Chicken Fried Vogue

For 15 years and most of her adult life, Bubblez lived in the suburbs of a major metropolitan city. She enjoyed taking her children to museums, parks, and dates at Starbucks. Then Bubblez moved to the country and her En Vogue attitude got chicken fried. Her yard is a park where the neighbor's rooster won't stop crowing, Starbucks is almost an hour away, and her large collection of fancy shoes is worthless. But, living in the acres of green has presented more opportunities for living "green" as Bubblez travels the path toward self-sufficiency (and bitches ((and prays)) along the way).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Homeschooling Part 2: Is Homeschooling WRONG For You?

The number of resources available to help you teach your kids at home would blow your mind. In fact, I have a friend who teaches with the Bob Jones curriculum. One day she was looking for some books to supplement with, and I introduced her to the Rainbow Resource catalog. The look on her face upon seeing a three inch thick, city phonebook-like catalog, showed clearly that she thought I was nuts for even suggesting that she try to wade through it.

If homeschooling is something that you are serious about, you best be gettin' your research on, baby. If the truth is that you are simply lazy or uninterested in what your child is learning, homeschooling is not for you. You need to be honest with yourself about this. You also need to be honest about how selfish you are because homeschooling can take a lot of time and energy away from other aspects of your life.

Here's the deal. Homeschooling is a lifestyle. It is not just a way of feeding your kids the 3 R's over a bowl of soup at lunchtime. That's what a lot of people don't realize. When you are a homeschooling family, the edumacatin' never stops. So, it's a Tuesday evening, and you've got a great opportunity to see Venus in the sky and talk about the planets, stars, constellations.. maybe contact your buddy, Google, and read your horoscopes or find out how thick/thin the ozone layer is over your part of the world. The kids don't get to bed that night until 11:30 or 12. Oh well. That's homeschool. Or maybe it's a Saturday at Grandma's house. You go to use the bathroom and there's a mutherloving spider as big as your head sitting in the bathtub. Pull up your drawers, my friend. You are a homeschooler. There are lessons to be learned before letting Grandpa wage war on that 8 legged demon. Are you getting me? Maybe that's not for you.

And then there's this: if you are always learning, when are your poor lonely kids having any fun? Ok, the idea that homeschool kids don't know how to make friends is pure, simple, bullshit. This is a good time to discuss time management and whether or not you suck at it, because if you are not careful, you and your kids will be so busy socializing and goofing off that you won't ever get around to cracking open a math book, and you do need to get that done. As soon as people realize that you are all at home during the day, every other person who is also at home during the day will start asking you to hang out with them. Lots of homeschoolers shut the ringers off on their phones between 8 and 3 to keep people from bothering them while they're trying to teach. I do not lie.

Also, once you hook up with other homeschooling families, you will be having holiday parties and book clubs and trips to see every damn thing in town. You'll want to do this stuff because it's fun for the kids and for you. There have been times when I was more excited about what we were learning than the kids were. There have been times when we all got together for an hour long lesson and then spent the next three hours letting the kids play while the grown-ups sat around gabbing. There have been times when I had to say, no, we can't do whatever today. We are falling behind on our schoolwork.

Seriously, if you can not figure out how to manage time effectively or if you find yourself incapable of letting the phone go to voicemail or telling another person no, homeschooling might not be for you.

Here's something else, folks. Money might be an obstacle. I hate to say too much about this because I've known people who homeschooled successfully on next to nothing. The K12 program is good for that as long as you aren't something of an anarchist, like me. I also know of people who have dropped a couple of grand on their home education expenses. Think about how much money you would spend on public (not free) or private schooling, and then consider what you can afford for homeschool. Having the money to purchase ready made resources can offset your lack of creativity or time, so think about that balance before choosing to homeschool. 

Furthermore, your work schedule needs to be considered. In some states, grandparents or other care providers are legally allowed to homeschool your children when you are unavailable. Some older children might even be able to (mostly) educate themselves, depending on the curriculum and learning style you choose and the disposition of the child. Some parents find that they can work outside the home or work from home and still manage to successfully homeschool, but finding that balance takes a high level of planning and commitment that the majority of parents feel is overwhelming.

Are you a worrier by nature? Homeschooling is just the sort of thing that might put a worrier over the edge. You will worry about what everyone and their dentist thinks about your decision. You will worry about whether or not your kids are on par academically. You will worry about their future chances of getting into college or finding a job. You will worry about Social Services coming to check up on you. You will worry about not noticing some disorder that your kid might need to be tested for. And no matter how many friends your child has out in the community, you will still worry that they won't be able to make friends with "normal" kids who go away to school. Homeschooling is not for pussies.

On a similar note, homeschooling is not for the over protective parent. If sending your kid out into the world terrifies you, it could be that sending them out is exactly what they need. Home education  can be a good choice for families who are stuck with a violent or otherwise unhealthy school system, but it is not a healthy choice for helicopter parents who will inhibit rather than enhance their child's ability to grow into a mature and confident individual. Also, consider your child's temperament. Some kids thrive at home. Others do better in a more public environment. Those public environments can be in places other than a conventional school system, but are you willing and able to find one and make sure that your child is a part of it?

I bring up these concerns because so many people who are tentatively approaching the question, "should our family homeschool?" will be told about all the positives without being honestly informed of  the negatives (kind of like when you decided to have a baby in the first place), and you need to know what you're getting into.

Homeschooling Part 3: So, What's So Great About It?

If you have questions regarding any aspect of home education, please feel free to contact me, and I will try to get your questions answered.

Go back to Homeschooling Part 1: Our Story

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