At the grocery store checkout counter yesterday, I got to hear the cashier and bagger, both middle-aged women, talk about homeschooling.
These gals were discussing which of their fellow employees were homeschooled. They agreed that most of their homeschooled coworkers seem quite well-socialized and normal. (It’s always a relief when I hear that, because it means I don’t have to give my standard “Just because someone doesn’t wear hip clothes, have a tattooed forehead or have three kids by three baby daddies doesn’t mean they’re not socialized” speech.)
Anyways, the cashier then noted that her sister had chosen to homeschool but made a mess of her kids, that they had turned out very awkward, and stupid to boot, but she thought the stupid part came from her sister, who wasn’t very bright to begin with and clearly had no business homeschooling anyways.
Fortunately our transaction concluded right then, so I didn’t get into a discussion of whether stupid people should be able to homeschool their children. While I believe that every parent has the right to decide where their children will be educated, I understand why people assume that you must be super-smart to homeschool your kids. But they’re wrong, of course, because a highly motivated (though not highly educated) homeschooling parent can learn right alongside their children after they reach the limits of their own education. Case in point: I’ve often noted that I never understood geometric proofs until I had to teach them to my kids. The best I could do was to stay one step ahead of them on that subject; you can imagine their delight whenever I’d forget something and they got to correct me.
So I don’t care whether or not a homeschool parent is a genius. I know that if they’re motivated, they’ll find a way to make sure their child learns what they need to know. If a subject is too complicated for them, they’ll find another way for their child to learn that subject. Heck, I did that too, like when I sent one of my kids to a local college for chemistry class (science wasn’t exactly my strong suit).
Again, as long as a parent is motivated to homeschool, they’ll make sure their child learns what they need to know. I don’t worry about those parents. But I do worry about another kind of parent.
I’m sorry to say that I’ve recently been made aware of a couple of situations where parents are keeping their kids out of school in order to homeschool them, but then just aren’t homeschooling them.
(I’m not talking unschooling; the unschooling parents I’ve known over the years were very concerned about their children’s education and made sure to raise them in a rich learning environment. They just didn’t use formal curriculum, preferring child-led learning instead.)
No, the parents I’m referring to aren’t educating their kids at all. This blows my mind. I’ve never known anyone to do that before (and I’ve met a lot of homeschooling families over the years!) Such parents are:
- doing a huge disservice to their kids,
- abdicating their role as parents, and
- in some cases, breaking the law, because in most states, there are educational requirements for all children.
I have no clue why these negligent parents won’t send their kids to school if they’re not going to bother to educate them at home. But I feel very sorry for their kids, and also for the conscientious homeschooling families who will be tarred with the same brush once outsiders hear about these parenting failures.