As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day, I came across a friend’s post regarding her desire to homeschool her children. Since I am a homeschool mom, it right away piqued my interest so I began to look through all the comments. What I read has had me thinking ever since. I was prepared to see some people in support of her choice and others opposed, and was even prepared for what the opposition had to say. What I wasn’t prepared for was how the same objections I’ve heard so many times before would make me think long and hard about what was at the root of these arguments.
If you homeschool your children or if you’ve ever even brought up the idea of homeschooling to your friends and family, chances are you’ve heard all the reasons why you shouldn’t. Your kids won’t be socialized. They won’t be able to get into a good college. And my new favorite thanks to the Facebook post I mentioned: But they’ll miss out on all the fun!
Last I checked, school is intended as a place for children to LEARN. We as a people have come to the conclusion that our children must have x amount of knowledge in math, language, science, and history in order to be good, functioning members of society, and so school is where we send our children for the majority of their formative years in order to acquire that knowledge. School was never intended as a place for children to have fun. In fact, having fun in class is often seen as disruptive. Yet somehow, somewhere parents have bought into the delusion that school should be a place for fun.
Amusement parks are for having fun. Parks are for having fun. Lakes, rivers, and oceans are for having fun. There are so, so many outlets for children to have fun. Why should school be one of them? Now, I’m not saying that school can never be enjoyable. Learning is fun, especially learning done under a really good teacher or on a subject the student enjoys. Friendship is fun also, and I will concede that most childhood friendships are created in a school environment. But what about church groups, sports teams, play dates, homeschool co-ops? These are all valid, and probably preferable avenues for children to make friends, since they all share some common interest besides being cooped up in a classroom together for 8 hours each day.
But let’s get back to the point here. Why are parents today so overly concerned with whether or not their children are having enough fun? Maybe it’s because we know, on some sub-conscious level, that children shouldn’t be strapped into a desk for most of their daytime hours, for 13+ years of their lives, filling their heads with information that will be forgotten after the next test or never used as an adult anyway. Maybe it’s because somewhere, deep down, we know that test after test isn’t the way to train children to lead productive, adult lives. Or maybe there is some other reason that is nagging at us, but we just keep pushing it down and blaming it on our children’s lack of entertainment.
Let me tell you, children today are NOT at risk of running out of entertainment opportunities anytime soon. We live in a world where any movie or game is right at our fingertips. There are countless sports teams to join and parks to play at and vacations to take. We live in a society consumed with the idea that we must be having fun at all times or something is wrong. Guess what? Life, adult life, isn’t always fun. There are responsibilities that must be taken care of on a daily basis. Things like paying bills and showing up for work everyday and keeping the house clean that definitely ARE NOT FUN! Still, they must get done. I truly believe we are doing our children a disservice when we base our choices for their lives on whether or not something will be enough fun for them.
I think this idea that has crept in that everything must have an aspect of fun to it has lead to the downfall of society. It used to be shameful for a grown man to still be living at home with his parents. It used to be shameful to say you dropped out of college because you were partying too much. It used to be shameful to have a marriage fall apart. It used to be shameful to not have a stable home for your children because they have to spend half their time at one house and half at another. Yet this is the world we live in today. We live in a world where both parents work full-time outside the home, then go out and party on the weekends to “blow off steam” while another babysitter or extended family member watches their kids. We are so obsessed with having fun we are shirking our responsibilities and making excuses for a me-first attitude.
Parents, I implore you. Think of your children’s future. Think of what is truly in their best interest and what will shape them into responsible adults. Don’t base your decisions on what will be the most fun for your kids, but rather on what will produce the best outcome. For many that will be sending your children to a public school, and if that is what is best for your family, I say go for it. But be sure of what you are basing your decision on. Remember, every choice we make as parents shape our children’s futures, either for the better or for the worse. Don’t make those decisions lightly. Trust me, no matter what you choose, there will be plenty of opportunities for fun!
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