Maybe I should quit homeschooling

This is a guest post from Sarah Faulkner. She is a homeschooling mom in Washington state. She has five kids, ages 13, 11, 9, 5, and 2. 

Everything is so hard right now. I am tired—I can barely keep my eyes open to feed the kids, and all I can think is how the orthodontist told me the preteens are not brushing their teeth often enough. I am so stinking tired I can't even manage to tell them to keep their teeth clean.

I can think of all these good reasons why I should be the exception to homeschooling and just quit. But every time I do, I find there is an anti-school core running straight through me that will not bend. But's here's why maybe someone should quit homeschooling.

1. You should stop if you have special needs kids.
I have 2 special need kids in addition to 3 typical kids
.  My younger two were born meth-addicted—my son is the bio mom's sixth child, and his sister was that mom's ninth. We have weeks of hell as their bodies try to come down from all the drug exposure and as we try to repair damage. It's crazy. I can't hold my eyes in focus and now wear glasses.  I have a grey streak in the front of my hair from the stress.  I have gained 10 pounds for every year I have done this. I should stop homeschooling, right?

Zach can't speak very well.  He has so much sensory hitting him he can't concentrate on talking. He can't sit still long enough to eat. At school, he would be made fun of for his speech, be the kid who gets into trouble in the class, and slowly turns into someone I don't want him to be. I could get him an IEP at school, and fight the system, but why not just let him stay home and be himself with no worries?

Life would be easier for me, but not for Zach.

2. You should stop if your household is crazy.
I have no idea why Andy and I thought it would be a great idea to live within our means.  We chose to buy a remodel and live in it while fixing it. We are converting two connected houses into one.  Many days school is interrupted because I can't find the material, or we are moving one room to the next to work on something.  I have moved my bedroom 6 times in the past 3 years.

If I sent the kids to school I could move things around faster, and not spend weeks trying to move stuff, feed, clean, and school.  Yes life would be easier for me (and cleaner).  My kids would be right at grade level instead of above, they would learn to shut up and follow the system, and most importantly their friends would be the top of their list, instead of family.

Life would be easier for me, but it would not be the way I want them to grow up.

3. Your spouse isn't a help.
My husband works so many hours. When we moved to this gloomy state 3 years ago, Andy had a great job of 60 hours a week.  He was laid off 4 months later, and started a new job that required a 100 hours a week. I knew no one here, Zach had a fresh diagnosis of autism, and I live in a remodel my husband has no time to work on. These were good reasons to quit.

But I didn't.  I kept faithfully lying to myself that the next year would be better.They are getting better. Slowly, I have hired contractors for the house.  The kids are older, and I made a couple of friends.  Andy's hours are becoming fewer. Money is increasing.

I'm glad I didn't quit, because we all grew from family to Friends.

We all have a list of reasons not to homeschool. Some lists seem more reasonable than others. The fact is you and I aren't willing to bend, our cores are all made of different, unchangeable principles that keep us going and unite us.  Can you imagine what life will look like with such a large generation being raised to think for themselves?

That is what my core is made of: hope.

Why I decided to homeschool

This is a guest post from Angel Mulhearn who is mother to two kids ages 5 and 3. Prior to that she was a kindergarten teacher. Angel is also my sister-in-law who lives on the farm next door to ours.  She took her son out of school a few months ago. This is the list of reasons she wrote to explain to people who asked why she was doing it. 

1. Sitting still for 7 hours a day is not developmentally appropriate for children who are 5 or 6 years old. 
The first week of school, our son was beyond exhausted at the end of the day. Our normally energetic, spirited boy who loves to ride his bike, climb trees in the yard, and run away from “bad guys” was too tired to play outside. Even on the most beautiful warm days of September and October, he would say he wanted to “go inside to rest.”

Is school sedentary or is school for running?

When my son started showing interest in reading about science, we subscribed to Science News. I remember as a kid I would read pretty much anything that was sitting in front of me, so I read unlikely-but-interesting things like Johnny Got His Gun, I'm Ok You're Ok and The Sensuous Woman. So I thought it'd be great to just sort of have Science News around the house.

Don't teach your kids to start a business

Jennifer Senior has a great article in New York magazine about our cultural delusions about entrepreneurship. For example, most people say they want to work for themselves, but most people will never do it. They like a regular paycheck, and they like going to work in an office that is not in arrears. They like co-workers who are mentally stable and not willing to risk their family's finances on pie-in-the sky ideas like vertical knowledge networks.

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This course includes four days of video sessions and email-based course materials, as well as opportunities for one-on-one editing from Penelope. The course will be at 8pm EST Sun. March 8th through Weds. March 11th at 8pm EST. If you miss the live sessions you can view them on demand.

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When I started writing this homeschool blog I had no idea where it would lead. I just kept writing. It turns out that writing about my life on this blog has helped me feel much more connected to the rest of the world while I navigate my own life that sometimes feels like an isolated bubble. Also writing about my life has given me a way to keep a meaningful scrapbook of events (like up top, my son pulling out his own tooth) and ideas (like why it's okay that we don't have curricula, or do have curricula, or anything else I'm reading about).

Why I send my son to school

This is a guest post from Satya Khan. She is one of my favorite writers. She writes memoir in the form of a newsletter. You can subscribe to her emails at Unfolded Note

I still sleep at the foot of the bed. Each night as their bodies grow quiet, my children reach their limbs over mine, pinning me down in their quest for comfort. When I am here, they can never have enough. Inch by inch as they grow heavier, I slither down toward open space like a weed.

When we are home together — and we’re home together a lot — I don’t get down on the floor like a good parent would. I mostly try to hide in an empty room until they find me, which doesn’t take long. I exist best in silence and stillness, but my son operates on a steady diet of chatter. And his will is stronger than mine.

So I enroll him in kindergarden for the fall, at a school that is barely a school at all. It’s their first year as a charter, and they don’t have a playground, a library, or a nurse. What they have is a giant forest, with a creek running through. And there’s a wooden platform, which is too tall for my son to climb. At the open house, he spends the whole time trying to figure it out. He directs his will toward the challenge, which for once, does not involve me. He decides he likes this school. And I do, too.

Overlooked tricks to outsource homeschooling

After years of bloody poop and projectile vomiting in ice cream stores I decided to have my son tested for gluten and lactose intolerance. It's not a small test. He had to be put to sleep with anesthesia, and just as I got everything scheduled, Joan Rivers died having the operation he was scheduled to have, so I canceled it.

How to unschool when you're a controlling parent

This is a guest post from Sarah Faulkner. She is a homeschooling mom in Washington state. She has five kids, ages 13, 11, 9, 5, and 2. 

I am a control(ish) person by nature.  Mostly I have grand ideas, and I schedule these ideas, only to have reality step in and dash them all away.  Or rather—what really happens—I drag my kids out on some adventure rather than being responsible at home.

Growth in homeschooling is on the coasts

According to the most recent statistics, the share of school-age kids who were homeschooled doubled between 1999 and 2012, from 1.7 to 3.4 percent.

What counts as good writing?

I'm not teaching my kids to write. It seems like this would be shocking, since I'm a writer. But actually, I've taught enough writing to know that you can't teach people to write well. This is because good writing comes from practice and from a lot of reading. So I'm not teaching them anything because we are all good writers if we keep the teacher voice out of our heads.