I wrote this letter a year ago to a friend who had become discouraged with her decision to homeschool. Having found herself unexpectedly pregnant with her third child, she became overwhelmed with the thought of teaching her 5-year-old son at home. Wanting the best for her child, she enrolled him in an exceptional school (with a really long waiting list). She asked the Lord to show her the right educational choice for this year by whether or not her son made it to the top of the waiting list in time. When the school year began, and her son was not yet admitted into the school, she became disheartened. Names and other details have been changed to protect the innocent.
Dear Tamara, I have been thinking of you this week in your struggles with Joseph not yet getting accepted into the alternative school as you had hoped. I thought I would quickly type up a TOP TEN list for you: the TOP TEN reasons why it will be the "best" choice to homeschool for the Fall of 2004, along with boat-loads of interesting online articles to read. I am not trying to help you make a choice here; it looks like home schooling has been chosen for you (due to circumstances). I would, however, like to give you some reasons to be encouraged that this is a good choice!
TOP TEN REASONS TO BE HAPPY TO HOMESCHOOL IN FALL 2004
Reason Number 10: You have a a BOY!! I had never considered homeschooling until I began reading about boys and education (one of those places was Dobson's Bringing Up Boys). Even though your little boy is VERY well-mannered and able to sit still, he is still a BOY. Schools really are set up for girls, and they very much reward boys for feminine traits and punish for energetic behavior. I am on a mission to grow up godly masculine men, especially after reading Wild At Heart and Raising a Modern Day Knight! It seems that homeschooling will make this task easier and ever more enjoyable… Here are a few websites I found on boys and homeschooling:
Where are the Boys?
Fox News Story
Reason Number 9: You can delay Joseph's movement from family-orientation to peer-orientation for at least one year, something that will bless you greatly, and make for a more mature Joseph, better equipped to later handle peer-pressure, no doubt! Here is a great article by the Bluedorns, popular supporters of Classical Education:
Homeschools Increase, Classrooms Decrease
Reason Number 8: Kindergarten is awful early to send a little one away from the homefront. I have read a lot of research that seems to reveal that even brilliant children (as we know yours are) do better the longer they delay getting into institutional school. Here is a website of Dr. Raymond Moore (who also wrote HomeGrown Kids and Better Late than Early) and another article on downfalls of early schooling v. staying home a bit longer.
Reason Number 7: Living life in your wonderful loving home will be so much more fun and exciting than sitting in a classroom all day! Here is a great article on boredom in public schools. Side Note: In this article, Gatto also speaks of the origins of our schooling system: the country of Prussia. I can't help thinking of Nazi Germany, and how the masses were taught to follow leaders and not think for themselves…I found a quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (I can‘t find it right now) where he put the blame for Hitler’s acceptance by the community-at-large on Germany’s educational system. Germany and Prussia‘s educational ideals were the same, and we in the U.S. based our system originally on their examples! True, the ideals our society tries to give children are much better than Hitler’s, but I don’t want my children just to accept and obey convention, I want my children to learn how to THINK for themselves!! This whole idea was a new one to me, you can get a collection of Gatto’s essays called A Different Kind of Teacher from the library. He was NY State and City Teacher of the year several times…
Reason Number 6: You can give Joseph another year of “true” socialization instead of just peer socialization. I have recently realized how much better socialized most homeschooling kids are. They look adults in the eyes, carry on mature conversations, don’t seem scared of or put-off by grown-ups. Honestly, the maturity and poise of these students has pushed me into further considering home education. It makes sense to socialize your children with all kinds of people, all different races, all different ages (from babies to the elderly) — to really teach them how to get along with others. Being in an institution with 20 (or more!) other age-mates for the greater part of the day simply cannot prepare one socially for real life. Click here for an interesting article on this subject.
Reason Number 5: Most schools send home about an hour of homework a night, and this alternative school would probably send home more. Knowing that you already are going to have to do 1 hour of work a day with Joseph, why not let it be the work you know he needs, and save him from doing work that doesn't meet his needs (and save him from wasting time). I love the fact that I spend the same amount of time working w/ CJ each night as my friends whose kids are in school during the day, and I get lots of extra time for real life with him too. Not to mention I can be confident that I understand what I am teaching him — I don’t have to figure out a middle man’s teaching techniques. And instead of following a stranger's lead for my little boy, I am blessed to be able to listen both to the Lord's direction and my husband's vision for CJ's education. Boy, does this really help me feel confident in parenting in general!
Reason Number 4: Joseph will have the BEST teacher in the whole world, the woman that not only knows him better than anyone else, but loves him more than any other teacher possibly could. Not to mention that you are BRILLIANT and MORE THAN CAPABLE, the love in your heart alone would work wonders. You have been custom-made by God to teach Joseph — look what a great job you’ve done so far! Because you know him so well, Joseph won't be held back or pushed ahead — you can individualize his education. He is a unique person who will not fit into a category — he isn't average. He may be reading at a 5th grade level next year (and would be bored in class) and doing pre-school math (and could end up being intimidated math-wise at school). You can direct his education in just the way that fits him!
Reason Number 3: Joseph will have 3 extra hours a day, 15 extra hours a week, to spend in YOUR presence.
Reason Number 2: Joseph will have 3 extra hours a day, 15 extra more a week, to spend with Sister Sarah and Baby #3. Imagine the closeness this will foster…and how much harder that would be to do if they were apart several hours a day. I get teary-eyed sometimes when I see my boys acting “close!” The love they have for each other touches the deepest part of me.
And the Number 1 Reason to Homeschool Next Fall: God strategically placed you right here, right now, for His purpose. A *gentle* reminder — you really did ask the Lord for a fleece; you told Him you would see homeschooling as the best option (for now) if the school did not become available to you. I think that in and of itself is a nice confirmation that the Lord is paying attention to you and wanting to direct your steps. Even though it wasn’t the answer you were expecting, it is so exciting to know that He answered! If and when the school finds a spot for Joseph, you will be ready at that time! He will work everything out for you. I just know homeschooling will be so much easier than you think. Five in A Row is a gentle curriculum that takes little prep time. I have also heard wonders about My Father's World — I think you would LOVE THIS! It is an entire curriculum, sort of a unit study. I have heard it is not overwhelming. Kinda pricey ($100 for 1 year) but it covers a lot. I think the first year includes a Geographical Trip around the World — I know God has put International ideas in your heart…check it out, maybe its for you…? I hope you will be at peace at whatever comes your way this fall! If the Lord does end up opening the door for Joseph at that school, be assured I will fully support you in that endeavor!!
Best wishes, Tamara!