Princess and The Rock

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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Homeschooling can be a Double-edged Sword

I've not posted much about homeschooling lately because honestly, we're still feeling around and trying to stick to a schedule. It has been a month since Princess started "formal homeschooling", as in homeschooling at Primary level and I must say it wasn't a rosy picture at all. Don't get me wrong; we have our good and fun days but there are real challenges along the way.

In this one month, I've come to realise that most of the positives of homeschooling has another side to it, hence it's like a double-edged sword .

Here are a few benefits of homeschooling that have become challenges for me:

  1. Our family has the freedom to make most decisions regarding education, friends and lifestyle.

    My days are filled with decision-making now! From the moment I opened my eyes, decision-making starts.

    "What shall I prepare for breakfast?"

    "Breakfast took much longer than expected. Should we skip reading-aloud and delve straight into lesson proper?"

    "Princess is coughing and having a runny nose. Should we carry on with the co-op meeting or should I pull out at the last minute."

    "Arrgh... the children did not lay newspapers on the floor before doing art despite reminders and the floor is badly stained now! Does this warrant a punishment?"

    "Mummy, what should I wear?"

    It's one decision to be made after another and sometimes I just want to say, "I don't know!" I can't help but think that simply by virtue of being with my children almost all the time, I have to make more decisions than a parent who has a child in school for half of his waking hours. Sometimes I ask myself, "Why did I sign up for this?"

  2. We can choose the kind of influence our children are exposed to.

    This means we get to guide them in choosing their friends. As a homeschooling parent of two young children, it's also my responsibility to arrange play dates and other opportunities for them to socialise and form steady friendships. This means I need to get out of my comfort zone and proactively engage other parents even when I'm not usually the most sociable around. I'm the kind that would stick to a familiar few at a party and not mingle freely. (I don't mean I'm unfriendly but I realised that since I've become a stay-at-home mum, I appreciate the beauty and quietness of being alone more and more, probably due to my children's incessant questions and chatter!)

  3. We are free to choose our homeschool curriculum and adjust the teaching methods to suit the learning styles of our children.

    You know the phrase "distracted by shiny objects"? It applies to curriculum, activities, crafts and anything you can think of! There are so many resources and ideas out there that it takes a lot of discipline to stick to what has been planned. Of course some flexibility and fluidity is good (after all this is one main benefit of homeschooling) but too much of it and it backfires, at least for us. 

    "Mum, may I please join the craft co-op?"

    "Play date at KidsSTOP™? Sounds great! But we only have one full day at home this week."

    Classical Conversations? A.C.E Curriculum? Singapore Math or Math-U-See?

    There is really no lack of things to do or learn especially if you are plugged into the very vibrant and resourceful homeschooling community;
     there are so many interesting co-ops to join and fun activities to go to, so it takes sheer willpower (and some planning) not to overcommit.

  4. Our children are free to take part in any extra-curriculum activities under the sun!

    Yes, they are pretty much free to do any sport or take up any course or hobby they like. However the cost involved is usually higher than signing up for a Co-Curricular Activities (CCA) in a mainstream Primary school. Many activities are heavily-subsidised in school but homeschoolers have to pay a higher fee most of the time. It also takes a lot more effort to have children participate in team sports or groups like the brass band or cheerleading team.

  5. It gives us more opportunities for one-on-one interaction and thus would help us build a more meaningful parent-child relationship.

    More opportunities sometimes become too many opportunities! I love my children to the moon and back and I truly enjoy having conversations with them, BUT
    I do need my mid-day break and sometimes they are so enthusiastic about their quiet time activity that they can't be quiet and are bursting to share the activity with me. The huge amount of time we spend together certainly contributes to our strong parent-child relationship but I'll be honest and say it here that there were occasions when I dreamt about having a whole morning free for me to enjoy a cup of aromatic freshly brewed coffee and a good book in hand or time for me to string some beads, after my children go to school. *Gasp!* Did I just write that?
I hope this post did not put you off homeschooling your child if you are exploring the option. It's not meant to "scare" you, neither does it speak of any regret on my part; it's simply to shed some light on the reality of things for some of us homeschooling mums. That said, I would still make the same decision all over again because the good stuff you hear about homeschooling are just as true!

What do you find most challenging about homeschooling? How do you overcome that?

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