My two older children are both competitive swimmers. Both are part of a USA swim team which practices every weeknight and they are the only two homeschoolers on the team. While the fact that they are homeschooled has sometimes raised curious questions from their teammates, overall, the comments and questions are positive. My three favorite questions/comments are:
1. Do you wear your pajamas all day?
2. That’s so cool – you can eat ANYTIME you want to! I get so hungry at school!
3. You can go to the bathroom anytime you want – that’s awesome!
Now, I didn’t start homeschooling so that my kids could wear pajamas all day, eat when they want to, and have the freedom to use the bathroom when “nature calls.” But, those truly are part of the comforts of homeschooling.
Even though I truly believe the positives far outweigh the negatives, I have found in my seven years of homeschooling that there are positives and negatives to the homeschooling experience. This article is not about my own perspective though. This article is about the perspective of my oldest child. My daughter will be 13 in January (a teenager!) and we have had many long conversations lately about the path she will take for high school. I’ll share her perspective on the homeschooling experience…the good, the bad, and the ugly.
- She can go at her own pace. For example, she can watch her math lesson again on the computer if she needs to and can read the lesson again if needed. If she understands the lesson easily, she can “breeze through it” quickly.
- Snacking and using the bathroom without permission were mentioned! Interestingly, she also thought that being able to brush her teeth and floss after each meal without feeling weird about it was a benefit.
- Sleeping! With her swim team schedule, she knows she gets more sleep since she doesn’t have to get up as early as some of her friends who go to a brick and mortar school. Right now, my daughter practices for 13 ½ hours per week in the pool and has swim meets at least two weekends a month. She pushes herself tremendously with her workouts and competitive swimming is a large part of her life. For her, adequate sleep translates into top athletic performance. Given her goal of making the time cuts for Junior Nationals before she is 14, sleep is really important to her.
- She thinks she has less sitting and waiting than her schooled peers. Some of her friends talk about doing a lot of waiting for other students to finish, pay attention, understand the concepts, etc.
- Since she is home, if she needs anything, she can get it. If she is cold, she can put on a sweatshirt. If she is hot, she can change into shorts. She enjoys the freedom and comfort that homeschooling gives her.
- She enjoys having fewer time restraints. For example, she doesn’t have a specific amount of time to eat lunch, get her math done, rush to the bathroom, etc. Overall, she thinks she feels less rushed at home than she would at school.
- No homework! When my daughter is done, she’s done. She loves not having to worry about the work she has to finish at home when she gets home from swim team at 9:30.
- She feels she has less peer pressure than she would if she went to school. She is free to be herself without fear of others judging her.
- She does feel she has had to explain herself to others her age who are not familiar with homeschooling. Sometimes, this has made her feel uncomfortable. But, now, she says she is just “Amber” with the people at swim team, and not “the homeschooler.” She also sometimes does not know the “current slang” that a few of her traditionally schooled peers use and has to ask for clarification.
- She doesn’t have as much social interaction with age group peers as her friends who go to school outside of their home. She does see age group peers every evening at swim team but it is just her family here at home during the day.
- She is with her brothers all of the time, all day, every day. Sometimes she would like a break from all the family togetherness, particularly when her brothers are acting silly.
- She would like to write for a school newspaper or a yearbook but she doesn’t have the opportunity here at home.
- Even though she competes on a USA swim team, she sometimes thinks it might be fun to be part of a swim team at a school and compete in smaller, dual meets.
- She doesn’t get done with school at a specific time each day. So, some days, she works on schoolwork almost up to the time she has to leave for swim practice.
Talking to my daughter about this topic was eye-opening for me. I would not have had the courage to do so when I was less secure in my decision to homeschool, but talking with her about the ups and downs of our educational choice was enlightening. A few of the disadvantages are areas that I can try to change somewhat. Some are things I can do nothing about. Regardless, the conversations have been helpful to me in clarifying my thinking about the high school years.
Lastly, I asked my youngest child, who is 8, about the benefits and drawbacks of homeschooling. I learned that life is pretty simple when you’re 8…and he’s really happy being home!
“Well, one thing is you don’t have to stay there for about 4 hours or 6 hours. Two, it’s fun and you can go to the potty whenever you want. Three, we can take as much time as we want with eating. And, we get a lot of breaks; not like in school where you only get like two breaks.”
When prompted to talk about reasons why he would want to go to school Duncan replied, “I don’t have any reasons that I want to go to school.” Well, there you go!
Samantha can be found writing at To Be Busy at Home.
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