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Michigan, United States
a registered yoga teacher, and a Thai/Yoga Bodywork practitioner.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What *really* started it

Here is a list of what led us to quit school and "drop in" to our real lives:

We have met several people who homeschooled, and they are a self-sufficient, ecclectic bunch--people who made me realize how dependent I was on someone to tell me when/where/how to start. They just dove in.

When I taught college composition, the best students were homeschoolers.

The most accomplished and attentive players on Nate's soccer team are homeschoolers; this brought me in contact with a couple of moms who illustrated "what it's like" and cracked me open to the notion--perhaps proximity breeds curiosity and motivation.

John Taylor Gatto.  When I was in college, one of his essays was in my college composition textbook. I was impressed that a former public school teacher would passionately denounce the institution in which he was raised and had worked for a lifetime. While researching homeschooling, I found his name again. Using interlibrary loan, I requested more of his work. After dinner every night for a week, I read a chapter of Dumbing Us Down to my husband, Rob. He wasn't certain about homeschooling, but he nodded throughout each chapter, recognizing his own frustrations in school even more than I.

Practicality: My husband works in manufacturing, and if he changes jobs it will likely be off-shift. If the kids are home, he can see them regardless of when he works.

For their health: Madelyn missed 6.5 school days before we decided she would quit. 1.5 of those days were nervous bellyaches (plus many more on school mornings that I coached her to ignore so she wouldn't be absent). The other days missed were due to classroom viruses: colds, diarrhea, and an earache.

Further on health: school lunches are mushy convenience foods, designed to meet a calorie requirement. They are hastily served and must be scarfed down for the child to be done "in time" for the next group of kids to come to the trough. I ate with my kids several times and barely had time to finish (and I didn't talk). Then there's the breakfast offered "free" (and without my permission): Cocoa Puff Cereal Bars and Go-gurt yogurt tubes. I looked up the sugar content and, for each item, it surpasses a candy bar. There's a "No Sugar" policy at their school. Irony or ignorance?

The last straw:
Reading The Teenage Liberation Handbook ( by Grace Llewelyn), was like taking off a heavy flannel face mask. She introduced me to trusting my own kids. I had not realized how many little ways I mistrusted them: whether they were acting "right" or learning "enough" (even being in school) or whether they were "wasting time." Realizing this inner dialogue and letting it go lifted me out of impatience and annoyance with my kids. It's no wonder people say they "could never homeschool."  I had felt the same way. I didn't trust them to become decent humans without my managing (or silently judging) them continuously.

We were waiting until Christmas to start because it seemed a logical stopping point. Then we moved it to after Thanksgiving. My daughter, however, was begging to stop now. She was teary-eyed before school each day. Our imposing an arbitrary, later date was one more way of not trusting her lead.

The Friday before her last week, she said: "Mom, do I have to go to school today?"

I had already informed her teacher and principal.

I replied, "Really? No. You don't." Her face softened like she had just heard a life-saving prognosis. For her, I think that is what is was. She went to school for the last time on Monday (see the post "Starting It").

We are home for good: home-based and home for our own good.

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