“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe she had so many children she didn’t know whether to homeschool.”
When You Feel School Would Be A Much Better Option
I have often spoken or been on forums when homeschool mothers with toddlers are stressed out and feeling like they cannot cope. Often we feel like the answer is school. That will remove the stress we tell ourselves. That will help us somehow pull ourselves together. And usually we have some well-meaning relative telling us that is the answer.
I also thought the anxiety I was feeling was a question of school or homeschool. I want to share this experience with you.
I know how hard it is with little ones and homeschooling. I had four children under 6. Although I was 100% committed to homeschooling I felt like the task was impossible for me.
When my two oldest kids were 8 year old and 7 year old I sent them to school.
I was worried that I was not giving my two youngest (then 4 and 2) enough time.
So I Put Them In School.
Once I had them in school I felt like I wanted them out. I had homework at the end of the day. I had a big rush in the morning. I felt like they were gone. I felt like I was living in two worlds.
The social life of school was not that great for the kids. Coming in as outsiders was hard for them (it was 4th term). The naughty kids in the class would get my kids down. The classmates teasing other kids who were ‘fat and ugly’ or ‘mental’ (on ADD meds) disturbed my kids. The shouting teacher that one of them had been upsetting my her. I had no idea what they were learning. The teacher’s natural aversion to homeschooling also made them treat me in a patronising way.
The little ones didn’t like playgroup (something I had been telling myself they were missing out on) and I realised the phase had passed when I could spend the day sipping coffee and eating cake at a friend’s house.
The big break that I thought I was going to get did not exist. I was now confined to this 9-3 schedule plus homework. I felt bad asking them to do their chores when they were tired from school and they still had homework to complete.
I gave the two younger ones extra time and they played together nicely during the day but when the school kids came home they would again be all over me and jealous for attention (especially if I sat for homework). After some time I realised that it was this jealous behaviour and not neglect. I felt guilty when they were clamouring for attention (as soon as I sat down with the older ones). I realised they weren’t deprived when I was giving the other children attention – they were just feeling jealous.
During this time I did a lot of praying about the question in my mind – school or homeschool. I really felt passionate about homeschooling and knew that I must be able to make it work, hundreds of others do.
Back Home But More of The Same Wouldn’t Work
After one term the kids were more than happy to come home. I gave them the choice. Whilst they didn’t have a terrible time, they also no longer had some fantasy opinion of school.
I was super stressed before they went to school and I knew that I needed to make some changes for them to come home. God was leading me.
This school experience was actually the turning point in my homeschool.
I switched from a very traditional school at home approach of textbooks and discovered Charlotte Mason and Five in a Row. I can’t tell you how much the new approach breathed life into me and my homeschool. I chilled out. I replaced a lot of the desk work with reading aloud on the couch which made the little ones (and big ones) much happier because they could be on my lap or playing at my feet. I became a little stricter with the little ones (instead of feeling guilty about not giving them enough attention). I knew it was more of a jealousy issue rather than neglect.
Would I send them to school again? Well I think it was a hurdle I had to jump. I always had this anxiety that the school would do a better job, that I would be a better mother if they were at school and that somehow my little ones were missing out; well they didn’t, I wasn’t and they weren’t!
That was 5 years ago. I am so happy that we are still homeschooling. I am not worried about the academics any more. My kids love to learn and they are great kids. They are not nasty, or sneaky. They have been protected from many of the yucky stuff at school.
First Published: 19 Feb 2009