Home > Education > To Homeschool, or Not to Homeschool: That Is The Question

To Homeschool, or Not to Homeschool: That Is The Question

November 9, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

First off, thank you to all my readers who left a comment on my first homeschooling post – the thoughtfulness of your comments blew my wife and me away. Definitely lots of food for thought there. Thank you.

Ok, so everyone and their mom has probably used or modified Shakespeare’s To Be or Not to Be as a post title, and homeschooling isn’t a matter of life and death, but for me homeschooling is similar to Hamlet’s musing. He sees pain in life as being inevitable, just as I see pain in public school as inevitable, and often a positive thing that can build character; and he compares it with the fear of uncertainty in death, just as I fear the uncertainty of what the long-term effects of homeschooling will be.

So how did two products of the public school system come to a point of considering homeschooling their kids? A confluence of factors actually. First, my wife is a rather cheesy awesome person. One thing that has remained constant through 2.5 years of dating, 1/2 year of being engaged, and 5+ years of marriage is that she is always thinking of cute trips and excursions she can take with me, and now our family. Just before we got married, she bought Rails-Trails and several other books with date ideas. My date ideas usually involve us consuming massive calories followed by calorie burning activities afterward (get your mind out of the gutter); her idea of a fun date is visiting some cheesy cute, often educational place. She absolutely adores the Washington Post’s Weekend section, and has been compiling a list of dates and/or excursions she’d like to take.

Second, something changed in my wife when we had D1 and even more when we had D2. My Mother-in-law is a go-getter. Despite being an immigrant with two kids at home and language barriers, she worked her way up the corporate ladder and continues to climb today. So naturally, my wife is the same way.

On her old webpage that was hosted by UMCP, this was her list of “Boos” on her bio:

  • Celery
  • Rude, inconsiderate, egotistical, or disrespectful people
  • People who don’t believe in women in science
  • Polluters
  • The way women are sometimes portrayed in society
  • How kids these days grow up too fast

Yup. That’s how much she hates celery. She was a mechanical engineering major and she did really well. Toward the end of her college career, she felt God calling her to be a teacher and to make a difference in high school student’s lives, so she became a math teacher. Despite consistent success in the classroom and accolades from her department chair and principal, she always wondered if she made the right choice by giving up a career in the corporate world.

Yet, when D1 was born, her career started to seem less important, and she often lamented having to go to work and miss out on memories with the kids. I was the exact opposite. While I loved D1, work was often a welcome respite from nonstop daddy duties. We had numerous discussions of her being a SAHM, but we ultimately decided that when the kids go to school in 5 years or so, she’ll be on the same schedule with them so she would be able to spend all summer, winter break, and Jewish holidays with our kids.

The SAHM conversation reemerged after D2 was born.

Third, the parents and the kids she encountered were far different than when we were in school. My wife encountered many parents who insisted on their kids having cell phones and often did all the fighting for their kids. As a result, much of my wife’s time was spent on dealing with parents rather than teaching and inspiring students.

So those three factors led us to the point we were a few weeks ago, when we began discussing homeschooling. Neither of us knew very much and had biases against homeschooling. So she did what she knows to do: borrow books from the library. And I did what I know to do: turn to strangers who are not so strange on the internet.

At this point, this is how I would describe our views toward homeschooling:

Wife's View on Homeschooling

Pop's View on Homschooling

Would that change as we had further discussions and got more educated on the subject?

What about you? What are your views toward homeschooling? If you homeschool, what were your thoughts toward it initially? What about your spouse?

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  1. November 9, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    I know a lot of awesome home-schoolers with really terrific kids. It’s an enormous commitment, but if you feel strongly about it, I believe you can make it work for your family.

    We have a school here that is homeschool-based: the kids go to school two or three days each week, and then the other days they work on their curriculum at home. A friend of mine teaches there and it seems like an amazing place. Best of both worlds.

    I don’t know if I could do it – my oldest and I are a lot alike and we butt heads. I envision one of us ending up in jail and the other in boarding school… If, however, I suddenly felt led to provide his education at home, I would. There’s a lot of great support out there, along with exciting curriculum choices.

    Good luck with your decision. I know you are already, but pray it out and you’ll get your answer.

    • Pop
      November 9, 2010 at 1:23 pm

      I certainly couldn’t do it – I’m pretty sure D1 would tire of me, and I of her. But my wife? She’s something special. She can read to her for hours on end. Me? I can only read about Elmo and his potty time so many times before going crazy.

  2. November 9, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    You know what you could do is have a test run. Take a week off from work or something when D1 is nearing her school years and spend that week doing everything you would do if you were homeschooling. (Except without purchasing any text books or materials, of course.) See if you like it, how it fits. That might give you a better feel for whether it would work for you or not.

    • Pop
      November 9, 2010 at 1:24 pm

      That’s a good idea. Wife’s actually trying that out now by giving D1 lessons at night. Me? I’m blogging away. 😛

  3. November 9, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Homeschoolers are often strange. But that doesn’t mean you have to be strange if/when you do teach your kids at home. If you think about it, Christians are strange, Asians are strange (I can say that, I’m half Asian now), and bloggers are strange. You can be as strange as you want to be.
    Your wife has the advantage of knowing how to teach, lesson plan, and use opportunities to teach. Many parents don’t want to homeschool because they’re afraid they’re not qualified or capable.

    • Pop
      November 9, 2010 at 1:25 pm

      It’s interesting that you should mention that b/c my wife recently mused, “I wonder if I was born to homeschool?” And I’m going to talk about the strange issue in forthcoming post, but sometimes I wonder if it’s homeschooling that makes kids weird or if its the parents?

      • November 9, 2010 at 3:54 pm

        Probably the parents. But I’ve known a lot of strange, and creepy people who went to public school, too.

  4. TK
    November 9, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    I love your use of the word confluence. Since you already know my strong opinion of homeschool I will leave it at that.

    I’ll ask my Mom if she feels like making another Sackboy costume. BUT you would have to fess up to your measurements. (GASP!) =)

    • Pop
      November 9, 2010 at 1:30 pm

      I try to use big words to mislead readers into thinking I’m somewhat intelligent.

      My measurements? Large and in-charge. And I’m sure my wife would be proud of me walking around as sack-boy on a daily basis.

  5. November 9, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Homeschooling is out of the question. I’m chomping at the bit for kindergarten. Sweet, sweet quiet – well, somewhat quiet – quieter then now, anyway… here I come.

    • Pop
      November 10, 2010 at 10:33 am

      I totally hear that! Part of the discussion we’re having is, if we homeschool, will my wife hand the kids off to me when I get home so that she can have some alone time?

  6. November 9, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    “Third, the parents and the kids she encountered were far different than when we were in school. My wife encountered many parents who insisted on their kids having cell phones and often did all the fighting for their kids.”

    *shudder*

    From what I’ve heard, this goes on all the way through college, where apparently nowadays it isn’t unheard of for a professor to get a call from a student’s parent challenging a grade 😦

    Regarding homeschooling, I think it sounds like a great idea. I could never do it because I royally suck at math 🙂

    I think one key consideration is making sure they have adequate socialization with kids their age. I think there’s some homeschooling resources that link up various homeschoolers so their kids can get together and socialize.

    Oh, and I almost said “playdate” in the last paragraph, so if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go bang my head into the wall as an act of contrition 😉

    • Pop
      November 10, 2010 at 10:36 am

      How’s the bruise from your playdate slip this morning?

      I’m pretty sure in the very near future, I’ll get a phone call from a mother saying, “Hello. My name is so and so and I am [the new intern at your workplace]’s mother. I heard that you are treating him poorly, forcing him to make coffee, buy lunch, and teasing him. You will be hearing from our attorney.”

  7. November 9, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    I homeschooled my son for six months because we were living in the US and Europe (splitting 3 months each) and we didn’t meet requirements to really register for school in either place. I’d say he learned more in those 6 months than he’s learned ever since (and this was 3 years ago). Public school (where we currently live anyway) just, you’ll have to excuse me, sucks rocks. I hate it. Because both my kids have ‘needs’ (one with aspergers and one with a speech disorder called apraxia) I’m always fighting the system for something the school doesn’t feel like giving. Life would be simpler if I homeschooled (maybe.)

    There are tons of groups out there for homeschoolers, so you really don’t have to worry about the socialization part in my opinion. I think homeschooled kids probably have more social interaction that regularly schooled kids. Unfortunately homeschool just isn’t an option for us (I can’t handle being their teacher, as I lamented on twitter last week, I can’t even understand my 3rd graders math worksheets). However, we are seriously considering moving to private school.

    If you can homeschool and have the desire, you should try it. If it doesn’t work you can always move back to a ‘regular’ school environment. Good luck!

    • Pop
      November 10, 2010 at 10:41 am

      Thanks, Andrea! TK, a commenter above, noted in my previous post: “I’m sorry but I don’t have a degree in special education or speech therapy or behavioral therapy. I desperately need those underpaid specialist’s to apply those skills to my child.” So I guess it all depends on the resources available for each particular family in their local school system. We considered private school as well, but then we saw the tuition rates.

      • TK
        November 10, 2010 at 12:05 pm

        Pop you quoted me. I’m awe-struck. I’m flattered. Color me impressed.

  8. November 9, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    I think you are both right. Some homeschoolers are cool, and some are strange. Most are a combination of both.

    I…don’t want to homeschool my future kids. I like to think that I would if I thought it really was the best decision for them. But I hope that when they are old enough for school, we will be in a terrific school system with excellent teachers, and very few problems.

    Homeschooling is a huge sacrifice of time, and energy. It is anything but easy. It is also incredibly rewarding.

    I am a huge fan of homeschooling, when it’s the right fit for the family. But only you can really know what that right thing is.

    Who knows how I will feel when actually faced with this decision.

    Luckily, you can always try it out for a year, and then put them back in school if it just is not working out.

    • Pop
      November 10, 2010 at 10:43 am

      I like the fact that you can essentially have a “free” trial. My wife is currently looking into educational laws in Maryland and I’ll have to ask her to look up info on whether or not we can put the kids in public school if we decide homeschooling isn’t for us after a week 😛

    • Pop
      November 10, 2010 at 10:45 am

      Also, your comment gives me some peace in that our decision doesn’t necessarily mean that will be our kids’ decisions as well, i.e., I didn’t want them to feel they had to homeschool just b/c we homeschooled, so the fact that you feel that way gives me some confidence that our kids can be who they want to be and their families can be how they want them to be.

  9. liz
    November 9, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    I think my pie would have a larger portion of red than green, but as I always say, you gotta do what you feel is best for you and your kids. There is no one way for everyone.

    Also? I don’t hate celery, but I think it’s a pretty pointless food. So I’m with your wife on that.

    • Pop
      November 10, 2010 at 10:45 am

      Celery is great in broths and as a transporter of blue cheese/ranch sauce. 🙂

  10. November 10, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Hm. People are strange. Period. We had children in school for four years, and then have homeschooled for the past seven, and I have to say that the children and parents I’ve known in homeschooling have certainly been no weirder, objectively speaking, than the children and parents I knew via my kids’ school experience. Well, let me qualify that: most of the homeschooled kids I’ve known have been “strange” in that they could talk as comfortably to adults as they could to children their own age, and they often have offbeat interests: Celtic music, Irish dance, historical re-enactment, and so on.

    I was a public-school teacher in my former life, and am definitely a convert to homeschooling. We got into it as a stop-gap measure at a certain juncture in our life, and now my oldest is reading King Lear and applying to colleges. We weathered some interesting times early on for sure, but I would not trade the close relationships I have with my teenagers today, or the close relationships they have had with their younger siblings, thanks to a lifestyle that doesn’t segregate them by age for most of the day.

    I would never say that homeschooling is the ideal, because I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all ideal in education. In general I’m not a relativist, but I am when it comes to learning: no two children are alike, no two families are alike, and a parent’s job is to discern what’s going to be best for a given child, which sometimes requires overriding a dearly-held philosophy. For us, homeschoooing has a been a lovely way to live. The more I am with my children, the more I enjoy being with them as a way of life, and that’s not because any of us is perfect, or even easy — it’s just that the investment in the relationships does pay off. (plus, I get to read all these great books and observe chemistry experiments and — we haven’t done this yet in our ancient-Egypt study, but we’re going to — mummify a roasting chicken).

    Good luck in your discernment.

    PS: I think my husband was initially a little skeptical, too, way back when I began researching this option. But he’s now a huge proponent of homeschooling, probably with fewer caveats than I have at this stage. He’s a college professor, incidentally, and one thing that wins him over continually is that the former homeschoolers are consistently the best students in his classes.

    • Pop
      November 10, 2010 at 10:52 am

      Mummify a roasting chicken? That sounds so interesting but I can’t help but think what a terrible waste of meat 😛

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I like how you noted that no two children are alike, and that’s largely the problem that my wife has a front row seat for: that teachers are basing instruction more on passing standardized tests. I find this very ironic b/c my wife just completed her National Board application earlier this year and it was all about how being a teacher is more about being a guide on the side and tailoring their instruction to fit students. And yet, our national agenda seems to be more concerned with tests.

  11. KLZ
    November 10, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    I think continuing to talk is crucial.

    That said, the opportunity to stay home with the kids – for any reason – is something I would jump at. These little moments pass so quickly. I won’t be looking back twenty years from now saying “Gee, I loved working on that project!” but “God, I wish I’d seen him laugh more.” So, I’m clearly biased.

    I dislike my job. But, unfortunately, I like being able to eat so I go to work. But if I had any chance at staying home, even if that meant homeschooling, I’d do it.

    • Pop
      November 11, 2010 at 10:19 am

      “I won’t be looking back twenty years from now saying “Gee, I loved working on that project!” but “God, I wish I’d seen him laugh more.””

      That’s the exact sentiment my wife had.

  12. November 11, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    I laughed out loud every time you crossed out the word, “cheesy.” I love how C approaches a situation. She’s a woman after my own heart. I had forgotten that she’s a teacher. It’s interesting how her perspective professionally would play a role. I look forward to reading more about the homeschooling decision. xoxo

    • Pop
      November 12, 2010 at 10:10 am

      If she weren’t a teacher, I don’t think she’d be as confident about doing this as she has been.

  13. grandma linda
    November 17, 2010 at 8:55 am

    For the kids – read *The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community and Self.* Won’t tell you “how to,” rather it makes a case for “why to.” Good luck on your big decision that, by the way, holds lots of benefits for the parents, too.

    • Pop
      November 18, 2010 at 1:35 pm

      Thank you for the recommendation. I’ll have to try and find that book. Most of the homeschooling books we’ve been recommended aren’t available at our local library and often command exorbitant sums online!

  14. January 1, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Homeschooling had pros and cons. I’ve seen it be successful and unsuccessful. Just like in the classroom, it depends on the teacher.

  15. February 17, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Just came by to remind you: we homeschooled and who’s cooler than us?

    Brrrr…

  1. November 10, 2010 at 2:30 am
  2. November 16, 2010 at 11:23 am

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