A health care professional recently told me that by homeschooling, I was sheltering my children and inhibiting them from experiencing the real world. My older son and I were sitting in this person’s cozy little office for the very first time, so this person did not know us or anything about the way we homeschool. I think a lot of people are confused by the term homeschooling and equate it with online public school. They imagine that kids are just sitting at home all day, staring at a computer. This is as far from our experience as possible. Of course, as soon as the doctor said this, I was turned off and immediately started thinking of nasty comebacks in my head. I didn’t say them out loud because my son was with me. The only one that was fit for mixed company, and that I should have said, was, “I’ll sit here in your cozy office all week while you drive my kids around to their umpteen activities, and then we’ll talk about sheltered.” But, I didn’t. I politely smiled and nodded until we could get the heck out of there.
As soon as we were in the car, my (Asperger’s) son asked me if we ever had to go back there because he didn’t like that guy. I reassured him that I didn’t like that guy either, and we would never be going back there. The audacity of people who know nothing about homeschooling, yet state their opinions about it anyway, is always shocking to me. I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone that their choices were wrong unless they specifically asked for my honest opinion about something. I had not asked this doctor to comment on our homeschooling. It was just mentioned when he asked where my son went to school.
This got me thinking about the whole idea of being sheltered. While I’m sure some families do homeschool to shelter their kids from certain things, like bullies or things that are counter to their religious principles, I am 100% convinced that my kids would be far more sheltered from reality if they went to our local public school, which is in a moderately affluent suburb. How is being in the same building with the same kids and the same adults day after day experiencing the real world? Is it preparing them for that feeling of being trapped in a job you hate because you have to earn a paycheck? Other than that, I can’t see how school and the real world are at all similar.
Another common criticism that I hear about homeschooling is that the kids won’t learn how to take direction from someone else if Mom is the only one teaching them. Once again, this usually comes from people who know nothing about actual homeschooling. Homeschooling moms are not dumb. And, they also need a break from time to time. That’s why we pounce on any outside classes in which our kids show an interest. My boys are exposed to their religious school teachers, piano teacher, theater teacher, horseback riding teacher, and co-op teachers on a regular basis. Then there are the countless one-off classes and camps they have taken over the years. Other homeschooling families use tutoring, online classes, or community college classes to cover certain subjects, thereby exposing their children to different teaching styles. Kids are also not dumb and recognize that they can learn from someone other than Mom.
So, I’ll gladly continue to shelter my kids by taking them to plays, orchestra concerts, museums, historical sites, game club, playdates, and all their other activities while simultaneously providing them with a deep, rich classical education. If school is the real world, we’re glad to be sheltered from it.
Image: I also sheltered my kids at Universal Orlando this fall while the other kids were learning about the real world in school.
Lynne–Lynne has enjoyed homeschooling her two sons for over 5 years, after their brief stint in the local public school. Her older son is a humorous fellow with high functioning autism who thrives in a home education environment. Her younger son is a sensitive soul with a great deal of patience. The boys, Mom, and Dad, along with the two guinea pigs, live in Northeast Ohio. Lynne holds a Master’s Degree in French Language and Literature. She is also a Harry Potter fanatic, enjoys line dancing and Zumba, spends hours scrapbooking, and loves organic vegetables. You can visit her soon-to-be revitalized blog at www.daysofwonderhomeschool.blogspot.com.