Monday, April 13, 2009

Homeschooling Means You Are Giving Up

That's the message I got from the movie we watched last night.

But let me back up a bit.

You know Sweetheart is all about the American Girl Dolls. We have learned SO MUCH from history by reading the books about these characters, made to be representative of a typical 8-10 year old girl's life during whatever time period. The books are enjoyable, the dolls are precious, and I am really glad we have read the books. Sweetheart has learned a lot about things past and how life was in other eras.

I've been skipping the "Julie" books because they are set in 1974 and Julie's parents, true to the era, are going through a divorce. There's also some "anything boys can do, girls can do better" themes going on in the books. And of course, Julie is the only doll who comes wearing pants. Call me silly, but I prefer reading to her about little girls who wear dresses, and stitch on their samplers, and help their mother with chores. We can get enough of the other reality in, well...real life.

So what possessed me to order Chrissa Stands Strong from Netflix is beyond me. See, every year the American Girl company has a "Girl of the Year." This doll is only offered for the one year and is a modern doll, representative of today's girls. We have mostly focused on the historical characters, but Sweetheart saw the preview of this movie about 2009's Chrissa doll and wanted to see it.

Oh hindsight. Where were you when I needed you?

I really should have watched this movie first. I did warn her that the girls in the movie, and even the main character, Chrissa (who is the "good guy" in Sweetheart's mind) might not act like God would have them to. Chrissa might not even respond to the bullying in a godly way. We'll just have to see. After we watch it, I told her, we can decide if she acted like God would want us to.

But I really wasn't ready for what we saw. The bullying was BAD ya'll. And I have no doubt that bullying really is this bad and worse in many places. The girls were all 4th graders in the movie, but reminded me much more of middle school students. And it got intense sometimes. Sweetheart burst into tears during one scene and I had to hug her and remind her it was a movie about A DOLL which made her laugh. Then she accidentally blew some snot on my sweater and we all grossed out and pressed play again.

Family movie night. Good times.

Anyway, if you have a kid in public school, it probably is a good movie for you to consider. The ultimate theme I suppose is: kids can't handle problems by themselves all the time and they need to tell an adult and let them help. Which I have to agree is true.

So what's the problem?

The first day that Chrissa attends her new school the bullying begins. She goes straight home, gets on her laptop and Googles "Homeschooling 4th Grade." Which made me laugh out loud. Smart kid!!! At supper one night she tells her family she'd like to be homeschooled and gives them some quick stats on how homeschoolers perform better on tests. The idea is immediately dismissed and her dad even makes a bet with her.

"I bet you can't be on the school swim team if you're homeschooled," he says.
"Bet you can," Chrissa replies, after which they shake on it.

We never see anything come of the bet. Chrissa stays in school and joins the swim team. Hello??? Producers??? Writers??? Could we get some fact checking going on here? You most assuredly CAN homeschool and still participate in team sports!!!

Sigh. It's not even that. Normal kids go to public school and homeschooling is just something we aren't even going to consider. Chrissa stays home one day because she can't face going to school and when some friends come to check on her she tells them she is considering being homeschooled.

Her friend immediately tells her, "Staying home means you lose and they win." Now, to be fair, she was talking about skipping school because of bullying. But the fact that the comment came right after homeschooling was mentioned again just dismissed the idea entirely.

Homeschooling is like....a last resort....or not even a consideration and it's what you do when you want to give up. That's kind of the message that was given. And that's why I was disappointed in the movie. American Girls DO get homeschooled AND learn to deal with bullies. Sweetheart learned a lesson about bullies at the park the other day....with her mom right there to help guide the situation instead of her all alone trying to deal with it herself.

I don't know. I've just heard a lot of stories of parents who have HAD to pull their kids home because of bullying. And I've been told by others that "I can't protect them forever." Which always makes me want to ask them if they buckle their kids up in the car. If so, why? Why not just let them ride and pray God will protect them?

Any thoughts? Have any of you seen the movie?


  1. Oh Brenda, I haven't seen the movie, but gee whiz! Sadly it is how most of my mom friends feel. *sigh* It is so hard to do what God tells you to do when the rest of the world mocks you because of your "setting yourselfs apart".

    I can only imagine what a mainstream public school mama who allows tv to babysit her child would say about your post.

    We are different, because we have heeded a call on our hearts. I find many points in my own life that make me feel just like you have felt here.

    I say your right. Everything you said was right. IF I am ever blessed with a daughter she will be raised as sweetly as I can. :) Sewing with mama, having lessons at home in comfort, learning from her parents example.

    About movies, I always remark to my hubby about the things said in them. And when I see a GOOD movie that makes me feel good I just smile. :)

    But also, I think that children today need to be entertained, and sewing with mama or watching sweet families just isn't entertaining. For example, my kids beg (boys ages 10 and 6) to have me read aloud the little house books. Eli's best friend, a little girl at that, found them boring and whined until her mother didn't ask her to read them anymore. SHOCKING!

    I think that out children are just different because of the life we have given them. Which is why your child was moved by what she saw on the screen...other kids would have just blinked and moved on. I don't say that to be mean. My younger "friends" (I call the children I know my friends too) are such sweet young people that I adore! Most of them attend public school, but they have parents that are like me. Which is why they are great kids. :)

    Anyway, I had time to chat with ya on your post. ;)

  2. Edit: "Most of them attend public school, but they have parents that are like me. Which is why they are great kids."

    Meant: The children that I like to be around and who are just great kids, have sweet parents who are raising them with lots of love and truths. :) Which, is why they are great.

  3. I was a public school mama, and I know plenty of homeschool mamas who let the tv babysit their children. That hurt. Why do we have to have the attack-mode mommy wars? Mothers should allow other mothers to school their children in any way they see fit, public, private or home, without the condemnation. Life is hard enough as it is.

  4. That comment was not directed at you, Brenda, but at the last commentor.

  5. Got it Civilla, thanks! But I know MamaTeaching2 and I don't think she meant that. I just think she meant public school mamas WHO LET tv babysit their kids. Obviously there are plenty of public school parents who don't do that. (and certainly homeschool parents who do!) But I see what you are saying, MT2....others thought the movie was GREAT and saw no concern at all with it.
    And yes, they would probably think my post was insane! :)

  6. The previews of this movie looked really good when we saw it on Kit. But now that you raise those concerns, I'm not sure we'll see it. Maybe I'll view it first. My kids are sensitive like that too...don't need bad dreams about bullies now, do we?

  7. It is a good movie JulieMom--I just wish homeschooling was portrayed in a more positive light. But yeah, watch it first...the 4th graders are a bit more sophisticated in some ways in this movie than any 4th graders I know.

  8. Brenda,

    I always check on any movies we watch as a family on the It allows me to review the movies strong points, faith points, language, inappropriateness, and weak points. It is a Christian based web site from the Focus on the Family group.

  9. Giovanna, I do too!!! Normally, that is. I just thought, "It's an American Girl movie--how bad can it be?" We've seen all the other American Girl movies and there was nothing objectionable in them to me. I did read the review of the Kit movie b/c it was coming out in theaters. Oh well. Lesson learned.

  10. You mentioned that the bullying seemed more like middle school. Well, I can remember when there was a girl in 5th grade being bullied at my daughters' elementary school. My now-14 year old decided to come to this child's defense and be her friend. She hated the cruelty and injustice. Anyway, when she would share with me what this child endured in terms of taunting and name calling, I remember wondering where on earth elementary school girls picked up these types of thoughts. I bet you it's from TV.

    All that to say that later elem. years are like our middle school. And yep, middle school is like our high school experience.

    And if homeschool means giving up, call me a quitter because I have no plans to put my little ones in school. And I wish I had the information to make a more informed choice when my teens were starting school 10 years ago.

  11. My husband and I were talking to our daughter about PULLEYS (you know, the simple machine) and she said, "That's a bad word!" We didn't know what she meant until she explained herself more, "They are mean!" She thought we said BULLIES. Made me smile. :)

    We are way off from that movie around here, but thanks for the heads up. And I'm with Terry, call me a quitter. We'll stay home. ;)


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)