Winter parties and crazy sock day

June 22, 2007 | Uncategorized | 18 comments

I think we’ve pretty much decided that we’re going to homeschool. It’s funny, only about eighteen months ago I wrote this post saying that I didn’t understand why people wouldn’t just send their kids to regular school. But after a lot of research and prayer and (probably most importantly) meeting a bunch of homeschooling parents, it now seems to me to be the only way to go for our family.

My decision was based on the quality of education I could give my children as well as my belief that true education encompasses far more than sitting in a classroom memorizing dates and formulas (I direct you to Sally Thomas’ amazing article Schooling at Home for more on that — yeah, what she said).

And though I am happy to discuss the data I read and the observations I’ve made about homeschooled children and will readily offer a dry list of the educational and intellectual benefits I think the environment would provide for my children, what gets me most animated when the subject comes up is this: winter parties. It’s not the main reason I decided to homeschool but, man, I just can’t have my kids going to winter parties.

When I was a kid in public school we had Christmas parties. I wasn’t a Christian, but I always loved those events, where we’d take a break from tormenting one another for an afternoon to celebrate Christmas with red and green cupcakes and maybe even a classroom visit from Santa Claus. It was a chance for us all to come together to celebrate something that was meaningful to so many people. Though Christmas was not a religious event in my household, it was fun and interesting to see how much the holiday meant to the other kids, to sing age-old Christian songs and hear about who got to play Mary and who had to be one of the three wise men in the local church play.

A few months ago, when I was still on the fence about homeschooling, I lamented to a neighbor that I’d heard that public schools had those watered-down “holiday parties” now. The neighbor, whose son goes to the local elementary school, shook her head and informed me that those were phased out a few years ago lest they offend someone. They now have “winter parties” — and red and green decorations are forbidden. (Kudos to the creativity of the school board to find a way to water down holiday parties — that’s quite a feat!) Easter is celebrated with a “Spring fest”, and instead of Halloween they have “crazy sock day”. Crazy sock day?? I think that was the straw that broke the camel’s back in the decision-making process.

I realize that homeschooling is not a fit for every family, and that it’s certainly possible to get a good education out of the public school system. But, for us, I think homeschooling is the way to go. If nothing else, if I end up rounding out the social studies curriculum with episodes of Dr. Phil and only get as far as “how to make mommy’s martini extra dry” for our chemistry class, at least they will have the distinction of being able to say they never attended a winter party. 🙂

18 Comments

  1. RNW

    and only get as far has “how to make mommy’s martini extra dry” for our chemistry class…

    Oh yes, you definitely have the right mindset for homeschooling. [grin] I am cracking up!! I’ve been homeschooling for…counting…ACK! 10 years now. If you ever have questions, feel free to ask. Not that I’ll know the answer but we could discuss it over martinis. And then, even if we didn’t find an answer, we’d have fun.

  2. Mahsheed

    Regarding homeschooling, I have a question are children harmed if they attend the first few years of elementary school and then switch to homeschooling?

  3. Mahsheed

    I think what I’m really asking is the decision to postpone homeschooling irrevocably harmful? Are public schools harmful right away or is it a cumulative effect?

  4. lyrl

    I find wanting to better integrate religious instruction with a children’s education an admirable reason to homeschool. However, I question an implication that public schools are doing wrong by removing explicit Christianity from their programs. I am bothered by the idea that Jewish and Muslim and Wiccan children need to be learning about how Christmas is meaningful to so many people.

  5. yofed

    I have an other question… I am also considering homeschooling, for similar reasons, but I don’t know how to bring the subject to talk about it to my husband… I found good arguments for all aspects of the schooling except socialization, especially since I’m rather introvert and he is a very social being… I think homeschooling would be the best thing, but I don’t want to bring it up until I can bring enough good points about it… Any idea?

  6. Mrs. V

    I started homeschooling my children after they had some time in public school and it was the best thing I ever did! One of them was terribly behind in math (at least a year) and the other two were behind in reading. They are all now up to grade level.
    As for talking to your husband… you might be surprised!! I was worried too and once I finally talked to my husband about it he told me he had been wanting to talk to me about it too!
    This is a PDF file about teaching high school at home that shows some great charts: http://www.apologiaonline.com/conf/teach_hs.pdf
    And as for socialization, that is really just propaganda. Most homeschooled children are better at socializing with people of all ages, not just in their own peer group. It gives them a freedom to explore the things that interest them as well as protect their childhood. My eight year old daughter brought home a friend from public school one day and the girl was talking about sex. I couldn’t believe it. Socialization in public schools is really putting up with bullies and sex education at an early age.

    Jen, I am glad you made this choice. It really is a blessing. It isn’t easy, but anything worth doing often is. God bless on your journey!

  7. Anonymous

    May I adress some of these questions. I taught for 10 years, including resource and inservice for my colleagues. I “retired” to homeschool my youngest for a variety of reasons. If children begin in the system, the harm is NOT irrevocable. You may have challenges from them (if they feel they are missing out on the fun stuff- field trips, play days, track & field) or from your school board, depending on how aggressive it is. For help there, I would suggest you contact HSLDA the Home School Legal Defense A…(association? sorry, don’t remember what A stands for!) Regarding “socialization” – Socialization is not the same as having a social life. Children in the school system are socialized by other children – including the bullies, the precociously sexual, children in abusive situations – while homeschooled children are socialized by what they will eventually be – responsible adults. In addition, there are probably homeschool groups near you that you can join. Our local group gets discounts on swimming lessons, ballet classes, karate, gymnastics, drama, French, soccer, basketball…Plenty of opportunities for kids to get together. I teach a weekly writing class, myself. Jen could always give lessons in scorpion lore. 🙂

  8. SteveG

    yofed:

    I found good arguments for all aspects of the schooling except socialization

    Please read (and have your husband read when the time comes) Dr. Gordon Neufeld’s book Hold On to Your Kids on the mistaken notion that peer interaction and orientation is the way children are socialized. He even has the first chapter of it free online in PDF at his website here Ch. 1 Hold on To Your Kids

    It is a purely modern (and totally mistaken) concept that children are socialized by being put together in groups with one another. How can a group of children who have no idea how to be moral, no idea how to be social, teach each other that which they do not know?

    Children learn to be socialized by being around adults who model (hopefully) proper socialization for them. The more that is fostered, and the more peer interaction is kept in check, the more independent, the more individual, the more socially mature children tend to be.

    Good luck!

  9. Jennifer F.

    Yofed –

    I second Steve G.’s suggestion. I would also add that I strongly recommend that you Google around to find a local homeschooling email list or website or something like that — I’m sure there is one. You could then connect with local women and ask what sort of activities are available for families who homeschool in your area.

    I think that one of the big things in our decision-making process was to meet other local homeschoolers. When I saw one of my friend’s schedules for her kids I was amazed: ballet practice Tuesday, homeschool group field trip to the forensics lab Wednesday, soccer practice Thursday, etc. etc. I saw how wrong my impression was that homeschoolers just stayed in the house all day.

    I think you’ll find that your local homeschooling moms would be more than happy to help you gather some data in this department.

    Hope that helps!

  10. Lydia C.

    Lurker here…:)

    I was homeschooled from 7th through 12th grade, and I turned out just fine. My three siblings and I were able to move at our own paces, and get a really excellent education. Not too many highschoolers out there have to read the entire Divine Comedy for their world literature class.

    When we started, we weren’t Catholic, and my folks enrolled us in an Evangelical umbrella group that took care of the legalities and offered classes once a week. So, if your mom or dad was unqualified to teach chemistry or literature, you could take it with another homeschooling parent with expertise in those fields. Unfortunately, once a week classes got really, really tough on us when we reverted to the Faith when I was 15. But, then again, it forced us into really knowing and being able to give a reason for what we believe.

    Anyway, homeschooling did right by my family. Two of us went the academic route, got into good colleges and did very well. One went into the Marine Corps and is now a fireman (he’s still hoping to finish up his higher education), and one is a professional dancer. Don’t let anyone discourage you by saying your kids will end up weird. Sure, my family is a little out there, but only in the good, non-conformist sense.

  11. Kate

    Mahsheed –

    Some of the others have emphasized that it’s never too late to start homeschooling. But, if your children haven’t started school yet, I think there is a good argument for starting homeschool right away, rather than waiting to see whether or not your child does well in elementary school. By the time you find out whether school is having a negative effect on your child, a lot of harm can have been done. Not to be alarmist, but I know it only took the first few years of school to expose me to harmful social patterns and ways of thinking that I’m still catching in myself today!

    yofed – the best reason to homeschool is social. There is nothing socially advantageous to being trapped in an age ghetto day in and day out. In contrast, learning to relate to and with people of varying ages, backgrounds, abilities, and occupations will serve your children well for the rest of their adult life.

  12. Mahsheed

    Thanks for the advice Kate. I am interested in homeschooling but my husband isn’t. I’m waiting for him to come around on this subject.

  13. yofed

    Thanks everybody for your advice! I hope it will help me when I bring up the subject, which will be very soon! Tonight if I manage to muster the courage! 😉

  14. Denise

    I’m a new reader here, and since you’re one of the first bloggers I’ve read that isn’t already homeschooling, I’d like to ask this question for discussion…..what happened to parochial schools? I see so many parents touting the value of homeschooling, but hardly any mention of the local Catholic school.

    My son goes to our parish’s school and I’m curious why I hear very few Catholic bloggers talking about that option. Thoughts/Ideas???

    Thanks!!

  15. Jennifer F.

    Denise –

    Good question! I suppose the reason varies for everyone. I know that a lot of people have a hard time finding Catholic schools that are really in line with Church teaching.

    Our parish school is evidently really good in both academics and faith. For us, the reason sending our kids there is off the table is quite simple: we’re broke! 🙂 If our finances change drastically over the next few years we may consider it, but right now it’s just out of the question.

  16. Denise

    Thanks for your answer Jennifer. I know right now, I’m pleased with our school, but as we face an upcoming move AND more kids in school, I’m not sure I’ll be able to find a good Catholic school that’s reasonably priced for our family. Guess we’ll just see when the time comes. Funny though how spendy schools are when we’re supposed to be so open to many children 😉

  17. Sarahndipity

    I’m 99% sure my husband and I will send our daughter and any future children we have to public school. To be honest, homeschooling does not appeal to me at all. My reasons have nothing to do with socialization, though – I absolutely believe that homeschoolers can be adequately socialized through extracurricular activities. It just sounds like an enormous amount of work. Also, I’m not sure what our future children will be like, but our daughter is very extraverted and loves her preschool, so I think she would do better in a traditional school setting.

    To me, there are two main reasons for staying home with my kids (I work now b/c I have to, but I hope to stay home in the future.) The first and most important reason is because I want to raise my own kids and be there for them. But the secondary reason is a quality of life reason. Having two working parents is awful – every minute of every day is filled up with stuff we have to do. It’s hard to squeeze in any fun. If I stayed home, I could do a lot of the housework and errands during the week and we would have more time to relax and have fun as a family on the weekends. But if I homeschooled, that would take up a lot of time during the week and would almost defeat one of the purposes of staying home.

    Also, I know this is more of a selfish reason, but I want to have time to write poetry, read, and possibly work part-time or have a home business while my kids are at school. I’m really looking forward to having time to myself from 7-3 every day, I have to admit.

    Also, Catholic school is too expensive if I want to stay home. If it were cheap or free I’d consider it. I honestly don’t see any difference between Catholic schooled kids and public schooled kids, though. I went to public schools my entire school career and always had a strong faith. What matters is that you have a strong foundation in the faith from your parents.

    All that being said, I also don’t understand the hostility that some people of a more liberal bent have towards homeschooling and homeschoolers. Every situation is different and every family has to do what they think is best. If you think homeschooling is right for you, then go for it. Kudos to you for doing what’s best for your family and not just following the crowd.

  18. Darwin

    Making the martini extra dry is the most fun for kids, as it happens.

    Pour dry vermouth in the glass, swirl it around, then pour it out. (How many times to you tell a kid to swirl stuff around in a funny-shaped glass and then pour the contents out?)

    Then pour straight gin (or vodka) into the shaker with ice. Shake vigorously, preferably to a recognizable tune, but jumping up and down shouting “Make mommy drunk! Make mommy drunk!” will also work.

    Pour the gin from the shaker into the glass.

    Spear olive(s) on (preferably sword shaped with little “agh! he got me!” sound effects) toothpick, and put in glass.

    Give the glass to mommy, and ask daddy what he wants to drink.

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