My interest in homeschooling started as a bit of an afterthought when I was only just pregnant with my now-three-year-old daughter. A friend of mine (the same one I was chatting with the other afternoon, in fact) was going through the transition and I saw the decision process a bit from the inside. I then discovered a yahoo group and subscribed.
And then, before I knew it, I was holding the world’s most amazing baby in my own arms.
In the last three years, I’ve done quite a bit of reading (though the complete works of Charlotte Mason await me, after Lent). I’ve explored different theories, and I’ve started reading some highly addictive blogs. I’ve found out that one of the things I feared – telling my family what “hare-brained” idea I had in mind for my child’s education – was nothing to fear at all, as everyone in my family has been supportive. I’ve gained confidence that I can do it. I have my husband’s full support (I suspect he’s itching to teach math, but that’s just a hunch). It seems that, on the eve of preschool, we’re all set to go. (Well, you know what I mean. The decision side of things is set to go!)
And then, as it turns out, I have to reconsider.
You see, my three-year-old has her own opinion. And she has a PASSION for attending school. I’ve spent plenty of time thinking this through – could I co-op with some other families and make it seem like school to her once or twice a week?
But no, she knows what “school” is, and she knows it happens at a place other than her house. She knows the school bus goes there, and she knows that THIS, in fact, is what she wants to do with her life.
My friends, how can I look at those big brown eyes – the same ones that are in the other face I fell for years ago – and say “No, honey, I’m very sorry, but school’s not for you, not for us, not going to happen”? Well, OK, I could. Because I have a mean mommy mentality sometimes.
But I’m not going to do it yet.
You see, in this discernment process (I don’t know what else to call it, and we do see our children’s educations as the most important role we play as parents – whether it’s math or faith or manners), I had a hugely helpful revelation: this decision is not life or death. It’s not the end of the world if my daughter goes to school; it’s not the end of the world if she stays home. It’s a decision that can change later – she can go to school now (or later, for that matter), and come home, or vice versa.
Realizing this – that this isn’t a matter of life or death – was a huge burden off my shoulders. In reading A Thomas Jefferson Education (which I reviewed briefly here), I was struck by the concept that my husband and I have discussed, though not with this clarity. Education is the responsibility of the person (as opposed to the parents or the school system) – it is our job as parents, adults, teachers to INSPIRE learning. I can do that whether Miss Muffet is going off every day to an adventure in a classroom or staying home with me.
I don’t know what we’ll ultimately decide. A couple of mornings a week won’t hurt anything, really. But then again, NOT going for those couple of mornings a week won’t hurt anything either. That’s the beauty (and the pain) of this decision.