Recently, there was a long thread of discussion on a homeschooling list I frequent about an expectant mother who was considering putting her kids back in school due to becoming pregnant again. There were lots of great responses to her message, so I didn't feel it was necessary to share my opinion there. But I've been thinking about it a lot since then, and decided I'd share my thoughts here. :-)
Consider All ImplicationsMy first reaction to the "should-I-send-the-kids-to-school" question-- at least when it's applied to life changes-- is "How will sending the kids to school make your life easier?"
Oftentimes, I'm not sure that we consider ALL the implications that sending our kids away will bring.
For me, I first think about all the helpers I have that would be gone, leaving me alone with a house full of toddlers and preschoolers. Does that really make my life "easier?"
My mind also turns to the realization that by sending my kids to school, I will be giving away my choices in scheduling, because my children and I will now need to conform our daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly schedule over to an outside entity. We will have to answer to strangers who know nothing about our family culture, our lifestyle choices, or rhythms of life. That may not be of concern to others, but it is a huge thing for me.
Another thing to consider will be the changes you will see in your child(ren). Will you miss being a big influence on their daily lives? Are you ready for them to change and adapt to the system you are sending them to belong to? Are you prepared for new friends, possible consumerist ideas, hours of homework where you will still need to help your child (often times for the same or more hours that you would if you homeschooled), philosophies of the world, and time spent away from your influence? (Not to mention worse things that I won't go into here!)
Lastly, what about transportation? Will you need to drive your children to school every day or work with a carpool group? Will you need to walk them to the bus stop? Who is the person driving the bus? What are the ages of the children on the bus? Do you know any of their parents? Will the bus ride be a wholesome, safe place for your child to spend a lot of time on each day?
Lessons in Life
Life is about change-- it's about making mistakes, cleaning messes, learning to be part of a family. It's about overcoming the difficult situations that arise because we are growing and being refined.
And education is actually about being prepared for LIFE! Pregnancy, childbirth and caring for babies are a BIG part of life as a parent. Those situations teach lessons that every adult should learn. And our children will learn those lessons best by watching us.
Yes, a homeschool schedule may have to change when mom is sick, or stuck on the couch nursing. But oftentimes, it is during those changes when relationships are strengthened and families grow closer together. Mom can still read aloud or watch videos with the kids. Even if she can't read aloud, audio books can be listened to, and games can be played. Maybe an older child can take a turn being the reader or the tutor for a while.
The times when mom is down are also excellent gardens for the seeds of life skills to be planted. Young kids can learn to make healthy lunches, to do dishes, and to clean up. Kids can also learn how to answer the phone and take messages. Older children (teen daughters, especially) can help out by potty training toddlers when morning sickness makes the idea impossible for Mom. (My daughters have trained three of my four youngest daughters without my help.) Yes, things might get messier than normal. But I believe the knowledge they gain will be worth it in the end.
- Does it require too much of mom's time and energy?
- Is it a program that requires certain hours or outside accountability?
- Is there a way to adapt the program to fit in more with our "new reality" at home?
- Can we rearrange lessons to fit better with present circumstances?
- Is it time for something completely different?
Some great articles on this subject: