For me, this one falls into the category of: Why in the world would I want to do that? Right up there with home birth (though, on both counts, if that’s what a mama chooses, of course I support her.) And I appreciate that intelligent, informed women have their reasons for making those choices. They just aren’t ones that feel right for me (and probably wouldn’t in a zillion years.)
There was an interesting post about home schooling, though, in Lisa Belkin‘s New York Times Motherlode blog recently. It was an essay by writer Chandra Hoffman on why she’s decided to home school her 8-year-old son starting this fall. (Belkin notes in her intro to the post that she’s considered home schooling, too.)
I found Hoffman hard to relate to. The first line of the post is: “I can tell you without a hint of self-consciousness that I am an amazing mom to little kids.” Wow. I’m more of an “I’m trying my best” kind of mom. But even if I did feel that kind of confidence and satisfaction with my ability to deal with kid chaos and the (sometimes monotonous) routines, I wouldn’t want to home school.
Hoffman feels, now that her son is older and his interests lie with people and activities other than her, that most of their interactions have boiled down to her “cracking my verbal whip.” Hurry, hurry! Eat your breakfast! Brush your teeth! Get your homework done! She wants more quality with him, and thinks she’ll get it by home schooling: “I want to be a part of learning with him. I want the temporal freedom to follow his amazing, mischievous, imaginative, whip-smart little mind around and see where the heck it takes us.”
Again, with the confidence, this time in her kid’s intellect. I think my kids are bright, and it is fun to watch them make connections and funny observations as they learn — but I wouldn’t commit to “whip-smart” in print, in The New York Times. Just me, and another reason I found her hard to relate to.
She says she has no rosy illusions, but knows home schooling will make their lives much better than they are now: “I don’t want to go another day in which I realize, after his eyes have closed in sleep, all day long I haven’t actually looked, really looked, into my son’s eyes.”
I get wanting more quality time, time to really focus on each other and connect in a way that has nothing to do with policing behavior. But I know I also need time to myself. And I think the kids benefit from time away from me, in a classroom setting, where they must learn to get along with others, share, and follow the rules set by other authority figures.
Also, I’m not a professional educator, and I can’t help but think that they have a few tricks up their sleeves — not to mention an understanding of how children develop mentally and emotionally — that I do not.
Home schooling? I don’t think so, not for my family. Still — another parent might be able to make a convincing case for me on why it’s right for them. But not Hoffman. Her choice seems more about herself to me — more about what she wants — than about her son, the quality of his education, or how she plans to be a good teacher to him. (See what other Times readers had to say in the “comments” section of the post.)
What about you? Have you considered home schooling? Would you? Why or why not?