There are a few questions and remarks that I think most homeschoolers anticipate hearing at some point, and we’ve either chosen to ignore them or we’ve meticulously crafted a witty response in retaliation. Sometimes it’s just like rapid fire, and it comes out without any extra effort. I’ve heard a lot of different kinds of these remarks over the last 10 years, but the one that really stands out came from a highly educated, experienced public school professional. I was engaged personally in the conversation that took my breath away and left me in awe.
It was a casual conversation about the school year and my two kids whom he’s known for years that started out with the ever-popular question (usually phrased more like an accusation), “When are you planning on putting them back in school?” Although that particular question never surprises me, I do wonder what magic answer they are expecting. However, I always answer in the same positive way, with all sincerity, “When I find someone that can do a better job than I can.” (And statistically, we know that homeschoolers are at no disadvantage!)
I say this because if you’re the parent of a child with special needs of any kind, you are very in tune with how your child learns. You’re very specific about what they need to be successful and why. You don’t get that from any college, trade school, or other specialized training. It comes from being their parent. As we are cultivating and educating, social and emotional intelligence play a huge role in academic achievement. By tailoring their daily agenda with curriculum and supplementing with local homeschool groups and countless field trips, we can offer the best individual education plan possible.
So here it comes—brace yourself, because it’s a new one for me and probably you too. “Kristy, it is your civic duty to put your kids in school. What if all active, responsible parents pulled their children out of school? What would be left of the schools? It’s up to you and your children to help the others in the class and help them overcome and achieve. You know, for the greater good.” I literally gasped out loud.
“No, sir, it has and always will be my responsibility to teach my children in the least restrictive environment (LRE), and that is at home. I have renewed appreciation for that term and find it quite ironic really. In our foundations courses, Special Education 101, we are taught to teach children in the LRE for their best benefit. It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I was able to extrapolate how that term really contradicts the classroom model.”
Over the next 45 minutes, in round-table discussion, I was able to better educate the challenger with countless perks to home education. I guess I’ve never looked at it from the perspective of the “greater good”; the angle where I risk my child’s education, spirit, and individuality for 25 others his own age. The one where I say to him sink or swim, “I’ll see you in 8 hours.” The one that says we will give up several parental rights in the process, for the “good” of others. The one that says your emotional needs are less important than this classroom‘s overall achievement. But then again, I think most parents side against playing roulette of any form when it comes to their kids.
A mixed bag of emotions stirred when that comment was made. At first I wanted to laugh because it was a ridiculous thought to me, then I was saddened for the kids that are overwhelmed and already in a less-than-beneficial situation, and lastly I was afraid of what lies ahead if this is the setting for educating a whole new generation. With thoughts like these, I wondered why the burden has been misplaced. All these thoughts were trumped with a resounding sense of peace and security that my children and an ever-growing number of others are being taught and evaluated based on their individuality.
There are plenty of reasons you can site for not homeschooling, but that, Sir, was appalling. We are expected to enroll our children in public school for the greater good? No thank you. Quite the contrary, my family is keeping our children out for the Greater good. Where we can exercise our parental freedoms, teach according to our religious beliefs, and better foster social and emotional cores while building and maintaining quality family relationships.
Homeschoolers unite. Stand your ground for your freedoms and show others why we do what we do! The cold hard statistics on home education and how it measures up on paper are available as great tools for being more informed. If you want to know more about homeschooling your child with special needs, we are here to help you.
So now I wonder, what are some of the most memorable comments or questions you have encountered in your homeschooling adventure? How do you deal with or respond when you face challenges or derogatory remarks?
Stay strong and informed!
Photo Credit: Graphic design by Charity Klicka.