The preconceived notions I had about homeschooling parents created one of the biggest barriers to me decided to homeschool. I thought I knew what homeschooling parents were like. And I was certain I was not like them.
Here are three stereotypes I had in my head about homeschooling parents that were wrong:
1. They’re organized.
When my kids were in school, I’d get stressed out that there would be another thing I’d have to do, another project, another event, another rule. School was like an endless to do list with no clear big-picture goal.
For other parents, school seemed so easy. They got their kids to the door on time. They packed the right folder on the right day. Those parents always knew what was on the menu for lunch. I always put Fritos in the bottom of the backpack in case my kid was starved.
It turns out that when it comes to staying organized, homeschooling is way easier than school. There is no crowd to follow, no one else running the schedule, no notes in knapsacks that need to be dealt with before dinnertime.
Homeschooling is great for parents who can’t stay organized enough to follow the day-to-day minutea of school.
2. They’re patient.
I’m sure a patient parent makes a great homeschooler. But the problem is that patient parents are probably the ones who are waiting for miracles that transform the school system. Patient parents are not the ones bucking a system that needs to be bucked.
So it’s the impatient parents who are homeschooling, which goes to show that you do not need patience. I find, in fact, that my impatience means that I don’t want my kids to waste their time memorizing facts for tests. And I expect my kids to be passionate now, not when they grow up.
In the end, I’m pretty sure that impatience is just as beneficial as patience, because both benefit the kids, just in different ways.
3. They’re good teachers.
The first thing I did when I decided to try homeschooling: I bought workbooks. I was great at making the kids do pages. Three pages and then video games. Six pages and then video games. We did workbook pages like I used to run intervals at track practice.
Then I told myself I was more competent than that and I developed art projects and cooking projects. And after a week I was exhausted, and my son negotiated to dump all the workbooks and just play chess.
I am not a good teacher, because it bores me. But luckily, it bores my kids too. They don’t want to be told what to do. They have their own ideas about what they want to learn. I am a good listener. I listen very carefully to what my kids say they want, and I try to translate that into what is possible for their life right now.
These are just three of the preconceived notions I had about homeschooling. What I realize now is that almost all my preconceived notions were off-base. In fact, the only thing a parent needs in order to be a good homeschooing parent is a deep sense of love for the child. Because then you’ll help your child find their way in an intimate, fun, family setting. But I’d never have known until I tried it.