Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Confession: The Real Reason I Homeschool

I homeschool because I'm lazy.

Random run-ins with family, friends, and acquaintances have led to questions like, "So are you still homeschooling? I could never do that" and "How do you have the patience for that?"

I hear stuff about public school. I went there. I remember. And I think the same thing: I could never do that. Why? Because I'm too lazy.

First, school mornings.

Now I'm a morning person. Morning time, the peace and solitude of it, eases me into the day. I take my time letting the faint night roll over into day. I sip my coffee, browse the internet, and listen to the creaks and groans of the house.

To break that habit with the mad hustle-and-bustle scurrying to get my child out of bed, out of blissful sleep, out of pajamas, out of the dreams of yesterday and into new, unwrinkled clothes within AN HOUR because "OMG, we're running out of TIME!" is just too much to bear.

(Aidyn did go to public school kindergarten, and I remember this little ritual. And even though I knew  it was coming every morning, I was rarely prepared for it.)

Not only that, but I'd have to throw myself in the shower and slap on some halfway presentable clothes and make-up in case I run into any parents and/or teachers during drop-off.

Somewhere between overhauling us both, I'd have to make lunch. At 7:30 in the morning. That's just too much.

It's much easier to have my quiet morning, let my child have his quiet morning, make breakfast, digest it, and shower slowly.

Also, this common core junk.

If my child attended public school, I'd have to learn about common core. Not what it is or where it came from, but how to usher my child through all those boring unnecessary steps. Ugh. And THEN, as soon as we've both mastered it (or, at the very least, learned to deal with it), I would have to learn a whole other new "learning approach" sanctioned by our wishy-washy government.

It's much easier to just learn my child. Learn how he learns and meet him where he is.

I lack the creativity of finding out what public-school kids do all day.

When my child was in kindergarten, I often pounced on him with the wide-open question: so what did you do today?

The usual answer: a lackadaisical "nothing" or a drive-me-crazy "lots of things."

But as soon as I tried to mine for details, he couldn't think of them or seemed bothered at having to recall and re-dispense everything he did that day. I tried asking it in a million different ways: "What was your favorite thing you did today?" (Answer: "All of it was good.") "Did you do any fun activities today?" (Answer: "Some. Not really.")

Every day my little balloon got deflated.

It was just too much work. Other parents are probably a whole lot better than me at getting this mysterious information out, but I'm not.

It's much easier to see him learning through the day and actually being there for those light-bulb moments.

It's much easier watching his eyes get big and answering all his follow-up questions about whatever it is we're learning (yesterday it was, "Why did the Nazis take Anne Frank and her family away?" "What does it mean to be Jewish?" "Why would they even do that?" "Why did they wear yellow stars?" "Did the Nazis kill pets, too?"). It's much easier being in dialogue.

I suck at public school homework and signing papers.

Don't get me wrong, I could help my child with his public school homework. I'm probably smart enough to eventually figure out what the teacher wants. But I don't want to.

I'm too lazy to tutor my child through three hours of homework during dinner time, relax and unwind time, and watch terrible reality shows time.

I'm too lazy to sign a bunch of papers. I'm too lazy to file away all those dates and duties (conference on this day, minimum day on that day, crazy hair day next week, bring goodies to class on this Friday, provide snacks if your kid's last name is between A and G and his school ID number falls between 987399 and 993782...ah!). I can't remember all that.

I'm too lazy to teach my child how to impress the teacher with his perfectly done homework, to push him toward earning As and honor roll by completing worksheets, quizzes, and tests perfectly. I'm also too cheap to reward his grades with actual money.

It's much easier to go through the lessons with him, to let him run off and explore a subject or topic to the nth degree. It's much easier to not know the perfect answer and let him find it for himself, spurred by his own enthusiasm for the subject.

It's much easier to take him to the library and overload my arms with books.

It's much easier to have an open afternoon in case he gets all wrapped up in a science experiment and can't be peeled away from the science lab  kitchen table.

It's much easier to impress him with all the fascinating things about our world. It's much easier to watch him grow intellectually than to prepare him for STAR testing.

It's much easier to buy him a microscope, clay, Legos, Minecraft stuff, and a volcano kit because he's excited about using it.

I'm too lazy and cheap to keep up with fads.

If my child went to public school, I'd have to keep up-to-date on who's wearing what and which name-brand will buy my kid the most confidence (accordingly to a commercial, it's some shoe, Sketchers or something, that's supposed to do this). Then I would have to physically GO to these stores and shell out all kinds of money on expensive clothes he'll to grow out of tomorrow. AND, I would have to keep up with his ever-changing style ("It's all about ______ brand, Mom. Duh." and "Now I'm into _______ because blah-be-de-blah wears it and IT'SSOCOOL").

Too much.

I couldn't even do this when I went to school. I was happy with random thrift store shirts and off-brand shoes.

It's much easier to buy him clothes that reflect his authentic tastes (usually they display Adventure Time, Minecraft, Star Wars, or super hero characters).

It's much easier to identify Finn from "Adventure Time" than some random brand-name initials all swirly and fad-y. I do better with faces.

I am way too lazy and terrified to worry about school shootings, gangs, and all that junk.

Of course, I didn't worry about that when he was in PS kindergarten. But I overhear other parents. They worry about gangs and shootings in their kids' schools and fight to transfer them to the across-town school. Some have even told me that they forge their addresses for out-of-town ones so their kid could attend a "better" school. Another told me that there was a school shooting near a fifth grade classroom.

That's just a lot to worry about.

It breaks my heart when I hear about school shootings on the news. Every week.

I feel guilty that I get a small sense of relief that my child wouldn't be victim to a school shooting, but I feel worse that this has seriously become the norm. We barely bat an eye when we hear of another Columbine. We stew for a day or two when a new school terror has unleashed a round of bullets through a classroom.

I know homeschooling doesn't prevent bad things from happening to my child.

He has been harassed and roughed up a little by neighborhood bullies. Public school isn't the only place to learn how to deal with assholes. And we did what any other parent would do: talked him through it, showed him how to stand up for himself, modeled what to say to a bully and how to avoid them if necessary. Now he and the kid are friends.

But I'm too lazy to worry about the crazy stuff all the time. To fight with the district to transfer schools. To pin all my hopes on getting him into a better charter school. To change my address and drive him across county lines every day just to avoid a school shooter. To accept that a child can bring a gun to school.

I'm too lazy to overhaul the public education system.

I don't have the time and energy to attend school board meetings and fight for change. I don't have time to be that parent that overshadows and questions every decision the teachers make. It's too much.

I don't fault those parents who send their children to public school. We need public school. It's necessary. But I do fault the way it's operated. And I sympathize with parents and children struggling through it. I'm saddened by a government that cares so little about education, real education. I'm hurt that textbook companies and the power of a dollar dominate the way schools are run. I hate that they are married to these companies, to standardized tests, and to Common Core (at least right now).

It's much easier not having to deal with any of that stuff.

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