How About Homeschooling? Part Two

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{Ok.  The first draft of “Part Two” was a mess.  The junk has been corralled and put out to pasture!  Below is the honed, endlessly-edited version.}

To get this post organized I had to make a handwritten list of all the points I wanted to include.  (The definition of gravitas in our electronic world!)  Previously on May 13 (How About Homeschooling, Part One),  I wrote how a friend (an educator) and I talked the topic of homeschooling and our sugar-fueled discussion caused me to wonder about the possibility of homeschooling my son.  As I pondered, many thoughts and concerns came to mind:

I am not a teacher by trade. Educators work with kids at multiple levels of reading and math ability and are trained and skilled at explaining concepts accordingly. I only have three children (not 23-ish, as classroom teachers do) to help with reading, writing and arithmetic and even with an understanding of what my kids bring home, I fumble about trying to explain topics with which they are struggling. As I do so, they look at me as if I am speaking Martian and only become more frustrated. As I am not trained in education I would need lots of support, guidance and time to not only help my kids through their school curricula but to assist when they say, “I just don’t get it, Mom.”

A Teacher Mom or a Mom Teacher? My kids are on their best behavior (most of the time) at school with teachers and peers. But once they return to the safe, unconditionally-accepting home environment, they know they can “let it all out.” So can transforming “home” into “classroom” actually work? Or would it be confusing? Completing a few minutes of homework is a hard-won battle in our home, as it is in many, and believe me, my kids do NOT want me checking their math exercises or reviewing spelling words for Friday’s quiz. Mom as Teacher can be an emotionally difficult situation for kids to handle.  Mom is not supposed to tell her child he made a mistake spelling “bicycle” or that she forgot to carry the one over to the tens column (at least that’s how mine feel).  To kids, the responsibility of making those corrections falls to their teachers. Kids naturally categorize the trusted adults in their lives, so blending roles can be tough. Though there is homeschooling curricula that allow parents to send away homework to be checked, the parents still are charged with the responsibility of “messenger” and reviewing the challenging material. In other words, we still need to say, “Let’s try this again.” Even delicately stated, kids hear criticism from those who love them unconditionally. So is this healthy for the parent/child relationship?

Do I homeschool everybody?  My creative and introspective son gets a nervous stomach and loses sleep over the impending school day. His twin (and polar opposite) is always ready to go 15 minutes ahead of time and approaches school as an adventure. Their younger sister is a social butterfly and excels in almost every aspect of her school day. My son could benefit from less external noise (meaning from being removed from the classroom setting that exhausts his resources). However, to remove his twin and his sister from the social aspect of a classroom could be detrimental as they thrive on the hubbub around them. But if f I were to homeschool my son, I know my other children would ask, “Can we be homeschooled, too?” And they would certainly believe,”He gets to stay home because you like him best.” My other son and my daughter wouldn’t, couldn’t understand that the decision to homeschool their brother was based on his personal needs, and the decision to send them to a classroom setting was based on theirs. So to avoid a family rift, does homeschooling become an “all or nothing” proposition?

Which leads to my next concern:

Separate teaching times for different kids who learn differently. The only traits my twins have in common are: 1) they shared a womb for nine months, and 2) they are both boys. The similarity ends there. One is a visual learner, the other an active learner. One struggles to complete homework any time of day, the other prefers to finish his math exercises at the breakfast table. If I were to homeschool all three kids, would we be engaged in a perpetual cycle of instruction time, optimized and tailored fro each child? “Class” in the morning for one child, in the afternoon for another, and my daughter being at a different grade level entirely, yet another block of time for her? Time-consuming and exhausting.

And if this is the schedule of instruction we follow:

What about “Me Time?” Even if academic exercises take just a couple hours a day, there is homework to supervise, “prep” time for the next day’s lessons, field trips, etc. How and when can I carve out a niche for exercise and writing/blogging? Guiltily, I have come to enjoy the quiet of weekday afternoons and time to do with as I please. It would be a huge adjustment to give up this luxury. However, a bike ride together can be “physical education” and I could blog while my kids complete a writing exercise, or research a project on the computer. In other words, we can all “go to school.”

Socialization and navigating school politics. I could homeschool my kids and protect them from the sometimes nasty politics of elementary, middle and high school. As nice as it would be to spare them the anxiety and frequent misery of this difficult transition into adulthood… well, I’m not sure that is in their best interest. Call it tough love or sadism but learning how to navigate social politics, stand up for oneself and become a person with integrity is at least as valuable as advancing through the “three R’s.” Here, we as parents can still be teachers, the voice of past experience in the classroom of social dynamics.

Extracurricular opportunities. What if my kids want to play organized sports? Or participate in band or theatre arts? If my kids are homeschooled, do they miss out on those possibilities? Some states allow homeschooled children to participate in such extracurriculars at public institutions and that is something I would need to investigate. However, my children have gravitated toward sports and activities outside the public school system so this issue may be a mute one.

Freedom!?  If I were to homeschool, we could take cool field trips when we want, where we want.  If we wanted to study outside on a gorgeous day, or read in the park over a picnic lunch, we could.  For P.E. class?  We could shoot hoops at the rec center.  For a science lesson?  We could make ghost mud in the kitchen sink.  The world as our educational oyster, on our schedule.  Need a break on a Wednesday?  Call it “Mid-week Break.”  Something rings wonderful about that kind of school day.  Not too mention the increased time to bond with my kids, while they learn something at the same time.

And in other news… School budget news, that is. On the one hand, our district budget is balanced. On the other? The cuts in order to achieve that. One of the sacrifices our school made reduces fourth grade teaching staff by 25 percent. So this fall, my boys will experience larger class sizes and that translates to more activity and more noise for my introspective son to process. And increased competition for the teacher’s attention if either boy needs help. Needless to say, I’m concerned about their future classroom environment and the increased workload of their teachers and what that means for my boys’ learning experience.

{Well, that’s “all.”  Stream-of-consciousness tamed.  Now I haven’t done any hard-core research on homeschooling curricula to know what a typical instruction day could be like.  Or how much of a time commitment it would be.  I think I will need another almond croissant and a coffee to get that done!  But one thing is for sure, choosing whether to home school can be a gut decision.  I told my friend just that.  She knows her kids and wants to do right by them.  If homeschooling is an almond croissant, or another favorite pastry, dig right in.}

 

 

2 Comments

  • As a homeschool mama to 6 I have quite a few answers to your questions. One thing I will say is there are so many different ways to school at home. It isn’t a one-size fits all kind of thing. Some prefer to bring the classroom home. I prefer to make it nothing like it and do as many subjects as possible together as a family. There are so many options available the choices can be overwhelming. I am going to work on answering your questions but an email will probably work better.

    • Thanks so much, Amy! I would love to hear more from you and can message you my email address through Facebook.

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