When our government arbitrarily declared most businesses “non-essential” and shut them down as part of the COVID-19 lockdown policy, it bothered me a lot. If you saw “The Little Prince” animated movie, you will understand why. In that movie, success was defined as being “essential” — if you’re not essential, you aren’t contributing to adult society. In our case, too, the government has declared that if you are not a first responder, grocery store worker, or another professional whose job is necessary to people’s survival, you aren’t needed and can be shut down. And as it appears on social media, many of the general public agree with that.
Sometimes homeschooled children want to go back to school and their parents wonder how to keep them interested in home education. This problem usually happens when the child previously attended school and misses his or her friends from there. Friends who go to school can easily provide the necessary outside influence.
The information we give to kids about careers is often feel good unrealistic nonsense. When you daughter says she wants to be a famous singer and she does not have a musical ear, why do you tell her she can do it if she works hard? She will most likely never become a singer. Year after year, thousands of aspiring young singers show up for auditions with great expectations, only to learn that they don’t possess the skills they thought they did. The same goes for sports: only select few make it to the top, so if your child has average athletic abilities, why do you let him believe he can be a professional athlete?
I don’t think that homeschooling is necessarily superior to schooling. True, many schools have problems, such as too much sedentary time indoors, political brainwashing, poor quality of instruction, perverted sex ed, bullying. But if you can somehow find a nice private or charter school without all these problems, then everything will probably be fine. Absent these negative factors associated with most schools, the homeschooling model is not necessarily superior to the school model. It’s just that these two models serve two different goals, so you need to pick the model that is best suitable for your goal.
Some families are hesitant to homeschool, because homeschooling is traditionally associated with at least one parent staying at home, and not all families can afford that. However, homeschooling is possible even for working parents. For example, both my husband and I run our own full-time businesses and homeschool our kids without any external help. Nowadays, working and homeschooling present more options and flexibility, and they are no longer mutually exclusive.
Beyond the Starving Artist: Entrepreneurial Model of Homeschooling
When I read articles and discussions about teaching entrepreneurship to kids, I often see entrepreneurship regarded as just another childhood activity. Many parents don’t try to engage their kids in more serious entrepreneurial pursuits beyond the lemonade stand and car wash. Other parents think that entrepreneurship is simply another discipline which may not necessarily appeal to all children. Those parents would say, “I don’t want to force my child to become an entrepreneur” or “I don’t know if my child has the abilities to become an entrepreneur.”
School is perfect for training children to be nine-to-fivers. At school, you do what the teacher says, you come and leave at fixed times, follow the curriculum prescribed by the school bureaucrats – and if you do well, you are rewarded with good grades. At work, you are expected to sit there during office hours and do what the management says. You are monitored through so called “performance reviews,” and you are occasionally rewarded for your loyalty (which often has nothing to do with performance) with promotions and raises. Corporate office is a logical continuation of school.
Homeschooling and working are typically believed to be mutually exclusive. In most homeschooling families, at least one of the parents doesn’t work. On the other hand, most families where both parents work don’t homeschool. My family’s experience shows that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing – there is a way to do both.
Homeschooling is not an obstacle for running a business; with the right approach these two things can coexist and even complement each other. Entrepreneurship has enriched my homeschooling and life in general by teaching me new skills and by broadening my horizons – all of which is necessary to be a homeschool parent with a vision. On the other hand, being a homeschooler (which means that my kids are with me most of the time) has taught me valuable lessons and opened up unique opportunities for me to enhance and strengthen my career as a business owner and as an entrepreneur.
In my readings and in my dealings with people, I often encounter unfortunate anti-capitalist and anti-market tendencies which to me as a business person sound senseless, unfair, and offensive. These attitudes don’t make any economic or moral sense, they are nothing but emotional, “feel-good” bumper-sticker slogans. For example, it’s considered good when services are given away for free or when we buy local even if the quality is worse and the price is higher; it’s considered bad when one’s goal is to make a profit and to grow wealth; and teaching children to earn and manage money instead of letting them “enjoy their childhood” is considered outright ugly.