Homeschooling fears: what would my teacher friends think?

When we switched to homeschooling, I felt a knot in my stomach at what my teacher friends would think. Would it be viewed as a betrayal?

An elementary classroom, with children seated on the floor in front of their teacher. Some kids have arms raised.
Photo by CDC / Unsplash

This is the second post in a series about the fears I had about homeschooling before we began, and how I feel now, four years in.

What will my public school teacher friends think?

When we knew we had to switch to homeschooling, I felt a knot in my stomach at the thought of what my teacher friends would think. Would it be viewed as a betrayal?

We were—and remain!—big believers in the importance of a strong public education system, and think that public education needs FAR more funding and support than it gets for us to have a healthy society. But the reality was that for our daughter, public school could not work. The people at her school were wonderful, caring, and trying so hard, but the funding and support for kids like our daughter are not there, and they cannot do the impossible.

The first test of how public school teachers would react came when I told her kindergarten teacher and principal about our plan. I expected some defensiveness, and I braced to assure them that it wasn't because I didn't think they tried hard enough, that we still believed in the importance of public education. I didn't get defensiveness—I got support. Full support. Their faces told me what their mouths were not allowed to say: they were relieved.

Every conversation I've had since then with a school teacher friend has been more of the same, only more overt, since my friends can speak more openly on the subject. I hear from my school teacher friends that they are relieved we made this choice. They understand completely. More than once, I have heard, "I am so glad you are able to do this."

I have noticed a fascinating connection between how involved someone is in the world of education and how much they understand our decision to homeschool. And the inverse: the critical questioning (which is actually pretty rare) has come exclusively from people who are at some remove from education. It has been a huge comfort that people who are informed on the subject believe in us. But also a huge discomfort that the state of education is so far from where it needs to be.

Another surprise was learning the amount of overlap between the world of school teachers and homeschoolers. The homeschooling community is full of people who used to be public school teachers, or still are teachers, but are making the choice to homeschool to meet the unique needs of their own family.

My next post, coming in a few days, is on a common worry about homeschooling (though I'll admit it wasn't a huge worry of mine): would she make friends?