So, through a bizarre set of circumstances, our article in the paper led to me getting into a tiff online about whether or not people with kids in preschool can be said to be homeschooling.
I get that linguistically the term “preschool” implies that it’s not school and therefore how could you homeschool it. But let’s be real. This term is an oxymoron. It’s like “fresh frozen” or “free with purchase.” It makes no sense if you think about it too hard. We all know that preschool is school nowadays. Kids who go to kindergarten without knowing how to read already are even said to be behind in some places! So there’s nothing “pre” about preschool these days. Have you heard the phrase “universal preschool”? Well, it’s coming.
I don’t know a single family with a kid over the age of 3 and a half who did not send them to preschool who was not choosing to homeschool.
That’s why it was so valuable for us to find a preschool homeschool community when Mushroom and BalletBoy turned 3. Without that community, we would have had very limited social outlets for them. That group grew and changed and we still know many of those families today. My kids are so lucky to have such a consistent group of friends, something they probably wouldn’t have if they had gone from a separate preschool to school.
I get that some people go overboard and I admit to feeling a sense of frustration when I see discussion threads about people who have scheduled a whole line up of subjects for their three year olds. However, there’s a snobbish dismissiveness to when I hear other homeschoolers say that someone isn’t “allowed” to call themselves a homeschooler. Surely homeschooling is an outlook, albeit a diverse one, but one where we see education matters as being decided by parents, not by the government. Our educational outlook, our homeschooling, was not suddenly activated the Monday after Labor day the year the boys turned 5. It’s an ongoing, integrated part of our lives as a family.
And if that’s not enough, the companies that sell to homeschoolers are targeting preschool parents in spades. From Five in a Row to Calvert, there are dozens of curricular options for preschool, all sold as homeschooling curricula. The number of preschool homeschool blogs has proliferated, as has the number of preschool homeschool groups and discussions. It’s the generally accepted term.
I no longer have preschoolers, obviously. However, when I made my first steps into the homeschooling world, I found that some people were dismissive about those of us who had younger children. There was a sense that we weren’t allowed at the table.
However, if we couldn’t claim the name of homeschoolers, how could we find each other? And what would we even call what we were doing? Teaching our children at home instead of sending them to school. Forget legalese, but what is that if not homeschooling?