So why did I homeschool my sons? It certainly wasn’t a decision born of deep conviction or of a need to “protect” my children. It felt as if it was a response to a system that was out of control.
I went to that first kindergarten screening with excitement. My son was 4 and a half and even though it was a cold January afternoon I could already picture him walking off to school in September. And then we got to the screening.
I knew my son was bright. He was reading fluently and was asking deep questions. But I read at three. This was normal for my family. The schools would know what to do with him, right?
But during the screening I realized that the world had changed. His answer to can he count to 20 was “in what language?” He got tired of the basic questions and answered the next question in the queue by reading the question upside down. The screener went to get the principal. A few more questions…his favorite book, what did he know about math, science, or history….and I was ushered out into the hall.
“We have to take your son if you enroll him, but we strongly encourage you to find a different school for him.”
That led to me interviewing the schools in our area. I began to hear things like “Well, the other kids will catch up in a few years” or “He can be the teacher’s little helper.” What? Why would I pay you so that my son can help you teach?!
Finally, his nursery school co-op teacher (a wonderful woman!) asked if I had thought about homeschooling. I researched it. I realized that if he was already ahead then I couldn’t goof up kindergarten. And off we started on our journey.
His brother followed a few years later. I begged the brand new local magnet school to take that child. He also was reading and multiplying and dividing. But his birthday was 11 days past the cut-off, and they wouldn’t budge.
Homeschooling allowed us to follow their interests, to go at their own pace, and to adapt to their schedule. It wasn’t a problem to let them sleep until 8 since they had been at gymnastics practice until 9pm the night before. There was time to travel when others were following a conventional schedule.
Homeschooling worked for our family, but it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. More about that another time.