Many times I have wondered if homeschooling would be for me. With my experience as a classroom teacher, my Master’s degree in Language Acquisition (basically), and my own experience being homeschooled from 2nd – 8th grade, it has always just seemed like something that in the back of my mind I thought I would do. But with two little ones close in age (1 and 2) and two older ones (5 and 6) who needed lots of guidance, it has never seemed possible. Until now…
Our oldest daughter, Ruby, is 6 years old, in the first grade, and loves school. She loves recess and her weekly show and tell, but I feel like there is so much more academically that I could be doing with her at home. But then I am nagged by the social piece. When would she interact with others? How would she make friends? And the other nagging question,”Could I do it?”
As I contemplate whether or not homeschooling would work for us, here’s a list of my pros and cons.
Pros of Homeschooling:
1. I would get to be with all of my kids as much as possible. They grow up so fast, and I want to be there for as many of the moments as I can.
2. I would know exactly how they spend their days. Whenever I ask Ruby about her day, it’s like pulling teeth. I have to go through each subject and each time of day just to try to elicit the smallest response.
3. I am totally qualified to do this! Not only did I teach for 8 years and get my Master’s degree in Education, but I loved it as well! In my heart and soul, I am a teacher. Who better to teach than my own children?
4. I could make sure they learn everything right the first time. The other day, I noticed that Ruby makes a few of her letters in a really backwards and random fashion, and I just thought, I was not the one to teach her how to make her letters. Now, I am sitting side by side with Elliot working through every letter, and we’ll get it right the first time around.
5. They could work at their own pace without competing with others. Ruby is really struggling with her addition facts right now. We continue to try to work on the concept of addition at home, but there’s only so much time in a day. At school, they keep giving her these weekly timed tests that are causing her a lot of anxiety. If she were at home, I would be able to work with her as long as she needed in the areas where she struggles, and zoom through the areas she’s good in.
6. I could differentiate every subject as needed. Ruby is a very advanced reader, but she still spends just as much time as all of the other kids learning about phonics. Sure, she may have chapter books for homework, but there is a lot of wasted time in her day where she is “learning” things that are way too easy. At home, I could make sure that all subjects were in the zone of proximal development for all of my children.
7. I could choose my own resources. I would be able to pick and choose whichever resources seemed exciting to me, and whatever I thought would meet the specific needs of each of my children.
8. They would maintain their innocence. Here’s an example of what I mean by that. It was spirit week awhile back and everyone had to wear a Christmas hat one day. We didn’t have a Santa hat, but I had Ruby try on one of Scott’s old Christmas stockings on as a hat. It looked like a cute little elf hat, and she loved it. Sometimes her school posts pictures to a closed group on FaceBook throughout the day of what’s going on, and my husband and I both noticed a picture of Ruby’s class that day with Ruby sitting in the back, head down, and no stocking hat. I asked her about it at the end of the day, and she said that kids were teasing her for her hat because it was really just a stocking. It really hurt her feelings. Not only that, but her teacher told me after school that day that I might want to work with her on addition problems with three sums because she had kind of a melt down when doing them that day. She just took a test where she aced addition problems with three sums, but the teacher had no idea that her meltdown was really because she had been teased about the stocking cap,and her feelings were hurt. I know I can’t protect my children from everything, but that doesn’t mean that I need to throw them to the wolves either.
9. They wouldn’t feel as much pressure to conform. On more than one occasion, I have had to talk to Ruby about being more of a follower than a leader in order to fit in, and when I say it out loud, it just sounds ridiculous. For example, during spirit week, everyone had to wear their holiday best. Ruby proudly wore her big beautiful poofy dress from her grandma. She felt beautiful and she loved it, but when I was in the classroom teaching an art class that afternoon, I heard several girls make comments like, “Ruby’s dress is soooo big!” (And not in a fascinated complimentary way, but in an unflattering questioning way.) These comments haven’t changed her as a person yet…but how long until they do?
10. We could accomplish way more in a day than is possible at school. With 28 kids in a classroom of varying abilities, transition times, lunch time, two recesses, busy work, behavior management, and so on, I know from experience that the amount of actual learning in a 7 hour school day could easily be done in 2 hours at home. That would allow me to get through all of the standards and skills with plenty of time for free exploration, imagination games, outside time, crafts, field trips, and more!
11. Their tanks would be full of love. When Ruby comes home from school, decompresses, does her homework, plays with her siblings, and has some choice time, there is very little time that we actually get to spend with her. What will life be like when all four kids are in school? How would we ever be able to fill all of their tanks with love? If they are all at home with me all day, however, I can parcel out special one on one time for each child throughout the day.
12. They would learn from each other. Yes, there are varying abilities in any classroom, but in a homeschool environment with siblings ranging in age, the younger ones can learn from the older ones and the older ones can learn from teaching the younger ones.
13. I’m here anyways! I am going to be home anyways with Julian for the next five years, so why not throw a few more kids into the mix while I can!
14. We wouldn’t waste time driving. Because we go to a school of choice, it’s a 20 minute drive each way. Without that drive, Scott could save an hour during the mornings when he usually drives her to school, and I wouldn’t have to disrupt naps and such to get her in the afternoon. We would also save on gas. (Although we would probably drive just as much going on field trips!)
15. We could take vacations whenever we wanted. Instead of worrying about the school schedule, we would be able to make vacation time happen whenever we wanted.
16. My heart is telling me to homeschool. In my heart of hearts, this just feels like the right decision, but I want to make a decision that is best for our whole family and equally consider everyone’s needs.
Cons of Homeschooling:
1. Public school provides a big social scene. Ruby loves recess and doing her weekly sharing time. At school, she gets to be a part of a group where they have PE, music, concerts, group activities, field trips, and more. There aren’t any homeschool groups in our area right now, and if we wanted a social group, we would have to create one.
2. School has introduced new things. In kindergarten, Ruby really took off with writing more than I was ever able to do with her at home. This year, she learned about Pixie 4 in her computer class, started reading chapter books, and gets excited about taking care of the Earth or whatever else they are learning about.
3. Ruby’s special time with daddy in the morning. Right now, Ruby enjoys breakfast with daddy and they listen to a book on tape on their way to school. This is very special time for them.
4. Would I have enough time for everyone? Ruby likes to do a lot of intricate projects that require a lot of help from me. In doing these projects with her, I’m not able to spend as much time with the younger kids who need me too. I’m just worried that if I were to homeschool, there just wouldn’t be enough of me to go around.
5. One day our kids will be out in the world, shouldn’t we prepare them for it? Being independent, being autonomous, being on their own, learning how the world works…these are all things that public schools help to teach our children. How young do children need to learn this, however, and/or do they?
6. Would I get stir crazy? I kind of enjoy getting out of the house to get Ruby every day, and I like being a part of the school community and going to math nights and school carnivals. Although, I must say that I have tried to get involved in the PTO, and it’s the same story as the last school. Everything is decided by the committee, and you can come to meetings to see what they’re up to, but they’re not looking for any real input from anyone.
7. It would cost some money. Workbooks alone would be about $50/child (just stuff I found on Amazon to cover the basics at this point), if we wanted to get involved in any Koinonia classes, they are about $200/each, and then there’s all of the extra materials that I might need to do science experiments and such, not to mention field trips, and so on.
8. When I was homeschooled, I missed the social interaction and wanted to go back to public school. I was homeschooled from 2nd – 7th grade and went back to public school in the 8th grade. When I was in 6th grade, I really started missing the social interactions, but when I went back to school, I was just too innocent and it was not a positive experience for me at all (lots of bullying). So, then the question becomes, “Do we prepare our children for the social pressures of middle and high school by exposing them to it from a young age, or if we homeschool, is it possible to provide them enough social interaction so that they don’t feel like they’re missing out?”
9. What if they complain? What if I work really hard to get materials, books, and supplies, set up a routine, and get everything all into place only to have them whine and complain about it? I imagine that I would just keep going back to the drawing board until I got it right, but it could be frustrating.
10. What if they spend too much time in front of a screen? I plan on having a pretty set routine that wouldn’t allow for too much screen time (pretty much like we do now, but a little stricter, like no choice time until after lunch), but what if I’m up late in the night with little ones, or feeling sick, or have too many things piling up?
11. Will Elliot be able to get his energy out? To be honest, I’ve kind of been looking forward to Elliot going to school because it’s hard to keep him busy all day, especially during these cold winter months when the little ones are sick and we’re not going outside much. We’ve talked so much about kindergarten next year so much that Elliot is actually really excited to go to the same school as Ruby.
12. Ruby doesn’t want to homeschool. I thought that once I talked to her about homeschooling, she would be really excited about it and want to switch right away, but that hasn’t been the case. She is too into the routine of it. Some people have recommended “deschooling”. If I want to give her a fair choice, I’m really going to have to show her the fun of homeschool, the social opportunities, and the benefits of it before she can really decide. Ultimately though, if she’s not excited about it, I don’t think it would work.
It really comes down to the fact that if I were to homeschool our kids, I would be able to provide them with better academic support, but I wouldn’t be able to provide all of the social opportunities that school provides. What do you think? Have you ever weighed the pros and cons of homeschooling?
Stay tuned to see what we choose!