It’s that time of year again– yellow buses, backpacks, lunch boxes, and first day of school jitters.
The back-to-school scene is a bit different in our household. My daughter begins her sophomore year of high school and her 9th year of homeschooling. No bus, no hall pass, no lunchroom, no recess, no homework.
She’ll be taking on a rigorous program of study tailored to her abilities and interests including ballet, music, screenwriting, and drama.
Thanks to the many opportunities for homeschoolers in our area, my daughter has taken wilderness training, zoo school, MIT workshops, drama and art classes, and a host of field trips.
When we first began our homeschool journey. We grew to enjoy the flexibility and efficiency it offered. My daughter learned, explored, made friends, and honed her talents.
Since she began homeschooling, I managed to work part-time by teaching, consulting, and writing.
Homeschooling takes a lot of energy and time, but it also gives me a lot more time with my daughter. She is my youngest child and the only one not attending college. So, the time together is especially meaningful. Last year we took a field trip to Washington, D.C. which my daughter was responsible for planning.
When people hear that she is homeschooled, they often assume that I do all the teaching. Over the years, my daughter has had other teachers. She’s taken online courses, science and enrichment classes, joined study groups, and been involved in a school pilot program. Next year, she’s likely to take a community college course. Gradually, I’ve become more of a guide and coach to my daughter, as she directs most of her education.
And so, here we are today, on the college track, with full intention of a homeschool graduation in 2016.
As happy and well-adjusted as my daughter is, I still get bouts of parental angst (mostly 3:00 am). Does she need a wider circle of friends? Is she getting a strong enough Jewish education? Will she know how to study for tests? (She doesn’t take many.) Will she be fluent in Spanish? I even wonder if missing all that high school drama and the girl cliques will somehow put her at a disadvantage.
We all want the best for our children, so second-guessing our choices comes with the job description. Our desire to “get it right” sometimes makes us feel that others are getting it wrong. Read any article or news story on homeschooling and you’ll find commentators attacking this choice, claiming that it is inferior to public school, that children won’t be “socialized”, that we “shelter” our kids, on and on.
Never mind that they may have never even met a homeschooler before!
Underlying these negative comments and defensiveness (on both sides), may be our own insecurities. We want our choice to be the “right” choice.
I don’t question other parents’ school choice and I ask the same in return. I am fortunate to have a choice, and it’s what works best for our family right now.
Homeschooling is not for everyone. My choice not to send my daughter to traditional school does not say anything about your choice. I’m simply an advocate of learning, whatever form it takes for your child to thrive.
Wishing you a successful and exciting school year!
5 thoughts on “Not Back To School: Unschooling”
Audrey is one of my favorite students. She is a kind hearted, level headed student who is sociable, works well with her peers and her teachers and is rarely flustered by the hard work that is expected each class period. She is a dedicated student that remembers combinations and corrections given. Mostly, what I notice every class, is that nothing seems to get her flustered nor does anything said affect her moods in any way. She is just a happy dancer – not something you see in a ballet class, especially at her level of dancing. It has been a pleasure being her teacher for so many years!
Very interesting! I don’t think I knew that you homeschooled your daughter. By the way, this comment hit home for me too in regards to choosing day school over public: “I don’t question other parents’ school choice and I ask the same in return.” People give me unsolicited advice all the time about the kids being sheltered etc. Yet, I would NEVER randomly tell someone what I think of some of the issues at public school. Truth is, there is no PERFECT choice. We pick what makes the most sense for the most reasons and know we have to do things to compensate for the rest. For example, I make sure my son does sports in our (very non-Jewish) park district instead of in a district where most of our Jewish friends go. You seek out social opps for your daughter. She’ll get plenty of drama elsewhere, I’m sure. 😉
Thanks, Nina. I understand your predicament. My son went to day school from grades 2-12. He’s in college now and doing great. My oldest daughter went to Montessori elementary, day school, home school, and finished high school out of town! You’re right about “no perfect choice”. Once you let go of that impossible prize, you can work with the choice you made or have at hand. I find the shelter comment amusing. It takes a lot of work to shelter a kid today. My daughter gets asked a lot of questions by other kids. Her favorite: Do you get to watch tv all day? Her answer: Why would I?
By the way, my new novel (in-progress) features a teen unschooler.