“… the human animal is a learning animal; we like to learn; we are good at it; we don’t need to be shown how or made to do it. What kills the processes are the people interfering with it or trying to regulate it or control it.” ~John Holt
When my family made the decision to home school, there wasn’t one reason in particular as to “why”. I had two sons in public school and two toddlers at home. We had positive school experiences as well as negative. To me, that is simply the ebb and flow of life.
Long before I considered it a realistic option for my family, I loved hearing the home school stories of a dear friend who had chosen that path due to extreme bullying her son experienced in the public school system. I had great admiration for her— that she was willing to remove her son from a toxic environment and rearrange her schedule for sake of his physical and mental health. I admired that she was willing be do something so unconventional (at that time) in order to instill within her son a sense of well-being that would carry him for a lifetime. I’d listen to her stories and say to her, “If I hear of one more school shooting, I think I’ll do that, too.” This was in the late 80’s. Within months there would be another news story about another school shooting. She’d ring my phone and ask, “So…are you going to start?” At the time, I was a single mother and I’d have to confess to her that, no…I just don’t see how I could really pull that off.
After six years of single motherhood, I re-married and had two more children. For the first time in my adult life, I was able to pour all of my energy into my family. I was no longer working two or three jobs outside of the home. Home school was a possibility I was researching for my little ones because I enjoyed being with them so much. Being a full-time mother felt so right for me. That said, I would never try to persuade anyone that what was right for me is right for them. Every parent knows deep inside what is best for their own family unit. The challenge is in finding the courage to do what is right for you regardless of opposition; regardless of the hyper-critical people you will surely encounter if you don’t follow mainstream.
Our plans were fast-forwarded the year my oldest son began junior high. Into the last “block” of the school year, my son reluctantly got out of the car and headed into an atmosphere that for him, was oppressive. I spoke out loud to God as I drove away. “If I could do him justice in math, I would home school him in a heartbeat.” On the short drive home, God opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibility. Before the sun set, someone who believed in me steered me in the direction to a math program we’ve consistently used since that time. All of the pieces fell into place in a way that happens without fail when God enters the picture.
That was 15 years ago. I offered my son the option of a home based education. He had nine school weeks and a summer vacation to think about it. He had the freedom to change his mind until the day we ordered school books (including the awesome math program). (I’m pleased to say that each of my kids shows great strength in all areas of math….the only subject I felt intimidated to “teach”).
The purpose of sharing home school thoughts is for the sake of parents who feel called— those who are in the research phase and haven’t yet decided. Isn’t it interesting that if someone is called to be a police officer, no one questions or doubts their calling? If someone is called to be a nurse, the people in their lives feel great pride? Yet so often when someone is called to home school, they are met with doubt and criticism….even though the same God that wired someone to be a cop or a nurse or a home schooling parent is the very One who will equip us to fulfill that calling, whatever it may be.
There is plenty of impressive research to be found as well as encouraging blogs written by adults who grew up in a home schooled or unschooled environment. In the days to come, I’ll point you to some of my favorites. I think you’ll find it interesting to see what someone who has chosen a career in Innovative Education has to say about homeschooling/unschooling. Because Lisa Nielsen has already done so much research—not to mention that she was educated to be an educator (that was for you, John Holt)— this is a great place to start.
“It’s not that I feel that school is a good idea gone wrong, but a wrong idea from the word go. It’s a nutty notion that we can have a place where nothing but learning happens, cut off from the rest of life.” ~John Holt