Last Friday was the Munchkin’s last day of “real” school.
Yes, I did the unthinkable. At least, based on the reactions of almost everyone around me, I did the unthinkable.
What I really did was enroll the Munchkin in a school-at-home program run by the education department in my county. So he still uses state-approved textbooks and a state-approved curriculum, it is just that he no longer attends a public school and I am his teacher.
I want to talk about the way everyone acted when I told them he would no longer be attending public school and instead schooling at home. I got everything from a “Good for you” (the tiny minority) to a long and dramatic “Ooooooooooh-kaaaaay” (the vast majority). When my husband went to pick him up early one day during his last week, the secretaries, unaware of who my husband was, were actually gossiping about it at the front desk as he walked up!
This was not a decision made lightly. My husband and I have actually been pondering the idea for at least two years now. I can’t tell you how many people have such a negative view of schooling at home, which I think in large part comes from a vision of a brood of children hunched over Bible verses instead of math books, but that is a story for another time. A large part of our putting it off was based on how much people told us that it was a horrible thing to do, both to our son and to our sanity as parents.
But then it finally came to a point where I knew the Munchkin was losing interest in school. It was a fight every morning to get him out the door. He was bored. He’s eight! He has no business being uninterested in learning. I figured I could never forgive myself if there was something I could have done to reginite that love of learning he used to have and used social conventions as my excuse to not do it. We have done it at this point in the year on purpose, as the bulk of the year is over, and if for some reason the whole thing is an unmitigated disaster, he will not have lost much in the way of curriculum.
I found the county-run program we are enrolled in almost by accident, but now I’m pretty sure there are no such things as accidents. If you are considering taking the leap into schooling at home, but are intimidatd by thinking you have to do it on your own, it is well worth to check if your school district or county runs their own programs. We meet with a teacher once every three weeks to check his progress, they gave me almost a thousand dollars worth of textbooks, and they have tons of field trips (much more than regular school) as well as computer, language, and music classes! He will still take the state standards test, and he is given a report card, just like “real” school!
He always has the option to go back to public school if he wants to. This is not something we are mandating, but a family decision that is flexible and committed to the best outcome for all involved.
We are only in day two of schooling at home, and I am still sort of getting the hang of it, as is the Munchkin. But suffice to say that when we complete three day’s worth of work in one hour, I can’t help but feel vindicated.