WWH = Why We Homeschool. This post is part of an on-going series looking into the myriad reasons we’ve decided to homeschool our children. Please read this disclaimer before continuing to read this post.
We homeschool because teachers cannot love our children as much as we do.
What do I mean by that? Well, let me start by saying what I don’t mean…. I don’t mean that teachers aren’t compassionate, endeavouring to give their students the best of themselves – to love them dearly and to do their job in such a way that the kids flourish in their learning. [Well, actually plenty of teachers don't fall into that category (I didn't), but there are teachers out there who do fit that category.] I’m also not saying that parents who send their kids to school don’t love their kids enough or as much as I do. Please, do not read that into my answer!
What do I mean? Quite simply, most children are loved more deeply by their parents than they are by anyone else. And, because they are loved, they are cared for, disciplined, nurtured, fed, nursed and understood. Parents – especially parents who spend a lot of time with their kids in conversation, relationship and training – tend to know a lot about their kids and how they function. They know when they’re having an off day due to illness or a family crisis. They know when their confidence has taken a knock and they care enough to really work at that in order to restore their child’s confidence. Unfortunately, the logistics of the classroom doesn’t allow for a teacher to have the same level of relationship with a child that a parent has.
When people ask me if I would ever return to teaching if I had to go back to work, I’ve always said no. My reason, quite simply, is teaching takes an enormous amount of energy, both physical and emotional. I know that I wouldn’t be able to give my students the emotional investment that they deserved without really neglecting my own kids. When I think back on my own teaching days, I know that I didn’t love those kids nearly as much as I could have, should have or was even able to. Don’t get me wrong – I spent sleepless nights thinking about them and praying for them; and I worked really hard at trying to be a great teacher. But, even then, I really didn’t give the kids half of what they needed. Tests, homework, activities, goals etc dictated how the day went. Seldom did I have time for a student’s bad night, lost homework etc. Nine times out of ten I didn’t believe the homework stories (and probably rightly so), but that also means that those legitimate situations were punished where compassion would have been the better answer. When kids did confide in me, I felt powerless to do anything about it (and, again, I often was powerless). Many times my hands were tied because angry parents fought against my strict discipline in the classroom (strangely, many of these kids whose parents bailed them out are really struggling to live “moral” and productive lives now). Kids who struggled academically because of ADHD or the like didn’t get the help that they needed – I was not trained or equipped to deal with these kids. Academically brilliant kids just did not get the extra-stimulation they would have enjoyed, because as a fairly new teacher, I didn’t know how to extend them when I was trying to remain one step ahead of the class anyway. And I worked in a school with relatively small classes (my smallest class was 6 kids and my largest was 22). What about teachers with classes of 30 or more?
So, because we feel better equipped than most teachers to deal with the whole person of our child, we’ve another reason to homeschool. If Kiera had a bad night, I know that we need to take it easy today – that lots of read alouds and cuddles on the couch will be better today. If Katie’s oral concentration continues to be dismal – well, I love that kid so much that I am going to search high and low to find the answer to this problem. Because I know that Katie is a puzzle fundi, I know that’s an area in which to extend her. Lately, Katie has been a bit of a bully – biting, kicking and scratching her sister. These are behaviours I’m noticing straight away and able to deal with straight away – “nip it in the bud” so to speak. She hasn’t a chance to develop the art of devious bullying. And, because I love this kid, I’m going to work at helping her find better ways to deal with conflict, even if it means hours of one-on-one time spent with her – time a teacher just does not have.
For sure, there are parents whose kids are public-schooled who love their kids dearly and work hard when they are at home to help them academically, socially, emotionally etc. I have friends with great relationships with their kids… but the reality is that it is hard, HARD work to constantly be on top of how your kids are managing at school and oftentimes issues fall through the cracks. I don’t want my kids’ futures to be molded by the hands of a “luck of the draw” teacher, who at best loves the kids enough to give them a part of themselves and, at worst, couldn’t care two hoots.