Did you ever wonder why most parents of public school kids don’t question the fact that their kids are in school more than they are with their own families? The average school student will spend about 30 hours a week minimum in the school building. This does not include the endless after-school programs designed for test-prep, art enrichment, chess club, organized sports, and so on. Nor does this include the before-school breakfast programs or the hours many children spend at a child care center until their parents are done working, which- to me- is simply another type of school. Until everything is said and done, a good portion of children will not see the inside of their homes until after 6 pm, after which there will be a rushed dinner, an hour or two of homework, and quite possibly some unwinding in front of the TV before bed. The next morning, the cycle will begin again.
I’m not pointing the finger. I did the same thing when my kids were in school. I signed them up for every after-school program known to man, for fear they might miss out on something otherwise. I sent them to school early for breakfast because, hey, it was a lot easier and my house got quieter a lot quicker. I told myself that I was doing the right thing because…well…school is good, right?
But then once my children finally came home for the day, I’d be shaking my head, thinking, Why can’t my kids just get along? Why are they so wound up? Why won’t my middle schooler come out of her room?
When I began homeschooling, this problem was certainly not one of my reasons to pull them out of school. I still hadn’t seen the connection. In fact, I anticipated that things might get worse having the kids together all the time.
But I was wrong.
Things started getting better. My kids started playing together and soon became the best of friends. My daughter who never left her room initiated movie nights and marathons of TV shows and animes with me almost every day of the week. She’d follow me around the kitchen after she awoke every morning, telling me about her dreams and wondering what they meant. The chaos that I expected simply didn’t happen.
I eventually asked my daughter what had changed that made her actually come out of her room. Had she been going through a phase? What she told me was very straightforward. She said that after being in school all day, she was drained, but she couldn’t rest because she usually had at least two hours of homework. By the time she was finished, she was so tired, she would just lay in her room, vegging out.
Is this the kind of life we want for our kids?
I slowly began to realize that the root of the behavioral problems at home was school.
- My kids weren’t getting along because they weren’t together enough.
- They were hyper because they had been forced to sit all day long.
- They were stressed, exhausted, and cranky, but it wasn’t because of being home. It was because of school.
Additionally, since my children weren’t with my husband and me very much, we were not as influential on them as we would have liked. If your kids spend 6-8 hours a day with their teachers and peers and only a few with you, who do you think they are going to emulate? If your kids have teachers and friends with the same values as you, it may not be so bad, but, how often will that be true in this day and age?
What will happen, inevitably, is your children will likely begin to look up to their friends and their teachers, instead of you, their parents. Where do you think the ‘My parents don’t know anything’ idea originated?
Family will soon become a mere nuisance to those who have learned through experience that there will always be other people who are around them more. Siblings will be brushed aside, parents will be ignored, and family harmony will be a thing of the past.
But none of this has to happen…
I learned the effect that schooling can have on children the hard way, but it was so worth it, because when my 14-yr-old rests her head on my shoulder during church, or my 16-yr-old says, “Bye, Mom! I love you. Love you, Dad,” in front of his friends, or I see my younger children happily playing together, I know I made the right decision.
Like I said before, I may not have started this journey because of our family relationships, but the Lord knows that, in this case, homeschooling was just what the doctor ordered.