The hardest part of homeschooling is not making the decisions about education. It’s dealing with social scrutiny of the decisions we make about education. I have found that social scrutiny falls into three categories:
When someone says, “What grade are you in?” my kids just make up a grade. When someone says, “What’s your favorite subject?” my kids say a subject they know kids learn in school.
For the most part, when someone asks a school a question, they never really want to talk about the answer. They just want an answer that’s in line with their expectations. It’s the kid equivalent of the adult question, “How are you?”
The am-I-in-trouble? question.
Adults think it’s their right to know what a kid is doing out in the world if they are not in school. Adults think it is a community imperative to keep the kids locked up during the day. This burden elicits questions like:
Why aren’t you in school?
Do you have the day off from school?
Does your mom know you’re here?
My kids answer, “I’m homeschooled.”
The adult usually feels bad that they assumed the kid was doing something wrong, so the adult says something like, “Oh! That’s great!”
The you’re-in-trouble questions.
Parents who worry that they should be homeschooling ask these questions. They are logistical in nature and the intent is for the parent to assure themselves they could never do it themselves.
Is your mom a teacher?
How do you learn math?
How do you make friends?
How will you go to college?
At each stage of parenting there are new versions. Right now my hardest question is: What does your son do besides cello?
I used to say, “Basketball.” But he decided to quit basketball, which was a hard decision. For me. He quit because he’s on two travel teams and he wants more time to practice cello and piano. It was an easy decision for him.
I am actually a big fan of quitting. I’ve let my kids quit tons of stuff. But I hesitated this time. I suggested quitting just one of the teams. But I’m hesitating not because quitting is bad for him. It’s because I’m sick of hearing people question my decisions. Homeschooling means constantly defending what I’m doing to non-homeschoolers.
I have had this for my whole life. I played on the beach volleyball tour the year before it was made an Olympic sport. I competed against the Olympic team every week, but still, people thought I was a slacker in a non-sport.
I got a job giving financial advice when I had very little money of my own. People said I should be fired and I’m an imposter and delusional.
You’d think I’d be used to it by now – everyone second-guessing me and doubting that I make good decisions. But you never get used to it. I think it might be part of being human to never stop wanting the approval of the people around us.