School or Homeschool?

“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 whether or not I should send my children school or homeschool?

It is hard homeschooling babies and toddlers. 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 The Oldest In School.

“The grass is greener on the other side”.

Once I had them in school I felt like I wanted them out.

I had a big rush in the morning. I had homework at the end of the day.  I felt like I was living in two worlds. I had no idea what they were learning

The social life of school was not that great for the kids either. Coming in as outsiders was hard for them (it was 4th term). The negative aspects of school that I had avoided were now getting my kids down. They watched on as the teacher spent large amounts of time disciplining children and they hated witnessing the bullying of other children. The classmates were teasing other kids who were ‘fat and ugly’ or ‘mental’ (on ADD meds). The shouting teacher that one of them had been upsetting.

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.

School or Homeschool Was Not The Issue – Jealousy Was

The little ones, that I thought were ‘missing out’ didn’t like playgroup. However, 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 at school, they also no longer had some fantasy opinion of school.

I was burnt-out before they went to school and I knew that I needed to make some changes for them to come home.

This school or homeschool experience was a turning point.

I switched from a very traditional school at home approach of textbooks and discovered Charlotte Mason .

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. I established some good homeschool habits.

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!

We still had some bad days and some good days

In Hindsight – Should I homeschool?

I wrote the above post back in 2009. I still had 13 more years of homeschooling to go. When I ask my children were they glad they were homeschooled they all said yes. Most of them want to homeschool their own children if their partner agrees. I didn’t have to worry about academics. They all went to university at 16 and have successful careers. 

First Published: 19 Feb 2009

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