A German family has rented the house at the end of our cul-de-sac, three houses away from us. She is a civilian, working for the German government here, and he is former German military but a stay-at-home dad here. They have two children, Julia who is 13, and Timon, who is 9. Timon has been having a great time playing with my boys, and Julia loves playing with Anna.
You may not be aware of this, but homeschooling is absolutely outlawed in Germany. There are several active cases right now where German authorities have removed children from their homes simply because the parents were educating them at home. The Supreme Court of Europe ruled that the right of the parents to raise their children as they pleased was triumphed by the right of the state to control what the child is learning. Children can't be "indoctrinated" by only what their parents believe. This actually is a law that Hitler put into practice, since he wanted all children to go to state schools and learn the party line. Here is a link from HSLDA about Germany that has links to several articles on the court cases.
So this afternoon Julia was playing with Anna outside, and it was time for her nap. I walked down to her house, because I thought that's where they were (they were actually in our backyard), and I ended up having a very long coversation with her dad, Oliver. We started out talking about everyday things, like how their second shipment, which includes their second car, is not going to be here for 6-8 more weeks. Then he asked if I stayed at home all day, saying that he knew that would be busier than a full-time job! I said that I did indeed stay home and (dropping the bomb into the conversation) that our children were homeschooled, so my other job was teaching them all. He was flabbergasted! "This is legal in America?!" he exclaimed! We talked for about 35 minutes on how homeschooling worked, what the requirements were (no, our government does not tell us what we have to cover and how), and how I thought it was a benefit to our family. He was very interested and had quite a few questions! He was curious about how our kids don't have another big authority figure in their lives, like a teacher. I told him that really wasn't true, since they were involved in sports, co-op, etc., with many other authority figures, but that we were the ones who set the boundaries for how they acted and what was the right thing to do, and we could be very consistent, since they were mainly with me. I also said that the Bible was our standard for those behavoral guidelines, so it wasn't like we were just making things up on the fly. We talked about how having all the kids at home all the time helped them be a real team, with everyone serving each other, and how you couldn't just sweep sibling problems under the rug, since they were right there together all the time.
I hope this will be an opportunity for us to be a good homeschool witness to this family! Maybe more conversations will come from this one. He was definitely chewing on what I said when I left! We can work to change attitudes about homeschooling in Germany one family at a time!