Saturday, January 29, 2011

Homeschooling in Your PJ's? A Bad Idea

One of the things many homeschoolers—parents and children alike—say that they like about homeschooling is that they never have to get dressed up: They can have school in their pajamas if they choose. While I have no objection to wearing comfortable clothing, my thesis is that wearing your pajamas (and similar clothing that most decent people wouldn't wear out in public) to teach/learn in the homeschooling environment is a bad idea. And here's why:

1. Clothes send a message. Why do we dress up for certain formal occasions? Why do we look better to go to a wedding than we typically do to go to Wal-Mart? Because dressing up sends a clear message of the importance of the event. By allowing the children to wear pajamas or other clothing normal kids couldn't wear to school sends a message that "homeschooling isn't all that terribly important." The parents are probably speaking the opposite message to their kids; why would they wish to undermine it?

2. The parents are setting an example. Mom (or Dad), if you look like you just rolled out of bed when you are teaching your children, you're communicating that same message: "Homeschooling isn't all that terribly important to me." Get dressed, look presentable, and then get to work. Look the part of a teacher.

3. It's a bad habit. You want your child to be successful and get a good job, right? One where pajamas probably aren't the daily wardrobe? Your children need to understand, both by precept and practice, that "getting dressed" and looking presentable to go out in public are positive things that they need to do. They need to be in the habit of doing this every day...even if they aren't going out in public.

4. It is bad for the reputation of the homeschool community. I think homeschooling can be great if it is done right. I certainly believe that every parent has the right to choose the best educational options for their children. I cringe when I hear people clamoring for the government to step in and "regulate" homeschooling. But as long as there are those in the public who think of homeschoolers, "They really don't do anything. They just sit around in their pajamas and do whatever they want, and claim that going to the grocery store is 'math class,' yada, yada,..." the homeschoolers of our land are going to have to be on the lookout for government intrusion.

I'm afraid that many homeschoolers don't realize that a whole lot of normal, civil, law-abiding fellowcitizens do not take them seriously as educators. And when those fellowcitizens hear, from child or parent, that "school" is done in pajamas [and, just as bad, that they don't start until 9:45 a.m. or whenever they roll out of bed], they, despite their civil demeanor, are thinking to themselves that homeschooling endeavors are nothing more than the shoddy work of amateurs. In many cases, they will paint all homeschoolers with that same brush.

I would encourage every homeschool family to have a "dress code" for both the parent and children. It doesn't have to be their "Sunday best" clothes—Mom may not feel the need to wear nylons, for example—and it should be comfortable. But not slovenly, bummy, or grungy. It needs to be nice enough, though, that it sends a message to the student (and to anyone who may stop by the house during the day) that "school time" is important and worthy of getting dressed for. It should be enforced, too.

And perhaps in my next post, I will discuss why starting the homeschooling day at 9:45 a.m. is just as bad.


traveling rick said...

Ken what a great article. I wish people would understand the same thing applies to Church. If you where the same thing that you would wear to the ballpark or the playground you are saying that Church isn't anymore important than that.ric

Fairy Wings said...

I can not disagree more with this. If you are comfortable and relaxed, no matter your dress, you will be more open to learning. My children take their education very seriously, but agree that changing clothes to just add more work to the laundry is not a smart move. Why create MORE work? They know they need to get dressed to leave the house. My children are always well dressed just by their own choices. They are well aware that, when in public, you care about the impression you are presenting. They are also aware that when you have a job that starts early, you get up--just as we do when we have earlier appointments we need to keep. Kids do not get enough sleep, and need variations in sleep to grow properly, as well as, have a healthy system and brain. Getting up early is a horrible idea (according to studies and the medical profession) for MOST kids. We do not do "school at home"--we home school--so learning starts when they awake, and ends when they are asleep.

~Karen said...

Well, Ken, to each his own. I have to say that my experiences do not bear out your opinions. My children have no doubt just how important homeschooling is to me even though I occasionally spend the day in my PJs if I am not going anywhere. There are other ways to get that message across. Amazingly I have managed to graduate two children from our home school which has seldom started before 9am. The first graduate went on to a school where she had to rise at 5:30am each school day in order to be there on time and dressed appropriately. And she graduated with flying colors. Obviously this is mere anecdotal evidence. I simply wanted to illustrate that there can be more than one path to the same end.

Deb said...

Does the average person "dress for success" 365 days per year? Snow days, sick days, and lazy weekends aren't the norm for our homeschooling family.

Anonymous said...

I simply can't believe some of the posts that I have read! I think there are far too many parents who are "homeschooling" their kids because they are lazy. In my opinion a child should get up, get dressed and sit in a classroom with their peers and learn subjects such as reading, writing and math from a real teacher. Someone who has a college degree in education to prove they are qualified to teach. School is hard and college is even harder. Put down your kool-aid, get out of your pajamas and send you kid to a real school.

The Vosslers said...

lol ... well, if you've never crammed for a test in your jammies, then my hats off to you.

I fully agree that we need to get a good start on our day, use our time wisely and not be lazy, but to define that by what we wear is a bit of a push.

Oh, and Anonymous, my sil has a teaching degree and said it taught her far less about teaching than "just" being a mom. Sending a child to school doesn't guarantee they are getting someone qualified. Check some recent studies on teachers taking tests. I specifically remember looking over the paper of a local teacher getting her Master's ... lowly me, without my teaching degree, didn't know what to say when I saw how incredibly awful it was.

Janna said...

"Anonymous" - first, if you really believe that, then why won't you use your real name and actually stand up for your belief instead of hiding behind your keyboard and using "anonymous" as your name? Second, it doesn't take but a few minutes to find out that the average public school student scores at the 50th percentile on standardized tests and the AVERAGE home schooled student scores at the 85th percentile on those same tests! Not only that, but colleges are actively recruiting home schooled students because they are generally FAR BETTER prepared for the rigors of college than their public schooled counterparts. As for the "sitting in a classroom to learn reading...." portion of your comment, again, a simple search will show you that home schoolers with parents who are certified teachers score around the 87th percentile on standardized tests and those with non-certified average at the 88th percentile so your argument doesn't hold water. Home schooling is a TON of work for the parent! I am the one who has to find the curriculum (rather than have a school district tell me what to use). I am the one who has to do the prep work and make sure my child does the work. Honestly, it would be far easier to push my kid out the door and let someone else be responsible for him for 8 or so hours a day, but instead I choose to give him a better education than he would get in public school. I know the building administrator of the school my son would attend if he were in public school and she told me herself that the schools aren't equipped to handle children who are above average AT ALL and that most of their resources have to go towards the bottom 10% of students so even those who are "average" aren't getting the kind of attention they need to excel. Sorry, but I have no intention of letting my kid skate through 13 years of life.

Anonymous said...

LOL How obscure is this way of thinking? Have you ever seen Albert Einsteins hair? The man was a genius, a physicist. He looked as if he had never bathed or combed his hair. Should we have never respected or taken him seriously? There have been many brilliant men and women through out history who chose to forgo looking presentable to aggressively pursue their thirst for knowledge. The ultimate goal is to educate and instill good moral values (almost extinct) regardless of your attire.The proof is in the success. Have u checked on grade level testing statistics of home school students -v- public schooled students? Point being maybe if the children who attend public school had less to worry about, ie... How they look, If their hair is combed just right, If their pants are too tight, If anyone notices they got a pimple on their face. Without distractions they would be better able to concentrate on their studies.Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6