The other day my friend's husband asked me about why my kids don't go to school. He's a highschool teacher, and while he isn't anti-homeschooling, he is definitely pro-public-schooling.
He asked, "Was your decision to homeschool based more on your experiences as a student yourself, or on your experiences as a public school teacher?"
I thought it was such a thoughtful question, without a trace of judgement or criticism that usually comes from people who question our choices regarding the education of our children. I paused before I answered in order to give the question the type of thoughtful answer that I felt it deserved:
When I think about sending my children to school, I can't ignore all my experiences as both a student and a teacher and all the anxiety that it produces in me when I imagine them in that environment. But when I was a teacher, I never considered that I would someday homeschool my own children. Never.
It has actually been my experiences as a mother that most influenced my decision to keep school out of our lives.
When I observed that my first two daughters, just 20 months apart in age, were absolutely the best of friends, dependent on each other not just as playmates but also for emotional support and social skills development, I knew that I could never bring myself to separate them for schooling purposes. It would be like performing an amputation on a healthy limb--what would be the point?
When I observed how resistant my oldest daughter was to learning anything that she wasn't immediately motivated to learn, I started to ask myself how I could send her to an environment where 'learning' follows a linear timeline requiring absolutely no deviation. In fact, deviation is punished (by low marks or by separation from peers for the purpose of 'remediation').
When I observed how easily my children fill their days--with drawing, make-believe, story telling and reading, interaction with adults and gross motor skill development--and as I listened to their constant chatter and giggles and shrieks of delight, I couldn't imagine asking them to sit still and be quiet for 5 hours.
And by the time my third child came along, and I was already pretty sure that I wouldn't be sending the older two to school, I suddenly had an epiphany as I observed that my tiny baby was always just doing her best to learn and survive in the environment into which she'd been born. It hit me that my older two daughters were also just doing their best all the time, every day.
I understood that my role in their lives was going to be to provide the best possible environment in which to grow and learn. I knew that I had to work on myself to be healthier, more patient, more creative and more joyful. I had to create an environment where Freedom is our guiding principle and where Trust trumps control.
And now we just live our lives together everyday. It just works.
And I can't imagine doing it any other way.
A big 'Thankyou' goes out to a friend for asking such a great question.
What is your motivation for choosing an intentional role in the education of your children?