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Do-It-Yourself Homeschooling

February 6, 2012

My family was recently featured in Newsweek with a headline that reads DO-IT-(ALL)-YOURSELF PARENTS.  Homeschooling is pitched as the ultimate in DIY parenting.

I mean no disrespect to the writer, who did a good job of covering her subject.  In fact, I know she did not write the title.  But the title makes me laugh because it’s so very far from the truth about homeschooling for us.  And, yet, it doesn’t surprise me because this DIY idea falls under the category of most common misperceptions about our lives.

People who know me and my family well have asked things like, “Don’t you worry that your kids are missing out by not being in classes with other kids?”

Nope, I answer, because they are in classes with other kids every single week.  From the age of about 4, each of my kids started taking classes.  The classes my kids have participated in include the following classes:  dance, drama, choir, history, drawing, pottery, fine art, wilderness awareness, herbalism, creative writing, and math.  They are well aware of classroom protocols.  They work collaboratively on student projects with other kids.  They learn from teachers outside of our family.  They sit side by side with children who come from different parts of the city, who have different values, and who don’t always know they are homeschoolers.

And while I feel very competent to handle the current oldest child’s 4th grade studies with her, I can envision a day when I don’t feel like revisiting calculus and I will choose to engage another teacher to handle that element of my children’s education.  I can also imagine that there will be times when I don’t have a skill set to help my child learn something they desire to learn.  In fact, that has already happened.  In these cases, I can turn to the robust urban community in which I live for a class, teacher, or mentor who can guide my kid.

It’s true that I am responsible for the overall educational trajectory of my children.  But frankly, so are parents who have children in school.  Parents with kids in school just defer more of the day to day operations to another institution.  But they are still ultimately responsible for their children’s education, in the same way that I am for mine.  They just probably spend less time getting their education while wearing their PJs.

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