Thursday, August 03, 2006

Homeschooling: If I were a good mother........

At the end of every school year I consider homeschooling. At the end of every summer I wonder, "What the heck was I thinking?"

I love my kids. I love them when they stink. I love them when they are selfish. I love them when they are sweet. I love them when they are demanding. I love them so much my heart hurts. Who can love them as much as me? That's right. No one.

I worry over my kids. This one is not challenged. This one is not being pushed enough. This one is getting too much homework. Is he bullied? Is she progressing socially? Who knows my kids need like I do? That's right. No one.

I want the best for my kids. Opportunities. Just enough stress for stimulation. Challenges that push but don't overwhelm. Radient academic, social, athletic, and spiritual success exceeded only by their good grace and manners.

In short, I'm a parent which is to say that I'm delusional.

This summer, I determined that the kids would stay intellectually stimulated. So every morning that we weren't doing some sort of camp, we would sit at the table and do workbook pages, color, read stories, write reports, etc. As of August 2, the kids are in full mutiny. It was charming at first. Eager to teach (me) and eager to please (them), we hummed along through the material. Well, then the material got tougher and the tempers got shorter.

I'm feeling a little pressure here. With only two weeks until the first day of school, we have two months of workbook pages. Aak! So, I am moving forward, picking out weak spots and working on them. How do you like your weak spots picked at? Yeah, that's how much the kiddos like them picked at, too.

Here is the thing: I'm a-ok with a kid being mad at me because this or that thing is off limits. I'm okay with pushing them to learn how to swim, to make their beds, to clean up their toys. And I'm okay with the kids being mad at their teachers for pushing them. Fine by me. It's just that I'm not so okay with the kids being mad at me for everything. I like the anger spread around. It makes me feel like I'm part of a team.

The benefits of homeschooling: their day is shorter. Public schools take time wasting to a high art form. Kids who are homeschooled have individualized attention. They have more free time for singular pursuits. If they are a gymnast or car driver or name your interest, they have time to pursue it. There is no question in my mind that a good homeschooling program beats public schooling any day.

The benefits of public schooling: I don't have to do it. There's that. But the kids also make friends and try things I'm not good at and wouldn't tend to emphasize. There are benefits.

Maybe when the kids get older and more independent, I'll homeschool. Maybe. For now, I must accept myself ala Popeye: I am what I am. And what am I? A frazzled mom with limits.

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