Most mornings, I listen to a local radio talk show. Today I was especially excited because their guest was a homeschool evaluator. The guest was introduced. She has a master's degree in education and did not homeschool her own children. Most advice that I have heard regarding evaluators encourages choosing either someone who has homeschooled their own children, or is obviously very homeschool friendly. So my guard was up from the get-go.
One of the first questions from the host concerned misconceptions about homeschoolers. The evaluator's answer included the statement, "Some people think all homeschoolers sit around in their pajamas until 10am. That is not the case." Hmmm...I looked at my children. It was 9:30am, and sure enough, they were still wearing their pajamas! In fact, so was I! This really started me thinking. What if we do wear our pajamas until 10am? What if we choose to wear them until 4pm? How exactly does that affect my child's ability to learn? Now I do have the boys get dressed before we start the 'structured' part of our school day. But even if I didn't, I'm pretty sure they'd still be capable of learning.
Of course they covered the typical, "Homeschoolers don't get enough socialization". The guest went on to explain how most homeschoolers are involved in a local homeschooling group. Well guess what? We're not. I have looked into the local group, follow their events, but have never really become an active participant. Are my children suffering? Both of the boys are active in scouts, Upward basketball and church activities. No more than a typical public school child. Do they need something to make up for the 8 hours a day they are missing being exposed to group of children all their own age? They seem to be fully capable of responding appropriately in public situations, both with their peer group AND people of all ages. What they are missing is the possibility of bullying from their peers. Honestly, JT is a bit quirky and more than likely would become the object of persecution in a public school setting. We love his quirkiness. We are all a bit quirky in this family. We talk about how we are a bit odd sometimes. In a regular school setting, he would suffer and I am VERY glad he doesn't have to experience that.
I couldn't resist the opportunity to call in to the show. After a brief introduction of myself, the host asked me if I was "formerly trained in education." I answered that I only have a high school diploma, but think of myself as a lifelong learner. I told him that from the time our children were very small, we have always encouraged them to find out the answers to their questions. We pursue answers with a vengeance around here. Of course, what he was really asking is, am I qualified to teach these kids? The answer is, I don't have all the answers to all of their questions, but I do know where to point them for answers most of the time. I know that when we reach more advanced subjects, I am going to need to rely on outside helps more often than I do right now. But you know what? Even though teachers have been trained to teach, they don't have all the answers. And that's okay too.
Finally, they asked the guest about reasons for homeschooling. She told them that almost all of the families she evaluates chose to homeschool for religious reasons. When I called, I was sure to point out that there are plenty of families out there that homeschool for a wide variety of reasons, including myself. We are a family of Christians, but we did not choose to homeschool for that reason. Yes, it makes it nice that we can teach the Bible as part of our curriculum, but it doesn't mean we are hiding our children from the world so that they never hear other points of view.
I felt that the program really showed a very narrow view of the homeschooling community. It was a bit disheartening to see an opportunity to really proclaim the diversity and flexibility of homeschooling thrown away. I hope to be able to continue the conversation with the host. I have sent an email explaining where I felt they fell short. Maybe I'll get my own chance to share our story.