One of my readers said to me today, "Athena loves school so much. Why are you taking that away from her?"
And I answered in a half hearted, non-confrontational way. A way in which I was not satisfied with at all. I babbled on about socialization and teachers and what not. I knew this question would come up and I was unprepared to answer on the spot. And now, with keyboard in hand and some time to explain, I answer the question. Why home school?
I have always thought that home education was an excellent alternative to conventional schools. I thought that way back when at the time I home schooled my adult daughters. Those three girls would have done well in school had I home schooled or not. That is the kind of kids they were. They were all different from each other to be sure, but they were the kind of children that teachers loved. They were well behaved, smart, kind and well suited to the classroom. The reason we chose to take them out of public school was because my oldest daughter was so influenced by her peers that frankly, I was scared by it. ( I was a young mother and had three little girls by the age of 20) I did the home school thing for several years and sent them merrily on their way to high school.
But now... but now, I have little Athena. She is quite different from the older three girls. In fact, I have never had nor seen a child quite like she is. She is smart as a whip. She has a unerring memory. She has an imagination that amazes me. She loves animals and nature. In fact, she just loves. Everyone and everything.
She is not, however, a cookie cutter kid. She doesn't sit still for long periods of time. She day dreams. She flits from one thing to the next at times. She is so inquisitive and so naive. She is happy. Every day. EVERY day. She struggles to get herself up and out of the house for school in the morning. She is totally exhausted when she comes home 6 hours later. It takes a lot out of her to be in class that long. It takes something away from her sweet sweet spirit. Dims the twinkle in her little eye just a little bit.
And so, after much thought we have decided that for now, it would be best for her to remain at home for her education. At home where she is accepted for who she is. Where she is unconditionally loved. Where she can learn at her own pace. In her own way and in her own time.
She'll be at home where she can be outside, in nature for more hours in a day. Where she can run and play and just BE. Home, where her imagination can run wild. Where her curiosity will not be stifled, where her questions will be answered. We will learn to read and write. We will learn mathematics and history. We will learn science by experiencing it. By staying up late watching the stars. By watching the moon and change of seasons. By seeing a garden grow. By watching the wild animals around us.
And socialization, the question everyone asks. She will play with other children to be sure but she will learn to relate to people of all ages, all religions, all ethnic backgrounds and all walks of life instead of being put in a class with children only her age and then be scolded for talking to them at all. I don't worry about the socialization thing one bit.
Of course we will evaluate this decision year by year to see if it is still in her best interest. But truth be told, I know in my heart of hearts that this is the right thing to do for THIS girl at THIS time in THIS place. It is not the easy choice, to be certain. I have been a Mama for 27 years and the thought of having some time to myself is pretty darn appealing. But like I said, I am a Mama, and Mamas do what is best for their children no matter what the cost.