First of all, let’s clear some myths up. Yes, people call us homeschoolers “weird.” We prefer “uniquely amazing educational travelers,” but let’s not argue semantics. Unless we can count that as a debate class credit.
The next most commonly-expressed concern is probably how unsocialized our kids might be. Yeah, well, that’s why 1. We blessed them with siblings and 2. We moms have to work 18 side hustles in order to pay for the 84 extracurricular clubs and activities we put them in. And then the entire family unit whines that we don’t spend enough time at home. The struggle is real, and we’ll assign a writing assignment about it to make it *actually* real.
We get the misconceptions, the myths, the muttered comments by cashiers when we are shopping with obviously school-aged humans during obviously school-related hours. We get that some people think we flutter around to parks and zoos and Starbucks, taking advantage of off-peak hours. Ok, that part’s true. But here’s the thing nobody talks about: Homeschoolers miss out on a lot of typical “school” milestones. Our kids don’t get an awards program, unless you count them standing in the living room with a piece of printer paper that Mom crayoned a gold star onto and being applauded by grandparents who are Skyping in. They don’t get homecoming or prom (no, those homeschool dances with the dress code that requires girls to not show .000018th of a square centimeter of flesh do not count, people) or state championship games or detention. Wait. Let’s institute that last one, STAT. But the biggest thing our kids miss out on, the golden snitch (everybody knows homeschoolers are not allowed to read Harry Potter, so they’ll have to override Safe-Search on that one), the Coveted Social Media Moment of the season is the Back To School Day. We homeschool parents scroll through our Facebook feeds marveling at the cuteness of plaid skirt uniforms and freshly-cut hair and ginormous backpacks and Instagram-worthy lunchbox feasts. We sigh. We may imagine we identify more with the parents who mourn when the kids return to school or the moms who break out the bubbly and sob with deep delight, but we don’t know either feeling, really.
Because when we send our kids back to school, there’s just one little correction: There’s no “to.” Unless it’s TO our dining room table. Or a blanket fort. Or a bike ride when Mom/Teacher/Principal/School Nurse/Guidance Counselor Has. Had. It.
Here’s the thing: I’ve been lucky enough to homeschool my kiddos all the way through, with a generous dose of online classes, co-ops, and friend groups. I know it’s a gift, and I love it. I wept openly when I realized that my oldest had successfully made it into college despite all my mistakes, imagined or not. But I also don’t want to teach anyone to read for awhile. Like, ever. Or have them repeat the times tables back to me. Or help them line up their decimal points. It’s not harder or easier than traditional schooling. It’s just a different kind of harder and easier.
So, if you send your kids off to school, I wish you a perfect Back To School moment and a wonderful year. And if you send your kids to their rooms to school, I wish you the same. Come October, the latter of you will be glad you don’t have to help the kids load up those ginormous backpacks and pack up those blasted bento boxes. Whatever your educational journey, we’re all in it together, and we’re all just trying to get these kids to retain 9/5 of what we teach them. Which is why I don’t teach math. Stupid fractions.
Happy Back to School. May your year be more full of lightbulb times than meltdown moments, but two things are for certain: It will contain both, and you will make it. Maybe with less hair and more pizza nights, but you’ll get there. We all will.
(Pro Tip: We decided to take the whole "back to school" thing and flip it on its head, so each year we take our own homeschool version. Here are some recent examples....)