So, just about two years ago, I posted part one of this article.  I never intended to do a part two, mostly because I didn’t think it would be necessary.

And yet, here I am again.

((((SIGH))))

I’m not going to go into lots of detail like I did in part I of this homeschooling rant, I’m just going to say a few things that apparently, need to be repeated/reiterated:

Yes, we are still homeschooling.

No, we are not sending them to school.  Please stop asking.

Yes, I picked up on your subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints that you think we should put our kids back in school so they don’t end up weird.  Your message was loud and clear.  I just don’t care what you think, and therefore am not motivated to consider your opinion when it comes to how I should raise MY kids.

Your opinion of me, the fact that we homeschool, and what you think of it is NONE OF MY BUSINESS.  If I want to know what you think, I will ask you.  If I don’t ask, assume it’s because I don’t want to know what you think, and keep your opinions TO  YOURSELF.

Stop speaking YOUR OPINION as though it is a FACT.  

Chances are, of the two of us, only one of us has any experience homeschooling or teaching.  It’s not you.

Chances are further that only one of us has ever done any research about homeschooling, or research into the school system where I live.  Again, not you.

Chances are EVEN FURTHER that since I’m the one God gave these kids to, I know what they need better than you and am therefore better equipped to make decisions on their behalf, because they’re MY kids.  Not yours.

My choices are  not a reflection of what I think or how I feel about YOUR choices.  They’re just MY choices- what’s best for our family.  I trust you to know what’s best for your family; please extend the same courtesy to me.

That is all.  For now…

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I have been homeschooling my oldest two kids for four years now.  Well, one for four years, the other for three and a half.  I pulled my son out of school halfway through 4th grade; my daughter was in 5th grade at the time and wanted to finish the year because of theater group.

Initially, my family was okay with it.  By “family”, I mean extended family- my husband was always  supportive (and one brother has always made his support known as well).  Anyway, since my son had been having a lot of problems in school socially (his early years were spent in Christian school, which is a different environment from public school, and he struggled with the other kid’s behaviors, things they would say, and things they would do), and academically,  it seemed like a great idea.  (They weren’t able to teach him at the level at which they tested and found him competent- at the end of 3rd grade, his reading comprehension was 10th grade, and his reading ability they couldn’t even quantify- during the test of having to read words with an ever- increasing difficulty level, he never reached a level of frustration.  In 4th grade, after many “boredom” struggles, his teacher admitted to me that she knew that they weren’t working at a level which approximated his ability and that she knew he was bored, but that she had 29 other students and couldn’t tailor things to what he needed.  She went on to say that even though it wasn’t on his level, he needed to sit through it anyway, and if he couldn’t do that, perhaps I should consider some type of medication to help him do that.  REALLY?  I should medicate him because he’s bored?  And THAT’S when I pulled him out halfway through the year.)   Now, I also know (because I was a teacher myself) that teachers are not allowed to recommend medication- but she did.  And while part of me felt bad for her (I’d taught classes of 30+ students myself, and it’s no easy task), the other, larger part of me knew that I had to get my son out of that environment before it ruined him.  The academics were a problem, but what all of it was doing to his mind and his self- confidence was worse.  His spirit was breaking.  I pulled him out.

Thing is, my family assumed that I would homeschool him for the rest of that year, then send him back in the fall since he’d have a new teacher.  Not sure where they got that idea from, as that was never my intent nor did I ever express an interest to do that, but there it is.

When he didn’t go back the next year, and my daughter came home, they were all awry.  My daughter struggled with school too, but for opposite reasons- coming from an even more colorful public school environment in the city, she adapted to the county school environment with ease- easily the best behaved child in class and very respectful.  Academically, she was quite behind, and having a very hard time.  By her own admission, she was the “dumb girl” in the class, and spent a lot of time feeling bad about herself.  Her self esteem was suffering, too, and it wasn’t just a matter of trying harder.  Between the lead poisoning she had as a child, and her suspected mild dyslexia (suggested through school testing, although not bad enough to warrant intervention, so they said), learning is just harder for her.  Not that she can’t learn- she can, and she does- but she learns better when not constantly ridiculed for not “getting it” as fast as her peers do.  I felt that bringing her home would be helpful, as she wouldn’t be under the pressure she was under before, and she could work at her own pace.

My family freaked.  They tried so many things to get me to change my mind, all to no avail.  They were convinced I was ruining them, what about socialization?  More importantly, what about PROM???  ( they were 9 and 10 at the time…)

You already know where this is headed, so I’ll skip those details and get to my point which is this:

I totally get that people who love my kids would be concerned about this different educational path we’ve chosen for them.  I get that.  And I appreciate their concern- I’m glad they care enough to risk ruffling my feathers to ensure their well- being.

Fast forward four years, and my kids are doing great- grade levels above their ps counterparts, happy, and very social.  My super- shy son is much more outgoing, so much so that his friends’ parents can’t believe that he ever was shy.  He plays football, is a Junior Firefighter, does archery, and is an equestrian.  My daughter dances- lots and lots, lol.  She’s always been social anyway.

That said, I feel that- since they have not been ruined and are doing well academically- that everyone needs to back off.  I’m still having to justify my choice to people- and I’m so over it!  True, I don’t HAVE to justify ANYTHING, technically that’s a choice I make to keep things hospitable.  But I am so over that.  I feel like if nothing else, the people who know me best know me well enough to know that I don’t jump into anything- I never have.  I’m the research- it- to- death type.  And, not that my level of education is necessary to give my kids a great education (I have a good friend with a GED who successfully homeschooled her 3 girls), I am very educated, and even worked as a teacher for about 10 years prior to homeschooling.  So I have more experience than most, I’d think.

But that doesn’t matter.  Every year, even during the year, with every conversation, there are the inevitable hints about “sending them back to school”.  Sometimes it’s the not so subtle, “So, when are you sending them back to school?”  Other times, it’s comments like “she’s so smart, she outta be in school!”  Uuummmm, hello??  If working with her God- given talent at home has gotten her this far, why would I fix what’s not broken and send her to school?  That doesn’t even make logical sense.  And, like with the breastfeeding thing, these are people who have done absolutely NO research on the subject of homeschooling.   And who really haven’t done any research into school, either.  They just “know”.  Sorry, but that’s not good enough for me (or my kids).

Really, I’m just tired of it (can you tell?).  The bottom line is this- these are MY kids, and it’s my responsibility to raise them the way God is leading ME to.  You don’t have to understand or agree.  And that’s okay, because these are MY kids.  MINE.  You raised YOUR kids the way you thought was best; allow me the same respect.  Keep your comments to yourself- if I change my mind, I’ll let you know- but you’re not gonna talk me out of it, I’m not suddenly gonna hear something you say or see some brainy school kid and think “I’m gonna drop this homeschooling thing and send my kids to school, too!”  NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

We homeschool because we feel that is what God is leading us to do for our kids.  It is not a judgement of you because you chose differently for your own kids, or because you’re choosing differently now.  We’re not anti- school.  Our choice has nothing to do with you at all.  We feel that it’s the best choice and the best place for our kids.  Period, end of discussion.

So, a message to those of you who feel like you still need to “talk some sense into me and get me to see straight”- please stop trying to change my mind!!!  It makes me not want to talk to you at all.   No one wants to feel like they constantly have to justify their decisions to everyone else.  And the reality is, I don’t have to- the only person I have to justify anything to is God, and when I stand before Him, I’ll be confident that I followed His leading in this area.  You may not understand or agree, and you don’t have to.  God is not speaking to you about what I should do with my kids’ lives.  He speaks to me directly, and I have no problem hearing him, thank you very much!  Your opinions are exactly that- your opinions.  Your issues are exactly that- your issues.  I grow weary of feeling like I have to defend my choices because they are different from yours, and I’m not gonna do it anymore.  If you’ve never experienced this version of me, it’ll be a new experience!  One caveat though- you may not like it.

Different…

2011/09/04

… at least, I think I am.  Lifestyle, wise, that is.  Actually, maybe I’d better explain.

I am an African American, homeschooling, slightly crunchy mama.  When I say ‘slightly crunchy’, I mean natural enough to make some sacrifices and unpopular choices, but not so natural that anyone, including myself, is uncomfortable.  When I say ‘unpopular’, I’m referring to things like homeschooling, cloth diapering, breastfeeding, mama- cloth using, cooking my food from scratch, homebirthing- that sort of thing.  Of course there’s nothing wrong with any of these things- I’m not implying that there is- and there are lots of people who totally feel the same way about these things- that they’re natural, normal, and beneficial.  Trouble is, most of the people I know don’t see it this way- I know they think I’m crazy, and they accuse me of trying to be something that I’m not.  But that’s okay- I make crazy look good.

My family thinks that I need to stop nursing (he’s almost two- gasp!), put my kids in daycare/ school and get a job, because we could have/ do more “stuff” if I did, and I’m ruining them by keeping them home.  Any of my family that’s reading this- that’s right, I said it.  I know what you’re all (almost all) thinking, because you’re pretty transparent, and one of you- I won’t say who- tells EVERYTHING. 😉

I have many friends who would agree with my family’s position.  Someone at my church- in leadership- actually told me that I should stop nursing my son so that I could get back to wearing my clergy attire on Sundays.  He was 5 months old at the time.

In my experience, and from what I can see around me, I’m not your typical African American SAHM.  Well, it’s not like that’s a large group anyway, but still.

Thing is, it gets lonely here sometimes, being so very different from what’s expected of you.   So sad that even within our own cultural community we can’t see beyond stereotypes.  I’m confident in my choices because I know that I’m am following God’s will as far as my family and children are concerned, but it would be nice to not have to constantly be on the alert for hidden messages and meanings, or the intent behind some things said to my kids.  I constantly have to justify my choices and decisions (well, I don’t HAVE to, I suppose it’s really that I am CHOOSING to, in an effort to remain hospitable), and that gets really old, really fast.

Anyway, this blog is about my journey through this life, as me, the Krackelbar mama- chocolate, slightly crunchy, and sweet.