We've been going through a series addressing concerns that face many families as they consider home education. We've addressed issues like adjusting to your first year, picking curriculum, juggling the demands of multiple children, overcoming perfectionism, coming to an agreement with your husband, social opportunities for homeschoolers, preparing your child for college as a homeschooler, teaching subjects which are not your forte and learning to work in time alone when you are around your children all the time. The last concern I will address in this series is
Are my kids going to be weird? (I'm just sayin') ...
You may want to watch this humorous video to hear seven lies people believe about homeschoolers and some of what the reality is like for most of us.
First of all, (and I'm going to be honest here), when I think about what my children will be like, I have to ask myself why I am worried about this "image" thing. I mean, I can mistakenly feel like my children are a reflection of me. They are not. They are gifts into my life; guests in my home; people I can influence as they grow. I do not own them and they are surely not a reflection of me.
A fear lurks behind this question of whether our kids will be weird. It is the fear of what other people will think of us. If anything has been weeded out of my heart through the experience of home educating, it is the concern about what others think. It didn't go easily or right away, and I am sure I'll find residue of this misplaced value in my heart from time to time, but I am so much better than I was when we first started educating at home. I would have been the first to tell you that I didn't care what people think, but I have come to find out that I cared very much at one point -- and God knew that.
Once you have done a heart-check and you know your motives as to why you are concerned about your children being anything but "normal," you can realize something wonderful. Most homeschoolers aren't weird, but what they are is pretty secure in their own skin. I'm not sure of all the factors which contribute into this internal security, but I do know a lot of homeschoolers and one thing I can say is this group of young people (from all kinds of homes and all kinds of educational approaches and in different cities even) seem to be much more confident than their public or private school peers. Maybe it is the fact that homeschoolers don't have peer pressure in their lives to the extent that other children do. Maybe it is having a life which is very much tailored to their needs, abilities and temperament. Maybe it is having people on their team (their parents) who want to see them succeed and who sacrifice much to give them an education. Whatever it is homeschoolers tend not to worry what others think of them.
The absence of a daily group setting for education can lead to is some eccentricity in some individuals. That isn't the norm as to what we see in the homeschoolers we know. Maybe there was an era in America, when homeschoolers had to hide away and avoid being known as home educators so that the Department of Children's Services didn't show up on the doorstep accusing families of harming theirchildren. In those days home educated children were less socially connected. These days home educated children have so many social outlets.
Let me just tell you something of what has happened over here at our home. If you meet my sons, you probably wouldn't guess they were homeschoolers. They look and act like many other children. But, don't get me wrong. We are not normal. My littlest son is very, very creative. He is all boy, and he is very artistic. I had this awakening one night and when I woke up the next morning I turned our kitchen desk into the "craft station." Shortly after this gesture of making-room-for-his-creative-side, he kept asking me to print out pictures of characters he likes from books and movies. At first I let him put a few behind his door -- you know, inconspicuous and yet fulfilling his need to express himself. Well ... true to his little artistic personality, my son kept adding and adding until now one whole wall of his room is coated with these pictures. My "themed" Winnie-the-Pooh room with the hand-painted mural is now covered with his conglomeration of pictures. Weird? You haven't heard anything. Next, this little guy decides he is going to spin spider webs like spider man. He starts weaving through the living room with skeins of yarn. Well, a family's gotta function, so we send him out back and say, "Spin a web in the playset." Don't ask. Our playset is literally a weaving of multicolored skeins of yarn. We had to put some limits when he tried to weave through the garden. Weird? Well, it isn't the normal American playset bought from Home Depot. You know the one with the green awning and the yellow slide? No magazine is showing up to take photos of the yard or the bedroom this week. And, you know what, I'm good with it. I've gotten to a place in my heart where I'd rather risk "weird" than stifle my child's creative expression.
I'm learning to let my boys live outside the box. They are not pressured to live up to the standards of the world. I have released this need to make them fit some sort of mold. We are all living in a whole lot more grace these days. My children may or may not be considered "weird" (I'm not saying they are). More importantly they are secure and they are confident and they are free to be all God wants them to be. If you choose to home educate you will share your values with your children and they will take on many of those values. But, I encourage you to risk a little "weirdness" in the name of independence and self-expression and take the chance to give your children a home education if you feel God tugging at you to do so.
This post ends my series of "So You Think You Want To Homeschool ..." but I will be posting more on this topic of home education on an ongoing basis. In the meantime you can also check out this post which contains encouragement and suggestions for moms new to home education.