Why, and How, I am Considering Homeschooling

“Following your bliss is not self-indulgent, but vital; your whole physical system knows that this is the way to be alive in this world and the way to give to the world the very best that you have to offer. There IS a track just waiting for each of us and once on it, doors will open that were not open before and would not open for anyone else.”

Joseph Campbell

My mind is still open, but my cup is decidedly not empty. My boy is four, not eligible to start “Pre-K” until fall. His education is heavy on my mind.

My considerations are intertwined with my dreams on how I want to live; what I would change in past, present, future; as well as the many aspects of our life that I am grateful to preserve.

My husband says it is his (our son’s) education, not mine. I agree. But for now, he is four, and feel I know him pretty well.

Like me, he is not a socialite, although he is very engaged and engaging with one or a few people with whom he feels comfortable. He warms up to most and his confidence is on the upward slope.

He is bright as the North Star, and curious as the cat he used to pretend to be. His imagination satisfies; rather than one imaginary friend, he has 99 imaginary brothers and sisters, and six imaginary buddies – all dogs. Some under-rate inner life. I do not.

In my own school years, I excelled academically, made a few close friends, played a mean right-field on the softball team, and otherwise avoided being part of the larger scene. It wasn’t my thing. Partly due to a lack of self-confidence, I admit, but also partly to do with the feeling I had very little in common with the majority. I detest small talk. Perhaps if I would have had more confidence to give voice to the things I was interested in …

Most likely my son will have more confidence than I did to be his unique self as he grows. I expect he will. He may even be leader-like. This is the primary argument I still have with myself against homeschooling. How can you be a leader without peers?

Which is why I have come to the conclusion that I will take it year by year. In his fourth and fifth year, the next 18-20 months, I’m going to explore the possibilities of homeschooling. He would not start kindergarten until the month before his sixth birthday, so I should be able to keep the wolves at bay until then.

I want to meet the people around me who homeschool. God tends to lead us through experience. We clarify our own positions when we interact with people and situations. I have read and thought about homeschooling, but I have not actually stepped into the reality of it.

My exploration has been hypothetical in part because I am a working mom. Since before my son was born, I have dreamed of staying at home with him full-time. But God seemed to make that door difficult to open, and now I am grateful. I have a more mature perspective about the all-or-nothingness of the stay-at-home vs. work decision that seems to face us all. I am not alone. Thank you Penelope Trunk for validating my feelings. Your article was there when I was ready to look. And you pointed me to Lisa Nielsen, The Innovative Educator. I plan to read her e-book on working and homeschooling soon.

One question I’d like to explore: Do some families share responsibilities? If not, why not? Maybe it’s illegal, but that seems ridiculous. Why couldn’t my kid go to Jonny and Suzie’s for morning of stories and playtime, and then Jonny and Suzie come over to our house for a morning of nature and outdoors? Why could you not coordinate a whole group with this kind of turn taking? This would allow for socialization, and a little less one-to-one adult time. I could work or catch a yoga class when he is out of my house, and Jonny and Suzie’s mom, even if she is a stay-at-home, must have something she would like to do without her kids for a few hours. Unlike homeschool lessons parents pay for, which I also intend to try, this type of arrangement would be free, and freeing too.

Some may read the above and wonder why I don’t just send him to school if I am so interested in how I can get free time. Here are eight reasons:

1. Cinderblocks. Florescent lights. Lysol. (That’s three, but roll them up into one continuous sensory attack.)

2. The tyranny of the schedule. Early mornings. Five long days. Homework at night. Where is the dreaming, the playing, the deep exploration of subject matter that truly inspires?

3. Wasted time. It is inevitable that time is wasted in school. Time will certainly be wasted at home too, but I tend to believe the possibilities for constructive wasted time are greater in the home setting than during the artificial schedule of the school.

4. Classroom size. It is healthy for kids to spend time with other kids, and less time one-on-one with adults, but 30 to 1, all the time?

5. Educational approach. Seth Godin reminds us the multiple choice test is only 100 years old this year – an industrial-age tool to teach the masses. Certainly there are tons of great teachers, and innovative and wise approaches to teaching and learning going on in classrooms all over the world. Just as certainly, my child will be exposed to only some of it, and much of his time will be spent learning the old-fashioned industrial way. It excites me to explore the various educational approaches out there, and the subject matter, while coordinating my child’s education.

6. Nature. Mother Earth welcomes us to play and learn, and she is open Monday through Friday as well as the weekends. Thank you to The Homeschool Mom for suggesting the Alphabet Walk.

7. I’m going to say it. The hooligans. It’s not about class or race or religion to me. It’s about those kids who unfortunately have no leg to stand on. Who bully. Who take rebellion too far. It’s not their fault. It’s their parents – rich, poor, white, black, and all the in between – some parents do not give their children the love they deserve, and those children act out. It breaks my heart to see. Could my child help possibly help one of those kids? Could he learn from interacting with them? Yes and yes. But my mother instinct says at least in his earliest of formative years, expose him to the qualities I expect him to embody his whole life through.

8. It’s my dream. I can’t get it out of my mind, so I owe it to myself, my son, and perhaps society to pursue. I know I’m not the only mom who is unsure of being able to navigate earning money and raising her child outside of the confines of an institution. This is exactly why I want to try, and to take notes along the way. Quite possibly the door will close, my mind will change, and he’ll be at the elementary school reading See Jane Run before I know it. I’ve been wrong before. I’ll keep my ears and heart open along the way, and try to empty my cup often.

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