Friday, January 17, 2014

I could NEVER homeschool...

"I could never homeschool!"

I have uttered these words. And I have heard countless other people that I know, and strangers, say the same.

I hardened my heart toward home education early on when dating Daniel, before we even had a child. When my husband told me that he was homeschooled and he entertained the idea of having our own homeschool I silently rolled my eyes. Yeah right! Me, homeschool? I went to public school and so will my kids!

I dreamed of the day we'd get that wonderful list of our required school supplies and we'd fill a shopping cart with fresh crayons and new backpacks. I dreamed of lining kids up for that First Day of School picture, their clothes clean and hair brushed just right.

And we did have that for three years. I had to convince my husband to send her off as he was reluctant. I refused to budge on my judgmental attitude about home education. But my little idealistic school fantasy was slowly crushed. We hardly saw our child anymore and when we did it was so strained and stressful. She had to do school all day and then more school when she got home. There was no playtime. School politics got ugly. Our child morphed into someone I didn't recognize.

I didn't know what to do. I began to soften my heart toward homeschooling and ask myself Could I do this?!
I came up with several excuses NOT to homeschool. And for every reason I came up with to not homeschool I realized nothing could be excuse enough to put my children's welfare into the hands of this broken system nor left to chance.

Excuse: I don't have time (I work from home)!
I still work from home. I run my own business. It is not a hobby or a craft that I do when I feel like it. I know parents who work outside the home that homeschool. I had more time than I realized. It is about effective time management. Here's a secret: homeschool isn't 7am to 4pm. It can be anytime in your day where it works for you and your family! And since your "class size" is smaller you don't need to spend 8 hours doing school. Preschool time is about 30-60 minutes, if that. Once your older child realizes how much free time they have if they focus and get work done they can be done in just a few hours. Sometimes we break it up throughout the day. We've done history after dinner, when Dad is home, so we can all discuss stuff together. BONUS: Kids will learn even when they don't realize it! Make cookies and have them double the recipe. You've just done fractions, multiplication and measurements... and you got someone to make you cookies!

Excuse: I am not qualified.
I am more than qualified, I just didn't realize it. I don't need to WRITE the curriculum! I could pick and choose wholesome curriculum and brush up on my own knowledge as we go. They're supposed to be learning what I myself was taught! I firmly believe education begins in the home. No one told you how to teach your toddler their ABC's or colors. YOU did that. And you can teach them a whole lot more.

Excuse: I want a break from kids!

I do get breaks from the kids. This may sound selfish but think back to those summer days when everyone is home and Mom starts to get cranky. Needing a break doesn't mean you love someone less. It is hard to be needed and needed and needed without end. There are many ways to get a break. Schedule dates with your spouse, kid-free nights with friends, hire a babysitter, take turns homeschooling with another family, run errands at night, send big kids to their room to play when the toddler or baby naps, etc. YOU make it what it is and if you need a break then make it happen. I get overstimulated and overwhelmed by the constant demands so a break is essential to me decompressing. It doesn't even have to be a huge break. Getting a quiet 10-minute shower in, alone, helps me tremendously.

Excuse: Public School is free.
Public school may be tuition-free but there are hidden fees, uniform/clothing costs, field trip costs, special projects, book fees, etc. Some people homeschool for free or near free. It's possible! I prefer to buy gently used curriculum. It can be affordable. The great thing is there are a ton of choices and your used curriculum can be resold or used for younger siblings later. And there's no "one size fits all" curriculum. You have the freedom to change direction to meet individual need if something doesn't work.

Excuse: How would my kids socialize?
Socialization. Ah, the main thing that puts parents in a panic when considering homeschooling. First you need to ask yourself what socialization looks like to you and what you expect from it. Is socialization sitting in a small classroom at a desk, alone, requiring your child to be silent and attentive to one adult most of the day? While recess and lunch often results in immature children being thrown together and expected to "figure out how to socialize themselves"? Socialization occurs at home or in public when people of all ages interact. Most kids actually socialize more after school and on the weekends when with siblings, parents, extended family and free play with friends. No matter how you school it IS important to cultivate friendships and be around people of similar age BUT don't dismiss the valuable time your child has hanging out with their grandmother or siblings either. And don't get caught in the lie that socialization occurs in school and only school. It's actually a very brief flicker of social interaction in their life.

Excuse: Let someone else deal with education.
I came to the conclusion that I was not okay with not knowing what went on in the classroom. Sure I got updates from time-to-time and my child told me some things. But it is the unsaid that bothered me. It is not seeing all her work nor knowing everything being taught. Then hearing that some schools teach things I'm not comfortable with, like giving teens condoms and telling them they don't have to talk to their parents about sex. That doesn't happen everywhere but that's the problem. You don't always know what is being taught until it is done, maybe years passed. I don't believe in putting kids in a bubble so don't get me wrong. This isn't about shielding them but teaching them age appropriate things at the right time for them. And no one should ever tell a child they cannot go to their parent.

Next time you think you don't have the time nor the patience to homeschool please give yourself more credit. It doesn't take a degree or special powers. The first year can be the hardest. Everyone has to adjust. For our family we also had to de-school our daughter so that was part of our first year adjustment period. There were a lot of tears from everyone! This year, our second year, is going so much better. We still have those days but I know now that it's okay to take a time-out and get back to it once everyone has calmed down.

I thought I could never homeschool. But I can and I do. It goes to show that you should never say never... until you've given it a fair shot.

***This is a pro-homeschool blog. This is based on our experiences and personal beliefs. I believe everyone needs to do what is right for their family and I do NOT judge those who choose a different path, despite how I may come across. This is too broad a subject to not make generalizations from time-to-time and you cannot hear my tone. But realize I am aware that everyone is different. I don't expect everyone to do as I do.


The Mommy said...

You spoke my heart, Joy! It is so frustrating to hear parents say that they could never do what we do, as if we have superpowers. And the socialization myth is enough to drive me crazy!
Than you for speaking your heart and mind on this!

Kaysha said...

I'm so happy you found something that works for you! I'm sure you know how strongly I want to home school, but as much as I have searched for a solution, I don't see one. Maybe someday! Hope all continues to go well!

Kaye said...

What a timely post. I was after my FB friends about this, but since you're not on there anymore =P, I'm coming to your blog to ask. Please send me a message (mrsnespy at hotmail) telling me what curriculum you use for homeschooling. I have a friend interested in starting and I'm asking all of my homeschooling friends for advice.

Jan said...

I always said my kids would go to school so I could have a "break". But now we are planning to homeschool. My oldest won't be five until after the cut-off date for K5 this coming year, but she just barely misses it so I'm going to start her in homeschool anyway. I've just now started to delve into the world of homeschool and it's VERY overwhelming. There's SO many options! But I know I don't have to get it perfect for K5 so that's helpful. I'd love to hear more about what you specifically chose and why!(and if you do co-ops which seem to be good but another expense!)

Susan Sene said...

Oops that last comment was me. Didn't know my mom was signed in on her computer. :)