Thursday, March 31, 2011

Homeschooling IV (of VII)

So far, I've addressed the following Pseudo-cons of Home schooling:
  1. Socialization
  2. Over-Sheltering

Today I'll discuss the following:
  1. "Mom time" often gets pinched down to nothing
  2. Moms get tired of being around the kids ALL THE TIME
  3. Impossible for moms to lecture topics relevant to different grade levels while at the same time bouncing a fussy baby

And in the remaining posts, I'll address the last two before concluding with a summary:
  1. Families who homeschool are "retreating" into safety, which is bad because (1) they're chickening out of the "real world"; and (2) they're selfish to deprive the world of their good influence
  2. Homeschooling Families are making their children close-minded (I've added this one since the original list)

SO, here we go. The big question is: Regardless of how great homeschooling is, can I do it? Furthermore, do I WANT to make the sacrifice?

Frankly, this was one of my own personal biggest obstacles to homeschooling. I mean, I have ambitions outside the home life (namely a specific big art project I dream to accomplish). I assumed I'd have more time to work on that project when the kids were in school and felt a sense of loss when I realized how much my kids could benefit from homeschooling. I felt a twinge of selfishness--and let's face it--FEAR.

Could I manage a quality education? Could I teach my children adequately? Could I make sure they had the necessary qualifications to get into good colleges? Furthermore, could I teach the 12-year-old at the same time as the 10, 8, 6, and 4 year-old (if I am so fortunate to have that many children)? HOW would I manage that? How could (1) re-LEARN chemistry, (2) lecture on chemistry, and (3) manage the duties of mothering for my other children simultaneously? And forget about keeping the house clean!

Well, what follows are some comforting facts about homeschooling that assuaged my fears and boosted my confidence:
  1. Home schooled children learn to be more independent about their education. Once they learn to read, you can send them off with assignments without having to constantly lecture or "teach" a given subject. Let the books teach them.
  2. Home schooled children learn to be more independent for their entertainment and sibling/parent relationships. Because they are home, they know each other better and (for the majority although certainly not all), those relationships improve. The family gets along well without needing to pester Mom all the time for their needs or entertainment.
  3. Homeschooling moms can carve out as much or as little time as they need through their choice of curriculum and/or degree of structure in their home schooling decisions. The sky is the limit as far as online courses, unschooling method, tutors, etc. Surely, I don't mean to suggest that home schooling is easier than sending them to public school; but I have found that it may not be as difficult, either, as I first assumed.

Here are some of my favorite quotes on this topic:

“Unschooled Children,” Growing Without Schooling, issue 12, p. 2
“Another myth brought up on the show is the ‘kids drive me crazy having them around all day’ retort. It just ain’t necessarily so! I have four, ages three to ten, and most of the time we enjoy each other and get along very well. We have our off days but that in no way overshadows the good times. In my ‘experiment’ of never sending any of mine to school, I have had the opportunity to compare my experiences with women sharing my philosophy of childrearing who send theirs to school. I notice a syndrome which causes them to feel sorry for me for being stuck all year with FOUR. It comes from their having three or four at home all day during three months’ summer vacation with ‘nothing to do’ (that is, nothing scheduled by some authority) and bickering constantly (because they don’t know one another as well as they know their [friends] at school). These mothers think that is what I put up with daily, but mine who have had the responsibility for most of their own time, who interact constantly with family with little interruption, I find behave quite differently.”

“The Plowboy Interview” Mother Earth news July/Aug 1980:
"A parent has to take a leap of faith and get started in spite of her or his lack of confidence. Those who do so discover that teaching is a lot easier and more fun than they thought."

December 4, 1979 Time magazine article “Teaching Children at Home” pg 81 says:
“For parents who fret about not being trained teachers, John Holt has this advice: ‘it’s like cooking—anybody can learn it. You can do a passable job by following a recipe book, and once you get some confidence in yourself, you take your nose out of the book and experiment on your own.'”

Heidenry, October 19, 1975, p. 80
“If and when the children reach a point in their studies where I am incapable of helping them, I will seek out tutors—college students, for instance. However, my instinct tells me that if the children develop a special interest in a subject (if John becomes a science-happy 12-year-old), that very interest and natural ability to learn will compensate for any lack of knowledge on my part. In fact, there are public and private schools whose modus operandi revolves around independent study by students. Teachers are not the sole repositories of knowledge . . . I never studied trigonometry and my education has not suffered, nor do I plan to study trigonometry in order to teach it to my children. But if the children are exceedingly interested in math and want to learn trigonometry, I would naturally find someone to tutor them. Beyond that, it is more important for the children to avoid mediocre schools and to learn on their own that it is for them to learn trigonometry.

Lastly, I want to make this all-important distinction between pulling kids out of public school vs. starting homeschooling from the beginning: pulling them out is WAY harder than starting from the beginning. Why? Kids are used to being told what to do every second by teachers. Mom is also used to having her own time when they've been in school for several years already. Furthermore, kids expect the teacher to know everything and impart this knowledge to them--and they don't think MOM knows everything, nor do they take her as seriously as they take their teachers. Adjusting to the idea that they are responsible for their own learning and that mom is primarily the instigator and resource provider--not necessarily the Lecturer--is a big adjustment for everyone. Personally, I don't think I could do it. Hats off to those who can.

It's so much easier, in my opinion to start them at home, one at a time, and slowly get more elaborate in your subjects as the children get older. Plus, if you decide it's not for you, you can always easy to go from homeschooling to public schools. The change from public schools to homeschooling is super tough, but the change from homeschooling to public schools is a piece of cake by comparison (although one mother who home schooled did just that but the girls begged to come back home because they were so bored at school).

That said, though, I found this to be an inspiring example of a particular woman who did pull her children out of public schools and made the transition the hard way:

Home Educators Newsletter January 1980, Norma Luce says,
“The first year August ’78 to ’79 was my first year of home teaching. Academically, it was a smashing success.
Physically, I have never been so exhausted in my life. Mentally, I have never been so exhausted in my life. Emotionally, I have never been so exhausted in my life. Spiritually, I was completely rejuvenated and began an upward spiral that will not stop until I have become the person I was meant to be.”

So, in conclusion, I would encourage any person who thinks homeschooling would be beneficial to their kids--but are nervous about their own qualifications--to just try. I thought this quote from School of Abraham said it well:

"Don't stress out too much over homeschooling. Remember the family whose mother wanted to homeschool the children, but the husband didn't want her doing it. She asked him to pray about it and the answer he got surprised him. His answer was that even if she never taught them a thing, they were better off being with their mother. That's the bottom line. And obviously we teach them something!"

2011Res: To Matt: I've missed you while you traveled the last couple days but I love that you work so hard for our family! To my girls: Brynn, today I savored your attempt at jumping without bending your knees (the waist just doesn't give enough spring, does it?); and Heidi, I tried not to laugh at how intensely focused you were on that rattle--your whole body was shaking tensely and your eyes were as big as plates while your mouth moved in every direction possible. Dear Mr H: today I plan to welcome you home from business the way a proper wife should! So get ready with that present I left in your suitcase (yes, the one the airline security guard found when looking for your "suspicious" tube of toothpaste).


John said...

Hmm...I am pulling my kids out of public school. But the older kids are going to do a Charter school online and we will see how that works. Since I still have 4 kids home full time and one part, I suspect having my older kids home will actually give me more freedom in a way. For instance I will never have to drag 5 kids to one doctor's appointment again. What I feel like I am giving up is a nicely cleaned home during the daytime 10 years down the road as well as some sort of job. But we will see. We are not expecting an easy adjustment-- just more family time.

Mommy P said...

I thought you might be interested in this:

I still haven't figured out where I stand in terms of homeschooling. I love how much G has benefited from Parents Day Out, and I know that he loves having friends. Thanks for giving me some additional resources and information.