Herding Cats – Can Homeschoolers Ever Be On Time or Organized?

For S.A. – because we are so alike in this!

I am a rather organized person. I’d better be, I run an organizing business!

And while my own home often falls by the wayside, the papers collect on my desk, the “to-do’s” mount up into tall, frightening stacks when delayed by work, family, and homeschool – I’m still pretty organized. And time management is a big part of being organized.

It is a rare day when I will show up late to anything. I’m usually early instead.

The other day as I was mucking my way through a whirlwind of last-minute “Oh no, I have ten stops on the Passport to Adventure booklet to get stamped,” we showed up at the Harris-Kearney house in Westport.

We were there at 1:03 p.m. and the house opens at 1pm each day. Perfect timing, right? Mmm, maybe not. The curators probably thought they would actually get to eat the sandwiches they were carrying before visitors descended. Instead, they got to play hosts to a very active five-year-old, field way too many questions, and do a tour before the poor guy got a chance to take a bite.

Huh, you might think they were homeschoolers!

Another homeschool mom, and former public school teacher, has experienced nothing but frustration with the local homeschool group that we both belong to. Every time they had a chance to go to the park for homeschool recess it would be cancelled. The events they signed up for through the homeschool co-op were cancelled by the host family, usually the night before or even the day of the event.

“What is their DEAL?” she asked me on several occasions with no small amount of exasperation.

“Well,” I tried to explain, “getting homeschoolers organized is kind of like herding cats.”

And even though I understand it, I will never truly accept it. To me, if I say I’m going to be somewhere, I damn near kill myself to be there. And on time, damn it!

The laissez-faire attitude I see seems prevalent, but I can tell you right now, I will never be like that. You don’t have to be regimented, you don’t have to march your kids in formation or bark orders at them. Heck, you don’t even need to have a formal homeschool curriculum…but you do need some basic regard for others and value their time investment.

Christine sez…

  • You must stick to your commitments, as often and as regularly as is humanly possible
  • Thus it follows that you should only commit to what you can actually do
  • You must be on time and teach your children the value of timeliness

My dad lives in Panama. He has for about ten years now. And his tales of Panamanian timeliness (they have none) are well-known to me.I figure if you want to be undependable, erratic and perennially late, move there.

And while I may be alone in this, I believe that homeschool does not mean late to your own event, sleep in to whatever time you like, or be disrespectful of other people’s time.

If I set aside time on my VERY BUSY calendar to go to an event, and it is canceled or rescheduled to the next day, guess what? I can’t go! And the same goes for many people.

Every time you leisurely walk into an event, five, ten or even thirty minutes late – what are you teaching your children? As Clark Aldrich in Homeschooling Rules states, we must be role models to our children. We can’t expect them to do what we are unwilling to do.

Do you really want to be that kind of a role model?

Back to the Harris-Kearney house. Emily and I went through the tour, both of us asking a lot of questions, with me busy pointing details to Emily and her very interested in everything we saw. Despite being five, and extremely excited and curious, she listened to me and did not touch the very old pieces in the rooms. Each time she wanted to ask a question she raised her hand (I’m not sure where she got that from, I’ve certainly never taught it to her).

As we left the house and she danced ahead of me down the steps and along the sidewalk, the curator said to me, “Your daughter has really been a treat. She’s obviously very intelligent and curious, thank you for bringing her by!”

And then I imagine he gratefully sat down with his sandwich, an hour late, but still just as tasty.

Let’s change the way homeschoolers are perceived. Don’t just be on time for the next homeschool event…be early.


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