Saturday, August 27, 2011

I Could Never Homeschool.....

My boss said it to me the other day. "I could never homeschool. My kids would drive me NUTS." (If I had a nickel....)

Over the years, I generally respond "It's not as hard as you think." I realized that is all wrong. The reality is....actually, it is a lot harder than you think. maybe my six month break doing other work has given me a different perspective. Instead, I replied "Yeah. They would. I know mine have occasionally really gotten to me." (and I to them)

I didn't feel the need to elaborate on just how close to "nuts" I've been.

Homeschooling is hard. It can be VERY hard. And honestly, I think probably the easiest part is the teaching. The lessons and subjects, going through the curriculum. That's generally not hard at all.

It's the social isolation. Even when you belong to a co-op or a homeschool group and you have activities and park days, it can still be very difficult. When you homeschool, your life has a completely different flow than everybody else's. At times, its wonderful. I, for one, really don't like the pace of most lives. However, it still puts a person on the outside of the "norm." And the outside of the "norm" can be a lonely place to be. Sometimes it feels like I just don't sync with anyone else, and those I do sync with seem so far away.

I've homeschooled in a metropolis and in a small town. In a metropolis, your friends are spread out. Getting together has to be more structured. Neighborhoods don't really play a part in social life as much, because most everyone else is working. When you homeschool in a small town, there is a lot more of a tendency for life to revolve around the school, and there is a lot more personal pride in the school, because it is the only option. Choosing to homeschool rather than send your kids to the local school can be interpreted as a judgment on the school or on other parents. Homeschooling can isolate you from your community.

Not being able to leave your kids somewhere and participate in activities that grownups are participating in without kids is just not an option, at least not as much. That feels isolating.

Your kids aren't part of the daily life of the other kids, so they tend to be isolated when they participate in other activities like Scouts or 4-H.

I think most women who work don't necessarily do it out of job satisfaction or a that their jobs have a real purpose. I think it is because work creates a structured social sphere, and outside of work, that just doesn't exist in the community anymore. At the workplace, you can rely on your friends being there every day to talk with, lend support, provide help.

When our lives focus around our kids -- if their activities or interests change, or we decide to do something differently, then so do our social lives. I have three very close friends who I used to meet with on a weekly basis during seminary children's choir rehearsals. For years, it was the peak of our week. But as our kids had different things going on and our boys' voices changed, we fell away from that as our kids had other things to do. Something like that is hard to replace.

These things can drive a woman nuts. I honestly believe that humans aren't meant to be as socially isolated as we are in our daily lives. Modern technology is wonderful, but it also is isolating. I don't have to go to the well to gather water because I have indoor plumbing. Refrigerators and freezers eliminate the need for frequent gatherings at the market place, and air conditioning means that it is bearable to work in my house instead of on my porch during the scorching Summers. TV means I don't need to seek entertainment elsewhere. Easily accessing books means I am less likely to seek out forums for intellectual stimulation. We were meant to have the help of family, neighbors, and church brethren. Too often, we live too far away, don't know our neighbors, and are scared to show our weakness at church.

Has homeschooling my children been wonderful? Oh yeah. I LOVE having my kids home. I love being able to interact with them on a constant basis and hearing their thoughts and being a real part of their lives, not just a part of a few hours a day (which right now, is probably the hardest part of working. For the first time ever, my social need is being well-met, but my relationship with my kids feels distant. I can't wait to have that back). I adore being able to see the world open up for them. And I know that my involvement with their lives has turned them into a young man and ayoung lady that I am very proud of, and blown away that God has blessed me with the opportunity to be a part of shaping them. But there have been months at a time that have been laced with depression and tears.

Would I do it all over again? Yes. Absolutely. Would I recommend it to others? Definitely. But its not easy...and yes, your kids will drive you nuts--- seriously, painfully nuts.

What I have found in spending my days with moms who have their kids in daycare and at school. Their kids still drive them to the brink. However, what seems different between the relationships that I see with homeschooled kids and their parents and working parents is that I have a lot more influence over my kids than they do. My kids know where they stand with me (most of the time), and it matters to them. While my kids have friends, they don't matter to them the way they would if they were spending more waking hours with them than with me, so in general, repairing breaks in our relationship is easier. My kids are much more confident in their ability to have friends that like them for them, rather than needing to earn and seek their approval. It's my approval that they want, and while I may nag or get upset, they know that they have it. I am also less likely to back off on a problem that I think it is important because I have so little time with them. I've seen others do that because they don't want all their times with their kids be miserable. It hardly ever works. If there is a need for correction or even a conflict to happen, it just gets worse until it happens.

So the investment is worth it. By God's grace it is worth it. If you are homeschooling or are looking at homeschooling., God be with you. It's the hardest thing you'll ever do.


April said...

May I voice wholehearted agreement on all counts. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow. . .yes, yes, and yes, and why hadn't I thought of it that way before? :)

Anonymous said...

This is so true! Homeschooling is hard. Very hard. I really appreciate it when people write honestly about homeschooling. Two of my kids are in high school and it takes a great deal of my time. I do appreciate the benefits that come from homeschooling, but it is isolating.

Amie said...

Here, Here!

Especially the 2nd to last paragraph.

I am tired of people saying "you are amazing for doing this" because it sets up such a false ideal in their mind of what it is like.

It is hard, but it is worth it.

Tina said...

We moved countries 14 years ago and the only people we keep in contact with are relatives. So, homeschool children spend more time with family than peers. Family will still be there in 20 years and peers won't be.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Exactly, Tina. I like that, too.

Amanda said...

Thank you for sharing such an honest appraisal of homeschooling! So many homeschoolers act like everything is perfect all the time, it can leave people like me wondering if I'm doing something wrong.

Marie said...

I am amazed how much of this I feel already as a stay-at-home Mom to three boys under three! We are considering homeschooling, but I was wondering if I'd ever see an article with anything other than the same few "Why Homeschooling is Great" bullet points without anything to back them up. It's nice to hear about the bad with the good - helps to prepare those of us who would like to take this route. Thanks for your blog - I've enjoyed reading it! :-)

Beth said...

Oh yes, this is good.
I think many of us home educating mamas spend so much time feeling like we have to defend our choices, that we don't feel safe admitting the hard parts.
Thank you for being brave for us <3

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

And thank YOU for tolerating my lack of editing for this post...ack, I'm cringing as I read it. I'm hoping to do a couple of corrections soon. Unfortunately, I can't seem to edit in the composition screen, but have to actually SEE it in the post before I pick up on the bad grammar and mistakes. Geesh. :D

Donna Y said...

Thank you for sharing this!! We are considering homeschooling. :) I was homeschooled entirely, PK-12. (A very mixed experience!) If you know of anyone who is currently HSing young kids (preschool-lower elementary) who you think would be willing to let me pick their brains, I have a couple questions that I'd love to ask them! I don't know anyone like that in "real life", so maybe the internet can help me! :)

Fellow Lutheran PW,
Donna Y.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...


Since you're Lutheran, you might want to try this list -- its Lutheran homeschoolers, and they are GREAT. I've been on the list for 12 years, and a lot of these people have become my closest friends. I recommend sending the email though. sometimes I've had bad luck with the "subscribe" button.

Donna Y said...

Thanks for the Martin Loopers link! I signed up, and I just requested to join their FB group. :) I also posted on one of the LCMS pastor's wives FB groups that I'm a member of and found that there's lots of HSing ladies on there. :)

Raggedy Sue said...

Thank you - I've bookmarked this to read on my good and bad days of homeschooling.