A pretty standard response to “regular” people finding out that I homeschool is, “Wow, you’re amazing, I could never do that.”

I never know how to respond in person.  So I’m going to do it here instead.  I’m going to let you all in on a little secret.  The REAL reason I homeschool is because I think it’s WAY easier and less time-consuming than what traditional school moms have to do everyday.

Jack heading for school (we made it 10 weeks).

Now that I have been homeschooling for five years, there are many other things I love about it.  But the reason I started homeschooling was not to have a classical curriculum, or less busy-work, or authentic catechism, or more shared experiences as a family.  It was because our parish school seemed to have been organized with the express purpose of being inconvenient to families.

The main issues for me were:
1. Driving, 2. Fundraising, 3. Volunteering

When my son was in kindergarten, not ONE SINGLE student at the school walked or rode a bike to get there.  I think kids should walk to school, but I don’t think they should do it all alone at age 5.  That meant I had to wake little kids up, and try to schedule naps around dropping off and picking up.  It turned my sweet, mellow toddler into a complete monster.

While Catholic schools are often much more affordable than other private school options, the idea of paying that monthly tuition bill for all of our kids (I was expecting number 5 at the time) was daunting.  But even more troubling was the near-constant fundraising.  

There was the monthly fast-food school lunch fundraiser.  “But Mom, all my friends get to have it, and if you don’t buy it you have to eat outside all alone.”  

Left to their own devices they ARE quite entrepreneurial.

There was the selling stuff: magazines, wrapping paper, cookie dough.  It was never ending.  It’s not like you can in good conscience send your kid to the neighbors and relatives every month with another order sheet in hand.  So guess who gets to buy all that junk that your little scholar so desperately needs to sell so that he can win the major awards they trumpeted for him in a school-wide assembly?  Here’s a hint: it’s YOU.

And there’s the parish carnival.  The silent auction (for which you donate and at which you purchase), the food, the games, the crafts, the raffle tickets, they’re all fun, but they all cost money.  The season-pass carnival ride wristband alone costs about what I spend on schoolbooks for a student in a year.

And speaking of the parish carnival, there’s the volunteering.  Our school required 40 hours of volunteering per family per school year.  That’s no small chunk of time.  And in addition to the family volunteering requirements for the school, there are other requirements in each classroom.  In Jack’s kindergarten classroom, each Mom was supposed to come in once a month to help at the reading table.  For 30 minutes.  In the middle of the day.  And no babies allowed.  My mom was having to drive 2 hours to my house to stay with my other kids.

Then when I consider the fact that for the early grades at least, I can probably get a whole homeschool day done in the time it takes to help a traditional school student with their homework after school, homeschool was the clear winner for us. 

There are, of course, many more noble reasons to choose homeschooling.  But, for us, there were a lot of practical reasons as well.