Someone just called child services on me because I am not properly educating my kids. So here’s a pictures of my kids playing video games. At the time I took the picture because it was so nice to spend the evening with the boys sitting in the living room together. Looking so grown up. Now I’m using the picture to let everyone know I’m not backing down from the education I’m committed to giving my kids. And let me tell you: they are awesome at video games.

The person who called child services must be someone who knows us pretty well, because they had the contact information for our cello teacher. She received the first call from child services to ask what she knew about our family.

I tell myself the person was only being concerned for the kids’ well-being. And whoever called child services was not trying to be mean.

Even in the face of a visit from child services, I am more confident than ever that homeschooling is the right way to go. Mostly because I’ve been reading so many guides for applying to college and every single guide has the same theme: get good grades, yes, but you need to have more stuff than just good grades. And all that more stuff all happens outside of school. Which is to say that the differentiators among college candidates is what they do at home. So the more time you have at home, the more you can differentiate.

The books I’m reading put a big focus on summer because non-homeschooling kids have to cram pretty much everything into those three months. Homeschoolers have a huge advantage here. The college admissions books are, actually, the best advertisements for homeschooling I’ve seen so far.

If only I had known that when my kids were younger. I would have had much less self-doubt.

I do a lot of phone calls with parents who need just a bit more reassurance to make the leap to homeschooling. Or a bit more confidence in their commitment to keep going with it. It’s so rewarding to help other parents with this because I needed so much help myself. And one of the best places to get help was here, in the comments section.

So I am publishing an email I received last night. And I hope you will each take a moment to write some words of encouragement to the woman who sent it. We can’t change the whole education system, but we can change the lives of individual kids, one family at a time, by supporting each other when we waver.

Dear Penelope,

I chatted with you last year because I was considering homeschooling my now kindergartener. I’d had him in preschool part time but have been homeschooling this year rather than send him to kindergarten. He started out happy (he hated preschool), but now has been wanting to go to school.

I felt guilty because most of our days are spent at home we do a few activities, then he plays (mostly Legos and Minecraft). But he spends most of his time playing alone or with me. I don’t feel good letting him play Minecraft so much, but I honestly am not a good playmate. I don’t get into setting up crafts and planning play dates like other moms do.

I think a lot of my worry is that I haven’t found other kids for him to play with. No boys his age in our neighborhood. And most weekday activities we’ve gone to are geared to 2-3 year olds. I participated in a local homeschool group for awhile, but it didn’t really click (basically I didn’t like them, and my son didn’t find kids he really liked either).

Everyone I ask agrees he should go to school. I think it may be best, and found a small private school that I feel is better than most I’ve looked at. Our deadline to enroll him for next semester is Jan 4, so I’m trying to make a decision.

I wish I had the support you mentioned in a past blog post. But I don’t have a friend or mentor who can tell (or show) me that what we’re doing is ok, that I’m not hurting my son by keeping him home.

It was easier when he didn’t want to go. I like our schedule. I like having him home with me where he’s safe . But I’m afraid that I’m being selfish and overprotective. I don’t want my son to be a weird, sheltered, lonely child who can’t take care of himself. 

So I guess I don’t really have a question for you, I just am looking for some support. And maybe some reassurance that I’m not totally fucking up my kid.