I have heard it too many times, "I could never be with my children all day", "My child fights me while doing homework there is no way I could teach them all day", and every variation of the two you can imagine.
At first the statement confused me. I have never been away from my children so I have no experience with what it is like to have several hours a day, several days a week without them. I wondered what made us and all of the other homeschoolers I know different. I wondered why suddenly at 5 parents no longer wanted to be around their children for long periods at a time when quite a few of them had just spent the last 4 years being there.
Most homeschooling parents who pull their children out of the government school system or even a private school struggle with the idea of being together all the time and don't get me wrong, there is some major togetherness that happens with homeschool. Sometimes that togetherness causes conflict, but overwhelmingly it is a joyful experience for most homeschooling families. So what is going on here?
First, it is normal. This one won't go for all families, but my own, having homechooled since the beginning of my children's formal education, just doesn't know any different. My kids did not suddenly become a separate part of me at 5 and so when 6, 7, and rolled around, we just carried on as usual. This is normal for us.
Second, I am the one teaching my children how to behave. When children are thrown in with other children we get to witness a real life "Lord of the Flies" with kids fighting for top spot in the pecking order. There will be children who reach the top, there will be children in the middle and there will be children trampled on by the school yard hierarchy. The kids will be teaching each other how to behave and that is never a good thing. My children are pleasant to be around because their main influences for proper behavior are adults. My kids don't bully, don't care about who has the coolest clothes, don't make fun of those different from themselves, aren't disrespectful to adults or mean to those not popular. Why? Not because they are perfect, but because I am able to constantly train them on appropriate behavior. Because they are not in the everyone for himself world of the classroom. Because they are interacting extensively with adults who have (for the most part) learned how to behave! The Bible tells us that the heart of a child is foolish so imagine sticking 25 of those foolish hearts into a room and expecting the result to be well behaved children. It just isn't going to happen.
Thirdly, they don't have to bring school work home after putting in a full day at the school. I mean seriously, who wants to spend all day long doing school work and then have to do more when they get home? Where is the time to play and relax? If you have to bring work home do you not complain? Does it not sometimes make you cranky? Comparing homework to homeschooling is like comparing a day at the beach to a day doing hard physical labor. They are just not the same. My kids get to do school when they are refreshed and then they get to be done. There is no working for 7 hours and then bringing home another 3-4 hours worth of homework. I would complain about that too!
Last, because they aren't constantly exhausted. None of these parents seem to take into account the chronic sleep deprivation that kids suffer from these days. A quick Google search will bring up any number of articles on the taxing schedules that traditionally schooled children carry. If my kids were up at 5:30am to catch the bus, spending large amounts of the day sitting, then coming home with homework plus having sports practices until 9pm or later only to get up and do it all again tomorrow, they would be cranky too. Because my children are well rested and get plenty of time to break during the day, they generally stay in good moods and are much more pleasant to be around.
This is not to say my children are angels. They are not. We have had plenty of days when I would have almost considered putting their sassy hineys on that big yellow box on wheels, but I know that once I calmed down, I would be chasing it down and bringing them back home.