Please comment: This is a draft of an article for my MOMS club newsletter, an audience of non-homeschoolers, and mainly never-will-homeschoolers.
“I Could Never Do That!”
Three reasons why you too could be a homeschooler – oh yes you could!
When my sister-in-law started homeschooling 12 years ago, it was just another example of the huge gulf between us. She was a stay-at-home, I was working to become a brilliant scholar. I’m sure at some point early in our relationship, I told her, “Good for you for staying at home with your kids—I could never do that.” And like all patient at-home moms, she did not slug me, though she probably wanted to.
And here I am now, not just an at-home mom but a homeschooler (and a part-time independent scholar too, but that’s another article). Having made that long mental trek from “”Hell, no” to “Hey, this is really fun!” I can give you some straight answers to those “questions” people usually ask when what they really mean is, “I could never do that!”
Don’t you have to be Christian/pagan/conservative/radical to be a homeschooler?
Definitely not! All kinds of people homeschool, and the majority of them seem pretty open-minded to me, no matter where they’re coming from. If you want to be part of an exclusive homeschool community based on your religion, lifestyle, or educational style, there are plenty of specialized support groups out there, but two of the main homeschool groups —Minnesota Homeschoolers Alliance and Early Childhood Homeschooling Opportunities-MN—are truly for everybody.
Don’t you have to be organized/patient/creative to be a homeschooler?
No more than you require those characteristics to be a parent. If you can get your child off to preschool with her totebag and indoor shoes, if you can remember which day your child has lunch bunch, if you can survive weaning and potty training, you have the skills and stamina to be a homeschooling parent, especially in the early years.
True, you may not remember algebra or chemistry, but your elementary-age child will probably be OK with that. In the meantime, take advantage of the wealth of resources available to homeschoolers, including curriculum designed specifically for the non-expert parent, teaching software, online classes, local co-ops, and more. When it’s time for quadratic equations, you can learn along with your child—if they teach it to 14-year-olds, surely you can figure it out. Or maybe you have a math-savvy friend who would love to barter for babysitting or lessons in Latin or knitting.
How could I spend that much time with my kids?!
Almost no homeschoolers sit down at the kitchen table with their children for 6 hours, with 20-minute breaks for recess and lunch. One of the great things about homeschooling, especially in the elementary ages, is that you can cover the standard curriculum in about 2 hours or less. No getting 25 kids to stop talking or stand in line: schooling one on one takes very little time, meaning that for the rest of your day you can go to the park, send the kids into the yard while you knit, join a family oriented health club, visit family, work part-time . . . And once your child is able to read and follow simple directions, you can take 10 minutes to get him/her started and then go clean the kitchen or fold laundry while s/he works for a while. Learning software can guide even the non-reading child through a 30-minute lesson.
There’s also the time you don’t spend with your kids: the battle to get to school on time; the worn-out whiny time after school; the time you struggle with homework; the time looking for misplaced permission slips, driving forgotten backpacks to school, selling candy and wrapping paper . . . (Although I like the paper, so think of us next fall!)
One last friendly note: You know that annoying sister-in-law you have? The super-busy, super-important corporate type who always looks down her nose at you for being an at-home mom? You know the patronizing way she tells you, “Oh, it’s so great for you to stay home with your kids – I could never do that!” when she really means she could never be content with your dreary life?
Truth is, homeschool moms often hear “I could never do that” in the same way. So the next time you’re tempted to say it, consider this: 1) You should probably cut your sister-in-law a little slack, for karma’s sake, and 2) Even if you never choose to homeschool, you can rest assured that if you wanted to, you surely could!