Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Big Question

When I tell people about our decision to otherwise educate our children, they are always supportive and say something like, "Good for you and your kids! I think that's great. You will be very successful at it and your children will become very well-rounded."

Ok, that's not entirely true. That's not even partly true.

In reality, after they clarify that they did, indeed, hear me correctly, and they process this crazy idea, 99.99% of them (some after picking their jaw off the floor and putting their eyeballs back in the sockets) say, "Why?"

I suppose that is a fair question. Choosing to educate one's children outside of traditional schools is certainly not the norm (yet). And our family does not fit the typical "home school family" demographic.

It's especially not surprising that people ask me that question given our family history of educating our children. We've had kids in public school for 11 years, and we're starting our 12th this year, as our oldest son will be a senior. I have a lot of time and money invested in our public schools. I did a quick, conservative calculation the other day and figured that I have volunteered at least 1800 hours over the past 11 years. I have laminated, cut out many things, decorated bulletin boards, made tens of thousands of copies (and don't you know that the tree hugger in me bears a lot of guilt about that!), chaperoned all but four field trips (and I sent my husband or my sister on those), planned a handful of field trips, read with struggling readers, shelved books in the library, planned every holiday party every one of my children has had, and purchased a ridiculous amount of wrapping paper, magazines, and lots of other junk merchandise in order to support our schools. We are big supporters of public school teachers, as well. We are always quick to express our appreciation for the endless hard work of public school teachers.

Given all of that, I am sure it's hard for people to imagine why I would choose something other than public school now.

I have spent hours pondering how to best answer this question. I certainly don't want to run down public schools or the wonderful people who work in them. I don't want to offend my friends who have children in public school and/or teach or work in the schools. I don't want to be a cheerleader for home schooling, either. However, I do want to be honest.

So...the honest answer is that we can't stomach the thought of another school fundraiser, and this is the only way we could think of to get out of it.

But seriously, after months and months of research, we have come to the conclusion that our youngest children's educational needs can best be met by learning outside of traditional school at this point in their lives. We want our children to continue to be excited about learning. We want to nurture their God-given creativity and curiosity. We want them to read great books, not because they are working toward some point goal but because great books are wonderful and they nourish your mind and your soul. We want them to learn to write well. We want them to learn to reason. We want them to do more than scratch the surface. We want them to go deeper than what's on "the test". In short, we just want more for them. As much as we love their school and the teachers there, we believe that this is the right thing for our young children right now.

And if those reasons weren't compelling enough, the guilt over those thousands of copies and the thought of killing more trees and having their sap on my hands would have pushed me over the edge.


  1. Wow! If I wasn't already on board, I would be purchasing my ticket right now!

    Plus, no more "fundraising" gives me great joy.

    Great post!

  2. Plus, I love "Otherwise Educating". I've been thinking about using the term "Independently Educating", but I like the "Otherwise" a lot.

  3. You make things so much clear to to the point than I - well done!!! I'm right there...I just want MORE. I think I may add that to my post....

    Thanks for wading through it. You are a great writer!

  4. Oh - and I wanted to add how nice it is to "meet" you, and for you taking the time to post such helpful things to me.

    I appreciate that, and you.

    Have a great day! I'll be reading you later :)



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