After a particularly hard day of homeschooling when the kids had been whining too much, I turned to them and said, “That’s it. Next week you’re going to public school.”
And I got looks of great shock from my kids. I don’t blame them because I’d always said we were homeschooling for the long haul, and they’d heard my many reasons for homeschooling.
But I was tired of the complaints.
“How much longer. We’ve been doing school forever?”
“How much do I have to write?”
“This is boring.”
I was tired of the complaints, so I sent my kids to public school for a week
I lined them all up on Sunday night and said, “Tomorrow you will be in simulated public school. I will wake you up up at 6:00 (at least an hour before they normally wake up), and you will need to be dressed, ready for school with a packed lunch at 7:30 so you can walk to school.”
The next morning I woke them up and heard many complaints about the early wake up time. I pointed out at least they weren’t riding the bus. Their friends who ride the bus wake up at 5:45.
They had to pack a lunch because school kids don’t get to eat a hot lunch made right then while watching an educational show.
And at 7:30 we all headed out the door and walked to school.
Then turned around and walked home. You wouldn’t believe how embarrassed the kids were. “Mom do we have to do this every day?” Yes, yes my child you do. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. of public school.
We walked in the front door and the kids started to take their shoes off, “No, your shoes stay on. Kids in public school wear their shoes all day long.”
What? That’s not fair! I don’t want to wear my shoes.
Too bad, this is public school.
Then I made them ask permission to go to the bathroom
Because public school kids don’t get to just go, they have to get a hall pass and ask if it’s an okay time. They looked at me like I was crazy.
I was mentally committed to the insane asylum when I said they had to sit at their desk with their feet on the floor. I got to practice my teacher voice and say, “Four on the floor,” just like I was teaching again. If looks could kill I would have died a thousand hideous deaths.
Lunch was 30 minutes of silence
Because if they get too loud that could be disruptive, so public school kids are required to eat quietly. I often went to pick up my class and discovered they were in silent eating because of some infraction.
This was particularly stressful to my daughter who is a slow eater.
The next rude shock came in the form of recess
My kids are used to regular breaks, after all we keep a 20 minute homeschool schedule, and occasionally I just need my space. The occasional hour long recess is not unheard of here. But for our week of public school it was 20 minutes on the dot. Then they lined up and walked back to the classroom.
And when it came time for school to let out I lined up the kids gave them homework and we walked back to the school and home again.
Yes I gave my children homework
And they just about died. “You mean I still have to do more work?”
And that was just the first day.
By Wednesday the kids were begging to go back to our normal relaxed homeschool schedule
The one that started at 9:00 and let them have school in pajamas.
Of course by Tuesday I was ready to not be doing it anymore because I didn’t like waking up either. So, it’s not like I’d survive as a public school Mom either.
What we learned from our week of public school?
We are not cut out for public school. We ALL enjoy our relaxed schedule, and time to pursue other interests.
My kids learned the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence, and they quit complaining quite so much.
All in all, it was a wise, if somewhat tiring, decision.
Check out the day when other bloggers realized they couldn’t do it all.
Oh my, this is class!! I was giggling the whole way through! I threaten to send mine to school every. single. february. every. single. year. And in fact, one year I traipsed them down to the local school and we all spent a day there. Your idea was waaaaay better. I shall get every one of my children to read this!
I’d love to “hear” their reactions.
Love this! What a great idea. My oldest (adult son) went to school for three years, so when the complaints get to great he tells them tales from school. It usually works.
With my kids never having been in public school it was all rosy wonderful things to their mind. Your oldest gave much needed perspective.
Lindsay @ BytesofMemory says
oh my goodness!! Love this idea! We might do just that!
It was amazing for changing their attitude.
Natalie PlanetSmartyPants says
I was laughing so hard when I was reading it. Brilliant idea, and I say it as a Mom of a public school student.
Hee hee hee, I seriously thought of pulling a Miss Viola Swamp like in the Miss Nelson is Missing books.
Terrific idea! I think every child who has never been to school should experience what it’s like. Sometimes they don’t quite know how good they have it until they experience it for themselves.
Seriously, actual sit down and do work school started at close to 10:00 this morning. That is a far cry from 7:45.
I agree. I convinced my son to try the local charter school because we thought we’d still have to take care of Grandpa. He had a great attitude, but quietly told me he would like to come home next year. He loved his teachers and school, but did not like the hours or the homework. He decided 6:30 was not his friend and even a really long home school day was shorter than a long day plus homework. (Grandpa started doing much better so we brought home home just before Christmas break so he could get some Dad time in, too)
He doesn’t fight or complain about home school now that he’s decided he prefers it. My 5YO had been dying to go to public school changed her mind after seeing what her brother had to do. We got a twofer out of the experience. My oldest is still in public school so we don’t hate public school. It’s just not a good fit for everyone here.
Annette Whipple says
Hmm. This is good! My girl asks to be homeschooled because she thinks it would be all crafts and reading. Maybe I should try homeschooling for a week. 😉 Unfortunately, she does not like to work for me.
I love many aspects of the homeschooling journey, but for now, it’s not for us.
And for the first time in months…my comment worked!
Woo hoo! So glad it did!
Sallie Borrink says
I. LOVE. THIS. LOL!
maryanne @ mama smiles says
Michelle Cannon says
OMGOSH! Best. Homeschool. Post. EVER!
I LOVE this Idea! Except… I think I would be the one whining all day if I tried it. Lol. I tell my son on a daily basis that I’m going to register him for “regular” school so he can see how lucky he really is! I’ve even thought about putting him in school for a week. I hate to admit it, but I’m glad I’m not the only homeschool mom that goes through this. ? lol
Believe me I did a lot of whining at night to my husband.
Lisa @ This Pilgrim Life says
Hahahaha! I love this. We are just starting kindergarten this year, but there have still already been complaints. We haven’t gone this far, but we have described the difference if we were sending them to public school. Thanks for the laugh 🙂
I’m right there with you…Oh the complaining…I AM SO TRYING THIS! Thanks for the great idea!
You’re welcome! It had great results for us. A year later the complaining is still significantly less.
Annie Kate says
Brilliant and so tempting to try!
I think it worked because ‘public school at home’ is so different from what the kids are used to but it was in the same environment where they are used to being relaxed. Also it had none of the positive aspects of real public school.
Only thing is, school is not all that bad in real life. Years ago my kids, always homeschooled, were privileged to be allowed a 2-3 day ‘field trip’ to a private school and they had a blast, although they were tired at the end of it. (They did point out that they did not learn much.) But you don’t have to tell your kids that!
I think so too. Real public school isn’t really that bad, after all I went and enjoyed large portions of it, there were several I could have done without. But, for my kids used to a fairly loose “schedule” and the ability to wear or sit how they want, it was a big culture shock.
My daughter does go to public school. If I tried the opposite – a week of homeschool – she would never go back to “real” school again!
Ha ha ha, that could well be. Though I had a few friends in high school who went from homeschool to public school because they wanted the “high school experience.”
I think just having my boys read this post would help me out! They typically don’t complain about school, but they have NO CLUE how good they have it!
Oh my goodness! I laughed out loud several times reading this! That was awesome! I too have threatened to send them back public school, but in my heart I know I would never send them back for real -and the kids know that, so it was an empty threat. I love your idea and I have to incorporate it one day. But I don’t know if I could last longer than 2 days either! Thank you for posting this glad to know I’m not the only one that has felt the need to shake up my kids a little bit about the joys of relaxed homeschooling!
Not the only one by a long shot!
The threat of public school was the best threat in my mom’s arsenal-the HS kids in our school zone were awful and we were scared of them(we didn’t know that we wouldn’t have gone to school with them).
The “That’s it. Monday morning I’m signing you up” was enough to straighten us up for weeks!
I did end up going to a private Christian school for HS, and I’m glad I did, it was a good transition to college for me. But I am always grateful for those 8 years of homeschooling!
I’m also grateful to be a KG teacher in a private school that lets me work at my kids (and my) pace. If we need two recesses one day just to get those wiggles out, we can have them! If we need to change it up and have some fun time with paint instead of science, we can. It’s a real blessing.
That is truly a blessing to teach in that private school, very few would be that flexible.
I am a little concerned with the very relaxed atmosphere that homeschooling in this scenario provides… Pyjamas in the ‘classroom’, egregious request like having to ask to use the washroom and keep your shoes on all day… Makes me think this is fostering a very undisciplined learning environment and ultimately undisciplined children. What is the point of this article? To threaten our children with a more disciplined, structured lifestyle if the don’t stop complaining? I will take the good characteristics of the public school system, such as structure and discipline and the great parts of homeschooling, such as flexibility and fast tracking to give my children the best chance they have at excelling at life without the culture shock of structure when they leave the home.
I think this is a difference of homeschooling styles. While I have a fairly laid back homeschool schedule, that does not mean I don’t have high expectations, or we do not keep a schedule. It’s just not as rigid as a public school schedule. This week was intended to show them the grass is not always greener on the other side like they had assumed, and my goal was achieved. When we went back to our normal homeschool schedule the complaints went down dramatically and they understood what a gift it was to be in a flexible schedule that works for our family.
This post was written tongue in cheek and was meant to be read as such.
Thanks for the laugh! This idea will be kept front and center (not that I ever threaten public school, lol). We also seem to start at 10, although we’re dressed (wink). But I see you do a 20 minute schedule, which I’m interested in. Can you expand on that? I only have 2 kiddos, 6 and 4, so I struggle with the schedules the bigger families have but I can overload if not careful. Thanks!
If you click on the link where I refer to that I talk through how we complete our 20 minute schedule. Honestly we’re usually in our clothes once we start school, after that time we had to make the ER run at noon and no one was dressed I’m a much bigger stickler for clothes during the school day.
Oh, my ! this is so funny! I did the same thing a few months back when my then 7 y.o. was asking to go to school. (none of my kids have been to school ever. I think they were just curious) So I put the youngest 3 in school. The oldest, my 12 y.o. said she definitely did not want to go to school. Her siblings were all crazy about wanting to go to school. So I did just like you: woke everybody up early, made them get dressed, eat a cold and fast breakfast and everyone buckled up in the car. Then I drove by each school, each kid was “dropped off” in a different one. So the 5 y.o. was in kindergarden, the 7y.o. in the elementary school and the 9y.o. in the middle school. Told them they would not get to see each other until 4 p,m, Then we went back home and I gave them busy work. AS soon as they finished one worksheet, I gave them another one. A hall pass for bathroom. No breaks. No interruptions. No talking. It lasted exactly 1.5 hours before the 9 y.o. began asking for a snack. I told him that I was sorry but he had to wait until lunch time. After a few more minutes, they were done. They were convinced that homeschooling was better. So we put everything up and had breakfast again. This time, it was hot, yummy and we had lots of conversations. 🙂
Then, in August, my 12 y.o. decided that her workload at home was just too much. She didn’t want to have to study 3 subjects a day for about 1.5 hours a day with lots of free time to pursue her interests, as well as already accumulating credits for HS. I got sick of arguing with her and one day left everyone with my Mom and went to the middle school to talk to the principal about enrolling her in school.
I came home armed with the schedule for the year, all the subjects she would have to take. All the test schedules, school breaks, holidays and rules. All the fees we would have to pay. The schedule for her to take the bus, the information about her loss of freedom and choices and how her life would change.
I talked to her and told her that it was important that she realized that homeschooling was a privilege. A privilege to choose what to learn, how and when. A privilege of freedom and responsibility. But if she didn’t value that privilege then she could go to PS and have someone else decide all those things for her. She could give up her freedom and instead of being responsible for her own education, she could now follow the government rules and regulations of what she needed to learn. She could spend hours bored in class and waste her time with subjects she already knew or cared nothing for. Or she could stay home and make the most of her time and be responsible for her learning. I told her I was done arguing and cajoling her. She could just go to school if homeschooling was too hard.
Well, it worked. Her attitude changed. She has been the most cooperative in years. She is enjoying herself more and has really matured. She knew school took away kids’ liberty but she had no clue it was that bad. I was horrified to find out how little as a parent I have to say about my kid’s education if I put her in school. I hope to never have to put any of my kids in PS.
We all learned a lesson with those episodes. I learned to really listen to my kids’ requests and read between the lines, and they are learning to be more flexible and cooperative.
I can just imagine how much more complaining I would have gotten if I’d put them in different rooms.
Erin - The Usual Mayhem says
Ticia, how did I miss this post when it came out? Best idea EVER!
I remember having to get my son up at 5:30, many years ago, because he started school at 8am. None of us miss it!
I don’t know? In the essay my kids wrote on homeschooling both of the boys brought this up as a horrible memory, which just cracked me up.
You cannot even imagine how many times I have threatened to do this exact thing! One of these days I may end up doing it, but like you, I have a hard time following an exact schedule and not having free time! For now, I will keep pointing out how the bus drives by at 6:56 every morning while they are in PJs still!
I was HOPING you’d make them line up! Line up for everything! And I forgot eating in silence. Yep! (It’s been awhile since I was in school, ha!)
Thanks for this. It is well-written! Funny, inspiring, motivating–loved it!
You have to for a true simulation, so much time is spent lining up.
Now I love this! I am still sitting here laughing!
Read this to my husband while laughing. Good one. 🙂
Mrs. Andrea Curtis says
I love it! This is the perfect alternative for children who do not appreciate the luxury of being homeschooled. I wish I had thought of this one myself. I laughed all throughout this article. ? You are a genius!
I am a retired public school teacher, therefore, I know all too well about ” public schoollife.” By now, I hope that your children are far more appreciative of the sacrifice you have made to homeschool them. Like your children, ,however, mine complain at times. They were previously in both public and private schools, but somehow, they have become oblivious to their days of bullying, cold/wet weather school days, overcrowded classrooms, processed school lunches, and distracted instructors. Your experiment would be an excellent wake-up call for my children, as well as others.
Oh, I am going to do this!
Lately I have heard the groans and my youngest is dragging his feet on every assignment. His sister has been to public school, when I mention it, she straighten right up. Maybe a little taste of it will make my youngest change his tune.
It was amazing how their attitude changed.
I am doing this!!!
Hilarious, and such a fab idea!!!! May have to try!!!
It really worked wonders in their attittudes.
Stacy Duncan says
I loved this post! Not only because it was eye opening and humorous, but it was a real encouragement to those of us who are in bad homeschool burnout and considering public school sometimes on a daily basis 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!!
Thanks. Every now and then I consider repeating it with the kids.