Friday, April 16, 2010

To School or not to School

I am in charge of educating my son. Of course, that's the job of every parent, is it not? But two years ago I took the leap into homeschooling my middle-school aged son.

When I tell people I homeschool an eighth grade boy, I get one of two responses: a) "You're a saint!" or b)"You really think you can do a better job than a certified teacher?"

Now these responses aren't always verbal, mind you. Sometimes it's a facial expression - you know, the one where someone's face is all scrunched up like they have just devoured a sour lemon. But the scrunchiness always fades and then the next question comes along: "Aren't you worried about socialization?"

The answers to the above questions are as follows: No, No and well, sometimes. I honestly never dreamed I would homeschool my child. I was a maladjusted newspaper journalist for 15 years chasing the story of the day who finally woke up to what she really wanted: to write fiction where the stories (mostly) ended happily ever after.

I took the leap into freelance and fiction writing and for two years joyously wrote and wrote and wrote some more. Then the bottom fell out. My husband was laid off and my freelance money started drying up. Not so different from the rest of the country, our odyssey of job changes began. It's a long, ridiculous story of four moves in less than two years, schools that didn't quite fit and a son who cried every morning before school and clammed up every day after. I saw the future before me - a scary smart kid who hated school - and it scared the hell out of me.

It was my beloved sister who told me I could do it. I never taught anyone anything (except yoga). Then she reminded me that my husband and I taught our son to walk and talk and pee in the potty. We taught him right from wrong and how to be a kind and generous person.

Which brings me to the question of sainthood on my part. NOT even close! I take it day by day (and do a lot of yoga). We've discovered a cool place called Florida Virtual School. We pick classes that sound fun and I outsource the rest. We use a combination of books and online learning, always revamping when something doesn't work. It's like all the years of using journalism research has paid off!

My son's finishing up his second year of a high school foreign language and as an eighth grader already has other high school credits. He's doing so well he was even accepted to a rigorous program here in Alachua County to continue his education at a brick and mortar high school.

That's been the dilemma of the day this spring. Which also brings us to ah, socialization. Is it holding him back to keep him at home learning? Will he be scarred for life if he doesn't attend prom, let alone his alma mater's football games?

The odd thing is, my son actually asked to stay homeschooled. Begged is more the word. He plays Upward flag football, Y basketball, takes art lessons and golf lessons. He makes movies in his spare time and volunteers weekly at a local museum.

The greatest compliment I have received was from someone who said "Your son can speak to anyone of any age, can't he?" Yep. And that's what it's all about, isn't it? Preparing our children for life in the real world where their co-workers and friends will be all different ages, cultures and backgrounds.

So, I guess we'll keep plugging along on this homeschool path. Maybe I'll be sainted after all....

1 comment:

  1. Of COURSE you don't need to worry about socialization if he is doing all these other outside activities. As for the answers to the questions, you did get one wrong. YES, you can do a better job than a certified teacher, because you do not have to deal with other childrens' misbehaving and distraction, public school teacher's requirement to leave no child behind (when what your child needs is better content/depth/speed/challenge, but due to state and federal mandates, the teachers are hog-tied). You can get the job done faster, deeper, and more enjoyable (are we still talking about home schooling?!)than public school;that's the bottom line. No certification required. I'm proud of you -- keep it up! (And I'm right there behind you. As in several grades behind! SP home schooled in 3rd, I wish she was now, and will again in 5th; D does extra FLVS work on top of a rigorous, gifted academic program.)