No, not every mom can ‘just homeschool them’

Warning: The following is an explanation on why I don’t want to homeschool. It’s based on my own personal knowledge of education and what I know from following homeschoolers in my friend group. I am in no way suggesting I’m better than anyone else or my opinion is the right one. It’s just mine… and I’m lucky enough to be in the position to share it.

The best example I can give on the importance of an education in education is from my own experience. During my freshman year of high school, my family moved twice, I was bored out of my mind in regular-level classes and I had a case of stage fright so bad I couldn’t stand up and recite lines from Romeo and Juliet.

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My teacher didn’t care that I was shy. She flunked me. The following year, I was put into remedial classes, and it was that teacher who quickly realized my potential. She stood up to both the guidance counselor and principal to get me in the honors class where I belonged. How did she know? Because she went to college to become an educator. She was trained to recognize potential and to work with students’ needs and various ways of learning.

I know what you’re thinking and, yes, of course my parents also recognized my potential. Where they couldn’t help, though, was in pushing me out of my comfort zone. Even as teenagers, we understand the importance of not letting anyone down. If a relative stranger goes out of her way to get you in the class you need to be in, you can’t screw off and mess it up. You have to prove she was right. Like it or not: Most kids have an easier time letting their parents down than they do letting strangers down.

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So when people suggest that “anyone” can homeschool their children, I have to say no. Not just anyone can homeschool. I can’t.

I don’t want to be the only person my kids have to be accountable to.

Nor do I want to walk the fine line between being a hard-assed teacher and being the one who lets them off easy and lets them stay safely behind their desks just because I know they’re shy. I want to encourage them in everything they do. But, at the end of the day, I want a school to back me up and offer them a much bigger and more diverse support system.

Then, of course, there’s the issue of my being a complete idiot. Journalism and creative writing are my wheelhouse. I know that I could properly teach someone how to construct a decent sentence. My head is full to the brim of creative writing prompts just waiting to be assigned. I want to encourage someone the way I was encouraged. I do not, however, want to try to teach my kid how to divide fractions or explain why (here’s a throwback to my favorite teacher, Mr. Sciacca) the Holy Roman Empire “wasn’t holy, wasn’t Roman, and wasn’t an empire.” I didn’t go to college for that. I don’t fancy myself an expert on those things. I should not be responsible for teaching them to an impressionable child.

I know the counter-argument.

Most homeschoolers work in co-ops. One parent might excel in English, while another is all about numbers. And that’s better than nothing, I guess. But, why are they good at numbers? Did they major in math? And is that enough? Having known several friends who went through school to become teachers, I know there’s so much more to education than just knowing the subject you teach. It’s about knowing how to educate, too. Can you recognize a learning disorder based on a misspelled word? Can you redirect your style of teaching if your son or daughter isn’t connecting with the material from reading it in the books?

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Props to the moms out there giving it a go. Yes, the world is full of crazy people. Yes, especially after Sandy Hook, I was suddenly more aware that even our tiniest Americans aren’t safe. No, I definitely don’t think Common Core was the answer America needed to raise kids smart enough to compete in the global markets. I firmly believe our education system is in desperate need of an overhaul. I’m just not sure that, you know, I could do any better on my own. So, my kids will go to school. They’ll be taught (mostly) by caring individuals. They’ll learn from experts in not only subjects they’re being taught but education on a whole. And when they come home, I’ll sit at the dining room table and do my job: Cry with them while we try to understand fractions.


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