Simultaneously, my inbox has been filling up with emails from moms wanting to know about our decision to not homeschool. Generally speaking, there seems to be a guilt and a fear coming from them as they wonder, "Is it okay if I don't homeschool?" I really empathize with these women, all of whom are engaged in the Catholic blogosphere, which is dominated by homeschoolers.
The vibrancy and holiness of the homeschooling crew's lives is so attractive, and often the way homeschooling is presented in the blogging world makes it seem like it is the best option.
For a lot of people it is the best option. For a lot of people it's the only real option. For a lot of people it's something they have to do because brick and mortar schools in their area have failed them. For a lot of people it's something they are drawn to and have always wanted to do, and actually doing it brings a rhythm, joy, peace, and dynamic to their lives and home that allows everyone to thrive.
But not so for everyone.
For a lot of people it is the worst option. For a lot of people it is not even an option. For a lot of people it's not even something to be considered because the brick and mortar schools in their area are fabulous and meet or surpass their needs. For a lot of people it's something they are drawn to because they can see the goodness in it but they have always been more drawn to the good of being a part of a brick and mortar school community, enjoying the rhythm, joy, peace, and dynamic that it brings to their lives and home, allowing everyone to thrive.
I've written before about some reasons to not homeschool, but today I want to write to those moms who are worrying about not homeschooling.
In an effort to calm their worries, I want to address those myths about homeschooling that come up again and again. Some of these myths have been boldly declared by homeschooling bloggers and all of them have at least been implied repeatedly over the years. I would argue that all of them can be true when applied to certain families, but it is the very fact that they are so often portrayed as absolute truths that makes them myths.
So here goes:
Myth #1 - Homeschooling is what God intended for families.
Homeschooling is what God intends for some families but there is no way it is what He intends for all families. Just because God didn't create a schoolhouse with a teacher on the 8th day doesn't mean that He never intended for there to be schools or that sending children to school goes against His ideal. Definitely God intends for parents to be the first and primary educator of their children but that does not mean that no room is left for teachers, classrooms, and principals.
Myth #2 - Anyone can homeschool.
My former job as a college admissions counselor made this very clear. I remember one girl specifically whose high school transcripts were all from her mom and she was a straight A student. Yet her writing samples were embarrassing, as were her community college transcripts and ACT scores. She was obviously embarrassed and frustrated that the education her mother had given her had failed her. The only college she could enter would be a community college and that would involve at least a year of re-taking classes and hopefully finally filling in the gaps in her education. She may have still struggled in a traditional school, but at least there her teachers would have had different expectations and would have been able to give her the extra support and resources she needed.
Separate from that, just because you could homeschool doesn't mean you have to. If you don't have the desire or the obvious need then don't do it, don't worry about it, and happily move on.
Myth #3 - Homeschooling is what holy families do.
No, knowing, loving, and serving God is what holy families do and what that will look like will vary from one family to the next.
Myth #4 - With homeschooling, everything we do is school!
Okay, but this is not exclusive to homeschooling. My daughter learns about math, reading, her faith, critical thinking, history, science, and geography at school and she comes home and learns about those same things at home. Her teachers and I are building on one another's work; you can and surely will do the same.
I would argue that with parenting everything we do has the potential to be educational. It's insulting to imply that only homeschoolers are capable of or interested in teaching their kids throughout the day; don't believe that lie.
Myth #5 - Moms send their kids to school because a) they don't enjoy / love them as much as homeschooling moms, b) they are selfish and want time to themselves, c) both.
Yes, I really saw this type of talk on a homeschooling blog and unbelievably the commenters all supported or ignored it. Yet this is just not true. Even if you are a mom wondering, "How do homeschoolers not go crazy at home all day with their kids?" you are not less of a mom. Not being able to imagine something because it's completely foreign to you doesn't mean you're a lesser parent.
Our family has chosen to send our kids to parochial school. The price is right, the teachers are awesome, and we are happy. It's not perfect, but it's the right fit for our family. And, if someday none of those things are okay, we will happily send them to public school.
So what should you do?
Well, I don't know, but I believe in you and your ability to figure this out. Talk to your spouse; pray with your spouse; spend some time in front of the Blessed Sacrament; follow your heart and your gut. And remember that you can try it out for a year and then re-evaluate next year. Heck, you can even try it out for a semester!
Whatever you chose: homeschooling, public school, parochial school, I am sure you will do a great job. I believe in you!