The Hardest Thing is the
|“I like being able to have time with my grandchildren, time that I wouldn’t have if they were in school. It has been very exciting to see them take off on a topic that they interested in, research it and become really confident in their knowledge.”|
The other thing I thought about was how children learn, and they learn so much through play. Every moment is a teachable moment – even raising my own children, I was always doing that, quite naturally. Another big thing for me was trusting that you were doing the best for your kids. Right from the time you were pregnant you did research and did things differently – midwives and home birth for instance. The most radical thing I had done was “Childbirth Without Fear!” You were doing things differently than me, but that you were doing them thoughtfully and responsibly, and that is what mattered.
Bev: I like being able to have time with my grandchildren, time that I wouldn’t have if they were in school. I think that it has been very exciting to see them take off on a topic that they are interested in, research it and become really confident in their knowledge. Another one of the neat things is how much Ben, as the younger child, has learned – just from osmosis. It’s been fun – and challenging – because Ben comes out with things that I would not expect him to know about. You just don’t expect three-year-olds to be talking about machicolations or “Romans against the Gauls,” for instance.
Karen: What about concerns?
Bev: You do wonder if they want to go into the public system at some point, how they will cope. Fortunately, I talked to a teacher at the high school level who knew kids who had been homeschooled and then entered the school system and did well. It’s a big step for a grandparent, having been in school yourself and then having your kids in it – it’s a big, big shift from that to homeschooling. When I was in school there were 48 kids in class! And when you were in school, we could see for ourselves that if you got one good teacher out of the system you were lucky. We had concerns about the system ourselves but we didn’t know there were other options, so we just tried to fix the system. You have left the system entirely – and that is really different. The biggest downside, though, is that I don’t know what the overall framework is. It’s hard not quite knowing where this is all going. You and I haven’t had time to talk about this, and it would be something that would be good for grandparents to know about.
Karen: As you are talking I realize that I really haven’t given you a lot of information, have I? I’m glad that doing this interview has made that come out! If it is okay with you, can I finish this interview and then talk more with you about it? I’d love to know, for example, how you explain homeschooling to other people who ask you about what your grandchildren are doing. Especially since I seem to have explained so little to you!
Bev: I do get questions, mostly around socialization, which is interesting. I tell them about the homeschooling association and the children playing community club soccer. People assume that a homeschooling association would be all the same kinds of kids, and they think that it is good that they are playing with other kids who aren’t homeschooled, who are different.
I don’t think people think that they won’t learn. But people do think that you must do some form of school-at-home. Unschooling is quite different and new – I haven’t actually explained unschooling to anyone at this point, because I don’t know enough about it!
Karen: What support do you, as a grandparent, need? Where do you get it from?
|“The hardest thing for grandparents is the unknown. There are no books, pamphlets or support groups for grandparents. People will be anxious, of course, because they love their grandchildren, but there is nowhere to go with that anxiety.”|
Bev: I think right off the top that it would be good for homeschooling associations to have a pamphlet for grandparents that describes what this is all about, and then maybe more elaborate material after that. Something in print means a lot to people, psychologically. Also, it would be great if there were other people grandparents could talk to if they were really anxious, especially if their relationship with their children wasn’t easy.
Karen: Any “last words?” What advice/guidance do you have for other grandparents of homeschooled children?
Bev: The hardest thing for grandparents is the unknown. There are no books, pamphlets or support groups for grandparents. People will be anxious, of course, because they love their grandchildren, but there is nowhere to go with that anxiety. There seem to be support groups for everything else, but not for that. So grandparents need to find more information, talk to their children, talk to teachers. You need to go to your grandchildren’s activities and meet other homeschooling families.
I really do think that the grandparents have to let go and trust – trust the values that you have instilled in your own children. You need to be open to doing things differently – these children will be growing up into a very different world than we did, or our children. It is not always easy to let go when you are older, and it is easier for some than others. But if you get involved with your grandchildren you can see for yourself the good things that are coming to them from homeschooling.
Karen: It is clear, isn’t it, why my mother is one of my heroes?