I can still recall how upset I was to hear we were moving. At ten years old, I would be leaving my classmates behind and moving to Vancouver Island where my dad would return to pastoring. I didn’t mind the moving, but I was devastated to realize – that after years of eagerly awaiting my dad as my teacher in fifth grade – I would be leaving our school halfway through grade four. Apparently I put on a pretty good show, because I succeeded in convincing my parents to give this homeschooling thing a try when we moved.
That began our family’s “default to homeschooling” policy. Each year we evaluated the choices, but if there wasn’t a better option available, we homeschooled. I and my siblings did it all – private school, public school and homeschool across British Columbia, Idaho and Washington.
Today, my parents have seven grandchildren and counting. Some things have remained the same – my siblings and I have carried forward the “default to homeschooling” approach and my children have also done it all – private school, public school and homeschool across Iowa and North Carolina.
However, the culture of homeschooling has changed dramatically. When I began in grade four, homeschooling was a fringe decision. My parents (and even us children) felt a lot of pressure to prove that homeschooling wasn’t the wrong choice. We kept our heads down, worked hard and hoped the grandparents wouldn’t bring school up again at Thanksgiving. Now thirty years later, with the prevalence of homeschooling, I don’t feel that same pressure. When my children tell someone they are homeschooled they don’t receive weird looks or questions about socialization.
This ‘norming’ has made space for us as homeschoolers to shift our focus. As the new generation, we can pay closer attention to the joys of living life together as a homeschooling family. Yes, we get our core subjects completed (most days!), but I am not worried about what the kids-in-school are covering this year – instead I can focus on what my children are interested in this year and capitalize on it. I can rest secure in the knowledge that attentive parenting is far more essential in raising well rounded, well educated, God-loving humans than any curricula’s bullet list. That’s a lesson I learned from my parents.
- Joshua S.