A mother comes to me in tears, because her 12 year old son was expelled from school, again. The family has been trying to get more supports for him at the school, but the school seems unable to access the supports they all feel the child needs, due to funding restrictions. Mom is worried about her son’s future, he’s acting out and she fears he is going to get into bigger trouble before long if something doesn’t change. She feels hopeless and her son is showing signs of depression. Everyone is worried. Situations like this are not uncommon. People feel stuck because they believe that they have run out of options and are just waiting for the worst.
School is only one way of learning and obtaining an education. It doesn’t work well for everyone.
Bullying, learning disabilities and other developmental issues often get in the way of kids excelling at school. As long we hang on to the idea that traditional school is the ONLY way to a successful future, we leave too many kids behind.
As I said in an earlier post, my family has experimented with a variety of educational forms.This post will focus on just one of the many options for education. I am in no way advocating for homeschooling for every child and family, but wanted to talk a little bit about it, as it is one that is less familiar to many people, and often misunderstood. As a teen, I was homeschooled due to my parents’ religious beliefs. I married a teacher, who is the son of a principal and had no intention of homeschooling my kids because, while I found myself at an academic advantage when I returned to public school in grade 12, I found homeschooling very isolating in our rural Manitoba community. My husband, on the other hand, was keen on the idea and was full of research on the academic and social benefits of homeschooling. We reached a consensus when we decided to keep homeschooling as an option if it didn’t feel like school was working for our kids.
I was hesitant to homeschool our children. I feared that they would experience the same social isolation that I experienced as a homeschooled child.
Preschool was great, Kindergarten was great, grade one was not great. Our oldest, who had been so excited about school and learning, suddenly started acting out in school. I talked to him about giving it a try, listening to the teacher to see if it would feel any better for him. He did this for a month and during this time I watched his enthusiasm wane. He seemed resigned. In my opinion, this was much too early for a kid to lose their love of learning.
We met with teachers and admin and were unable to find a solution that we thought would work for him and so decided to take him home.
I soon discovered that homeschooling in this day and age is anything but isolating, unless you intentionally isolate your children. There are hundreds of homeschooling families in our cities, of all stripes.
A friend of mine outlined the current homeschooling community in our province as follows:
- “Crunchers”- short for “Granola Crunchers” (also known affectionately as ‘hippies) who homeschool due to parenting values of attachment and emotional support;
- “Christians”- who homeschool for religious reasons; and
- “Crisis”- those who homeschool because something didn’t work out in the public school system due to their child’s needs. Many families fit into more than one category.
There are many legal ways to homeschool ranging from traditional curriculum, basically recreating the school system at home, with marking, tests, etc. to un-schooling with child-led learning and everything in between.
Homeschooling is not for every family or every kid, just like public school is not for every family or kid. Our ability to homeschool is based, in part, on creative employment and financial decisions which I’ll talk more about in the next post.
Since grade one, my youngest went back to school for two years and then home again for a year. This year they’re both planning to ‘try’ public school again. These decisions are ultimately made by my partner and I but we take the children’s feedback into serious consideration when making them.
If school isn’t working for your child, don’t give up. There are alternatives.
For a great read about alternative education check out:
*Please note: I have signed on as an affiliate sales person for McNally Robinson which means that if you click on the above link, and decide to purchase the book I’ve recommended, I will receive an affiliate’s fee. I only recommend books I have read and believe to be worth recommending.
For more about education alternatives see Time to “Quit” School
For more about work/school balance see Drowning in School-Work
For more about work/life balance see The Rat Race Ain’t Made for Humans – Get out in 4 easy 😉 steps
To read about setting life goals/ values see What’s Worth Digging For?