It used to be that being a homeschooler brought a certain amount of respect, that I could call and book a field trip and be greeted with enthusiasm from the other end. Many places would hold a special homeschool day-and many still do. But it's becoming less common and in several cases, it's being discontinued. The last time I made a call to set up a field trip, when the field trip liaison heard it was for homeschoolers, she was not at all thrilled.
Homeschoolers are becoming notorious-not for having poorly socialized children or for wearing out the kitchen chairs or even for all having trampolines or US maps or microscopes or whatever the general population things we all do all day. We are becoming notorious because of three things, and as a former event planner, I heard this more and more often.
One, homeschoolers will seize upon an event-let's say a trip to the art museum-and sign up to go. The numbers are turned in to the docent who will lead the tour, a slot is given to the group, more guides are called in if needed. Then the day before the event, the e-mails start coming in to the trip planner. Timmy is sick, we need to do more school this week, the van is in the shop, we forgot we have scouts/ball/church/ that evening, it's too far to drive, gas is too high. Suddenly a group of 60 is a group of 30 and the art museum has called in an extra paid docent to cover the bigger group and is stuck holding the bill. And that's just the people who bother to let someone know they won't be there.
Two, homeschoolers are very often late. It's jokingly called 'being on homeschool time', but it's a huge factor in scheduling group events and activities when people are late. It throws off the group coming after for the place being toured and it throws off any other parts of the day the trip planner has lined up. It smacks of disrespect and we are known for it.
Three, in groups large and small, the same thing is happening-moms are clumping together to chat and gossip and the kids are running around unattended. This is fine at playgrounds and other places where they don't need to be attentive, but it's happening on tours and at classes and other events as well. And our kids are not as well-behaved as we like to think.
I no longer plan events for homeschool groups and we rarely attend them because it's disheartening to put so much work into planning and only two other families show up. Or to arrive and find the kids running around not paying a bit of attention to the group leader, or to arrive on time and have to wait for the rest of the group to show up, or get started and several people slip in late.
Homeschoolers are becoming notorious for three reasons, but it all boils down to one real issue-entitlement. We are homeschoolers and believe we are better than public schoolers, we are homeschoolers and your rules don't apply to us, we are homeschoolers and we are special. No, we are homeschoolers are we are not better than public schoolers, but we ARE better than this. It's time to make an effort, parents in the generation before us went to jail for the rights we now have to educate our children at home and this generation can't even commit to a date and time on a calendar.