Monday, August 26, 2013

What Do You Do All Day?

atheist blog atheist homeschool
The question usually comes from the parent of a public school child. I know what school looks like. It is nice and structured and scheduled, nice bells regularly chiming every fifty minutes, boxes of exciting and brightly-colored materials on the shelves, handmade crafts swinging in the breeze from paper clips attached to the light fixtures over head, monthly new bulletin boards, permission slips and dress codes, and SRAs to keep you busy when you finish your work before everyone else.

No wonder non-homeschool parents can't wrap their heads around what we could possibly be doing all day! No, I don't go use the mimeograph machine. I haven't used cardboard carrels around the kids as they work  No paste smells. No raising hands to answer questions. No alphabet stapled above the chalkboard. No behavior grading in the corner of the chalkboard. No rubric to consider. Homeschoolers have no state standards and no test to teach to. 

So what does that leave?  
Well, everything.

We read and write and listen to music and talk to people and travel and explore and ask questions and keep our brains and our bodies active. If you were a bug on the wall of one hundred different homeschooling families you would discover one hundred different ways to homeschool, one hundred different answers to the question What did you do today?

This question, what do you do all day, simple as it sounds, is actually a very loaded question. It suggests that the stereotypes are true. That kids are bored. That husbands don't help. That teens are naturally to be distanced from. That Mom is carrying the burden. It implies that children would have no idea what to do with their time if someone didn't organize it. It gives very little value to doing nothing. It also suggests that the day looming ahead of you with absolutely nothing planned is a thing to fear.

I've had my doubts, my tears, my fears about homeschooling. At any one time our homeschooling includes about as much freedom as each of us can handle that day. And it always come back to remembering that forcing information and lessons on a child does very little to actually educate that child. I personally spent over eighteen years as a student in school myself and there is SO MUCH that I don't remember, that I never really understood, or that I simply didn't need in life. I think of the many stories that each of us have about how awful our school years were. I think of the drudgery and tedium. I remember the reasons why we chose this lifestyle.

I think of myself being an excellent essay writer and test taker, but having absolutely no lasting knowledge from many years of schooling. I think about the misery of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I think about how grateful I am that there is absolutely no need to force-fit my children into a system that is not welcoming to uniqueness, kindness, open hearts, introversion, or creativity. I think of how the freedom to make choices each day opens up doors that we are often surprised to discover. I think of how boredom always puts the onus of activity on the bored. Without plans and schedules, we manage to create wealth, depth, and breadth many days.

So what DO we do?  We homeschool.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:   
Some Days Suck 
How Do I Homeschool? 
A Typical Day 
You Must be SO Patient 
Advice from Expert Homeschoolers


  1. I liked this so much that I read it twice.
    Beautifully said.

    1. Thank you for saying so, Gabriela.
      I haven't "seen" you around in awhile...I guess I've been rather distracted myself...

      I'll get over and check out your blog too!

      THANKS, I always appreciate hearing from you!

  2. You are SO eloquent...and this post is so empowering. Right at this moment I feel pretty good about our decision to homeschool, but I am going to bookmark this post because there are definitely times when I feel afraid, or when someone has said something insensitive, and I am vulnerable to second-guessing myself. I have been out of touch with the homeschool blog community this summer (guess I was really on vacation!) but reading your post is just what I needed to get excited about a new year. Thank you!

    1. Kelli, THANK YOU!
      Do you want to know my secret?
      I write what I know I would have wanted to read at different times of our homeschool journey.

      I'm glad that you found me! Please come back!

    2. That's an excellent secret, and your strategy is working :) I will DEFINITELY be back!

  3. Hi! I'm new here. Found your blog because I too am an atheist mom. I hated school when I was younger, but my kids are in school. I just don't know how they'd make friends otherwise. Is this a question you've been asked before? Do your homeschooled kids have friends? I'm just curious. Hope my question doesn't offend. :)

    1. Suz, THANKS for the questions. Keep an eye here. I'll put up a blog post just to answer your questions!

      Oh, and WELCOME!



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