A year ago, while wrapping up a challenging 4th grade year, we made the HUGE decision for our daughters to learn at home for 5th grade. It wasn’t the first time we had considered it, but instead of feeling anxious about the radicalness of it and its consequences, this time it felt like a relief, like the right thing to do.
Both of my daughters had survived well enough in an academic-based school setting. Each one has the ability to take in information in different ways, can process that information, take a test and regurgitate it, and sometimes, if the information is interesting to her, engage in multi-layered and meaningful discussions about it. And yet each, in her own way, was not thriving. The love of learning was slowly and distinctly drifting away.
It took a barn door-sized catalyst to prompt us to reconsider homeschooling. It began with the school district we are in deciding to close the school they had been attending, because of drastic state cuts to their budget, and move the K-5 program onto the middle school campus.
I really can’t speak to the pros and cons of Kindergarten through 8th grade on the same campus, I’ve never experienced that, but I was very clear that, for at least one of my daughters, 5th grade was way too young for 8th grade girl exposure. Ever since she was a preschooler she has observed bigger girls and tried to emulate them. All I could think was, “I know what happens on a middle school campus. I was there once.” I had to keep the cocoon around her just a bit longer.
The reasoning was completely different for my other daughter whose impatience with the school day had been building in earnest since 1st grade. Her regular comments about school went like this, “If everyone paid attention, and we skipped recess, we could be out of school by noon and then I could go do something I really want to do.”
So, in November of my daughters’ 4th grade year I began to read every book on homeschooling that I could get from our county library and I also read many, many homeschooling blogs. I joined the Homeschool Association of California (HSC), and our local Sonoma County Homeschool Nonprofit (SCHN) and joined their respective Yahoo groups. I contacted local families who were homeschooling and asked lots of questions. My daughters and I visited the enrichment classes for our local independent study charter school and applied there for the following school year. (Though eventually we decided to go it alone…more on that in the future)
I pored over all the information and I started to get excited. It became startlingly apparent to me that if we were to take this road it could be rich in possibilities I had no way of imagining from where I stood at the time, but it rang of something forgotten and true. I knew homeschooling was about to blow anything I thought I knew about education and learning out of the water.
And so, with all parties in agreement – my husband, my wasband (my daughters’ father), and both my daughters – we made the decision to give this new venture a try.