I was discussing homeschooling with a friend. We were considering our own children’s education. We’ve agreed there are serious opportunities for fixing public education. On the day in question, we were attempting to find a solution to the woes of public education inside of an hour without alcohol. He’s sitting on the fence about whether to homeschool his children, send them to a very expensive private school, or enroll them in public school, supplementing them with other experiences. I’m sitting on the couch watching my son make log cabins out of the Q-tips he snuck. We might be talking about life at different levels.
My son is in public school. It’s a great school–one of the best in the state. I love it. His first school was quite the opposite experience. We were in the process of moving at the beginning of his kindergarten year, and he spent a month in our old neighborhood school. His first experience of public school was being stood up at the bus stop, then having the secretary holding the bus schedule say, “I can’t give you information. You have to call the bus company,” rather than apologize to a little boy all excited for his first day on “the big boy bus.” Next, I received a note telling me what to feed my son, and got the same twenty-minute form for different offices about six times. I knew we might have some frank conversations if we stayed. Parents’ time should be treated with more respect. Students and families are like gold. I teach high school. I’m grateful to my students and families. Without them, I’m not a teacher.
We moved back to my husband’s hometown in late September. “Daddy’s giving you his school,” we said. Declan was overjoyed. “Daddy’s swings! Daddy’s cafeteria. Daddy’s gym…” The public school has been a blessing ever since–the kids, the parents, the sense of community… This isn’t everyone’s experience, which is why people like my friend consider homeschooling. Some of my friends actually do homeschool.
I think homeschoolers are cool and innovative…better people than me all around. I’ve never heard one swear, and they always seem to be doing creative things with their kids–things I want to do more of. They’re baking cookies, taking field trips to all the big museums in the nation, and going on geode hunts where they dig up fossils to donate to big museums…I have a friend who moved onto a boat and sails around the globe. Want to learn about Japan? Fine. We’ll sail there. India? Done!
Frankly, I’m kind of jealous. That’s so much better than a geography book, or even a lesson on YouTube. My six-year old would love this stuff, but we barely get to the big museum, and it’s winter, so who wants to go to the zoo? I’d be a lousy homeschool mom. Here are the reasons why:
1. I need a break. If you’ve seen the boy or read my blog, you understand. Sending Declan to school prevents me from doing something more drastic, like selling him to gypsies. If he stayed with me, he’d get detention every day. I don’t want to be the detention monitor. I’d never even get to cancel school because of a snow day. Snow days are the best, everyone knows. It’s bad enough he gets homework at regular school that’s mostly for me. Imagine if I had to give him homework, too?
2. I don’t want to play freeze tag at recess or laugh at fart jokes and say the word “poop.” I don’t have a collection of nails, screws, washers, dryer lint, cough drops, and elastics in my pocket to trade, and I really don’t want to play video games. He needs to play with little kids. And since I’m not having any more for that purpose, it seems wise to ship him off and subcontract the socialization.
3. If we homeschool, Declan would have to go to the prom by himself. He’d be standing in the middle of the living room looking up at a disco ball, holding a glass of punch in his hand. The prom song would be “One is the Loneliest Number that You Ever Heard.” It could scar him forever. No one wants to go to the prom with their mom.
4. He wants to be a paleontologist. That requires a Ph.D. I don’t feel like teaching him till he defends his thesis at the dining room table at 30. Besides, I can’t pronounce the words. I’m a history person. I teach about dead people, not dead dinos. It’s not my field. Better to send him to college. He can learn how it feels to be one of the real people–in debt.
5. I teach in a public school. I give my students everything I’ve got. I can’t in good conscience say that school isn’t good enough for my son. Yes, education needs reform. We need to fix it. But I can’t pull my son. If I can’t be part of the solution, what’s my raison d’etre?
I struggle with the fact that a family working two or three jobs often doesn’t get an equal decision about whether to homeschool. It’s public school, and that’s it. Therefore, homeschooling can be seen as somewhat of a luxury item. When snow day puts a working parent in a tailspin, homeschooling might not be on the list of possibilities. In this nation, we teach everyone. But we should be teaching everyone so well that everyone wants to take part in our public schools.
I love my son, but right at this very moment he’s loading unpopped popcorn seeds into his mouth, shooting them across the room saying, “Look, Mom! I’m a cannon.” If I homeschooled him, he would most definitely live in detention every day of until I anti-socially promoted him to my husband’s class just to get him out of my hair.
Therefore, I’m not homeschooling him. He must get on that bus at 8:10, or my sanity might be gone. But those of you who do homeschool are amazing indeed.
Are you a successful homeschooler, someone considering the option, or someone looking for resources to supplement your child’s school education? These Learnist resources will get you pointed in the right direction. And there are many more there, if you’re looking for something specific. Add your expertise to these boards and reach out to the experts who made them–share what you know!
This board makes us think about the value of video games in education. Kids want to play them. They often teach many skills. From Minecraft to biotechnology, games can teach. This board also has a learning about the International Society for Technology in Education’s recommendations for educational games.
Chicago’s Field Museum isn’t just a place for exhibits–it’s a digital library. These exhibits are all about earth and space science. There are some amazing things. You can really dig in.
Turns out homeschooled kids do pretty well. They have plenty of opportunities to be with other kids. Homeschooling mom Kimberly Charron argues they fare better than their traditionally schooled counterparts.
Cooking is a great homeschooling, school, or supplementary activity. This series on teaching through food shows Russian culture, but any food activity can be tied in to any subject. For math, it could be measurement, quantity, weights, or profit margin. For science, address food safety, cooking reactions, sustainability and food sourcing. For social studies, geography of culinary region or food ingredient, the history of conquest when it comes to food like spices, history of culinary professionals or food preservation–food really can teach us anything.
Jacob Wheeler collects stories about man’s challenges in nature–both classic and modern. Organizing literature instruction along themes is helpful in developing the larger questions the themes contain. This can be done with any theme for any child’s interest at any level of development.