Here’s one I bet all you homeschooling parents out there have heard before:
“Let’s go in the kitchen where we can talk. I’ll tell you what so-and-so is doing in school so you can get the boys caught up.”
I got that suggestion from my sister-in-law, whose daughter is in the same grade as Middle. This was several years ago, a couple of months into our third year of homeschooling. Smirking on the inside, I followed her into my kitchen. She started talking vocabulary, so I told her about the SAT-prep high school books Middle was working from that year. Her expression quickly changed from smug to slightly confused, but she dove into history. I told her about the public school text I had that had only one paragraph—ONE PARAGRAPH!—about the French and Indian War, and the research I had to do and the literature I had to find in order to teach the boys its importance in our nation’s history. Now her expression was downright angry. “Well, “ she spat, “in math…”
They were both working in Saxon books two grade levels ahead.
See, for most of us the first year may be bumpy. Many of us, myself included, never even planned to homeschool. The opportunity came to us, the divine intervention caught us up, we saw the flaws in the current public system… whatever the reason we set out on this journey with few tools and less confidence. But we are fortunate in this digital age to have support all over the interweb. We find support close to home and people to bounce our ideas off of. We get to watch our children every day and see exactly how they learn, what limits we can push, where we should go from here. So by the third year, if we have paid attention, we’re getting good at this. Our confidence is through the roof and are children are excelling.
As parents who don’t have to corral 30 kids every day or spend most of our time transporting them from one schoolroom to another, we have wide-open opportunities to teach critical thinking at every turn. We can be sure our children are reading books that make them think, not just about surface matters, but about the irony of Dickens, the history of Austen, the growing pains of Blume. If grade-level math is too easy for them, there is no bureaucratic process to go through to bump them up a grade.
We don’t need public school proponents to tell us how to educate our kids. Most of the time, our children are getting deeper and better educations without them. Even colleges are starting to admit that homeschooled kids often have an advantage over the publicly educated.
My advice to you when someone suggests you must hear what’s happening in public school in order to be sure you’re teaching your children well? Smile politely, smirk a little on the inside if you must, and say, “Thank you, but we’re good.”