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The Decision to Home-School

Updated on September 18, 2011

The kind of experience I want her to have

She finds a snail and is full of wonder.
She finds a snail and is full of wonder.

“You have to be really disciplined. If I did it, we’d all sleep in and wouldn’t get started until around 10 a.m. There’s no way I could do it—we’d both end up crying. I hope you’re not using one of those online things . . . .”

I’ve held off writing this first post about our home-schooling adventure because I needed to let things percolate. The above are the most common responses I’ve heard so far when I tell people. Everyone seems to know someone who is home-schooling, and most views on it have a negative tinge to them. It is a challenge, to be sure, but so is teaching in general.

I used to wake my kids up at 6 a.m. so I could pile them into the car with their on-the-road breakfast waffles in hand by 6:30, so I could make it to my Wednesday morning faculty meetings. They’d entertain themselves in my classroom until extended day opened their doors at 7:30 when they’d walk themselves over, and my oldest would check my youngest in before heading to her own classes. I wouldn’t see them again until 3:30 . . . unless, of course, I happened to have detention or homework hall duty that day, in which case, they’d busy themselves outside my classroom until 4:30. If I knew I didn’t have groceries, we’d stop on the way home. Finally, we’d be walking in the house by 5:30 – 6:00, and it would be time to make dinner. After dinner is—yawn—homework help time and read to the youngest time. Now it’s time to grade—yawn some more. Get myself to bed. Wake up the next day—start over. Of course, if it wasn’t a Wednesday, we’d all get a half hour more sleep—yay!

The point is that I always felt a sense of injustice in the routine. Here I was a teacher working hard each day, and I barely ever had the mental or physical energy to devote to my own kids during the school year. I was exhausted. When there was a special program going on in my youngest daughter’s classroom, it took an enormous amount of juggling to try and get there. Sometimes, I just couldn’t. When my oldest wanted help with homework that she had to have completed by the next morning, but I happened to be slammed with my own grading deadlines, it was a battle. I was admittedly not always in the mood.

I made the decision to home-school because I just decided that every time I picked my daughter up from the end of a day and saw the pile of worksheets falling out of her school bag, my heart knotted. I knew best what kind of a learner she was, and I knew that she’d be fine. That she’d learn, and she’d continue to grow into the cool person she was becoming. But something was still wrong. And here I was a teacher, just standing by and letting it happen because the majority of society does it that way. “I went to public school—I turned out fine.” Yes, and so did I—and so could she . . . but if you had it in your power, in your ability, to make it better than fine, wouldn’t you?

Brief Bio

Jenn Gutiérrez holds an M.F.A in English and Writing. Previous work has appeared in journals such as The Texas Review, The Writer’s Journal, The Acentos Review, Antique Children, and Verdad Magazine. Her 2005 debut collection of poems titled Weightless is available through most online book outlets. She currently teaches composition at Pikes Peak Community College and is working on a doctoral degree in Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Denver.


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    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

      Tracy Lynn Conway 6 years ago from Virginia, USA

      Great piece! The conversation about homeschooling with people that we run into, friends or family members is just awful, everyone has a question and a comment to make. I am homeschooling my 5 year old, which I still consider a bit of a joke since at such a young age full day school is so unnatural anyway. Sometimes I fudge the truth to avoid the conversation entirely, but asking kids about the school they attend is a common ice breaker.

      Regarding your perpetual yawns, women today are just so completely conflicted, what is the right thing? Does anyone even know? I applaud your choice to end the exhaustive cycle of school for your family and choose a loving alternative. Stick to your guns and do the right thing, even if no one else understands. I am voting up and awesome!

    • jenn_Gutierrez profile image

      jenn_Gutierrez 6 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO

      Thank you for your kind encouragement. I am enjoying the ride so far--more importantly, my little one told her cousin over the phone yesterday, "I hope I'm still home-schooled when I'm in fourth grade." Must be doing something right.

    • thebookmom profile image

      thebookmom 6 years ago from Nebraska

      I hope your home schooling journey is a great one. I too taught and now home school and have fielded a lot of negative opinions. I can tell you we love it and it is totally worth it :)

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 6 years ago from North Texas

      My daughter was reading 5th grade level at age 4. She was doing 4th grade math at age 4. We started 'school' at 1 PM in the afternoon. We finished at 4 PM, sometimes sooner. We had school year around and sometimes on weekends. My daughter was ready for college at age 11 and in fact audited a class in political science when she was 11. She received a B, but unfortunately, not being registered, it didn't count. Of 125 of her classmates, more than 40 failed the class completely. They had attended public schools and apparently learned at those institutions that attending the university meant party time on your parent's dollar, not study or show up to class time, which is why they failed.

      The idea that school must be between 7 AM and 4 PM is a myth. Learning can take place whenever it works best for the child and fits into the parent's schedule so long a it's not neglected and given back burner status.

      Home school isn't for everyone for a variety of reasons, but it does work great for a lot of children and their families.

      I voted you up and interesting.