kids outsideWell, first of all, because it’s May. Everybody thinks about quitting school forever when it’s May. Including the teachers. I know this, for sure, because I was just writing this post in my car when a local teacher friend of mine rapped on my window to say hello. He’s doing a little work on his off grid property near us. Which is, you know, awesome. Except it’s a school day. 

May.

Also, some of you may remember that it was under stress that we sent our kids to school at all. You could say that for us, homeschooling our kids is just letting the rubber band snap back to its normal shape. It’s to be expected.

Neither of these reasons, though, promote the kind of discussion that I think people want to have when they say, “Why are you homeschooling your kids?” Do we also have serious reasons? Yes, yes, we do. Here are ten of them. Please feel free to respond or discuss in comments.

1. We would like to raise kids who know how to manage their own time. It worries me a lot to have school age children already having their lives prescribed by bells. Of course I think there is great value in routine. But I’d rather they learned routine connected to light and dark, warm and cold, the turning of spheres rather than the numbers on a clock.

2. We would like to raise kids who know how to entertain themselves. Even more than the time-management thing it worries me to have kids who don’t know how to have fun without fun being fed to them. I’d say it takes my kids about two hours of play to detox from their school day and get back to a completely free play mode, where they are really able to make up stuff to do on their own, from scratch. That means it really doesn’t happen AT ALL on school days, and not until midday on Saturday. If you think about how their minds are being trained? There is a whole lot more of the stimulus-response training than there is of the thinking-for-yourself training. Which is wayyyyyyy not our family value.

3. Our household needs to consolidate. A couple of weeks ago we went for 24 hours without using our cars. (#carfreeforBBP with the Boise Bicycle Project) We were not intellectually surprised by the amount of energy it took to get us all from place to place, but we were very much affected by actually experiencing it. Which, incidentally, is a good reason to do a car free day sometime. It’s scary but also freeing, like seeing a piece of reality, or something… Anyway, we are making an across the board push to locate all our life activities closer to home.

4. My toddler is lonely. She learns so much faster and is more engaged with life when her older siblings are home. I’ve enjoyed this last year running hip to hip with her — we’ve had lots and lots of “mommy and Sadie time” — but I’m afraid she’ll be largely raised by treats and cartoons on my phone if she hangs out with only me too much longer. I just don’t do kid stuff as well as my kids do kid stuff.

5. My oldest child is an introvert. The school hasn’t been all bad for him. In some ways it has been really good. But it wears him out, and makes him desperate for alone time and head space just when his family most needs to build relationship and trust with him. I’m an introvert, too, and if you told me I had to spend 9+ hours on the bus or in a classroom with more than twenty other people like me, every day, you’d have to medicate me. Full stop.

6. We want our kids to learn trade skills. And we want our kids to learn to value trade skills. My daughter in particular is ready to build. She’s ready to get right up with her dad in working on that goat barn yesterday. And I think she should be able to do that. I am not interested in an exchange, in which they throw their academics in return for homesteading and building skills. But home with their bookish mom AND their craftsman dad, it’s possible that my kids could get both.

7. We want our kids to be close to each other. I was homeschooled with my older brothers and sisters, and even when we finally did go to school, my closest brother was my best, best friend. To this day we have a very close, loyal relationship. I want my kids to have a shot at that treasure, too, and it’s going to be hard to pull that off if the only time they’re really together is when they’re tired out from a long day and snipping at each other’s heels.

8. I want my kids to learn to be in relationship to the natural environment, rather than learning to be in domination over it. They got a comic sent home with them the other day which was all about the forests, and how we need to manage them…basically to mine their riches. I was like, “Oh, no. This is propaganda!” It’s no news to any of you that I get a little dramatic, but my point stands. If we want to give our kids a countercultural perspective, school is maybe not where they’re going to get that.

9. All the same as above except the subject of U.S. history.

10. I want my kids to learn to listen to their bodies. Self care is so hard. So many adults struggle with it. I seriously want one of the subjects of our homeschool (un-school?) to be how to rest when you are tired and how to eat when you are hungry and how to go to the bathroom when you have to go to the bathroom. I’m thinking about how many of us are working on this stuff still, as adults, largely because we were taught to obey production-oriented systems instead of organic ones. I want a revolution against THAT.

11. (extra) The idea that having your kids in school is “easier” is kind of an illusion. Believe me, I have no judgment for situations in which school for kids is the only way to go. But in the situation I’m in, as a work-at-home mom with a toddler who will be home anyway, getting the kids up early at the right time and meeting the bus at the right time and making the lunches and doing the homework and keeping track of the events and figuring out what’s going on with all the things that have come up when you’re not there…all that is not really easier than just having them around all the time in the first place. None of these options are really easy, to be honest. (Which is my little out, so I can complain about things next year, too. You’re warned. :D) Parenting is just not really very easy. #lifelessonsbyEsther

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Side note and for the record, we see the teachers. We see the teachers, doing beautiful things. We see the kindergarten teacher and the first grade teacher at our elementary school, meeting our socially anxious, stubborn children right where they are. They’re better with kids than we are. They’re smart. They work very very very hard. We are grateful for them. And we are not trying to attack them or say their work has no value.

But we are just not on board with the whole structure by which we educate our children. We’re just not on board. And we can’t be powerless to respond to that.

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How about you? Are you a homeschooler? Un-schooler? School-schooler? Have you tried both? Or never thought of homeschooling and don’t really want to except that it is May…!!!!! And you’re feeling it, too? I’m curious to hear.