Homeschooling Harry: Preconceived ideas

I was reading through all my homeschooling posts the other day and I realised I’d started three in very similar ways:

When I tell people we’re homeschooling, they say ‘What about…’

What about maths?

What about friends?

What about the stuff you don’t know?

And it made me think about our preconceived ideas about home education. In response to another post, someone on Twitter (sorry, can’t remember who it was) said that until I started homeschooling Harry, they’d assumed that the main reason for home educating a child was because s/he had been bullied at school. They’d never thought of it as a positive decision, only a response to an untenable situation.

I never thought that, but I did always think of home educating families as different. You know… a bit hippy, anti-establishment, knit-your-own-granola type people. As my friend Susan has pointed out to me, between homeschooling, Joe at outdoor preschool, and our camper van holiday, I’m well on the road to being that kind of person myself. And I’m absolutely fine with it. (Also, I had granola for breakfast this morning. But it wasn’t knitted.)

I also had an idea of home educated children as being a bit… off. Eccentric. Different. One day we rushed out to get something from the supermarket and Harry grabbed his old school shoes instead of his trainers. As we got out of the car, I looked at him – he was wearing a his favourite t-shirt (a threadbare Kermit number), a stripy cardigan, tracksuit bottoms and school shoes. And I thought “He already looks like a homeschooled kid.” And I’m fine with that too. I love this Meg Rosoff post: Be the Weird Kid. And while I was too self-conscious, too desperate to be a cool kid when I was at school (I mostly blame the Sweet Dreams books for this), my friends were the weird kids. The ones who didn’t care what they wore. Who pretended to be American and called each other Goose, Maverick, Iceman. Who helped me translate the Postman Pat theme tune into French (“Facteur Pat, Facteur Pat, Facteur Pat et son chat noir et blanc”). Who didn’t laugh at me when I cried over the Bucks Fizz coach crash. (Shut up. Mike almost died.)

But the thing is, just like all children are different and all families are different, all home educating families are different. Of course they are. I can’t quite believe I ever thought otherwise. How about you?

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6 thoughts on “Homeschooling Harry: Preconceived ideas

  1. We’ve been homeschooling for …. gasp….. 13 years now… I mean, if you count from birth…!! Anyway…. we have certainly become rather more weird. Over here in the states there are several factions of homeschoolers. The “unschoolers” where you tend to find the antiestablishment hippie types, the religious homeschoolers who can seem extremely “unweird” and the school at homers. They probably appear the most normal since they tend to follow a typical school day and school curriculum etc. You don’t tend to see them in their pj’s and school shoes at the grocery store in the middle of the day. We’re unschoolers. We’ve grown very “crunchy” over the years…. it’s almost impossible not to somehow ! 😀

  2. Love this post!

    It’s a pet topic of mine that home educators are individuals – get fed up with people asking all about ‘everyone’. I reply by trying to explain we’re not in school where, by and large, people follow the ethos laid down by the Head Teacher (and if they don’t they remove their child/ren) We (home edders) all do it for our reasons and in our way…

    Incidentally, we started off with set structure but now do ‘structured unschooling’ as we call it. That is my son has ‘things which need to be done’ but he chooses when/how/where they occur during the day.

  3. I’m so ‘different’ that I even homeschool one of my children and not the other. 🙂
    I loved this post. Thanks, Keris!

  4. I really am hoping that my new book A FUNNY KIND OF EDUCATION will show people just how ‘normal’ home educator families are, wanting the same everyday things for their children as all parents want; happiness, health and fulfilment! Which is actually one of the major reasons for writing it; to help dispel some of those myths about us being ‘weird’. Hope you enjoy it Keris. x

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