide to bet that we will match our abilities to the NEED evidenced before us in so many little round faces.
If you can find that risk appetite within you, no matter how small, and nurture it with dedicated parenting; then you are likely to succeed at this thing we call home ed. After all, no method for doing anything truly worthwhile is without difficulty. But I, for one, can confidently say that, all difficulty considered, there nevertheless have been no homicides yet!