Dear friends, there are some things I want you to know. I’m putting it here so I can catch you all in one sweep (unless you don’t read my blog. Hey, why aren’t you reading my blog??). This post is not a reaction to anything. I just know that school choices can be polarizing. I also know I had misconceptions about homeschooling before I started.
1) I have zero opinion or judgement about where your kids go to school. Really. Ok, I take that back. Some days, I may judge you to be smarter than me for sending your kids to school. See my side note in #2.
2) I don’t homeschool because I’m anti-public school. I am a product of public school and I loved it. I met the guy I married, had some amazing teachers, and earned college credit from AP classes. It is likely my kids will be in public school one of these days. *Side-note: I had a mini-meltdown two weeks ago and it almost happened. If that school bus had only gone a little bit slower…
3) I don’t homeschool for religious reasons. I’m happy that I can talk to my kids about my spiritual beliefs but I would do that regardless of where they went to school.
4) We don’t replicate traditional school at home. There are no white boards or desks. We don’t say the pledge of allegiance and there is no bell. What we learn is different than what your child might be learning. Different; not better or worse. We do school year-round so that we can be flexible and play. We play a lot. I have a list of what I’d like to cover in a week and we squeeze it in as we do life. I like lists; particularly checking them off. We usually finish everything but life comes first. And life has plenty of its own important lessons.
5) A word about my
excessive prolific facebook activity. Confession: I may have judged some women before I was a homeschool mom. It may have gone something like this, “She says she homeschools but she’s always on facebook. That’s one of my issues with homeschoolers–they can be such slackers!” Ugly, right? What can I say? I’ve eaten so many words since I became a mom. (Like, “I’ll NEVER homeschool.”) What is the deal with some homeschool moms and facebook? I get it now. It goes like this: when your child needs supervision while they’re working on a task–say, practicing their reading–you will slowly lose your mind. It starts oozing out your ears and your foot begins to bounce as irritation creeps up your body. I survive the mundane sounding-out of words by surreptitiously checking facebook on my phone under the table. It is for sanity’s sake, people. I also secretly eat girl scout cookies under the table.
6) Socialization: The top question I get from people is “how do your socialize them?” My question is how do we fit in school with all the socializing? Norah learns some valuable skills in her daily relations with her sister: patience, persuasion, conflict resolution, and physical defense skills. Our calendar is packed with science labs, zoo school, co-ops, field trips, classes, and playdates. I drop her off every Monday to spend 7 hours with other kids her age. My husband gently pointed out that I over-scheduled this month. I did. It got ugly.
7) It’s challenging for me to hang out kid-free. Each week, I need to carve out kid-free time for my work: prenatals, postpartums, births, and classes. I can’t take a child to those. That leaves little other time I can ask my child-watchers to help. If you want to hang out, you’ll get the whole clan.
8) As in most situations, it’s not helpful for you to say, “I could never do that.” You probably could do it. Not that you SHOULD but you could homeschool if the situation called for it. When I hear someone say that, it makes me feel a little isolated and crazy for trying.
9) I’ve found that sometimes homeschool parents can be
boastful snotty about their kids. Do you know why? Because they’re in the minority. Whenever anyone does something that isn’t mainstream (ahem, homebirth, attachment parenting, not vaccinating), we tend to focus only on the positives and sometimes sound preachy. I’ve read homeschool articles that ooze with superiority. This makes it difficult for me to talk about the areas I worry about when I’m surrounded by “all the homeschool kids test above grade-level, yada yada”. And it sometimes makes it difficult to talk about it with you. I want to be transparent about my kids. Call me on it if I’m sounding too “my kid is a unique snowflake.” I’m probably really insecure about screwing up my child. To keep it real, some days are horrible. Horrible. Here is a facetime image my husband captured when he called in one morning:
10) “But how are you going to teach every subject to your kids?” First off, my kid is in 1st grade. I can handle that material. I don’t know how long I’ll homeschool so this question might be irrelevant to us. However, my goal–and the goal of most homeschool families–is to teach kids to teach themselves. When they reach material that presents a challenge, there are online classes/lectures, local college classes, mentors, the library, and more. I hope I can help my girls work beyond what I can teach them.
Why do I do it? It feels right. For now. I like the flexibility of it. It works well with being on call as a doula. I like that when Norah gets excited about something, we can drop everything and dig into a subject. I don’t have to get up early in the morning and I don’t have to do carpool lines. I really like what I’m learning. I’m digging up memories from Mr. Wilson’s 8th grade Latin class. I’ve memorized a 13 minute history timeline song. This week, I’m learning about the Songhai empire. I love the old and often obscure texts we read. Redeeming my own education.
If this post sounds disjointed, I broke up 15 fights between my children, lost my temper three times, got side-tracked by google image, and attended a birth while attempting to write it. So, I’ve meandered. What I want to say is I love my friends who don’t homeschool and very much need you in my life. You give me balance and perspective. And you keep me from being a HOMESCHOOL MOM instead of a mom who happens to homeschool.
As usual I find your words inspiring. As a mom who hopes to homeschool I appreciate the candor.
Homeschooling is definitely a love hate relationship. I would only add that coffee and chocolate go a long way to save the sanity as well. I feel like a veteran now with 8 yrs under my belt and feel like I deserve some kind of medal, but with that experience comes humility. Thank God for husbands that support us and play principle/psychotherapist when needed. 🙂
This is pretty much exactly what I would have written, had I written this post myself. Thanks for putting into words what I don’t have the time (patience, brainpower, TWO SECONDS TO MYSELF FOR ONCE!!) to do. 🙂
on our first year of homeschooling and i have so much in common with the things you state here. thanks for putting it down in words for others who haven’t made the same choices as us. 🙂
Thank you so much for mentioning that we have to work to fit in schooling! Though I have homeschooled two all the way through, as I start over, I’m finding our socializing and outside activities (educational, sports-related, etc) to be awesome, yet challenging! One thing I have to remember is that they are little (prek, kindy and 1st grades) and “ahead” so that helps. Also, one benefit of homeschooling is that our kids *can* be well-rounded a little differently: trying out a language class, sewing class, horseback riding, do labs with friends, enjoy park days, gallivanting from one field trip to another, etc on top of their normal sports and arts as well as more typical education pursuits (history, science, 3Rs, etc). It is something I’ve worried about! We seem to be socializing an awful lot these days!
Oh dear, precious Julie! I wish I was as smart (and cool) as you when I was raising my kids! I love and appreciate your honesty with everything you say and do! Thanks for staying true to yourself and your beliefs and letting us share in it with you! *(p.s.- Did we have the same Mr. Wilson in middle school? I don’t think I learned anything in there!) 🙂
Same Mr. Wilson! We mostly played Scrabble in Latin but a few things stuck.
I get it. But I don’t get it. I get that life can be stressful, “getting it all done” can be a challenge. But why is homeschool itself so difficult? That’s the one part of my day that is so peaceful, joyful and satisfying. When we can’t homeschool (yes, we have days like that because I own a business and have special needs kids), it upsets me. THAT is what’s difficult about homeschool for me… trying to work it into my life.
I wish someone would take away the work, the bills, all the single-mom hardships and just let me homeschool all the time.
Perhaps another approach is called for because learning should be interesting, fun, and demanded by your kids. My kids become bitter with me if we miss too much.
Thanks for stopping by. I said some days were horrible; certainly not all. I wouldn’t homeschool if my kids weren’t interested, having fun, and demanding to learn. Sorry if something I said was misunderstood. My intent was to be transparent. I know most of my homeschool moms have days that we struggle through.
I love this!!!! I plan on homeschooling (freaking out about it too, even though he’s only 1 year old) and I’m investigating becoming a doula. I’d like to be certified when I start homeschooling. The question is how do you make it work? Where do the kids go when you’re doulaing?
Hi Alex! It would feel more challenging to worry about school attendance while on call. As it is, I can skip a school day when I’m at a birth. We homeschool year round so it’s easy to make up the time.
I found another homeschool mom who owns a farm. So she’s almost always home. My girls love joining in on milking goats and making soap. It’s a perfect situation.