Monday, 19 July 2010

Against the grain

This is an entry written in all honesty.

People often ask me if I am going to homeschool my kids. I'm not surprised at the question; I probably have read and researched about homeschooling and alternative education more than many parents who have already pulled their kids from public school and are in the throes of teaching their kids at home. I read about education. I read about others homeschooling. I read curricula. I talk about it with just about everyone I meet. I am passionate about its methods and wary at the public school system. I am fairly certain homeschooling is a better option.

So people are often surprised when I answer "no." It's never a definitive "never," rather just a "no, not right now." My oldest is going into senior kindergarten. My second child is enrolled in a nursery school in the fall. I often tell people that I like that I am prepared to homeschool should I ever see the need arise (a child falling behind, not succeeding in the school system, or being bullied).

But the real answer why I'm not homeschooling? There are two.

The first and biggest one: fear. I am not one who can easily go against the grain. Perhaps if I had been homeschooled, or James had been, I might be very easily and comfortably not enrolling my kids in school. But the idea is so new here, so foreign to most people. I hate that fear has seemingly paralyzed me out of this decision. I wish more people homeschooled, that it were more accepted. I'm just not a trailblazer.

The second is selfishness. I look down the road at the idea of spending all day every day with my kids and I get exhausted thinking about it. The idea of school as a break for me is very alluring. I think this will fade as my kids grow, as they are less dependent on me, as I get more sleep, as I send all three kids away for 6 hours a day and miss them terribly. These early motherhood days of babies and toddlers is physically, emotionally and mentally draining, and I really did look forward to the hours I had this past year with Colin in school and the other two napping. As an introvert I need time alone to recharge, which is nearly impossible with three kids under 4.

My ideal form of education would involve both school and home. I wish I could send my kids for a morning of school, about three hours. I really don't think they need any more than that (and let's face it, even with 6 hours at school, they probably don't get much more than 3 hours of actual instruction time anyway). Schools aren't really set up for this, and I don't think the teachers would take too kindly to me picking my kids up at lunch time every day. What this really demonstrates is the need for a more flexible school system.

But knowing that in a year or two the selfish reason for sending my kids to school will abate, all that remains is fear. This sort of honesty with myself drives me crazy, because I am such a proponent of doing what's best for my family, no matter what other's say. So, in order to combat it a little, I have purchased a preschool program that caught my eye. It's called "Learn Your Letters...Learn to Serve." More about it later, but suffice it to say that I'm really excited about this program that is mostly for Caleb, but will benefit the entire family.


Emily T said...

I have to say that I love this post. I think a good percentage of the people tearing down homeschool are just people too scared to do it themselves. I'm terrified, and that's the way I grew up!

Luckily, I don't have to worry too much about going against the grain. In my area it's become much more mainstream (though it definitely wasn't when I was growing up), and even if that wasn't true, well, my family and I did just fine when it wasn't normal...

But yeah, I'm scared. Mentally, physically... I'm scared. I'm not sure I'd have the wherewithal to say that I was going to do it if my husband wasn't the one telling me that he wanted his children taught at home. Sigh. I guess marrying someone from a different culture doesn't always save you from your own;)

Good luck. I hope whatever you do for your family continues to turn out fab. I love your little mormon family!

Terri-Ann said...

Thanks for your support. It's funny - I was much more on board for homeschooling until September was staring me in the face when Colin was to start school. The first 3 1/2 years of his life it was an abstract idea. Then when I actually faced sending him to school or keeping him home, I couldn't seem to do it.

I still hope that someday I will homeschool - if not permanently for all my kids, then maybe at least for a couple of years here or there. I would love to do some major travel one day, and perhaps that will be the opportunity.