A Day In the Life: A Homeschooler’s Story
written by Brian Baublitz
As I walk into the living room, my mother is sitting in her recliner reading to my younger brother who is listening intently. Her pajama pants and t-shirt are visibly wrinkled from a night of sleep. In the other room, the sound of toddlers fills the air with horns, bells and whistles from a wide assortment of noisy toys. As she is trying to read, the dogs start barking at a nonexistent knock on the door then paces around her feet waiting to be let outside. One of her daycare kids, my niece, comes walking out asking for juice while yet another child cries and complains about getting something taken from him. This is just a typical day in the life of my mother who has to face the task of being a homeschool teacher and parent at the same time.
The hallway is lined with pictures of family memories and have been moved higher so that the multiple youngsters that she babysits cannot wreak havoc on them. Most of the schoolwork is done in our dining room. The “classroom” sits in the middle of the one floor rancher, and is the central hub for everything in the house. To one side sits the kitchen, shimmering in the morning sun on the white linoleum tiles. The other leads down the hall, towards the bathrooms and bedrooms. In the front of the room, key chains dangle from a hook, representing our Christmas tree ornaments and mementos from vacations of the previous calendar year. Once the reading is done, my mother and brother traipse into the dining room to begin “math class”. Behind my brother, who works diligently on his algebra lesson for the day, the kids have now taken their coats and scurried onto the deck to play with their outside toys for the last time before the winter winds force the toys into storage. The walls are adorned with custom made paper turkeys and pictures of colorfully drawn flowers. The kids may have just arrived and the day is just beginning, but the chaos will only continue to grow as the hours roll by.
“You have to want to spend time with your kids. Cindy Baublitz, homeschool teacher and parent said. “Homeschooling isn’t easy. It’s a 24/7, 365 day-a-year job because it is tied in so closely with parenting. The rewards, however, are enormous. My homeschoolers are very family oriented, kind and comfortable in almost any situation.” “They believe their peers are everyone in the world! If you are willing to make the sacrifices (and there are many!) and you honestly enjoy spending time with your child, I would say to do it! You’ll never regret it!”
My mother has homeschooled her kids for the past twelve years and she has played an even more vital role than most parents in her kids’ lives because of it. To her, this is what makes the hard work and stressful planning worthwhile. “For me, it’s the closeness it brings with my children and the chance to be a part of their every day,” Cindy said. “I am there for the highs and the lows, all the milestones and on the quiet days when there it’s just us and we lock away the world to just be us.”
Homeschooling was something I looked forward to doing every morning. The way that I was taught, learning turned into an adventurous game and we would have a theme for each day. For example, during the Chinese New Year we would make paper lanterns and watch Chinese documentaries or order pizza on national pizza day. There was always an interesting twist added into every lesson that made me want to learn more. There was just a certain comfort in being able to watch movies, eat pretzels, do work in pajamas and choosing your own topic to study. After homeschooling me for seven years, 3rd – 8th grade, and enjoying it as much as I did, I wanted to go back to my roots and see how her experience with my little brother has differed. My brother, 10-year-old Dakota Baublitz, enjoys homeschooling and if he had the choice to go to public school, he would still rather stay home. “Getting to sit on my bed under the covers doing my school work” is the best part of his experience. Obtaining an interview from him was extremely difficult because he would always blow me off to play Minecraft video games or just ignore me completely. It was a struggle just to have him answer that one question. I found that it has been much more difficult to teach my little brother since he does not have the passion for learning, attention span, or desire to do anything productive like I used to. He gets distracted easily by the daycare kids or the dogs, and once he gets off track, it becomes a lost cause for the rest of the day. As of the 2012 Statistical Abstract, three percent of children in the United States are homeschooled. “As the dissatisfaction among parents with the U.S. education system grows, so too does the number of homeschoolers in America,” said Julia Lawrence of educationnews.org. “Since 1999, the number of children who are being homeschooled has increased by 75%. Although currently the percentage of homeschooled children is only 4% of all school children nationwide, the number of primary school kids whose parents choose to forgo traditional education is growing seven times faster than the number of kids enrolling in K-12 every year.”
A normal homeschool day would usually go along the lines of this. I would be required to wake up in the morning to a dog sleeping on my bed and a baby crying in the room beside me. The sun rays peak through the curtains of my small closet-sized room as I make my way down the hall towards the smell of cinnamon rolls. My mother/teacher is already wide awake as she gets up at the crack of dawn each school day to get a bath, watches the morning news and prepare her lesson plan for the busy day ahead. Once the clock struck nine, the school day would begin and I could choose what subject I wanted to start with. I despised any kind of math so I chose to get the worst out of the way most days. Because my mom homeschooled me, she couldn’t maintain two jobs, so and was a daycare provider on the side. The kids were 1, 3, 5, and 7 years old. They all tended to arrive painfully early and the peaceful mornings went up in flames when they walked in the door. The house was filled for the rest of the day with screeching kids and toys scattered around every room. After the kids were all fed, she bundled them all up in frilly scarves and fluffy coats, put them in their respective car seats and we all headed out to run errands. It was very rare to have a day where we got to go an entire school day without having to run an errand or have something unexpected pop up and disrupt our plans. Once we arrived back home, my mom and I would finish building our volcano science project that was halfway done and would get overly excited when our baking soda lava flooded the cardboard village of Pompeii. Around noon I would take an hour long lunch break. I raced to my room, tucked into the corner of the house, to play Super Smash Bros Melee on GameCube and let my guinea pig roam around my room. My pig always looked forward to this as he squealed and kicked his feet up joyously while zipping back and forth. By the end of the day, I snuggled up under a blanket on the couch and would normally watch a movie related to the subject that was being taught that week.
No day is exactly the same way. Unlike public schooling, where there is a certain time limit and way of running a classroom, homeschoolers have free range and can go about their lesson plans however they so please. “I would say there is no typical school day,” former homeschooler Erin Carnell said. “There is math and science and history that needs to be done and things like that, but there are always field trips and fun new ways to do things.” Erin was one of the more dedicated homeschoolers as she went from the start of elementary school through high school without going to public school. “I love the freedom it gives you and the bonding time with your children,” she said. “My favorite part was the freedom to build a curriculum that works best for you and what you are interested in.”
Homeschoolers are a rare breed of families because they go against the traditional ways of educating their children and try to recreate the school atmosphere while advancing their children’s academic careers. Despite the lack of social interaction opportunities, learning in a one-on-one environment can be more beneficial to a student’s success, since the teacher/parent can focus all their attention on making their child a better student.
For some, homeschooling is not a desirable method and it can be miserable if you don’t have the right frame of mind. Jordan Hendricks, who currently attends CCBC Catonsville and was homeschooled from first to tenth grade, is someone who hated it and found it an uncomfortable experience. “I would never homeschool my kids. I believe the public school system is not perfect, but it is very important for a child’s social skills and development,” Hendricks said. “I would never want my child to be or feel like the ‘weird one’.”
“Homeschooled children are more apt to go with the flow,” my mom said as she relaxes in front of the fire after a long school day. “They know that routine often means nothing and that we work with what we have on any given day. They make friends easily with both adults and children of all ages. They go on a field trip or into a class and there may be a familiar face or two, or there might be a group of kids he has never met, homeschoolers usually have no problem with walking up, saying hello and joining in….and the homeschoolers he is joining will welcome him readily. I believe they are family oriented and very close to their family members because they grow up in the home. They see what it’s like for a parent to juggle family and responsibilities and they are a part of making it all happen.”
Julia Lawrence of www.educationnews.org
2012 Statistical Abstract