It is the ultimate irony that the number one comment I hear about homeschooling is, “I could never do that.” As if it’s really hard.
I’m not saying it’s so easy. Sometimes it is really hard. Sometimes it’s a struggle. Some days I worry I’m getting it all wrong. Sometimes the kids do completely boneheaded things and it’s hard not to feel like there’s no one else to blame but me. Sometimes the kids make me nuts or they cry or I long to be away from them and do something else.
However, most of the time, it’s pretty good. Because here’s what I think must be really hard: being a school parent.
I’m not trying to be facetious when I say that I have no idea how school parents do it. How they manage to fit anything school into a day or make sure anyone is well-rested with a school schedule, or manage to get dinner on the table. It boggles my mind when I hear about school kids who seem to do nearly as many activities as my kids do: soccer, violin, scouts, etc. When do they fit it all in? How do they help the kids through it? We get a lot of social time and see friends nearly every day. But on those days that we’re busy most of the day, we come home so beat we all grumble at each other and I have to be careful of overtired tantrums. For school kids, that’s every single day! How in the world do they do it?
And then there’s the complete insanity of schools today. Most elementary students get less than 20 minutes of recess a day in the United States. Because of the focus on test prep, many schools don’t teach any real science in elementary school now. Despite the fact that studies clearly show that homework makes no difference for kids before high school, many schools continue to give out hours worth of homework every night. I could go on in this vein, but the basic question is, how can anyone stand all this? We all agree that these things are wrong. So how can they take it without going completely insane?
When I hear about the bureaucracy in schools now, it makes my head spin. We never had to send supplies or pay loads of money for fundraisers when I was little, but these things are apparently par for the course at most schools now. There’s very little flexibility with missed days, not even for illnesses, where parents must get doctors’ notes for every single time in some places. How can anyone stand this stuff? Some stories I’ve heard sound positively Kafkaesque.
All that is why, when I hear someone say, “Homeschooling must be so difficult,” I want to say, “Oh no. I think being a school parent must be much harder.”