It really starts two years ago. I sent Jeff to pre-school. It was half day. He got to ride the bus (which he LOVED) every day. He loved school. In fact, he loved it so much that when I was putting him to bed at night, if he was resistant, I would tell him he wouldn't be able to go to school the next day if he didn't get enough sleep. He would promptly say, "Okay, I'm going right to bed".
Fast forward to kindergarten. The year started out with him being super excited about it. He got to meet and interact with lots of people. He loves people. I thought he was loving this year too, but over time. I found him to be less than excited about going to school. It became apparent to me that there might be a problem when one night when he wasn't going to bed very well, I offered him the same consequence I had the year before. "Jeff, if you don't get enough sleep I can't send you to school." To which he replied, "OKAY!"
I didn't read too much into it. I just changed my persuasive tactics. One day I had to take him out of school for a doctor's appointment. He lamented that he was going to miss recess. I asked him when his recess times were and he told me it was after lunch for about twenty minutes. I asked him when his other times for recess were. He said they only got another short one if all the "bad" kids in his class were being good so they could go. I should probably mention, that he was going to full-day kindergarten.
I told him that after his appointment we would grab some yummy lunch and go to the park to make a fun time out of it. He LOVED it! He ran, and played and was SO happy to be outside being active. While at the park, I saw a few of my friends from church who homeschool their kids. I stared asking them questions about how it worked. I asked about lots of things, got lots of answers and in the end told them that I thought what they were doing was awesome, but that I just didn't have what it took to do the same thing. Still, the seed was planted.
Then I read a book, "Boys Adrift", by Leonard Sax M.D., PhD. I'm pretty sure that the word "homeschool" never shows up in the book, but that didn't keep me from considering how the things he was talking about could be remedied through homeschool. The basic idea of his book is to explore why boys and men are less motivated these days, why we see so many twenty something guys living at home with their parents, with no apparent desire to do much else. He has five topics that he explores, and one is education.
Within education, he discussed how public education if often not the best fit for young boys. I don't have the book in front of me right now, but one of the things that really appealed to me was the idea of boys learning through doing. He talked about how in Spanish there are two words for "know". "Saber" is used to describe knowing of something while, "conocer" describes knowing something intimately. This resonated with me. I didn't want Jeff to grow up just regurgitating things from a book. I wanted him to learn in a way that he really understood something intimately. And, as luck would have it, that idea might just keep him from living in my basement twenty years from now. :)
That's about the time I remembered back on my conversation with my friends at the park. The type of education they were providing for their children was very much "out of the box" thinking. It was the type of education I wanted to provide for my son. I started doing some research into the method they used. It's called Waldorf (http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/). It's VERY different from public education. Just to give you an idea of how different it can be, it is not in the curriculum to start teaching your child to read until age seven. Wow! Different, right?
All along, Scott and I had been discussing things. We both read the same book. We both had some concerns. And I've been very happy with how supportive Scott has been through this whole process. We started praying about it. I continued to learn more. I met with my homeschool friends again, this time without kids and with a typed out list of concerns Scott and I had about the method. I came home and Scott and I continued to discuss and pray about if this would work for us.
We made a pros and cons list. As it turned out, all the pros were for Jeff. All the cons were for me. I don't see it that way anymore, but that was initially how things felt. Scott essentially told me that I would be the one making the most sacrifices so I should be the one to choose if this was something I wanted to do. I think he hoped I would choose to do it. And I did. But I already spoiled the ending for you, sorry.
We decided to use the summer as a trial period. I kept learning more, started applying more of the Waldorf principles. I was a bit surprised to find that I was feeling better about the idea, not worse. Honestly, I was a bit scared to admit, even to myself, that I might do this. I sort of hoped for an answer to prayer that said, "Nope, you should send him back to public school". That answer didn't come. I just kept feeling reassurances of going forward with homeschool.
And so, here I am, writing about how I will be homeschooling my kids. I have all sorts of hopes and fears, but still a feeling that this is the right decision for us now. I joke with my friends that we might put him back in public school in a few weeks. It's sort of a joke, but really, I don't know where this journey will take us. I don't know yet if Jeff will homeschool for two weeks or ten years. I've learned enough through the process to be open minded about where we might end up.
Tonight we are having a big "Back to School Feast" and Scott will be giving us all back-to-school blessings. We will start school in the morning and I am a ball of nerves. I know that blessing will be needed.