It is that time of year – the time to reexamine our homeschool curriculum. Ok, here it goes. I’m going to say it. Public school is easier – on the parents, that is. Really.
This year I really stopped to ponder the idea. If we were shuffling off our kids to the local public school, the extent of our preparation would consist of only a few things.
First, we would brave the crowds at a local box store, gathering so-called “school supplies”. Undoubtedly this is more complicated in this day and age. Oh for the days of cheap pencils, wide-ruled paper, Trapper Keepers and a fashionable backpack. I must confess I don’t know what the supplies consist of these days but I am certain the ritual itself has not been altered much.
Next, we would stock-up on school year fashions (at least until Christmas) and invest in a round of new “school outfits”. Perhaps this is the most exciting for the student unless of course, uniforms are involved. Either way, it is a good excuse to quit putting off the purchase of that new pair of expensive shoes. It is as astounding as it is obvious – children’s feet grow fast. And hand-me-downs seem to work well in every other category except this one.
After furnishing a round of spiffy fall semester outfits, we arrive at the most important of all public school preparation – making room in our busy schedule for the “open house”. Because of course, it is important to spend an hour or even two with the folks that will be raising our children during the day. Let’s face it. “Meet the teacher” is really a “meet the parents” for a majority of the students waking ours. (“Open House” – hint, hint.)
But all in all, these few components of preparation are not that bad. Upon adding it all up, it still amounts to a fairly limited up-front investment. Yet that is not the best part. The real savings comes when we add up the hours we actually invest any given week into our child’s education. Sure, there is homework to oversee and perhaps the occasional parent-teacher conference, but when it comes down to it – we have most of our days free of our children. For a good six hours or so we can drop them into the hands of someone else and get to the business of real life. We are free. Free to work. Free to run errands. Free of our children. Free. Speaking of…
What is the best part about all of this? Zero tuition. That’s right. Public schools might tax citizens at large and actively contribute to the approaching bankruptcy of our country, but there is no frontal assault on my monthly budget. Bottom line, I can offload my kid and never pay a penny out of my after-tax income. Now that’s a deal.
In contrast to all of this, let’s go ahead at state it plainly. Homeschooling can be challenging. Very challenging. In fact, it may just be the single largest time and energy investment a parent or both parents make while their children are at home. Therein lies a big difference with public school. Yet, there also lies all of the magnificence. Accepting full responsibility for the education of your children – whether enlisting the help of a private school, tutors for select subjects, or going it alone as parents – is at the heart of the covenant institution of the family.
This is why once or twice a year, my wife and I reexamine our homeschool curriculum and routine. But more importantly, we seek to do so in terms of guiding presuppositions. More on that topic next time.