“My kids go to public school but I’m really interested in homeschooling and I was wondering if maybe you guys could answer some questions for me?
Do you ever feel bad about your kids missing out on things like marching band, choir, clubs, high school sports, the prom, and graduation?” -Tonya
This was actually one of my initial concerns when we were considering homeschooling. And like so many other fears, I’ve come to realize it’s partly a result of our own conformity to a way of life, and associated peer pressure.
The first answer is that homeschoolers don’t miss out. Their options for extracurricular activities far exceed those of a child limited by time restraints of school. Depending on what families choose, many can even participate in school sports, put together their own proms, have bands, clubs, graduation and more.
Many parents considering homeschooling somehow think his child is the only one and will be alone in his journey. They quickly realize, though, that they are part of a huge, rapidly growing community, with more people, activities and opportunities than they will ever be able to join. (There are currently more than 2,010,198 children being homeschooled in America.)
Secondly, once a family steps out of the “school culture” they realize how empty many of the peer-dominated activities were and are thankful the pressure is off.
Youth is a fabulous time of growing, learning and experiencing life. Homeschooling affords more time and availability to pursue interests a young person would otherwise be too busy for. As parents adapt to a [homeschooling] world they never knew existed, missing the prom or the marching band becomes a trivial, can’t-believe-I-ever-worried-about-that, non-issue, replaced by more productive, meaningful opportunities.
I think about how this played out for me personally, and the contrast I can now see as a homeschooling parent of teenagers. As both a cheerleader and later a cheerleader sponsor, I experienced the inordinate amount of time we spent doing something that, well, doesn’t prepare for life. Yeah the team work thing, but that can be easily gained in a normal family setting, if we weren’t so busy with our extra curriculars.
At one point in high school, we were required–in addition to all day practices–to spend Sunday decorating lockers for Homecoming. (Because that’s important.) My Dad felt like it was inappropriate and I told my sponsor that. I’ll never forget my *Christian* cheer-leading sponsor grabbing me by the front of my shirt, pulling me right into her eyes and saying through gritted teeth, “You decide if cheer-leading or a family rule is more important.”
Now that I’m a parent, I’m so grateful for the time my older children have to pursue more meaningful activities, still maintaining close friendships and enjoying fun events, but spending the bulk of time doing more productive, real life things–learning to run businesses, honing their talents and gifts, learning to serve the community.
I would encourage all parents to carefully consider whether we are steering our children towards activities that are productive, useful and tending to growth and preparation, or if we, too, are being swayed by a peer pressure of our own, tricked into thinking they’ll “miss out” if we don’t follow main stream.