Knowing that our Adventures in Homeschooling have recently taken a detour (i.e., our two oldest are attending the local public school this year), Rebekah sent me this link, which instantly became my new favorite blog post on homeschooling.
Why? Just because someone else was “dropping out of home school?” No. Because Simcha Fisher wrote it so…freely. Because it is so matter-of-fact. Because it’s real, and it’s funny. But above all, because it feels almost entirely devoid of the sometimes-crushing guilt too often associated with homeschooling and/or not-homeschooling.
So much of homeschooling talk is so…ultimate. Final. Decided. Case closed. Homeschool or bust (even if it turns out to be homeschool and bust). We attended a statewide homeschooling conference a couple years ago, and I’m really glad that we did. We came home newly inspired, with tons of ideas and resources and encouragement. We crossed paths with some really wonderful people, and also with some people who are really militant about homeschooling (those categories of course not being mutually exclusive :D).
We’ve never been terribly militant about homeschooling. (Our charity of speech in this regard was learned partly of necessity, as a rare homeschooling/pastor’s family in small towns in which schools and teachers comprise important parts of community and parish.) Are there a lot of things that are ideal about homeschooling? Yes. Is homeschooling The Ideal? Perhaps--but our world isn’t exactly idyllic, and I’d have to put so many qualifying and explanatory asterisks after “Ideal” that the word would become, for all practical purposes, devoid of meaning.
Was sending our kids to school an easy decision? No. Heck no. But it could have been a lot easier, had I allowed myself, in the throes of the “gut-wrenching decision” (aptly described by Fisher in another hilariously true article that Monique recently sent me), to accept three simple truths: We began homeschooling because it was the best thing for our kid(s) and our family in that town at that point in our lives. Now we’re sending two kids to the community school just down the road because it’s the best thing for our kids and our family in this town at this point in our lives. Furthermore, should any of those factors change, this decision is immediately reversible.
Those statements sound so much simpler than the hopes and fears and prayers that cluttered (and to some extent still clutter) the mental space occupied by this decision. But that’s the honest distilled truth of our present situation, whether I like it or no. As Fisher wrote elsewhere,“The best advice I got about homeschooling? Do it one year at a time.” And, I would add, evaluate it one kid at a time. Boy, do I wish that more people on both sides of the homeschooling fence, even public school teachers, even people at homeschooling conferences, were wise and brave and kind enough to give and/or heed that advice. While I might still secretly envy stalwart homeschoolers’ twelve-year master plan, I must live in the reality of my family—these children, in this place, at this time.