Sunday, August 24, 2008

Not going back to school? Why not?

Today I was reminded of the year that we decided not to send our children back to school. We began homeschooling our children initially, but then in 1997, I went to work full-time as a newspaper reporter, and we sent our children, then ages 4, 7, and 9, to school. The youngest went to preschool, and the two older ones went to the local public school, which was excellent by everyone's definition. But "everyone" hasn't homeschooled.

After three years, I decided that my children's educational well-being was more important than my career as a reporter and editor, and I quit my job so I could bring my children home again. The oldest needed to be homeschooled because she was a perfectionist, always wanting to get the best grade and be in the classes with the "smartest" kids. I was worried she was working herself into early stress-related illnesses. The middle child was a mover-and-shaker kind of learner who didn't work well in a classroom. He needed to touch things, move around, talk, and do things. At the time, I thought the youngest would be okay in school, but when I thought about what that meant, I asked myself, do I just want my child to do okay? No, I want my children to excel -- to have the best possible education. So, they came home.

The youngest had few expectations of what homeschooling would be. The oldest remembered unschooling and knew that she could do whatever she wanted. But the middle child expected textbooks and schedules. I bought the textbooks and told him he could create his own schedule. He worked on the books for two or three weeks, but then moved on to reading Entertainment Weekly. All three children found their passions. The road wasn't straight, and there were a few potholes, but now that my children are moving on to other learning adventures, such as college, they are glad they were unschooled.

So, if your family is not going back to school this fall, why not?


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piscesgrrl said...

Because my oldest found that school didn't support ANY of his interests - not a single one. I can't believe how motivated he's been since coming home (and it's summer - gasp!). Every day he works on his programming, completes a vocal lesson, practices guitar, drums, and keyboards, and works on his music recordings. In school he was like a lump, just waiting for it to be over.

Glad you're starting this blog!

Anonymous said...

For now I want to remain anon. We have been homeschooling since 2002. Mostly just letting them do whatever and we follow. It's worked well with my youngest three who have never gone to public school. My middle one is doing good but I worry. My oldest one I worry about the most. He has no interests other than flying planes. He seems to just sit and what I woudl like to say is do nothing. He's highschool age. I so wish I lived in a bigger community or farm or even close to relatives. He seems bored and has been this way since we pulled him out. I don't know what to do with him or for him. Have any suggestion?

Deborah said...

Hi Anon,
When you say he flies planes, do you mean paper airplanes, radio-controlled planes, or another type of plane? And could you expand on "nothing?" Is it watching TV? (If so, what shows?) Playing video or computer games? (Which ones?)

Cathy said...

We are home again this year because we can't imagine life any other way. We (my husband, 12 year old son and 10 year old daughter) have always unschooled. We love that each and every day not only provides wonderful learning experiences for us, but allows us precious time together as a family or with friends and time alone to figure out who we are and what we want out of life.

I have always enjoyed your take on unschooling and look forward to reading more.

Anonymous said...

He flies real planes, Cesnas. He joined CAP not long back and enjoys the program. But here's the kicker I have told him that he most likely couldn't get a career being a professional pilot without some form of formal education. I listed out ways he could pursue that education. He isn't that motivated to go for formal education. It's a nice program but from all my research to do what he wants to do you have to have some form of formal education. He wants to be a military pilot.
As for the nothing part. He would sleep all day if I didn't tell him to get up and leave his room. He reads all sorts of fiction. But lately has turned his interests to what has been going on with Iran and has been checking out nonfiction books about it. And on that note even since he was young he has always studied everything military but for some odd reason when questioned he can't tell you a thing about what he has learned. And then he goes on and on about his pal who knows everything about it and how he wished he knew all that stuff. Yet he's been studying it since he was 5 or less, seriously. He draws too. But as you can guess mostly military, maps, and strategy. He likes to cook and desires or atleast he has told me to be a great cook. So I have gotten cook books and showed him how I improvise. Yet he leaves his stuff on the stove unguarded and I'm afraid he's going to burn the house down instead.
Quite frankly I am going down an avenue that none of us has ever been down, homeschooling and all. And for my mil and I we are very worried. Both of us were top of our classes and this sort of thing scares us, unschooling, but I can see the good that it is. But with him I don't know where this is all going or what you know.
You seemed so open in your post I thought you would be a good person to chat this over with. I haven't had to many good chats with any other moms, kinda of think I'm nuts - I think. Ok I'm just frustrated and worried. Email me if ya like.

MoonStarFalling said...

Thank you for sharing your link. I hope to capture some knowledge from someone so experienced. DS is 6.5 and has always been homeschooled. I love our unscheduled spontaneous days. I love to see real excitement on his face when he gets genuinely interested in a topic. I look forward to learning with him each day.

Jena said...

We aren't going back to school because we love the freedom to follow our passions and become experts--no more schedules or predetermined expectations. Our motto has always been to maintain the joy of childhood and the joy of learning.

I'm going to link to this post on my blog--a collection of "not going back to school" posts. :)