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The Link Editorial

Where Is The "Real" World?

If you homeschool your kids, how will they ever experience the "real" world?" Is this a familiar question? The matter of "real" world compatibility is one that we have thought about a lot, and after 12 years of "homeschooling" it has definitely resolved itself in our minds: We know we have done the right thing by homeschooling our son, because we have kept him in the real world. In our case, the homeschooled life that often feels disorganized and chaotic has provided our son with experience in business, experience dealing with folks of all ages and numerous hard days of REAL life. There are many homeschoolers who live as we do, starting their own businesses, working out of their homes and living lives like early Americans did. One of the many frustrations that I, Mary, hear a lot is from moms who feel that very little academic work gets done because their kids spend the whole day helping with grocery shopping, cooking, helping siblings, doing household chores, etc. What better experience with real life is there? A young person gets to deal first-hand with running a home; dealing with long-term relationships with those in his or her own family; solving problems and the myriad of other "real" situations that pop up every day. Somehow the same amount of academic work gets done in between the cracks of "real" life as gets done in institutional school, where much of the time is spent lining up, controlling the crowd and dealing with unruly children and discipline problems. We homeschoolers are so fortunate to have our children’s non-academic time be filled up with "real" life!

What is the "real" world to these nay-sayers? Is it the "real" world of drugs, immorality, vulgarity, coarseness, meanness and unkind behavior? If so, then it is the antithesis of the foundation that we homeschoolers provide in our homes, churches, and communities. We cannot remember as adults being in situations in work environments (or any others) where we were forced to put up with such "real"-ness. In the real adult world, if you find yourself in such a situation where drugs, immorality and other such things are being foisted upon you, you can file a lawsuit! Or an adult has the power to leave the situation. Why then, does most of society put up with these things in their children’s lives? The world that Madison Avenue and institutional schools have depicted as "cool" and "real" might be the numerical norm; however, this is not what we homeschoolers are aspiring to for our children.

Using the word "normal" to describe a healthy person’s behavior is not very accurate, yet it is overworked by today’s standard, average society. We have often seen 16-year-old homeschooled boys and girls play with little children from toddlers to 15 with gentleness and kindness, without complaint. Is that "normal" teen behavior? We have seen these same teens and their younger counterparts exhibit a general kindness and un-self-conscious refinement that is seldom seen in the non-homeschooled sector. Is that "normal" child behavior? Some parents would say it is not -- they would even be skeptical that such could be the case; yet all over the country we have seen this at park days and homeschool functions, time and again.

These homeschooled children who seem "different" are not different because of academics; they are different because of parental or grandparental involvement. They are different because they know on a very deep level that their parents are near and mentally present with them. Their major influences are their parents, siblings, playmates (often homeschooled, too), broader family members, neighbors, church community . . . not the elements of institutional school and its tandem synthetic society that spills over into outside places, such as the mall, the Internet or pop culture. What it takes to make life "real" is the presence of people and things that are real, grounded in life, nurturing, and guiding, offering increased trust, freedom and responsibility, when it can be handled. Real life cannot be measured by a test, cannot be quantified on an exam, standardized for all to follow or synthetically materialized from a textbook in a school. It has to be defined and created each day, maybe each hour, by those who are living it.

These issues have been on our minds lately and it makes us feel proud to be called homeschoolers. We want to thank each and every reader -- not only for reading The Link, but for taking the difficult steps to keep your children at home -- in the real world!

We have done our best to make this issue a great one. Please enjoy it. Thank you for reading!

Love, Mary & Michael Leppert