If you don’t homeschool, you don’t know what it’s like to live this life. Because homeschoolers are a definite minority in our society, they remain something of a mystery. Rarely are homeschoolers portrayed positively, much less accurately, in film,
television, books, etc.
That is why I’m sharing this series of Monday posts entitled ” Growing Up Homeschooled.” There’s a decent chance you’ve seen a parent comment on what it means to be homeschooled–how about the perspective of someone who was homeschooled and chose to pursue that path for her own children?
Pros and Cons
Do you like to make lists? I love lists. To-do lists help me get all my chores done. I love the satisfaction of crossing something off–a satisfaction that I discovered when I arrived at college and realized I needed to be able to keep track of my assignments and homework in a way that was visual and in-my-face.
I like listicles, I admit it 🙂 Condensed information put into an easy-to-follow format is difficult to beat, especially when the reader is sipping coffee and just trying to wake up in the morning.
I also like pro and con lists, though I’ve only made a few of them in my life. When you’re trying to make a big decision, there are always pros and cons. Nothing in this life is perfect, even good opportunities. Say you get into two great graduate schools… who do you choose? Making pro and con lists of each and then comparing can help you find similarities and differences between the two options, as well as reveal to you what your biggest priorities are.
Homeschooling is like anything else (including my pro and con list): it isn’t perfect.
- Less time “doing” school, more time living life
- Religious freedom
- One-on-one time with the teacher
- Fewer standardized tests
- Better social atmosphere
- More family time
- No commuting to school
- Potential lack of structure
- Failure to experience a classroom
- Not enough exposure to tests
- Social isolation
- Strain on Mom
- Strain on family finances
Notice that I left any “sports” or “athletics” concerns off entirely. Why?
1) American society puts too much emphasis on the combination of school and sports.
2) Homeschoolers have plenty of access to sports and athletic extra-curriculuars, like dance. The biggest difference is that you have to pay to play with the YMCA and other organizations.
3) Lots of homeschoolers have their own leagues for certain sports.
On the Pro list, 1, 2, and 3 kinda go together, and they’re one of the biggest advantages to homeschooling whatever your religion, race, financial situation, family situation may be. Especially in the younger grades, there’s a growing understanding that American kids are spending too much time chained to desks in classrooms. Homeschooling cuts out a lot of wasted time and repetition. Plus, it just takes less time to explain a lesson to one child than it does to explain it to thirty (usually 😉 ).
Freedom also means the ability to say, “You already know this–let’s go ahead,” or, “You need to review this,” or “You’re really into astronauts right now? Great! Let’s learn more about space exploration!”
Homeschooling means having the freedom to say, “It’s a beautiful day today, and it’s been rainy and cold for two weeks–let’s go outside and play.” It also means having the freedom to dictate your own schedule and take breaks whenever best works for your family, not the rest of the world.
Homeschooling means you can open a Bible and read it without stepping on anyone’s toes. It means you can talk about evolution and the Bible at the same time, and that your children don’t have to be raised to think that “smart” and “religious” are an either/or instead of a both/and.
On the Con list, you see a potential pitfall of homeschooling, which is a lack of structure. Homeschooling families do fall into this trap, and it sucks. Some homeschoolers choose to stop homeschooling because they worry that their kids aren’t learning about to keep a schedule.
And, yeah, it’s hard! As a young homeschooling mom, I experienced this first hand last year, which was pretty much our first structured year of homeschooling. We started off strong, but as the semester dragged on, it was harder and harder to get out the books and get going in the morning, and if we didn’t get going in the morning then it seemed like everybody was grumpier and we didn’t get as much done.
A lot of pressure is put on Mom to keep school going on a daily basis and make sure the kids aren’t slacking in their work. You have to have structure, even if you’re an Unschooler.
I recognized this particular problem, which was especially relevant during the Spring semester, and I’m taking steps to be more organized this year by preparing more printouts ahead of time. In the next few weeks, I’m going to draw up a provisional schedule so that I can have a better idea of where we stand throughout the year. Let’s hope it works!
The flip side of this pitfall is that working at home every day with a routine and learning how to self-structure is fantastic training for a successful life. Homeschoolers tend to be self-starters, and I think this is a big reason why. Generally speaking, you don’t get to do anything fun as a homeschooler unless you’re willing to seek out and/or create your own opportunities–the state and community aren’t doing it for you.
The freedom granted to me and my family through homeschooling, be it freedom to choose subjects, curriculum, schedules, field trips, vacations, daily hours, or whatever else, is a big part of the reason why we homeschool, which is probably why I put it at the top. 🙂
What about you?
If you’re a homeschooling parent or student, do you find homeschooling to be freeing?
If you’re a public-schooling parent or student, do you find that you don’t have enough freedom in your educational situation? Do you think more freedom might be detrimental?
Do you think there could be such a thing as too much freedom in education?