Last week I shared some things that homeschool parents need to stop saying. I was really worried about stepping on toes, but the response was overwhelmingly positive.
I did, however, want to clarify one point. I made the statement that homeschool parents need to stop saying, “That’s why we homeschool.”
Many homeschool parents stated that they were guilty of that one and the fact is, I am, too. I don’t think it’s a statement that we need to completely wipe from our vocabulary, but I do think we need to be mindful of when and how we say it. I stand by the fact that it is never a good idea to say it following a tragedy – at least not in a, “There you go. Right there. That’s why we homeschool,” triumphant kind of way.
The statement may have its place in an “I am so sorry that you have experienced this. Concerns over things like this were part of our decision to homeschool,” compassionate sort of way. I still think we have to be really careful, though, because when emotions are raw, comments may not be taken in the way you intended. I stand by my statement that in that moment and that setting, “I’m praying for you” or “I’m grieving with you” are much more appropriate comments.
So, when is it okay to say, “That’s why we homeschool” or its possibly less snarky sounding cousin, “I’m so glad we homeschool”?
When you read about a teacher sending a kid’s uneaten Oreo cookies home with a note about sending a nutritious lunch, that might be a good time to say, “I’m glad we homeschool.” Because, you know what, I am capable of packing the food I find acceptable for my child to eat. (So is the mom who sent her kid a sandwich, a string cheese, and a couple of cookies.)
Now, don’t get me wrong. If all a parent sends is a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, then, sure, I think the teacher is justified in sending home a note requesting that the parent pack a more nutritious lunch – or send the tranquilizer darts for when the kid is running laps around the room because she’s on a sugar high, but come on. Calling a mom out over a healthy lunch with a couple of cookies for a snack? Yes, not having to deal with those kinds of things make me glad we homeschool.
When you read about a dad getting reprimanded for taking his kids out of school to watch him run the Boston Marathon and go see, with their own eyes, the historic sights of Boston, that might be a good time to say, “I’m glad we homeschool.” Because I do appreciate the flexibility of allowing my kids to have experiences like that – not that I’ll ever run the Boston Marathon, but you know what I mean – without having to worry about excused vs. unexcused absences.
Of course, the dad in question handled the situation just fine, thank you very much.
When my sister tells me that my niece got a math problem marked wrong because, although she got the right answer, she didn’t work the problem exactly as she was shown, that might be a good time to say, “I’m glad we homeschool.” Because, y’all, not every kid processes information the same way. Lattice math anyone? I’m glad we can find alternate ways to reach the same correct answer.
My sister, my cousin (also a public school mom), and I were discussing the fact that the correct answer is all that matters when you fill in the bubble on a test. And, while we’re at it, as far as I’m concerned, poor Pluto is still a planet, there are only 4 oceans, and you borrow, not regroup when you’re subtracting 7 from 3 in the ones’ column.
When you hear about a kid getting suspended from school for bringing breath mints or chewing a piece of bread into the shape of a gun or pinning toy soldiers to an army hat, that might be a good time to say, “I’m glad we homeschool.” Because sometimes school administrators get so hyper-focused on following the letter of the law that they overlook common sense.
When a kid is being bullied mercilessly, that might be a good time to compassionately say, “I’m glad we homeschool.” Because maybe that’s a path that a parent hasn’t considered and this kid needs to feel safe and important and loved and valued. It breaks my heart to hear of kids committing suicide because they were bullied.
When someone tells you about something happening at their kid’s school that really is why you chose to homeschool, that might be a good time to say, “That’s why we homeschool.” Because maybe homeschooling is an idea that they’ve toyed with, but don’t know much about.
If someone tells me that their 1st grader is doing 3-plus hours of homework a night or is struggling academically and the school isn’t offering any feasible solutions, you’ll probably hear me tell them that’s why we homeschool. Because it is.
I’m not saying don’t be proud to be a homeschooling family and confident in your choices. I am saying be respectful of other people’s choices and mindful of how your words come across. I want to be that homeschool family who positively changes someone’s opinion of homeschoolers, not that homeschool family who alienates people by implying that their way of doing things is the only way.
And you know what? I really am glad we homeschool.
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