Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Homeschool vs Public School

A lot went into our discussions that led us to choose homeschooling over public schooling. First of all, if we could afford Catholic school, I don't know that I would have decided to homeschool. I think I probably would have decided to stay home with the kids until they were school aged, and then worked while they were in school. But it isn't now and most likely will never be a financial option for us, and the more I learned about homeschool, the more I fell in love with it. Thankfully there are tons of mommy homeschooling blogs on the internet and that was how I got introduced. Then I began researching curriculums, forums, articles... you name it! I wanted to know everything I could. Now let me preface this with the disclaimer that I don't judge people who don't homeschool, and I won't in the future either. Heck, until very recently I was going to put my kids in public school. I don't look at public school as this horrible thing, just something that isn't right for us. I am a product of public school. I think everyone has to make a decision on what's best for their family regardless of what anyone else says, so this is just an exploration of how we got to that place... not reasons why I think you should homeschool!

Reasons we want to homeschool:

  • Probably the biggest one is that we want their faith to be an everyday part of their lives, not just a Sunday or Sunday and Wednesday type thing. Yes, we could do a bit in the evenings, but I really want it to be even more than that. I want it to be a major part of who they are, and not just an 'add on'. So if I homeschool, and I am making/tweaking the curriculum, I can do just that. I can actually use a Catholic homeschool curriculum or I can use whatever I want and add it in myself. Right now I'm in love with the Catholic Heritage Curricula. Homeschooling can actually be really expensive if you let it, but we can't let it, so I will probably use a ton of free resources, but the CHC looks pretty affordable compared to many, and I like the way it is set up. 
  • I want to teach our kids with our values in mind, not the values of anyone else. If I'm creating the lessons and structuring the day, I can do this. If not, I have a very small window of time when I'm with them in the evenings and weekends to try and do this. 
  • The idea of a flexible schedule appeals to me. I love routine, and children crave it to, so there will still be some routine, but it will be flexible. We can travel any time we want, and work school into or around that. I was drawn to year round schooling at first (when we didn't feel like staying home was an option) because of that reasoning. Also, there is research that the summer break is actually not helpful at all as far as learning goes. With homeschooling, we can 'do school' whenever it suits us best as a family. My NFP practitioner made a really awesome point- she said that in the fall and spring they do less school and play outside almost all day since the weather is nice. In the summer they do school during the day when it's too hot to play, and then play outside in the evenings. In the winter, her kids find it too cold to play outside at any point of the day and they do day and some evening school then. As long as they get the 180 days in, it doesn't matter when they do it. I love the flexibility in that.
  • I like the challenge. I can be kind of lazy sometimes and I need a challenge to show my best side. I'm really excited for the future when I get to begin piecing together the things I want to teach and the ways I want to teach. Knowing I am completely responsible for my children's education actually really excites me and is a challenge I think I will enjoy.
  •  I do love my job, and I think I could be very happy being a social worker for the rest of my life, but it doesn't fulfill every part of me. I think that's part of how I began to figure out my vocation. I see people totally in love with their jobs, and I do really like mine a lot, but I find myself enjoying things like baking to stock the freezer and organizing the home way more. I think doing that, being with my babies, and homeschooling with my children will reach that area that my current career just isn't quite fulfilling. I know I will miss it, but homeschooling will bring me a new type of happy.
  • I want my children to have a hand in what they are learning. The unschooling movement doesn't appeal to me in the least, but I want my kids to have a choice in their schooling to an extent. For example, if I have a 3rd grader who needs to learn 2 different events in US History, I want them to choose which one they want to learn about first and then if I find two historical fiction novels for unit studies on that one event, I want them to choose which one appeals to them. I think this will keep them really interested and pumped about learning, versus always being handed the next thing to learn without any choice involved. It will keep them well rounded but with them and me getting to tailor each subject to the child a bit. 
  • Each child can move at their own pace. If one kid is struggling, maybe we will learn for 200 days instead of 180 to help that child grasp the concepts. If another kid finishes all the work in 150 days, then that child can choose some other areas to explore or skills to strengthen to fulfill the state requirements. No one is stuck being bored because they are ahead of the class, or struggling to catch up because the class has moved on.

Reactions/concerns I've gotten from others:
  • My brother is super concerned for the social well being of my kids. I explained to him that homeschooling doesn't have to produce socially awkward kids. I will need a little mental stimulation myself so I'm excited about joining co-ops and things like that where the kids can socialize, moms can socialize, and we can all find support and ideas in each other. I would imagine us doing something like that maybe one day a week. I will also have my kids in various lessons for extra curriculars (because they are sooo affordable here through Parks & Rec) and they will socialize that way. Even though I will be catechizing them at home, I'll probably still put them in Sunday school/CCD/Faith formation (we call it faith formation here) as another way to socialize. So you see, socializing isn't really a drawback, and I've read many places that kids who socialize with all different age groups, including adults, do better than just socializing in their age groups all day. He does have a point with some things though. He pointed out that he loved pep rallies and football games, and my kids wouldn't go to those. I don't fully agree because if they have friends through church who is to say they won't want to join them for some social events like that? I would fully support it. Also, my kids will have opportunities that someone in public school might not have, so to me it seems to balance out. 
  • My brother also worried that my kids will be horribly sheltered. I think his perception is that I want to homeschool to protect my kids, and therefore they will be totally unaware of any of the evils in the world. I explained to him that yes, homeschooling does have something to do with that, but I don't plan on sheltering my kids. I don't want them exposed to some things as early as they would be in public school (ie my kindergartener only needs a kindergarten understanding of sex; working in daycares I could not believe what those kids knew!), but I don't want to shelter them. What's important to me is teaching them about various things in the perspective of our values. If they are learning it at school from friends, or even from teachers (because let's face it, your morals and values affect how you teach social lessons, which our kids learn in school) then they aren't learning it from our family's perspective. And yes, I know a child can go to public school and still learn the family's viewpoint and values at home, but I believe it's increasingly hard to do that in the world we are in today. When I find it appropriate to teach my kids about drugs, they will learn it from the perspective of our value system, not on the back of the bus where they then have to come home and ask me about it. I want my kids to know the imperfections and even evils of the world, so that we can then talk about ways we as Christians and moral people can help. 
  • I've heard concerns that I will lose myself in my kids, and what happens when they move out? This was actually one of my biggest concerns too, but I sort of addressed in the last post that I will find ways to have my own social/intellectual outlets. It won't be something I do often or invest a ton of time in, but enough that when the kids move out I don't feel absolute despair and worthlessness. What actually sort of excites me is that, when they move out, I can take the social work jobs I drool over that are sooo low paying because any paycheck will be more than not getting one. Right now, I can't take those jobs (mainly working with people are homeless is what I'm referring to and they usually pay very, very low) since we have to make ends meet, but after not getting a paycheck for 20 some years, it won't need to be a big one. I keep thinking that my kids are the most important thing I'll ever "do" and I don't want look back with regrets. So if I have to work a little harder to make sure I'm investing in me, that's fine. But having a job and not feeling like I'm making the right decision for my family isn't the answer.
  • My parents actually didn't say much. My mom asked a few questions but really, they have been sort of mum on the topic. I'm not sure what this means, but it was easier then the million questions (or rather, negative observations) that my brother put me through lol. 
Next up, finances! 


  1. Oh these are all things Stephen and I have been discussing lately as we contemplate homeschooling....I have so much to say! I feel like it would be easier to wait until we meet up sometime, it would be a great discussion to have together!

  2. Kendra, I would love that! It's been sort of hard coming to these decisions with little outside input (well, I could do without the naysayers lol). It's not one of those things I can talk about much with my girlfriends because none of them really 'get' it... so it will be nice to pick each other's brains on the topic :).

  3. I love that more catholics are homeschooling and there are catholic curriculums. My mom is all for it because I have mentioned it to her. I really think you can do SO much more by homeschooling 3 kids vs sending them to school in a class of 15-30. You can do tons of hands-on activities and intentional learning. Kind of like what you said if your kid likes rocks make everything about rocks. Do rock math problems, rock science and history, Rock art. (that probably was a bad example but you get the drift).

    I find it funny about peoples perceptions. I keep telling my sister we need to have kids at the same time so we can homeschool together and she looks at me like I'm CRAZY! The funny thing is she's the one that LOVES kids. She's worked in daycares for 5 YEARS and used to babysit ALL the time. I never really wanted anything to do with that.

    I think part of the reason I want to homeschool is I think I should have become a teacher but by the time I decided it would have taken me over 2 extra years to graduate and I had ENOUGH school. Plus I wasn't really sure. Now the teaching market is AWFUL so I don't even try alternative certification. But I have been TUTORING for over 6 years and LOVE it!

    P.S. I love that they call it Faith Formation. My Mom and I hate the term "CCD" she says it's too old school. Plus she's all about life long learning and graduation doesn't equal confirmation so she uses other terms to distract people.

  4. Best of luck on your journey! As a Catholic home educating mom, I can say it is very fulfulling and probably the hardest job. It's great that you are able to talk with your family about it and get honest feedback. I smiled at your mention of unschooling- know that unschooling doesn't mean no structure, routine or curriculum. Your little ones will help you figure out details of what will work with them (and what won't :)!

  5. Thanks for your comment! I will definitely have to research 'unschooling' more!