I’m thinking about homeschooling the kids.
I said it.
You think I’m crazy.
In January I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I was overloaded, overwhelmed, and completely exhausted.
Now I’m supposed to be streamlining. Cutting things back. Doing less.
Homeschooling won’t exactly lighten the workload.
But I have been thinking about this for a long time.
Not like a couple weeks.
I have been tossing this idea around for a couple years.
And now I’m seriously considering it.
I have been doing a lot of thinking over the past year.
Thinking about our financial situation.
About what I want to do with my life.
About finding fulfillment.
And some degree of balance.
Public schools are no longer balanced.
Not even close.
There is no time for creativity.
Children are not given opportunities to develop their strengths.
All of our focus is going into working on the things they suck at.
So they meet a goal in those areas on a test.
Don’t get me wrong. If a kid can’t read, or write, or add, or subtract that needs to be fixed.
But you can’t drill a kid into the ground for 7 hours a day.
And then send more drills home.
And do that for 12 years.
And then release them into the world and tell them to follow their dreams.
Twelve years of pounding a bunch of useless, standardized crap into kids’ heads does not teach them balance.
It teaches them to do something they hate over and over and over.
Until they fucking lose it.
And then, as adults, when we inevitably do fucking losing it, we seek the help of a professional.
Who will tell us that yes, hard work is important.
But that we need to make time to exercise.
We need to meditate.
Take care of our mental health.
We need to spend time with friends.
We need to do something that makes us happy.
Something we are passionate about.
We need a hobby.
We need down time.
And so, with half of our lives already behind us, we might start doing whatever it is that we love — we follow our dreams.
Well I don’t want to do that to my kids.
I want them to do what makes them happy starting…
That doesn’t mean all fun and games.
But my kids are not really being encouraged, guided, or taught to be productive, innovative, and compassionate members of society in school.
The are being taught to be robots.
I think all public schools are in trouble and moving in the wrong direction.
And I’m not even talking about the school shootings.
Two years ago, if you had told me we’d need a police officer in an elementary school, in suburban Connecticut, I’d have said you were crazy.
Then 20 first graders were gunned down six miles from my house.
Last week, in a different Connecticut town, a high school student was stabbed repeatedly and killed.
In her high school.
Who do I blame for this downward spiral?
Sure, there are still good parents out there who have expectations and standards.
Who impose consequences and limits on their children.
Even when it’s really hard to do that.
Even when their kids are relentless in their attempts to wear them down.
But then there are the other parents.
The ones who can’t handle the responsibilities of being a parent.
Or worse, who just don’t.
They refuse to take a look at themselves, and they look to blame anyone they can.
They sue teachers and principals and school districts.
They make excuses for their kids and argue over grades and enable their children and wear teachers down to the point where they quit their jobs.
They bury their head in the sand rather than get help for their kid.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a kid in therapy than a kid in,
Or the ground.
And this has caused public education to deteriorate to a place where I am beginning to feel irresponsible sending my children to school.
The parents who don’t want to take responsibility are now affecting my children.
They are affecting the quality of my children’s education. And their lives in general.
And that is not okay with me.
For the past couple years I have been counting down the time until all the kids were in school.
Where I would have a little more time to do the things I’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had the time to do.
Homeschooling wasn’t exactly a part of my master plan.
But as a parent I need to do what is in the best interest of the kids.
Number 4 has been asking me to teach her how to sew.
She actually just asked again this morning.
“Mommy? When are you going to teach me how to sew?”
Well, as soon as I finish helping you finish these ten packet pages requiring you to write a master’s thesis to explain how you came up with your fucking answer.
So when am I going to teach her to sew?
That’s a good question.
Because there’s not much time left once she gets home from school.
What about the other things we don’t have time for?
Things that I think really matter?
Because I want her to learn how to play piano.
And the guitar.
I want her to know how to knit and cook and play chess and change a tire and use a hammer.
I want her to learn more than one language.
I want to teach her the importance of giving back. Volunteering. Taking care of her mental health.
Of pushing herself out of her comfort zone, both physically and mentally.
I want her to learn that she is always a work in progress.
That she is not done working once she scores a certain number on a stupid test.
That she is capable of doing anything.
That she has the ability,
and the right,
to follow her dreams and do what makes her happy.
And I don’t want to make her wait 40 years to do it.
VOTE ! VOTE! VOTE ! VOTE! VOTE ! VOTE! VOTE ! VOTE!
Rebekah Kreiger says
Do it! Take the plunge and homeschool! Its the hardest thing you will ever do but also the most rewarding. My sisters and I were homeschooled growing up and I can’t thank my mom enough for it. All the stereotypes about homeschoolers are wrong, except the good ones : ). I had the most magical childhood I can imagine. I had tons of friends growing up, but my sisters were my best friends and still are. My sister and I would get up early and get all our school work done by noon and would then spend countless hours making believe. I played with dolls until I was 14 and didn’t have my first boy friend until I was 19 (he is now my husband of 3 years).
We had time for language lessons, art lessons, gymnastics, and music lessons without even putting a dent in our free time. We travelled while other kids were in school. Instead of sitting in a class getting drilled with history facts, we toured the castles and cathedrals of Europe. I had friends who took a whole year and travelled around the us in a mobile home learning us history and geography. We all graduated from college with honors. My sister became and artist and is publishing children’s books, my other sister is now a mom of 2 who plans to homeschool her kids, and I have 4 home-run businesses.
Our husbands were all homeschooled. One is an ultrasound technician, one is an attorney at one of the top 10 firms in the US, and my husband is a mechanical engineer. When my husband was 14, he decided to break the Guiness world record for the longest flying paper airplane. Just because. And he did it! Because of that he got a full ride college scholarship from NASA, a free trip to Austria to judge an international contest, and he still gets offers and money from it…..because he had the time and wasn’t trapped in a class room getting drilled with standardized facts.
I’m not saying every kid should be homeschooled, I know a few that didn’t like it, but there are so many resources now to help. We did video courses, tutoring groups, and co-ops. We got to do choir and drama and so many other things that my mom couldn’t teach. I started my first business when I was 11 and now I work for myself full time as a self-taught graphic designer. I feel like the most important thing homeschooling does is allow kids to grow up at their own pace and interact with other kids and adults of all ages. When I was younger I never got along with girls my own age, so I made friends with girls who were 2-3 years older. That wouldn’t have been possible in school where the grades are strictly separated. I jumped up a grade to be in the same grade as my sister and we did all our school work together, we even graded eachothers tests!
I nannied a public schooled boy for 3 years and what I saw broke my heart. He was self-conscious about his looks at age 6!!!! He was picked on by both kids and teachers who somehow couldn’t understand that boys can’t sit in a desk for 6 hours a day and learn that way. He got angry and depressed and felt sick going to school in the morning. Again, I’m not saying that all public schools are bad or that kids can’t turn out great at a public school, I’m just saying its sooooo much harder to deal with all the pressures and still learn.
I didn’t mean for this to turn into an essay, but I hope it encourages you. I also don’t want it to sound like I’m some fantastic person because I definitely have my flaws and struggles, and I know that nothing in my life was of my own making. It was my mom. My mom didn’t want to be a teacher, in fact that is the last thing she wanted. But she made the choice for us and I can never thank her enough. She sacrificed her life, her free time, and sometimes her sanity to do what she thought was best for us and it gave us something that is rare and precious these days. A childhood. A childhood free of pressures to conform. I was a weird kid, I wore floor length denim skirts and a bucket hat and birkenstock sandals. My sister wore winnie the pooh overalls, a cloak, and a beret. My fashion sense has improved exponentially and there was a time when I was embarrassed by my previous clothing choices, but do you know what? Back then I didn’t care. I wasn’t even aware that I was uncool. Other people weren’t either because nobody was judged by what they wore. The smart kids and the drama geeks were the popular ones. Don’t we all want that for our kids?
AMEN!!!!! That is all.
Two of my 3 sister-in-laws homeschool. One for the right reasons, one because she was one of those parents that instead of teaching reality of life to begin with, decided to pull her kid out of school and take the seemingly easy road of “fixing the problem it for him,” and is now homeschooling. I have sworn up and down, I would not do it. Primarily because I don’t see me having the patience to stay home and teach my kids. At the same time, I work for a public school…and now, after seeing the vast difference from when I was in high school…how the kids treat the staff and teachers, how parents try and get them out of everything, and fix everything for them, how the kids have no concept of what real life is and how to problem solve…I worry about the future generations.
From home, I don’t plan on teaching my daughter that you can walk away from all responsibility, or that you can bully your way out of consequences. And I don’t want to be that Mom, that goes in and fights her battles, and enables her to believe that she should always get her way. My daughter is two, so I have a little while, but in the past year, I have often thought, that if things continue to progress, in the school systems, as they have…I may have to (and want to) eat my words.
Go for it. We started homeschooling in December. I LOVE IT!! I am so thankful for the change it’s brought to our home. I had homeschooled briefly in the past but had to go back to work full time (plus 2 side jobs). I am now remarried and when I noticed my daughter was seriously struggling in school I knew I needed to make a change. The joy on her face when things click and seeing the progress she makes is worth all of the time and effort I put in.
And you post is beautifully put. I too, want my daughter to play instruments and as a coincidence asked me if I could help her build a manequin we saw on pinterest months ago so she can start making her own clothes. (She’s 11). 6 months ago my daughter had very low self esteem and was convinced she would always be dumb (it broke my heart) and never had any goals. We recently started an Ocean unit because my little ones were interested in sharks and my daughter likes sea turtles. Now my daughter wants to be a Marine Biologist. And I understand she is 11 and will probably change her mind a million times. But for the first time my daughter is interested, she is actively engaging in school work and loves it. There are times I have to tell her it’s time to wrap up school work and she is asking “5 more minutes mom!” I won’t say its been an easy change. It’s been hard. But worth every moment.
I have also been thinking for awhile now about homeschooling my son. He’s finishing second grade this year and is one of the smartest kids in his class, but he’s easily distracted. With this Common Core nonsense starting up, I’m not sure how he’ll do when the focus is more on test scores and not individual achievements. I’m still questioning homeschooling though because his dad and I are divorced and I don’t get to make all the decisions myself. But it’s still a consideration!
Great post, I enjoy reading your blog, and appreciate the “f bombs” you occasionally drop because it’s more honest lol. Because we talk like that, even if our kids don’t see that side. 🙂
I felt a lot like you did when my kids were in k,3,5. I was considering homeschooling and settled on a Waldorf school. They have all of the required classes, also knitting, sewing, 2 languages beginning in 1st, chorus, violin and flute….required, movement, gym, and they still have time for recess twice a day! Not a 5 minute recess, but a full on 30-40 minutes. Time to build a fort, climb a tree, play a full game, all of which is not only allowed, but encouraged. It’s all built into the curriculum. Play is important, nutrition is important, all the home values we cherish and kids are losing. You might want to check into it. When my daughter transferred in 3rd grade she said….”Mom, this place feels like Home. It feels different from regulars school”. How? I asked her. Her response….” I feel like I can just be me there”.
not your average mom says
If I had a spare $50,000 lying around, I’d definitely go that route. Unfortunately, it’s not in the budget.
And sometimes you find the right district and good teachers…we can’t control everything but I think last year we saw how seriously some of us take our commitment to our students…for those hours of the day, they are my kids…just sayin 😉
I agree with you on so many points! I pulled my girls out of school 3 years ago and rarely look back. Every choice comes with a different set of challenges. I prefer the challenges that come with homeschooling to the ones that come with dealing with public school. There is a wonderful, supportive and fun community of homeschoolers in your area. You will not be alone. 🙂
sandy peters says
I clearly remember sending you a message, one night after you received yet another inane project that taught the kids nothing(but required parents to do a bunch of crap) that I now homeschool because of that very exact assignment. I sent all the teachers and administrators a nice message that (after having 8 kids)I already know how to take pictures and paste them on a poster board. Since my kids don’t own cameras, and can’t drive, the projects called my community were actually assignments for me..I already have my Masters degree.Instead, every lesson in my house begins with the idea…at the end of this this lesson my kids will be able to….
and it damn well be something other than gluing onto poster board.
Until I had my own kids, I would have never considered homeschooling. I had a good school experience, great sports and extracurricular activities, I wanted that for my kids too. Well, after meeting a lot of parents and teachers and even doctors, who just DON’T CARE about my kids at all, I’m starting to think that I can do a lot more for them at home then they’ll get forced through the public school system. My son is developmentally delayed so there’s still some thinking I need to do (and my kids are still not even 3 yet) but I just might be homeschooling soon 😛 Wow, I really never thought I’d say that out loud (or type it? you know what I mean…)
I home school all five of my children and although it has its challenges it is totally worth it. All children are different and me schooling at home enables me to work with them in ways each of them understand and enjoy. They love to learn and are able to do it freely with none of the drama brick and mortar brings. I am able to shape my kids and build them with the confidence they need to tackle this crazy world. I love seeing them achieve things they would never have time to explore being in brick and mortar. Don’t wait any longer seize the moment 😉
Sofia Grogan says
Homeschooling mom here. I was just enjoying having my 2 in school and getting my career going when we had to pull them out to homeschool. It was not the plan but I’m so grateful that we even have the ability to adjust our plans. So many families do not.
It’s not a walk in the park but as I like to say, it’s more rewarding than anything else I’ve ever done. You will not regret it!