Friday, August 29, 2014

I Could Never Homeschool Because... Six Excuses

I'm going to start right off the bat and say that I don't care if you homeschool your kid or not.  It's a personal choice between your family and God.  Homeschooling has been a wonderful experience for my family.  Maybe it can be a wonderful experience for yours.  Or maybe public school, charter school, or private school is best.

My goal here is not to tell you that you should pull your kids out today and convert your playroom into a school room.  My goal is to give some points to ponder to all those who are thinking, "I think my children could really benefit from homeschooling.  Unfortunately, I could never do it because..."

1. They won't listen to me.
I'm going to start really blunt with this one.  You're the parent.  Your kids should listen to you.  Period.  Chores need to be done so you make them fun and/or non-negotiable to make sure your kids get them done.  Same with school work.  You've gotta do what you gotta do to make school work happen.

2. Homework time is the worst!  I can't imagine doing that all day.
Homework =/= Homeschooling.  Homework and homeschool are two completely different animals.  Homework is done after the kids have had a long, tiring 6 hours at school.  They would rather just chill in front of the TV or play.  If you work in an office, do you come home and want to do 2 more hours of paperwork?  No!

When I homeschool, I get my kids at the best part of the day when their attention spans are longer and their minds fresh, rested, and open.  And we are usually done soon after lunch time.  I firmly believe that 3 o'clock is a kind of witching hour.  Everyone (including me) just wants a snack and a mental break.

3. When I'm pregnant, I just can't function and schoolwork wouldn't happen.
I totally sympathize with this one.  When I'm pregnant, I usually get hyperemesis gravidarum which basically means that I puke all day.  Thankfully I did not get it with my last pregnancy.  Also, my first trimester (where I felt "normal" morning sickness and exhaustian) happened to fall during summer time. So I have not had to do school with those challenges.

But I have thought, "what if?"  And my answer is that it would suck pretty bad to have to get up early every morning and get the kids fed, dressed, lunches packed, school papers packed and drive them to school.  Sure, I could come home again and take a nap.  But then I would have to be conscious and functioning again at 2:30 to do pick-up.  Even not pregnant, I hated being a slave to daily drop-off and pick-up times! (Primus and Secundus each spent some time at a 5 day-per-week preschool and I also did a lot of driving for my friend's boy at one time.)  Then, after school I would still have to monitor homework time.  See #2 above. 

Hypothetically, if I were pregnant during the school year and all I wanted to do was sleep and puke, I can imagine our school days would look something like the following.  Not the ideal situation, but it would work and it would only be for a season.

Stumble out of bed at 9.  Get the oldest kid to get cereal for the littles.  I would then encourage the oldest kids to independently work on their assigned core subjects (teaching independence is a big key to making homeschooling successful in general) while I would attempt to read to the littles or pretend to listen to them practice reading to me. After an hour I would probably give up, tell everyone to  pull out pattern blocks and geo boards, and remind myself that "children learn through play."  At lunch time I would stumble into the kitchen and throw PB/J sandwiches and Go-Go-Squeezes at everyone. The rest of the afternoon would be filled with Bill Nye the Science Guy, Magic School Bus, School House Rock, and Liberty's Kids while I napped. 

4. I have to work.  
Honestly, I have not worked outside the home since my oldest was born, so I can't speak from personal experience.  And I cannot wrap my head around the idea, either.  It seems like there just aren't enough hours in the day!  But I have met working moms (online and in real life) who somehow make it work.  So it's possible.  Somehow.

5. Isn't it expensive?  I can't afford it.
Homeschool is only as expensive as you make it.  There's this great myth that our society and educational system believe that says, "More money equals a better education."  False.

I currently spend $4000 per year on curriculum, art supplies, and enrichment classes.  I'm fortunate to live in a state where I can be associated with a charter school that gets public funds to pay for all those things for me.  It's pretty awesome.  And the money is one reason that we homeschool, because I would not be able to afford to send my girls to gymnastics, ballet, or music lessons on my own.

But!  You don't have to spend $2000 per student per year to have a successful homeschool with happy, healthy children who learn a lot and grow to be functioning members of society.  I follow a cool blog where this mom said back in 2012 that with 7 children (including a baby) her homeschool budget for the year was only $500.

To homeschool cheaply you just have to be creative.  The web is full of free and cheap resources.  The library will become your best friend.  Alibris is an online bookstore where my friend with 5 kids gets tons of used books on the cheap.   I've been lucky to find some awesome stuff at thrift stores.

Also, sending your kid to public school can get pretty expensive, too! Every year you have to buy new back-to-school outfits, new backpacks, school supplies, supplies for the kids that can't afford them, and things like Kleenex for the class.  Then there's the field trip fees and fundraisers.  Plus, you may feel obligated to spend a bunch of money and time making a Pinterest-worthy teacher gift for the first day of class, Christmas, and the last day of class.

6. I really need my alone time.
Introverts homeschool too.  Here's one. Some families have a strict quiet time after lunch each day.  The littles nap, the biggers read, and mom does whatever she wants.

Like I mentioned above, one key to a successful homeschool is to teach your kids to be independent.  While they work independently, you could declare a "teacher prep hour" and go to a room where you won't be disturbed.  Of course, especially in the elementary years many subjects and assignments will still need hands-on support.  But a lot of things can be done on their own.  And it will take time for your kid to get to the point where they will pull out an assignment, do it, and then pull out another one without being harped on.  We're still working on it with Primus in third grade but she's almost there!

One last idea, if you can afford it, is to put your children in enrichment classes a couple times per week.  Drop them off at dance, violin, art, writing class, science lab, karate, etc (or two back-to-back classes!) And then if you still have littles with you, take them to a park where they can run while you watch from a quiet, shady bench.  Or if you're lucky enough to not have young ones tagging along, take the time to get your nails done, read a book while lounging at a Starbucks, or go grocery shopping without grubby hands trying to sneak candy into the cart.  Just because it's called "homeschool" doesn't mean that every subject every day has to be taught by YOU at HOME.

All of the above excuses for not homeschooling are very valid ones.  With any decision made, there will be pros and cons.  The cons have to be weighed and perhaps overcome.  Life, especially as a parent, is never smooth or easy so we have to prioritize and plan accordingly.  If you feel that homeschooling is what your family is supposed to do, Heavenly Father will guide and help you to make it possible. 

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