Saturday, January 5, 2013

Questions People Ask Me About Homeschooling Part 2

This is the second part of a 3 post series with honest answers to the questions people most often ask me about homeschooling.

2. How do you stand being home with the kids all day?
Yes, I have actually gotten this question from friends who really love my kids and their own but admit that they would have a hard time dealing with the mess, bickering and chaos that they imagine would ensue if their kids were home all day with them.

I love being home with my boys and consider it one of the great privileges of my life to have this time with them. However, there are some things that we have to be very purposeful about if we want to be together all day and enjoy it.

One thing is that my boys do lots of chores. Before they eat breakfast, their beds are supposed to be made and their rooms clean, as well as a certain area of the house they are responsible for. There are a few reasons for this. The first is, well, they just absolutely love to dump a puzzle out, finish half and then go and get a Lego city started and then the baby comes and mixes that all together with a handful of cereal from the kitchen and this process repeats in some form all day. Instead of freaking out, we use this as an opportunity for them to practice cleaning up after themselves. Secondly, they have a lot more free time at home than publicly schooled children and so I see no reason why they can't put away their own messes. I mean students are expected to do that at school, too. Also, I need some sort of order to function and while I love to be with them, I don't love to clean and I don't love to whine about a dirty house. So we all have to pitch in. Some homeschool moms are very diligent about keeping a sparkling home. A friend of mine mills her own grain and bakes her own bread from scratch out of her downtown kitchen. I have been known to defrost my kids "Uncrustables" on the dashboard of our SUV as we run late to meet her at the park. Homeschool families come in all kinds and it looks different in every home. We all do what we can in our own ways to make it work and to make our home a place we want to learn.  Together.  All day.

Like all parents, I want my children to get along and love each other.  Being that it is crucial to the atmosphere of our school, I have to take a hard line.  I have seriously cut back on some of our social engagements at times because they weren't being good to each other. We worked on our socialization problems (selfishness, stubbornness, etc. and that was just their mom) and then resumed our normal social lives. As I type two of them are wrestling behind the couch and the four year old bonked his head, and the other two were having some disagreement over what kind of lego city to build, so I am not saying it is not all smooth and perfect, but I have chosen to homeschool and I have the time and the responsibility to make our home as harmonious as possible and meanness, bullying, selfishness, etc. are not tolerated. We work on that stuff all day long. We call it socialization.

My Mom was a single mom and she got up early, worked hard all day, picked us up as it was getting dark, got us dinner, tried to do housework and would collapse bone tired. I won't forget the tears that formed in my Mom's exhausted eyes when my sister and I bickered and argued as children. That is my inspiration as I fight for my boys to be kind to each other. I have the time and energy to do this and I won't forget that my Mom did not. And getting to see her smile when my boys pat and hug each other is precious to me.

So, I guess that the short answer to that question is that we do what we have to do to make it enjoyable for all of us.  When I taught in the classroom, I did what I could to make sure that the environment was encouraging, respectful and conducive to learning.  I do my best to remember that here at home. 

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