The thing about choosing a slightly different educational path for our children is that I constantly feel the need to justify this choice. Sometimes I am not sure whether I am justifying it to myself or to everyone else. But the thing is that neither is really necessary. I am completely comfortable with my choice to home educate the girls; I am clear in my own head about all the reasons that make it the best choice for us right now. The girls are happy, healthy and thriving. We are also very lucky that at no point have we had any negative comments or interrogations. Unfortunately many home educators have to field negativity from family, friends, neighbours and strangers. Yet I can still be found here, and in real life conversations, justifying what we do. Why?
I think that, despite great efforts to rid myself of the habit, I just care far too much about what other people think. I am making some progress – I am getting quite good at reminding myself that what a complete stranger thinks of me or my family has no consequence whatsoever (last year’s drastic haircut certainly helped with this!) I might add that I have really tried to practise what I preach and not judge the behaviour, moods or appearances of others. I tell myself that I have no idea what is going on in their lives and therefore can have no cause for judgement. It definitely works both ways!
What I struggle more with is the opinions of those that I care deeply about, our family and friends. If I am honest, I want them to be inspired by our choices rather than humour them. I guess home educating the girls is my full time job, and like everyone I quite like acknowledgment of a job well done every so often. But unlike with most jobs I don’t feel I can complain about it at the end of a long day – maybe people will see it as evidence that we should have stayed on a more conventional path? So when I am tired and we have had a day of poorly children or frazzled nerves, rather than have a whinge or a moan to get it out of my system, I find myself justifying. I’ll start arguing that half an hour of circle time activities on negotiating, expressing feelings or respecting others’ boundaries could never teach as much as a day of resolving conflicts between warring siblings. Or I’ll suggest that the nasty cold we are all suffering from has led to some wonderful conversations about viruses, bacteria, antibiotic resistance, white blood cells and so on. And of course, I’ll forget to mention that I could have quite happily walked out the door at numerous points during the day and headed to the peace and solitude of a coffee shop and a good book.
So I apologise for justifying myself all the time; I will try not to always make it the focus of my writing here. If I do though, just know that it is because I value your opinion of me.