Friday, August 27, 2010

Why I'm Not Homeschooling

Putting Little People into school is not as easy as checking a box and it's over.

There was a time when I thought homeschooling was the perfect answer for my FEAR of exposing my children to God knows what at the junior prison they called a school. I can say with 100% certainty that I was operating out of a place of fear and a desire to keep bad things away from my kids. Certainly after all the work I put in getting them "trained" and on a schedule and obedient (just ask me how well that's working now) ...I did not want some stupid teacher (and other people's hellbound kids) messing up all my hard work. Homeschooling seemed the logical answer. I started having doubts soon after we moved to this area, 4 years ago. Some interesting discussions held on this blog about homeschooling during that time can be found HITHER, THITHER, and YON.

It felt like people who homeschooled viewed those who didn't as amoral, lazy, disobedient people who didn't really love their children very much at all to send them to the Public School Pit. And I couldn't understand it. I was trying to examine my motives and figure out what was going in my heart, in my brain. Homeschooling seemed like a measuring stick to judge how good a Christian someone was. And it began to rub me the wrong way. Homeschoolers seemed so sure they had found El Dorado, so to speak, and the rest of us were just too stupid to realize it. People didn't really seem believe that God could lead one family one way and another family another way.

I struggled deeply with trusting God with my children. Why couldn't he protect them at school the same way He could protect them everywhere else? Why didn't I trust Him? Oh, that was heavy on my heart.

Homeschooling seemed like a mark on a list of what I needed to do to ensure (insure?) godly kids. As I began to examine my heart and think about what the Lord wanted from me, homeschooling really had to exit the picture. My intents were not right.

Brian never saw homeschooling that way.

He has always been against the state. Period. He absolutely saw the school where Little People go to be filled with state-sanctioned tripe. His reasons never changed. Mine did. The more I thought about it, the more I felt burdened, drug down. I felt no peace, only guilt. I thought if I had to spend the next 20 years with these kids all day and all night...I honestly did not know what I might do. I felt locked into a life that I wasn't exactly sure I wanted.

Other people didn't just homeschool, they were inspired and on fire and from all appearances, doing it really, really well. Watching those families educate their children, it seemed like the very thing homeschooling was meant to be. I knew it wouldn't be done in the Welch household like that. Not only that, but I never had the desire. It was drudgery. I felt overwhelmed with a task that 1) I didn't want to do, and 2) I was completely ill-equipped to do. I found it completely and utterly boring. Mind-numbing.

There were fights. I wanted someone to say homeschooling wasn't so important that it was worth my sanity. My life. But he said "we would find a way." And I would die a little inside. It was a problem. Fine, I'd sigh. I'll do it. And things were fine again. Until the next time.

Lily turned 5 July of last year. I had really intended to homeschool.this.child. To get a plan. I ordered Handwriting Without Tears. I spent $200 on homeschooling books and resources. When I tried to read the material...I really just couldn't understand it. It was written for a freakin' teacher! I had a newborn. I had 2 other kids, plus a newborn, plus Lily. I had no idea how or when I was going to read the material and "figure it all out". And finally I decided, I just wasn't going to do it. That I just couldn't.

So we had a conversation.

And honestly, I really thought when I said I wasn't going to do it, I'd need to find a lawyer, too. I really honestly thought Brian was going to see that as the ultimate betrayal in our marriage.

Everyday, I had to get her to school by 740am. Pick her up at 245pm. Drag everyone else out, too. Make sure she had her lunch. Sign her stupid folder. Watch as they spent weeks on their colors. The alphabet. Numbers. Stuff she had known since she was 2 years old. Trying to figure out how to be involved at school with my 3 other children at home at the same time. It was not easy. But you know what? I don't regret it.

After my mom died, I was a wreck, and I didn't understand it. We made the decision for Lily to go to school, or rather, the decision was made before my mom died. If there had been homeschooling to deal with (something I absolutely did not want to do) at the same time I was dealing with these intense feelings of failure, worthlessness, etc., I don't know what I would have done. Literally. I was already thinking about shutting myself up in the garage. I was thinking about it a lot. I couldn't escape my life. A life that I was beginning to hate. And I desperately wanted to escape.

So, here we are...a week into another school year. I have a preschool on my staff now. Darcy and Reagan have class on Mondays And Wednesdays from 9-3 and Bubba can go as soon as he walks. I am really breathing a sigh of relief. I don't feel that pressure or that heavy, oppressive sense of failure right now. I feel really good. I don't feel like I want to permanently escape from my life. I can live with that.


Lindsay said...

Thanks for posting this! I actually was afraid to Homeschool for fear of people labeling me as one of "those" people. We DO Homeschool, but I don't want to be labelled as a "homeschooler" - does that make sense?

We plan on homeschooling for the forseeable future, but we've always said we are taking in one year at a time. Each family should have the freedom to do what's best for them, and that often changes from year to year. :)

Tricia said...

I've felt that way before...wanting to escape from my life. Most of the time though, I just want to change my name to "daddy." That name is always said with excitement. It never, ever gets whined. It doesn't get repeated over and over and over and over. You almost never hear it. Must be nice.

On that homeschooling thing... week one of the co-op has been a success in this house. Everyone is happy and it seems like a fit. It's been one whole week of our lives. One big week. Might last forever, might last a month. We're committed to a year. Definitely not homeschooling (though I don't feel like I am homeschooling) out of fear. It's more of a schedule thing for us. I am liking the later mornings and the long weekend and that Addi still gets to see Jeff at least 2 days each weekend. But I do agree 100%, completely that God calls different families to different schools. No doubt. I'm glad you don't have that pressure anymore.

Here, have your blog back...

Crystal said...

I forgot that you were considering homeschooling... let me say this: if anyone ever makes you feel like homeschooling is something that you SHOULD do, or that it's the only RIGHT way to educate your kids, or that you only love your kids IF you homeschool, you need to run the other way screaming! How we educate our kids is a personal choice... it is no more my business that you send your kids to public school than it is your business that I don't... that is my motto! :) You have to be happy, at peace with your decision; the kids have to be comfortable (and it sounds like you and they are)... that's how you know you're doing the right thing for YOUR family, and that's what matters!
And, again, I *love* reading your blog! :)

Kristi said...

I enjoyed your thoughts on your blog. Even with years of teaching under my belt and a M.Ed, I would not have the patience to homeschool my children. There are pros and cons to both scenarios; but ultimately, the parents have to choose what works best for their family. I'm glad things started looking up for you again. :)

Crystal said...

still not advising whether you should or shouldn't homeschool, but I love to point out that teaching in a school setting can't even be compared to homeschooling... so different! Imagine teaching a classroom of 20 kids (more in some states.. like ours!) who you don't even know on day 1 of class, where you're trying to do lots of crowd control, and adhering to a system that tells you what/when to teach... ok, now compare that to teaching your own kids, whom you have known since birth, in a one-on-one setting... :) But, like, Kristi, I'm glad things are looking up for you!

Georgia said...

Thanks for the thoughts, guys! There are definitely some high and low points to both. I know the first time Lily came home upset with something that someone had said to her, my very first gut response is, "This is what you get. You're too lazy and stupid and self-centered and your baby is being mistreated." But it gave us a great opportunity to discuss how to handle difficult people.

Crystal said...

and even if you homeschooled you'd have to deal with things like that, so it's not just public school... DEFINITELY high and low points to both... as with anything in life! :)

The Savage said...

We're just out of week two of the great "toss your eldest to the secular humanist wolves of the public school system" experiment. *coughs* ;-) He loves it!! It is so good for him to realize that other people have rules too--not just his mean grumpy Mommy! *gasp* It's been the right decision for him & for us as a family unit.

Granted I'm not looking forward to the comments at church where all but one family have their kids in private Christian school or are homeschooling... the condescension gets old fast. But hey, I'm a Yankee, I have thick skin--and they really don't want to ask *why* we're not home/Christian schooling. Muhahahaha. ;-) Sounds like I need to go write my own version of your post. Mind if I borrow your title??

Congratulations on your decision to trust God with your children--may He honor you for it!!

Cathy said...

Glad you posted about it, sometimes it feels good to "get it out in the open"!

McDowell Family said...

Georgia - great post! I never even considered home schooling my kids...then again, they are already smarter than I am so that was probably a wise choice. Reading through your comments, I am surprised that some of your readers are / were nervous what their fellow Christians (friends/acquaintences) would think of them for sending their kids to public school. I'm a fallen Christian, but I do remember something about "Thou Shalt Not Judge". The people that you are worried about judging you for your parenting choices aren't the people you should be around - they aren't worth your time.

Again -love the post and enjoy your stark truthfulness. It is always refreshing!

Luke said...

Oh man, I am so NOT a fan of guilt. Ugh. Walk away from that!

Homeschooling is not the "only way to do educate." People who say that are wrong. Homeschooling is absolutely a fantastic option, a powerful tool, a wonderful thing... but it's not for everyone and it's not the only way. I'm glad you've been able to move out from under that burden.

However... since I'm a huge fan of homeschooling and joys that it brings, if you ever feel like checking out homeschooling again in the future for whatever the reason, please consider it. You don't have to do it out of some kind of philosophical or guilt-induced bondage. Homeschooling can be done for the love of learning together...


Georgia said...

I never cease to be surprised that people always have something to say about homeschooling! I really want to try and develop an attitude of letting people handle their own lives and not worrying about what they're doing.

Stacey, talk about someone being exactly the same from French class! I find it really hard to close my ears and minds to the sounds of people disapproving of me. Others have a much easier go of it for some reason.

As the car pool came and picked Lily up for school, and then I dropped off Things 2 and 3 at preschool, I came home to a house with one baby who is now sleeping. It's quiet. I can think. I can get something done. I go into those preschool rooms and see a dozen little kids running around and I have just entered one of my worst nightmares! But when I pick everyone up in the afternoon and chaos resumes, I can handle it much better. I'm a better mom because I feel like I'm sharing some of the load.

And I guess my attitude has to be: if you don't like the way I'm raising/failing (in some instances) my kids, mind your own business.