Someone used this phrase to me recently not realizing that I homeschooled myself for the end of high school and that I plan on homeschooling my kids. She wasn't rude, but she was stereotyping. I didn't know exactly how to respond. So I pointed out that kids' "weirdness" or "bad behavior" had more to do with parenting and the child's personality than school choice. Because honestly, a kid is going to be "weird" or social or ornery whether they are in public school, private school or homeschooled. I know. I taught public school for six years. I attended public school till midway through 11th grade. My mom teaches public school.
So when I saw The Gospel Coalition doing a series on school choices, I was excited to say the least. I am a curriculum/education/theology nerd. I love reading about these things. I love discussing and debating. There is a part of me that is passionate about quality public education. I could have chosen a career in something else (I was encouraged by teachers in my life NOT to waste my life in public ed - I didn't listen.) I majored in elementary ed and then went on to get my masters/certification in administration because I felt called to do so. I wanted to make a difference. Though my teaching years will never be turned into a movie featuring Michelle Pfeifer, I believe that I did make a difference. But I also was discouraged in how little change to the system I was able to make.
These days I'm not teaching in a school. And I am not returning to public education, unless God tells me to. Our plan is to homeschool or combine private school with homeschooling.
It's not because of bullying. It's not because of secular science curriculum. It's not because I am a stereotypical homeschool mom. It's because just as teaching in public school was a calling for me during one season, homeschooling looks like it will be a calling for this current and next phase of life.
You want a more detailed answer?
- I like being with my kids. Yes, I like breaks. No I do not like housework or many of the other things associate with being a stay-at-home mom. But I do like being with my kids. I only have eighteen years with them - and these first four have gone by so fast.
- I'm good at teaching. I don't want this to come across as prideful. I am terrible at a lot of things. But I am good at teaching, so I am choosing to use this talent at home.
- I like curriculum. I like the fact that I can tailor learning experiences for both of my boys. I like that I will get to learn with them. I like that I am leaning towards a classical education, and I am excited about history and literature and Latin and all of the things I feel I missed out on in my public school years as a student.
- I like teaching. I like the lightbulb moments. C and I have been working on learning to read and learning some initial math concepts. All the joy I found in lightbulb moments from my old days teaching are even more exciting now.
- I don't like wasted time. I know how much wasted time there is in a classroom. It terrifies me. (Insert rant about centers, worksheets, students with disruptive behavior and all things public school teachers are required to deal with) This isn't because (most) teachers want their time wasted, it is just the way the system unfortunately works.
- I lean libertarian. I don't trust the government to know what is best of my kids. I am anti-Common Core.
- I have two children who will most likely have very different learning strengths and needs. C is on track or beyond in many areas. His gross motor skills are below average. He has little interest in handwriting, and I choose not to push that. He has an imagination. He loves books and learning. G is getting special services for speech, PT and OT. He loves music and water. He is a year or more behind in his cognitive development. I can honestly say I do not know exactly what education will look like for him in the days ahead - this fall he will be assessed for transition to special education preschool, and a lot of thought and prayer will go into how The Hubs and I proceed. I feel that homeschooling will give me a lot of flexibility with both of my children and allow us all to learn together.
- We don't live in a great school district/neighborhood school area. Our neighborhood school is a Title school (that means low socio-economic status.) I am not going to sacrifice my sons' education to feel good about myself for doing what society (even some in Christian society) might think my duty should be. I know others choose differently for their families, and they don't feel that their children's education is sacrificed. I respect that.
- And I will be honest enough to say that fear plays a role in my decision. If (trained) teachers were allowed to carry weapons to school to protect students from crazy people, I might consider sending my kids to public school if the other factors were favorable. But I don't want my kids to have to hide in a storage closet during a lockdown in a windowless classroom. That terrified me as an adult. I can't imagine what it is like as a first grader.
- My years as a public school teacher did more to push me to homeschool than anything else. I know this is the opposite for some people, and I respect that. At the end of the day we are all accountable for doing what is best for our own families and our own callings.
Thoughts? Questions? Opinions? Feel free to comment (respectfully) here or on my facebook page.
*Please note that the choices The Hubs and I make regarding education are not in stone.
*Shout out to my public school family members and friends for continuing to teach and reach your students and community.
*Someone is sure to point out that we send C to preschool. Yes. Two days a week. So I can have one-on-one time with G. And so someone can teach him to use scissors. I did not major in early childhood for a reason, haha.