Let me begin my saying I don’t homeschool. My husband and I have both always had to work full-time, and it just hasn’t ever been an option. Although I did offer to homeschool my eldest last year for college so he wouldn’t leave home. He didn’t take me up on the offer. I have great admiration for homeschooling parents, though, bordering on awe. And there are times that even though I know they are tackling a task that I probably wouldn’t have been capable of handling even if I’d had the option . . . I’m jealous. These are those times:
1.) Registration. Let’s fill out the same exact forms as last year with the same exact information. Lots of forms. And then go get them notarized. WTH? And then stand in three different lines for a total of two hours to simply hand someone that form.
2.) Back to School shopping. Spend days scouring the internet and every store in town looking for the red Mead 1 1/2 binder with three rings and a zipper closure only to find out Mead stopped manufacturing that particular item three years ago (true story). Pay $80 for a calculator just slightly different from the $80 calculator you bought last year, and yet still not exactly like the $80 calculator you’ll be expected to buy next year.
3.) Uniform code. Make sure the shade of navy blue pants you buy is not too dark or too light or you’ll have a kid sent home for violating the uniform code. And they have to wear a belt, even if they have on a sweatshirt and no one can see their belt. If it’s parochial school, your son’s hair will need to be above his ears and his collar. After he is granted “hair freedom” he will rebel by looking like this:
4.) Carpool. I have strong feelings about carpool, and have expressed them here before. In fact, many people tell me it’s still one of their favorite posts. I’m sure there is a particular circle of Hell that is, simply, elementary school carpool.
5.) Parent-Teacher conferences. I know for a fact that teachers hate these just as much as parents – maybe more. Up until Aaron’s third grade year I looked forward to conference day. We’d go in together, take a seat, ooh and aah over examples of his brilliant work, and his teacher and I would have a little “Aaron is wonderful” fest. Then he and I would go to the book fair always set up on conference days and I’d buy my darling child whatever his precious little heart desired. Then came the “surprise” conference. The one that included phrases like “dropping grades”, “missing assignments”, and “incomplete work”. I’m sure Aaron remembers this conference as well as I do, or at least the part where I had to pull off the road during the drive home because I was sobbing hysterically. For John’s conferences I buy a nice bottle of wine and put it in the fridge to chill before I leave – and there’s no book fair.
6.) Extracurricular activities. Yes, I know homeschoolers do these, too, but you get to pick where and with whom you do them. I’ve suffered basketball coaches that expected ten-year-olds to be ready for the NBA draft, T-ball coaches that made the entire team cry after the game by telling them how badly they’d played, musical programs put together by someone who was apparently as tone-deaf as I am (if I can tell it’s bad, it’s freakin’ bad) and a Cub Scout leader that wanted the parents to sing along with The Beaver Song. Not until I’ve had a few margaritas, honey.
7.) Bullies. I’m convinced this problem is getting worse instead of better. I actually switched my youngest son to a different school after a bullying incident that the school administration was not able to resolve. It starts early, it’s trending toward more sexual issues, and it’s dangerous. We’ve all seen the middle-school suicides reported on the news. This, in my opinion, is one of the biggest problems schools – all schools – face right now.
8.) Family. If my boys had been homeschooled they’d have had more of an opportunity to learn skills from family members. I’dhave sent each of them to spend a week canning vegetables with my Aunt Beverly. Talk about a chemistry lesson?! “What is required to preserve food properly and not kill your family?” Then they’d go learn about building, remodeling, and maintenance with their Step-Grandfather, Greg. Those are problem-solving skills involving geometry and physics which would always serve them well. Then my dad would teach them God only knows what, since I remember him explaining trigonometry to me when I was just a little girl – and I learned it! My husband could take them to historic places and tell the stories of the past that he loves – he truly should have become a history teacher. We all have valuable people in our families, but how often do our kids get to learn from them?
9.) Special talents. My youngest has a flair for the dramatic. When he auditioned for and won a role in a local children’s theater production I was thrilled, and once I saw him blossom interacting with these kids who shared his interests I was even happier. But about 90% of the kids involved in the production were homeschooled, so although the intense rehearsal schedule and last-minute changes were taken in stride by the rest of the cast John and I suffered. We both lost sleep, didn’t eat well, and couldn’t give our best at school/work most days. It was a wonderful experience, but one we’ll never be able to repeat, and I hate that. There are wonderful opportunities out there for kids with special talents, but often they just don’t mesh with a traditional school schedule.
10.) You have control over the quality of your child’s education. This is one of those good news / bad news situations. If I alone were trying to homeschool my children they would have a broad understanding of literature, science, and geometry, and mythology. Oh, and Latin – that’s helpful, right? But they would be completely lacking in geography and history. I mean completely lacking. But there was a time during Aaron’s high school years when I wished I had been in charge of his English class instead of the incompetent woman he had as a teacher. He would bring home papers upon which she had scrawled misspelled and grammatically incorrect “corrections”. He was advised by another teacher in the department to keep his mouth shut and just try to get by with a passing grade, since Aaron happened to, by birth, be of a gender and race this woman was well-known to be prejudiced against and to grade unfairly. But she’d been a teacher since God was a boy, so apparently nothing could be done unless she stabbed a student in the heart in front of a dozen witnesses – perhaps not even then. We got through, but it was difficult.
Well, this turned into quite a rant, didn’t it? And I didn’t even include those stupid projects your kid gets assigned that only the parents are capable of doing and always require $50 worth of craft supplies and late-night trips to Target. I’d meant it to be sarcastic and funny, but I guess I had some issues I needed to get out. I’m linking this one up to Top Ten Tuesdays and Ten on Tuesday. I love a good list post! And since it turned out to be so “Wordful”, I’ll link this up to Wordful Wednesday at Parenting by Dummies and Seven Clown Circus. And since I’m not shy, I’m gonna Share my Awesome at Momma Made It Look Easy on Friday – you should, too!