Lately I’ve heard from quite a few people (in person, via email and in comments to posts like this one), who are drawn to the idea of homeschooling but know that their spouse is not interested.
I know that I have quite a few homeschooling readers, so I thought I’d throw the question out there to tap into your wisdom: how do you approach the topic of homeschooling with a spouse who isn’t interested? Does anyone have any experience with that who might have tips to share?
For what it’s worth, I’ll throw out some homeschooling myths that I used to believe that were a big part of my disinterest in the concept:
– Myth #1: You have to run your home school eight hours a day, five days a week, just like regular schools. When you can give each child customized attention and tailor the curricula to his or her unique needs, you can have your “school day” take up far less time than in public schools. Most of my homeschooling friends are done with the book-learning part of school time by lunch time (though they typically view learning as part of every aspect of life, so in some ways the “school day” is 24/7).
– Myth #2: Your kids have few opportunities to interact with other children and therefore aren’t well-socialized. I threw out statements like “I don’t want to homeschool because I want my kids to have friends and opportunities to interact with groups of children”…without having any facts on what group opportunities were available for local homeschooling families. Once I actually checked into it I found that there are various classes, field trips and groups that meet almost every day of the week that my kids could attend. There are tons of opportunities for them to be around other kids. Also, as Steve G. noted in the comments, it’s not like the Lord of the Flies atmosphere found in so many schools is the ideal way for kids to learn about socialization.
– Myth #3: I’m not up to the challenge. This may be true for some people — I’m sure that homeschooling is not the right path for every mom. However, too easily I brushed off the idea with “I couldn’t do it.” When I put some serious thought into what I actually learned during, say, elementary school, I realized that it actually would not be hard at all to make sure that my children learned all that same stuff at home.
– Myth #4: Once you make the initial decision, you’re committed to homeschooling through high school. To be honest, I’m still not sure that homeschooling through high school will be the right decision for us. I’ll worry about that sometime after I get through potty training. But, as a homeschooling friend pointed out, plenty of homeschooled kids make the transition to regular school during high school just fine. There are also increasing opportunities through universities and community colleges for kids to go to class for individual subjects if, for example, you didn’t feel that you could cover chemistry or biology well enough on your own.
– Myth #5: I’d never have any time to myself. I have to admit, for a while I was looking forward to when the kids started going to school so that I could have a bit more time to myself. But after observing homeschooling families I realized that, for the moms who still had little ones at home, they actually had more breaks than I did (as well as cleaner houses!) since the older children were around to help out with chores and the younger children.
I throw those ideas since they were some of the major roadblocks to my interest in homeschooling. But take what I say with a grain of salt since my oldest is only 2.5.
I’d love to hear from other homeschooling parents, especially anyone who’s had experience bringing up the topic with a reluctant spouse. How do you make the case for homeschooling with a spouse who isn’t interested?
(Also, once again I direct anyone interested in this subject to Sally Thomas’ must-read article called Schooling at Home.)