Dear Teacher:
Why we're homeschooling, and why it's not a reflection on you

There is a fantastic lady who walks past our house every day to and from the elementary school across the street from us. She's a teacher there, and it's the school we go to for ECFE with the girls. It's also the school my kids would be attending if we weren't homeschooling.

She walked past yesterday while Victoria and I were gardening in the front yard. She stopped to chat and then asked if Victoria would be going to preschool next year in a neighboring town. I told her that she wouldn't because we're homeschooling. Then came the silence I've grown used to.

"Oh, you're homeschooling."

A few seconds passed, and then she changed the subject and asked Victoria if she were a good helper. In the next minute we'd exchanged good-byes and she was off down the street again.

Times like this always make me want to pre-print flyers to hand out to parents and teachers. I want to launch into all of our reasons and reassure them that it is not a reflection on them or schools. While many parents homeschool for reasons connected with their schools, that's not the case for us.

Quite frankly, we're homeschooling because we can. I am reassured to know that we have a wonderful elementary school (and adjacent high school) right across the street. We attend parent-child groups there and I know firsthand that there are fabulous, dedicated, fun and friendly teachers.

We are not homeschooling because we do not have faith in our local school or teachers. It is not a reflection on them and I sincerely hope that they never take our decision as something at all connected to them.

We are not homeschooling because of negative things related to schools. We are homeschooling because of positive things related to homeschooling.

We're homeschooling because I love being the one to do science experiments in the kitchen and watch my girls have those "aha!" moments.

We're homeschooling because we love to learn and I love being able to share the world with them as a giant classroom.

We're homeschooling because we've been their teachers since birth and I'm not ready to turn over the job to anybody else.

We're homeschooling because we love to travel and visit friends and family around the country. My girls can grow up spending a week in the spring with our fabulous friend Claire and her kiddos, in the California mountains while we watch their sheep tend to their new lambs. We can spend a week in the fall watching the leaves change in Wisconsin, and travel down to Ohio to visit Val in law school and family in Cincinnati.

We're homeschooling because we frankly love our children's company and would miss them all day.

We're homeschooling because we have wonderful friends online and off who are homeschooling too. It's an exciting and rewarding journey that we love, with a growing community of support.

We're homeschooling because it allows us to let our children take the lead in what they learn. We have the freedom to go find a ton of books and projects to do about whales if they decide they're fascinated by whales. This seems like such a natural and fun way to learn, and it's how their daddy and I continue to learn. We follow our interests and watch it snowball into more and more subjects.

We're homeschooling because it gives us an opportunity to slow down in life and spend real, daily time with our kids. I recently read a tip in Better Homes and Gardens where parents had started scheduling one Saturday a month just for each child. The mother wrote that she and her husband didn't really know their children any more, and that they were beginning to know and like them again. I can't believe they gave her $50 for that advice, or that in today's world one Saturday a month is considered a luxury.

I believe that homeschooling my kids is one of the best gifts I can give them in life. We spend weeks at the beach, in the backyard and doing science experiments in the snow. We spend afternoons in the library counting out 10 books to bring home and devour. We get together with small groups of kids to play and learn and act silly. We stop and pull apart mushrooms, watch the baby birds learning to fly and read high school biology books for fun. Playing and learning have never been separate things here, and we're having a ball.

I think my kids could not possibly find a better place on earth for them to learn. The teacher/child ratio is 2:2. The teachers adore them and there are almost daily field trips. There are lots of books, lots of art, and lots of silliness.

In no way does that diminish my respect for teachers and for all parents and all the choices they make. My grandmother was an elementary school teacher, then principal, and later the Dean of Education at a university. She now owns and operates an educational resource center. My mother was a teacher, a tutor and a college professor at different times in her life. I've grown up around educators. Most of them are dedicated, under-appreciated people who truly love children and teaching.

This is what works in our family, and in many other families with many other circumstances. It's not a condemnation of what anybody else does, though.

We like to grow our own veggies too, but it's not a reflection on local farmers. :)

So to the neat teacher down the street, I hope you still stop to chat with us. I hope you don't think we have anything against you or your school. I also hope to be able to volunteer there and help keep it great.

I'm glad you're there and my hat's off to you.

Now if you'll excuse me, we have to go check on the celery experiment.......

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All works on this site Alicia Bayer unless otherwise noted.
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