What if I ruin my kid’s life? (part 1)

I’m blogging all week about our fears and how to fight them. From my own fears as a homeschool mom and my experience as a homeschool graduate, I’ll be sharing insights and reflections on these tough questions. It’s going to be a great week of getting vulnerable and gaining victory. 

Homeschooling is a big decision that affects everyone in the family. It’s not to be taken lightly, and even after the decision is made with clear conviction, there might be a few doubts still lingering.
Is this what’s best for my child? Will I ruin his opportunities? Or, as a friend of mine so eloquently put it, what if my kids turn out “weird” without a bigger social group?
The Social Scene
When we decide to homeschool, we are embracing a lot of responsibility: my child’s spiritual training, my child’s education, and my child’s social development. It is my responsibility to ensure that my child learns to interact with other people. But there is nothing to indicate that this takes place exclusively within a public school. As a homeschool graduate, I found that building new relationships came much easier to me than to a number of my college peers. You see, for the last 11 years or so, I was very accustomed to meeting strangers. While many of my peers had kept the same group of friends through much of their schooling, I had been continually forced to make new friends and build new relationships. When, at the age of 17, I arrived at a college 12 hours from home, the stress of knowing absolutely no one was familiar to me and much less stressful for me than for many of my other new friends.
As homeschool parents, we do have to intentionally provide opportunities for social development, something that other parents might not have to think about ordinarily. I want to continually evaluate not only how my children interact with other people, but with whom they interact. In other words, do they only ever interact with Christians or do they have an opportunity to interact with non-Christians as well? My children are natural extroverts (as are their parents), so my task may be a little easier than someone else’s. (My son strikes up conversations with total strangers in the grocery store).  Nevertheless, it is not an issue I can ever take for granted.
Extra-curricular Opportunities
Another misconception is that extra-curricular activities can only be found within a school system. While homeschooling may present a few challenges in this area, I’ve known a good deal of families who car-school more than they homeschool because of all the activities on their schedule. From 4H to dance lessons to sports to field trips, there are myriads of opportunities for homeschoolers. Many homeschool groups are now large enough to have their own sports associations, take field trips to state capitals and watch government proceedings,  host science fairs, and more.
When I was in high school, my mom called our local newspaper to ask if I would have an opportunity to volunteer there, since I had an interest in journalism. After getting a “maybe,” she handed me the phone number and assigned me the task of setting it up. That volunteer opportunity worked it’s way into a part-time job through high school and during college breaks. My mom sought a similar opportunity for my sister on a church media team. Get creative. Find out what your child is interested in or find an activity to participate in as a family. Volunteer at a shelter or a mission. Sign up for activities at the YMCA. Start or join a program with your homeschool co-op.
Just because we choose to oversee our child’s education doesn’t mean we are robbing them of life. Life happens all around us and in a variety of places, not strictly within the boundaries of a school’s facilities. And homeschooling doesn’t have to end or ruin anyone’s life. In fact, you may find that you have more “life” than you can keep up with!
Be sure to check out all of the other great blog posts at the Homeschool Crew.

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Published by Tracy
Our life is creative chaos, and our homeschool is loud and busy and distracted and challenging and lovely. My name is Tracy, and I homeschool my crew of three kids with ADHD/dyslexia, finding creative ways to use their strengths to teach their weaknesses. As a homeschooled homeschooler, I love customizing curriculum and making adjustments to incorporate fun, hands-on projects for out-of-the-box learners. Stop by growingNgrace.com to find grace for the messes and mistakes, and knowledge to pick up the pieces and make something special. Let’s grow together!