Today, I watched as my 11 yr old boy trodded off to the bus stop with all the other neighbourhood kids…for the first time ever! Since I am and have always been a die-hard homeschool advocate, why on Earth am I sending him off to enter ‘the system’?
There are a lot of totally valid reasons I could be doing it: burnout, frustration with his stubborn refusal to do school work, to teach him a lesson on appreciating what he has here at home, to catch up on learning what he has perhaps been missing here. To get him out of here so he can’t pester his siblings all day. These are all reasons for which I have threatened to send him in the past.
But in the end, the simple reason is this: He wants to try it.
Our homeschool philosophy has always included faclitating our child’s interests, because they learn better that way. We are also big on real life experiences and hands-on learning. Curious about the water cycle? Go explore streams and lakes. Love coins? Visit the Mint and start a coin collection. But what do you do when your kid is super interested in school?
I suppose it’s my own fault, I read him books like Boy and Farmer Boy (where the bording school headmasters would beat bad boys with canes) and watched movies like Matilda and Bezzus. Most of his friends go to school and they have fun stories too. I think the school of his imagination will differ from reality. There is only one way to find out. He need to go investigate.
A year ago, I would have thought this painted me as a homeschool failure, putting him in school. And I dreaded registering him because it officialy ends my freedom to educate him without havinging to answer to anyone else for it ( in Ontario, if your child has never been registered with a school, there is no obligation to ever inform any ministry or school board that you intend to homeschool, you just do. Once registered, a letter must be written every year if you intend to homeschool that child). It has been a year full of podcasts and book reads for me and I am grateful that those who have navigated this Homeschool Jungle ahead of us have left maps to guide us by sharing their experiences. People like Julie Bogart of Brave Writer, who has succesfully homeschooled all her kids, and that included some time in school for some of them. Also Rebecca Spooner of Hiphomeschool.com who herself was homeschooled but spent a year or so in school and survived it! And so many others.
I have chewed over the pros and cons for over a year and am now fully convinced that this will be an exchange-student-type of experience that broadens his horizons, equips his coping toolbox and satisfies his trust in us as supportive parents. He will get opportunites to defend his faith, work in peer groups, have a strict schedule ruled by bells and time slots. Naturally we worry about bad associations but at 11, he is branching out into the world so this is a threat no matter where he is.
We have a short term in mind, some think we should aim for the entire second semester but I can’t see myself forcing him to stick it out till June ‘just because’. When a curiosity is filled, it is time to move on. So we have an agreement and when the time is up if he chooses homeschooling again, I will not hesitate to write my first Letter of Intent to Homeschool. And his mind will be released and able to pursue a new interest.
wish us luck,
Eleasha, homeschooling mom of 4