“So, you think we should homeschool our boys? Yeah right!” That’s what my wife said in 2008 when I told her I think we should consider homeschooling our two boys, who were only 2 and 4 years old. At the time, the reality that we would homeschool our children was a brief thought that came and went. However, in the summer of 2012 we came to a very critical crossroads.
Our oldest just completed the 2nd grade and our youngest the Kindergarten at the local public school. On one afternoon my wife received a call from the school asking if we were intending to enroll our boys for the upcoming school year. We hadn’t given homeschooling any major consideration at the time so we just moved forward in our conversation with the school confirming that our boys would return for the next school year. But while on that phone call something happened that I would never forget.
My 7-year old was standing in another room and overheard the conversation we were having with his school. He soon walked in with his eyes wide open and in a calm demeanor asked both my wife and I one simple question, “are you sending me back to that school?” Without giving much thought to why he was asking we both said, “well yes.” When he heard this, he yelled, “NO!” As he collapsed to the floor and with tears flowing out of his eyes he said, “please don’t send me back to that place!” That outpouring of emotion from my then 7-year old wasn’t anything like a tantrum. The way it sounded to both my wife and I was a cry out that translated into the words “save me!” From that moment, our homeschool journey had begun.
Up to that point, our sons experience within a traditional public-school setting had been stressful and overall an arduous journey. Multiple factors led up to the point of my son crying out and us making the choice to homeschool our children. The overall situation caused me to reflect deeply on my own grammar school journey and recognize some distinct and uncomfortable parallels. After reading the New York Times bestseller The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School, and What Parents and Educators Must Do by Peg Tyre, I began understanding more closely what my son was going through. Take the following excerpt from Tyre’s book as an example.
A few weeks into the school year, Harry’s teacher approached Natalie about her son’s “reading problem.” He recognized all the letters, the teacher reported, but he wasn’t clicking with the schools reading program. Natalie was puzzled. Harry loves stories. Their house contained books – lots of them – and she read to Harry almost every day. He wasn’t ready to read independently. “To him reading was a very abstract concept,” Natalie recalls. “He just wasn’t there yet.”
Tyre goes on to explain:
To Harry, says Natalie, “homework began to seem almost like a punishment. He’d put his head down and get quiet.” His troubles at school were eating away at Harry’s self-confidence. By Halloween, the teacher reported, he was starting to play the clown. “I could tell what was happening,” says his mother. “He was frustrated and acting out.”
With great misgivings, she enrolled Harry in a twice-weekly tutoring program that focuses on reading. Harry’s doing better, but Natalie wonders if some damage has been done. “The whole thing was too much. I felt like a lot of his youth had been zapped out of him.”
The fact is that our ultimate decision to homeschool had everything to do with our sons’ individual success versus criticizing or blaming the public-school system for something they did or didn’t do.
My wife, who gave me the side-eye several years prior when I asked if we should homeschool, has been the leader and captain of our homeschool ship. She’s been the guiding force behind our journey now for the past 8 years. My oldest is currently in the 10th grade and our youngest the 8th. I wish I could say that homeschooling has been easy – which it hasn’t – but to watch our boys grow academically and socially has been a rewarding thing.
Although we’ve had to work together to be successful, much of what I’ve learned about homeschool comes from watching my wife create a learning environment that works best for my sons. Over my next several articles I hope to share some of our lessons learned and the personal sacrifice required to ensure your child(ren) get a competitive and quality education within a homeschool setting.