20 August 2008

"I'm so glad that school's finally starting again!"

I could take the annoying, moralizing high road here and pretend that I’m appalled by this frequently-heard sentiment, especially since most of the moms I’ve been hearing this from work outside the home, so they’re not even around their kids 24/7 during school breaks.

Or, I could admit that I’m rather terrified to contemplate a possible future of being perpetually and indefinitely in the company of my offspring. BoyOne will be having a Preschool Experience outside the home this year, but given our location and situation, we’re looking at starting homeschooling next year—another item on my lifelong list of “nevers” that it looks like I’ll have to eat. (Note to self: Stop telling God what I will and won’t do with “my” life, and start listening and obeying instead.) If every mom I talk to is going out of her mind by the end of August and desperately awaiting the reappearance of that big yellow bus, what hope is there for my sanity when “back-to-school” only means more of each other’s company?

I know, I know: homeschooling will be wonderful, I'll never regret it, etc., etc. And after all, there wasn’t much hope for my sanity in any case :P


Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Having gone the homeschooling route for a couple of years with our eldest girl, I can tell you that it is not going to be a walk in the park. It is a huge sacrifice, and while certainly worth the effort, make sure you go in with both eyes open. I commend those who can do it well, but my wife and I were not one of those families. I have no problem admitting that even though we enjoy having our kids home during the summer, we have no problem shuffling them off to school in August :)

Christine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rebekah said...

Good luck, friend. One nice thing about having tied hands is that my hands are tied. And one lousy thing about it is . . . well, you get the idea.

(To anyone starting to experience some form of ethical panic under the suspicion that my hands aren't tied: lifelong friend and total stranger alike have been very generous in their advice on the topic, so don't put yourself out.)

Thursday's Child said...

We homeschooled the Boss K-2. Then after we moved over here he started school, mainly so he could learn Arabic. Both are good, both are headaches. Which one is the right choice depends upon the family situation.

Gauntlets said...

Oi. Oi, oi, oi.


I hear you, sister.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Reb. Mary,

We distinctly remember having the same sentiments at this time of year.

We sent child #1 and #2 to public school without a thought of any other options. I founded a charter school just before #3 started kindergarten. Children #1, #2, #3, & #4 all went to two years of preschool. By child #5, we decided preschool was not in our children's best interest, ultimately seeing it as a progressive attempt to achieve even earlier separation of children from their parents' influence under the guise of better socializing children with their peers.

When child #3 entered fourth grade (even though she was at the charter school I founded and had a great deal of control of) we found she had too many negative influences from peers and teachers, and this was causing personality conflicts at home. We decided to begin homeschooling child #3 in the middle of her 4th grade year.

When #1 and #2 graduated from eighth grade (they're "Irish twins"), the charter school I founded had not yet gained enough interest to start a high school (though enrollment was 250, K-8). Being unwilling to turn our children back over to the progressive government indoctrination camp (a.k.a. "Public School"), we decided to homeschool #1 and #2, leaving only one child at the charter school I founded and was still president of.

After one year of homeschooling all of our first three children, we decided the next year to homeschool #4. This happened to also be the year #5 would have entered kindergarten, and we decided to keep her home as well and see how it went. That was three years ago, and we are still exclusively homeschooling. I just resigned my presidency of the charter school and my membership on the board of directors last month.

It is a tremendous challenge to homeschool any number of children, and some children are more of a challenge than others. But having had all the experiences we have, and also having a great deal of experience and behind the scenes knowledge in being an educational entrepreneur (including designing the curriculum and program), I now can say that - without a doubt - we would have homeschooled ALL our children from day one if we knew then what we know now.

Socialization is actually BETTER in homeschooling because the children are not segregated with only their narrow age group. Learning is less intense and precise in many instances, but the children become better self-learners, which greatly aids study habits and life-long learning skills. But, most importantly, the children are taught the worldview of their parents more intensively and do not pick up the negative traits of their peers as easily. Curriculum can also be more personally tailored to each individual child's interests, skill levels, and talents. And, there's as much time as you'd ever want for Lutheran catechesis from the earliest of ages. We make that the #1 priority of our homeschool curriculum. All else can suffer neglect, but not that!!!

There are pros and cons to all forms of education, but I have found through painful experience that the pros of homeschooling far outweigh the cons when compared to institutionalized education. The only experience I haven't had is a good Lutheran school, but such a thing is quite rare, regardless of how many "Lutheran" schools exist. I know of a few, and from observation I believe I would still choose homeschooling. The problem comes when we try to measure ourselves according to the public school "ideal" of education - which is the first thing you have to cure yourself of.

That's the perspective of a father of 7, for what it's worth. My oldest two children are currently deciding what to do when they graduate from "high school" this coming spring at ages 16 and 17.

My wife used to really look forward to our children returning to their public and charter school attendance in the fall, since she knew she'd have more time for other things than taking care of kids 24/7. But now she says she couldn't imagine having to give up the tremendous joys of homeschooling, regardless of it's tremendous challenges.

One thing neither of us miss is the tremendous shock of transitioning from summer to school year, and visa versa. There's still a transition, but it's much more manageable and gradual. My wife has already started back at phonics with our 2nd grader, one of the older two has started reading some texts, and the two middle children (#3 and #4) are getting a voluntary head start on their math. We'll get back to the regimented routine of chores and studies after Labor Day.

These comments are not meant to judge those who do not homeschool their children. But, I would be lying if I didn't say that I believe it is the ideal everyone should strive for. Alas, we do not live in an ideal world and families must make the best decision for each child. But that is what I would recommend doing instead of believing you are already doing what is best for each child. We continuously evaluate each child in an attempt to discern if we are doing what is right for that child. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that we could decide at any time that another mode of schooling would be best for a particular child, but so far homeschooling continues to beat the other choices hands-down.

There! I bet that's more information than you wanted from me!!!

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...


OK, maybe I am just a little judgmental. I can't help thinking that there is a fatal disconnect between the worldview that admits children are a blessing and one which would have no compunction about being anxious to give them all over to someone else to raise for 6 or more hours per day.

Most of us have such a sinful desire to let someone else take over our most difficult responsibilities (and government schools are eager to do so). However, some of us recognize it as wrong while others buy into the postmodern worldview that it's really best for everyone.

I repent that I was once one of the "others" who blindly bought into the lie of compulsory public education.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

My head definitely agrees with Erich, but every year I have a freak out the day after school starts at the good ole P.S. down the street....and it has been probably the worst freak out ever.

I too have a long list of nevers..."I'll never go to school in Utah, I'll never be a pastor's wife, I won't breastfeed and my famous 'I'll follow you to the jungles of Africa, Sweetie, but I will NOT live in L.A." (first call, Pasadena, CA) God has a great sense of humor, doesn't He?

Being bookish, the books that really help me (brain-wise, not freak out wise) are Teaching the Trivium, which expounds rather well on what Dr. Heydenreich wrote about, and anything and everything Charlotte Mason or about it (For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay is really good).

I found last year that one of the really big issues for me was getting time without the kids during the day at least once a week. My husband arranged to come home in the afternoon on Tuesdays -- If I wanted to be home alone to get something done or just take a bath without having someone knock on the door every two minutes, he would take the kids out. If I wanted to go out alone (I can't stand grocery shopping with everyone in tow), then I could do that. I used to go out at night, but it made a huge difference to be able to leave the prison..er..parsonage at a time of day when there was life going on in the world. Don't know if that helps, but it did help me considerably. Not that I don't still stare at the websites for area schools and wonder how bad it would be to just enroll them in the middle of November.

In the end, I can never bring myself to hand over control of their environment and what they are learning to someone else, however well-intentioned. Between my nervous breakdowns, we actually get a fair amount of learning done...and the kids don't seem too scarred...

There is a big difference between feeling like you are doing it because you have to or because you want to. Sometimes you have to search and search for that glimmer of why you would want to in order to push yourself through.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

BTW, generally my glimmer of hope is this: I control my schedule. I decide when I get up in the morning, I decide what we will do.

When your kids are in school, they decide what time you will get up in the morning, and trying to get kids out the door or take them to school with other little ones is not easy. Then, you have to be available to bring them home (which from what I am told, falls in at least one other child's nap time and they ALWAYS miss it and the evening is miserable then). Then, your evenings are taken up with the homework that the school decides your kid needs to do, not the peaceful family time you would like, and then after you fight to get that done, you have to get them ready for bed and in bed and start all over again in the morning. You don't get to take vacations when you want, you have to go to zoos, shopping malls, amusement parks, and anything else when it is crowded and school is out. Your husband may have more opportunity to see his kids given that their schedule is more flexible. School means a completely outside force is mandating the majority of your family life and structure.

In many ways, school requires more commitment and sacrifice than homeschooling.

Not that you won't hide in the closet sometimes, but in the end, I find that for me, it would be much more of a huge sacrifice on a daily basis to send my kids to school than to sit down and learn with them and read to them and have fun.

Try looking at this: I like their laid back look at things...get this done before age ten...made things look a lot easier for me...


And if you haven't already, join Martin Loopers email list at www.cat41.org (confessional Lutheran emailers list). A better bunch of (mostly) ladies, you will not find.

God bless