That time of year is rapidly approaching. If it is not so evident in the weather yet, just check out your local store. The stocks of sunglasses and swim goggles are being rapidly replaced by back-packs and notebooks. Yup, snuck up on you, didn’t it? It’s “Back to School” time!
Just not at my house, as of this year.
After at least a year of serious, gut-wrenching thought, my husband and I have agreed that homeschooling is the best choice for our children at this time. We are neither fundamentalist Christians homeschooling as a matter of religious beliefs nor are we Bashers of the Public School system. In fact, I have nothing but admiration and respect for the teachers my son has been fortunate to have so far. We chose to homeschool because even the best of teachers is not enough sometimes.
Both our sons are extremely bright, inquisitive, and enthusiastic learners. It has become clear that my oldest (6), however, is developing his small motor skills on his own timeline, and becomes extremely distracted unless he is working in a very small group or one-on-one with his teacher when he is doing a task involving small motor skills.
The reality in public schools is that the average classroom contains 20-30 children, depending upon the grade and school. My husband and I had to face the reality that our son just will not have a great deal of one-on-one available to him. Instead, he will be expected to adapt to the system in place. My son has a tendency, when extremely frustrated, to shutdown and show no interest in the task at hand. If he doesn’t “get it”, nevermind, he wants no part in it. So, if he doesn’t have the one-on-one support underwhich he thrives, knowing his personality and coping skills, it seemed a safe assumption that school will cease to be a fun activity, and turn into a chore for him. I think there can be no greater tragedy than a child with no interest in learning, and for the majority of families in the U.S., learning means public school.
So this decision has involved not only a massive commitment of time and energy from my husband and myself, it really has meant that we embrace a new way of looking at learning. From the moment of birth, parents begin teaching their children; everything from a sense of safety to the melody of a lullaby. Our society, however, only recognizes the ability of a professional, licensed teacher. Choosing to homeschool means that my husband and I feel that we have a unique perspective on our children’s learning styles and personalities. In short, we believe in our ability to foster our children’s love of learning.
Reaction to our decision from friends and family has ranged from “Oh….and why are you doing that?” to polite smiles. The minority of the opinions have been supportive and encouraging. Many, including myself when I first toyed with the idea, don’t realize that there is another choice beyond public or private schooling. It’s a different lifestyle underwhich our family is not separated for over 8 hours each day, parents are part of children’s lives as more than caretakers, and our family’s values are not lost on the bus somewhere between our driveway and the schoolground.
It’s a new way of doing things. It’s a little scary, like riding a bike without training wheels for the first time, but it just feels like the right choice for us.