Homeschoolers are held to a higher standard. We hear this all the time. We blame the media, our friends and family, society in general; but what I’ve seen is that this ideal also comes from deep within our own ranks. I can’t count how many times I’ve been at a homeschooler’s gathering and feel like I am drowning in this pool of “keeping up with the Joneses.”
Everything is going well and then that one mother pipes up and says “Our Susie just finished her literary survey of the complete works of Shakespeare and is moving on to Milton.” (Susie in this case is 12 years old) Or, there is the mother that jumps into a conversation about Abeka curriculum and states that they dropped it because it was just too simple for her family…they needed something more challenging.
Now, my bet is that each of these mothers I just sketched for you have their metaphorical homeschooling closets crammed full of failures and setbacks that they refuse to allow to see the light of day because they may look less than perfect. Yes, it sounds like I am slamming this type of behavior and while I’m not a fan, I do see where it comes from.
So many homeschooling families are presented with scrutiny on a weekly basis. Whether it comes from their extended family or the state, it is still scrutiny and sometimes it feels almost like the Spanish Inquisition. Over time, those who are unsure of themselves fall into a coping mechanism that resembles the Stepford Wives routine. You know the one: everything is perfect and clean and orderly….and Fake! This type of behavior is good for no one. It creates stress where there should be none. It takes something wonderful and turns it into a nightmare.
As homeschoolers, we do need to strive for a higher standard but not to show society that we have our act together. We need to have that higher standard for the sake of our kids’ futures. Homeschooling is not perfect, it is messy at times but that messiness, is a place where we can learn. We have the perfect setting for learning that is innovative and free-spirited. Through homeschooling, we can help our children to grow as individuals and not be condemned to the cookie cutter society that is driving public and many private schools. Yes, sometimes we need to follow a program or embrace a tradition but we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be owned by either. At the end of the day, we need to feel confident in our own individuality and that we are following the path that is right for us and our families and not what society wants to see.
Here is a great quote I recently read:
So, if you find yourself at that next homeschooler’s get-together and feel the need to put your “everything’s okay here” mask on. Stop. Share your wins and your failures and how you came out on the other side alive. Someone may benefit from your experience and decide that they can drop their mask, too. We have enough competition in our daily lives. Homeschoolers shouldn’t compete against each other in the “who is more perfect” category. We should work to support each other.