Over the years I was homeschooling, parents often told me that they could never do what I did. It’s just so hard to homeschool rather than sending your children to school, was the sentiment. It’s so much easier to let the teachers deal with them than to keep them with you all day.
For years, I told people that the idea that sending your kids to school was easier was a fallacy. That the more time you spend with your children, the more pleasant they are to be around, the more tuned in you are to each other, and a positive spiral is created. You want to create a negative spiral? Do the opposite.
Well, let me tell you, after over a year of having my children in school, I can tell you that I was right. It takes much, much more energy to raise your kids well when they’re in school all day. They come home tired and uptight, and you get to spend a portion of the time you have with your kids remediating the behaviors that they picked up during their school hours. Then once you’ve emotionally reclaimed them, you put them to bed, send them off to school, and get to start all over the next day. There’s just so much time spent putting out fires and doing damage control.
You want a lovely example of this? Two days ago I went to pick up ds5 from kindergarten. That particular day I happened to be alone – usually the baby is with me – so it was just the two of us walking together on a beautiful day. As we walked along, I said something innocuous, but it annoyed him. So he told me not to say that (no, he didn’t request), and then a minute later, said to me in a demanding voice in which he was clearly trying to provoke me, “Should I tell you to shut up?” Never, ever, have I had a child speak to me like this, and if it had happened, it would have happened once and that would have been the end of it. Though this was the first time that he ever said this, less than pleasant means of expressing himself are becoming too common, and the relationship has to shored up before any correction can be effectively employed. This is what I mean about having to spend time remediating negative behaviors.
Today ds5 and ds3 stayed home with me. Fridays are a busy time at but they were around as I did whatever I had to do – they put Yirmiyahu on the crawling track a couple of times, we read a couple of books, they shaped challah dough, and then the two of them took a bath together. I let them play in the tub for a while, and then they got dressed for Shabbos. While they were getting dressed, ds5 told me, “You’re a cute mommy”. Then he put it to a tune and started singing it again and again. Then he put it to partial Hebrew, ds3 started singing along with him, and then they started singing to each other how cute the other one was. So sweet!
Right now, ds5 is busy slicing up cucumbers for cucumber salad while I write. He’s been constructively busy all morning, and emotionally engaged in a positive way with me throughout this time. I didn’t hear one even slightly negative thing all day, no negative behaviors that are typical on school days – I’m the same parent , these are the same children – but the behavior is totally different from one day to the next, and the big difference is going to school versus staying at home.