You’re not weird.
Just thought I’d remind you of that, in case you’re like the average homeschooler who hears it said – or at least insinuated – frequently. I often tell my listeners at conventions that the reason we go to those things is that after having been told we’re crazy all year long, we need to get together once a year to remind each other that we’re not.
In the first place, it’s not crazy to teach your own kids if you’re not a ‘professional’ teacher. No school can match the individual attention each of your children gets from you. Not to mention the love you put into that relationship. Nor the freedom you have to individualize the program for the needs and interests of each child.
There’s no evidence that teacher training makes better teachers, either. I read of an experiment once in which sixth graders with reading problems were assigned to teach first graders how to read. The sixth graders greatly improved their own reading skills through working as mentors, and the first graders learned more than a control group of children under school teachers. Not surprisingly, this study has not been publicized a lot. Or repeated.
You’re not crazy because your kids don’t spend a lot of time with other kids. Oh, I know it’s unusual these days, but it’s also unusual for your kids to be close to their parents and to be best friends with each other. It’s also nice.
In fact I hope you’re not one of those parents who gets intimidated by all the predictions of social retardation and looks for a bunch of age-graded activities for your children. That’s the road back to Egypt—rebuilding the very peer pressure that causes a lot of moms and dads to take their children out of school in the first place. After all, your seven-year-old already knows how to be a seven-year-old. What good are role models with the same areas of immaturity he already has? He needs to be around people who can show him how to be fifteen and twenty-five and fifty years old. Because that’s where he’s going. Everybody worries that your kids don’t have enough time with “kids their own age”(gasp!). But you were once a child. Who encouraged you into the common sins of youth? Your parents? Grandparents? Or kids your own age? It’s not you who’s crazy.
You’re not crazy if you have more children than average. With the national average at less than two offspring, three children is a large family and four is huge. Just go out with a brood that size and people look at you as if you had four aardvarks on leashes.
The Bible says children are a blessing, and as a father of fourteen, I’ll second the motion. Oh, I know it’s tough for you now. Kids aren’t cheap to support and the constant work and responsibility can’t be shrugged off. In fact, most parents have days when they’re tempted to go sky diving without a parachute. But Marilyn and I have now lived through the hardest part (our baby is eighteen and our eldest forty-two) and we wouldn’t trade our big family for anything. Even though we still have three of our kids at home we wouldn’t trade it for anything. When I see old people languishing in nursing homes, seldom visited and seldom thought about, or retired folks with little to do but walk the neighborhood, I’m thankful all over again. No, I’m not crazy and you’re not either. We’re rich.
You might as well get used to the funny looks from others. They don’t get it. Or maybe they do, and they’re not quite sure they shouldn’t be doing, or have done, things more the way you are doing them. Those folks are often your harshest critics. But don’t be intimidated by it; it’s predictable. As Mark Twain said, there’s nothing harder to put up with than the irritation of a good example.