Jun 272010

Many of you have asked if I’ll continue homeschooling Chase in the fall.

In short: Hell No.

Let me explain.

Craig and I became curious about the public elementary school as soon as we arrived in our new town. Everywhere we went (ice cream parlor, farmers market, church…that’s about it) folks excitedly asked us if Chase would attend the neighborhood grade school. Their eyes lit up as they spoke of the school’s excellent teachers, notable awards, and special spirit. It seemed the elementary school was thought of as a local treasure. Chase and I decided to check it out.

We made an appointment, took a tour, and liked what we saw. There are small classes, loving teachers, an exciting atmosphere, a diverse student body…and as Chase noted…a cool playground and tator tots. We were both impressed. Not that it would have taken much to impress us, based on the school to which we were comparing it . . . The Melton Homeschool. Which, as it turns out, is certainly on the top ten list of Worst Schools Ever In the History Of the World.

The Homeschooling part of this Dropping Out / Dropping In experiment did not go as planned.

Here is how I envisioned our Homeschool Experience:

The kids and I would wake at eight-ish, kiss each other good morning, and mosey downstairs for pancakes and organic, freshly squeezed orange juice. During breakfast, we would preview our Daily Schedule, which would be neatly recorded on our official Homeschooling Dry Erase Board. Then the children would scurry off to get dressed for the day while I did the dishes and prepared the materials for our first projects, whistling while I worked, obviously. In my vision I was showered, wearing a little white apron, and done up real pretty.

When the kids came back downstairs – shiny, matching, smiling and holding hands – I would set up Tish and Amma with the creative and brain-expanding art project I had prepared for them the night before. Then Chase and I would get to work on our investigative report about how to Save the Bay from pollution. After that, we would finish up his first poetry anthology and get it ready to send off to the publisher. Then I’d introduced calculus. While he started to work independently on his Mandela biography, the girls would present their artwork to me, articulately discussing their use of color and shadowing and such.

Then we would break for lunch, which the children would prepare using elements from each of the food groups. Immediately following lunch we would treasure hunt through the neighborhood…looking for specific plants and flowers, labeling their parts and then hand delivering to them to elderly neighbors. Then we would write up a review of our day, highlighting new discoveries and inquiries and plans for the next day, and the kids would wait excitedly at the front door together, shaking with the anticipation of reporting our educational adventures to Craig. I would retreat to the powder room to freshen up and then quickly retrieve Craig’s robe and pipe and scotch. I don’t really know what to say about that last part. We’ve been watching a lot of Mad Men.

**Please note that none of this is an exaggeration. This is really what I thought would happen. My hopefulness is what makes my life extremely exciting and also, consistently disappointing. It’s like what Homer Simpson said about alcohol: “Hope: the cause of – and solution to – all of life’s problems.” **

Kay. Real Life Version:

Chase would actually stumble downstairs at nine thirtyish. By then, the girls and I had been up for approximately one million hours. I’d already refereed thirty fights, cleaned up six broken glasses, watched nine cartoons, changed twelve diapers, and cried while whimpering I just can’t do this anymore three times. And so it would be high time to take a long break for breakfast. However, I don’t know how to make pancakes. And I don’t have an apron. Also I always forget to shower. Which made those parts of my vision impossible. So we’d just have some cereal and then rest for a quick six hours.

We’d end up starting homeschooling around two o’clock. Only I wouldn’t have prepared any schedule or art projects for the girls the night before because of those damn Kardashians and Audrina and Justin. So I’d throw some play-doh at the girls and then turn to Chase and ask him what he thought he should learn that day. And he’d always look at me blankly and say something like, I don’t know. Maybe math or something? But that wasn’t very specific. So much for child-led learning. By then Tish would be screaming because Amma was eating all the pink play-doh and I would have tell Amma to stop please, that play-doh is not organic. But then with nothing else to eat, she’d bite Tish instead. More screaming.

So I’d stare at my girls and wish really hard that I could send them to the principal’s office, or call their parents to suggest therapy or at least some parenting classes, or better yet, suspend them from school indefinitely. But there were obvious problems with each of those solutions. So instead I’d just tell Amma to go ahead and eat the play-doh after all. And Tish would scream that it wasn’t fair that Amma got to eat play-doh when she couldn’t. So I’d give Tish the green play-doh to feast upon. Then I’d finally turn back to Chase, but he’d have escaped off to the corner to read, wisely deciding that it might be his only chance to learn something. And I’d be grateful, because it had been a very long six minutes of homeschooling and I was completely exhausted again.

And as if these circumstances weren’t difficult enough . . . all of a sudden, through absolutely no fault of my own, we would accidentally go to the beach every day. Right in the middle of Homeschool Time. We would call it P.E. But after three hours of PE in the bay, I would start feeling guilty and make Chase answer some multiplication problems in the sand. And then every half hour or so, I’d think of a smart fact I knew, and I’d yell it to him while he was boogie –boarding. Like…for example, I’d sit up real quick from sun bathing and yell…Hey Chase, so there’s this TOWER in PISA and it LEANS. And he’d yell back, COOL MOM. Where’s Pisa? And I’d yell back, Ummm….. I can’t hear you. And then I’d lay back down, pleased with myself. How many teachers can weave Architecture lessons so seamlessly into Physical Education?

Somewhere along the way, Bubba and Tisha started noticing that each time they stopped by during our “school day,” we were asleep, at the beach, or flossing play-doh out of our teeth. So Bubba planned a research unit for Chase about the local economy. He took Chase to interview a local boat builder, fisherman, and farmer. The two of them created the questions together, went for the interviews, and Chase wrote up reports. In this report, he was working on transition sentences, which you’ll note at the end of paragraph two.

The end result of this research unit was that Chase gained some new friends and knowledge about how Small Town USA operates. Thanks to Bubba, Chase has learned some valuable lessons during our Homeschooling Time, in addition to this one: a human being can eat pounds of play-doh and survive.

And I’ve learned something too, which is this: one can consider herself a decent teacher, and still totally blow at homeschooling. It’s hard. And some hard things I just don’t want to do. God bless you ladies who do it. Truly and really, I am awed. And also done. Quite done.

So excited to see that yellow bus. C’moooooooon Sweet Yellow Bus.

I love you, public school system. Always have, always will. Forever and ever and ever.

Love, G

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  40 Responses to “Tangled Up in Blue, Part Two: Getting Schooled”

  1. “a human can eat pounds of play dough and survive.” I may have injured myself laughing at that.

  2. Let me just say that I have homeschooled my children for two years now, and I’d have to agree with every point you said! I had such different thoughts on how things would go, but the reality was a polar opposite. I had break downs a lot for most of the first year until the last 9 weeks (and that was due probably more to the fact that summer was coming than that we were getting any better at it). When we started the second year, atleast I knew what to expect, but it’s still a major challenge. If I didn’t have really good reasons for me to do this, the big yellow bus would be my best friend. :) I love my children more than anything, but I miss being able to send them to school. haha

  3. I’m sorry home schooling didn’t work out for you. I have been home schooling my boys for 4 years now and it’s worked out really well. We don’t do the fancy version, just a purchased 12 months curriculum, including all the work sheets, teacher’s manual, and scheduled tests. The class is conducted by the teacher online (or video) and I am just the facilitator, doing my own work but keeping an eye on my children making sure they are paying attention and following the drills. Total schooling time is 4.5 hours per day, this includes all drills, projects, seat work and snack time, no additional home work required.

    The boys get up around 9 AM and have quiet play or reading time until I serve them (and myself) a big breakfast, we then start school around 11:30AM to 12PM. We usually finish before 5 and go to the park or out to dinner. It took about 3 months in the beginning to set the routine, and after that they learned the drill and go with it.

    We take trips out to the beach, museum, parks when it’s just a rare beautiful day in the colder seasons to enjoy the day and we do the home schooling at night or weekends to make up for the day trip; we also travel often during off peak season (we save tons on traveling that way) to theme parks and other States, during those times, I just do the shorter version (Phonics/Literature/Arithmetic) of home schooling for about 2 hours a day, and enjoy of vacation for the rest of the day.

    I am not a super disciplined individual, so I chose to stick with annual curriculum that I can follow (they even have the calendar for me to mark off each day of school). We don’t watch TV before or during school schedule, only before dinner and not everyday. The boys really do enjoy their short school days and the freedom to read, play, and make different projects on their own with just cardboard and tape(lots of it).

    I just wanted to share that home schooling is doable, and super parenting is not pre-requisite for it. I am not a super mom, and I know of many other non supers home schooling their children and reaping the benefit from it 😉

  4. Laughing so hard my stomach is hurting!
    A blog-friend gave me this link. We are sooo there. My kids hopped on the yellow school bus for the first time two months ago.
    Thanks for the comic relief!

  5. LOVED this, and all of your posts! Thank you so much for being brave enough to be you. It is inspiring and has been life changing for me. I always feel like I have to keep secrets about who I really am, and I need to change that about myself. The battling depression is my biggest secret. I was on medicine for 10 years for it and no one knew. Not my husband or my best friend. The depression makes me feel broken, and unlovable. Thank you again for your courage. You deserve all the success in the world and I will pray and thank God for bringing you and your Blog into my life.

  6. Ha!! That was pretty much my homeschooling experience as well! The guilt nearly killed me, and having to spend all day with two children was even worse! There is a real reason parents count down the days till Kindergarten starts!

  7. This is pretty much me, minus the robe and pipe and replacing the beach with Wii games. Once again, thanks for writing. I'm gonna buy that book for sure, whether I can read the same stuff on the blog for free or not.

  8. I've been homeschooling now for 19 years.. this made me laugh so hard. Yea, that first scenario I think was for home school in a perfect world, like heaven.. ha ha.

    Do you know what time my kids are getting up for school these days? On a good day 10:00AM. Yea, they are teenagers… hard to get them up and moving.

    I always had such high dreams for my home school… they never ever came to fruition.

  9. A-MEN! My husband keeps asking me why don't I just homeschool? I always answer, "Because, I want him to LEARN something."

  10. So Funny! I laughed so hard, I cried. :) (All this while my two kids were taking a class from our local homeschool charter) I am a home school mom and this was pretty close to our first 6 months of home school experience. We still home school but have learned that structure, support and planned enrichement are our friend. I love homeschooling and will continue to do it as long as my kids and I still like it – but it was quite a change and took a lot of deliberate planning. My day is far more structured than any public school mom's – but , I also have flexibility when I really need it. I LOVED your article and will share with all the homeschool moms I know. Keep writing – you just got a new fan! :) — Violet

  11. As a teacher… you are right on the money. You should know that when parents come into a conference not happy about their children's grades and "threaten" to homeschool their little darling so they will learn… well, most often the teacher's internal reaction is to laugh and say give it your best shot! Teaching is not as easy as people seem to think – there's a reason why we have licenses and Master's degrees!
    In addition to that, spending time learning how to deal with other people, even those you don't get along with, is an important part of school.
    Glad you tried it, and glad you know what's best for your family!

    • Amen Debbie! “spending time learning how to deal with other people, even those you don’t get along with is an important part of school”. That’s right on the money!!! I always say: “It’s good to have a second grade fight when you are actually IN second grade!!!” Yep, I was homeschooled. Yes, my mother is a certified teacher. Yes it was super yucky!
      100% of life is social interaction only a portion of life is based on actual book learning.

  12. Awesome! This describes our homeschooling experience exactly.We lasted a semester and mine was asking to go back to school!

  13. that is AWESOME!

  14. Just found your blog through a friend and LOVE it. This post made me laugh so hard I cried. Thanks for the fun :)

  15. I'd like to one day have grandchildren. Therefore, I will not homeschool. I would like my children to live. Because I love them. Because one day, they will take care of me. And all of that will happen one day if I do not keep them with me 24 hours, 7 days a week. Besides, they will be LOADS smarter.

    Jen B.

  16. amen-not sure how homeschooling is possible for ANY MOTHER!! I haven't been on in awhile but am missing you…thinking of you and sending love to your beautiful fam-casey

  17. Heather – thanks so much for keeping us posted. I am so happy to hear that things are moving along so quickly for you and your babies. Continue to keep us posted and know that my prayers are with you!

    G – Thanks for the smile!

  18. Heather – thanks for the update! So glad to hear that your boys may be coming home soon :) keeping you and your family in my prayers.

  19. This is great! Love it. Miss you!

  20. Thanks for the update! I am here to say that if you can do extra school work great and if you can't great! My oldest will be starting his senior year in the fall. I have tortured him with homeschooling, extra lessons and summer work, all during the elementary years. I thought that is what all "good Moms" did with their kids! Silly me!! Being a "good Mom" means you figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are, so that you are content and happy (most of the time) with your life. I am still figuring it out and hope to be a "good Mom" when my 6yo becomes a senior in high school :)
    Keep up the good work, Glennon!!

  21. Wow, now I know for sure that I could never handle homeschooling. First of all, we do not live near a beach. Second of all, I need to be the one rolling out of bed at 930AM. I simply don't see how it could work. Thank you, Glennon, for such a funny post today. Needed it after a long day. I thought I'd jump on and update everyone. The boys (Gavin and Braden) are a week old today and continue to make good progress in the NICU. They are nursing (YAY!) and taking bottles, so no more IV. They are maintaining their own body temperatures, so no more warming beds or Isolettes (my husband calls them incubators). (YAY!). They both seem to have reflux that is causing some unsettling fluctuations in their heart rates and breathing, so we need to get that under control. Once we do that, we can bring them home! We are hoping for some day this week, but need them to take whatever time they need. We are all exhausted juggling time in the NICU and time with our 2yo, but am so grateful to have such wonderful family and friends that are cooking for my husband, doing laundry and grocery shopping, as well as driving me back and forth to the hospital every day. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we work to bring our newest family members home.

  22. vrwfox…

    i know. that's a whole different daydream.

    that show freaks me out. what if we still had to live that way? never really talking to each other? playing house and playing perfect all the time? YIKES.

    was it really like that?

  23. Here's another "me too" from a teacher who knows she can't homeschool her own kids.

    On Mad Men, the moms all drink and smoke all day– even the pregnant ones. But their dresses are lovely.

  24. R-

    I'm planning for both girls to join a preschool program at the church down the street. They'll go a couple times a week.

    When I said that we were moving for more family togetherness – I meant with looooong breaks in the togetherness.

  25. Well actually, Glennon- if you make your own play-doh it is organic. Well, that is if you buy organic flour. Hmmm… maybe just easier to buy the darn stuff. Proud of you, anyway.
    Funny stuff.

  26. Hats off to the homeschooling Mamas out there, like others I feel my attempts would be like Glennon described. I have been working on a kindergarten reading program with my 5 1/2 year old. If you had asked me a few years ago I would have said, "nothing is as special as giving a child the gift of reading…" That is until you get more frustrated than them and they start crying and hiding the books. Yesterday, by the grace of God we finished the program and my sweet one can sort of read. Wow, I learned more than she did.

    G- I love Chase's blog. How awesome! I think Chase got all the lessons he needed by spending time with the farmer. Is there a preschool in your new town? What will the girls be up to in the Fall?

  27. YAY, just what I needed. Thanks for the laugh this fine Monday morning, oh and also to know that you are normal like the rest of us.

  28. Um yea, precisely why I could never homeschool. Even if I could teach them math or science or reading, what I could not teach them well enough would be SELF-DISCIPLINE (as in how mommy works at home and they still see FB and Momastery on my computer screen every time they come in the office…)

    Also, am I the ONLY ONE who didn't know Chase has his own blog!?! Cool. Very cool kid.

  29. Hysterical! I, too, tried the drop out homeschooling plan. I too, ended up with days that were closer to your reality, than your dream. My two are going to a very cool part time school program in our public school system in September. Very excited that they get the required academics, but I get them home a bit more than normal. Sadly, I have to drive them…no bus for us. :(

  30. LMAO! G, that is hysterical!!! What a great post – thank you!!! Your homeschool reality has been my homeschool reality since mid-Dec. 😉 I had the same vision too. Every weekend I swear I'm gonna get my act together and really plan something academically off-the-charts amazing and then we end up at Pump-It-Up, the pool, or Grandmas. But we read street signs along the way and discuss traffic safety. The other day we even got to meet one of Leesburg's finest (43 in a 25, yep). :/ At least Austin was impressed. I'm with you… I'm done yelling random factoids, c'mon you sweet, sweet yellow bus!!!

  31. I looooooooooooooooove it and can totally picture it all going down this way in my house too if I tried it! Hey, now you know! We're coming up July 8-11…..any chance you'll be around? We'll just be an hour away, so maybe we can sneak over for a day trip!

    Abbey B.

  32. I have envisioned this exact same scenario at my own home with my two girls…it worked out just like your real life version did. I will be waiting patiently for the "yellow" bus to come pick up Joey come fall. I have talked so much about the public school system with her that now when she sees a bus she screams, "there's my bus, Mom…I didn't see my name on the side of it!!" At one time, Mommy must have mentioned that her name was on it before she could spell. Oh well, we are still excited. Thanks for the laugh and once again letting me know that I am not the only one out there with days like these.

  33. I needed a good laugh!!! Thanks!

  34. By the way, my word verification was "HYPER."

  35. I just love this. I, too, am a very good teacher. I would BLOW at homeschooling. I admire everyone who does it well!

  36. TOO CUTE!!!

  37. Kudos for trying it out (and for knowing it's not for you)! I love your envisioned homeschool … so lovely, peaceful and enriching for all. Very Mad Men (did they even homeschool back then?)

    Keep counting down the days to the yellow bus!

  38. Love it! This sounds precisely like my homeschooling would go. I think I will take this one as a lesson learned from you and just not try it. Tomorrow is my first day as a SAHM. I am sure I will be tired by 9am.



  39. Love it, G! What a treat to read… and a reward for my compulsive blog checking. :) All the more reason to stay on the internet all day and ignore my chidren despite our "summer school" plans.

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