Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I Could've Been A Contender

I'm entertaining the idea of taking the boys out of 'traditional' public education and schooling them at home.


Holy cow that word conjures up very different images in peoples minds doesn't it? Typically the odd images occur to those least acquainted with the subject.  I myself am guilty of a fair bit of supposition before doing research on all homeschooling would entail.

Socially awkward?  image courtesy
The most common claim is that children who are home-schooled will become 'socially awkward' as though by homeschooling my kids they will end up unable to function in society and I will find them perpetually hiding behind my pant leg.  How ridiculous. What excuse do those who attend 'regular' school and end up socially awkward have then?  And what exactly is socially awkward anyway?  I know a lot of people who don't like to talk, hang out, party, initiate conversation with strangers, etc...does this make them socially awkward or are these simply personality traits that would have played out essentially the same regardless of schooling?  Do we think home-schooled children will attempt to converse in Latin when they join in a extracurricular activity?  Will they be shunned for their (hopefully) extensive knowledge of the Revolutionary War if they are reentered into public education? The way some kids are these days, if this is what socially awkward is then I STRIVE for it.

One thing I haven't heard is anyone claiming that home-schooled children will be 'behind' in their learning.  The consensus is that they will undoubtedly be just fine academically. I'll throw out a few names to illustrate.  Thomas Edison, FDR, Sandra Day O'Connor, The Willams sisters, Condoleeza Rice, etc...the list of extraordinary individuals who were home-schooled is a long and storied one. While this does not mean that greatness is a guarantee, it does defend the notion that children can be taught as well, if not better, at home than at a brick and mortar school at the very least.  I wonder what I could have been if my father had followed through with his dream of homeschooling me on a boat.  That's a story for another day...

Homeschooling in my head  image courtesy smile4camera
I think I'm one of those people who envision homeschooling as digging in the dirt to find worms, field trips, travel, hands-on learning all done with your children right at your side. I'm probably romanticizing it at this point (in my head I look a lot like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music) but I miss my boys every minute of the day they are gone and wish they were with me so that I could teach them every single thing they want to learn. There is not enough time in the day to read all the books they want, do all the experiments they want, create all the art, learn to play instruments.  Their minds are so eager right now and I fear the light being snuffed out by not having enough time to address their curiosities.

Don't mistake my pondering homeschooling for dissatisfaction with any particular teacher or teachers in general.  There are some amazing teachers in this world, and great schools too. In fact, it is amazing teachers in my son's current school district that have held me in place for the last 3 years. But where I am, who I am and who my children are force me to question if anywhere is better at this moment than right here with me?  In all my thinking of homeschooling one thing that has not been an issue or even a consideration is a lack of good teachers. That is not my motivation.  My motivation is my kids.  God is trying to tell me something, I just haven't figured out what.  Things aren't right the way they are, the rhythm is all wrong and I feel it everyday.

I NEVER thought I would consider this move.  Never.  I'm not even sure I'm committed to it yet.  I research schools daily trying to envision my kids fitting in to different places in my mind and trying equally hard to imagine the next 12-15 years of schooling.  It's no light decision, it weighs me down.  I have to consider friendships. As trivial as that may seem to some, my life wouldn't have been the same without my wonderful friends and I met them ALL at school.  If I erased them from my own experience I'd erase me.  Will I do that to my children if I keep them home with me?

I think part of why I am able to disregard this in the slightest and consider keeping them home is because I struggle now to remember my father who died unexpectedly when I was 17.  Though I was not very little when he died, I was busy and in school.  He worked 45 minutes away and didn't get home until late. There was dinner, homework, bed.  We just didn't get enough time together and that will always be a regret in my life. His death changed my life so much and it still does even all these years later.  I look at everything so different.  I recognize I have no guarantee of time in this world. As much as I want to be there to see my children's lives play out I know I can't guarantee I will be.

Right now we are starting down that same road. Dinner, homework, bed. This leaves weekends.  Two tiny days to jam everything else into. There's a reason the phrase 'ain't nobody got time for that' is so popular right now.  It's because it applies to ALL of us in some way!

When we attend traditional school we spend the majority of our childhood away from our parents, and even when we are not at school we have homework, class trips, sports, practices,'s this reason most of us don't really get to know our parents until after we are adults.  We just don't have time.  I've always been close to my mother but someday when I look back on all she taught me I will have to acknowledge that most of it happened after I was out of college.  Before that we were simply too busy.  Me with school, friends, and activities and she with work and all the other components of her life, me being only one.

I'm looking at my life and the lives of my children and trying to decide what is best for US.  What matters for US.  I judge no one, I am only considering MY family and I reserve the right to fail and put them in a different environment should homeschooling not work out best for them. In the same way, I reserve the right to take them out of any school I put them in that I don't feel is giving them all they deserve.

If I choose to take the leap and keep them home I know there will be awful days when I will second guess my decision but I cannot imagine ever regretting spending as much time with my kids, and having as much control over the type of information and values they are given, as I would if I were their school.

Then again, some day perhaps we'll be sitting around the table and my boys will say "remember when Mom tried to home-school us?  Yeah, what'd that last like a week before she went crazy and burned our desks in the backyard?"

Knowing me, totally possible.


  1. And this is why I love reading what you write - the burning your desks thing. Give it a go if it is best. I think you are being honest and realistic and I say Godspeed, my friend. :)

    1. Thanks Jennifer! I got to the end and thought 'this was too serious.' Insert the image in my head of a bonfire of desks in my backyard and me tossing a cigarette butt on top. Gotta keep it light;)


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