Nobody was more surprised than I about my decision to homeschool my child. After all, I had researched the school system thoroughly before deciding to purchase a home in my community, one known for its excellent schools. Nevertheless, I found myself thrust rather suddenly into this fascinating world of nontraditional education. What has fascinated me most, however, is the various reactions from my neighbors. Here are the top five:
1. Confused. “Funny, you don’t look like the homeschooling type.” Oh, right. Apparently, the stereotypical homeschooler is dowdy and out of touch. She sees no need to keep up with current fashions and rarely sees the inside of a hair & nail salon. So, alas, my neighbors are confused by my penchant for J.Crew clothing and mani/pedi’s.
2. Curious. “Oh! So, you want to pursue a religious education?” As if! I didn’t realize until recently that folks who complain about the lack of prayer in schools often turn to homeschooling. They want to teach creationism or otherwise reinforce the tenets of their religion. Anyone who knows me KNOWS that this couldn’t be further from the truth! I mean, I worship at the altar of cable television. So, if anything, my child will learn the tenets of HBO and Comedy Central.
3. Mortified. “Oh my goodness! So you don’t like the school? Who was your child’s teacher?” What they're really saying is: “I’m paying a fortune in taxes to live in this community! We're in a highly reputable school district! What the hell do you mean the school is not good enough?!!! Well, perhaps your child's teacher was a fluke. Now I just want that teacher's name so I can warn my friends about him or her."
5. Relieved. Again, no words. Just a sound. It happens whenever I decide to share my real reasons for choosing to homeschool. My neighbors breathe a loud sigh of relief. They are comforted in the realization that I have not rejected or passed judgment on their children's school.
In reality, most parents know that not every school is a good fit for every kid. And most of my neighbors eventually come to support my decision to homeschool. Still, if you decide to go this route, be prepared for a variety of reactions like the ones above. But at least you have a built-in opportunity to enhance your homeschool curriculum. Among other things, you can chart their responses to teach your child about statistical surveys and (ahem) social studies.
Photo credit: Grant Cochrane