When my husband and I began talking about where we would send our kids to school, our two main options were public school and homeschooling.
The issue of public education is a complicated one. We ALL have an opinion about it, don’t we? Maybe we’re products of public education and believe it was just fine. Others had parents that put them in private schools, believing that this offered a far superior education. And then in the 1990s and 2000s, homeschooling began picking up steam, in part in reaction problems with public schools.
I don’t know one adult without an opinion about public schools. Do you?
I am the product of public education in Georgia in the 70s and 80s. I loved school and did well there, and honestly believe I received the best possible education there.
For a girl wired exactly like me. In that moment of time in the 1970s/80s. There was no social media on which to be bullied or rated. There was no expectation that I would be involved in countless sports and activities from the time I started school. And my good-Christian-kid, churchgoing self wasn’t challenged significantly in class or socially.
Also, I was built for school. It all came easily to me because of how I was wired. (To be honest, I didn’t know how to study, work hard to learn, or take responsibility for my own learning until well into grad school!)
In my career, I taught in two different public high schools for 10 years. I have dozens of friends who are teachers in public schools.
But I’ve chosen homeschooling for my children.
One of the leading motivators for me had to do with all the research about play and rest that I’ve read. Putting my girls on the bus at 7:00 a.m. and getting them home again at 3:30, and then switching gears to participate in other activities and our family life in the few afternoon hours – that just didn’t sound compatible with the what I understood about how to develop strong, creative, and healthy minds.
And then there is the vast amount of time and resources spent on testing. I totally get it – the government shells out an incredible amount of money to educate its citizens. They have a right to some accountability and feedback, particularly where children are concerned.
However, the tail is wagging the dog now. This isn’t a subtle exercise of including test objectives in our curriculum and teaching. Teachers are teaching to the test throughout the year, and why shouldn’t they? Their very pay often depends on it. One of the top-performing schools in the nation is near me, and the number of tests the students take there is flabbergasting.
Countless teacher friends have told me that the right decision for the children they teach is often replaced by what is required by school systems, and because they care deeply for the children they teach, they are getting discouraged.
With all of this – in spite of all this – let’s take a breath and get some perspective.
Having choices of free public education, homeschooling, private schooling, and any mix of these is, to borrow Andy Stanley’s term, a “rich person problem.” I don’t mean that everyone who homeschools is rich! I just mean that having that choice is, relative to everyone in the world, a true luxury.
I am not anti-public schools – I just made a different choice.
We can all see that a multitude of parents are “voting with their feet” and leaving public education to homeschool their children.
As a mother, I recognize that choosing homeschooling is a difficult road with countless choices and opportunities for comparing ourselves to the wondermoms on Pinterest.
(And the hardest part? Making sure that your kids, their education, and YOU are all doing well as you homeschool!)
As an educator, I am compelled to help. I want you to be able to homeschool with confidence, with margin to do all of the FUN STUFF homeschoolers can do, and to be able to do it all with joy.
This is why Learnwell was born.