Have you ever experienced the sting of betrayal by someone whose full support you expected based on your shared beliefs or backgrounds? I still remember a situation in which I couldn’t wait to get to work to share with a co-worker something that had happened over the weekend.
She was one of the few people I thought would really understand based on a commonality we shared. I was giddy with excitement, but when I told her, instead of encouraging me, she pointed out the flaws (as she perceived them) in my experience.
That was nearly three decades ago, and I still remember how deflated I felt. I was basically chastised by the one person I fully expected to share my excitement.
We homeschoolers do that to one another, too. We anticipate that our common ground will result in support of our efforts to educate our children as we see fit in a world that thinks we’re doing it all wrong.
We may have come to expect the occasional rude comment from strangers in the grocery store or the quizzes from nosey neighbors or worried (or just rude) relatives. We don’t expect attacks from fellow homeschooling families – particularly about choices that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
Homeschooling moms and dads, why don’t we quit arguing with each other over things that don’t really matter?
1. Starting school early vs. starting late
There are pros and cons whichever start time you prefer. An early start time allows plenty of time to complete schoolwork early in the day, providing more free time in the afternoon and a cushion for unforeseen delays.
A later start time allows kids to get plenty of rest and work within their body’s natural rhythms (which can be crucial for teens). It allows kids whose focus peaks in the afternoons to work during their most productive hours.
I don’t think that it’s necessary for kids to get up and start school by 8 a.m.in order to be prepared for normal workforce hours. Late sleepers can and do adjust when they get a job. I’ve witnessed it.
Y’all probably already know that my teens are late sleepers, but you’ll never hear me arguing about wake times with another homeschool family. Do you know why? It doesn’t affect me. It’s not my family. You get up early; we’ll get up late. It’s all good.
If we need to attend an early-morning field trip, we’ll set an alarm. If you need to stay up past midnight to watch a meteor shower, you can take a nap. See? Everyone is happy.
2. Homeschooling in PJ vs. getting dressed
Again, there are pros and cons. Some families say they focus better when they’re comfortable, and you can’t deny the benefits of having less laundry to do. However, proponents of getting dressed say they take school more seriously when the dress for the day. Plus, if you’re dressed, you’re ready to head out the door at a moment’s notice.
I’ve had people leave angry comments about fanning the homeschool stereotypes when we talk about schooling in our PJs. Yeah, um, sorry about that. In our house, PJs most often mean shorts or lounge pants and t-shirts. No one is over here doing school in gowns and boxers.
Even if we were, though, why argue about it? If you want to get dressed down to your shoes every day, go for it! I’ve seen this topic bring out outraged responses and I have to wonder, why do you care what someone else is wearing in their own home?
I mean, you know, I guess if they’re nudists you might make it your business to know so that you don’t drop by unannounced, but other than that it seems that there are probably way more important things to get riled up about than what someone else is wearing at home.
If someone shows up for the next homeschool field trip in PJs or PJ day at homeschool co-op in their Sunday suit, then get mad if you must. Otherwise, I suggest we quit arguing over someone else’s clothing choices.
3. Doing school-at-home vs. unschooling
I only used school-at-home and unschooling because they’re basically the two opposite ends of the homeschooling methods spectrum, but I don’t understand why we’re arguing over any homeschooling style.
Isn’t being able to customize our kids’ educations one of the biggest benefits of homeschooling?
Why should we care if someone customizes their child’s education differently than we do? Isn’t that the point?
4. Reading full classic books vs. reading abridged
Again, pros and cons, y’all. They’re there with classics versus abridged books, too. Certainly, students get the benefit of a richer vocabulary and reading the tale as the author intended with the full classic. However, a struggling reader may gain a fuller understanding by reading the abridged version (or reading it first).
I think we should trust each other as parents to determine what is best for our individual kids. One parent may decide that the abridged version gives her younger student or struggling reader access to a book he might not otherwise read. Another may feel that his student will benefit from the challenge and rich language of the original text.
Who am I to decide that I know another parent’s child and his capabilities better than that parent?
I could go on listing topics about which homeschoolers argue, but I think you get the point. The religious homeschoolers are on the outs with the secular homeschoolers. The tech-loving homeschoolers are arguing with the screen-time-limiting homeschoolers.
The “real” homeschoolers don’t want the online public school parents in their support groups. Yes, I get that it’s public school at home, and I personally don’t like it, but what if your kid is being bullied mercilessly and you just need to get him out of that toxic environment as soon as possible?
What if you don’t understand what your other options are? What if it just works for your family?
What if any of that is true and you don’t feel like you fit in anywhere – not with the public school families and not with the homeschool families? And what if you just really need someone to come alongside you and support you as you try to do what’s best for your kid?
If you asked every homeschooling family on the planet to name the top ten things they love best about homeschooling, I’d hazard to guess that most would identify freedom as one of those things. We relish the freedom to school our children the way we want, to choose the curriculum that best fits our families, to embrace the schedule that most suits our needs.
If we can all agree that we cherish the freedom to be different and carve our own paths, why are we arguing when someone else chooses to do something differently than we do? Isn’t that their freedom? Isn’t that the beauty of homeschooling?
What topics have you heard homeschoolers argue about with each other?
This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.