Sunday, October 14, 2007

You're homeschooling? Why?

I get this a lot when I tell people that we homeschool. People are SO curious, particularly if they have a kid in public school, and especially if they have a kid in public school who doesn't like being in public school.

In homeschooling vernacular we are what's known as "Latin classical homeschoolers," which means that I gear the kids' work with the Trivium format in mind. My younger two copy out sentences, sometimes with a little drawing to go along with it, and do lots of grammar work, while Max, who is out of the grammar stage, works on essay writing, word etymology, and parsing sentence structures. They also study Latin, which is where the "Latin" part of the "Latin classical" comes in. We have vocabulary roots games, Latin programs like Prima Latina and Minimus and Latin For Children, and Max (who is older) does the odd Latin translation in his history work. They also use a math program, and a history program, and I cobble together science ventures with various books I hear about from other homeschoolers. Fortunately this is MUCH more amusing than it sounds, for all of us.

But it's tough to explain our educational universe to perfect strangers, even if I do live in a homeschooling-friendly part of the world. Why do I even bother, you ask? Well, I suppose it's because I have a little of the evangelist in me. My kids and I really enjoy homeschooling. It's a bit bereft of other kids, some days; I feel a bit wistful when it's time for sports days and Christmas concerts, but it's SO interesting and challenging all the other days.

The people who ask us about homeschooling can usually be divided into three camps: enthusiastic, worried, and skeptical. Enthusiastic I can deal with, because I'm preaching to the choir; Worried I usually fob off by telling them that we do Latin, or advanced calculus (we don't really do this last but it sounds impressive and shuts them up). I used to say "It's private school for poor people," and we'd both nod knowingly, but for some reason I've gone off that one. The Skeptics are the worst, because they are either the same age as my kids (and deeply suspicious of anyone who actually likes school), or they are adults who feel they have the perfect right to debate my choices for the few seconds we are standing together in the line at London Drugs. But for the most part I find people pretty embracing of this odd sort of life we've chosen. I like my kids. I like the kind of people they are. And so do most of my friends. We have the odd friend who tells me that I am messing with my kids' socialization development, but those people are mostly worried that I am subtly criticizing their choices, I think.

So that's why we're homeschooling. Because we like it.


Sandylein said...

In 8 years of homeschooling, the responses I receive are almost always positive. Most people just love to rave about their sister in Oregon's polite and/or brilliant home learners. It's been a bit of a disappointment really, because I've been honing my defence lo these many years, and when I do get an opportunity to use it, I'm usually so shocked that I forget everything I've practiced.
Once a young woman at the registration desk at the pool attacked me so keenly, that I figured she could only have been a education student at UBC. She asked me what my "specialty" was and it wasn't until later that I thought of what I should have said—My daughter. Oh well, there's always next time.
Love the blog!

sheila said...


I know what you mean about the compliments. We've had more positive reactions than negative, with most people saying things like "That figures!" when I say we're homeschoolers. Our librarian told us once that she could tell my kids were homeschoolers by the way they behave while there. Guess she never caught the tussling over the Curious George computer game...

Becky said...

Because we like it.

As it should be!

Glad I found you (in my comments...).

Sara said...

I just tell people we're homeschooling because my driver's window doesn't work so I need to keep Luke with me and send him into restaurants for take out and coffee.

Either that or I'm too lazy to pack lunches.

: )