Look. Let’s be honest, I never wanted to homeschool. I did it out of love because I didn’t want to subject the love of my life to any further stress or anxiety of being in the wrong placement in our inept school district. I love this child dearly, deeply, with a love I have never known until he stirred in my tummy in 2009, But I HATE homeschooling. Ok, hate is an awfully strong word. (My mom always used to get mad when we used the word “hate.”) Maybe I don’t HATE hate it, but there are lots of things I don’t enjoy about homeschooling … and a handful of things I actually do enjoy about homeschooling. Maybe I just despise it, but I’m focusing on the things I hate right now.
REASONS WHY I HATE HOMESCHOOLING:
- Not My Cup Of Tea: I’m not made for homeschooling (personality-wise.) I’m too type-a, too stressed out, I’m not laid back enough. I try, believe me, I try. I see my friends who homeschool — they are sooooo laid back, so easy-breezy, so ‘type-b’. But me? I’m a planner, and while I can be fun and say “let’s have a ditch day today” every once in a while, I’m constantly stressed out about what comes next. And I won’t let The Boy slack off more than once in a while because I know how important a routine is for him. And if he thinks he can take a day off every Friday, he is expecting it every Friday! So I try not to. Weekends aren’t even fun for me. By mid-day Sunday, I’m stressing out because I need a block of 3 hours to lesson plan for the following week. A block of 3 hours ALONE. The Husband considered this “me time.” That makes me grind my teeth & want to give him a swift kick to the nuts. Lesson planning is TIME CONSUMING and guess what I have very little of? TIME!
- Time Consuming: Speaking of TIME & how little of it I have to prepare for what-comes-next, I now have pretty much ZERO “me time.” (You should see my nails! You should see my *once organized* closet, or any of the kitchen drawers!) Why was my last blog post 9 months ago? GUESS! I was busy homeschooling!! Who has time to blog at the end of the day. I mean, homeschooling is like a full-time job on top of my already full-time job of being a stay-at-home-mom / boss-of-the-house! If I could connect a wire from my brain to my laptop, I could blog around 11pm, because I have things to say, believe me … and they all come flooding into my head when it hits the pillow and I’m too exhausted to move, let alone blog!
- Not An Educator: What the hell am I doing? I feel overwhelmed pretty much constantly because I have no clue what I’m doing. I have a degree in Acting & Theatre Arts … and a second degree in English. What don’t I have? A Masters in Education. So I struggle. Seriously. I have no clue as to what the hell I’m doing half the time. I mean, there’s no one place where you can go to find everything you need. (Can someone please make this!?) I have to collect stuff from this book and that one, this website and that one, then I have to streamline all of the subjects so that it’s one cohesive over-arching theme … EVERY FREAKING WEEK! And it has to be fun, interesting, engaging … and educational. And really, some weeks I just can’t, I just don’t feel like doing it at all … It actually reminds me of my own plight with homework in high school, so I wing it, which I hate. I’m not a wing-it kind of woman. Because when I wing it, I end up feeling like more of a failure.
- My Student Is An Aspie: The Boy, of course, isn’t a neuro-typical kid, so I can’t ever leave him to his own devices while we’re doing school – he needs constant behavior management & supervision. I have stickers, mini cookies, jellybeans, fuzzies & owls. He completes a small part of one task = cookie; completes more = cookie & sticker; completes a segment or a lesson = fuzzy & owl. Immediate rewards, long-term rewards, short-term rewards, yes, we have them all!! Laptop, iPad, worksheets, white boards? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Maybe if he were a neuro-typical child, it would be easier. Maybe if I weren’t his mom it would be easier. I don’t know. He fights with me on every.little.thing, most of the time, and views himself as my “equal.” He wants to call the shots, he wants to be the teacher. And I do let him have a say about curriculum and schedule … to some extent. But holy moly. I feel like I’ve survived a battle most days. Honestly, it’s exhausting. I have to think at least 3 steps ahead of him all the time! I prepare for every moment of our day, school and beyond. .sigh. Did I mention that it’s exhausting?
- Melt-downs: Have I mentioned my kid has epic 45-minute, physical / verbal / emotional violent meltdowns? Have I told you that these meltdowns are directed at me? Have I explained that it’s mentally & physically exhausting to deal with a 5-year-old Aspie’s aggressive attack at 9:16 in the morning? It’s intense. It makes you want start chugging wine at 9:42am. It makes you want to put his shoes & socks on, and drag him down to the shitty school I pulled him out of last December, and say “good luck, dude! Be someone else’s problem!” But you know I won’t do that because I love him too much, and I won’t ever give up on him. But it isn’t always easy.
To be fair … I have to be fair because I was born on the cusp of Libra & fairness is a big deal to me. I have to be fair, so I have to tell you that a) I’m totally bleeding right now & just in a bitchy, hormonal mood (but my reasons for hating homeschooling are valid!) and; b) there are some things I legitimately like about homeschooling, (which is what I focus on when I want to throw the towel, drive to a winery in Santa Barbara and just be done.)
OK, OK, REASONS I ACTUALLY ENJOY HOMESCHOOLING:
- I Never Miss A Thing: I love that I get to have him here, around me, all of the time. We (usually) have a lot of fun together – he is so damn smart, and so much fun. I love knowing what he is doing, what he is learning, who he is listening to … I love being the BOSS of what he is doing, learning and listening to! He is no longer influenced by some unknown, happy-meal-loving, junk-food-eating, crap-manners kid with absolutely no personal hygiene.
- Our Day Is Our Own: There is no one lording over us with a schedule and a common core curriculum, or standardized tests, (which I do NOT believe in!) Or homework, (which I also do not believe in … especially for a child his age.) We can go down rabbit holes of subjects that are of real interest … like, when I started teaching science this year, I opened the book and it started with earth science, which The Boy was like “meh.” Ok, clouds, yay. But that wasn’t what he was really excited about. He was really excited about sea animals. He was totally into Octonauts at the beginning of the year, and so I said to myself, “hmm … let’s just close the book and make up our own curriculum for science.” I printed out a bunch of blank “animal reports” and each week we picked a different sea animal to study & write a report about. We went to the aquarium, we watched videos on youtube. We went to the library & researched a different sea animal each week … He was so engaged in our science studies. We did our own thing. You can’t do that in any other school besides your own.
- Fundraisers: THERE ARE NONE! Enough said : )
- Parent-Teacher Conferences: Oh, they happen … with me, my hubby and a glass of wine : ) Waaaay more fun than the alternative!
- Creativity & Playfulness: I love that I’m able to foster a creative environment where we are playful & silly … where we use story-telling and silly voices to educate. That is important to me & no way in the world would a typical school district create a classroom designed to stimulate the innate creativity in a child and really figure out how that child’s learning style can be utilized.
See … when I look at the (2nd) list above, I think – yeah, this is ok, i can do this homeschooling thing! I get all pumped up. Then Sunday comes and I start stressing about the week. But then I take 3 hours and get ready. Then Monday comes, and it’s a struggle to get him to engage and focus, and I think “this sucks.” It’s like 6 of 1, half dozen of another. It’s a conundrum. I’m so torn.
And then I think about The Boy … and I think about what all of the professional psychologists have said to us … He should be in a small classroom environment with typical children (or children who are JUST like him.) And I know how social he is … how much he loves to have friends and be around other kids. I tried to find homeschooling co-ops, but there are no appropriate groups that are near us that would work for our schedule.
So I went to see a special education attorney (finally) and she thinks I have a case against the district & long story short, I’m suing the school district on behalf of The Boy to get the services I believe he deserves: A small classroom setting with typical peers & possibly a therapeutic companion for a (hopefully) short-term time period, to get adjusted.
In the meantime, we’re still homeschooling : ) and I’m still going back and forth with my love / hate relationship with homeschooling. But I want you mamas (and dads ) to know that it is totally ok to not love homeschooling, to think you suck at it (you probably do not!) and to doubt your decisions. Look … at the end of the day – our kids need US. And they will learn the stuff they need to, but developing the “whole child” is more important than having them be able to recite facts back to you. Don’t stress out. Try and have fun (I need to take my own advice!) Just do the best you can because that’s really all you CAN do!