My sister has been having some issues with her younger son's preK class. I wish she didn't live on the opposite coast, since I could help her out more if she were nearer. She's considering homeschooling again. She always finds interesting articles about it. A few days ago she sent me one called If You Want Real Reform, Homeschool from Just Enough and Nothing More.
This had me thinking about homeschooling and why I made the choice I did. No one can tell me that it is easy to challenge a system that you grew up with. I'm a product of the NYC public school system. I would never say it's all bad. I've had some wonderful teachers and friends thanks to public school. I've had some great opportunities. My junior high school art teacher let me hang a bulletin board with my artwork. I can thank a substitute teacher in sixth grade for my love of writing (I only had him as a sub once, by the way, which probably says more about the teacher than school.) I was also senior illustrator in my last year of high school. I spent a lot of time designing flyers for various senior class activities like the prom. Memories like these touch my nostalgic heart and make me yearn to reconnect with old friends and teachers.
But not all my memories are gold stars and lollipops. I also remember the ridicule at the hands of students and school personnel. I remember the anxiety over tests and grades. I remember many hours of wanting to do anything other than homework, especially math. I remember doodling all over my notes in some classes and then learning to keep my doodles on a scrap of paper because some teachers collected notes. I remember being embarrassed to ask permission to go to the bathroom. And then there was the panic over the possibility of being late to school or a class, because I would have to figure out how to get a late pass and everyone would focus on me. These are strong fears for the sensitive and shy schoolkid that I was.
My decision to homeschool actually mirrors my methods of giving birth. Even with my first pregnancy, I really didn't want to have a traditional hospital birth, but my obstetrician nixed the idea of a birth center because I have asthma. Marina was born in a hospital. After it was over, I reasoned that it was the best possible hospital birth. It wasn't until I became pregnant with my second that all of my disappointment over that experience swelled to the surface. I was determined not to have a hospital birth again. That was how I found the Birth Cottage, which was a free-standing birth center on hospital grounds. That was my favorite birth, but the Cottage closed when I became pregnant again, five years later. It was my midwife who suggested I try a homebirth, and put me in touch with a homebirth midwife.
When Marina was approaching school age, the same feelings happened. I was OK with my own school experience, but all of the bad memories started coming back. I didn't want this choice for my daughter. Why should she go to school just because I had? I didn't feel comfortable putting my kid through experiences that I hated and was powerless to change. Her school experience would never be the same as mine, but that was OK. I didn't feel the need to relive school through her. I also liked having her around and having the freedom to do things without being reined into a school calendar.
I hope I can help my sister as she figures out a path for her children's education. I'm only familiar with NY regulations, so if anyone knows of homeschooling organizations in CA that can guide her through the process and answer her questions, I would be happy to pass the information to her.