A Local Mom’s Experience on Making the Homeschool Decision
The Seattle Homeschool Group is an active group of homeschool parents living and learning in and around Seattle. The group offers support and resources to parents and connection to a broad community of parents teaching their children either full-time or part-time at home. For more information about Seattle Homeschool Group to their web site at www.seattlehsg.org
By Maggie K.
Some families homeschool their children from the very beginning and never look back, and some find homeschooling only after their children have spent some time in a formal school setting. I had witnessed what public school had done for (or to) my stepson, from kindergarten through high school. I could tell you eleven years' worth of stories about bullying, teachers calling him an idiot in front of his peers, guns and drugs, merciless amounts of homework, or teachers who, ripe for retirement, spent their class time catching up on lost sleep. When it came time for my own son, Henry, to go to school, I knew I wanted something different.
Before we decided to homeschool, he spent seven years immersed in Waldorf education. They were good years, but it took me a while to realize that homeschooling was the very best way to educate my child.
You see, Henry is an intellectual renegade. He didn't get in trouble for the typical student misbehaviors. No, I was always getting called in for meetings with his teacher for his precocious predisposition. For example, in the 3rd grade, his teacher had concerns that he had been looking at some inappropriate material in a "Gen-X" magazine. As it turned out, what he had been speaking to his classmates about in whispered tones was a book about genetics that he had read at his homeschooled friend's house. Still, his teacher was not relieved to hear this news. After all, Henry attended a Waldorf school, where it was considered unhealthy and spiritually damaging for children to indulge in intellectual pursuits above their years.
He got in more trouble when he was caught with an algebra book in his backpack in the fourth grade. I had to convince his teacher that the book, in fact, belonged to his older brother. Over summer break he was enrolled in a day camp. He spent his days with a new friend devising a plan to travel through black holes in space and constantly begged the counselors to teach him about exponents and square roots. When he returned to school in fall, he got busted for writing graffiti on the board. It was higher math. His teacher, and the entire educational philosophy to which we subscribed, frowned upon such antics. I found myself in a constant state of putting the brakes on my son's interests and passions.
After two years of his asking if we could homeschool, we finally took the plunge. It's been the best choice we ever could have made. Don't get me wrong—I'm not anti- school or anti-teacher. I've been an educator for twenty-two years. I've taught in public schools, private schools, and yes, I was even a Waldorf teacher for a while. Now I'm a homeschool mom with a part-time business doing tutoring, test prep, and homeschool assessments. It's a major lifestyle change, but it's so worth it. Ironically, on the social front, Henry's more active and involved that we ever had time for when he was enrolled in school. He's engaged in the community, taking music classes, participating in sports, doing volunteer work, and having fun with Seattle Homeschool Group.
Of course, I make sure he gets time to deepen his basic skills of reading, writing, and math. (I can't quite shake the teacher impulses.) But now, if he wants to study nanotechnology, I don't stand in his way. A few months ago, he decided he wanted to learn about filmmaking. In the process, he discovered that in order to make a good film, you need to start with a good screenplay, so he took it upon himself to learn how to write one. He has ownership of his education. And really, what is more important than helping your children fulfill their interests, their passions, their education, and their destiny?