If you had told me 10 years ago that I would someday homeschool my children, I would have laughed and scoffed and said that was impossible. Never, ever, ever, would I hole up my child in my house and shelter them from the rest of the world. Why would I take away from my child the opportunity to make great friends and socialize like 'normal' people?
Six years ago, we began attending a church at which we felt instantly connected. Nothing exceptional about Faith Baptist, really, just a small run-of-the-mill Baptist church with a pastor who preaches as true to the Bible as he can. I promise you - there was no pressure to 'be like the rest of us' at all - even when we discovered that many of the families within the congregation homeschooled their children. Even at that time - if you had told me that someday I would homeschool my children, I would have said it wasn't for me - and secretly, I would have been thinking of all the points I already mentioned above.
The first Christmas at our church, the kids put on a musical play. Growing up going to church, I had a bit of an idea what to expect - the typical one or two 'drama' types who play main characters while the rest of the cast stand in a cluster and sing - almost audibly - over canned music. Not to talk down every Christmas kids' production I've ever seen - there have been good ones, but they always have that group of kids who are nervous and shy, and a little worried that someone they know will see them. That never bothered me - I was always one of those kids. I WANTED to be a star, but I was always too afraid of rejection to really give it all I had. But, isn't every kid? Or so I thought... This Christmas play started like any, with the canned music playing in the small sanctuary and the kids off stage to start. That's when the unexpected began. All of the kids - probably aged 4 to 18 - came dancing up the aisle, waiving their arms ridiculously and singing at the top of their lungs. Every. Last. One.
I watched the teenaged boys especially, waiting for them to shrink back and attempt to disappear into the walls - because teenaged boys do not animatedly prance around like they don't care who's watching. Well, maybe a few do, but not ALL of them! Yet here - every single kid was giving it their all in a way that I was never brave enough to do. I spent weeks pondering this - what made these kids different? It couldn't be the fact that they homeschooled...
And the funny thing was, I didn't decide to homeschool right there - and I think I still would have said that it 'wasn't for me', but I realized in that moment that there was something that didn't jive about my views about homeschooling. Did these kids have friends? Tons - more than I ever did, probably, and they spanned all ages because they didn't have 'grades' determining who they could socialize with all day. Did these kids seem like 'normal' kids? Well, no, actually - they seemed more 'adult' in some ways, and more 'childish' in others. They communicated with adults more confidently and respectfully than I even knew how to do until I was an adult myself, and yet they seemed to retain an innocence that I lost way too young. Were they sheltered from the world? Maybe in some ways, but it didn't seem to be stunting them in any way.
One of my first blog posts was this opinion post I wrote in response to a Facebook comment that my friend (who homeschools her children) had experienced. Basically, this post is my thought process on what it is about homeschooled kids that is perceived as 'wierd' by other people, as well as commenting on some of the factual differences between homeschooled and public schooled kids. I think at the time I wrote this post, I was still 'on the fence' about homeschooling. I had a mental list of Pros and Cons and I was starting to realize that so many of the Cons I had initially perceived were actually based on fallacy. My Pro list became longer. My Con list became shorter as I realized that what I thought I knew was actually false.
I'm a big fan of open-mindedness. As a Christian, I've been called 'narrowminded' before, but I don't believe that choosing to believe in one thing over another should be considered narrowminded, because it is necessary for life. I think being intelligent requires making choices, but it also requires making educated choices. I believe that being open minded involves being open to all of the facts - and being ready to abandon what you previously thought if the facts speak clearly against you. I have friends who don't homeschool and I respect their educated decisions absolutely - because they have real and solid reasons for their choices. It does irk me, however, when I hear people speak against homeschooling because it results in 'anti-social' children, because the facts and evidence surrounding that are simply not true, and I can't respect an opinion based on false information.
Anyway, I'll probably go into more detail on this particular decision in the future and I in no way want to insult any contrary choice, but it stands to reason that by choosing to homeschool, I've chosen NOT to send my kids to school - so please don't be offended when I point out things I may dislike about school systems - it doesn't mean I think everyone should agree. I simply say things as I see them.