Friday, May 22, 2015

The Biggest 'Con' to Homeschooling

 Lukka building a fort at Ft. Langley

I suppose I can start out with throwing out any old 'cons', or reasons against homeschooling to really get you curious. Does she hate teaching math? Does she think her kids will be weird? (Nope.) Does she find the homework battle exhausting? Is she secretly insecure in her ability to school all grade levels and subjects? 

Really, I could care less about these questions. The main 'con' of homeschooling, the one that stays the same year after year, when the 'pro' list gets bigger year after year, is this: I have to be with my kids all day. 

I once heard a panel of women speak who all made different educational choices for their kids, and what I remember the most from that 60 minute segment was what one lady, the homeschooler, said. She laughed and remarked, "I have to be with my kids all day, and I get to be with my kids all day". 

Sit there for awhile. Read it again if you have to.

I have to be with my kids all day, and I get to be with my kids all day.

The biggest con is also one of the biggest pros. How's that for a simple answer? 

Ani doing an experiment with magnets

What, exactly, does that mean? It means that I get to be with my kids all day--see them learn how to read, enjoy their excitement and surprise with a science experiment, snuggle with them out in the backyard on the deck swing while I read a really great book in the morning while the sun is shining and we've got nowhere to be, and scoot them outside for hours of playtime when they're feeling off, bored, or restless. 

Those, if you haven't guessed, are the "get tos". I get to enjoy those things with my kids, and I'm not naive. As parents we really get under 18 years with our kids in our house and as homeschoolers that's mine to soak up and make memories with. 

It also means that I have to be with my kids all day. There are no day care centers for elementary-aged kids, because they are required to be in school. Everything I do outside of the home is just a tad harder since I've got kids I have to lug with me. Everywhere I go takes just a little bit longer because you can't get the same amount done with one person that you could get with three (well, unless those three all drive and you split them up, heaven help me I can't wait!) because the province we live in (and my guess, the state you live in) have rules about when kids are lawfully allowed to stay at home alone. 

I have to be with them everyday. Everywhere, and everything we do, we do together, for better or worse. Have to.
Ani figuring out which pelt belong(ed) to which animal

The other thing is that I'm an individual, with a complete personality, interests, and skill set aside from taking care of my children, and being around them 24/7 can be incredibly draining. Caring for children (or other family members who need constant care) is a job, and although I don't think it's usually physically taxing, it is mentally and sometimes emotionally unnerving. The opportunity for you to become your worst self is sort of always out there, on the table. 

I don't want to sugar coat homeschooling, though sometimes I get the sense that people think our homeschooling path is puppy dogs and rainbows. I don't think homeschooling is as hard as some people make it out to be in their minds, but I also would not try to debate with someone to homeschool who simply doesn't want to. That would be foolish. I get the not-wanting to. It's the biggest con; in fact the only con that reoccurs fairly often throughout our homeschool year. 

I sometimes fantasize about dropping my kids off at school for a week, just so I could catch my breath for 30 hours and give myself an opportunity to miss them! I know I'm not the only homeschooler who thinks that (I'd even go so far as to say that fantasy is somewhat common, especially in February!). 

So how does one come to terms with that tension of getting to be with your kids all day, and having to be with your kids all day? 

Lukka working on his first diorama

For our family, it looks like a regular routine, with a long quiet time built into every day. When your kids are babies and toddlers, they need naps. I'd argue that when they're older, they need downtime, too, just not in the form of a nap. You guys, it's work to instill a regular quiet time in your day. It's got to be a non-negotiable and you've got to make it consistent or it just won't work with any reliability. I honestly do not know how homeschoolers with young children make it work every day without implementing a quiet time of some sort. 

I have seen amazing creativity come out of their quiet times, and I've seen restfulness happen after a crazy morning together. This is (mostly) how our kids have learned to read as well, and learned to love books. There is imaginary play, and self-entertaining and creative projects to start, study, and engage with. 

I am 100% certain that if we did not have a quiet time in our days, where everyone is separated from each other for a period of 2.5 hours, I wouldn't make it as a homeschooler. I cringe just thinking about interacting with my kids (the having to) every minute of every day from morning until night with no end in sight. Each day, I get a breather. The whole 'oxygen mask on yourself before anyone else' thing. 

I do get time to myself. In fact, 150 minutes, exactly. I use it wisely, even if that means taking an hour to watch three Mindy episodes. It's just that sometimes, some days, it never feels like enough. Yesterday was like that. Other days will be like that. It doesn't mean I should put my kids in school, because I can't hack it.

 It just means that some days, in whatever your job is, you're going to have bad days where you wish you could be doing something else. It's the same with homeschooling. The biggest con can also be the biggest pro. My pro list for homeschooling grows every year. We're finishing up three years, and right now, I can't imagine doing anything else. The con list has always stayed the same, and if you're a list-maker, those are some pretty good odds.

4 comments:

Heather said...

I love the idea of quiet time...we are working on getting the kids to stay in their rooms instead of coming out every five minutes to ask a question, use the bathroom, get a snack, get a drink...it becomes exhaustive to try and keep them in quiet time!

Camie Madsen said...

My oldest two kids are both in college now. My youngest two are 12 and 17 and the three of us have become our own little group, always together for the majority of each day, adding my husband to the mix at night. I have come to recognize the value of giving each other some personal space during the day. So, the quiet time is a great idea for all ages and stages!

Rosanna said...

I also don't know how I would do it without quiet time. Being with the kids all the time can be CRAZY. Our quiet time is only sixty minutes, though. Yours sounds heavenly...

lakenormanprep said...

So well said! In fact, I may borrow those words! That is definitely one of my top pros and cons!!