Whenever I follow someone on Twitter I always read the little description under their Twitter name for a quick snapshot. I mostly follow women and many of them happen to be moms too. Lately it seems like a ton of the descriptions include ‘homeschooler’ or some variation of that. Ditto with Blog ‘About’ pages and Facebook fan pages. The only evidence I have that anyone is still sending their kids to public school are the Facebook posts I see complaining about summer vacations or snow-related closures causing kids to be trapped at home for days on end leading to many cases of mommy lunacy. Education News published an article in 2012 stating that the number of kids being homeschooled has increased 75% since 1999, so I guess I am not losing my marbles and there is a big uptick.
This post isn’t about me having a problem with homeschooling. My sister home schools her kids and is fabulous at it. I imagine it can be especially effective for kids with learning differences or other social and emotional issues who thrive in an environment with lots of direct teacher attention. I could write a LONG article about the benefits of homeschooling. My take on parents who home school is that they are probably super smart, dedicated and selfless. As much as I think moms who can do it are the bomb, I think there are a lot of us (like myself) who should run as fast as they can in the other direction.
In much the same way as I feel sub par for not pinning a new gluten-free chia seed scone recipe every weekend or never having come up with a DIY project for how to turn a kids closet into a fun fabulous fairyland, I am now feeling the homeschooling peer pressure. I have considered it very BRIEFLY but very seriously because of the peer pressure and also because my husband suggested this would let us travel the world more easily as a family. I quickly reminded him that my 50 city international concert tour opening for J-Lo had been cancelled due to the fact that it never existed. I think he realized that the 10 hour annual car trip to Hilton Head is about as much travel as we have the time, energy or budget for and laid off of the homeschooling requests. I think he also heard my 6 reasons for not homeschooling (and the tone that went along with them) and realized that maybe I was not the best choice to be the kids teacher for 13 years. Judge for yourself…
1. I Don’t Like Learning – Okay, I know this doesn’t sound good…probably because it isn’t. My husband who loves nonfiction books, self-improvement podcasts of any kind and anything having to do with algorithms is my hero. If I’m being honest though, I would much rather spend my brain cells blogging, evaluating outfits on Fashion Police and staring mindlessly at a cross stitch (hey, there is counting involved, so maybe that’s math?). Think tree sloth but not as cute. I feel like my brain cells reached max capacity in my early twenties and I don’t want to do anything to push myself over the wisdom precipice. Reading a book aimed at teaching me a bunch of new stuff makes me want to cry a little. I’m pretty sure that this isn’t the best teaching role model for my children.
2. I Don’t Like School – I got up from the carpet, grabbed my Snoopy lunch box, and took off down the hall to leave on the first day of kindergarten. I was shocked and felt trapped when they wouldn’t let me leave and that was pretty much my outlook on school for all the years I was there. It was jail. Most of the time I wasn’t paying attention to the lesson, and was just doing my homework ahead so I didn’t have to bring it home from jail. I used any extra time to plan my escape like a mini Michael Schofield. I was ousted from the accelerated path at 8 years old because I refused to memorize a poem and as I told the teacher who quickly dismissed me: ‘Why would you waste your time memorizing something that you can just read aloud off of paper?’ I stand by it still. I always got good grades and got into a good college, but this was because I knew how to take a test and learned just enough for just long enough. In a strange twist, I got a Master’s degree in elementary education partly because I always felt like teachers could have made school more fun and I thought maybe I could do it. Nope. This is a lot like when your most loony tunes friend becomes a psychiatrist (p.s., I was a psych major). After a very short stint, I realized that I still didn’t like school and moved quickly into the corporate world.
3. I Don’t Like Kids…Or Parents – I like my own kids, but I’m pretty sure that if you do homeschooling right, you are participating in groups where you are around a bunch of other homeschooling parents and kids and sharing ideas, maybe team or co-op teaching, and while it sounds great in theory, I don’t want to be part of that theory because I am a little too introverted and most people annoy me in short order. I often annoy myself. Nope, forced groups centered around learning are not for me, I prefer optional confused groups of people.
4. I’m Not That Smart – I’d be hanging right in there until the telling time unit and then that would be it for me. This would require me to learn before I could teach them. Please see reason #1 on this list, I Don’t Like Learning. Also in support of this reason: I’m 38 And I Can’t Tell Time – There I Said It.
5. I Have Been Waiting For Kindergarten To Start Since I Gave Birth – Since the day I gave birth to my daughter and realized that life as I knew it was over, I have been counting the days until kindergarten. And none of this half day crap — full day kindergarten. I am not that mom who says ‘I’m just not ready for her to go yet!’ (although I know many of you who are, including my own mom). I am sooo ready! Sure I will probably be ready for her to come home at the end of the day, and will likely be writing a teary post called ‘I miss my baby!!!’ in fall of 2015, but that’s another story. I’ll probably get a job or volunteer or something to fill my time, but I’m going to take a month off to watch Price is Right and eat bonbons and live the life I thought I was getting when I said “let’s have kids and I’ll stay home with them!”.
6. I Went To Public School – Okay, so this is probably the only item on my list that doesn’t fall into the category of i-would-blow-as-a-teacher-and-don’t-want-to-subject-my-kids-to-that. I went to public school and although I lived for summer, sick days and snow days, I did like the social aspect and there were things I would never have been exposed to had my mom homeschooled us — good and bad but all ultimately good I think. I also think my school-hating worked for me later in life, and taught me the valuable lesson that in some things, you just have to be patient and play the game to get what you want in the end. There’s just something about the good teachers, the horrible teachers, the bullies, the best friends, the getting ignored, the having to grit your teeth through the most boring lessons, the immorality, the exposure to unexpected piles of other kids vomit, the embarrassments, the competition in everything, the getting rewarded, the getting left out and the figuring out how to play the game that translated for me. I stress FOR ME because I know every situation is different and the world of homeschooling can probably much more social and life-lesson-ish with the right person facilitating it.
So as guilt-inducing as some of these reasons are, they are good reasons for me to step back and say I’m not that mom. While I considered it because have wanted to be in that club at times, and sometimes it seems to be what the ‘good’ moms do, I am saving my kids from Mrs. Maccarelli by calling my bluff. Perhaps if I had been homeschooled myself, I would have a more exciting view on education and want to dive head first into homeschooling. Leave it to the smart, energetic, creative lovers of learning. The rest of you can come over and watch Plinko at my house.
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