Time. It may be the most precious commodity we have. It is certainly the most limited. You may be able to make more money, buy more stuff, do more things, but you can never make more hours in the days. The best you can do is making sure that use wisely the twenty-four hours that you have in your day.
And here is a dirty little secret…school is a great FREE babysitter. I mean where else can you get seven and a half hours of supervised childcare…free of charge? And many families rely upon the education system for just that reason. I mean how many times do you here about mothers going back to work or school once their youngest child starts school?
Homeschooling means kissing all that good-bye. You will now have your child twenty-four/seven…just like when he or she was a baby. What’s more, you may find that your options for childcare are limited…free or otherwise. If your child is over five, you will find it difficult to find a nursery that will take him or her even for a few hours a week. Your only real choice is a private child minder/babysitter, nanny or au pair. But that is if you can afford it. The best option is perhaps a trade with another homeschooling family but that may be hard to find someone with similar aged children and values.
But let’s step back for a moment and look at what exactly time is involved with this thing called homeschooling.
First of all, the most important thing to consider is how and who will take this responsibility. In a society that has many families with two working parents, homeschooling can necessitate one of them quitting work or perhaps both cutting back on hours. That will likely mean taking a real hit to the household income. While we will look in more detail at financial resources in another blog, now is a good time to recognize that time equals money and ask yourself…can my family afford to homeschool?
Besides just the obvious need to cut back on work and loose income, think for a moment about all those errands you run while your child is in school. The bank. Grocery shopping. Even just a cup of tea/coffee at Starbucks/Costa…a couple of minutes just for you. All of that will have to change. With a special needs child any or all of those may be virtually impossible to accomplish.
Take yesterday for instance, I needed to go to the post office for a couple of things. It took us over half an hour to get Emily dressed and ready. A big part of that was rehearse/telling/preparing her for what we would do. I had hoped actually to also throw in a trip to the fabric store and lunch out. But we only managed the post office and bakery…just barely. She fidgeted in line; running off several times…only the threat of losing her treat brought her back. The same child that had brought a smile to everyone’s face by tenderly offering a flower we had found along the way to an old woman for Valentine’s Day also brought stares that clearly said…control that child. And I quickly backed out of the fabric shop when she insisted that she had to see the pretty colors of the fabric and started to climb the ladder someone had leaned against the wall. End of trip…half an hour and my stress levels were through the roof.
Of course, there are ways around some of that…like on-line banking, having your groceries delivered and paying bills on-line too. And trust me…we used all of those. Before we even left our front door, I had paid all my bills either on-line or the phone. I make my purchase on-line…whenever possible. And keep check of my banking the same way. Still there are always some things that cannot be done from home. Packages that have to be mailed, bills that cannot be managed on-line and even passport photos to be taken. How do you manage those with a difficult child? And how do you handle the not-so-friendly question…why isn’t that child in school?
Then there is the time that it takes to homeschool itself. You have to decide when you will manage that. A little secret…homeschooling is not something that is strictly 9 to 3:30 (check out my other blog to get a better idea of how that works). And it does not take nearly as long to teach one child one-to-one as it does to teach twenty something of them. Teachers may need to be experts at crowd control, but you must become an expert at controlling your child’s boredom. What will your child do when not actually learning? How will you manage to get anything done with a child singing…I’m bored…in your ears almost every hour on the hour.
And where you child might have had other children/friends to play with at school, you now become their primary playmate. Are you prepared for all that entails? Do you have the patience to play dolls…and realize that you are actually teaching serious life skills of parenting in the process? Are you prepared to take the health and safety responsibility of having your child in your kitchen while you make dinner? How many times will you have to remind him or her…be careful that pan is hot? And in our case, Emily can be so sensitive to loud noises that I have given up on getting the vacuuming done more than once a week?
That is just some of the time issues that you need to consider as you ask yourself…is homeschooling the right choice for my child? My family?
Next week we will look at other resources besides time that you may need on this homeschool journey.