A little honesty

When I first started homeschooling, I spent a lot of time convincing people that my children were no different from theirs, the only thing that was different was how and where they went to school.  This rose from my need to convince myself of the normalcy of our decision in an area where homeschooling was not normal at all.  (We lived in a "very good" school attendance area; an area into which people purposefully moved in order for their children to attend the elementary school.  Our decision to homeschool was either baffling or infuriating to most of those around us.)  I was not as good then as I am now at not caring about what other people thought, so I made efforts to convince myself and others that we weren't freaks.

I did such a good job that I had myself pretty convinced, but various events this past summer have caused me to rethink my position.  In watching M. and her friends prepare to go off to college, I'm realizing the untruth of the "just the same" argument.  If you are new to homeschooling or are just starting out with your young children, pay attention.  The children who grow up in your household will be different after graduation from their traditionally schooled peers.  Now, the adults are all nodding their heads, saying, "Yes!  I don't want to my child to fall into the peer culture.  That's a good thing."  I won't argue with you about it, but we need to prepare our children to be different.

M. and many of her homeschooled peers have expressed wonderment at the over-the-top excitement of their fellow in-coming freshman (thanks to facebook) over the start of school.  These homeschooled girls are looking forward to classes and starting a new adventure, but what it missing is the feeling that their lives are about to begin.  They are beginning to realize that they don't understand their peers and are not sure if they want to.  (I'm not reading into the situation, M. has expressed this directly.)  I don't think any of them will have difficulty with college or even with living on campus.  They will find their niches and I think their lack of need to recreate themselves will be attractive to others.  But on some level these young ladies have been thrown by their differences.  One of the more telling examples was when M. came back from an orientation day and when I asked if she met and talked with anyone, she said she chatted with a few people but had a nice conversation with someone's mother.

That whole socialization question?  We can still answer yes, our children are socialized and socialized quite well thank you, but they are socialized to the adult world.  When confronted with their peers' culture, they are strangers in a strange land.  I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but we need to face up to the fact that as a result of our decision to homeschool our children, our children will be different.  We (and they) may be pleased with this different-ness, but it is our children who will need to live with it.  I wouldn't go back and do anything differently, and I don't think my older children would want me to (they read this blog and I'm sure I will hear otherwise if I'm mistaken.), but we need to stop being disingenuous with regard to how homeschooling will affect our children.  We are not just choosing a different educational path, but purposefully choosing a completely different life.


Gretchen said…
We are starting to see some of this in our 6th grader. Some of the things that her peers do baffle her (and me!). Thank you for the reminder that, as glad as I am for this, it is her life. She- and her siblings- must be prepared to be different. I LOVE your insights- thank you so much!
jan said…
thanks.... loved it.

jan (homeschooling 8 :)
Anonymous said…
Thanks for stopping by my blog & leaving me some suggestions. I love this article - I've thought about this a lot myself as we're just starting out. This will all be an adventure & a learning experience for sure!

I'm gonna spend some time poking around your blog - I want to read your posts on adoption - we would love to adopt somewhere in the nearish future, and I love hearing adoption stories.

Looks like you have a lot of homeschooling experience, too. I'll definitely be back to visit! -Tiffany
Shonya said…
What an outstanding post!!! I am beginning to realize the same thing as my two oldest are 15 and almost 14 and. . .they're different. That's all there is to it! We went to an area church meeting and my son most enjoyed visiting with 50-70 year old men. My daughter (15) enjoyed visiting with other young girls, but was not at all into the whole boy/girl thing. She didn't write notes back and forth with those in her pew, but rather TOOK NOTES from the speaker.

A part of me is glad for these difference, but another part of me is beginning to wonder if we have set them up for a lot of disappointment as they encounter this rough ole world as adults.

Thank you so much for sharing your insight!

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