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Re-Post: So... We Homeschool

I first posted this blog over a year ago. A recent conversation at a coffee shop had me thinking it was time for a re-post:


We home school our kids.  We always have.  Which means that Owen, age 10, and Eleanor, age 7, have never been to “regular” school, as Owen and Ella like to call it. 

Now, immediately this brings visions to your mind.  I know it does, so don’t even try to be all polite and pretend that it doesn’t.  You have now drawn conclusions of one kind or another, many of which have nothing to do with my family, and lots to do with your experience, if any, with home schooling.  I get it.  I don’t mind.  At one point I did mind, and I would try to painstakingly explain to people our reasons for home schooling, our commitment to our children, our relative normalcy in contrast to the freaky school thing.  I don’t try anymore.  I don’t care. Well, that’s not quite right.  Here’s what it is:  I don’t care what some woman in the produce aisle at the grocery store thinks of me.  I certainly used to.  Now I don’t. 

I do care what some people think: family members and close friends and such.  On the other hand, my family members and friends know me for the thoughtful, level-headed, committed parent that I mostly am, with enough wine and a little daily exercise. If they don’t agree with our home schooling, then they at least need to respect the fact that there MUST be something to it, otherwise I wouldn’t be spending so much of my life doing it.  That’s finally the speech a few people in my family have gotten.  I don’t know if I changed anyone’s mind, but they shut up about it around ME at least. Which is all I really needed.

Let’s address a few of your unasked questions:  We don’t home school for religious reasons, unless it is possible to feel so strongly about revisionist history that you consider it the devil incarnate.  We don’t home school because we think schools are bad, or evil, or out to transform our children into worker bees.  We don’t home school because we have issues with authority (my therapist says I’m over that now).  So why DO we go to all this trouble?

Here’s my elevator speech:  “Education is not the filling of a vessel, but the kindling of a flame”  -Socrates

It generally makes people pause for a moment, and, as an added bonus, I just  got to quote Socrates on an elevator without looking like an pompous windbag.  So there’s that.

I like the idea of my children having an interactive relationship with education as part of their responsibility as humans.  So instead of their personal learning responsibility consisting of staying still and complacent while a teacher “Fills their vessel” , it becomes their responsibility to reach out and grab what they need to know. (If Owen read this he would immediately point out that there is plenty of time at our house spent with him learning what I think he needs to know, not just what he thinks he needs.  He’s right. I’m the grown-up).

And then there’s the family thing.  We spend a lot of time as a family unit.  It’s good, and it’s hard, and where it’s hard it’s good, because when you spend a lot of time with each other you HAVE to figure out how to enjoy each other’s company or you’ll all end up bloody in the bathtub.  Not that it’s ever happened…

I was talking to a mother the other day who was thinking about home schooling, and seeking advice from me. She was torn:  “I’m just afraid that my kids will miss out on things they would have had in school” 

“They will.” I told her.  “They absolutely will miss out on experiences that they would get in regular school if you pull them out.  Just like they will miss out on experiences only home schooling can provide if they stay in school.  There is no right answer.  There is only what works best for your family”  

Then I started thinking about how true that was just all over the place!  Wouldn’t it be cool if I could walk around all day knowing that there was no “right” way. That there are just ways, with consequences inevitably coming right along afterwards.  Then I started thinking that Man, I will use ANY excuse to get all deep and philosophical.  Geez!

So there.  That tricky blog is done.  Still with me?  I think it’s gonna be good.

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Reader Comments (5)

Hi Brenna,
Nice post -- I'm glad you reposted it! I wanted to send you this link about our "roadschooling" for comparison, as we're doing a hybrid of traditional school and homeschooling this year. I had a lot of hangups about homeschooling for the year and have become a convert, and it's with mixed feelings I'll be sending my kids back to a regular school when our round-the-world travel ends. I think you'd appreciate the comment my brother David writes at the end of this post (he's an incredible teacher who successfully homeschooled his kids; in this, he gives a cogent critique of the school system and case for homeschooling),
Also, my 11-year-old wrote about adapting to homeschooling, and compared/contrasted it with regular school, at
Good luck to you and your family!

Dec 18, 2009 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterSarah

It IS gonna be good .. it is, fact, already good. GREAT post Brenna. Thanks.
...The Lama...

Dec 18, 2009 at 10:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterYo Lama

I love the Socrates quote. After 18 plus years. I know know what I should have said. I will be using this.THanks for the post you have said it all very well. Merry Merry miss you all. Alizon

Dec 18, 2009 at 8:12 PM | Unregistered Commenteralizon

To all who read this blog,
I am Brenna's mother, I am also a public school teacher. I teach art to K-5th graders which amounts to about 600 kids a week. I am one of the few public school teachers I know who believes in home least the home schooling that Brenna and Bob do. I am a grandmother and saying that,you have to know that my grandchildren are brilliant. These two grandchildren are home schooled, the other one is not. I respect what both my daughters are doing and am very proud of both of them.
Owen and Ella astound me in the things they have been exposed to through home schooling. Frankly they have not missed a thing by not being in "regular school" and have gained so much experience and knowledge that they are far ahead of the students I teach in so many ways. I defend home schooling constantly, to fellow teachers and friends, When done right it is astounding what children learn.

If you have not been inside a public school in awhile........go look around. Teachers try very hard to do their best for the most part but they are constantly hampered by new paperwork, parents or administration. The public school system in this country is in trouble, maybe home school is the wave of the future. June

Dec 21, 2009 at 7:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterMom

I was homeschooled from 3rd grade on. I was so bored in normal school that I had all my homework done on the bus ride home. So in order to challenge me my parents homeschooled me. Then my parents realized that it gave them the flexibility to give their kids exactly what they needed, personalized and open up new opportunities for them. All 5 of us turned out just fine.

I hate the assumptions people make when they hear I was homeschooled. "Wow, you're so normal. I figured you would have no social skills. Really you're an engineer?" So thanks for posting this and giving people a different perspective on homeschooling.

Dec 21, 2009 at 1:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterLise

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