Friday, June 08, 2007

Have you heard of an alarm clock?

Of all of the ridiculous things Mrs. Teacher said, I think my favorite was that my kids won't be able to function in college or career because they aren't accustomed to getting up for school.

There are just so many problems with this statement. First, the assumption that it is necessary to get up early to succeed in college or career. If someone chooses to live the life of a night owl, it can be accommodated. I have one friend who has always worked second shift because it suits her body clock. Throughout college she never had a class before 11:00 a.m.

This doesn't mean that I will encourage my boys to take this path, but it is possible. (I guess I don't need to worry about my daughter, who is already in college successfully attending early classes and getting up for work in the mornings this summer.)

Although my boys don't need to get up for school each morning, they do frequently have places that they need to be. My 14 year old was in a choir for the last nine months. To participate he had to be at a school over 20 minutes away two or three mornings a week
at 7:30. He set his own alarm clock to get up and ready. This same son wakes himself up on Sunday mornings to acolyte at 8:00 a.m. church, even though the rest of us wait until 9:15 to arrive. (Except for the unlucky parent who drives him!) The other two boys also have their Sunday acolyting duties and they are never late. They also frequently need to be at church for extra services and funerals. They haven't slept through one yet!

I guess my point is that all of us, whether we go to school or not, are capable of waking up in the morning for those things that are important to us. One of my sons woke up at 6:30 for months when he was younger because there was a cartoon on that he particularly wanted to see. And although I currently let my sons get plenty of sleep and don't worry much about when they get up, I have no doubt that someday they'll do just fine, whether it's getting to college classes, getting to the office, or walking down the stairs to start the coffee before the walk into their home office.

Because, in our homeschool, I've taught them how to use alarm clocks.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

More misconceptions

Before I start talking about the misconceptions about homeschooling that I posted about last time, I have to add some more that I ran into today.

I go, once a month or so, to a place where I can prepare a number of meals for the month very quickly and reasonably-priced, while leaving the mess behind. This morning as I was paying for my session the very nice lady who owns the store asked if I had kids home from school yet. When I told her that we homeschool she said, "Oh, I could never be that disciplined. We have a hard time getting the homework done."

Later, two other women came in and as we were all assembling our meals and chatting about our families, the owner mentioned to them that I homeschool. "I could never do that. You must be so organized, " said one. "There would be blood all over our house. You must be so patient," added the other.

Those of you who know me well can get up off the floor and stop laughing now.

I bet that if you asked my friends and family members to list the top ten traits that I have, disciplined, organized, and patient wouldn't even show up. Disorganized and impatient would probably be near the top.

And yet we survive. We actually thrive.

I wish these mothers, good mothers who volunteer at school, have their kids' friends over, and are trying to hold together the family dinner time against all of the pressures of life, could see what homeschooling can do for family life. Of course getting homework done is a battle. They've been at school all day. They rightly think that eight hours should be enough! One of the moms today said something about her son's attitude. We have seen wonderful changes in the attitudes of kids who come home. She might be amazed at how much better she likes him after six months at home.

It is the second day out of school and at 10:30 this morning one of these children who was at home vegging in front of the TV was calling her mom saying that she's bored. The mom is trying to plan events to fill the summer with activity--camps, lessons, classes--to get the kids "out of the house." I wanted to say, "Just live." Cook together. Clean together. Do some crafty projects. Go to the park. Lay on a blanket in the backyard and watch the clouds.

Then you might get a glimpse of what it can really be like to be a homeschool mom.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The offense of homeschooling

Over the next several postings, I want to address some of the doubts, questions, and misconceptions that others have about homeschooling. Before I do that however, I want to tell you about a conversation that I had last week.

I've been running into more negativity about homeschooling lately than I have in years. I've been trying to figure out why, and I think I may have been given a clue.

"I find that offensive." That's what Ms. Schoolteacher said to me after I told her that we homeschool.

I was going to ask why, but it wasn't necessary. She gave me an earful.
  • How do I presume that I can teach my children better than trained professionals?
  • Do I assume that my children are smarter than other children?
  • How dare we judge parents who put their children in public school?
  • My children are going to be an anti-social burden on society.
  • It's not fair that homeschoolers can be in the spelling bee (!!!) because they can spend more time practicing.
  • They won't be able to function in college or the work force because they won't be used to getting out of bed.
  • If I'm going to homeschool I shouldn't take up space--and presumably shouldn't pay taxes--in a good school district.
Yep, I'm probably helping pay her salary.

There are so many false assumptions in what she said that addressing them will take a number of posts, but I just wonder: How prevalent is this kind of thinking?