And now the moment you've all been waiting for....
I've made it sound pretty good, huh? Field trips, short school days, rich learning experiences for everyone, and math lessons over pancakes in our pajamas. So, WHY DOESN'T EVERYONE DO THIS?
Well, let me preface this by saying that these may not really be CONs of homeschooling, just CONs of MY first year homeschooling. Maybe other moms who homeschool do not experience these CONS. It might just be unique to me because I had a baby at the beginning of the school semester (a baby who had two open heart surgeries, mind you), moved two times, and lived in a town where I hardly knew any other homeschooling moms.
1. TUMBLE WEEDS
My biggest CON of homeschooling this year was the feeling of isolation. Have you ever done a really hard work out with a group of people? Because there is competition, conversation, and a sense of togetherness, the work out is tolerable and at times even enjoyable. Try doing the same work out alone, and it's just plain harder. There were some moments this year where I felt the tumbleweeds rolling by...those moments usually came when the only source of competition during math games and spelling bees were stuffed and/or plastic.
If you're an extrovert like me, it's essential to find a homeschooling co-op. We were on the waiting list for one in our area all year long, but never got in. This would not have been a con if I had quickly connected to other homeschooling families in the area and had more learning outings with others.
2. EXHAUSTION vs. GUILT
Homeschooling means that you are not only the Language Arts teacher, Math teacher, Science and History teacher, but you're also the cafeteria worker, the janitor, the nurse, the assistant principal, and the recess supervisor. After trying to, also, give attention to the specials such as art, music, computers, PE, and library, you are the bus driver and the after-school care.
I vacillated between two extremes all year long:
1. trying to give my kids an above-average learning experience in all of the above mentioned categories and wearing myself out....
2. or doing the bare minimum and then feeling guilty that I wasn't doing more.
3. ANSWERING THE CRITICS
If you choose to homeschool, you need to be both confident in your reasons and prepared for the criticism. You need to learn how to maneuver through conversations with a lump in your throat while you are being critiqued on an area of your home-schooling you feel insecure about. You need to be able to stomach the comments people will make about how lousy of an education home-schoolers receive, disregard the soliloquies about socialization, and be confident that you are doing what is best for your child at that particular point in time.
4. UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
Let me illustrate with a story:
The other day I heard a story of a girl who had a normal public school experience all the way through high school. There were no issues with this girl until she went away to another state for college. After being dropped off, there was heightened anxiety, severe home-sickness, multiple trips back home, and an inability to stay focused on her school work. Finally the parents decided it was best for their daughter to attend a local college where these issues wouldn't come up.
I laughed out loud when I heard this story. Not because I'm a cold-hearted snake, but because IF THAT GIRL HAD BEEN HOME-SCHOOLED, WE NEVER WOULD HEAR THE END OF IT. I guess that's just what comes with the territory. Home-schooling is different, so it's put under the microscope more.
So, there you have it. Just like everything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to educating your kids at home. As far as what we'll do next year, we'll just have to wait and see where we are living and assess it then. For us, the choice to homeschool is not a final one. Each year, we have to assess what is best for each of our kids in light of what is going on in our lives. It's a decision that will be given a lot thought and prayer. Stay tuned for the rest of the story...