Don't Do It
Normally, I don’t write anti-school blogposts. Many wonderful families who love their children use the school system and many more see school as their ticket to the American Dream. That’s fine.
I’m usually perfectly okay with people making decisions that differ from mine. But this time of year, I have twinge that doesn’t want to go away. It persists for about a month or so. I’m sure it’s exacerbated by all of the hoopla surrounding all the Back-to-School sales. Something in me wants to step into those shopping aisles, turn to those moms with their supply lists, and say, “Don’t do it.”
I know the reactions that would get.
The raised eyebrows.
The defensive posturing.
I hear those mothers who loudly announce to each other, “Only four more days…” With their kids within earshot, we all know the rest of that statement, “…until they go back to school and get out of my life.”
I also know there have to be mothers in those stores who don’t agree.
Something is tugging at them to maybe explore something else for their child.
They are mothers who want more time with their sons and daughters.
Mothers who see their own family as the most important unit, and not their child’s homeroom teacher and class.
And these are the mothers I want to lean over to and say, “Don’t do it.”
For years, these mothers have been conditioned to stop questioning the status quo, get back in line and ignore their gut about keeping their kids home. Quickly they rationalize that sending them to school is The Right Thing To Do. All of the pro-school marketing comes flooding back into their heads.
They think, “But they’ll have fun at school.” Have you forgotten the boredom? The frustration with canceled field trips (only 2-3/year)? The staring at the clock waiting for the bell to ring? Sure, you can probably remember some fun times. But were there really that many? As compared to when you were out of school in the afternoons or in the summer?
Or they think, “They learn so much in school!” That’s not even true compared to the thousands of hours they actually spend there over the child’s lifetime. Studies show that children really only receive about 75 minutes of instruction time per day – that’s not even an hour and a half! With so much time shuffling to classrooms, waiting for class to settle down, bureaucracy and busywork, collecting and passing out paperwork, going to assemblies, lunch, recess, not to mention that the instruction is aimed at the center of the bell curve and is obsessed with test prep, it’s pretty clear that not a lot of learning is happening.
Others argue, “They love being with their friends.” They might – but not AT school. They have only three minutes to get from class to class, and a brief lunch period to hang out together IF they are lucky enough to have the same lunch periods. And, really, how many other kids did you hang out with after school? My school day was spent making plans for how we would eventually get together in off-school hours or weekends. But it wasn’t that fun hanging out with them during class time. And what about the bullying so many kids have to endure? They end up creating all kinds of maladaptive coping mechanisms, learn that no one will rescue them and are forced to be in these situations for most of their waking hours.
Maybe the worry is: “But I couldn’t homeschool – I’m not a teacher!” It’s not necessary! Most of the education they received in school to become teachers has to be shelved because of the way the system is set up. Even if teachers are good, most of their time is spent on crowd control and test prep and creating lesson plans for the entire class. It isn’t individualized the way you could with your own child.
I want to tell them, “Don’t do it.” And if they didn’t roll their eyes and push their shopping cart away from me, I would add a few more things.
- Life is short. Spend as many hours with your kids as possible. As I look back at the years my kids were living at home – it really did fly by!
- Life is an adventure. Real life waits outside those school doors. Parents can have the incredible opportunity to become tour guides joining the kids on these adventures and learning alongside them.
- Learning is everywhere. Learning happens everyday all the time. It doesn’t have to divided up and parceled out in boring, dull, disconnected ways.
- You’re not alone. Hundreds of thousands of kids are homeschooling. They are all discovering that schools do not have a corner on that market of learning. They are living in a way that allows them to pursue their interests, practice personal responsibility, learn on their own or in groups, make friends, and create entire communities out in the real world.
- You really can do this. Resources abound! Homeschooling books and magazines, articles, blogposts, Facebook groups, Pinterest boards – even coaches – are out there to give you the support you need.
So, if you’re wondering if some option exists that could work for your family…or you have that uneasy feeling that you’re trying to ignore, maybe it’s time to make a change.
This article isn’t for those who are perfectly happy with their school choice.
But if you’re hesitating about whether or not to send your kid off to school, imagine me, leaning over, whispering to you: