When we were making the decision to homeschool, we never really considered society’s view of homeschooling. I just didn’t want to hand my children over to strangers at school. And my hubby, as he held his first born son in his arms for the first time, declared that he wasn’t giving him away to any school to raise. So society’s view never really got a say on the matter, instead our hearts were doing the talking. And that’s the way I think it ought to be – we should listen to our hearts. Society doesn’t love our children or want the best for them. Society just wants you to conform to make things manageable. This isn’t to say that the decision to homeschool is easy if you leave society out of it. Our hearts make decisions easily, but fear is created in our minds.
Society tells us that school is best. But is that always true? Or even ‘almost always’? How do you recall your school experience? Is it possible that there are other valid options? Society’s view on this matter is just one view. Could there be others? I think there are other ways to educate children. In fact, I know that there are other equally good options, and sometimes even superior options. So I think society is wrong, yes wrong, when they tell us there is only one good option. Let your heart explore the other options, and try not to listen to your mind, filling with anxious thoughts.
Society will criticise you when we choose to homeschool. It’s the expected response when you question the status quo. Families, who have their children in school, can’t allow themselves to think that you may have made the ‘right’ choice because that could mean that they have made the ‘wrong’ choice. Even mothers of children, who have already graduated, will usually defend ‘school as best’, as the alternative could breed regret or even guilt. Only those families who have already begun questioning society’s way, will stop to listen. So when society responds negatively to homeschooling, I don’t see it as an attack of my choice. Rather, I see it as them not being able to hear anything negative about their own choices. So what’s the point in arguing with them. Besides, listening to negative responses only feeds our own fears. Our minds can come up with plenty of their own anxious reasons without help.
Teachers will often take your decision to homeschool as a personal attack on their profession. I think it’s only natural. They have trained for four years to do something that homeschoolers think they can do themselves, without training, and, worse still, homeschoolers believe they can often do a better job. Teachers don’t like to hear it, even if it’s true. But it’s not homeschooling itself that they have issues with. As a ‘qualified’ teacher, when I tell fellow teachers that I’m homeschooling, they tell me what an excellent decision I have made and then begin their rant about the woes of the school system and how things have gone down hill dramatically in just the time they have been teaching. So clearly the problem isn’t our homeschooling; it’s that we’re rocking the pedestals that made them feel necessary and important. I wonder if builders feel the same way when owner-builders build their own houses. I bet they snicker about those houses falling down one day. So when dealing with teachers, consider their feelings, but don’t allow their insecurities to determine your homeschooling decision. No matter how many years training they have, they can never love your child as much as you do, and love counts more than degrees.
The hardest people to deal with are relatives. They have a personal connection to the children involved and feel that they have a say in the decision. But they don’t. The parents are the only people who have a say in decisions regarding their children. I’d advise you to make your decision before informing the relatives, and then don’t ask their opinion. Their opinion will be, 99.99% of the time, “Put the kids in school”, because society has taught them well and they believe that school is best. When we made our decision, we made it as husband and wife. Then we announced it to the family and did not ask for their opinion. Of course, they still gave their opinions and we heard them. We acknowledged their feelings and concerns but didn’t allow their issues to become our issues. However we listened and took what we felt was wise advice. We were fairly lucky though as our families aren’t too confrontational. Or perhaps it’s more that our families know that we are too strong to be manipulated and swayed to their wills. Either way, their concerns have lessened as the years have passed and they can see the fruits of homeschooling. It is these same fruits that our own minds too will see.
Negative views destroy possibilities by creating fear. Consider the story of the apostle Peter, who walked on water. When Jesus called Him out of the ‘safety’ of the boat, Peter leaped out and did the impossible, while his eyes were on Jesus. But as soon as he looked down at all the negatives, he began to drown. Jesus reached out and rescued him, saying, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Listen to your heart, embrace the possibilities, ignore the naysayers and seek only His wise counsel. That’s how I deal with society’s negative views.