Homeschooling Badly: Kid Prefers Public School

WhenCowsKidsCollideby Mel – cross posted from her blog When Cows and Kids Collide

I found this gem on Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Kris is homeschooling her two kids.  Her daughter told her that she wanted to go back to public school a few weeks into the first year of homeschooling:

“My oldest went to public school for two years. She was totally onboard with homeschooling when we began, but it wasn’t long before I was hearing, “I want to go back.” What was she missing?

Well, friends are pretty much a given (and usually a hard answer for a mama’s heart to hear), but then there were the other things — the big playground, class parties, and, of all the crazy things, square pizza. These things weren’t deal-breakers to me, but they were very important in the mind of a seven-year-old.

  • I need to give Kris kudos for taking the time to listen to her child.  A lot of CP/QF homeschool bloggers pay lip service to listening to their children but spend far more time discussing how best to convince the kids that what the kid really believes and wants aligns with the parent’s desires.
  • Kris shouldn’t have been surprised – even if she didn’t want to hear it – that kids LIKE the socialization they get at school.  Kids enjoy being around people their age to learn and play with.  Bluntly, there is no way to replicate the variety, amount and freedom in socialization that occurs in a school in a homeschool.
    • I know that limiting free socialization time is a feature of why CP/QF families homeschool, not a bug – but they should at least own that.  They are choosing to severely restrict their kids’ chances to make friends and learn social skills.
  • Notice how the secretly parent-centric view of homeschooling sneaks in.  Kris doesn’t see her daughter’s objections to homeschooling as deal-breakers. Making that statement subtly devalues her daughter’s wishes, wants and desires after Kris asked for her daughter’s feedback.
Kris tries to help her daughter by having playdates with friends from school and getting involved in a homeschooling group.  When Christmas rolls around and her daughter still wants to return to public school, Kris decides to take a more active approach to problem-solving.

” I sat down with Brianna and we made two pros and cons lists — one for homeschool and one for public school. I even added some of my own pros and cons to each to get the ball rolling.

It’s been seven years now, so I know I don’t remember everything (oh, how I wish I’d saved that paper), but I remember there being things like getting to sleep late and not having to stay after school on the pros list for homeschooling. There were things like big playground, square pizza, and seeing friends on the pros list for school.

The cons for homeschooling included not having parties and not having as much free time during the day. (That last one was mine! {grin}) For school, the cons included getting up early and not having time to eat lunch. How sad is that? Still, seven years later, Brianna often tells me that one of the best things about homeschooling is having time to eat lunch.

Edited to add: Brianna maintained the “time to eat” pro for homeschooling all the way through graduation.

  • The parent-centric homeschool view screams from this paragraph.  The pro and con lists are not created by Brianna alone, but by Brianna and Kris.   Kris wants praise for sneaking a con in about having less free time during homeschooling than public schooling – but if that was true, why didn’t her daughter think of that herself?
  • I am not good at comparing lists of items in sentence form so I created two tables based on the paragraphs before.  I left Kris’ idea off the “homeschool con” list.
Once I wrote these out, I noticed a few issues.  Some issues like wake-up time in the morning show up on both lists while others like school parties show up only on one list.  To make it more coherent, I simplified the two lists into a single list of the pro and con for public schools:
Based on the combined list, I can see why Brianna wants to go back to school.  Assuming she doesn’t stay at school every day, she gains friends and playing on a big playground every day in exchange for not sleeping in and having a short period to eat lunch.  On a longer time scale, she trades staying after school for “square pizza” and classroom parties.
  • If I were a homeschool parent, I would not be proud or excited that my child routinely listed “I have enough time to each lunch” as a reason she liked homeschooling.  Not when my kid was 7-9 years old and certainly not when my kid was 14-16 years old.

“After Brianna and I were satisfied that we’d thought of all we wanted to include, we began talking about what we could do about the items on the list. For example, there was absolutely nothing we could do about public school starting at 8:00, but we could change the fact that homeschool didn’t have square pizza. Um, yeah, I was totally up to making pizza in a rectangular pan if that’s what it took to make this homeschooling thing work.

What about the fact that public schools get to have parties? Well, homeschoolers can have parties, too! Our annual Valentine’s party was born that night. The first year, we had about 12 guests. Last year, we had around 75. And, that big playground? Well, the one at the local park is pretty darn big.

  • An important lesson in Kris’ homeschool is learned helplessness, apparently.  Public school schedules are not set in stone.  Getting the start time of the elementary school changed would be difficult – but it’s not impossible by any standard.  Instead of demonstrating the steps needed to deal with an unpleasant bureaucratic issue, Kris decides to teach her kid that she’s helpless to change the status quo except by leaving the system.  That’s not going to serve her well later in life when she has to face issues in a marriage or a career.
  • I wonder if the daughter wanted pizza that was square or if she liked the mass-produced frozen pizza served at every school.  Personally, I loved school pizza as a student and as a teacher as well.  It’s not haute cuisine, but it’s a tasty, filling comfort food.  If it’s just the square shape, Kris could have saved time and cut a frozen pizza into squares instead.  If it’s mainly the flavor, she might be able to get the same pizza from a local distributor.   Either way, it’s an important piece of information to elicit from her daughter.
  • The original post has a link to how to throw a Valentine’s Day party for homeschooled students.  I’m stymied on which is most depressing:
    • Parents who are homeschooling need help planning a party for a small to medium sized group of kids
    • The kids will be most excited about games that they can’t play often since they aren’t around gangs of kids at once like “Red Rover”
    • The kids should address their Valentines as “To My Friend” instead of using the actual names of the kids at the party rather than having to do all of the work of creating pesky lists of names to address the Valentines with.
  • We have three large, fun playscapes in local parks to take my son to when he gets bigger.  None of them will be as much fun as playing with his friends at school – regardless of the size of the playscape.
By the time we’d finished discussing the list, we both agreed that homeschooling was the better deal.
A lot of parents may not agree with this, but that first year was a trial run for us, so I let her make the call and she agreed that there was definitely more we could do to positively influence our homeschool experience.

I doubt Brianna had a whole lot of choice in the matter.  This whole blog post is an exercise in how to “gently” manipulate your child to give up requesting to go back to public schools.

moreRead more by Mel

Mel is a science teacher who works with at-risk teens and lives on a dairy farm with her husband. She blogs at When Cows and Kids Collide She is also an very valuable source of scientific information for us here at NLQ. Mel is also blessed with the ability to look at the issues of Quiverfull with a rational mind and break them down to their most basic of elements.

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