Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"By Any Chance, Do You Homeschool?"

This happened a month ago but I felt it was worth typing up, and I have a few minutes of feeling well enough to do it.

"By any chance, do you homeschool?"

This was asked of me by one of the kids' church teachers at the HUGE new church we started attending when we moved. Builder Boy was feeling shy and was hiding behind me in a very big room that had to have had at least 60 kids grades 1-3.We had finally found the right class for his grade level after two weeks of signing him in at the pre-school desk and not realizing there was a whole other desk (down the hall) for the school-aged kids. The first week I had stayed with Builder Boy and Early Bird in the same classroom because they weren't used to anything like this (our kids were the only kids in our church of 115 members.) They did just fine, so the second week I went to the service and let the kids be in their own classrooms. Apparently during music time, Early Bird kicked the music directer when she asked him to sit down, and Builder Boy cried the whole time "because the music was too loud." ???? Builder Boy would only agree to come back if I went with him. So that's how we ended up in a big room with rowdy bigger kids and Builder Boy hiding behind me as I talked with one of the teachers.

"Yes, does it show that much?" was my answer. The teacher was very nice and said "not at all," she asked because they have quite a few kids who homeschool in the class. (Now if only I could figure out how to meet them and their parents!) She got someone to engage Builder Boy in an activity, and was very gentle and attentive to his shyness. I sat at the back of the room because I had promised him I would be there.

I had nothing against being labeled as a homeschooler, but during the time I was there, in between thoughts analyzing the lesson, I wondered if I had failed in "socializing" my children if it was so obvious that people could figure it out in one minute of looking at us. As the time progressed I had a teacher's helper come up to me a few times and tell me that everything was fine and I could go if I wanted to. I told them that I was fine where I was, and she and one other teacher came up to me at different times and asked me if we homeschooled. It wasn't until we were on our way home that it hit me: it wasn't Builder Boy's behavior that led them to guess we were homeschoolers, it was mine!

My best friend in California teased me a lot about not being able to just drop off my kids at a place they've never been before. (Her kids are public schooled and have a lot of practice with this.) BSF, AWANAs, VBS at her church, I always spent the first time with the kids in their class. It's a new environment, all new people, new place, and that can be scary and overwhelming for kids. Also, I like to know what the format for the lessons are and what kinds of things are taught. That puts me in the position where I can ask more specific questions and get better summaries from the kids to the question "what did you to there?" instead of just "stuff." Builder Boy has gotten better at situations like those; we've been doing BSF for 3 years now and AWANAs for 2 years, but we had just moved away from everyone and everything he knew, and did I mention this church is HUGE?

So is that it? Do all/most pubic school parents have no problem just dropping off their kids at a place they've never been to before, and have complete faith in the curriculum choices of teachers they've never met? Do all/most homeschool parents have less practice just dropping their kids off? Do all/most homeschool parents have more interest (and perhaps less faith) in what their kids are going to be taught by someone else?

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