In recent weeks, the spread of the coronavirus has turned our lives upside down, putting normal day to day activities like going to school or work on hold indefinitely. Parents of kids in traditional school settings are getting a taste of what homeschooling is really like — and as it turns out, it’s much harder than they realized.
For years, Americans have had the assumption that education could only be done one way — following a strict set of guidelines that left no room for individuality in learning and interests. But beside the hundreds of thousands of parents sending their children to “normal” schools was a smaller group of parents who, for an array of reasons spanning from religious to financial to their own alternative lifestyle, decided to buck the system and give their children an education in the comfort and safety of their own home.
The Stigma against Homeschooling
Being a homeschooler myself (8th grade and all throughout high school), I’ve experienced every reaction to my education imaginable: “You must be really smart then.” “So what, are you, like, religious?” “How did you make friends?” “You don’t seem like a homeschooler.” While I’m often flattered by those who insist only smart kids homeschool, the many other reactions I get speak volumes of the awful stereotypes homeschoolers face.
More often than not, kids who homeschool are treated as antisocial weirdos. And why wouldn’t we think that? Within the first five minutes of Mean Girls, we’re given an image of homeschooling: conservative, hick “weirdos” quoting the Bible. And the way homeschooling moms are perceived is no better — in a world that encourages women to find their meaning in life by joining the workforce, women who choose to stay home and become thoroughly invested in their children’s education are often seen as regressive, ultra-controlling, and uncaring about their child’s social life.
How the Tables Have Turned
Mothers who’ve chosen to give their children an education on their own terms are quite used to being stuck inside all day with a gaggle of giddy kids, finding ways to not only entertain their students during class time, but also keep themselves inspired and committed to their children’s education — something that can often leave them feeling lonely, misunderstood by other parents, and outnumbered by the kids. It’s safe to say: homeschooling is not for the faint of heart.
With schools across the country being shut down, millions of working parents are attempting to work from home. Quarantined families are in close quarters as everyone stays sequestered at home for weeks on end, and many parents find themselves spread thin. But for homeschooling moms, this is nothing new. In fact, as homeschooling becomes the norm for the next few weeks, it’s become clear to many of us just how much homeschooling moms deal with at home with the kids every single day.
The Benefits of Homeschooling
Homeschooling is not always a walk in the park for everyone involved — it takes dedication, self-motivation, and the financial freedom for one parent to stay home with the kids. But despite the difficulty it entails, there are indeed clear benefits to be reaped, for both the children and the parents.
Homeschooling has been shown to help kids perform better on standardized tests and in college, it encourages closer familial relationships, it inspires kids to become more independent and self-sufficient as they’re able to avoid peer pressure, and it allows them to place greater importance on knowledge and learning rather than on fleeting grades in subjects that wouldn’t be of any benefit to their eventual careers. Not to mention, as is the norm with traditional school settings, one teacher assigned to thirty students — each with different needs — leads to kids having a more difficult time getting the educational attention every child deserves.
Homeschooling can have bad connotations — we have images of secluded, strange, or poorly-educated children being sequestered at home. But in reality, mothers who choose to homeschool are warriors in their own right, giving up much of their own personal freedom for the betterment of the next generation. Attaining the perseverance, patience, and insight to be successful in giving your children a worthy education is no small feat. Seeing parents across the nation have deepened respect for the demands of being a homeschooling mom is heartening. While homeschooling may not be the right choice for everyone, it’s important that we’re able to recognize and respect the challenges that come along with it.