Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Homeschool Formal Dances are Not in Someone's Basement!

When I started homeschooling my kids, sometimes I would get strange looks and concerned comments.

Now, with homeschooling on the rise, and homeschool students (reported) as between 3-5% of all students (that's 1 in 20 in the regions where it is most common), I get less of the concern and more of the funny questions.

So, since I had a few of those questions about my oldest daughter attending a homeschool formal, I thought I would write this post to clear some things up.

All of these questions are real questions I've been asked.

 Please note that this is supposed to be somewhat humorous and informational and not meant to be offensive . . . so, please put on your humor pants and think about what it would be like to be asked some of these questions.

1. "So, was the homeschool formal in someone's house basement?"

No, please tell me that you aren't getting all your information about homeschoolers from Disney channel shows . . . they aren't accurate. Really. Homeschool formals do not take place in family basements.

The homeschool formal that my daughter attended took place in a community center with a large room that doubled as both a dining area and a dance floor. The kids had to move tables between dinner and dancing because the space wasn't big enough for all the kids to do both activities.

2. "So, that picture with your daughter in it, was that all the kids that attended the homeschool formal?"

Hahaha. You're joking, right?

175 tickets for the homeschool formal my daughter attended were sold out three weeks early, and some kids who wanted to go didn't get to go. We need a bigger venue, or we need two formals. There were at least twenty kids my daughter knew that wanted to go but who didn't get their tickets on time.

3. "So, what do homeschoolers do at formal dances?"

Um, really? What do most kids do at dances? They dance.

Ok, I admit that most homeschoolers aren't twerking, and the dance my daughter attended included swing dance lessons for half of the dance time.

However, I think more of the kids actually dance. In fact, my daughter danced several dances with boys she met that evening and learned some really cool swing dance moves from one of them who takes classes. She even learned how to "dip."

4. "Wait, aren't homeschoolers too shy to talk to each other?"

Whoa, really? Homeschoolers too shy? Where do you live? Most of the homeschoolers I know talk too much, not too little, although there are a few shy ones. I think the percentage of shy homeschoolers is probably equal to that of shy public and private school students.

5. "But I thought all homeschoolers lived in the woods with no social contact with the outside world?"

Um, sorry. No. Most homeschoolers are extremely active. In fact, I think sometimes that homeschoolers take their extra-curricular activities a little seriously and competitively. "Oh, your kid is in dance, tennis, helps out the senior center, and rock climbs on the weekends? Well, my kid . . . ."

But again, please don't take my words and make them into a standard for homeschoolers. Some homeschool families revel in the freedom from structured activities and encourage their kids to build treehouses, explore, and spend most of their time out doors for fun.

6. "Oh, I thought all homeschoolers _____________(fill in the blank)."

I think the most common thread between all homeschool families is the love of freedom to be as individual in their approach as they want to be. Some homeschool families use standard school curriculum. Some unschool. Some favor curriculum from a variety of sources. Some do every activity possible, and some have an open schedule. Some homeschoolers are wealthy, and some are struggling to scrape by with monthly expenses. Some are single income households with one parent at home, and some are single parent households in which the parent works night shift and teaches their kids during the day. Some are Christians. Some are Muslims. Some are atheists. Some are Jewish. Some are Buddhists. Some are Republicans, some are Democrats, and some are members of the Green Party. There is no "all homeschoolers are _____" - that's because individuality is the whole point.

7. "Do homeschoolers get all their lessons done in four hours?"

Um, see #6. Some days the lessons are done in three hours, and some days the lessons are done in eight hours. It depends on the lessons. It depends on the level of enthusiasm. It depends on the family. It depends on the curriculum. It really varies.

8. "Wow! You must spend a lot of time teaching your kids. You must be patient. How do you do it?"

Well . . . when my kids were little they did all their lessons on my lap, or with me right there with them. Now, we choose curriculum together. I write up lesson plans. We discuss what they are doing for the day, and then they start. They read, write, and do most of their actual work independently. We discuss progress. I grade papers. I don't actually "teach/lecture" all that often - unless asking lots of discussion questions counts and that's limited to about an hour or two of time scattered throughout the day.

And patient? Well, I am learning to be patient. Years ago, there were days when my kids would absolutely refuse to do their work, and I would go to my room and pray a lot before coming back out to explain that yes, they were doing the work. Thankfully, these days they just need some nudging in the right direction now and then.

9. "Do homeschoolers hate public school?"

No. Some homeschoolers participate in public school part-time with classes, sports, or other activities. For the most part, homeschool families choose homeschooling because they love the ability to choose their schedule, their curriculum, and the way that they spend their time together. It's about the freedom of choice, not about hatred.

10. "Do homeschoolers take selfies with their parents because they don't have any friends?" (This is an actual question dealt with by my oldest daughter)

Please see #1-6. No. Although, as a family, we have taken "selfies" together on vacation - usually doing something goofy. My kids take selfies with friends. They use twitter, instagram, facebook, vimeo, and youtube.

Bonus: "Do homeschoolers wear pajamas all day?"

Not always, but sometimes, definitely yes! On rainy days, with no other activities scheduled, my kids sometimes do all their lessons in their pjs - and sometimes, I do too. :)

Do you know any homeschoolers? You might be surprised to find out that you do.

If you want a more serious look at homeschooling, I suggest checking out these blog posts and blog posts:
The Way We Homeschool describes different methodologies at Small Things although this blog is also dedicated to crafting and other areas, as well.

USO Party describes and shows pics of an amazing formal (not the one my daughter attended - which was really good but my daughter was too busy dancing to take pics), from The Pioneer Woman's blog.

Also, Blimey Cow's Seven Lies About Homeschooling has a humorous take on the myths surrounding homeschooling.

And if you want to know how in the world I have time to write and homeschool, check out this guest post I did on Tuesday at Laurel's Leaves: "Getting Past the Myth of Enough Time."


Cherie Reich said...

I do know some homeschoolers. There is a mom and several of her teenage homeschooled children attend my writers' group. They belong to a homeschool consortium, so they sometimes get lessons from other parents besides their own. I think homeschooling can really benefit kids, although not every child would do well with homeschooling. My sister would've never learned anything, if she was homeschooled, because she didn't have the initiate to learn on her own and my parents didn't have the patience to get her to sit down and learn. I would've liked it, though, because I often was bored in public school.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hey, if they can get away pajamas all day, why not?
I can see a lot of reasons for homeschooling. Rhonda at Laugh Quotes home schools, and one year they took the kids on a tour of the world. (Talk about hands-on learning!)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

It's one of those things that can't be lumped into one category because everyone does it a little different. I have a friend who homeschools so her kids can be in a proper Christian environment.

L.G. Smith said...

I don't know anyone who home schools (well, except you and another blogger), but for certain families it makes sense. I was fortunate that when my son was in grade school we lived in a small community and he enjoyed small classes of about twelve kids. I do believe that one-on-one attention can make a big difference in a kid's education.

M Pax said...

Awesome to be able to wear pajamas. Anything that means I can be in slippers, thumbs up. I admit to not really knowing much about homeschooling. I had one friend who pulled her kids out of school because of the bullying thing.

quietspirit said...

There are two families who have homeschooled their children. One family has three children-two of whom have graduated (Boy is in the Navy, girl getting ready to go to college this fall.) The other family has two children(daugther is married. son plans on going to college this fall)

These two families are good friends. In fact they are now related. The boy in the Navy and the other families daughter got married this past December.

One more thing. These children are Christians and very respectful to their elders. I count these children as my friends, as well as their families.

Nick Wilford said...

I always thought homeschooling parents must have an amazing amount of patience. But I can see how the freedom and flexibility is a big benefit. I don't know anyone in the UK who homeschools. I don't know if it's a thing here. If it's not, it should be! We only have one high school in our small town, and it has more than its share of issues, with teachers as well as kids. It's good to have alternatives.

Stephanie Faris said...

When I read that story about the girl getting kicked out of her homeschool prom for her dress being too short, for the first time I realized homeschooled children have big proms! That's kind of cool.

Jack said...

These are new ones....

I was homeschooled, but the town I live in, it is more common so I missed a lot of the questions. I like to hear them though, they make me laugh. Especially the pijama one

Tyrean Martinson said...

The homeschool consortium sounds like our homeschool co-operative - my kids get some lessons from other parents and I teach writing and literature to other kids too. :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

A trip around the world sounds awesome! There are days I wish we had embarked on a hands-on learning adventure like that.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Yes, everyone definitely does it a little different. We go to a homeschool co-operative now and get half of our curriculum classes done there just one day a week, and then finish the homework for those classes and do our own at home the other days of the week. But not everyone likes co-ops and that's ok.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Small classes are wonderful! We go to a co-op once a week and my kids get some of the benefits of small classes there and I get to teach a little outside of home so we all enjoy it. One on one attention can be good. :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

Pajamas are great! Bullying can be a huge problem, and it is the reason that many families homeschool. Although I love our homeschool co-op, we've even had to deal with some bullying there. It seems to be something that kids (and adults) often go through in life as they (we) discover how to handle relationships and be respectful and loving to one another.

Jenni Enzor said...

I homeschool, too, although my kids aren't old enough for proms yet. I loved reading these questions and your answers. I think the one I get the most is about patience. I don't think I have any more patience than anyone else, but writing and homeschooling have taught me a lot.

Carol Riggs said...

Very interesting! and it's funny the stereotypes some people have. Homeschooling is becoming more and more popular nowadays. And how COOL that the formal included swing dance lessons! Fun. :)

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Homeschooled kids shy? *snorkling laughter* They are one of the most outgoing UNshy kids around! They aren't taught to find adults intimidating like public schools inadvertently (or purposely?) teach them! so there! >:P

Okay, I'm being silly, I hope I didn't rile anyone. :D

Great homeschool interview!


cleemckenzie said...

I have several friends who home schooled. Their kids were way ahead of the public and privately schooled kids in subject matter, and great all-around kids, too. They have quite a large circle of friends and social events.

Greg Pattridge said...

Very amusing. Thanks for sharing. I don't care how a child is getting educated as long as they're getting the most growth possible. Kids need a perfect match to excel and it often can't be found at the neighborhood school.

Julie Flanders said...

My mouth dropped open at the selfie question. How can people be so rude??
I don't have kids but if I did I would seriously consider homeschooling. I think it's great that it is an option as it's obviously the best route for lots of families.

Quanie Miller said...

"But I thought all homeschoolers lived in the woods with no social contact with the outside world?" Ha! It's a shame that someone would really ask you that! I think that every family should do what's best for THEM. Geesh! You'd think folks would be more open-minded.

Maurice Mitchell said...

That really is stupid to think all homeschoolers are introverts. I've never done it, but it obviously worked for C. S. Lewis. This is a thought-provoking article, and I wish you a beautiful day.

Michelle Wallace said...

I had to laugh at some of the questions that people asked. It's amazing how people cling to their preconceived notions and jump to conclusions without finding out the facts.
I don't know any homeschoolers. I don't think that homeschooling is very popular this end of the globe. But I could be wrong. Now I'm curious. Think I'll ask around and see.