Get ready for a long and honest post. Please do not continue reading if you do not want to see my inner demons and the havoc they wreak (I did not know how to spell that word until just now.Wreak; from where does that come?)
We homeschool our children and really do love it. Although I am not a stellar homeschooling parent, I do not think I am failing them either. I probably teach like I do everything else: mediocre, fine, B. There are some areas in which they are far ahead of their class, some where they are behind and some where they are perfectly average. My children are socially balanced, participate in activities outside of our home (scouts, dance) and play well with other children. Because of lack of exposure, they do not use phrases such as You're not my best friend anymore or I'm not inviting you to my birthday party or _____current over-hyped and over-priced product_______ is soooooo cool! They are connected to family, they teach and learn from one another, they have regular, intimate conversations with their parents, and they have learned about the birds and the bees from their informed parents (not first graders that learned what they know from a fourth grade brother) at an age and in a way we deemed appropriate. Other perks from the parents' perspective is the tighter control we have on friends and the child's use of free time. We get to see the light bulb turn on and the satisfaction of accomplishment. I get to learn or remind myself of ideas and concepts learned so many years ago. We can take the chance to teach about the world with our moral compass instead of the states' and we are at bat when important life questions are asked.
There are some things about public school that are quite attractive. This time of year, when the other children are buying new clothes, filling backpacks with new crayons and clean notebooks and anticipating the excitement of a new grade, a new teacher and a new desk partner, we just keep getting up and cleaning the house, doing the laundry, reading our books, and exploring our craft box. I feel hum drum. There is no celebration of taking pictures in the dew-wet grass in their bright white sneakers with tightly braided hair. There is no need for backpacks or uniforms. My friends are making out their To Do lists that include organizing, cleaning and setting aright the home. Reading books left forgotten for the summer and childless grocery shopping sit on the list, waiting for school to start. My house is never clean, I rarely get time alone, I have mastered reading my books amidst the chaos of five children on hardwood floors. I paint walls with a child on my hip, I cook with a child standing on a stool by my side, I fold laundry just a touch faster than my baby unfolds the laundry.
The biggest tug for me is the fact that because I am so busy keeping a home and schooling my children that I do not get to serve others. To have a couple of toddlers over because their mother needs someone to tend them throws my whole day into commotion. I want to help them, but my children need to learn to write and, you know, read.
And then there's the work. Teaching my pods at home is a lot of work. There is the teaching, to be sure, but there is also the preparation. Since I am not quite so egotistical as to think I know everything I would like my children to know, I try to set up field trips, guest teachers and outside mentors. Calls are made to grandparents for more information, the Internet is always on and I have shelves and shelves of books for study. Even with this, children ask questions my resources can't answer. I'm sure public school teachers would say the same thing, but at least it wouldn't be my fault if a child was ignorant about a thing. (Yes, judgement against homeschooling moms is high--extremely high.)
Here I sit, wondering whether I'm willing to take the cons along with the pros.
I would love your input. Those of you who know me or my children, do you see gaping holes or flagrant shortcomings? Comment anonymously, if you think it would be embarrassing to tell me what you think I ought to know. Why did you choose to home school? Why are your children riding the bus to public school every day? Would you make the same choice again? Did you do one then change to the other? On a slightly different note, what could I do with my pods to celebrate the beginning of a new school year, to make it special?
You can see I feel I am at some sort of a cross roads. Talk me through, world friends.