Minor Homeschooling Freakout

I’m starting to second-guess our decision to homeschool.

This morning I took Hula Girl to the library for storytime (Gelato stayed home with our amazing friend Joy who babysits the kids and they LOVE her, who was homeschooled by the way). We’ve been going to the same storytime at the same library for two years now. There are several families whose kids are around Hula Girl’s age and now they have littler ones who are around Gelato’s age.

We went to storytime in August just before our vacation, but we hadn’t been back for three weeks. And a lot changes in three weeks. First of all, there is a new storytime teacher. Miss Kirsten is no longer there, which makes us sad. But hopefully we’ll get used to someone new (with her newfangled ways of singing the ABC song and all!). Aside from that, the demographics today were just way different than ever before.

All the kids Hula Girl’s age were absent- gone to preschool. Their moms were chilling calmly with their younger kids and really enjoying the 1-on-1 time with their younger offspring. I asked several of the moms how the eldest kids were liking it, and how the family was adjusting, etc. One hundred percent of the moms said it was going really well and that their child loved it. One hundred percent of them also said it was hard getting used to having their child away, even if only a couple times each week.

This started two divergent lines of thinking in my head:

1. I am a terrible mother for not giving Hula Girl the opportunity to go away to school. I am depriving her of meaningful and fun experiences and she will miss out on all the “normal” things that her peers will reminisce about in college.

2. I feel bad for those kids who have to be sent away from their families to go to school, especially the ones whose moms aren’t working and just staying at home hangin’ out with their sibs.

The predominant thought was the first idea- that Hula Girl and Gelato are going to be deprived of something great by having to stay home with me all the time. And so now I’ve got myself worked up into a tizzy.

Because, let’s face it, it would be GLORIOUS to send my little chickadee off to 3 hours of supervised-but-not-by-me activities twice weekly. Β She would have fun and learn, I’d get a break; win, win. And then as she gets older and goes into real school and Gelato gets into preschool, I’d get even more breaks. Win, win, win! And when they both get into school school, I’d get to go back and teach again! Win, win, win, win!

But is that really worth it to me? I want to be the #1 influence in their lives. I want to be the one making decisions about what they will learn and how. I want to be the one who knows their work styles and play styles best. I want to know what they’ve done all day. I want to know which friends they have been hanging out with. I want to know if anything has happened to make them feel uncomfortable or sad (or EXCITED or GLEEFUL, for that matter).

And I want them to learn from me and my mistakes. I guarantee Hula Girl will be a better cook than me- she has already started learning. And Gelato will definitely have a better ear for music than I do because I insist on his hearing it during a lot of his day.

Anyway, I am just feeling all wrinkly and prickly and disheveled and not-sorted-out right now about our schooling situation here. I think I’m also feeling a lot of hubris and trepidation and not-good-enough and can’t-even-handle-her-at-three-how-am-I-gonna-teach-her-until-she-graduates?!?!?!

And one more thing. This has NOTHING to do with this post, but I just have to say it. What’s worse than completing your entire P90X workout? Lifting your son out of his crib later.Β P90X Chest and Back=OW.

 

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20 Comments

  1. Rachel said,

    September 24, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    My hubby and his siblings were all home schooled (4 of them total), and I attended a mix of private+public school all throughout. I can honestly say that I’M jealous of his upbringing more than he is of mine. Nature walks for science class?!? And trips to Philly for History Class?! That’s a way better approach than some teacher standing up and lecturing for 1 1/2 hours before sending you off with 3 hours of homework for the night. I’m a very hands-on learner, so I honestly think I would’ve thrived much better in a home school environment. So take heart – you’re making the best decision! And as they get older you can always join a coalition of homeschoolers to give them the social aspect. Hugs mama!

    • September 25, 2013 at 8:10 pm

      Thanks, Rachel! That’s encouraging. I have always been at least intrigued by homeschooling, but have never known anyone who did it well enough to compare backgrounds! πŸ™‚
      What do you think you’ll end up doing with W?

  2. September 24, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Chill…..stop comparing…..take a deep breath and realize all those fun meaningful experiences are really not that fun and meaningful…….tell me what is fun and meaningful about being tied to a desk and chair all day? What is meaningful about being turned into a robot programmed to walk in straight lines and be very quiet and then sit in a circle on a carpet while some stranger tells you a story about something…when you COULD be out DOING something instead. Fun and meaningful…. I’m pulling the card on that one, that’s just a load of bologna. I’d rather walk in zigzags and sit in squares and go out and DO stuff.

    • September 25, 2013 at 8:09 pm

      As a licensed teacher who quit teaching to raise my children, I can tell you that there is a TON of meaning to be derived from sitting at a desk all day. There are some children who thrive in that environment, especially if they don’t get positive attention at home and their teacher is on it.
      However, as a licensed teacher who quit teaching to raise my children, I can also tell you that there are many children who do not thrive in that environment, and that with the current and upcoming changes to that environment, we’d all better run the other way fast!
      I think it’s not about comparison as much as it is about wanting the absolute best for my children. I know my Hula Girl would do VERY well in a classroom environment- she is obedient, she likes to hear stories, she likes to LEARN. However, I don’t want her to be a number and I don’t want her to be influenced by other people all day long only to have her home be very “restrictive” in comparison. (I hesitate to use the word restrictive because I know that our behavioral expectations are far less restrictive- but our moral standards are far more so than most children in the public schools. So take that one with a grain of salt!)
      My son, on the other hand, if anything can be foretold based on his personality as it is now, will do much better at home. Period. He is opinionated, bright, a bit mischievous, and energetic. I can’t see him sitting still to learn anything at all. Even now he’ll bring me a book, ask me to read, sit on my lap for one page, then take the book and run to the other corner of the room to finish it himself. So yeah.
      Anyway, that was a long way of saying I don’t necessarily think traditional schools are bad for everyone. I can guarantee I made a HUGE positive difference in the lives of at least a few of my students. But since I can be home with my children, I guess it’s kind of a “why not?” thing. Except the “why not?” is also related to “why?” and in that case I really have to balance my thoughts and concerns.
      Thank goodness it’s all up to personal choices we get to make for our own children!

      • September 26, 2013 at 5:24 pm

        I also taught school….and I agree to disagree with ya :). I think the public system is very broken and missing so many wonderful things that don’t involve desks and chairs and all that……especially here, where they’re limited to only 2 field trips per year for instance bc of the Ccss

      • September 26, 2013 at 7:52 pm

        Even though we were limited in our field trips and such, I still made time every day for my students to get outside in actual nature (we had a nature reserve right behind our school). We were lucky to have a great curriculum that allowed flexibility- we were not scripted at all. It was kind of frowned upon by everyone- administration, other teachers, some parents- but in the end my students made the most gains on their test results. Funny how that works. lol.
        I think the system needs a major overhaul but I am concerned that there is really no way to make that happen. Our children just keep getting the short end of the stick and we’re pretty much okay with it. Except for those of us who aren’t. But what if there were another option besides homeschooling? Even charters aren’t really the answer. I feel like I am missing the opportunity to impact a lot more lives by staying home instead of teaching… but I am called to be here right now. It’s just a tough decision to make!

      • September 26, 2013 at 8:35 pm

        It really is sad for the kids….not all parents can or will homeschool. Not all parents can afford private school (and I taught at a private as well and those are also not as awesome as they would seem). Charters will align with CCSS….privates likely will align in most part….and then the only choice is private tutor or homeschool yourself.

        The kids are the ones who lose…..and once that happens we are bringing forth a generation of kids who have lost the opportunity for an awesome education, and we can’t take it back once they graduate….it’s very sad

      • September 26, 2013 at 8:36 pm

        And also….I used to dwell on the lack of impact I had because I chose to abandon the sinking ship…..I used to wonder back and think, man I might have made a difference…..

        I see now though…I did all that I was able and when it came to jump or drown, I jumped…..and that was the right choice for me.

  3. Kristy said,

    September 24, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    I had/have heartburn over #1 as well. Xander enjoyed public kindergarten. On the other hand, we can do ANYTHING we decide to when we homeschool, and we have plenty of time to do it! (By the way, I cried over our decision because it is a hard decision to make – you want to do the absolute best thing for your child and it’s hard sometimes to know what that will be.) But just today I was thinking about my kids’ day and imagining what it would be like if Xander was off at school and it was just Nick and me here. Um, Nick would be bored. He would rely on me for more of his entertainment (or try to) instead of having hours of imaginative play with his brother. He tells us how much he really, really loves his brother, which hopefully he would do anyway, but they get a lot of time together since we homeschool. They fight, too, yes, but they are close. Xander would be going off to school early, coming home in the late afternoon, and be acting exhausted with us and taking it out on me more than likely. We would have to deal with homework at this point in the day or before bedtime, both vulnerable times of day when people are gone from the house all day long. Xander would be asking me about all the characters, cartoons, video games, toys, etc., that his friends would be talking about and wanting them. Not that he wouldn’t get great things out of it, too, but it is all so limited at school and here we get to design our experience. I want him to design his whole life experience and this is a great start to that.

    • September 25, 2013 at 7:33 pm

      I have thought about your family a lot when considering the right options for us, because you’ve done both. I like all your reasons, and I’m sure Gelato would miss Hula Girl like mad if she were gone a lot. πŸ™‚ I like your phrasing- “Designing your experience.”

  4. September 24, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    well im not homeschooling but i know heaps of ppl who do and i think how you are feeling is VERY common! my guess is there will be lots of ups and downs like this along the road -a dn thats ok! the other thing is that you dont ever have to feel like you are making a FOREVER decision. you can take it year by year, child by child. maybe they will end up in school, maybe not. maybe one will and one wont! the thing is you will KNOW your child and YOURSELF and work out along the way what is best.
    i know of several SUPER committed homeschooling families who have all sent their kids to preschool (then homeschool from then on). i think largely to give their kids that little opprtounity plus relish the activities at that super busy age! plus as its only part time its sorta win/win! so you could do that! only if you want to of course. and in some ways could serve as an experiment – see how you feel when she is away, and how she does too. might just confirm your resolve to homeschool even more! xx

    • September 25, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      I thought about that, too, Kate- sending her for preschool and then keeping her thereafter. However, the more I think about it, the more I think keeping her with me is best because of her personality. She’s not like your first girlie girl, who is gregarious and enthusiastic about newish situations. She is SO cautious and reserved she won’t even do Sunday School (after weeks of attempting it, we finally gave her the option to sit quietly with us in church; any time she gets a bit rowdy all we have to do is mention Sunday School and she calms right down)! I think it would be nice for her to get accustomed to it, but it would be a tough adjustment and I’m just not sure it’s worth the heartache for just a few days a week, you know?

  5. Wendy said,

    September 24, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    I don’t view preschool and homeschooling as mutually exclusive. DH and I fully intend to homeschool our kids, but that doesn’t mean we won’t ever outsource any of the teaching/learning. I’m sure my kids will take music lessons, foreign language lessons, play sports, etc. Right now, preschool fits into that framework – it is one aspect of Peter’s schooling that we outsource (he goes 3 days a week for 3 hours). At home we teach him academics, moral and character training, self help and home ec skills, etc. He goes to preschool to have free play time with peers and to go outside (something I don’t enjoy in the winter especially with a newborn).

    Since I view preschool as just one small part of Peter’s education, I see it as being a precursor to a homeschool co-op. Once he is kindergarden age we can join one of a number of co-ops in the area which will provide many of the same activities as preschool while I continue to handle the rest of the kids’ education at home.

    Wendy

    • September 25, 2013 at 7:40 pm

      I think you’re right, Wendy- we definitely have Lyra in other classes and activities where she’s not under Mommy’s care. I like that your preschool experience is just for play. My concern with some preschools is that there is such a huge focus on academics, whereas I’m of the mindset that children of this age SHOULD just play. I mean, we do learning activities all the time- but they’re fun, and she really enjoys it. It’s not like I’m forcing her into some kind of routine, you know? I’m afraid a preschool would be like that, so that’s been another one of my reasons for hesitating.
      And thank you for reminding me to check into the co-ops around here. Have you found different ones hold different values? Is that even an issue?

      • Wendy said,

        September 26, 2013 at 4:24 am

        For us the main issue with co-ops is that most around here require a statement of faith which we could not truthfully provide. Secular co-ops are harder to find in this area, but I have found a few and they are all radically different. Different philosophies, costs, schedules, levels of organization, etc.

        The program I am most interested in is held at a local homeschool building and offers what they call Monday School. It is a year long class that runs all day every Monday. The kids go to seven classes with seven specialized teachers: art, music, drama, Spanish, science experiments, math games, and gym.

        I like the idea that my kids would get a chance to spend a day with their peers, interact with other adults, study subjects like music that I cannot teach them, etc.

  6. September 26, 2013 at 6:40 am

    At the end of the day, it’s all about your kids. They are your family. And as a mom, you’ve got to do what you think is best. I truly believe God will bless your decision no matter what you do. There are pro’s and con’s to both. Keeping your kids active in the community will give them some of those experiences, they will experience disappointment, sadness, glee and excitement. But as a homeschool student they will get to go home to their parents and talk about it, and as a God centered family you can talk to them about how to handle those emotions without the influence of other kids, teachers and parents. I know you are going to do a FANTASTIC. You are a kind, caring parent and teacher. Your kids are going to be incredible no matter what you choose. πŸ™‚

    • September 26, 2013 at 1:54 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement, Angie. I can’t remember- were you or your siblings homeschooled at all?

  7. Kristy said,

    September 26, 2013 at 7:10 am

    That Monday School sounds pretty cool! I agree that young children should learn through play, but I get that Hula Girl would do great in “traditional” school. We are now observing our children and following their signs of readiness. I am not pushing issues that cause “hate of learning” but I am providing lots of opportunities in different subject areas that I pretty much know they will like. They choose how long to engage. Our older guy is showing signs of slowly moving on to be able to “study” more and maybe take some more classes or lessons somewhere. I love that I can let them do school work or play work on the floor…that seems to be something that my guys need or want to do, even when other surfaces are provided. I like what someone in one of my groups said recently, that the solutions to many homeschooling or family problems are often the simple ones…not the ones where there’s a packaged solution that costs money and complexity.

    • September 26, 2013 at 1:56 pm

      I agree- the thing I love about homeschooling is that there is enough flexibility that if they’re just.not.getting.it one way, there is always another avenue. It calls for creativity and perceptive thinking on the parent’s behalf and I love that kind of thing. I love anything that keeps me mentally engaged with my kids’ development. Who needs to spend lots of dollaz when I’ve got everything I need right here in my good ol’ noggin!?! (And friends willing to help me hash it out from time to time!)

  8. Kristy said,

    September 26, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Exactly! πŸ™‚


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