Friday, December 4, 2009

We Could Use Some Restraints. Seriously.

My cheesy friend over at Shaggy Boys just posted to her blog about this blog post. Grilled Cheese Chick is one of my homeschooling mentors. I like her. She's not weird. Well, not in a bad way. She's not a purist or a zealot about homeschooling. Purists and zealots make me incredibly nervous - no matter what it is that they are going off about. If you are just too dang excited about whatever it is you're talking about? And your eyes are all lit up like the 4th of July? I am less inclined to believe a word you say. 'Cause you are crazy and all. And lacking perspective.

When we first began considering homeschooling it seemed that I met a lot of those lit-up types and that was what caused me to take my sweet-ass time in making our Big Decision to Homeschool. The homeschooling community is great but it does seem to have an inordinate amount of crazy people. As opposed to the public school community where everyone is normal. (Just teasing - I'm saying that out loud so none of you defensive types get defensive).

Anyway, like I was saying, Grilled Cheese Chick isn't all lit up...about anything. She homeschools - except for when her kids have asked to go to school. She unschools - except for when she doesn't. She sets up schedules and organizes their activities and runs a tight ship - except for when it starts leaking. In other words - the chick is keepin' it real, so to speak. And that is why I consider her an expert. Also? She has 3 kids who can mostly read and write and one who is at the University of Texas (doing very well). I'm not sure but I think that her 100% success rate (thus far) exceeds that of the school down the street. And? Her boys are cute.

OK - back to the blog. It is called Beginnings on Education and the post was written by a girl named Kristen who is an elementary education major at Salem State College. She states she is not a fan of homeschooling. She also states she doesn't know any homeschoolers. Then she draws conclusions - because that would be the next logical step.

First of all - Kristen is a cutie pie. For sure. And she's somebody's pride and joy, no doubt. I bet she's a good student and I bet she'll make a good teacher. So, I'm not beating up on Kristen at all. And quite frankly, I didn't approve of homeschooling until it appeared that it might benefit my family. So no judgements on Kristen - and let's keep it sweet if we respond (either here or on Kristen's blog).

She lists quite a few advantages of homeschooling, and a few disadvantages, most of which are described as "restraints". Personally? I could use some restraints. Several of the duct tape variety come to mind.

*I just told my husband what I'm blogging about today and, as the boys came charging through the house, he said, "That is the sound of unrestrained homeschooling."

Anyway, Grilled Cheese Chick gave her own take on the disadvantages and restraints...and lacking any creativity of my own this morning, I am copying my cheesy friend and doing the same. So here are the disadvantages listed by Kristen on her blog and in her own words:


Time Restraints. Parents' lives are completely turned upside down when they choose to homeschool their children. It consumes a lot of their time. Planning education activities from day to day can be draining for one person.

Oh man, where do I start? Time time time time time....we finally have some! When Ellie and Joel were in school (they made it thru 3rd and 1st grades, respectively) we had no time together as a family. No time to take trips together, no time to play games together, no time to even go out to dinner together. Why? Homework, for one. And the fact that my kids were basically MIA for 7 hours a day (minimum).
We are done with schoolwork (on the days we have schedules) by noon. Done. Totally. Evenings? Are ours. And there's no homework unless you call watching NOVA together, or curling up together to read some Dickens, or hanging out in the backyard with a telescope until...well....the morning, homework. I don't know who Kristen talked to, but even the very rigid homeschoolers I know rarely have this complaint.

So Disadvantage #1? Is a huge advantage from where we sit. Right now? It is noon here. Ellie is playing the piano, Camille is doing some phonics work out of a little workbook right next to me, Jasper, Joel, and Jules are running around outside freaking out because it is unnaturally cold here and they are loving it loving it loving it! In a moment they will come in for some hot tea and we'll continue reading Dickens out loud. Not because it is necessary for school, but because we love the dickens out of Dickens (especially this time of year!). And next week? We're heading to Corpus Christi with my husband while he works there. In the middle of the week. Because we have the time to do so :).


Financial Restraints. For married parents, usually one takes on the full-time job and the other stays home to homeschool. This can be a big hit to a family's financial situation.

Bingo. We make substantially less than many two-income families. But we're not a single income family because we homeschool. We made the decision to live on one income way before we decided to homeschool. We know several homeschooling families where both parents work - so this doesn't even apply to them. Now, homeschooling, in general, can be expensive. I am waiting for the next paycheck so I can order Jules's next math book. But lots of families get by without buying the things I choose to buy - many simply utilize their public libraries. Also? Joel got through the entire summer and fall with two pairs of shorts. And he has two pairs of jeans to get him through the winter. And he's fine with that - 'cause he doesn't go to school and have to worry about a wardrobe. Ellie's closet consists of jeans, t-shirts, and performance gowns (strange combination, I know). So we save A TON on the "have to haves" school parents deal with. My kids don't even know what it is they have to have, poor little sheltered things that they are.


Being with your children 24/7. Making the decision to homeschool your children means they are around you all day long. You have no time off.

Here's a thought: if you don't want to actually take care of the little things you birth? Don't birth the little things. I think one of society's problems today is that parents expect everyone else (the schools, the churches, the daycares) to raise their kids. Ask any teacher. They go way beyond "education" in what they are expected to do for students nowadays.

Now, I'd like to be all high and mighty here - and say that it is all rosy being with your kids all day every day. But that would be unfair and possibly cause some readers to immediately request prescription medications under the "what the hell is wrong with me?" guise. Because it isn't always fun being with kids 24/7. But, as a stay at home mom, I got over this before my kids were school-age. And they're easier to be with all day when they're older. I ENJOY being with my big kids. Really. We have a blast together. I usually enjoy being with 7-year-old, and I occasionally enjoy being with the 5-year-old. The rest of the time I tolerate being with the 5-year-old, knowing that his condition is one that is simply temporary insanity. None of the other 4 remained 5-year-olds forever and I'm assuming Jasper won't, either. So yeah. Pass the tequila and tomorrow's another day.

Before I had highschoolers, I was definitely more tied down to my home and kids than I would have been had they been in school. But that was a relatively short period of my life. And it was a sacrifice I'm glad I made. But it was a sacrifice. Now? If I want to have lunch with friends I simply do. I have a 17-year-old and a 15-year-old who are more than capable of holding down the fort so I can take a sanity break with a girlfriend. If you are planning to go into the mommy gig without making sacrifices? Well, just get ready to start them in "school" at 6 weeks. Eventually, someone like Kristen will raise them for you. But yeah, don't homeschool.


Limited Activities. If a child does not attend school it has limitations. (I'm sorry - did future teacher Kristen really just call "a child" it?) Your child will not be able to join a school sports team or club. Also school related activities such as dances and events will not be in the cards for them. This can cause friendship restraints.

God how I wish we had limited activities. Really. Because what with all the clubs, sports, classes, parties, and other activities? I am running myself ragged. Actually, in some states I believe homeschooled kids can participate in school activities. My kids can't. And I admit that I am dang sad that they can't be in the marching band. 'Cause I was in the marching band. And my husband was in the marching band. And we still live in the same town where we both went to school and the dang marching band is still amazingly awesome GO MIGHTY TIGER BAND!! YOU ROCK!! Anyway - so there are trade-offs. But my kid made her debut with the San Antonio Symphony, instead. And she played in a groovy all-girl rock band for awhile. And my son will probably end up in a band - he is headed in that direction. Sports? We've done soccer, basketball, and tae kwon do. We know a homeschooler who is probably going to go to college on a baseball scholarship, and another who could go on a soccer scholarship. So....yeah. That's not really an issue. Pretty much anyone who knows anything about homeschooling could tell you that.
As for dances? My daughter has gone to the prom once and intends to go again this year. And it is a dang nice prom, too. At a country club. With shrimp. That she won't eat 'cause she's a vegetarian. Which is a crying shame and a waste of shrimp, if you ask me.

That's it for the disadvantages. But Kristen goes on to say that she "strongly feels a child should be placed in a school environment. Even though there are ups and downs, that is how they learn.....They need to be able to experience their youth by attending school events and having friends inside the school."

First of is not horrible for most kids. I went to school. I loved school. I have fond memories of school. But not all kids can say this. Some kids do have a horrible time in school. Some get beat up or worse (watch the news). Some get bullied. Some never quite recover from the bullying and have lifelong issues resulting from it. So you can't just make blanket statements that cover everyone who homeschools or everyone who doesn't. Because these are individuals we're talking about. And I don't think the schools do a really good job of respecting individuality.

I once had a woman say, "Aren't you afraid your kids are gonna be weird if you don't put them in school?" Really? My kids were gonna be weird anyway :). Seriously, though. Are there no weird kids in school? There were weird kids in school when I was a kid. We all knew who they were, where they sat, who they hung out with.....are they not there anymore? If they are there, I bet they wish they were homeschooled :).

Here are some random pics of my kids being totally unrestrained by homeschooling. Because I like to prove a point.

Here is Camille with her two homeschooled friends at last year's dance recital. Yes! They take dance! With School Kids and Everything!

Here's Homeschool Co-Op waiting for their Chinese Food (Chinese lanterns hanging up behind them). Yes! They're visiting and socializing!

Here's Ellie rehearsing with the San Antonio Symphony. She's the one sitting behind the piano - I know. It isn't the same as a high school band but it is almost as good!

Joel and Jules with some of the kids on their Odyssey team last year. (Joel has his hair behind his ears intentionally - "take a picture of me with a mullet!") These guys won a Ranatra Fusca for Extreme Creativity - the highest honor give by Odyssey of the Mind. And yes! They competed against School Kids!

Homeschoolers marching for justice....El on her cell phone, of course. Yes! Homeschoolers use cell phones! To call other lonely, restrained homeschoolers!

Thank God I have weened my kids off of team sports!! Yay!! Hurray for martial arts!! No all-day-long games and zillions of practices....and TKD teaches really great skills, both physically and otherwise.

Homeschoolers can put on goofy Holiday Shows just like the schools. Jules proves it.

Here's Ellie's Odyssey of the Mind Team with a bunch of girls from Singapore at the Freakin' WORLD FINALS in Maryland!! Yeah, they competed against Real School Kids to get there. Twice, so far.

Here is Joel, Jules, and Camille with their Homeschool Readers Theater Troupe, Life on Stage. Just a bunch of normal homeschoolers hee hee.

Ellie and her band, Heart Corps Rebellion, along with their buddy and guitar guru, Kevin. They played popular music and everything. Like School Kids.

So see? We really can't restrain ourselves from fun and learning. They go hand in hand with our family life...which is relatively unrestrained, in general.
Signing Off as the Headmistress of This Little Sardine School


  1. Oh, how I love your post!! I'm a former elementary teacher who homeschools now and I agree with everything you said here. It is a challenge to actually be HOME while homeschooling. :) I am glad you are helping show just how many opportunities are out there for homeschoolers these days!

  2. I loved this post. LOVED it. We're still pretty new to the whole world of Homeschooling, and it's taking some effort to convince the rest of my family that this CAN work. They just need to give us a chance!

  3. I still wish I thought it was possible to homeschool Ethan. It might kill us both, though.

  4. Love this post. The first one I read on your blog. Thanks for visiting mine. :)

  5. Great post Carol. Enjoyed reading this in your living room as 2 OM teams problem solve and Jasper chases the dog under your Christmas tree. Wow..look how young those kids look in Maryland! It's goin' fast.

  6. "When we first began considering homeschooling it seemed that I met a lot of those lit-up types and that was what caused me to take my sweet-ass time in making our Big Decision to Homeschool. The homeschooling community is great but it does seem to have an inordinate amount of crazy people. As opposed to the public school community where everyone is normal. (Just teasing - I'm saying that out loud so none of you defensive types get defensive)."

    Teee heee Made me giggle. Thanks :)

  7. That poor, poor education student. It must be leading a very sheltered existence, as poor education students often do. It must have been the only it in its family, with no other its running around.