Thursday, May 9, 2013

Oh...You're Homeschooling?

I meet a lot of people that question our decision to homeschool.  Most gently ask about it then say they could never do it themselves.  I have learned to easily answer them by letting them know it's the method we think will be best for our children.  But this time, I was thrown a bit off guard.

We had eaten dinner at a beachfront restaurant and a little boy asked my oldest if he wanted to play in the sand.  They ran toward the water as my husband and I followed with our youngest.  The parents of my son's new friend were having a drink and my husband offered to by us all a round.  He left my little one with me and I made conversation with our new acquaintances.

The boy's mother had a beautiful accent and shared that she was originally from France.  She met her husband while vacationing in Florida and "never went back."  The conversation moved to our children and she told me that they had three children.  ALL in Pineview.

What is Pineview you ask?  It's a local public school that you must pass a test to attend.  It is the number 1 school in Florida and it is number 4 on the US World Report list.  It is a very good school and it is a badge of honor for many parents to have their children attend it.  As soon as I heard Pineview, I knew what question was coming next.

"Where does your son go to preschool?" she asked.
"I am homeschooling him," I told her.
"What!?  That is crazy!  You mean to say you are planning on teaching him at home?!" she exclaimed.

My youngest, having impeccable timing, darted toward the bar and so I had to leave to chase after him.  As I scooped him up I thought, it's okay, you know why you are doing this.  It doesn't matter what she or anyone else thinks.  When I returned, she and her husband were whispering and laughing.

"I'm sorry.  My wife and I were just talking about how we don't have the intellectual capacity to teach our kids.  We can't even help with homework and our oldest is only in sixth grade.  I can't imagine how you are going to manage it," the husband said.

I was unsure whether they were mocking me or being honest.  I just knew that I was suddenly very very uncomfortable.  Before I could respond, the wife jumped in.  "Yes, they are already doing advanced Algebra in 5th grade.  And my daughter's science teacher has the highest state test scores every year.  My daughter studies until at least 11:00 every night so she does well on the test.  High expectations at that school."

As I listened, I wondered if they would ever hear it through my filter.  I thought, your ten year old has homework until 11?  When does she play?  She's learning Algebra in fifth grade?  Will it make a difference that she knows it so young?  I can barely remember any Algebra...Then I realized that it wasn't my part to judge their choices.  They, too, are doing what they feel is best for their children.  Isn't that what they should do?  While I hated that they so blatantly laughed at my decision, I could not do the same to them.  

"You must be so proud of them," I said.  "It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job."  And I meant it.

As I told my husband the story on the way home, I realized that they had touched on my only insecurity about this decision.  They went straight to the heart of it.  My husband gently reminded me that he believed in me and that he had no doubts whatsoever about my abilities to teach our children.  Slowly, my confidence returned.  But that's the danger in sharing "opinions" about each other's parenting.  We might inadvertently touch a point of insecurity.  We might make them feel as if they aren't doing a good job.  Instead, let's use that energy to encourage each other.  I know I can always use a bit of that.

How do you overcome criticism of your parenting choices?  


  1. For me, I love that homeschooling allows us to (re)learn stuff as parents. By doing math--for example--alongside our kids for five years, we're totally ready to help them tackle Algebra. And even if we aren't, there are plenty of other resources out there to help us with that.

    Keep up the great work! Homeschooling is such a fantastic option.


    1. Hi Luke,
      Thanks for the encouragement. I hadn't considered the aspect of learning alongside them rather than jumping in at the Algebra level. I really appreciate your insights!


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