I set out to make a simple pro/con list to help me decide whether I should or should not homeschool my two eldest children next year. Since I’ve homeschooled in the past, I thought it would be a cinch. After all, I have first hand experience of both the pros and cons, right? Well, yes. And I know how to make a list, right?
I mean, it turns out that all the pros had cons and all the cons had pros and before I knew it I sounded like the father from Fiddler on the Roof singing about “on one hand, on the other hand, on one hand, on the other hand” until I felt like some kind of love child born to a Jewish father and Durga, the Hindu goddess with a billion arms.
Finally, I decided that whatever list I came up with was gonna have to have a lot of other hands. So, here we go…
Homeschooling On the Other Hand
CON: I would be surrounded by my children All.The.Time with no breaks.
On the Other Hand: Even if the eldest two go to school, I will still be surrounded by three little children who can’t maintain a rational conversation for more than two sentences.
On the Other Hand: Right now I do have FOUR WHOLE child-free hours a week. Blissful quiet from 9:30-1:30 on Tuesdays. If we homeschooled, that would be gone.
On the Other Hand: All these snow days cooped up together have been, gasp, kinda nice. Besides, there are tutorials on Tuesdays. The big kids could go there while the little girls are at MDO.
On the Other Hand: What does it say that I’m even
worried about considering what it means to spend 24 hours a day with my children?
PRO: I’d be there to witness my children learning new things. I’d get to see them light up at the moment a new passion is born.
On the Other Hand: I’d be single-handedly responsible for teaching them those new things.
On the Other Hand: I’d get to discover new things right along side of them, after all, I’ve forgotten so much.
On the Other Hand: I have forgotten so much. In part, because there is a lot that’s really too boring to remember.
On the Other Hand: I know you can do without the boring bits since I’ve lived so long without them. Maybe we could just skip them altogether.
CON: I’d be taking on a whole new responsibility. Sometimes I already feel overwhelmed by my responsibility to these young people, without being the one who is solely responsible for their educational future.
On the Other Hand: At the end of the day, I’m still the one responsible for their education. I’m not even homeschooling right now and I’m still spending hours on the world’s most
disorganized complete pro/con list.
On the Other Hand: There’s a difference between being responsible for making sure they are learning in general, and being responsible for whether they know how to use a comma correctly.
On the Other Hand: Maybe there’s not. How many times have we drilled items that show up as problems on homework so that they understand?
On the Other Hand: Ummm. Maybe not as often as we’d have to drill multiplication facts. Multiplication is a bitch.
PRO: My children would spend more time with me than they do with people who are paid to spend time with them.
On the Other Hand: My children would spend more time with me than they do with people who are paid to spend time with them.
On the Other Hand: I would know my children better than anyone else does.
On the Other Hand: My children would know me better than almost anyone else does. Shiver. That’s not always pretty.
On the Other Hand: That’s a Life Skills class they don’t teach in school: Dealing with Mothers 101
CON: Homeschooling isn’t free.
On the Other Hand: Public school isn’t really free either. Especially when you add up all the fundraisers, field trips, school lunches, and standard school attire.
On the Other Hand: All those expenses are spread out over the year. Homeschooling necessitates several hundred dollars in one month – August.
On the Other Hand: Homeschooling doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many free, or nearly free resources available.
On the Other Hand: Just like everything else, curriculum choices offer three options: Price, Convenience, Quality. Pick any 2. Besides,tutorials are neither free, nor nearly free. Without tutorials we are back to I will be surrounded by all my children All.The.Time. Oh, and also it means they’d miss out on art and music and socialization. Almost as important…
PRO: My kids can learn at their own pace – grade levels ahead in some areas, and a little behind in others.
On the Other Hand: Ahhhh! Behind? What?! No. Let’s leave this to the professionals.
On the Other Hand: No one is great at everything. Better to excel where you excel and accomplish proficiency where you do not, than to end up mediocre across the board.
On the Other Hand: What about being well-rounded?
On the Other Hand: Well-rounded students are a
fantasy invention of college admittance boards.
CON: I’d have less time for personal pursuits (like this blog) if I was also educating my children full time.
On the Other Hand: With big kids around, I might actually have more time, since they could play with/entertain/shepherd little ones while I’m doing other things. As it is now, I’m I’m my own 12 hours a day.
On the Other Hand: Isn’t that selfish? Pawning younger siblings off on older ones?
On the Other Hand: Caring for younger siblings, within the larger picture of a safe nurturing environment where everyone’s needs are going to be met, is a great preparation for adult life. How better to learn patience, compassion, and plain old SILLY than hanging out with three year olds for an hour a day?
On the Other Hand: As Tevye would say, There is no other hand.
PRO: Those homeschoolers are Such.Good.People. I want to hang around them. I want my kids to hang around them.
On the Other Hand: They aren’t going anywhere. Even if I don’t homeschool, there will still be room for us.
On the Other Hand: Room, yes. But time? Questionable.
CON: If my kids don’t go to the local public school, it will be harder for them to meet kids in our neighborhood.
On the Other Hand: Harder, yes, but not impossible. How about a summer neighborhood popsicle party?
On the Other Hand: It would be easier to be friends with people they see everyday in school.
On the Other Hand: It would be easier to be enemies with people they see everyday in school. Especially middle school. Bleh.
On the Other Hand: One always has to hope for the best. Just because middle schools are breeding grounds for Mean Girls (and boys too, I suppose) doesn’t necessarily mean they will be at OUR middle school. Does it? Does it?
On the Other Hand: A homeschooling day is shorter than a regular school day, leaving plenty of time for other activities in the neighborhood and plenty of opportunities to meet neighborhood friends. Besides, there’s all those homeschoolers. Maybe our neighborhood is overrated.
What This All Means
I’ve made a decision.
If I decide to homeschool I will NOT be teaching my children how to make a pro/con list.
Help a girl out.
What would you put on the list? Fellow Homeschoolers, what is on your own list? Non-homeschoolers, what questions do you have about homeschooling? Considering your questions may remind me of something I’ve forgotten. Just go down there to the comment section and fire away…