Edited 10/12/2023: This article was originally written for homeschool parents because, at the time, I was a homeschooling parent. Now that the kiddo has graduated high school and moved on to college (yup! homeschool kids go to college and THRIVE!), I’ve rethought this piece and see that whether you as a parent opt to homeschool your kids or send them to a traditional government or private school, the points I made still hold true.
In the Spider-Man® universe, one of the guiding principles is that “with great power comes great responsibility,” something Peter Parker learned the hard way. He had the power—the superpower actually—to stop a criminal, but he didn’t and lost his Uncle Ben as a result.
What parent doesn’t relate? With the great power to guide our children comes the great responsibility to do right by them.
I know my homeschool parent friends are keenly aware of this. Homeschool families flock to homeschool conferences and expos. Stop by any social media group for home educators and you’ll find parents asking about curriculum, following state laws, seeking help to solve this or that problem.
We want to do this right.
But the same holds true for my traditional school parent friends. They attend PTA meetings, run for school board, volunteer to help with the band uniforms, or bake those muffins for the speech and debate team fundraiser.
However, one of the things I’ve noticed in recent years is, while parents will take responsibility for their children’s education, sometimes there’s a reticence to take full advantage of their power as decision makers.
I see too many parents wanting someone else—someone “out there”—some authority figure with a bunch of fancy degrees to assure them what they’ve decided is okay for their children. For homeschoolers it may be to allow the kids to take an open book history test, to decide to use a computer science class as a science credit, or to give them some sort of cosmos permission to count a cookie baking session filled with fractions as a math lesson.
For parents in a traditional school setting it may be opting to go against the flow and schedule regular dinners as a family, opt out of video game culture, or sidestepping social media.
But in the end, it really is all up to you! You decide. You make the call. You be the one. You and no one else. Don’t wait for someone else’s approval or permission or go-ahead.
Look to yourself.
Seizing your own power as a parent—and if you’re a homeschool parent, seizing your power as an educator—means taking full advantage of what it means to BE a parent.
Yes, your family may operate differently.
And. That’s. Okay.
In fact, it’s supposed to be that way.
When your family looks radically different from a friend’s family, don’t doubt yourself…and don’t doubt your friend. Your families are unique, and you’re raising individuals. Why wouldn’t our families (and our homeschools!) look different?
In fact, if your family’s life looks exactly like someone else’s, I’ll be so bold as to say chances are either you’re doing it wrong for you…or they’re doing it wrong for them.
As parents, consider how with great responsibility comes great power.
This year, do yourself a favor: Be Brave. Take advantage of the power you have to direct your children’s learning, then use your parental superpowers for good…create a family life and culture as unique as your children.