Preparing Kids For The Real World
Who knew a homeschooled kid when they were growing up who was without a doubt the weirdest kid they'd ever met? They were super religious or naive, they were socially stunted or "unsocialized," they ate crazy things that only pregnant women ate, like pickles and peanut butter... and only the healthy kind - whatever that meant.
But I also knew a bunch who were really well adjusted, calm kids who didn't let peer pressure ever effect them and knew who they were and what they wanted because they were allowed to learn in ways that made sense to them and explore freely.
Sitting at Urgent Care for 3 hours is always a good Saturday.
I think a lot of people are just misinformed when it comes to understanding why people Homeschool. They knew a kid or heard about a kid who was homeschooled who was super awkward or sheltered when they interacted with other kids their age. Typically this is because that kid/those kids were home schooled for reasons around religious indoctrination. These days people homeschool for all sorts of reasons, we do it because we have a fairly mobile lifestyle and because we see how the public school system is failing.
I should be clear, this is not a dig at educators. Most teachers, para-educators, Librarians, and other public school employees are excellent at their jobs. They work tirelessly to care for thousands of kids over the course of their careers. But the system is broken. Our expectations of kids lacks depth and we expect "same-ness" from them. It is hard to individually teach and cultivate passion in twenty-something kids. So we choose to educate at home.
And the number one judgement I get, that most home schoolers get, is:
"You're kids won't be prepared for the real world."
My response is "Are you actually concerned with whether or not my child will be prepared for the real world? Or are you just looking for something to be judgmental about?"
Because 1. I have no interest explaining my position to someone who doesn't want to hear - it is a waste of both our time. And 2. there is no data to back up that education (be it primary, secondary, or higher) prepares children for the real world. You don't learn how to do taxes or keep to a budget, conflict management or how to evaluate the health of relationships, you don't study how to have a healthy marriage or parent well, there is no class on how to maintain friendships over long distances or do self care. More to a recent point - there is no class on appropriate social media and how to interact in a digital age, there is no teaching on how to fall in love with the process of learning so you can stay up-to-date on the latest technology or medical procedures in order to stay ahead in the field you choose to work. There is little to nothing about indigenous cultures or even world cultures outside of your home country and how to be sensitive to those things when you inevitably travel.
The real world is exactly where most home schooled kids are.
All the time.
My six year old son knows how to call the Lego store and have 20 minute conversations with adult employees about what they offer in stores and specific sets. My four year old daughter understands that we have a limited income and don't always have extra money to go out for ice cream on our Mommy-Daughter dates. Our kids get angry when others experience injustice and care about our environment and the creatures that live in it.
This isn't to say that there won't be holes in their education. Of course there will be. There are holes in all of our education. Home schooling, like public school, isn't perfect. Our desire to perfect education is where we go wrong. We remove intuition and drive when we reduce learning to reaching a set of standards. Our goal should always be to prepare kids for the real world - but not because standards tell us to, but because that is where they will live and grow and exist once they are beyond these precious years within our care.
This doesn't have to be a home school versus public school situation.
We should prepare our kids for the real world.