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13 things I want you to know about homeschooling

The other day I read an article in the current issue of Reader's Digest called Why Homeschool? 13 Things Homeschoolers Want You to Know. The author claims to have asked homeschooling parents for these tidbits, but she didn't ask me. If she had, here's what I would have said.

1. Anyone can do it. 'I could never do that' is a statement homeschooling parents hear all the time, but homeschooling isn't nearly so hard as many people think.

2. There's not one right way. Homeschooling is the ultimate individualized education. No how-to manual could begin to cover the myriad styles, approaches, and routines homeschooling families embrace.

3. Homeschooling doesn't mean sitting at home all day. Don't take the word 'homeschooling' literally. Learning happens at the library, the park, the museum, the nature sanctuary, all over the place.

4. Homeschooling is a lifestyle. It's not just about how kids learn the three R's. It's about building relationships, cuddling up on the couch with a good book, spending lazy days at the beach, hanging at the museum for hours, exploring the community, and living in the moment.

5. Socialization is actually a plus. Because they're not age-segregated on a daily basis, homeschoolers are more likely to associate with people of varied ages. For a lot of parents, that makes socialization one of the benefits of homeschooling.

6. Homeschooling parents don't have to teach everything. Yes, we teach our kids a lot, but much of the time, we're acting as facilitators. We tap into resources on the internet, in the community, and beyond. And let's not forget the oft-overlooked fact that kids teach themselves quite a lot, too.

7. Homeschoolers are a market. From curriculum companies, to learning centers, to self-employed tutors, somebody's always trying to sell us something. More often than not, it's something we don't need.

8. Homeschoolers are a diverse group. The reasons people come to homeschooling are broad and varied, so don't make assumptions before getting to know us.

9. Homeschoolers enjoy time, space, and sleep. Our kids have lots of time to laugh, play, ponder, and create. Not getting enough z's isn't good for anybody, so the chance to get adequate rest is a boon.

10. Homeschoolers get into college. The Ivy League, private colleges, state schools, trade schools, you name it. They've all accepted homeschoolers.

11. Homeschooling is just another way to educate kids. Some kids go to public school, some go to private school, and some are homeschooled. Simple as that.

12. Homeschooling is good for society. Variety is the spice of life, and diversity in education makes our country a more vibrant, option-filled place to be.

13. Homeschoolers are all around you. We're at the playground, in the supermarket, at the library. We're in math clubs, on sports teams, in theater productions. Our grown-up kids are teachers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, carpenters, therapists, engineers, artists, and computer programmers. We're living our lives in the community, like everyone else.

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