Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why Homeschooling is Not For Me

I was at an event a few nights ago and some of the women seated at my table were talking about resources for homeschooling parents. Until then, I hadn’t even realized that homeschooling was an option here in the province. So at the risk of looking like a Nosy Nellie, I horned in on the conversation.
It turned out three of the moms homeschooled their children. It was interesting to listen to their experiences, and I learned a few things that evening. Mainly that homeschooling is not for me.
Let me break it down:

Organization. As I said when we first started this blog, organization is not one of my strengths. In order to be a homeschooling parent, you’ve got to be ultra organized. Not only do you have to run the daily household nonsense, but you are totally responsible for your child’s formal education. This means hours of research, planning, and organizing. Some mornings I have a hard time just remembering to feed the dog.
School teaches more than curriculum. We’re lucky that we live in an area with excellent schools. The teachers are wonderful, and the quality and range of education is second to none. But there are things my kids learn at school that are not found in textbooks. They learn social skills. They learn to be independent. They learn responsibility and organization skills (and those I certainly can’t teach at home).
One of the mothers that evening said she decided to homeschool because she wanted her child to have a more faith based education. Fair enough. For me, that is another reason not to home school. I went to a Catholic school in a very Catholic area. I knew all about my culture and faith, but knew nothing of others. I want my kids to learn about many cultures and religions. I was them to experience them through others with different beliefs and traditions. Granted, St. John’s is not the most diverse place, but it’s a heck of a lot more diverse than our house. And on the flip side of that, I think my kids have something to offer as well.
Parent does not equal teacher.  While the mothers I spoke with had some very good points, one of the moms said something that I did not agree with at all. Her opinion was, “I am the most qualified to teach my own kids.” Being their mother might mean you know your kids the best (and this is not always the case either), but it does not mean you are the most qualified to teach them. Do you hold degrees in math, history, science, social studies, English, and literature? In education? Maybe, but I’d guess not. I wouldn’t even attempt to teach my teenager chemistry or math. Heck, I wouldn’t attempt to teach my ten year old math. Even if you did have the knowledge base to teach all these subjects, there’s no guarantee that your methods are the best ones, even for your own children. My father was a brilliant man, and a very good teacher, but his style of explaining French and math just didn’t work for me.
I enjoy reading and discussing books with my kids, and helping them write stories and poems, but I want to do it as their mom, not as their teacher.
I need time away from my kids. I’m a stay-at-home parent. 98% of my day involves doing things for other people. I need that 2% for myself, my own interests, my own sanity. I love my kids dearly, but those few hours each day when they are at school give me a chance to do other things; housework, errands, and yes, selfish “me” stuff too.
My kids need time away from me. Even more important than the above, my kids need space to grow and become their own people. I don’t want to be a helicopter mom, with my fingers in every aspect of their lives. The need to play, learn, and grow, without my interference.
I believe a good education extends beyond the classroom, beyond books. The experiences they will have at school help to prepare them for the real world. Will they get bullied? Maybe. Will they make mistakes? Without a doubt. But the experience they get from those mistakes is a far better teacher than I could ever hope to be. C.S. Lewis said it best:

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”

What do you think? Is homeschooling for you? Do you homeschool? Tell us your side of the story.


Shauna said...

I just found your blog by googling "homeschooling is not for me" I have homeschooled my kids for 4 years and I am done. You said it very eloquently and I agree with you. My 4th grader will be going to our parish school and my 2nd grader and kindergartner will go to our public school. Homeschooling has its advantages but with 5 kids I can no longer be a good teacher. I loved reading your opinion, thank you!

momstertales said...

Shauna, thanks for coming by and sharing your experience. I hope your kids have fun at school.

Cathy Webster (Olliffe) said...

I wouldn't even dream of homeschooling my children for all the reasons you mention and a few more. I 'get' keeping the kids at home for as long as possible but I don't think homeschooling does the kids any favours in the long run. You can't cloister children all their lives. At some point they have to venture out on their own and school is a good introduction to the world.