Thursday, February 19, 2015

When NOT to homeschool

Close your eyes. Now picture a beautiful, neat kitchen table topped with a vast array of  school books. You have all of your children situated  around the dining room table beaming with smiles.  They begin digging into those books as they begin to quench  their thirsting little minds with the vast array of knowledge out there. All of a sudden little Joey needs help with an English question and your oldest jumps at the chance to help him out ever so willingly. Mom is sitting at the table sparkling with pride as her eager students are all learning and her house is perfectly arranged.  You convince yourself that, life couldn't get any better. Then all of a sudden you hear that "riiiiiippp" sound that  you would hear from a needle going across a record,  and you snap back to reality.

How about a touch of reality?  Picture this.  Your infant is nursing on you for the third  time in an hour.  A toddler with a runny nose, and fever clinging to you crying in discomfort.  All the while your 8 yr old is running around torturing, I mean, playing with the cat. While  you're  trying for the tenth time to get him to sit down in a chair. Meanwhile begging him to just please, oh please, start on that math page they've been whining and  stalling on for two days.  Your  middle schooled child is wandering around the house looking for that missing English book, again. At this point you are yelling at your  high schooled teen, who by the way is  just more caught up on their Ipod, to put it away. Asking them if they've gotten that essay done on the Great Gatsby that was due two weeks ago. 

Okay, I know you just read the title, and you are  are thinking to yourself right now," What? I see all these awesome blogs out there that encourage me  to home school. I mean, they give you about a gazillion reasons on why you should. "  So why is this blog post about when NOT to home school?  Why on earth would I encourage people NOT to do it?

 I do see a great deal of families  home school for the right reasons. These families  know and understand the sacrifices it takes to home school. They reach out to other homeschoolers when the going gets tough, and they need revived.  In other words they home educate because they feel the calling whether it's from God or their  conscience. It's  just the right thing to do for their family.  This post will focus on when it may not be in the best interest to home school. 

With homeschooling on the rise. I'm seeing more and more families jump on the bandwagon. The thing is it isn't always in the best interest of their  family.  So I've decided to compile  a short list of when NOT to home school.
*This list is not in any particular order and not limited to.

1. Everyone is homeschooling, even my best friend.

Well, here is  an if you had friends, and if  they jumped off a bridge  moment.   First, you must  ask yourself," Do I enjoy being with my children?"   I always hope that parents enjoy being with their children. 
Though I've  accepted   a small percentage of  people that do not  enjoy being around their children exist. I won't bore you  to much with the schematics.   They are the  parents  that pray for school season to start.  The mom  that whines when it's a school holiday. Or when it's summer  and they are so ready to ' send them back?' Please realize that you will spend every day with your children. The parent is the main educator. 
The million dollar question is: Do you enjoy being with your children?  So do you? 

 The next thing you have to ask is: " Does our family want to be closer?"  Homeschooling can bring a family much closer than most.  Everyone learns to work as a family and a unit. Each person in the family learns to love one another and appreciate each other just a little more. I will admit the family dynamic is not something that can be summed up with words. It can be very difficult describe. But if you do give homeschooling a try you will see what I mean.  

Additionally  I am beginning to see far too often as well is, " My friend Susie home schools. Then I should too." moments.  Especially when they can't stand being around their children, or haven't done any research, or just don't want to home school.    Just because it's the right choice for your friend, doesn't mean its right for your family. There are people who love being around their own children, but just find homeschooling doesn't work for them either. That's okay. It's just not the right fit for your family.

(Mind you this post is about those who jump into homeschooling without a thought).  

 If  you answer, no, to the questions  above, or you look at sending your child away to school as a national holiday.  Then  homeschooling is NOT right for you.

2. Giving  up at the first sign that it's getting hard.

Yeah, again, another one I'm seeing far too often too.  Instead of asking for help, or ideas from other homeschoolers, or even reaching out to other homeschoolers where they live when they have a problem. They just totally give up on homeschooling altogether. 

 I've seen happy parents start homeschooling just  to give up several weeks to a few months later.  The thing I've noticed. Not once did they ever reach out to anyone.
 I had to think about why this was.  The reason?  Because there is this notion that homeschooling is easy.  To dream of pink fluffy  unicorns dancing on rainbows every day is far from what homeschooling is.   You have to be able to accept the good days with the bad days.  We have to accept those days  if they go to a brick and mortar school.  Not every day your child comes home excited  to do homework when they've been stuck in a building all day.   Guess what?  Homeschoolers go through that too.  

I admit to losing count of the days when I've had to plead, beg, and argue with my children to get their work done.  On top of that  dinner is due. I need to keep track of when to care for my daughter's medical issues. Then on top of everything our house looks literally like a scene from the tornado of the Wizard of Oz blew through the house.   Am I always organized? No, it's a ton of work.   On top of it, trying to encourage my children to ask their father  to help them.  You know, getting them to realize I'm not the only adult in the house that can help them with a work assignment? 

 Yep, homeschooling is HARD. There is nothing easy about educating children.  Not every single day, and moment is a good one. If you set unrealistic expectations  that's what you're going to get. 


If you don't want to reach out to others for help, or aren't capable of  wanting to meet your children's  needs. 

Then homeschooling is NOT  right for you.

3. Where your priorities are at?

 Ask yourself," Where are my priorities?"  If material possessions mean far more to you, and I'm not talking  paying bills and getting the necessities, then you need to rethink homeschooling.  

Homeschooling is something that requires sacrifice.  You may need to downsize with one income. Maybe one car instead of two? It may mean needing  to make more meals at home and  not being able to go out to eat  that often. Or even downsizing a home if you're relying on one income. Movie night might also need to consist of renting movies or waiting for them to be available on Netflix instead of always going out to the movies. 

 Even so many families work and home school as well.  When I first started homeschooling 13 yrs ago just homeschooling existed . Today you will see new terms such as : homeschoolers, unschoolers, car schoolers, hack schoolers , just give it a name.   There are parents who work full time or work part time and manage to home school (Yours truly managed to do this too). I've seen teachers, professors, doctors, nurses, lawyers, scientists, you name the trade, home school.  They need to adjust their time ,  find more independent curriculum, or recruit the help of family members to make home schooling  work. Either way homeschooling is not impossible.  

Homeschooling is not limited to income. Current studies are showing that families of different types of socioeconomic standards home school today and it's no longer limited to those families who can afford to stay home. 

 It has now dwindled  to  a matter if you WANT to home school whether than if you can home school.  Many families of differing income brackets have managed to home school.  Even single parents  home school. Heck, even grandmas and grandpa's, aunts and uncles, and friends and neighbors are helping to home school when parents are unable.   

It all boils down to what you want for your family. 

If keeping up with the Jones' is far more important to you.Then homeschooling is NOT for you.

4.  Learning is a drag for you.

If learning is  a drag for you,  learning is  going to be a drag for your children. Homeschooling is  learning right along with your children. 
 If you don't enjoy learning, your children won't enjoy learning either. If you're not willing to learn alongside them. Or do not want to learn with your children. Or even want to further your own education by going beyond what you are teaching your children. 

Then homeschooling is NOT right for you.

5. You want to homeschool to run away from problems.

Not sure how to put this not so blunt, but if your child failing in school because they are not doing their homework. Guess what?  Homeschooling isn't going to go to well for you.  
If you pull them out because transitioning in school is difficult, guess what? Homeschooling isn't going to fix the problem.  If your child  has discipline problems in school, guess what?  If you  said, " Homeschooling isn't going to fix the problem, " Your 100 percent right! 

 Home school isn't a fixer upper. If problems exist, they need to be addressed otherwise homeschooling WILL fail.  When your child is disobedient to other adults, they will be disobedient to you.  At the same time if work is not getting done in school, they aren't going to do it at home.  

Now of course there can be  behaviors that are caused by the stresses of school, but if they aren't addressed ahead of time. Homeschooling will feel more like torture schooling instead.  

If you don't want to attend to the  behavioral issues first. Then  homeschooling  is  NOT for you.

6.  Your spouse does not agree

Homeschooling shouldn't be done unless both parties are in agreement. It's not worth the stress  it can cause if one parent  isn't agreeing with the other. 
 Both parties  should clearly state why they don't think homeschooling is right for the family.  Rule number 1:  Mind reading doesn't count. That means that each adult must state with words to each other why they believe that homeschooling won't work in their particular family.  Far to many times I've seen conversations that follow along this way: 

Poster : " My husband doesn't want me to homeschool.  I really want to and think it's the best thing but he doesn't want me to." 

Other posters : "  Well why? What were his reasons?"  

Poster: " Well , gee , I don't know. He just says he doesn't want me to."   

Well, if we can examine here how nonconstructive this conversation is.  Husband doesn't state what he believes. He  says, " No."  Well, guess what? God doesn't make us with mind reading radars where we can guess what the other is thinking. Construction conversation requires the use of complete thoughts.  

Remember those days when our children were young? Our children had  moments when they would  cry when they wanted something. Problem was, you didn't know what they wanted. You turned to them and said, " Well, mommy can get whatever you need if you use your big boy words."  Well the same goes here. We need to use our big boy or big girl words to say why we think homeschooling will or will not work for our  families.  No guessing allowed. 

The best way to go about  this is: Do your research, show the research to each other, and talk often.  Even a trial run for a year doesn't hurt ,and it's not set in stone. 

But, if there is no agreement in the matter, the best thing to do is pray and hope for a change of heart. Homeschooling is not something that should be forced. 

Successful home schooling consists of place where both parents work together. You will often have  days when the kids get under each others skin, and days will come and go when everyone manages to get under each other's skin.   If both parents work together to support discipline in the home, everyone will be happier.   If both parents are divided in this, home schooling  will not work.  

Another reason  homeschooling will NOT be for you.

7. You want to churn out brilliant kids

Okay, so extensive amounts of studies are out there now that show home schooled children tend to be ahead of their peers. To be honest I don't know of a parent out there that doesn't want their child to be the next child genius.  Unless your child is naturally gifted, you can't force your child to be that way. This is another issue I'm beginning to see. Parents trying to create something from their children that they are not.  

There maybe children within a family with learning disabilities or special needs, and we need to adapt to them.   Homeschooling is loving to learn.  Homeschooling is  making memories with your children. Lord knows they grow up to fast. Home schooling is  raising children in the way they should go, preparing them  for Heaven, and guiding them to be able to have a life to live on their own. Homeschooling isn't taking credit for having smart children, and it's not turning them into something brilliant, well, unless God made them that way. Homeschooling is about being able to enjoy the time given to you by God with your family. 

If your idea of homeschooling is to mold your child into something they are not. 

Then homeschooling is NOT for you. 

Well, here you go everyone. I'm sure many other reasons exist why many families shouldn't home school.  I always will be pro homeschooling, and pro school choice.  Being able to chose what is right for every family is why we have educational choice. Not everyone is meant to home school. Not every family is created equal. In fact there's nothing wrong with knowing your limitations.