One thing I've been exposed to as a result, is an anti-homeschooling sentiment. Most of my life is spent in a supportive-of-homeschooling world. My friends are homeschoolers, or know my children and know how good homeschooling has been for us. My family is understanding and accepting. So, I don't venture out of this cocoon often, except in public places with my older kids when they "should" be in school. Our doctors, dentists, Trader Joe's, etc all know us by now. Even the kids' dance teacher was thrilled to see Medium and Large for Small's parent observation day.
But lately I've had such things as public school teacher/parents justifying to me their decision to send their kids to school. I've had people tell me it's OK for me to homeschool because I have easy, smart kids. People have asked me how the state can allow them not to be tested, how do I know they are learning, what I do to teach them, whether they ever get to leave the house. The whole gamut of homeschooling questions and insults I haven't heard since we made the decision to homeschool 8 years ago.
I'm not sure I've responded well in my grief. I'd like to issue a blanket, multiple choice response:
- No, homeschooling isn't for everyone.
- Yes, it's a financial hardship for me to be without a paying job. It's a decision we made after much careful consideration and have never regretted.
- No, I don't lock my kids in the basement. They are out of the house doing something with other kids almost every day of the week.
- I have nothing against public schools. It's an institution worth preserving for those who need it. It is an institution, however, and I want to keep my kids out of it. I pay at least $6000 a year in taxes to support the institution. We live in a good neighborhood with good schools.
- Educational options are a personal decision for each family. Homeschooling works for my family. We like being together, my kids each learn differently and are free to pursue their own interests. (Oh, and yes, kids do have their own interests.)
- No, I have not become a born again Christian. Nothing against any religious group, but not all homeschoolers are doing it for religious reasons.
- Illinois treats homeschools as private schools, and does not impose restrictions on private schools other than attendance is taken and the same courses of study are taught - language arts, math, science, social studies - in English.
I think that may cover it. For now, at least. It's a strange world, viewed from the lenses of a fresh life change.