Every family has a different answer to this question. It’s complicated. And it’s simple. The short answer is that homeschooling is best for our kids at this point in their life. It’s right for my girls for different reasons.
Nearly two years ago my oldest daughter was a happy, healthy middle school student at a well ranking suburban Connecticut public school. She had friends. She was a good student with plenty of interests.
She was harassed by another student. Daily. None of her friends happened to be in the same class with her when it was happening. She didn’t have backup. With in two months (yes, we tried to work with the teachers to stop the situation) my daughter was contemplating suicide. At 11, she told me she would rather die than go back to school. Her grades took a massive dive. Something had to be done, but no one at the school was willing to do anything to help.
The school district, while full of talk about zero tolerance and how hard they work to create a friendly social climate, did very little.
At the time that I pulled her out of school, I was working as a journalist for a local news outlet covering – you guessed it – education. I knew the school principal, the superintendent and the Board of Education. I worked with them on a regular basis. I’m choosing not to tell the entire story of how situation was handled. In my opinion, the were highly irresponsible. They cared only for their reputation in the community and nothing for the individual child that was suffering.
We removed her from school. We felt it was our only choice. Making her continue in pain, day after day was not an option.
We began homeschooling out of necessity. We continue because I know they are learning more effectively here at home, at their own pace. They have the freedom to follow their interests, spend time with family and friends and do the things they love without the threat of homework, bullies and grades.
And they are happy. Ask them if they want to go back to school and they will passionately tell you no way!
I’m not going to lie to you. There are days when I feel like I’m in over my head. There are days when I wish school would be a fine choice for my little women.
There are even days when I’m working on math with one of the girls and I think to myself, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. And then they figure out the problem and teach me.
Come on, do you remember 7th grade math? Maybe you do. I’ve spent years trying to forget.
Ultimately, I am responsible for their education, whether they are at school or here at home. I brought them into this world. They deserve the best of me. I’ve chosen to make this a priority because I know that this is what’s best for them.
I often hear people comment that everyone has to go through the horrors of middle school. It’s a part of growing up. It makes a person stronger.
I do not agree that being bullied or harassed is anything but harmful to the development of any child. I don’t believe claiming that it makes them stronger makes it okay. I don’t believe that subjecting a child to anything with the excuse that I survived it, so can they is valid. Why would we want to pass that pain on to the next generation?
In the real adult world, bullying is called assault or harassment. It’s punishable by law. How is it tolerable in schools?
Homeschooling may not be the right choice for everyone. I don’t ever claim that it is. But attempting to learn in a hostile environment does not work.
My girls still have to learn how to deal with people in real, live situations. They still have to live with each other. Trust me, they don’t always get along. They still have plenty of opportunities in our homeschool groups and outside activities to meet mean girls and deal with cliques. They are not sheltered from the world.
Much of their time is spent in a safe, healthy environment where learning is not about competition and grades and stress. They have more time to pursue their other interests. They can take their time learning things or speed through subjects that comes easily.
Above all, they love their lives. We should all be able to say that.