How I Became a Homeschool Believer: Part III of III
Mrs. B____’s retirement was NOT working out the way she had planned.
It was supposed to take place at the end of the school year in June. There would be parties, tributes for her many years as an elementary school teacher, and then all the glorious plans she and Mr. B____ had made to travel and spend time with the grandchildren.
Instead, because of an error in calculating her years of service, it was all postponed for another six months, and she found herself back in the classroom in September. She’d been looking forward to an ocean cruise, not a sea of third-grade faces — and it showed.
One of her students that fall was my younger daughter. She’d had a wonderful school year in second grade, with a teacher who was known for her “Jolly Rancher Fridays,” who played Mozart in her classroom, and who kept a special supply of more challenging (and interesting) books for strong readers like my daughter. Mrs. B____ was not like that. Everyone knew the story of how she was supposed to have retired in June, and no one was surprised that she seemed irritable and resigned.
That was the fall that my daughter’s relentless headaches started. Her pediatrician tested her for an array of illnesses, including Lyme Disease, but all the tests came back negative. Her vision was normal. The doctor pronounced it a mystery and then suggested, almost as an afterthought, that we keep a log of her symptoms. Within a few weeks, an important clue emerged: my daughter never had headaches on weekends or school holidays.
The headaches weren’t the only reason we had felt that school was an unhealthy environment for her, but they were the most urgent one. Suddenly homeschooling was no longer political; it was intensely personal. It had become, as my husband had insisted it must, centered on what was best for our kids. We brought our daughter home to homeschool her. And the headaches vanished.
When all was said and done, each of our four children was homeschooled to some degree — one was homeschooled for only a year, while one was homeschooled from kindergarten all the way through high school. The reasons ranged from negative peer influences to health to special needs. We homeschooled for 15 years. It was not always easy — sometimes, I wasn’t sure I could continue — but it was the right decision for our family.
Some people say that the practice of homeschooling is stifling and promotes a closed mind. I cannot disagree more. My path from skeptic to believer opened my mind to new ways of thinking about learning, about my children, and about what is most important in life. I’m so grateful I left the beaten path and walked the homeschooling road.