Edited May 2019: We were a part of a wonderful Classical Conversations community for the first eight years of our home education journey. Now, due to poor state leadership and questionable corporate business practices, our family has elected to “consciously uncouple” from our association with the organization and we cannot recommend any others get involved at this time.
I’ve stepped into a leadership role with my local Classical Conversations community that has me meeting with prospective parents frequently to explain the program and how CC might work for them.
I love it, absolutely love it! Because if it weren’t for Classical Conversations there’s a reasonable chance I wouldn’t even consider homeschooling as a viable option for our family. At the risk of sounding like a complete CC Kool-Aid drinker, this academic community has made all the difference in our life and opened up the world for our children.
Even so, sometimes I feel a little guilty that I don’t add the “downer” side of homeschooling to my conversations with people about whether this is a party they want to join. To clear my conscience, I’m going to go public with some of the negatives of homeschooling right here and now…
1. You’re going to have to actually school them. The real bummer about homeschooling is those kids – they don’t just teach themselves. And school? It happens every day. There are no sick days, you can’t sleep in for fun, and your kids are used to getting your attention so they get a tad presumptuous about your time. There’s no one you can send them off to or blame when they don’t perform as well as anticipated.
2. Unrealistic Expectations. Let’s face it, we all want kids who do something exceedingly well or else the “how to tell if your child is gifted” post wouldn’t be one of the most popular on BabyCenter. Homeschoolers are the worst about this. “Did I mention my 4 year old is able to recite Plato and complete advanced geometry problems? Oh, I didn’t? Don’t worry. The public school will teach your little Susie to wipe the drool from her chin by the end of 6th grade, I’m certain.” Sheesh! We read statistics about kids who are home educated winning spelling bees and doing well academically and dream that our kiddo will be the Next Big Thing. But take a moment to realize an important fact: they’re your kids. If YOU weren’t a member of Mensa or a Top Shot… chances are simply doing school around your kitchen table won’t make them phenomenal.
3. It’s lonely. There was a time I described staying at home full time as akin to putting ground glass on my eyeballs… and I meant it. I love my children to an insane degree but I think I’m pretty close to the worst person possible to be a full-time stay at home mom. This is likely why I’ve also worked for all but about seven months of my mom life – I need the adult interaction and challenges provided by employment. Even now, working full-time from home, I struggle with the loneliness of homeschooling. Being a part of a co-op makes this journey feasible… you have someone to commiserate with on a regular basis as well as people to celebrate the awesome achievements of your kiddos!
4. You see your ugly side. There was a time I never, ever raised my voice. In fact, I would cry if I was around people yelling or even loud noises. Home schooling has taught me I have a short temper. There’s a little switch in me that pops its overload setting when I have a load of laundry that must go into the dryer, dinner cooking on the stove, a baby crying at my feet and a grade schooler asking me if I have ever tried to draw a picture of Charlemagne’s horse and whether the mane should be black or brown… all at the same time! I crack, sometimes daily. This gives me the opportunity to be humble. (Oh, joy! Oh, rapture! An opportunity to demonstrate faith!)
5. You question your value. When you’re at home, wondering if your child will ever figure out how to read or write or add or subtract, you begin to doubt whether you’re doing enough. You read what the “experts” say, you try to gauge yourself against others… what you really do is practice insecurity. It’s eternal, this responsibility you have for your kid and your concern that you’re just not living up to their potential, that you’re holding them back. There is no boss who pulls you in for a performance review, followed by a pay raise. And that stinks.
After all these negatives, I think it’s important to mention we do homeschool and aren’t planning to change that anytime soon. For our family, it’s worth it because this aligns with our values. (But it’s not always just peachy.)
What are your highs and lows regarding home education?