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Public school versus HSing and too much TV?

post #1 of 87
Thread Starter 
I've been debating with myself over asking this question, for so many reasons. I know I missed a TV thread recently, and I'm bummed, because I would really have liked to read it.

Here's the backstory. I work from home 30 hours a week, with 5-6 hours of actual childcare coverage. It used to be that I could do my work in around 20-25ish hours a week, but we've since lost a colleague and had a new accountability measure put in place, so it's looking like I won't have much slack in my schedule anymore, come January especially. My DH works in traditional real estate, spends two hours a day commuting, is trying to start a biz with his friends, and is also trying to bust out resumes left and right. Basically, I'm responsible for everything at home, and we have no money for outside help of any kind (literally, none). My mom comes on Mondays, but I know from experience that if I ask her to help more, which she would, bad things happen. (Bad. Therapy-level bad. For everyone. Trust me.) I'm also dealing with a spirited toddler and homeschooling a Ker.

My problem is this. The kids are watching a LOT of TV. More than I like to admit. No matter how I try to work the schedule, we always end up back in front of the TV. It truly is my e-babysitter, and it breaks my heart. But I simply can't seem to get along without it. I've tried going TV-free during the week, but nothing ever seems to get done/finished, and given that I'm the breadwinner, that's a big problem (not to mention I'm losing my mind at the end of the week because the house is such a mess). We're also not getting much actual schooling done.

This isn't a big deal now, because we're just loosely HSing K, and she'd only be in building-school K for 2 hours or so anyway. Plus, she's already way ahead of the game as far as K goes. But this situation is not likely to change much over the next few years, and her schooling needs will increase, of course. Starting next year, I could put her in public school for the full day, and the little one in our wonderful private preschool, and get my work done, and be a better, recharged mom (I feel), etc. They wouldn't be watching so much TV (if any). But there would be everything that comes with public school, and I do believe very strongly in the benefits of homeschooling.

I guess, ultimately, my question is, what's the lesser evil: too much TV each day or the (mediocre, but not bad) public school system and all that comes with it?

Any all thoughts are appreciated, thank you!
post #2 of 87
It sounds like you're only temporarily working 30 hours a week- before that it was closer to 20 and it might be that way in the future? Plus you have 5 hours a week of childcare, so that knocks it down to 25 hours a week of "TV babysitter".

First of all, are they actually watching TV for 25 hours a week, or are they watching TV for half that time and playing/coloring/doing educational games on the computer/etc for half that time?

How many hours a week is public school?
post #3 of 87
From my perspective, it really depends on your view of public/private schooling and your reasons for wanting to homeschool. I can only answer for myself, but I'd rather have my boys home with me and watching too much TV right now than to ever put them in public/private school. Dh and I disagree with the basic structure of schooling, what is taught and how it is taught, the focus of standardization of everything, and the compulsory nature of the whole thing. So, for us, keeping them home and knowing the TV (at least for now ... it might lessen as they get older and more independent) is going to be on is a better choice any day over going to school. But that is just us based on our feelings regarding school versus homeschooling.
post #4 of 87
What are they watching?

-V.
post #5 of 87
Does your toddler nap? Maybe your K'er could only watch TV when the sibling is sleeping.

Could you set a timer? 20 minutes of drawing, coloring, painting, using playdoh (those playdoh factories are fun!). Then 20 minutes of hide and seek! 20 minutes of playing a favorite kid's CD and dancing. 20 minutes of working with blocks or legos.

Make musical instruments. Use paper plates and have the kids decorate them. Attach streamers, sequins, glue decorations. Take some uncooked beans and staple the paper plates together. That can be the tamborine. Take a water bottle (like Dasani) and have them paint the outside. Add some little rocks to make moraccas. They can make a guitar out of a cereal box, paper towel roll and some rubber bands.

Get some pots, pans and metal lids out. Give them some wooden or plastic cookwear to bang on them. (plastic spatulas, plastic serving spoons) It makes a great "band" and keeps them occupied for a long time because they are creating lots of noise and being active!

I used to put the (naked or with undies) kids in a bathtub (empty of course) and let them fingerpaint on the walls. That would keep them pretty occupied and it's sooooooo fun! They'd end up with paint everywhere and on themselves too. Easy clean up is just a turn of the handle.

Could your K'er be the leader in follow the leader? Can the kids make an obstical course out of couch pillows? Can they make a fort with couch pillows and blankets?


Hope this helps a little.


post #6 of 87
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthla View Post
It sounds like you're only temporarily working 30 hours a week- before that it was closer to 20 and it might be that way in the future? Plus you have 5 hours a week of childcare, so that knocks it down to 25 hours a week of "TV babysitter".

First of all, are they actually watching TV for 25 hours a week, or are they watching TV for half that time and playing/coloring/doing educational games on the computer/etc for half that time?

How many hours a week is public school?
I'm hoping it will end up back the way it was, but I have a strong feeling my company is going to opt not to replace the lost colleague, so I'm going to end up keeping the extra work allotted to me. And even if they do replace her, the hiring/training process is long and arduous (they want someone with varied and extensive editing and design skills, but they don't want to pay her/him a decent salary, and it's the NYC job market , so the current editors (including me) will have that to contend with in addition to our regular work. Blech. We're all dreading it.

Anyway, I would say they watch TV an average of 3-4 hours a day (I'm seriously embarrassed to admit that, I hope no one thinks I'm horrible ). Some days, if I'm under the gun on a project, it's more. Some days, if my day is free, like yesterday, it could be none. When they're not watching TV, they're coloring or playing, we're out doing HS social stuff, or just running our everyday lives. There's not much computer happening these days--they're just not that into it right now.

Public school would be the regular 8-3 schedule, and the preschool would be three mornings a week, for a total of about eight hours, and it's practically right around the corner from us, so no real drive time. At a minimum, if I were to put them in school, I'd be gaining an extra eight hours a week.

I try to stay up late to work, and end up falling asleep collapsed on my desk or the couch or wherever. I try to get up early and the toddler wakes up (I swear it's like she has some kind of radar). I keep telling myself, if I can just organize/plan/schedule better, I can make this work, but I've been telling myself that for a few years now, and I think I'm going to have to accept that this is simply how it is, and either accept it or or come up with an alternative.
post #7 of 87
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MyLittleWonders View Post
From my perspective, it really depends on your view of public/private schooling and your reasons for wanting to homeschool. I can only answer for myself, but I'd rather have my boys home with me and watching too much TV right now than to ever put them in public/private school. Dh and I disagree with the basic structure of schooling, what is taught and how it is taught, the focus of standardization of everything, and the compulsory nature of the whole thing. So, for us, keeping them home and knowing the TV (at least for now ... it might lessen as they get older and more independent) is going to be on is a better choice any day over going to school. But that is just us based on our feelings regarding school versus homeschooling.
I agree with you about all of that. I just can't seem to get over feeling like garbage that I can't make it work better without so much TV, you know? Maybe that's what I'm looking for, someone to let me off the hook. But I don't want to be let off the hook if it's not what's right for them. *sigh*

Quote:
Originally Posted by VijayOwens View Post
What are they watching?

-V.
Mainly Noggin/PBS Kids/videos, though my mom has started letting my five-year-old watch bloody Cartoon Network at her house, so now she's starting to want that : But that's a bare minimum of the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 636Jen View Post
Does your toddler nap? Maybe your K'er could only watch TV when the sibling is sleeping.
This is part of the problem. She's phasing them out, so her sleep schedule is completely insane, including night wakings that may or may not last for hours.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 636Jen View Post
Could you set a timer? 20 minutes of drawing, coloring, painting, using playdoh (those playdoh factories are fun!). Then 20 minutes of hide and seek! 20 minutes of playing a favorite kid's CD and dancing. 20 minutes of working with blocks or legos.

Make musical instruments. Use paper plates and have the kids decorate them. Attach streamers, sequins, glue decorations. Take some uncooked beans and staple the paper plates together. That can be the tamborine. Take a water bottle (like Dasani) and have them paint the outside. Add some little rocks to make moraccas. They can make a guitar out of a cereal box, paper towel roll and some rubber bands.

Get some pots, pans and metal lids out. Give them some wooden or plastic cookwear to bang on them. (plastic spatulas, plastic serving spoons) It makes a great "band" and keeps them occupied for a long time because they are creating lots of noise and being active!

I used to put the (naked or with undies) kids in a bathtub (empty of course) and let them fingerpaint on the walls. That would keep them pretty occupied and it's sooooooo fun! They'd end up with paint everywhere and on themselves too. Easy clean up is just a turn of the handle.

Could your K'er be the leader in follow the leader? Can the kids make an obstical course out of couch pillows? Can they make a fort with couch pillows and blankets?


Hope this helps a little.


Actually, those are good ideas for these days, because we can't go outside much, thanks for that! I've been trying to think of some new projects.

But the main problem is not so much that they need things to do, it's that they need me working with them, and I need to be editing and publishing the 5,000 word document with graphics and associated Powerpoint files, that I committed to publishing by Friday at 6 p.m. They have lots of things to do, and are sooo good with imaginative play, but they want me playing with them, or, more often these days, pulling them off each other , but I can't stop my work every 10 minutes to help them. Ugh. That sounds awful, doesn't it? I guess the thing is, the TV keeps them occupied for a long enough period of time that I can actually work.
post #8 of 87
If it were me, I'd go ahead and do this for the rest of this year. Your oldest is in K, and if she's way ahead of the game, it won't be a big deal if you decide to send her to first grade next year. But in the meantime, I'd work on a more permanant solution.

I agree that, long term, something has to give. You could swap HSing/childcare with another family 1 day per week, giving you one crazy day of madness and one day where you can do nothing but work. Or you could look into (again, this is long term) part time daycare/babysitter/nanny for your kiddos- say 15 hours per week. If you did both of these things, plus have your mom watch them for 5 hours, you would be able to *just* work, and then homeschool and play with your kiddos without working at the same time.
post #9 of 87
I honestly can't see the point of putting both of them in school, one for a full 35 hour week, if you're only going to net 8 hours of work time. If you'll need more childcare than preschool can provide, then maybe you'd be better off hiring a nanny or babysitter for both of them and keeping both of them out of "school" for now.

By the time the little one is old enough for full-day kindergarten, it might be worth it to put them both into school. But I don't think it's worth it now.
post #10 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by melissel View Post
I agree with you about all of that. I just can't seem to get over feeling like garbage that I can't make it work better without so much TV, you know? Maybe that's what I'm looking for, someone to let me off the hook. But I don't want to be let off the hook if it's not what's right for them. *sigh*



Mainly Noggin/PBS Kids/videos, though my mom has started letting my five-year-old watch bloody Cartoon Network at her house, so now she's starting to want that : But that's a bare minimum of the time.

If it helps get a little perspective, I don't work at all, and yet there are days (more than I care to admit) when my boys watch 3-4 hours a day of TV (also mainly Noggin/PBS Kids/Discovery Kids/DVDs), and days when they don't watch anything at all. In the end, for me, I think it'll all work out fine.

I agree with Ruthla in that sending them both to school for a net of about 8 hours a week doesn't sound like it's worth it, especially if you aren't keen on schooling in general. Is there a way to hire a bit more hours of help each week? Maybe even an extra hour a day to lesson the screen time?

How exactly is your job set-up at home? Is it possible to do your job while you older dd sits next to you for 15 minutes or so and does some "school-ish" stuff? Could the 2 year old sit on the floor and play with tape, envelopes, paper, and crayons? Could this be something that you do every hour or so so that by the end of each day, you would have clocked about 1 hour or so of more focused time together to help off-set any screen time they might be having. (Again, though, I have no idea your structure for your job at home and this might not be a possibility.)
post #11 of 87
Are they sitting there mesmerized every minute the TV is on, or do they like to play with it in the background and stop and watch here and there?

You could get a VSmile, or tune it more often to shows that are more age-appropriately educational (such as on PBS, Discovery Kids, etc.). Better yet, do you have a DVR? Pick and choose what's on. Have them watch more educational stuff and less straight-up entertainment.

Honestly, the average schooled kid watches just as much or more TV as yours now watch. I don't think it's a reason in itself to put them in school.
post #12 of 87
I work from home and the times that I am needed vary greatly since I am helping teach an online class. My daughter is in first grade and we have set up another computer so that she can do educational stuff on the computer while I work. She goes to Starfall, noggin.com, and we have bought quite a few educational games that teach as much (if not more) than what she would learn in first grade at school. Her little sister watches the educational cartoons or helps her "play" her computer games. The key was making sure that the computer and T.V. were all in the same room so that everyone could do what they needed to do without having to be separated.

Frankly, I wouldn't sweat letting them watch too much T.V. as long as you are making sure that there is some educational value to what they are watching. You could always buy some of those educational DVD's that teach geography, language, or whatever and have those on while you work. Also, make sure there are lots of coloring books, pens, paper, and stuff like that for them to "play" with during the day. If you provide ample stuff for them to manipulate and "play" with, the T.V. becomes background noise because they get sidetracked with the other stuff. Our house is always a mess because we have turned our house into a giant mess of learning. We had a giant U.S. map on the wall so that I could ask map questions without warning.

My husband and I have made our lifestyle one of learning.
post #13 of 87
I am of the minority opinion (at least here anyway) that a good, lively, low or no pressure kindergarten is a great deal more interesting/fun/satisfying for a 5 yo than 3-4 hours of television.

I know I'm the odd person out here.

But please don't feel guilty. You are providing for them the best way you can at the moment and so you should feel proud. (not to mention the fact that plenty of other parents allow their kids to watch that much tv, and they send them to school, and they aren't supporting their families.) You are trying to find a better way--which you will. So be nice to yourself.
post #14 of 87
As long as it is age-appropriate/educational and not scary/inappropriate/indiscriminate I think you should ease up on yourself. My kids watch a lot of Sprout, Dora, Baby Einstein, Sesame Street, etc. and they are fine!

I think a lot of the scary TV studies are based on kids who have borderline (or outright) neglectful parents who use TV (tuned to any random adult channel) as a babysitter WAY more than you do. As long as you are loving, responsive, making sure that what they watch is appropriate, and as long as they have access to books, toys, etc. I think they'll be fine.

Just do the best you can. Things ebb and flow. Sometimes you will be able to give them your full attention and be super hands-on, other times you will need things like TV to distract/entertain them while you do what you need to do to put food on the table. It doesn't make you a bad mom.

I am pretty opinionated about homeschooling/unschooling so I say if you are happy with and committed to homeschooling then don't put them in school just to avoid TV. I feel kids this age are better off home with mama even if mama has to work part of the time.

You have gotten some great suggestions and ideas for non-TV activities, so I won't reinvent the wheel, but just wanted to make sure you aren't beating yourself up for having TV in the mix.

Hugs,

-Vijay
post #15 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by suziek View Post
I am of the minority opinion (at least here anyway) that a good, lively, low or no pressure kindergarten is a great deal more interesting/fun/satisfying for a 5 yo than 3-4 hours of television.

I know I'm the odd person out here.
You are not the only one. ----> ducking and running.

But I feel pretty strongly about large amounts of tv. Even "educational" tv.

That said, this is only my opinion and you, OP, have to decide what is best for your own family.

Here, there are times when we start to ease over into what I consider to be too much tv watching for the kids. When that happens, the best thing to get us out of the habit is to leave it off for a couple of weeks. An alternative, is allowing x minutes per day, and setting a loud timer to go off to ensure the tv gets turned off in time. Then set up an activity to do afterward. Please take these suggestions as just that, understanding that I have not worked that many hours per week since becoming a SAHM, and I do feel for you. I think that is hard, with little ones.
post #16 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by melissel View Post



But the main problem is not so much that they need things to do, it's that they need me working with them, and I need to be editing and publishing the 5,000 word document with graphics and associated Powerpoint files, that I committed to publishing by Friday at 6 p.m. They have lots of things to do, and are sooo good with imaginative play, but they want me playing with them, or, more often these days, pulling them off each other , but I can't stop my work every 10 minutes to help them. Ugh. That sounds awful, doesn't it? I guess the thing is, the TV keeps them occupied for a long enough period of time that I can actually work.



My DD was exactly that way and I could never get any house work done. I just made her work things out herself and learn to do things on her own. There was fighting and yelling and crying, and I had to just ignore it until she realized I was not at her beckon call. But, in the process she became creative, gained ingenuity, and does not watch TV very often (maybe 1 hr a day). For my DD I realized that she became a lot more of a self learner when she was not constantly entertained. Good luck. Yu definately have a lot on your plate; a lot more than me, so I just share his story as an idea not as a solution.
post #17 of 87
I didn't read all the posts, so excuse me if I duplicate some ideas. But I get it, too much tv = yucky. We are struggling with too much 'screen' time at our house. Between computers, Wii and tv, there is probably 3 to 4 hours of screen time a day. Lots of it is educational, but still yuck. But please don't beat yourself up about it. I don't like to make up arbitrary rules about what would be an acceptable amount of time. We just keep striving for the right balance. You'll find it.

Anyway, here are my suggestions. Trade kids with a friend. You watch their kids for 4 hours oneday, if they can do that for you on another. In fact, you might even be able to get some work done with more kids around. I've 'borrowed' a playmate for the day so that I can get some computer work in.

If you don't have to get your work done during the day, then maybe dh can be in charge when he's home and you can lock yourself in the office.

When I have a huge amount of work to do, we start our days with a list. I write down that things I need to get done, and my dd adds in her ideas. So, busy days might go like this...
make phone calls, play with flubber, clean up kitchen, play dolls, computer programming, make lunch, watch tv.....
My dd is a lot more tolerant of the periods of inattention when she knows there is some good mom playtime coming up.

Good luck
post #18 of 87
I think if the choice is between school and TV, TV is a much better influence. But I am in a pretty small minority on that one.

Your working a lot, and like you said, your Dd would only be out of the home for a couple hours anyway in a Kinder class. I think it's okay.

Can you take 15 minutes here and there to break from your work and be active/involved with them?
post #19 of 87
I am not too botherd about screen time only with what is on the screen. My kids watch a fair amount, but not much actual tv. Persoanly I would stop any cartoons you are not happy with. I don't know what Noggin/PBS Kids consists of as I am from Australia but if it's anything like the stuff they air on a Sataday morning here I'd throw it far, far away! The cartoons are bad but it's the adds which are worse. Constant advertising of rubbish toys and rubbish cerial aimed at children really anoys me! :
I would just get a good colection of dvd's and not worry so much about that 3-4 hours.
post #20 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravin View Post

Honestly, the average schooled kid watches just as much or more TV as yours now watch. I don't think it's a reason in itself to put them in school.
Yup. in fact when I was a kid in elementary school I was so overwhelmed and exhausted at the end of the day I used to come home and do nothing but watch tv for 2-3 hrs.
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