Well it appears that I have moved past the madness stage of my homeschool debate. In truth it’s been less of a debate and more of total parental turmoil with a steaming pile of mama uncertainty / pre-emptive potential poor choice guilt. Typically I refer to all that as “Monday morning” but this past week decided that this was to be more of a Thursday crack of dawn gig.
However I have now moved away from the madness in exchange for a more methodological approach. Rather than spewing another charming head-spinning diatribe, I’m going to take a more pragmatic and comparative approach for this go round. The emotions haven’t vanished, but they aren’t pulling a Thelma & Louise cliff moment either.
Some of the primary reasons that have led to my mental mama turmoil with regard to our public school experience are as follows:
- I’m completely flopping at figuring out how to use the school’s labyrinthine abundance of technological resources. Think of it as an onion – layers within layers within layers that are have proven more than capable of bringing me to tears.
- I have been extremely concerned for years about the way our children are consistently taught concepts well beyond their chronological aptitude and at a pace that allows minimal opportunity for mastery.
- The material is geared toward helping children do well on our state’s brand of standardized testing. Ironically I am a proponent of standardized testing, but the current tests are nothing like those that we took years ago. To further complicate the problem, they are not reflective of the material or testing style utilized by college entry exams such as the SAT or ACT.
- There are way too many children in the classes. In one of my son’s classes last year, a student literally had to sit at the teacher’s desk because there weren’t enough seats. Beyond that, when a teacher has maybe forty minutes to convey heavy concepts to almost forty kids in one room, there’s no possible way that every child will be able get what they need out of the lessons.
- The teachers and administration are unable to execute significant discipline for fear of legal or social media backlash. The bad behavior that happens in the best of schools everyday is astonishing, and no one seems to have the power to reel it in. A teacher or administrator never knows when a child or parent might be filming the scene with a phone that could be posted online moments later. A sentence or action can be taken completely out of context or a story can be entirely falsified. Nevertheless, the news and social media will believe whatever they want and take off running. It’s terrifying that so many people are willing to blindly believe a story that they neither witnessed nor researched.
And here are a few of my key concerns with regard to homeschooling my wild ones:
- I work out of the house but I’m seriously busy with my job. I’m talking full-time and then some. And my job isn’t optional. It’s bill-paying house-keeping kinda necessary. Also I like to work.
- Although I’m an excellent teacher when it comes to helping my children understand confusing concepts, that does not mean that I am a patient person. Not. At. All.
- I’m afraid that it will suck. All of it. Really. I’m terrified that I won’t follow through, that the kids will be whiney and bitchy about having to do their work, and that I will just do it all wrong. I worry that the limited time that I will have to work with them after my own work hours have passed will be insufficient to achieve educational success.
- I worry that they won’t have sufficient social interaction to prepare them for life in the post-Mom and Dad world.
- I’m afraid that they will survive on macaroni and goldfish and waste their brains on endless inane YouTube memes when I’m not paying attention (which will be all the time as I will be working while I’m here).
My biggest worry of all has been that no matter what direction we ultimately decide to go, we might be making the wrong choice. That fear has kept me in perpetual worry and our family in the same stressful school situation year after year.
I’m tired of worrying about what I can’t predict. Is it possible that I will flop at homeschooling? Yes. Could we discover firsthand that it definitely isn’t a good fit for our family? Absolutely. But those aren’t the only possibilities.
Could it be a better choice for our children? Maybe. Is it possible that they might learn something different and we might prove up to the parenting challenge? You bet.
It could go either way. But if I remain unwilling to step up, to tell my fears to take a hike, and to make a change while there’s still time to make a difference in my kids’ lives, I’ll never know. And let’s face it – if homeschooling is a mega fail for our tidbits, all we have to do is re-enroll the kids back in their normal schools once more. At worst they will miss a couple weeks of new material plus a couple more months of standardized testing overload. Seems like the world will keep spinning either way.
So we are seriously evaluating a program that utilizes a combination of classroom schooling led by various instructors along with satellite learning at home. Our hope is that this will allow our kids to have necessary social interaction while also receiving instruction from teachers (who ideally won’t have investor reports due at end of day but who do have a higher level of patience).
As my mother has said to me over and over again, life is not set is stone. If you make a choice that doesn’t turn out as you hoped, make a new choice.
We can’t allow fear to govern our lives. When we are too afraid to make different choices because of our fear of the unknown, we may miss incredible new experiences that can only come with leaving our comfort zones.
Get out of your own way, and allow life to happen. Reach for your faith, and hold onto hope. And most of all, remember that life isn’t set in stone.