Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My love/hate relationship with homeschool & why I'll probably never do it.

There are so many things I didn't know I would be dealing with once I became a parent.  

In the beginning, it is breast or bottle? cloth or disposable? crib or co-sleeping?  The decisions I never knew I'd make just continue every single day.  Little things like, candy now, or wait til after dinner?... can the kids stay up a little later on a Friday?  Is it okay for my son to wear long sleeve shirts 365 days a year? AND, bigger things, like 

Where will my kid go to school? Is public school right for me? Who are the teachers?  What is the curriculum? Will my child be held back? Is he learning what he needs?  Is he bored? Is he learning at the right pace? Is he being held back? How do they discipline? Who are the other kids? Who are their parents?  What about standardized testing? What about recess? Should I be supplementing their education?  Can I do this better? What about unschooling? Freeschooling? Private school?  What about recess? What about extra curricular activities?  Will he like school? Is school even necessary?

Of course, these questions are just the beginning...

When it was time for my son to go to preschool/daycare, we first enrolled him at the local YMCA. He was only two then, and his enrollment there lasted less than a month.

We watched with anxiety on the "nanny cam" each day as my child cried and no one at that program attended to his needs.

It didn't take long for us to see he either wasn't ready or the YMCA was the completely wrong fit for him.

A year later my husband and I began to search for preschools yet again. We found a program through a friend's referral on Facebook. We went down to the school and I was instantly in love with their philosophies.

I was new to parenting and had never done much thinking about my child's education.

I was surprised to learn that the school participated something called un schooling--although at the time they weren't calling it that--it was child-led learning or something similar. It really was an excellent fit for him at the time--and I liked the families and the social interaction he was getting. But, it was pricey for the hours he was there & he HATED the naps so much he stopped wanting to go and would cry in the mornings when I dropped him off. In the end, I  did like a lot of what they were doing, but didn't like a lot of other things. The school wasn't the right for for him or us.

The pre-school has actually been building an elementary school based on unschooling philosophies and child directed learning with no boundaries and non-traditional curriculum.  I love the idea, but not the price tag.  So, now my son is in a regular private preschool with a small class size that is close to home. It's pretty traditional, and the curriculum isn't anything great, but he likes it, it gives the grandparents a break, and it's not too expensive. (Yes, at 4 years old, this is what we need) 

Anyway,  What the unschooling school did was make me more interested in researching different educational philosophies and to think more about what is right for our family and our son, and that really is unique to our situation as it is in this moment in life. One of the educational paths I have strongly considered is homeschooling.

I began reading homeschooling blogs like crazy and

immediately fell in love with the idea of homeschooling. 

Before I became a parent, and really started thinking about different ways to educate children, I never would have ever considered this.  I think a mix of unschooling and traditional education at home with a homesteading practice would be ideal.

I believe that traditional education is failing, and that children have the ability to learn anything because the internet is available to them and us as parents. It makes it much more simple to learn than it had been in the past, and allows children to excel in their own unique area of interest instead of core curriculum. 

My vision of a homeschool 
sometimes involves an organized drawer of worksheets, and books everywhere--on all of the subjects he loves the most. Other times it involves no books and tons of adventures.  I dream of field trips to the museum followed with reading books about the animals seen. I love the idea of a chicken coup and a garden in the backyard. 4h projects, and discovery units (I used to have a million Pinterest boards on these) that I could create and share with my son and daughter.  Teaching the value of looking things up and learning by watching educational films and shows on Netflix to our hearts content all while

protecting my son from the evils of the world, standardized testing, and conformism. (Is that even a word?) Can you feel my disdain towards the traditional schooling method? 

Well, schools in my area are horrible! 

I am so torn and frustrated about my options (and the lack thereof) for my son's education.  Also, I'm nearly confident that future success of my children will be dependent on vastly different things than they were in the past.  I doubt a college degree will be worth much and student loan debt will always be insurmountable. I am not confident that traditional, standardized education is the answer.  (Google and other companies don't care about your degree--they value entrepreneurship more than anything else).

The future is changing and the future can be made at home. 

Well, you may be asking, if you love it so much....

Now here's the why I'll never do it part--first, and most obviously, the economy sucks.  I need school for my kid so that I can work--yes, "school as the babysitter"--hate all you want, but I have accepted that reality.  I've thought about how to do full time work and homeschooling (many people out there do this and I am constantly amazed by how they juggle it all) but it seems like far too much planning and detail that I don't have the extra time or energy for at this point in my life when I have a full time job.  So, the what to do with the kids during the day phenomenon persists. So, in reality, supplementing their educations at home while they still do the traditional school thing can't hurt too much and sometimes requires just as much energy and planning as homeschooling.

Second, when I stayed home for my maternity leave (all 6 short weeks of it) I realized how hard it is to be "on" with my kids for that many hours a day--24 hours a day is tough.  Heck, sometimes the 4 waking hours I get with them is tough. When I was home, the house cleaning called, as did my blog, trying to exercise, piles of diapers, and ultimate exhaustion. I am just not the person that can entertain at the level necessary for engaged teaching and learning if I have to care for these kids 24 hours a day.  Plus, we all kinda went stir crazy some days, I realized above all--

we need to get out & we need to see other people. I value my time at work and interaction with adults and exercising my own mind in a challenging manner.

So, I think what I'll continue to do as an active, concerned, mother with an interest in my children's education is continue to supplement my children's education by constantly engaging them, doing activities, and teaching at home.  But during the day, I'll still send them away to school until I win the lottery.

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