As we get ready to kick off the new learning year, I wanted to address an issue that I see crippling so many home educators.
The biggest problem in home education today is NOT lack of socialization. There are so many opportunities for interactions and meaningful ones too. Gone are the days of homeschoolers living in isolation being the oddballs! By the way, if you know a veteran home educator from the 80s and 90s, hug them! Hug them tight! They were the pioneers and endured the looks and criticism to build this amazing lifestyle we enjoy!
The biggest problem in home education today is NOT lack of resources. Do a Google search for homeschool curriculum and get a comfortable seat because your family won’t see you until next week. Or take a walk through the vendor hall at any home education convention around the country and you better have comfortable shoes on and a wagon for the brochures. There are so many options it’s never-ending. Again, hug a pioneer home educator!
The biggest problem in home education today is NOT fear of arrest. Okay so quick history lesson, home education was not always a legal option and in the early days, those amazing pioneers faced the threat of jail. They didn’t let that stop them because they believed in this lifestyle and they grabbed their kids and had a ‘field-trip’ to the legislator in their State to legalize home education! Now don’t mistake what I am saying. We are always one bad piece of legalization away from losing our rights, so it’s important to support our local support groups, our lobbyists and stay up informed with what is happening. Join groups like HSLDA! Oh, and hug a pioneer home educator for being brave enough to stand alone!
The biggest problem in home education today is NOT lack of support. We have local support groups, State support groups, National support groups, Conventions, Facebook groups, Curriculum communities, co-ops, the list goes on. This isn’t the ‘biggest’ problem but in my view, it’s the second biggest problem. We have so many groups and as wonderful as that is, we have less community than ever. Local support groups are shutting their doors because they can’t compete for membership with free Facebook groups. The cost of websites, legal business registration fees, facilities, etc. means they must charge membership fees. Plus finding volunteers that will work for free is getting harder. Home educators have become more consumer-minded than service minded. The few group leaders that are hanging on are tired and weary. Trying to keep groups relevant in an increasingly social media world is hard.
Online support is wonderful and really needed, but there is something about having a veteran home educator available to ask questions to. The connections made on a mom’s night out are more powerful than a Facebook group. Getting to attend a small expo or convention where you can ask the speaker questions is better than watching a Facebook Live. Having someone to call when there is a problem with the School Board, or you have hit a roadblock with your kid can be the difference in a successful home education program or one where you give up in defeat. Also, when the State tries to change the laws local groups are the ones that rally the troops. And yes, hug a veteran home educator because they are the ones that started and run most of the support groups!
So, what is the biggest problem in home education today? In my humble opinion, it is the disease of busy.
Did you read the definition of ‘busy’? Here it is again just to make sure you READ it!
Definition of Busy:
1a: engaged in action: OCCUPIED
b: being in use
2. Full of activity: BUSTLING
3: Foolishly or intrusively active: MEDDLING
4: full of distracting detailMerriam-Webster Dictionary
1a: Engaged in action: OCCUPIED b: being in use.
I have no idea where in the world the notion that having our kids constantly occupied 24/7 came from but it is an insane school of thought.
A recent study called Are Kids Too Busy? which sampled 882 students 9 – 13 years old found that 61% wished they had a lot more free time. When asked what they would do with more time, 45% said they would hang out or play with friends. Even the kids know that they are too occupied.
2. Full of activity: BUSTLING
The American College of Pediatricians states in their article “3 Ways Over-scheduling can hurt your kids” that ‘being in use’ harms mental health, decreases interest and weakens family relationships.
3: Foolishly or intrusively active: MEDDLING
I am probably going to step on some toes here so please know that this is coming from love and not criticism. Foolishly active. Intrusively active. Meddling. It is so easy to get a focus in our minds as to what we want our kids to be and do. If little Johnny becomes a doctor, he will have a good life. So, you push and direct him towards becoming a doctor. You get him the doctor costume, you get him books on doctors, all the time ignoring that he doesn’t like anything gory and has a love for how buildings are constructed and would really do well in civil engineering. It’s making the kid join a t-ball team that has no interest whatsoever and spends the whole practice digging up the field because he would much rather be doing that. (Yes, the mud on his uniform was from him digging not sliding into home plate!)
We get ideas into our heads about what we think they should be doing and then we fail to pay attention to what they need. I’m just as guilty. If we evaluate all these activities we want to do, by the standard of are they ‘Meddling’ in their learning experience maybe we would be more selective in what we add to the schedule.
4: Full of distracting detail
I don’t know how kids aren’t diagnosed more with ADHD and ADD. ‘Full of distracting detail’ is a really good way of putting it. That is what most of the stuff on our schedule is. I cringed recently when I saw another home educator post pictures of some of her children’s activities and said: “Fun activities after we got done with our busy work”. The thing that I can guarantee is that from the pictures it was obvious the kids were learning more from the fun activities than they could ever have possibly gained through the busywork. I can only imagine what the busywork involved.
Please listen to me, if you are doing something with your child and you call it ‘busywork’ just DON’T DO IT!!!! Let’s breakdown what busy work is! It’s giving you child an activity that will fully occupy their mind, filling their time with an activity that is foolish and/or intrusive to their learning experiment and bogging them down with distracting detail. DON’T DO IT!!!!
Mama, if your planner hasn’t seen white space since the day you bought it, then you have a problem. You and your child both need white space. As a home educator, you are going to burn out fast if you are constantly spinning your wheels. You will get irritated, you will snap, you will not be fun mama anymore, and you will start to hate what you do. Meanwhile, you are dragging this precious child you love along with you on this rollercoaster of 30-minute intervals neatly planned and executed. They themselves are probably irritated, moody, uncooperative and probably not a lot of fun to be around either. I know I’ve been there!!!!
You have NOTHING TO PROVE!!! I know so many of you get criticism for making the decision to home educate your child. Every time you post another picture of something awesome your child has done, you feel like you have bought a little bit more leverage to combat the critics. Let me say it again you have NOTHING TO PROVE!!! Shame on them for criticizing you! God gave you to your child, not them. They are not going to stop being critics and no matter what you do it will still not be enough. If you burn yourself out it will only give them more fuel to criticize!
Boredom is not the worst thing that will happen to your child. Signing up for meaningful activities instead of everything offered is going to make the year much more productive and enjoyable. Home education is a lifestyle, not an education program. It’s this amazing journey you take with your child and you will learn and grow together if you will allow the freedom to explore.
My favorite home education scripture is Proverbs 22:6
“Train up a child in the way he should go (teach him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents), even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
If we don’t have time to sit still and hear God how will we ever know what His will is? By being busy all the time and having a Martha mentality about education we fail to teach our children how to be like Mary and sit at Jesus’ feet and learn God’s will. Get off the busy train and choose the better thing!
PS. don’t forget to hug a veteran home educator!