We live fairly close to the CBD of one of the biggest cities in Australia. The suburb we are in and the surrounding suburbs offer a variety of great public and private schools. Yet we have decided to home-school our children. In a way it makes us the odd ones out.
In all those years I have only met two other families homeschooling their children. By coincidence. Yesterday I met family number 3 while spending time on the beach.
While my son was discovering the tide pools I spent time with my daughter playing in the water. I saw the two girls and thought that they might have just taken the day off. Many years ago I might have wondered if they are home-schooled too but I sort of gave up on it. Too often I was told that they just took the day off or that they were only visiting. So this time I did not even bother.
The entire situation seems really interesting still. Usually my daughter takes off the moment she sees other kids and approaches them. She is a social butterfly. Not yesterday. She stayed with me, enjoying our little game. When my son came back and the two of them started playing I went back to my towel and sat down, watching them play. It was only then when she took off and went straight to the other two girls. It didn’t take them long to bond and only shortly after all four kids were happily playing which always puts a smile on my face.
I love watching how easy it seems for children to connect. No matter their age, their skin color or language. They always find a way.
Suddenly the mother approached me.
Again it felt strange. I actually thought my kids did something but then I saw her big smile, almost showing relieve as well.
“Your kids are home-schooled! So is my daughter.”
The weird thing is the relieve we both apparently felt in that very moment. It makes me think. Why is it that way? Why do we feel relieve when we finally are approached by someone who home-schools too?
I tell you why. It’s because finally you don’t feel like you have to explain the whys and hows. Finally there is someone who chose the same path you did and knows the quirks of it.
And while you might not agree with their philosophies, while their whys and hows might be completely different to yours you still feel good because you have one thing in common: The responsibility to not screw up your kids education.
What was interesting to experience was the need she must have felt to explain to me her why. Funny, isn’t it… You meet someone of who you’d think you’d have the same philosophies or at least you’d come close to. And yet you feel the need of explaining why. Nobody does that when it comes to picking the school of your children. At least I’ve never heard any or my friends telling me exactly why they chose a certain school.
I would lie if I would say that the mom I met yesterday is down my alley. She is not. I actually had to be careful to not fall into this stereotype kind of thinking that I dislike so much. I was so close to it because she is so different to me. Frankly our philosophies couldn’t be more different.
While she sees the world as the one and only classroom her kids need, I think there is more to it. I agree that the world is a classroom and that there is plenty for them to learn. But I also think that my kids need to learn what is taught in schools. Just so they know what people talk about and how to deal with what is thrown in their ways out there. How we teach them all the different subjects though, is up to us and the curriculum we choose and follow.
Although we teach our children in a different way, use different tools and might choose different paths we can all be proud of our children. Her girls where lovely. They were fun, polite and kind. So while the subjects of what we teach our children might be completely different we still managed to instill something similar in our kids. Values.
Life is a lesson as such and yesterday taught me a a lot once again.