I am a homeschooler.
I was homeschooled. Past tense.
I am homeschooling. Present tense.
We are homeschoolers. Present continuous tense.
Where do I end as a homeschooler and where do I start as a homeschooling mom?
I jumped off a diving board into a pool as part of my high school graduation ceremony. I was homeschooled.
Next to my computer is a pile of textbooks that didn’t get put away at the end of the day. I am homeschooling.
I listen to a conversation between homeschool moms and their teens at our homeschool cooperative and find I relate to both perspectives. We are homeschoolers.
I am a homeschooler: Both/And.
So, why do I homeschool? Well, it’s complicated.
I Was Homeschooled
Lately, I find myself starting my answer to why I homeschool with “Well, I was homeschooled” as if that is explanation is enough.
But it’s not.
And it doesn’t sit well with me because, well, I was homeschooled. My life never went along with the flow of norm. To say that I homeschool because I was homeschooled is to reject who I am at the very center of my being and devalues the purpose with which my parents home educated me.
The reasons why I was homeschooled belong to my parents and do not automatically transfer to me as reasons for homeschooling my children. When I say “because I was homeschooled” I am essentially saying I choose to homeschool because of the choice my parents made for me. That can’t be further from the truth.
And yet, it sits just close enough to impact it.
I am inclined to believe that for most 2nd generation homeschoolers, our why is there ingrained into the very fabric of our personality, talent, and skill. I am who I am not because I learned two plus two equals four at home, but because I lived a life of homeschooling—a life that emphasized individualized learning opportunities that fostered self-awareness.
Having lived it intimately, former homeschoolers know this: homeschooling is more than educating for religious reasons (which is important), or for educational reasons (which is important), or for character development (which is important), or for emotional well-being (which is important).
It is More Than. Both/And. All-the-above.
And we want that for our kids.
We don’t homeschool because we were homeschooled… and yet we homeschool them because we were.
See? I told you it was complicated.
I Am Homeschooling
When someone asks me why I am homeschooling, they don’t want to hear a thesis-length explanation. They want it Twitter-length. Better yet, an Instagram-worthy picture with a hashtag caption (and #itscomplicated doesn’t count).
But, I haven’t figured one out.
I’m busy over here working through a meltdown with my daughter who is a perfectionist and doesn’t want to attempt the subtraction worksheet because she might get one wrong. I am attempting to create an encouraging, individualized learning environment.
It’s exhausting work.
So, the “why” question continues to catch me off-guard. And I continue to perpetuate stereotypes of homeschoolers with my pat answer.
We are Homeschoolers
I remember the first time my daughter was asked what grade she is in. She had no clue what that word meant. She looked at the cashier blankly. The woman rephrased the question to ask her if she was in kindergarten. She leaned into me and whispered, “what am I in?” I responded quietly “Yes, you are in kindergarten.” She looked at the cashier and nodded. “Yes, I’m in kindergarten.” The woman asked what school she went to. My daughter responded with the name of our homeschool cooperative.
And I laughed.
But, I didn’t bother explaining it to the cashier that homeschooling is a way of life for our family. It is as much a part of our day as is making our beds. I gathered our things, took my trio of kiddos out to the car and buckled them in. Once I was behind the wheel, I gave my daughter the vocabulary she lacked.
And I was just a little bit proud. It was official: my kid was a homeschooler and I was a homeschool mom.
But in that moment, I identified less with my mother and more with my daughter.
I am a Homeschooler
I will probably refine my answer over the future years of homeschooling. But for now, it looks like this:
My husband and I chose to homeschool our children because we want to create an environment that fosters growth in their mental, emotional, educational, and spiritual well-being at each stage of their childhood. We want to cultivate their unique personalities and their individual, God-given talents and skills so that they will one day be culture-influencers and community-impactors.
All of the above.
A little complicated of an answer, but not surprising considering I’m a homeschooler.