Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Don't You Have a Life? (The Real Homeschoolers)

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the Real Homeschoolers series - Don't You Have a Life? @

Welcome to today's episode of The Real Homeschoolers of Carroll County, part of the Schoolhouse Crew's Real Life Homeschool blog hop! Can you believe that my kids have actually been asked the title question?! True story. The following are real questions and comments people have made to me or to one of my kids:

"But you wouldn't ever get to see your friends!"
"I wouldn't want to be homeschooled because I'd miss my friends."
"I'm going to be homeschooled next year, so I'm saying good-bye to all my friends."
"Don't you get bored, never seeing anybody?"
"What do you do for fun?"
"But what about the prom? Don't you/your kids wish you could go to a prom?"
"You don't look like a homeschooler."
"Wait - you're homeschooled? You seem so... normal!?"
"You must not have much of a life."

I guess people probably know better than to actually say the "S" word (socialization, if you're unsure!), but all of the above are really variations on that theme. My kids and I are always surprised that people we know will assume that we are unsocialized hermits without much contact with the outside world. And let's not even get into the implication that the purpose of school appears to be so that kids can visit and hang out with friends. I can see how kids might feel that way, but parents say things like this too. As if the purpose of school isn't primarily education. (I won't argue that here, but you may want to watch IndoctriNation or read my review of it to get my thoughts on that.) Please understand that I am not dismissing these concerns - even though they sometimes come from a misinformed assumption or sound like a shallow or minor issue, they do represent a genuine concern about whether homeschoolers can function "in the real world".  Here are some brief responses to those concerns - slightly snarky, and slightly serious.

You don't get to see your friends. Ummmm... I'm standing here seeing you right now as you're saying this to me. I'm here in this public place or social setting, surrounded by friends (or at least plenty of other people that I'm interacting with) and you are feeling bad that I don't get to see people. *ahem* Sometimes this kind of statement doesn't need a word in response. Just a steady "did you really just say that?" look will usually do it, because the person has obviously not thought that one through very well. But fair enough - the concern is really whether homeschool kids get enough opportunity to hang out with buddies. So let me reassure you that yes, they do. My kids get to spend time with friends at least three days every week. And on one of those days (Tuesday) it's at least two opportunities with a different set of friends in one day. That's not a bad minimum for social interactions. Plus my kids are on Facebook and can use the phone, so they are interacting with friends pretty much every day. They spend plenty of time with friends, and that includes friends who are homeschooled and friends who are not.
the Real Homeschoolers series - Don't You Have a Life? @  the Real Homeschoolers series - Don't You Have a Life? @
Homeschooling is boring, or prevents you from having fun. I like to think that the educational part of the homeschooling lifestyle is overall more fun and less boring than classroom education. We can be pretty creative and can really personalize lessons. I guess some things that we have to learn can be considered boring but necessary, but that part isn't much different from any other school setting. But since statements like this usually come from kids, I think that they're worrying that homeschooled kids don't get to do much in the way of extra-curricular fun. Homeschooling rarely, if ever, prevents my kids from being involved in fun activities. Yes, there are field trips. Yes, they can play team sports if they want to. Yes, they go on weekend trips with the youth group; go camping; play paintball; hang out with buddies at a bonfire; meet friends at the ice cream shop or at the mall; hang out after class to talk; go to birthday parties; and pretty much everything else that other kids do.

the Real Homeschoolers series - Don't You Have a Life? @

Homeschoolers miss out on prom. Honestly, this just stuns me that it is a big deal. It is weird to me that this is a serious concern, but apparently it is. Personally, I think I went to a grand total of FOUR school dances/proms in my entire middle/high school career. I had plenty of friends and a busy social life - I just didn't really give a rip about going to a dance. So maybe that's just me and my family, because my kids don't really care either. If they wanted to go to a dance, they could, because there's a very sweet homeschool mom who has planned at least one a year for our homeschool group kids for the past several years. Also, one of the homeschool academies holds a formal spring prom every year that all the homeschoolers are invited to. What my boys have enjoyed for a few years is our group's annual Junior-Senior Banquet, a semi-formal dinner at the Japanese steakhouse followed by a more casual get-together at the host family's home. As far as I know, no one feels they have "missed out" on prom type activities. (And may I also say - the way prom night goes down with public schools too often involves underage drinking; driving under the influence; and immodest, immoral, and promiscuous behavior - sometimes with the consent of the parents. If my kids "miss out" on that aspect of it, I say that's a GOOD thing!)
the Real Homeschoolers series - Don't You Have a Life? @
Homeschoolers look and act weird. I guess this one depends on your definition of weird?! First of all, can we put to rest the notion that homeschoolers all dress a certain way? Seriously, I don't think you can tell that a kid is homeschooled based solely on how they are dressed. I suppose you could make a case that a larger percentage of "skirts-only" young ladies are homeschooled than public schooled, but even so. There's not a homeschool uniform, folks. So it's just odd to me that someone would be surprised that kids are homeschoolers based on the fact that they wear black t-shirts and baggy jeans. Or be shocked that they are homeschoolers but also keep up with current pop culture. (Homeschoolers can be fans of The Avengers and Divergent; they like all kinds of music, even metal. Some of them even like One Direction, although personally I don't understand that at all.) Now, as far as acting weird... if by "weird" you mean they are respectful, responsible, and well-spoken, then I think any homeschool parent would be proud to have her kid wear that title! If by "weird" you mean backwards, socially awkward, inept at communication, unable to relate to people, or just extremely odd and strange, then I can't think that homeschoolers would fit that description in any higher percentages than anyone else. And if there are homeschoolers that are weird by that definition, my guess is that it's not specifically because they are homeschoolers.
the Real Homeschoolers series - Don't You Have a Life? @
Homeschoolers don't have a life. I do not even know what to say to this one. My daughter was stunned when she received a comment like this. I guess the person thought that our social life or life experiences were sorely lacking somehow. Why would you think that? We, and our homeschooling friends, have rich, full lives. We face challenges and problems as everyone does, and sometimes ours are a bit different, but we have a great life. Things don't always go our way and we have to deal with disappointment, just like everyone else, but we have a great life! We get lots of time as a family - and that is a good thing! We have so much freedom to do the fun things, the extra things, and the exciting things, that many other families just don't get to do. Please don't feel sorry for my kids and worry that they are missing out on enriching experiences. That isn't to say there aren't valuable things that public school offers that aren't easy for us to offer. Yes, there are things that aren't as readily available to homeschoolers - sports, marching band, some school trips are examples that come to mind. But if they are things that homeschooled kids truly want, I've seen parents be creative and find ways to make those things happen.

How about it, fellow homeschoolers? Do people wonder if you have a life? If you're considering homeschooling, but are worried that you won't have a life, I want to encourage you to believe that you will not only have a life, it will be a great life!

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