I ran across a posting this morning on a facebook homeschool page. The Article they posted talked about some of things that non-homeschoolers don't "get". In one of her examples she talks about threatening her kids with having to go to public school if they don't do what they are supposed to. In other words do as I say or I'll send you to public school. She even mentioned that the kids knew exactly how far it was from their house to the public school they would go to, because she threatens them with it so often. Now she isn't the first person I've heard say something similar and I'm pretty sure she won't be the last. So why does this matter? Why am I just a little concerned about saying something like this constantly to our kids?
Well a couple of things actually. One, If your not actually prepared to send them to public school if they aren't listening to you, they will figure out fast enough that you aren't actually going to back up your words. Then of course will this transfer to any other "threat" you use against them to try and keep them doing what you think they should have done on a daily basis? Will threats actually work in a long run situation where you want them to do something they obviously don't want to do?
And secondly, what happens if for some reason you find you actually HAVE to send them back to or enter them for the first time into public school? What happens if your spouse dies and you find you have to go back to work to be able to pay your bills? What happens if your spouse loses their job for a significant time period and all of a sudden your having to help out by going back to a full time job to relieve some of the pressure economically? The unexpected does happen..Now not only does your child have to deal with huge life changes, your now "voluntarily" (in their eyes) sending them to this horrible place you've been using as a threat for years. So now they see/feel like they are being punished for something they have no control over (death/job. etc). Then of course what happens if they enter the public school system and (gasp) actually LIKE it?! Are they mature enough to understand that you were using this as an empty threat because you were frustrated with them, and take that in consideration when you once again are telling them about something bad and how it could ruin their lives? Yes, to an adult these arguments are silly. but when your dealing with young children they haven't yet reached that level of maturity to think things thru and to put them in proper perspective.
So please, could we just stop using public school as a threat or punishment for our homeschooled kids? Can we use things that we are actually willing and able to back up for punishments? Like taking away tv for a week or extra chores on the weekend...and do we really need to threaten our kids constantly? If so, maybe we should be looking at what we are doing and figure out a way that we engage our students rather than threaten them each time they aren't wanting to do another page of math or read one more paragraph or chapter. One of the benefits of homeschooling is being flexible, and being able to change something we know isn't working. If we are threatening our kids on a daily basis...something isn't working.