by Angie Gauthier
One of my very dearest and best friends was homeschooled straight through high school. She is quirky, wonderful and incredibly witty, she also has some of the most bizarre and awkward dance moves I’ve ever seen – she refers to her dance as the “homeschool dance.” Did I mention that she is also incredibly smart?
But in my opinion, she was one of the exceptions to the rule. As a general rule, homeschool kids are socially awkward, homely, sheltered and not too bright, right? I know that’s what I thought. I met several homeschool kids at the college I worked at in my early 20’s, they seemed to be either at the top of the class or the very bottom. A few had some strange social quirks and they all surprisingly had the same awkward dance moves (but maybe that’s cause they were Baptist and no one ever taught them to dance?!)
Well, here I find myself, moving into my 3rd year of homeschooling my 5 and 7 year old and I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing. Don’t get me wrong, we have our days where I wonder at the sanity of my decision to homeschool, but overall I know I have made the right decision. So here’s how I’ve come to grips and shattered some of those negative homeschool stereotypes:
“Homeschool Kids are Socially Awkward”
I was one of the ‘cool kids’ in High School (as least, I think I was!) So I wrestled with this one a lot when making my decision to keep my daughter at home after sending her to a wonderful Private Christian school for her Jr. Kindergarten year. A very wise woman told me that as long as they have siblings at home with them they are already learning all the important social things they need to know. Like, how to share, take turns and solve conflict. I do make it a point to have lots of playdates with other homeschool families and as often as we can we attend our homeschool group. I strongly feel that anyone who homeschools should plug into a really good homeschool group in their area that meets regularly for different study units, gym/sports and field trips.
“Homeschool Kids are Homely”
Well, only if their parents are! My kids are always around people, and while I am not a materialistic person, I do like to make sure that my kids take pride in how they dress and carry themselves. We like to pinch pennies with the best of them (I am a stay at home Mom after all), but that doesn’t mean my kids need to look like they are wearing a bargain. Second hand stores have great name brand clothing to choose from and when it gets stained or ripped on one of our fabulous field trips it doesn’t ruffle my feathers one bit!
“Homeschool Kids are Sheltered”
I think that a lot of Christian homeschool families can fall into the trap of ‘sheltering’ their kids from the world… but I started to think to myself, why is that such a bad thing? Is it wrong for me to want to know who my kids are hanging around, what they are being taught, and what they are talking about? My kids are still little and I’ll take all the influence I can get, they will have plenty of time to face the real world later. I will do my very best to instill a strong sense of self confidence and esteem in them. I will teach them about the world around them – the good and the bad.
I hope that they will know how to be a part of the world without having to be like the world. I don’t want to raise my kids in that ‘castle’ where all the Christians gather to protect doctrines, religious practices and traditions. Instead, I will teach my kids the love of Christ, who dined with prostitutes and tax collectors, who showed grace to the ones who needed it most, the ones like me. And so, I think we do what we can to prepare and protect our children without putting them in a bubble – it’s about balance!
“Homeschool Kids Are Not Too Bright”
I had good grades through high school and received the academic award in College (whoop-dee-doo!), the last thing I wanted to do was hold my kids back… boy, was I ever WRONG! I have had the great honour of teaching 2 of my children to read… yes, my JK, 5 year old is reading and he’s part way into his sister’s grade 1 math book. This isn’t because he’s super smart or gifted – I am not bragging – well, hardly! He likes his school work and he’s a January baby so I had the chance to start him a year earlier than the public school board would have. Besides that, he knows that as soon as the books are done we can get on to more important things like sword fights, ninja flips and finding incredible undiscovered swamp monsters in the forest.
And so, I have no more arguments against homeschooling, I only see the positives, the gift to me to be a part of their learning and the gift to them to learn about what they want at the pace they want to learn it. As far as the ‘homeschool dance’ goes… well, our entire family proudly dances it in our living room on a daily basis with pure joy while all the other kids sit at their little desks in over-crowded classrooms.
Angie is a mother of 3 darling children and an entrepreneur. Married to a full time musician, she juggles the art of home schooling children and running her hand-sewn baby sling business. She loves home cooking, gardening, walking on the shores of Lake Erie and writing. Her blog brings smiles and giggles to her readers at http://cheekybabyslings.ca/blogs/news/