Monday, November 3, 2014

Breaking the News to my Parents

Choosing to homeschool is a choice that many people may not approve of.  I've heard countless accounts of people whose parents or siblings or friends or even husbands, don't approve of their choice to homeschool. I think EVERY homeschool parent faces this to some degree. There's a need to defend or prove themselves, but those with the most confidence just take their path and ignore the naysayers.

Coming from an Asian perspective, there's even more stigma against not attending school.  School is a HUGE part of Asian culture. Lives are made and lives are destroyed by test scores and grades in Asian countries. Performing poorly in school doesn't just reflect badly on the student, but causes disgrace for the whole family. Parents pay for extra tutoring for kids to go from an A to an A+.  Kids spend many hours above and beyond the homework hours on extra test prep for standardized tests. They are enrolled in academic summer camps, rather than sports camps. Teachers are to be revered and honored. Going to school is the only path out of poverty and parents often sacrifice a lot to get their kids in the best schools. It's a culture that is hard to escape. 

So with this background in mind, telling my parents we were going to pull our son out of school to homeschool was terrifying to me.  Before breaking the news, for weeks I'd mention how unhappy my son was in school, how bored he was, and the difficulties he was having feeling accepted at school.  When the word "homeschool" was finally mentioned, casually over a Thanksgiving visit, it was met with complete dumbfoundedness. "What does that mean?" "Does the teacher come to the home?" "Is he getting kicked out of school?" I answered the questions, clarified what homeschooling entails, and dropped the subject.  I (and they) were not yet ready for this. 

A few weeks later, over the phone (we don't live near my parents), I finally said it. "We decided to go ahead and homeschool". Again, more questions. "Will the school give you material?" "How will you know what to teach?" "Does he have to go to the school to be tested?" "How will he graduate and get into college?", "How will he get social experience?" But getting my parents to the point where they are OK with this, never mind thinking it's a good idea, will probably take years. They are not hostile to the idea, yet they aren't really on board either.  They've accepted that we're doing it, but it's an awkward topic to discuss, as they have their own biases against it.  Sometimes I tell them about things Monkey is learning and sometimes we completely avoid the topic.

But no matter what, I'm grateful we started on this journey. Monkey is so much happier now, which is the best confirmation that we made the right choice for our family.