As people find out that I am nearing the end of my homeschool
nightmare journey, they tend to ask me a lot of questions. When they find out that I have kids in college (one graduated, praise God!), I get even more questions. I jokingly tell them that they might not want to talk to me about homeschooling, but I am half serious. My views are a bit tainted now that I have come this far. Maybe tainted isn’t the right word. Realistic is maybe a better word. Who wants to be realistic? No one I have met on Pinterest, that is for sure. But if you have ever read anything by me, you know that I don’t like pretending. It has been eating at me for awhile, so I am coming to you today to ask you, “Why are you homeschooling?”
It seems like such a general question. When people ask me about transcripts, it is the question that I ask them. When people ask me if they are using the right curriculum, I ask them this question. They look at me a little funny, but I truly believe that is the root of all homeschooling questions. Why are you homeschooling?
As the years pass, I think homeschoolers tend to lose their vision. We get caught up into the hype of scholarships, applying to “good” colleges, or an important extra curricular that will look good on a transcript. None of these are bad things, but they can cloud our vision. In the grand scheme of things, sometimes the things that cloud our vision are the least important things.
I am going to be unpopular for a moment. I would be willing to bet that you didn’t begin homeschooling your children because you wanted them to get good scholarships. I didn’t. I started homeschooling because the public school was not meeting the needs of my son. They also had some policies that reduced my rights a parent. We pulled my kids to meet their needs. It wasn’t until my son started getting into his middle school years that the lure of the big scholarships enticed me. We were out to get one of those, and as homeschoolers we could do it. It changed the focus of my homeschool not necessarily with positive results. So, my unpopular thought is to stop chasing the big money. Why are you homeschooling? Because if it is to get the big money, they can do that just as well in public school. In fact, it is probably easier to get the big money when they go to public school. Ok. ok. Yes, I know homeschoolers personally who have received the big money. It happens. My hat is off to them. They worked their tails off for that money. And let’s face it, there is something special about their child that made it possible. For the majority of us, the money is there, but it probably isn’t going to be the big money you hope it is.
I know that people don’t want to hear this. You have invested hundreds maybe even thousands of dollars into activities for your child only to find out that the college didn’t care that they took 10 years of piano lessons. Unless your child is planning on majoring in music, they really don’t care. (Very unpopular thought) I am not saying forget about piano lessons. I am REALLY not saying that. What I am saying is redirect your thinking. Instead of wondering how it will look on a transcript, make piano lessons about giving your child the gift of music. It is after all a gift that goes all the way into adulthood. If your child loves debate, by all means continue in debate. It is a wonderful skill that will serve them well. Just keep at it because they love it. Maybe a scholarship will come and maybe it won’t, but you will know that it was good for them. Keep your expectations realistic. Colleges want to see a good SAT score especially for homeschoolers. This is a hard truth for us. If you think they are looking the multiple extra activities you had your child in, you may want to think again. Thousands of public and private school kids have multiple extra activities too. We aren’t special. I am not trying to be mean. I am being honest. I ask you again. Why are you homeschooling?
What about getting into a good college? (The word “good” here is subjective.) This seems to be the number one question that I get from moms. They want their kids to get into college. Why are you homeschooling? Are you homeschooling because you have a very bright child that was exceedingly bored in school? Maybe the school wasn’t meeting their needs, so you brought them home. They love academics so much that you can’t keep up with them. Don’t worry. They will get into the college that is right for them. The only reason they might not is because it is hard work for you. (Yeah, I know. It hurts sometimes.) What if your answer is that you are homeschooling because it fits your family lifestyle. You believe that the school teaches things that undermine your faith. You have an average child who would rather play video games. What about college for them? Our society has made college pretty much available for everyone. This idea that your child will never get into college is silly. Community college is a fine option for many people. Even if you struggled teaching your kids all through high school, they will still have opportunities available to them. If you want them to jump right into a four year college, there are many Division III schools, that would love to have your children. This idea that they have to get into a good school (still subjective) is one our society has placed on us. It makes things harder than they need to be. If we are honest with ourselves, don’t we make this more about ourselves than our children? We can finally have vindication to all the naysayers when our child gets into MIT with a scholarship.
One last word about scholarships. My state has made it more difficult for homeschoolers to get the lottery scholarships that are available to all kids in the state. They have done this by changing the grading scale and by making three levels of course work- college prep, honors and AP. The schools make homeschoolers jump through multiple hoops to prove their course work is honors or AP level. Because I am lazy and I refuse to jump their hoops, my high school son is at a disadvantage. Am I worried? Not really. It shows the hypocrisy of the education system. It IS all about the money. This change in the grading system is to make the scholarships available to more students, but it only inflates grade point averages. Instead of playing their game, I will explore other avenues. I am not homeschooling for the big money. I played that game before. I homeschool because I know that I can provide my son an education tailored for his needs. An education that gives him time to try other things. An education that focuses around family and faith. I finally found my vision. Only took me 17 years. Sheesh.
Why are you homeschooling?