What We Don’t Need for School
I’m loving those back-to-school sales, aren’t you? Now is the time to stock up! Just because we homeschool doesn’t mean we don’t use school supplies, right? I’ve flipped through the pages of catalogs and scrolled through the websites, ordering the books and materials we will use for the next several months, if not the whole year. I spent some time considering the new exhibits at area museums and how I might incorporate those into our year. Many homeschool-friendly local businesses sent me e-mails about their offerings and I discussed these with my kids. All these preparations sound a lot like other families who send their kids to school! I considered this and made a list of what I think homeschoolers don’t need for school this year, some of them funny and some very serious. Maybe a few of these will resonate with you as well.
An alarm clock
Okay, okay. Maybe many of us still use an alarm clock and my older kids do, in fact, use one. But, many times, we don’t really need one. We have the freedom to get out of bed and get going on our day whenever we want. Very often, we don’t absolutely have to get up at 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. every morning; just some mornings. And, we chose to sign up for those classes that meet at 8:30 a.m.
Grab-and-go breakfast bars
Sometimes, we homeschoolers offer these for breakfast, I know. However, it’s often because we want to mix it up a bit. Cereal, eggs, bagels, muffins—it gets a little boring, and we get tired of making stuff, too. However, we don’t have to have these available for kids who rush out the door because they might miss the bus. We usually have time to feed our kids a wholesome breakfast, even if we are doing devotions or a family read-aloud at the same time.
For many homeschooling families, the uniform of choice is pajamas with slippers. Ha! Yes, it is nice to not have to buy a drawer full of white polos and dark blue skirts and pants, in addition to “playclothes.” The thrift store is my department store of choice for kids’ wardrobes, especially when they are under age 10 and need new outfits every six months! Homeschoolers don’t need to worry about the latest school fashion or uniforms. And, yes, the kids sometimes spend the day in their comfy pjs. “Hey, if we’re not going anywhere, what’s the point,” my son, age 11, would ask.
Bladder of steel
Do you remember going to school and waiting to use the bathroom until the pass was available? My mother came to the school and actually told off the teacher, when I was in second grade, because she had to bring me a change of clothes. Yes, the teacher wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom and I ended up making a puddle on the floor. Homeschoolers don’t need a bladder of steel, because they can use the bathroom whenever they want!
Raise money for school fundraisers
Yes, the public schools get government funds, and private schools are funded by tuition and donors, but they still hold fundraisers and expect families to order wrapping paper, candy, magazine subscriptions, and other items to raise money for “extras.” The extras are not always clearly defined, and I wonder why our taxes aren’t paying for these things. Many times, families have to buy extra school supplies for the classroom, too. Sometimes homeschoolers still find themselves raising money to support a dance troupe, gymnastics team, softball league, or other extracurricular, but these are not public programs that are required; we chose to participate.
School physicals and such
We do not need to scramble to fit in the requisite doctor visit before school starts. We can see the doctor whenever we want, and choose to follow our convictions regarding healthcare for our families. Schools require certain healthcare decisions and practices that do not apply to us in the same way.
Medi-Alert bracelet or other medical devices
My children have a long list of allergies, and I was recently hospitalized for anaphylactic shock. Many children with peanut allergies face a lunchroom full of possible offenders every day and schools are often not equipped with Epi-Pens. Since I control the food in my house, I know my children will not accidentally be exposed to offending foods. Some children visit a doctor or therapist frequently. Homeschooling allows them to learn around this schedule.
Give up our family time for homework
This is one of the best reasons to homeschool. We do not need to give up our evenings and weekends, we do not need to give up precious family time to the school down the street. Some parents do not work the typical 9-5 job and if their children are enrolled in school, they barely see them. As homeschoolers, we get to “do school” around family life, not the other way around. And my personal favorite is that we get to take vacations whenever we want, not when the school says it’s vacation.
I know. Thick skin? Bullying is a big problem in the schools. It has been all over the news in the past few years and even the U. S. federal government developed a website to stop bullying. As homeschoolers, this usually isn’t a problem. Some of us even turned to homeschooling to escape this issue. However, homeschooled kids can still be bullied, sometimes from unexpected sources. I talk more about that HERE. But, unlike children who attend a school, we have choices. We can leave that class or group. We can ask the other party to leave the class or group. Public and private-schooled kids do not have those options.
Wonder if the school is safe
Given the rash of school shootings, this may be the most important thing that homeschoolers don’t need to do for school. We do not have to send our children to therapy for anxiety about the safety of their school. We do not have to sit and wonder if our children will come home today. Our children are with us or with trusted friends, mostly in churches or homes. The homeschool community is rather tight-knit, with everyone knowing everyone else and their children. Our children feel safe and loved, and can get down to the business of learning without fear and anxiety crowding their minds.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the blessing of homeschooling and setting us free from so many burdens, small and large. Please comment below with any other things that you find you don’t need as you start a new school year.
Julie Polanco is the homeschooling mother of four children, the oldest having graduated in 2016. She is a frequent contributor to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and is the high school botany instructor for www.schoolhouseteachers.com. Her book, God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn, is now available for pre-order through your favorite bookstore! If you send her a copy of your receipt, you will receive a personalized note from her and a digital exclusive. Go to her website, www.juliepolancobooks.com where she regularly posts about the writing life, homeschooling, Christian living, and her book projects.