Getting the Best of Them

May 23, 2011

in Relationships & Family

"homeschooling"

I’ve always said that I would not want to home-school my kids. I greatly admire those who take on that challenge. I don’t view them as being weird, or hippies, or even weird hippies. I know that the decision is not made lightly, and they are doing what works best for them as a family, and that’s what’s important.

I read an article months ago (I wish I could remember where so I could link to it) in which a mom made the decision to home school her son because she felt that she was giving the best of him to someone else: his teachers were getting him bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning, and she was left with a grumpy, tired child at the end of the day. His teachers got to see his academic achievements, while she was left with frustrating homework battles. So she decided to take the reins into her own hands so she could share in more of his life and education.

I can see that. I really can. But I still don’t think it’s for me.

My twins aren’t even in preschool yet, but after being home with them for the past three years, I am more than ready to get them in a program that’s at least twice a week. I see it as an opportunity for them to get in a more structured environment and interact with more kids within that same environment. I see it as a chance for them to learn things that I may not think to teach them. I see it as a chance for them to gain some independence, both from me and from each other.

As I go about my days with my children at home with me, I realize that I don’t have to think of it as someone else getting the best of my children. I am teaching them, and I see the fruits of my labor all day, every day. Okay, most days. Let’s be realistic.

I see:

  • love, as they show affection towards each other, their little sister, and their parents
  • respect, with displays of impeccable manners and good listening skills
  • remorse and forgiveness, through heartfelt apologies and forgiving hugs
  • fun, with dance parties, educational crafts, and lots and lots of paint and Play Doh
  • attentiveness, seated around me (and on me) for story after story
  • stability, with a strong and loving support system that will always be there

We hunt for roly polies and caterpillars. We try our hardest to jump up and grab the moon when we can see it at night. They tell me the sirens in the distance are from a fire truck, and that the airplane flying above is headed for the airport. I hear “Excuse me!” after little burps and “May I have a turn?” when waiting patiently.

Where did they learn that? my husband asks. And I realize: they learned it from me.

As I sat to write this post, I pondered some of my reasons that I don’t want to home-school: my lack of organization; the fact that I’m not really a teacher type; the need for that small break from my kids so I can grocery shop during daylight hours. They sound a bit petty. In researching this piece I gained a lot of insight into why some parents choose to home-school, and who knows? Maybe by the time they’re due to enter kindergarten I will have changed my mind. Maybe my tendencies towards public school will remain stronger than ever. Whatever I do, I need it to be for the right reasons, and I need to make sure that the decision I do make is for the better of my family.

But for now, I’m okay with the idea of someone else dealing with the math, science, and other academic subjects. As they blossom from toddlers into little girls, I see the results of my teachings so far, and I can be assured that whether they go to preschool in the fall or we decide to wait another year, I will continue getting the best of them to myself each and every day.

What about you? Do you home-school or send your children to public school?

weekdaysolomommy June 1, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Leigh Ann- this is an awesome post. I think that school choice is so hard- public, private, home….I’m the person who has had my daughter in 2 different pre-schools, doing what I felt was right for her and for us as a family. Like most things, I think that it’s important for parents to follow their guts and do what they feel like is right for their kids and their families. And I loved the idea of evaluating each year. I plan to send my daughter to kindergarten, but if it ends up being a mistake, I will look at all of our choices and decide what’s best for everyone. Not everyone can or wants to home school. Not every kid will thrive in that situation. But, for some families, it’s the best decision they can make. I think it’s personal and dependent on personalities. Good luck!

Andrew Walker May 27, 2011 at 4:21 am

Hi Leigh,
I think the best education for kids comes from the family. When they go home schooling, it’s fine because we could watch them while they are studying, and we could also teach them about things, like teachers in school. We could also ask them to the museum also.

Italian Mama Chef Michelle May 26, 2011 at 12:01 pm

First I want to say you wrote a great article. Second, we home-school our kids. I home-schooled my older daughters for 10 years or so. Then when the boys were ready for school, they were taught at home. Then I had to stop because life became chaotic. I was dxed with bipolar II and needed to get myself in order.
It took a few years and during that time the boys went to public school. They changed. And it wasn’t for good. Sure they learned the rote information and progressed but the love of learning for learning sake was destroyed. Their teachers were not all bad but there were a few who ruined them deeply. In Feb. 2010, my husband and I began to read John Taylor Gatto’s book about the history of public schools in the US and he convinced us to bring them home. We now home-school again and while it’s been quite the adjustment, it’s also been the best thing we’ve done for them. I wish they weren’t so conditioned to “group-think” and to love learning for the sake of discovery.
As I let them have room to spread their wings, they have begun to rise above the old thinking and start making some great choices for their lives.
It’s not easy but it’s worth it.

Leigh Ann Torres May 26, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Thank you for your kind words, Michelle. I’m sorry you and your kids had to go through that. Sounds like it was quite a transition, but it worked out for the better for your family.

Aybi@small business internet marketing May 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I am not yet married nor have children. However, if I will be asked whether to send my children to school or let them have home schooling, I am going to choose homeschooling. I’ve read somewhere that most Homeschooled kids do well on standardized tests at the entrance exam for college and universities. Thus, it means that homeschooling learning are more focused on academics and tend to be more comprehensive as parents can guide them easily should they have confusion on the subject matter.

Leigh Ann Torres May 25, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Those are excellent points as well. Things CAN change once you do have kids though, and followin their cues is very important.

Sonny@Kids' Craft Blogs May 25, 2011 at 2:51 am

As much as I personally like seeing kids learn, I don’t know if I could homeschool my children. Maybe if I hired a very qualified tutor (which would be very expensive, if the person was indeed that qualified…

Leigh Ann Torres May 25, 2011 at 1:56 pm

That’s exactly how I feel. I honestly don’t know it I have it in me.

Henrietta @ Caribbean Holidays May 24, 2011 at 12:03 pm

It depends a lot on what you have to offer your kids. I have a friend who is very musically talented (along with her husband). As a result of having to move out of London and give up work due to childcare costs, she ended up schooling both her kids whilst they sorted out placements in their new area – as a result both children are fabulous musicians and have channeled the confidence they gained from excelling at that into their regular studies.

Leigh Ann Torres May 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Excellent point, and I agree. I am very artistically talented, and I also have a passion for reading and writing. So those are the areas in which I would love to spend most of my time with my kids, doing crafts and reading books.

Karen@The Magic of Making Up May 24, 2011 at 10:25 am

I can sooo identify with your view in this article. I love my son dearly of course, and I gave up work completely when I had him, but by the time he was old enough for pre-school, both he and me were ready for that next stage.

Also, good teachers are highly-skilled professionals. So am I, but not in the field of teaching! I don’t think I would give my son the best by home schooling him. Not my strength! I just mother him when he gets home – my job!

Leigh Ann Torres May 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Karen, that is exactly how I feel! Thank you.

Fran Aslam the Onlinewriter May 24, 2011 at 10:19 am

Nice article, loved reading it. All of has full right to choose what our wisdom and situation guides the best. Specially for important decisions that create long term effect, we should look at both side of the pictures care fully and reach a decision.

There is nothing wrong with following an educational system that is made for us and lots of lots of us are following it. Except deal with it smartly and do not let the children feel frustrated or left out.

Fran A

Leigh Ann Torres May 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Great point. I’m so glad we as parents have the choice.

Christine@TheAums May 24, 2011 at 3:51 am

Hi Leigh Ann,
I really enjoyed your article! I homeschool and I thank you for not seeing me as a “weird hippie”-Lol, that was my favorite line! I like your point of view about doing what works for your family. Choosing this somewhat alternative path makes me wonder all the time if I’m doing the right thing, but when I see my kids read, write, and interact with the world, I feel good about our commitment. We also made a decision to re-evaluate every year and see if it’s working for our family, so it’s comforting to know that nothing is set in stone. So far, I love homeschooling and my kids haven’t complained!

Leigh Ann Torres May 24, 2011 at 2:56 pm

That’s great! Re-evaluating every year is a fantastic idea. I never even thought I would be considering homeschooling, but as I research, it definitely has its positives. I’m glad it’s working well for you!

redkathy May 23, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Hi Leann.
This is a great article. Very straightforward and honest. All families, moms, and kids are different. While I did have lots of friends who did home school their children, I chose parochial school for my boys. I, like you, didn’t feel I wast the homeschool type. It was a loving environment with people who were much more qualified than I to educate them. Looking back, I can honestly say it was the right decision.

You have presented a brutally honest point of view and I do believe you have offered great insight for any mom who may be looking for insight.

Have a wonderful week!

Leigh Ann Torres May 24, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Thank you. I sometimes feel the same way — that there are others out there who are trained to teach my children (although I also know that sometimes the teacher/student relationship doesn’t always work out). That’s the beauty of figuring it out along the way.

jeff @ 10 meter radios May 23, 2011 at 11:15 am

I applaud any parent who takes the time to home-school their child. How easy is it to dump your child in a public school and think of it as someone else’s problem.

Parents who home-school have made an investment in their children of both time and money knowing that that investment will payoff in the long run.

Right before 9/11 I was exceited as we were on the verge of a national debate about school vouchers, but 9/11 changed our priorities.

I am getting excited again as the public mood has changed and no longer are teachers unions and big education sacrosanct institutions immune from criticism.

As more and more frustrated parents open their eyes to who disfunctional our public schools are in many areas I believe that change will come.

For now home-schooling is a viable and in my opinion the best option to those who cannot avoid private school.

Leigh Ann Torres May 24, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Homeschooling IS a viable option, and you’re right — homeschooling parents have made a huge investment. I was careful to steer clear of any real public vs homeschool debates here. There are positives to both options. I actually have a friend who decided to homeschool her oldest for social reasons (plus she is a former teacher), and it didn’t work out for either of them. I’m so glad that we live in a society in which we can choose.

Tia Peterson May 23, 2011 at 10:51 am

I see the positives of both options. The home-schooled kids that I know are very intelligent, both academically and socially. They are also, however, incredibly attached to their parents and other adults, and are not very social with other children/teenagers their age. Home-schooling parents who encourage their children to participate in sports and social activities outside of home school are doing a great service to their kids.

I went to great public schools. My teachers and fellow students were all really smart and I know that I was blessed. I took every opportunity I got to participate in clubs, activities, sports, music, etc.

I want the same for my son. But I will not send him under any circumstances if I feel that the academics at the schools around are subpar. That’s where I draw the line. If for some reason the schools around us – when he’s ready for kindergarten – are terrible, I will home school him until we move somewhere that he can get a good education.

I’m 100% with you on what we teach our kids outside of academics. I would say that other people teach them those things, too. My son become 1000 times more polite after going to preschool for a few months. Now let’s see if he retains it! :)

Thanks for the post.

Leigh Ann Torres May 24, 2011 at 2:47 pm

There are definitely positives to both options. I too was lucky to go to a great public school in a great district, and we live near good schools here as well. That’s probably why I have so much trust in the public school system. I’m also debating preschool right now, but it’s more of a financial decision than anything, and if I don’t send them, I’ll need to institute some kind of curriculum to stave away sheer boredom, and who knows? Maybe I’ll find out I like it.

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