Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Ramble of Homeschooling Thoughts

Okay...I'm going to ramble on a bit here about a subject that I don't go into but on seldom occasions.  I think reasons for homeschooling are absolutely not the same for all of us.  Many people homeschool for religious reasons,  I on the other hand, do not homeschool only for that aspect of life although I do believe that a spiritual life and personal relationship with God is probably the most important element to a happy life.  I homeschool for many reasons, most of which revolve around my belief that the family dynamic is most important to a child's young life and that, in itself, can lay a good, structured foundation for the rest of the child's life.  I also homeschool to provide a safe place for my kids to grow physically and emotionally and mentally.  I want them to be proud of themselves, non-judgmental of their emotions and feelings, accepting of all other people and cultures and ideas, as well as become strong and opinionated without fear tearing them down before they have a chance to become steady in their beliefs.  I want these things to become ingrained in their very fibers, I want them to be loving and compassionate, strong and positive, independent and productive.

I can say all the things above from the bottom of my heart, but at the same time I have to admit that once in a long while a huge veil of doubt tries to cloud my vision as a homeschooling mom.

Source: via Sandra on Pinterest

I know I'm just in the middle of a fog filled with doubts - doubts about myself, about my abilities, about what I've already done, about the incessant begging from my nine year old for what seems like a large amount outside activity, about my boys who will be fourteen in just a couple of months, and about whether I've made right choices along the way.

I hate being filled with doubt like this.  I hate the way it makes me feel.  I hate that I turned to researching public magnet schools and private schools.  I really hate the tuition rates at those said private schools.  I sometimes dislike the fact that we live out in a rural area, far away from almost anything although the kids do have room to run, play, and be free.  I wish I could make things easier, locations closer, finding friends easier.  I wish I could change a few things right now at this very moment.

I wish I could close my mind to all the doubts that creep in, but sometimes it feels like I become bombarded with my own inadequacies and self-judgments.  I wish I knew what to do when I feel this way, as I have a few other times over all these years of homeschooling.  This time is a little different since I actually allowed myself to spend a couple of hours last night researching a few schools for my girls.  I honestly had an absolute, literal nightmare about this exact subject last night and awoke before the alarm with a start.

One thing in particular that is really bothering me is that Emma is desperate for a heaping dose of social interaction in the form of costly acting classes and dance classes.  Seriously, she will.not.stop.begging. and it has been going on for over a year.  It's not a phase.  It makes me feel like she needs more than I can give.  Perhaps much more.

And, to top off the nightmare from which I awoke this morning, the appointment with my gynecologist today turned to a conversation on homeschooling after a few naturally progressing questions ended up with me admitting that I do, in fact, homeschool my children.  I was shocked by the turn of our conversation and how she honestly and matter-of-factly stated her opinion of homeschooling.  She was dead-set against it.  She proposed to me that all children should be in a classroom setting to learn to get along with their peer group, to get along with adults throughout the schools that they don't particularly like, to understand that life is about dealing with differences among people and becoming a strong individual, capable of creating a life that they can be proud of.  She was respectful, but stood by her opinions firmly.  I was not offended, and honestly felt a bit enlightened to hear someone from the flip-side of the debate actually speak respectfully about it with me and not speak down to me in a rash of hushed comments.  I really got her point of view.  I honestly did.  I think she is absolutely correct for the most part.  I also know that she is speaking her point of view from that of being a long-time practicing gynecologist who is married to an equally successful financial adviser who, together, are parents to two children who attend the most prestigious private school in our area with tuition running at least $25,000 per year for the two.  I can fully imagine that if I were in her financial shoes, I could feel comfortable with standing by that mouthful of opinions.  But, I am not in those financial shoes and a highly esteemed private school is not an option for my family.

In the area where we live we are really limited by the choices we have.  The local public schools are, for me, not an option.  The local private schools are, for the most part, very religious, churchy schools with goals being directed more toward church than education.  The better private school options are at least 45 minutes away and that is a burden that I don't want to have to face five mornings and afternoons every week.  I think that amount of travel time in a car every day will be irritating for us all.

So, I stand at the door of my original reasons for homeschooling and I regroup.  I dig down deep and rediscover my heart and why homeschooling is important to me and my family, I rediscover myself and my children, and I do the best I can giving them all I have to give to make them happy and accepting of our decision to homeschool.  I look at my doctor's reasons for choosing private school for her children along with my reasons for homeschooling my own children and find that, in the end, we both chose our respective paths for many of the same reasons and want basically the same outcomes for our children.  I'll stand at this door to regroup and find myself proud of my decisions and my children and our family .  I'll understand that on some days I'll have to dig down deep to remind myself that I am doing well, that my children are doing well, and their own doors of opportunity will appear in time and with the same promise as those doors built within the walls of public and private schools.

Being positive is the key.  I should look to the positives in every situation, making sure that I find every shred of silver lining.  I can positively see that the choices I have made so far have had incredible results.  My children are cooperative, compassionate, they take initiative in pursuing their interests, they love reading, they love to get into discussions about many different things and I have spent quite a few school days doing only that.  They are kind and respectful, helpful and full of goodness.  I find that the opinions of others would never have stopped me from this homeschooling lifestyle in the very beginning and to give too much attention to those same opinions now is only belittling my efforts to provide in the best way I possibly can for my children.

I have to remind myself that I am stronger than I think, that I know in my heart I'm doing what I am meant to do at this stage of my life, that reconciling differences in opinions should only lead to a bit more enlightenment about what I already know to be true to my own life, and that things will work out in the end.  They really will.


♥ Amy said...

Good morning, Sandra. I love reading this kind of post from you.

I must say that I could honestly stand beside your gynecologist and respectfully, yet with a matching amount of belief, state that I am FOR homeschooling and list the reasons why. You are right. The final choice is up to the parents. And in some cases, up to your situation. We make do.

The longer we homeschool, the more convinced I am of the benefits. And yet I can fully relate to what you said here: "I can say all the things above from the bottom of my heart, but at the same time I have to admit that once in a long while a huge veil of doubt tries to cloud my vision as a homeschooling mom."

Taking full responsibility of your child's education is huge. And overwhelming at times. I prefer to think of that doubt as faith. I believe in what I am doing, yet I am human and can only do so much. The rest needs to be left in God's hands.

Keep up the good work. You are a wonderful mom to your precious children! Have a lovely day, my friend.

luksky said...

Love this post! When we do things that are out of society's "norm" we question ourselves.

I think homeschooling is not for every family or kid. Some kids are just more social and would relish in the classroom setting.

I also think that as homeschooling parents we take our child's education more seriously because if they "fail" there will nobody to blame but ourselves. We can't blame the education system when things go wrong.

I don't really like to say this because I don't want it to sound like I'm being judgemental, but when I compare my child's behavior, knowledge, common sense, respect and ethics to her public schooled friends there is a huge difference. It's when I make those observational comparisons that I realize I made the right decision to homeschool her. said...

i have been dealing with the same exact thing the last month or so. it could just be the "end of the year" blah or maybe it really is time for me to send my kids to school.
i never really wanted to homeschool, we just kinda fell into it with my husbands military career & moving lots. that & when it came time to send my oldest (my baby) to school i couldn't do it.
i am feeling SUPER overwhelmed by it all!!! i have one going into 3rd grade, one going into 2nd, one that will start K, & one that is developmentally delayed & so much of my time is full of in-home therapy & taking her to a speech therapist.
i worry so much about the things that my kids are missing out on. i am not patient with them. :( that makes me sad. but really it just comes down to figuring out how to juggle it all & i just can't seem to do that!
yet the thought of sending them to school breaks my heart!!!! :( there is no way we could afford private school for the older 3, eventually 4!
i do think that the parents have a huge part in how the kids turn out (behaviors/attitudes) vs the idea that public school makes them "bad." i know they will turn out ok in the end, i did. ;)
i guess just thinking of sending them to school makes me feel like a big HUGE FAILURE. i'm struggling with feeling like i'm not good enough to handle it all.
we have just another week or so left of school & i am so looking forward to a break. i am completely rambling. it's just good to hear that someone else in the world is struggling with the idea of sending their kids to school or not. ;) there's a lot of people in my community who think homeschooling is the only "right" way to raise your kids which makes it extra hard for me to face my decision.
ok, for real, i'm done rambling. thanks for listening. i'm curious if you've come to any conclusions on this?