Friday, November 14, 2008

10 Ways to Piss Off Homeschool Parents

Musee Mechanic
Musee Mechanic
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
A long time ago, I wrote an article entitled We're Not All Cut Out for Homeschool. This article generated the single largest number of hits of anything I’ve written. Those who follow my blog know that the article was an aberration. I actually don’t spend much time noodling on the education of my children. Either they’ll survive their young lives under our mismanagement, or they will fail miserably as adults. Really no point in worrying about it. On the other hand, I loved all the traffic. So in a shameless attempt to drive up the numbers again, I thought I’d tackle a really sensitive subject: the amazing sensitivity of homeschool parents.

Let me say in advance Thing 1 and Thing 2. Thing 1) Not all homeschoolers are created equal. There are as many ways to homeschool as there are families doing it. Thing 2) We’re a defensive lot with good reason since the world really is out to get us. And Thing 3) Counting is overrated, so don’t ask me to be consistent. There may or may not be ten things that piss me off as a homeschool parent.

Do NOTs With A Homeschool Parent

Ask About Math -- My eight year old starts having a temper tantrum every time we ask her to do a math check. I think is because we have some demented notion that “Math is Hard” and “Math is Real School.” Neither is actually true. Math is fascinating and sometimes challenging, but actually not particularly difficult. You do a problem, and you always get the same answer. Let’s compare that with a boat electrical system wherein you can do the same thing and get a different result every time. Most homeschool families are defensive about their math curriculum and education in no small part because they are deschooling the parents. The kids would have a lot easier time of it if none of us had ever had to do School Math.

Challenge Curriculum -- Don’t take on a homeschool parent regarding their choice of history or science books. While the homeschool movement is gradually going “mainstream,” there are still enough of the end point fundamentalists out there that talking about the age and origin of the earth is pretty well a topic not taken up in polite company.

Reminiscence About Prom -- Look, we frackin hated prom. It is an anachronistic ritual perpetuated by the rich elite to make the rest of us feel like ugly wallflowers. So don’t go on and on about how wonderful it is and how sad it will be when my daughters miss it. You’re starting to piss me off. In fact, let’s just generalize the prohibition to high school. High school sucked. Remember? It wasn’t like the Disney movies, and I see no reason to inflict that hell upon any child of mine.

Worry About Socialization -- Okay, that’s better. We’re not actually going to get upset about this topic. Every homeschool parent knows that our children are considerably more socially capable than your average schooler kids. Sure, we have our loners, geeks, whackos, and freaks just like the Regular World. But overall, our kids know how to interact with people at a much more mature and diverse level than children who spend all day with 29 other folk the same age and basic demographic.

Look Amazed When Our Kids Do Something Special -- This one knots my knickers. Every time my kids do something a little strange, highly advanced, or just plain spectacular, it is as if every normal in the room is struck dumbfounded. “A homeschooler can read at age 4?” they gasp. Or play a musical instrument, make and sell jewelry, paint spectacularly detailed miniatures, dramatically deliver Shakespearean sonnets, or read high school level fiction at age eight to name but a few examples from homeschool kids I’ve raised or met. Why are you so surprised? A homeschool kid gets the undivided attention of at least one adult as well as virtually unlimited time to explore their interests and hobbies. As a result, it should surprise no one that they tend to pick something they like and become exceedingly good at it. I don’t think this makes these kids prodigies so much as it demonstrates what all children are capable of given the time and attention.

Talk About Finances -- We’re broke. Most homeschool parents are broke. I don’t want to talk about it. Shut up. Whatever you do, don’t suggest that financially it would be more responsible for one of us to work. Mathematically (and YES, we can do math) there are very few markets and very few parents with the skill set to make it more economically responsible to have both parents working full time... particularly if the household has 3 or more children or one under three years of age.

Bring Up Team Sports -- Yeah, I’ve been wondering what I’m going to do about that one. While I can do without the 6 hours with 30 kids thing, a group sport really can’t be beat. Going to have to ponder a creative alternative. It would have been easier if we hadn’t left on a boat.

Mention Homeschool Law -- Some states make being a homeschool an absolute trial and misery. I am fortunate enough to have the kids registered in a state that is pretty straightforward and not particularly onerous. However, talking to parents in states with more stringent rules is like opening Pandora’s box of Political Hell.

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Truffles... ummmmm...
Truffles... ummmmm...
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
All right I’m a little steamed, but not really pissed off yet. I encourage the homeschool families out there to pipe up with other comments or stories or issues that piss you off. I can always edit this to make me angrier later. Right now I think I’ll go look at whales with my girls.


Jody said...

The socialization one always gets me boiling.

But my number one pet peeve is when someone asks me how I can consider myself able to teach my kids school when I am not a certified teacher. Grrrrrrr.

Jim and Heather on Meerkat said...

99.9% of the cruising kids and / or homeschooled kids that I have met were the most interesting, well adjusted, well behaved, advanced and most enjoyable kids I have ever met. You go girl!

Meg_L said...

Tell me that while what I'm doing is "okay" your neighbor (or whoever) shouldn't be trying to do it because they don't have the (whatever) it needs.

My mil does it ALL the time. And while I appreciate that she's not on my back, I wish she'd stop telling other people that unless they do "exactly" what I'm doing, they shouldn't even try.

Cap'n Franko said...

Oh, Toast, you're always so heterodox, you gadfly!

Your girls are primus inter pares, well, since they're girls (feminine and plural) I guess they're primae inter pares.

The thing I find most confusing (It sorta pisses me off.) is adults who indulge in idyllic reminiscences of school. Those people had a completely different experience than I did if those memories are accurate and not mental/emotional revisionist history. School was an unending festival of pain and horror! Shudder! I wouldn't wish it on anyone but RRR cultists except that they're mostly homeschoolers!

Ya just can't win, but living well is the best revenge! Live large and prosper, my floating friends!

Alastriona, The Cats and Dogs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alastriona, The Cats and Dogs said...

Great post.

My kids played on recreational sports leagues.

Vicki said...

The fastest way to piss us off is to start quizzing my kids! I don't remember adults quizzing me as a kid, but it seems it's the first thing people want to do when they find out they're unschooled.

Dale said...

As a person who spent his whole life involved in education, from the first day walking myself to kindergarten to the day in 2001 when I retired as a school principal, I say "what a wonderful education you are providing for your children".

Anonymous said...

Ha! And don't tell me my kids will never get a decent job if they don't go to school - when you are working cashout in the local store!!

Kris said...

When they ask if I am worried about socialization, I say in ernest, "Yes, I am, that's exactly why I homeschool."

I then get MY pet peeve comment about sheltering our kids. "Well," they say, "They have to learn how to deal with these things."

They will learn, and I will teach them, not a bunch of poorly-supervised, ill-mannered kids. Should we send our toddlers out to cross the street by themselves since they have to learn to deal with that someday anyway?

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly! Couldn't have put it better myself. Oh wait - I'm no good with words anyway. But our five homeschooled kids couldn't have put it better themselves.
We have even had the senior editor of a national magazine publicly print in their (un-named) magazine how ridiculous it was for our seven year old daughter to earn her extra class ham radio license. After all - what could a seven year old girl possibly do with that license? (We won't mention the commendation that she got from Boeing and Nasa for that and a couple of other things like talking directly to the International Space Station on her own vhf radio at home - I'm sure that doesn't count anyway...)
My discussion with a co worker the other day was along the lines of who is REALLY teaching his kid at public school. He agreed that it was sure not the school teachers.

Crimson Wife said...

If I'm homeschooling young kids, don't ask how I'm going to teach calculus or high school physics.

Seriously, do I question your ability to change a lightbulb simply because you would most likely be unable to properly install a new electrical outlet?

brains said...

Math can be hard, but that's what's fun about it! If it were easy, what's the point in doing it? Aeron, do your math homework!

Jacque Dixon said...

This was a fabulous post. The comments are equally great. I live in IN, so we have some of the BEST laws in the country.
Pretty much, after 15 years of hearing just about every objection, I just have to smile and laugh. Of course, we are socially irresponsible because we have 8 children too, so I get a lot of practice smiling and saying something instead of laughing at the ignorance of the misinformed. [Truth be told, I had never even heard of the QF movement until after we had our 6th child, and NO, we are not Catholic!]

Thank you for expressing in such honest and comedic words what many of us feel. I hope that new homeschoolers get to read this so they know that it may never end, but they aren't alone in how they feel!

Have a great Turkey Day!

Ann'Re said...

Great post!

I'm tired of trying to defend myself against those who insist that my son needs to go to public school and learn how to handle himself against bullies and such. I don't think they would appreciate me saying "I'm so glad that you send your kids to public school, bet they must be REALLY good at handling themselves against bullies." HA

Robin said...

We unschool, and it makes me shake my head when people ask how he is going to get into college...he's 5! Let's just enjoy the 5 year old, and then the 6 old, and so on...

Unknown said...

While I was not home-schooled, I have rarely met a child who's being home-schooled (or adult who had been previously home-schooled) that did not receive an education that far exceeds that which is available through the common path. Quite simply, it appears that tailoring the curriculum to the individual child, plus the individual attention given to such child, produces adults that are far better prepared to meet the challenges that life presents. I congratulate you, and all others similarly situated, for your success.

Anonymous said...

aww... i loved high school.
'course i just graduated last year...
middle school was the real killer, but that might've been cuz of the behavioral side effects of the Ritalin.

good for you guys who home-school your kids and are satisfied with the results. it's no secret that the public school system sucks (under ideal circumstances, every goddamn child should be able to read upon entering high school. alas, this is clearly not the case). if you can socialize them well, it does seems like a better option.

but what i most looked forward to in school was club activites and seeing all my friends and favorite teachers (there is no way in hell i would want to spend eight hours a day with my parents). even if you get a teacher who doesn't teach you anything, you can still have a good time (completely defeats the purpose of class, yes, but i'm speaking as a student, not a parent. also, when since graduation have you needed to have a comprehensive knowledge of British literature?). all the people you meet, good and bad, and the new ideas they will expose you to is, in my opinion, what makes school fun (but you can't wring the bad people by the collar, as i learned in seventh grade). plus all the field trips and dress-up days and the football games i never went to... the environment is what makes it special.
although as parents, that's kind of what you're worried about, isn't it? i don't blame you. i am not a parent. however, if i was, i'd probably also enroll my children in public school for the social experience and simply supplement them from there. not everybody has bad memories of school, and i think it's a little unfair for some of you to generalize based on negative past experiences.

that's just what i think, don't burn me in effigy over it.
or do. i don't care; this is the internet.

Student-Teacher said...

Love it! I was homeschooled from kindergarten through graduation, and now I am homeschooling my preschooler. Those things annoyed the frell out of me as a kid, and now they annoy me as a homeschool mom. :p

Anonymous said...

Homeschooled kids are freaks and your "article" is a narcissistic joke. Homeschooled kids as a rule absolutely cannot socialize on any acceptable level. They are spoiled and expect the world to adjust to their expectations and schedule because that's what mommy did their whole lives. They can't hold an in depth conversation about anything because they were never forced to analyze a subject from any other perspective than the one mommy wanted to teach it from. And god help them if they run into a bully later in life. Want to feel morally superior while setting your kid up for failure at the same time? Choose homeschool. As a bonus you will always have an excuse for not getting a job. Just look at that last comment by Student-Teacher. She was homeschooled her whole life and now she is doing it to her kid. Look at all she has accomplished with that fantastic education of hers. Sanctimonious asshats.

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