Caveat: An explanation of how I school is not a condemnation of how you school.
We’re middle class.
We don’t home school.
At one point, I was sold on it. When we were living in our previous city, I was fearful of the schools, cause I didn’t personally know but one teacher. I was not confident in letting him attend the elementary school for which he would have been zoned, about 2 miles from our rental home. I figured the least terrifying thing to do would be to home school, and being that I was/am all those things noted above, I felt like it was a fitting decision.
I taught Daniel daily, not doing official home school, but just being a mom. We would work on skills, have fun, learn, explore, and everything good and right. One day, amidst working on a trait, Daniel was getting it wrong. And even though I have a tendency to be harsh, I can truly, honestly say that I was not. “Oh, nice try. Do you think there might be another way to do it?” “How about we erase this one and think again.” I was expressing classic and good pedagogy. Suddenly, my then 4 year old looked up at me and busted into big, wet, sad tears. He just bawled. And then I hugged him and patted his sweet head, spoke softly that it was ok. We stopped and just moved on to something entirely different. Yet, in that moment, God spoke to me and told me that I was Daniel’s mom first and foremost. I will always teach him and I will always be a teacher, but I may not be his grade level teacher. For my first born, type A, sensitive, receptive, and perfectionist son, I was not going to make his best teacher. He would best listen to another and needed to try and achieve his own set “perfect” standards away from worry of disappointing Mom (cause that is how a first born views it!). I felt in my heart that “home school mom” was not in my cards, at least not in the traditional sense.
To say I don’t home school would be a lie. Daniel went to kindergarten reading clearly with comprehension, completing basic math steps, able to write all his letters, and knowing all his colors and shapes, to name just a few. We obviously did a little something day in and day out. Yet, despite our successes, I knew he was meant for school, public school, at least for the here and now. And honestly that pained me a little. But at least somewhere in the mix we moved, to the city in which I grew up, zoned for a school where I personally knew half of the kindergarten teachers, several more of the school staff, went to church with the principal, and I felt like maybe I could let it happen…….and I knew all along it was best for HIM. This is what Daniel would want.
Saying goodbye that first day was tough, but he was not scared, worried, or sad. He was grinning from ear to ear and couldn’t understand why I kept hugging him.
And we’ve had a great year!
He LOVED kindergarten. I was so happy with the teacher he got, and even though I knew her before, I feel like I know her SO much better now. We have been partners in Daniel’s education all year long, cause that is how schooling should be. I don’t “home school” but I also don’t send him off and think my job is done.
I was in his school at least once a week eating lunch. I volunteered to help. I read to his class during library time, I was on every field trip, and I took part in the community that is his elementary school.
My son is so bright, which he gets from his Dad. He reads on at least a 2nd grade reading level, so midway though the year, we requested that he spend time in a higher grade reading class, to be challenged, and he loved it. And that is what partners do—devise a plan and implement it together.
So badly, I get that desire to be the one fully in control. To keep him under my roof, my decisions, my ways, my ideas, every step of the way. I asked him not to long ago, “Daniel, would you like to stay home and let mommy teach you or would you like to go to school?” His reply was swift and sound. School, cause he loves it.
I would also be remiss not to note that I love his little classmates (or old classmates I should say, now that he is a kindergarten graduate!). They were his friends, and they would smile, wave at me, and yell, “Daniel it is your MOM!” when they saw me coming in for lunch. I think one of the little boys had a crush on me :O). I can’t begin to say how I loved seeing him, even at a young age, make friends, love people, and show them goodness. And that is part of what make my heart hurt, in a good way, for when I wanted to home school but already knew God was telling me it wasn’t in the cards, I just couldn’t find words as to why I knew going to school was the best decision for us. Then, one day, I heard a sermon that gave me the perfect line that spoke my heart:
“If all the people you love in the world love Jesus, you don’t love enough people.”
And that is what I knew home schooling would get me. I wouldn’t be salt and light. Daniel wouldn’t be salt and light. We would be self preserving, homogeneously surround Christians teaching our children, going to church with like minded people, and staying at home, never making and meeting those that need more.
He’s got my social skills and his dad’s learning skills, so this guy is made for school. In fact, he craves it! The structure and the schedule make his heart very happy. He was the only kiddos to make a perfect score on this sample test they did at the end of the year, out of all the kindergarteners. When I walk with him at school, everyone knows him, even kiddos I don’t know. I have taken him to several after hours, multi-grade level events at school and I am amazed at how many kids yell, “Daniel! Hey Daniel!” Generally, he remembers their names. And he can tell you almost all of his classmate’s birthdays. He has invited friends to church and wants good things for them. I can’t wait until he gets a grip on the gospel and takes those classmates under his wings and shows them the pure love of Christ. Trust me in this friends, even my sweet 6 year old is spreading the Good News through his kindness and love and brains.
And if he were home with me every day, all day, he would miss out. I would miss out, his classmates would miss out……and a home school co-op only gets us more faith believing individuals that do not need Christ. Home school students have ways of making this outreach happen, but the intentional strides that have to be taken are rarely seen in action. The time may change where I feel differently, but for now, he is loved at home and at school. He is safe and growing. He will be the changer not the changed. He will love.
I want to love more people, and I want that for my son.
And trust me, you can change the life of a random classmate for the good, all because you needed some help in Geometry. A kid that is around lost kids has a chance to save a life. Somehow, I see my son doing the same, but he will be the one tutoring rather than the one getting tutored, cause he is a learner that will soon surpass me in brains (he already has his first year of all A grades in the books!)
Our plans may change, and God may ask something different of me, Daniel, Thomas, and even Wesley as the days pass, but for now, we are happy with how we school, complete with lots of learning in the summer months.
But in a few weeks, just like with all the school breaks, Daniel will tell me that he misses school. And when I ask him exactly what about school he misses, he will likely say as he did in the past, “Lunch. I really miss lunch” cause he is so social. For follow up, when asked what else, he will say, “Science. Cause I am going to be a scientist.” Then, when asked exactly what he will do when he becomes a scientist, he will astutely reply, “Science.”
See a follow-up to this post here: https://thevfiles.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/to-be-clear/