Sunday, March 27, 2016

I’m not really an average homeschooler, and that’s okay

For those that have hung out here a while, you know who I am. This post isn't anything new, but I wanted to do an introductory (of sorts) post on Medium and this is what I wrote. Putting it here too, for those folks who check in regularly. :) 
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This was our holiday family photo. Nope, not Santa. Taken with Krampus, at a local craft brewery!

Even though homeschooling is becoming far more mainstream and accepted more than ever, non-homeschoolers still tend to envision homeschoolers in a certain stereotyped way.
Do we all have a “classrooom” at home, complete with chalk boards, and neat little desks? Uh…no. Do we all make, and more importantly follow, a rigid schedule for our day? Nope again.
Want a glimpse of a different type of homeschooler?
Not only do we not have a classroom, my boys have been known to do school while wearing a minecraft cube on their head, or using their tablet while lying upside down on the sofa. My 11 year old thinks I’m punishing him when I tell him he has to wear pants. Hell, sometimes I think *I’m* being punished when I have to put on pants (Editor’s note: by “put on pants,” I mean put on something other than PJs).

Working on his Time4Learning, on tablet. Yes, he can see. There are eye holes. He said it was comfy.

We own a TV (this is a thing with a lot of homeschoolers, many claim they don’t own one). In fact, every room in the house has one. And we watch them. A LOT. We love cheesy Sci-Fi shows. British TV is some of the best. We record and binge no less than a dozen “prime time” shows. No shame.
Here’s where I really branch off from what you may picture in your head when you hear that I’m a homeschooling parent.
I have short and often times brightly colored hair. I turn 39 next month and honestly could not tell you the last time I saw my natural hair color. I know it’s a shade of brown, that’s about it.
I have a dozen tattoos, and have started gauging my ears. We even let our boys (currently ages 11 and 16) pierce their ears (both ears, both boys). They also enjoy neon colored hair every now and then, and my 16 year old already knows what tattoo he is going to get the day he turns 18. Yep, I’m okay with that.
I swear. All the time. I try to shield it from people that I know find it offensive. I try really hard to curb it around children. But when I can, I’m fairly prolific with it, lol. The “F” word is my most favorite word in the history of ever. Why? It’s a verb. An adverb. An excellent adjective. Basically, just a fun, all purpose word.
Dresses and denim jumpers? Haha. Let’s try jeans and Doc Martens.
I’m comfortable with my faith, and with the fact that it’s a personal thing. I don’t go to church (gasp!) and really dislike organized religion.
Lesson plans? Fuhgetaboutem. Not going to happen. I use an online homeschool curriculum, and have for almost 10 years. The boys enjoy using it and it lets me continually work on my slacker persona. Win-win.
Having pointed out all of these differences, what do I have in common with many stereotypical homeschoolers? I want my kids to learn in an environment that isn’t harmful to them, either physically or emotionally. I want them to learn at their speed, and progress at a pace that is comfortable for them, rather than progress at the exact same rate as 30 other children, all with different learning abilities. I want them to pursue their passions and succeed.

Doing school while wearing an Anime costume wig. Just cause.

I recently had an opportunity to speak at a homeschool convention. It was terrifying for me, but after I was done, I felt amazing. So many moms thanked me for admitting that I have zero organizational skills and that I usually have no idea what I’m doing, but despite that, my boys are doing well. They’re doing great even.
Ten years ago, it would have been awesome to have another homeschool mom tell me that they felt like they sucked, but their kids were okay. I guess that’s what this post is for me. A way to say that to other moms.
Chances are, you don’t really suck at this. You’ll homeschool your way and it will work.
Your. Kids. Will. Be. Fine.

20 comments:

-Candi said...

I would totally love to be your new best friend, however my own antisocial slacker persona will likely hinder that... so that said, you are awesome (which I assume you likely already know) and I greatly appreciate you writing this.

Katie Shuler said...

HA! Introverts unite! Individually, of course. :D Thanks so much for the lovely comment!

Nadine said...

Love. This.
I'm also a home educating mom who doesn't always fit the image people have of us. Short (often weird) hair, tattoos and an affection for foul language lol.

This was a refreshing and honest post!

Katie Shuler said...

Fist bump. :) Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! :)

Nerida said...

Love this post! I don't have the tattoos (too afraid of pain), but I identify with everything else! (Especially the cheesy sci-fi and British TV - I don't care how I get my TV, so long as I have BBCAmerica). It makes me glad to know there are others our there whose kids are doing okay despite an unorganized Mom. Everyone around me is currently planning high school (my son is going on 14) and I'm feeling very overwhelmed. Thanks for the "pep talk"! 😬

Gina Brown said...

I am so happy I found this post! I really needed to hear this, especially today. We are a similar homeschooling family (but with more and a bit younger kids, haha) who love technology and tattoos, even magic marker ones. We also have a hard time with pants! Real pants with zippers? Ugh! It is so nice to see that our small piece of the homeschooling pie is not as small as it sometimes seems. There are so many ideas about what school should look like. I am sure that most people would frown deeply at our 'daily school routine'. And that is okay! Cheers from my cave to yours! Thank you! I am so glad I found your site, off to explore...

Amanda Williams said...

Love this!!! It has made me feel better when I am starting to panic that I am going to ruin my techie kid. It is just the two of us and so I worry alot!! And now I also don't feel so terribly alone in my little rural Bible-belt town. My tribe does exist!!

Wendy Yohe said...

Thank you for sharing your homeschool experience. Your post made me laugh. I'm relieved to find others who share our laid back attitude and disdain for pants.

We've been homeschooling our son for 3 years now, and I frequently worry that I'm not doing it "right". I wonder if he's learning everything he needs to be learning and I hope he doesn't regret not having a normal school experience later on.

BUT he's doing well, seems happy and isn't constantly stressed anymore. He actually enjoys learning now and we have fun a lot of fun together. I think he'll be OK. =)

Gabriela said...

Cosmic homeschool twin! We're pierced and tattooed homeschoolers too, along with no chalkboard and liberal swearing. lol. Loooove this post.

Katie Shuler said...

He'll be fine, Wendy! :) Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. And yes...it's always nice to "meet" others who think pants are super overrated. ;)

Katie Shuler said...

Thanks so much, Gabriela! :D

Michele said...

I would like to fill out an application to be your friend. I like four letter words, inappropriate jokes and read a bunch of "twaddle".
Thank you! We all need this post.

Katie Shuler said...

Twaddle! I love twaddle! :D Thanks so much for reading and commenting. :)

Kylie said...

Oh love this, I think you and I could be great friends! Thank you so much for putting the real you out there :-)

Katie Shuler said...

Thank you so much, Kylie! :D

Kirraleigh Johnson said...

I love this post so much! First year homeschooler here and been going for about 3 months but already feel like a failure. Thank you for Being honest and making me realise I AM NOT FAILING! You rock! Keep it up!

Nicole said...

Ah, this made me cry. Tears of relief, but cry all the same! LOL! It's our first year, and even as "together" as I try to be for other people, as to not offend- or more honestly, to give them the impression that I know what I'm doing, I often find myself exactly like this. Days are not scheduled, I rarely know what we're doing for lunch, I love all swear words, we don't get out of our pjs unless we have to, I don't demand school happen in some structured way, I'm not religious, and I don't have my kid in a long list of social programs. No day is the same, and none of them feel like "school". Some days we lounge around and learn by playing Minecraft together, others its worksheets and games, and another could be stickers and outside. Questions and interests of ours usually dictate what we're learning at any given moment. And, sometimes I feel like I'm doing okay. But then, after a couple of weeks, I see a post from a homeschool mom on facebook saying that she has just constructed the entire Roman Cathedral with her Kindergartner out of recycled trash from a field trip to the water-conservatory and I realize I'm doing it all wrong. A mom with a second grader who can do multiplication and is already in the process of applying to Harvard, and I wonder if our lackadaisical approach is going to squander my 5 year old's chances at an awesome future. I know I shouldn't compare, but I do. I see that on the best homeschool days, we're not sitting down, completely focused, and I've never been called organized in my entire life. My house will never win awards, and dinner will never be featured on a magazine. And,there are times when I feel like because of all that, I'm doing it wrong. I'm not like these other mom's with their PH.D's in Child Rearing and Doctorates in Homeschool Education. I'm just me, taking it one day at a time and hoping beyond hope that I'm not fucking it up as I go.

So. Thank you. From that Mom who really, honest to goodness, needed to hear this. Thank you. You could have peaked into our home for a week, and not written a more empathetic and truly touching post about how our homeschool runs. Thank you for not being average, and still being okay- because it gives me serious security in believing we will be, too. <3

Ashlee adams said...

Omg....I just MY LIFE. I am.up at 530 am freaking out that I am.somehow ruining.my.boys ( 12 and 10, both pierced ears and Juse dyed my 10 year Olds hair bright red at his request ) ... Why why why aren't there more of YOU in my rural little town??? Thank you for helping me maybe relax a little.more today ...

Stephanie Black said...

This article was WONDERFUL! I love it. Planning to come back and read more of your blog! I'm also an unconventional homeschooler. Right now I'm checking out unschooling and so far I love everything about it except other people's reactions. Hahaha.

Anyway, I love your genuine-ness. I don't usually bother commenting so that will probably tell you something. Thanks so much for putting this out there. It will help lots of people worry a little less and enjoy life a little more!

Katie Shuler said...

Thank you so much, Stephanie! :)