Should I homeschool?
Things are a little tough at the Creek this week, as my 91-year-old grandmother took a tumble, has been hospitalized, and now has to move to the nursing home, hopefully temporarily. She is a strong woman who has always lived alone, and she is proud of it. I hope everyone in the U.S. has a wonderful holiday and all of you have a great weekend. Since everything here is running at about quarter-power, I thought I’d rerun a question I got in the open thread last weekend from a mother considering homeschooling. As you might imagine, I get asked this question a lot!
I meant to come last week but didn't get around to it until Sunday when you were sweeping up the confetti :)
My question feels very broad and jumbled, but I'm hoping that you can help me make sense of my thoughts.
So here goes. My daughter started Kindergarten this past August at a carefully selected Catholic school: my husband is Catholic and went to Catholic school, and we hoped that Catholic school would have more consciously parented kids. That hasn’t really happened (did you know that there are Kindergarteners who are into High School Musical 3?). I just don't like the child she’s becoming, I don’t feel that she’s being challenged enough (she’s reading very well already and we're very hands-on, which the school just doesn’t seem to be), and well, I just don't like taking her to school and being away from her every day. I want her to be taught by someone who really appreciates and understands who she is, is really invested in helping her meet her potential, and I want her to have the time to really explore the things she's interested in rather than having to ‘finish up so we can go to recess.’ I feel like my husband and I could be great homeschoolers--we are very hands-on, love learning ourselves, are very DIY, and it feels like the way we interact with our kids is already very much about supporting their interests, teaching them about things, and allowing them the space to explore. The more I read about homeschooling and talk with people about it the more I feel that we can’t afford NOT to do it (equally, I don’t think we can really afford to send three kids to Catholic school, but that’s a secondary matter!). I want them to be the people they were meant to be and I don’t see that happening otherwise.
Sounds rosy, eh? I’m just terrified. My almost-six year old has a three year old brother and one year old sister, and we’ve talked about adding one more child. How can I do this? I don’t see how I can give Josie the attention that she’ll need and deserve while keeping Adelaide’s tiny hands out of her projects and not excluding Jasper. I’m already driven a bit crazy by them, as much as I adore each of them … how will I get through spending every day together? We have no family around here, and are prone to taking on too much already.
So, I guess that my question is … honestly, how can I do this? Am I nuts?
Thanks for reading this far, and I'm sorry if this is a bit out of the scope of your thread :)
Hi Amanda :^)
Open thread has no scope! That is the beauty of open thread.
Unfortunately I *do* know that there are kindergarten students who are into HSM3.
Here’s your own description of the teacher you want for your children: “I want her to be taught by someone who really appreciates and understands who she is, is really invested in helping her meet her potential, and I want her to have the time to really explore the things she's interested in rather than having to ‘finish up so we can go to recess.’”
There are teachers out there in public and private schools who meet those qualifications. There are teachers who are striving to be that, not just for one child or four children, but for twenty-four children (or more) every day, every year.
But when you roll the dice every year from kindergarten through high school, odds are, those teachers will not be the majority of the people who are working with your child.
The question is, could you be that person for your child.
Homeschooling is about more than education. It requires more of you than managing your child’s learning. It requires you to make your life what you need it to be. Not enough friends? You’ll have to find more friends. Need more time out of the house, more time for your children with other caring adults? You’ll have to find that, too. Or make it.
On the plus side, it’s very doable. It’s just a question of whether it’s something you want to choose to do.
What’s the worst thing that can happen? The negatives outweigh the positives, you decide it’s not a good fit for you and/or your child(ren). You tried it; it wasn’t for you. What did it cost? A year of your life? Any parent with a child in public school can tell you about a “wasted” year with a teacher who was either a bad fit for their child or just bad in general. Don’t be afraid of making a bold choice because it might not succeed. Don’t worry about what other people will think.
Life is a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen keller. What lesson do you impart to your child when you take this on? What lesson do you impart to yourself? That you aren’t afraid to jump in feet first? That you are willing to change what needs to be changed?
I read a quote in the book I was reading today, by Clare Walker Leslie. She was talking about art, but it applies to life as well: “Stop every now and then to evaluate whether you are really learning or enjoying as much as you would like. If not, have the courage to find out why and then change your path of study.”
A lot of people get on your case when you decide to homeschool. When you decide to do A and your friends (or relatives) do B, the less secure ones will think that your choice is saying something about them and their choices.
People who homeschool are no better or worse than people who don’t homeschool — plenty of homeschooled five-year-olds are into High School Musical 3 as well. *That* isn’t going to change. People are the same everywhere. Now, you may find more like-minded souls, but you will have to seek them out.
A lot of people like to say “You can’t control your child’s life — they have to be around bullies, know about video games/HSM3/YouTube, deal with this, learn to handle that.” They will continue to bray this at you while you take up the reins and decide to have more control over your life and your family’s life. And you can have more control. You can make it over to suit yourself more. That’s why most of us do it. Get used to a constant background noise of people telling you what a mistake you’re making. If you concentrate, you can make it sound like the ocean.
Re: giving your oldest adequate attention while dealing with your younger children, I suspect you already have an inkling of how this works. Once you decide to have more than one child, you know you can never give everything to everyone ever again. But then you find out that they start giving to each other, and there’s no deficit. In fact, you’re fine. You’re all taking care of each other. It doesn’t *hurt* your child to learn to accommodate others; it helps them. Will they get everything they want or need as soon as they want or need it? No, and that’s fine.
Now, I always feel like I’m backed into a corner and forced to cheerlead homeschooling, and I don’t particularly want to do that. For one thing, if more people do it, the library and the museum won’t be as quiet during the day. For another, it makes people mad at me, and I would rather quietly browse the buffet table than get into a heated argument with someone’s cousin about whether my children will be prepared to take their place in society 15 years hence. (I’m pretty sure they will.)
Also, almost all my friends don’t homeschool, and I think they’re just swell, and their kids are just swell. And almost all my friends are teachers, and my friends who are teachers are the kind of teachers who are amazing and inspiring and the kind of teacher your kid would be lucky to have. Or, they’re lapsed teachers who are now homeschooling their kids, which is cool, too.
So I don’t care whether you decide to homeschool or decide that your school isn’t that bad after all, and when you think about it, Zac Efron is really cute and the musical numbers are quite snappy, even if the whole picture has zero familiarity with actual high school. But I am completely sure that you are capable of homeschooling if that’s what you want to do — not that it will be completely easy from the get-go, but that you will be able to handle whatever comes along. Whatever you decide to do, it doesn’t make you one whit less smart or loving or involved. But do I think you’re nuts? No. Any time someone is really working hard at getting their best authentic life, I most decidedly do not think they are nuts.