I got involved in an online discussion earlier today about what motivates us to homeschool. Or rather, not what motivates to start, but what motivates us to keep going.
I admit, there are some really tough days. There are some days when the kids don’t want to work with me, and I want to do anything other than what we’re doing, and we all have bad attitudes. But there are some things that keep me from throwing in the towel and just shuttling them back off to public school. They may not always be the best reasons, but they’re mine and they work quite well to motivate me when I’m feeling so frustrated.
1. The quality of their education. In public school, they were getting a crappy education. There’s no sugarcoating this. The teachers did the best they could with what they had, but what they had just wasn’t good enough. I had a 5th grader who thought that Canada was IN Alaska, because geography was never covered. And for those who would say I should have supplemented at home, there’s no time for supplementing when you spend hours doing homework. My kids both have ADHD, which made homework a major struggle after a full day of school. Throw in that they often didn’t fully understand what they’d been taught at school which meant I had to re-teach it (and often in a different way, thanks to lack of instructions, which resulted in even more confusion), and we could spend literally 2-4 hours after school doing homework. After that, I couldn’t make them sit there for even another 5 minutes to do any supplementing.
2. The friends. I don’t want to choose my kids friends for them.. But I do want to know that the friends they have are decent kids that I don’t have to freak out every time my kid hangs out with them. There are very few kids in our neighborhood, and the ones that are here, are not the kind I want my kids to associate with. They’re “thug wannabes”, thinking they’re big and bad even if they’re not. And the other kids that would be attending the same school aren’t much different. The kids my kids meet through our homeschooling group, however, are respectful, polite, intelligent, and nice. Nice is so important. And they have parents who are involved – also key. The kids in the neighborhood get away with a lot because their parents simply aren’t paying attention to them. Homeschooling, by definition, means the parents are involved. I know that if an issue arises between my child and any child in our homeschooling group, I can approach that parent and discuss it. That’s not to say it will always work out the way I want it to, but at least I know I can find the parents and they’re involved, even if not quite the way I would be.
3. Refusal to send them back. Sometimes, I’m just plain stubborn. I refuse to send them back to a system that was broken for them, and didn’t work for them. Even if homeschooling didn’t work for us, I would look into any other option other than sending them back to public school. Period. It’s pure determination.
4. ADHD. Both of my kids have ADHD. This makes public school a very bad idea for them. When they were in public school, if they struggled with an academic area, they would be kept back from PE, art or music for remediation – they were denied these enrichment classes to focus on academic areas they already resented because they were struggling. Bad, bad, bad idea! Let’s look at this. First, PE: You have a child who already has an excess of energy. Now you deny him that one outlet he has during the school day, deny him that one opportunity to burn off some of this energy – and you not only expect him to focus on this other subject while he’s missing out, but you expect him to remain focused the rest of the day, with all this pent up energy. And then you wonder why they can’t focus! Next, art and music: I can’t speak for other kids, but mine love music and art. Like, major love. So holding them back from that to focus on the subject they struggle with is breeding some serious resentment – both for the subject and for you. By homeschooling, I avoid all of this. I can let them go run off energy between subjects, and I never have to tell them “no art today” or “no music today” so that we can keep going on something they struggle with. Not to mention, because I’m not teaching 20+ kids, I can let them fidget around a bit (although I admit, too much and it’ll drive even me nuts), instead of constantly demanding stillness and silence – because let’s face it, a classroom of 20+ kids fidgeting is pretty noisy.
Those are the main things that motivate me to keep going on a rough day. The important thing to remember, though, especially if you’re new to homeschooling, is that my reasons don’t have to be your reasons, and vice versa. Whatever your reasons for homeschooling in the first place, and whatever it is that motivates you to keep going, they are your reasons and you should not feel ashamed or embarrassed or wonder if they’re not good enough. If they’re your reasons, they’re good enough.