Friday, August 31, 2007

I Could Never Do That!

This is what I hear over and over again when people learn that I homeschool my kids. I can understand that would be someone's first instinct. Homeschooling is a demanding career (yes, I consider it my career) that takes a lot of dedication and time. But you know what? You could homeschool if you really wanted to. Don't misunderstand me - I'm not saying that I believe that everyone should homeschool, that all other educational forms are wrong. But I do want to encourage those who are considering it to understand that it is possible for the vast majority of people. I'd like to look at some of the reasons I've heard regarding why people feel homeschooling wouldn't work for them.

  1. I don't have the patience to be with my children day in and day out - This is probably what I hear the most. And it's also, to me, the funniest reason people give. As if homeschool mothers are somehow magically endowed with super-human amounts of patience. Trust me, nothing could be further from the truth. There are many days when I feel like I'm going to lose it and have really ugly thoughts running through my head. But the trick is, unless we put ourselves in situations where we can learn patience, we never will. It's like that old cartoon where someone is praying, "God, give me patience...And I want it now!" As you homeschool, you will develop the patience that you need, but yes, it's a process.
  2. My kids would never listen to me - Well, no, maybe not at first. They are used to seeing you as secondary to their teachers, academically speaking. How many of you have heard (or said to your own parents), "That's not how the teacher said to do it!"? But over time, they would learn to respect you in your position as teacher. And if you handle the transition right, they might even embrace you as teacher before you know it. Now, I'll agree that this is easier if you homeschool from the start. But if you allow them time to de-school you will make the transition easier on all of you and allow you and your child the opportunity to re-build your relationship in a new way, as both teacher and parent.
  3. We need the money my job brings in - Far be it from me to judge anyone's finances. I know that there are families out there that truly struggle and need that second income. But I also hear this from people who live in a big house, take expensive vacations, drive expensive cars and spend like it's going out of style. Which is fine - everyone has the right to spend the money they earn in their own way. But I would just challenge you, if this is the only thing holding you back from homeschooling, to really consider your spending habits and see if they line up with what your priorities are. There are many resources which can help you cut expenses. There are even studies showing that the income most women bring in goes mainly to support her career anyways, once you consider childcare costs, wardrobe expenses, eating out because Mom's too tired to cook, increased tax bracket, etc.
  4. I'm not smart and/or educated enough - There are so many wonderful types of curricula out there which lay everything out for you, this is SO not a problem. While I think I'm a pretty intelligent woman (if being able to answer almost every question on Jeopardy is any indication - LOL!) and yet I didn't finish college. I learn with my kids. If they ask me a question I don't know the answer to, we look it up and learn it together. Now, my particular area of weakness is math, so I've ordered a program for my kids this year that is completely on the computer - teaching, explanations, answers, you name it. These same types of programs exist for almost any subject you can think of. Lack of confidence in yourself should not hold you back - there are ways around it, I promise.
  5. My child needs socialization - This is another one that makes me laugh. Now, I know that there are some crazies out there who keep their kids home and don't let them out of the house. But the vast majority of homeschool families are actively engaged in many, many things which put their child/ren in contact with other kids on a regular basis. What is socialization exactly anyway? It is the process of learning one's culture and how to live within it. How often in life are you confined for 6 hours a day with people of your own age and socio-economic level, as if often the case in school? I'm guessing not much. As an adult, I have friends who are much younger and much older than myself. Homeschooled children generally participate in life with their parents on a more regular basis since they spend more time at home - they visit banks, stores, run errands, etc. All the while learning how to live, how to communicate with adults, how to behave, etc. An excellent post on the subject can be found here. On top of all this, who is it you want to be socializing your children - 25 other children the same age or yourself? Who do you want your children looking to for guidance? Who should be the one influencing your child? If you think that pre-teens and teenagers who spend all their time with their friends don't look to their peers more than their parents, you need a wake-up call. Studies show that most teenagers say that their main influences are, in this order: 1) peers 2) media 3) school 4) parents. Did you catch that? Parents are at the bottom of the list.

I'm not trying to say that you must homeschool. The purpose of this post is just to clear up that I am not some amazingly special person because I homeschool. I'm just a regular mom who struggles - I struggle with all these issues above. But I overcame my fear of all of it to do what I feel is right for our family.

I just want to let anyone know who is thinking about it, but too scared to try it - YOU CAN DO IT! Just open yourself up and allow God to give you the strength you need. He'll give it to you.


ValleyGirl said...

What a great post! Thank you. You would not BELIEVE (or maybe it's my husband and everyone else with whom I've ever spoken on the subject that might not believe it!) how much I've been thinking about this lately. Actually, it's ME who can hardly believe I'm uttering these words!!

Amy said...

That's a GREAT post! Thank you! I have to answer those questions OVER and OVER again. Maybe I'll just refer them here, if you don't mind! This is my third year homeschooling, and it's awesome! Challenging, difficult, hair-raising at times, but totally AWESOME. Couldn't do it without the Lord's help, that's for sure!!
Amy R. :)

mrs owr said...

Well said!!


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