In many ways, I consider our family "normal". At first glance, we really don't stand out as a homeschooling family. But, as with all homeschooling families, there are things that make my family unique.
My husband is Japanese-American. He was born in Japan and moved to California with his family when he was 5. It's rare to see Japanese homeschoolers. Even here in California. In Japan, school is even more important than it is here. There is also a much stronger tie to family legacy than here in the states.
But that really isn't what makes our family remarkable, in my opinion. What I think is really cool about our family, is how our entire extended family has become part of our homeschooling life - even embracing our non-academic non-school approach to learning. My Japanese in-laws, who were at first wary and nervous about the whole thing, have become two of our biggest fans. They are also two of our children's most involved teachers. They attend homeschooling conferences and read homeschooling magazines.
On my side of the family, my mom has always been excited about the idea of homeschooling. She has been involved with the children, putting them first above all. Considering that she and I were not on speaking terms for over ten years, it's amazing to me how much she is involved in the children's lives. She puts our past aside and focuses on what is the most important. She has become such an involved homeschooling advocate, that she is presenting at our local homeschooling conference this year for her first time.
My step-grandmother is also incredibly supportive and does her best to come by and share her life and love of learning with the children. She has no obligation to, since she is not at all blood related to our kids. She's a step-step-grandmother (my step-mom's step-mom). Yet she takes the time to come out and spend time with the kids, seeing the learning value in everything they do.
What I consider to be non-traditional is this idea that the entire family is involved in our children's education. We aren't just mom and dad trying to educate our children despite the social and familial push to send them to school. Our family has embraced homeschooling with us. We are four generations working together to educate each other organically, in the midst of living a technological and modern life.
My husband and I have adopted a lifestyle that none of our family had even heard of before we told them about our choice. They had every right and opportunity to question it. Especially my dad, who used to be a teacher. Yet, instead, they chose to get involved, find out more, and understand the whole thing with us. I am forever grateful for my family's willingness to stand out with us, and be different. They stand up to the questions, comments and concerns of their friends and neighbors.
Before we were homeschooling, our family was disjointed and loosely communicative. Now, since we've adopted this new family-oriented approach to life and learning, we're closer than ever. This isn't supported in our society at large. But in the homeschooling community, it's totally possible. And for that, I'm so thankful that we have the freedom to live this love-filled, unconventional life that I never would have guessed we could achieve.
Homeschooling so rocks. And anyone who says that this life is weird or threatens the sanctity of the public schools is off their rocker. I would never give up what we have in order to be what other people consider "normal".
Tammy Takahashi lives and learns with her three children (10, 7 and 4) and supportive husband in California. She is the author of Deschooling Gently: A Step by Step Guide to Fearless Homeschooling. She also serves as the editor of the California HomeSchooler magazine, a bi-monthly publication for the Homeschool Association of California. You can read more from her about education and homeschooling on her website. And you can email her at tammy.takahashi @ gmail(dot)com.