Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Why I Do(n't) Love Homeschooling

Today we will finish our 7th semester of homeschooling.

We started this journey, informally homeschooling 2 year old preschool and then each year we've become more serious, added more days, more lessons, more time in the day spent on school. If I had known then what I know now, I would have done it again! I feel so incredibly blessed that God allows us to live this life.

4 years in,  there are some things I love, and some things I don't, about homeschooling. This has been the easiest and hardest post to write, I have debated what to include, how to include it, and what will come of it. In the end, I have prayed on this and leave it here. May His Will be done.

I love...

- Spending my days with my children. I love learning with them and growing with them. I cannot imagine having Annabeth gone to school each day.

One of my favorite pictures of the kids and me.
We are all sporting UofL gear - September 2015

- How close Annabeth and Owen are as a result of being home together. The kids are 3.5 years apart so if Annabeth had gone to preschool, she would have been gone many mornings of Owen's first year and even more this year. I love having the kids together all the time.

- Being able to hand select what we teach. In Indiana*, homeschoolers have very few guidelines which means that we are allowed to incorporate our faith into all subjects and we are allowed to teach sensitive subjects in the way that we feel is best. We are also allowed to decide when it is, or will be, the right time to introduce sensitive subjects. As conservative Christians, this is very important to us.

- We are our children's #1 influences. We hope, we pray, that this means our children are seeing and learning love. We pray that our children will learn from us how to treat others with kindness and respect. We hope this means they will learn to right their wrongs and to apologize when they have failed to be kind or respectful. We also love that we will be providing our children with a view that is centered on Christ and His love.

- We are able to spend time with a variety of people. Our children interact with a variety of people on a daily basis - different ages, cultures, religious beliefs, and sexual orientations. Annabeth can play with and make conversation with almost anyone. We enjoy volunteering at our church and with another church in town. We have the time to accomplish these tasks because our school schedule is fluid.

- I love the flexibility of homeschooling. My family lives nearly three hours away and I like knowing that if we need or want to make a long weekend trip home, we can. I don't have to plan to be back for school on Monday. We can either take school with us or take a few extra days off. It also works well since Mark often has a funky work schedule. If Mark is off on Tuesday but works Saturday, we match his schedule and take the weekday off and do school on the weekend. This gives the kids alot more time with him than if they went to traditional school.

I could keep going, I love so many parts of what we do, but I also want to share that there are things I do not love. This is the part that scares me. I often hear, "Well, if it doesn't work they can always go to school" or "You chose this." Both of those statements are true but I don't feel like I have to love this journey 100% of the time.

I don't love...

- Misconceptions and rude comments. A mom at dance this fall said, "I don't like homeschooling. You could just sit home, doing nothing all day. I am worried about Annabeth's education." I don't think I would ever dare make a statement like this, even to a family member or close friend, much less a person I really didn't know. Yes, I suppose it is true, I could sit home all day, do nothing, and say I homeschool but I feel that if anyone has spent time with our children, they can see quite a bit of learning has been happening. A father of one of Annabeth's friends said to me, the day we met, "She will be a freak you know. She will be so antisocial. And weird." Well, she is a little weird but aren't we all? Comments like these, both ones directed at me or at homeschoolers in general have been so hurtful and difficult to navigate.

- Being home with my kids all day. Let me be honest, there are days when I would LOVE for my children to go somewhere for three hours. I make the mistake of getting on Facebook during the day and I see other moms crafting or at Target or getting Starbucks with a friend. I cannot do those things, I am running a school and my students never leave. I sometimes envy my friends who work. I miss the luxury of time away from my children and I miss having adult time. I work hard to remind myself that God calls all of us to live different lives and that I need to be happy living mine.

- It is sometimes lonely. In order to get school done, we have to stay home quite a bit of the time. That means I sometimes go days and only see Mark and the children. As for the larger homeschool community, people who homeschool do so for a wide variety of reasons. We belong to a homeschool group and I am not sure any of the families in that group homeschool for the same reasons that we do or in the same way that we do. Even though we all fall under the same umbrella, we are quite different. Homeschooling is emotional and personal for families - people like to feel like they are doing it the best, right way for their family and want you to jump on board. It is a totally different day-to-day life than sending our children to school and it's sometimes difficult to talk to those parents. In the last year, I have noticed a big shift in friendships with some families who have children in school. We have lost touch and have a harder time getting the children together to play. I miss those friendships.

- My job is is not seen as a job and many ask when I will ever return to work. Family members and friends who work talk about their jobs, good parts and bad parts, and while they all work in various fields there is a general understanding of a good or bad day at the office. Teaching homeschool is my job and I rarely feel like other adults are interested in my work. As someone who has always loved working hard for a reward, good grades in school or a better paycheck at work, it is difficult for me to work in a job where there is not a tangible reward and definitely in a job that is not thought highly of by other adults. I think many wonder why I don't just send the children to school so that I can return to work. Mark works a full-time job and a part-time job so that we are able to not only live our daily lives but also make investments in our children's college savings. Me staying home, potentially for another 17 years, is a financial burden however it is one, for the moment, that we are willing to bear as we answer God's call for our family.

I share this post in an effort to be honest and transparent. While I often share the joys of homeschooling, this lifestyle does come with sacrifices which I also felt needed to be shared. Ultimately, God planned for me to be Mark's wife and our children's mother. He has entrusted them to my care and it is my duty to seek His will for their education.

*In Indiana, all parents are legally responsible for their children's schooling. All children in Indiana must attend school 180 days beginning at the very latest at age 7. These are the only guidelines that homeschoolers in Indiana must follow. 


Abbi said...

Interesting post. I am so sorry you have had to deal with such rude comments. We live in a community where there are a lot of homeschoolers so most of the people I come in contact with are pretty positive about it. I have actually found from time to time that when I discuss schooling with some the send their kids to public school it seems like they feel they have to defend their position rather than the other way around. I don't try to make them feel that way but when they ask about what we do I do tend to share the positives. Also since I was homeschooled myself in this community there are many people that just know that is the way our family does things and so they don't think it odd. :-)

I do remember times of loneliness. I think that gets much better once your kids get older - they tend to be your friends. :-) But actually I have found more friends that fit in with our lifestyle too. Also - the job is indeed never ending. But I am not envious of those that go to work plus have kids to raise too (and meals to cook, laundry to do and a house to clean). I am so thankful for the life that God has given us.

Praying for you and your homeschooling journey!

Amy and Mark said...

Thank you! We are slowly finding a homeschool community here. I am so thankful for friends who walk alongside us in this journey. - Also, thank you for your words about lonliness. I think that as the children age I will find them to be companions. I look forward to many more grown-up conversations with them!