Sometimes home-schooling begins wonderfully, but other times it can seem an overwhelming challenge. What can you do if you don’t WANT to home-school but you feel guilty about it? I heard this from a friend recently:
"I tried home-schooling my 4 & 5 year-olds. I don’t feel called to home-school this year, mostly because last year went so badly, and in the middle of the year I just stopped doing school by the book, and focused more on my health goals. I registered both of my older children for school. They will spend 45 minutes each way on the bus. That means my son, who is in 1/2 day Kindergarten, will be in school for about the same amount of time as he will be on the bus! I can’t help but feel a little guilt about not wanting to home-school. I did a co-op for 4 months and hated it. I also now have a 2-year-old who wants all of my attention, which was very challenging when trying to teach as well. I don’t feel cut out to home-school my kids."
Although home-schooling is not for everyone, often the reasons people think they can’t do it are based on wrong assumptions. Here are some things I encouraged my friend to think about, as well as anyone else who is questioning their home-schooling decisions.
In Washington State, you don’t have to do ANY formal education until your child is 8 years old. You can keep your children at home and not even file a Declaration of Intent to Home-school until they are 8. If you have previously enrolled them in school, then you do need to complete a Declaration of Intent, but that doesn’t mean you have to get all intense and “schoolish” in your home-school. For more information on Washington State home-school law, take a look at our state organization, Washington Home-school Organization. As you think about your child’s readiness for schooling, I also recommend the book “Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child’s Education”.
When home-schooling young children, I suggest you try schooling gently and naturally, using literature. Instead of “doing school,” just experience education. I love Sonlight curriculum. If you use their curriculum for 5 year olds, it will only take about 1 hour per day, and you can share it between both kids, while the 2 year old is napping. To handle babies and toddlers underfoot, my favorite resource is “Managers of Their Homes” by Teri Maxwell. It made a HUGE difference in my life and home-school.
If home-schooling went that badly, it was probably a curriculum mismatch, and you were using a curriculum that was great for someone else, but wasn’t a good fit for you. My guess is that you were making it more intensely academic than is necessary or desirable at that young age. If you want to try home-schooling again, then completely change gears, and back away from the heavy academics to focus on the love of learning.
Guilt is a horrible feeling. It’s difficult to decide what to do, and many people will have strong opinions in opposite directions. The best advice is what my midwife told me the day my oldest child was born. She said, “Know your child and trust yourself.” Only YOU know your child and your situation. Move forward without guilt, trusting your own judgment.