I went to get a haircut the other day. It was one of those rare occasions when Husband was home on a weekday so I ran to the nearest “quick cuts” type place to get a trim. The lady cutting my hair began chatting me up and when she heard my kids were homeschooled she asked, in a puzzled voice, why we decided to do that.
This question always stumps me because there are so many reasons why we homeschool. I never knew where to start: if I criticize the school system I risk offending the person if they have kids in school, if I talk about wanting to be a larger influence in my kids’ lives or just wanting to not waste the precious few years I have with them I risk offending working parents. If I talk about Natural Learning I will inevitably end up in that tired old discussion that starts out with “well what about Math?”. But this time, in a rare moment of inspiration that arrived when I actually needed it and not an hour later, I answered with “it’s a great lifestyle”.
Because really, without going into a debate about government-run institutions deciding what our children should know (and, by inference, not know), about the abnormal social dynamics of peer-segregated environments with very low adult:child rations, about the commercialization of childhood and how schools (and TV, mind you) foster it…the simplest answer is that I love this lifestyle.
I love that we don’t have morning rushes. We get up when our bodies tell us we’ve had enough sleep (unless we have an early appointment, which is not often). We eat a wholesome, home-cooked breakfast when we are hungry and not in anticipation of when we may next be allowed to eat. We often plan our days based on the weather, taking advantage of a sunny day to drop everything and go to the park or the beach, or deciding upon waking to a rainy, dreary day to stay home and bake cookies and do crafts. I love that the kids spontaneously invent fun things to do at home, and are able to pick something up the moment inspiration hits them.
I love that we spend so much time together as a family, and that the people we associate with come in families, too. I love that they have friends of different ages and that they see adults as just another person to talk to rather than a group of authority figures that warrant suspicion. I love that we can go places when others are in school or at work and have the place to ourselves. I love that weekends are quiet family time with very few planned outings – for most other families these are the hectic two days when one tries to fit in everything that can’t be done during the week while trying to connect with kids they have barely seen for the last five days.
I love that my kids take charge of their learning, are curious, and do not hesitate to seek out information on whatever topic happens to interest them. I love that taking my kids to an activity means connecting with other parents that “get” me and our lifestyle. I love how individual homeschooled kids are, how little they care for being like everybody else, and how tolerant they are of differences.
It’s a relief to be able to sum up that question in one simple concept. And doing so made me realize all over again just how much I love homeschooling, and how incredibly fortunate I feel to be able to do it.