Friday, September 23, 2011

Homeschool or Not? ... Current concerns

I think there are only two issues that are still worrying me about homeschooling. "Only two" is a big improvement compared to earlier this year, but still, they're bothering me quite a bit.

The first is - sorry - socialization. Or not "socialization," exactly, because I'm not worried if the kids don't go through the process of learning to deal with the routine social mechanics of the school environment. But I do worry about their having the opportunity to form lasting, evolving, deep friendships. (Ordinary friendships are important too, of course, but I'm convinced that those would be easy to come by via homeschooling too.) I know this issue has already been discussed to death in a million books and blogs, but I can't figure out exactly how it would look, practically, in our own life. For example, a few weeks ago, I was planning to go to four different not-back-to-school events, in an effort to get to know the local homeschooling community. Three of the four were rained out, and the fourth, although enjoyable, was quite a small group focused more on older kids. Meanwhile, kids in school had seen their friends five days in a row that week, and every week after it, no matter what the weather was like. Would Basbusa's ability to make intimate friends be always hostage to weather, to lots of emailing and schedule-checking by lots of moms, and to many many long car-trips...?

Also, although I do buy the oft-repeated argument that a lot of time is wasted in traditional schools (changing for gym, waiting in line at the cafeteria, listening to administrative announcements, etc), those are all times when kids just chat and interact. That time, plus the before-school, recess, lunch, and after-school moments may not be super-high-quality socialization time, but at least they're pretty sure to happen, and they do add up to quite a lot of hours. I wouldn't be worried about somewhat less quantity in exchange for better quality - if the girls had fewer hours with their friends, but they spent those hours engaged in free play or fascinating projects etc - but how reliable would those "quality" hours really be? I know that every experienced homeschooler with a blog seems to say that this never turns out to be a problem, but I haven't yet figured out how it would work for us.

The second issue that worries me is my own ability to set up some kind of routine. I've been trying to do that ever since Basbusa was born, and three years later, I haven't managed it do it! No two days look the same, and about three days out of four, I get to the end of the day with most of the highest-priority things on my to-do list still undone. For now, it doesn't matter much, because it only results in disorganization and occasional laundry crises. But if a miracle doesn't happen between now and whenever we start "real" academics, I can just imagine things like "math" and "history" still looming on the to-do-list at 8pm at night! This is something I really want to change in any case, regardless of whether we homeschool or not. But I've been so awful at it so far, that I wonder how I could gamble my kids' education on my own abilities to get organized...?

1 comment:

  1. These are legitimate concerns and ones I hear frequently from those considering homeschooling or wishing to learn more about it.

    Regarding your concern about social interactions, I can say that homeschoolers often have the opposite problem as their kids age: we're too busy and too social! With the number of classes, playgroups, park days, and community events available to homeschoolers, the problem is more often thinking about paring-down and simplifying, than finding new social opportunities. That said, I can't emphasize enough the importance of regularly attending local park days to meet new friends and build connections over time. We started attending when my oldest daughter was 2 1/2 and have "grown up" with many friends who we see weekly for park days, playgroups, museum trips, ice skating, etc.

    Regarding your second concern about routines, it is tough with little ones to establish a good family rhythm, but as the kids get older it becomes a bit easier and helpful to tinker with various activity patterns to see what works best for your family.

    I remember when we first began immersing ourselves in the homeschool community and I would express similar concerns to veteran homeschoolers. They would often say *wait,* *watch,* *trust.* I didn't know exactly what they meant then, but as we "grow up" as a family and incorporate homeschooling into our family cadence, it's all making sense to me now.

    I look forward to watching your journey unfold!

    -Kerry @ City Kids Homeschooling