Currently we live in Virginia, an epicenter of the home school movement. Home schooling is a relatively easy choice to make here. It seems like every block has a home schooling family on it. There are more support groups than we could ever have time to join and more resources than we’ll ever be able to use. State requirements are relatively non-confining.
But even if it weren’t so easy (well, relatively) to get started here, we’d probably still do it.
Well, between us we have a fairly decent education: Sherri has a BA in Philosophy (University of North Texas) and a Master’s in English (University of Dallas); Peter has a BA in Political Science (Messiah College) and a Master of Arts in Religion and Literature (Yale Divinity School). So we feel we’re fairly well equipped. But more than that, we both love ideas, and stories, and reading about them and passing them on. Sherri actually enjoys teaching people–not just her own kids. We find this whole home education project exciting.
Also, we like our kids and enjoy spending time with them. Um, we also anticipate that enjoyment increasing when they are older and less whiny and can wipe their own arses all the time.
Also, we both know from personal experience that segregating large groups of children by age creates a pernicious artificial social norm. It can be hell on the kids who deviate from that norm, even just a little. They end up hating the very things about themselves that make them special. It’s already clear that our oldest son deviates from his age group norm more than a little. He is a sweet kid, with a tender heart and an expansive imagination. He is quite intelligent, but very young emotionally. Placing him in a group school social dynamic would be throwing him to the wolves. We will not do it. (Our younger son, on the other hand, would probably adjust just fine. Sherri offered to send him to the public kindergarten around the corner this year, but he steadfastly declined.)
Also, we cannot afford private school, and public schools, while in many areas (barring the artificial norms mentioned above) a fine idea in theory, have a number of practical problems. We count among our friends and family many public school teachers. We hear their complaints! To a one they are dedicated, professional and self-sacrificing. They are also overtaxed, underresourced, and required to teach to tests almost to the exclusion of doing what they have trained and dedicated themselves to do, which is to educate children in a way that produces delighted lifelong learners and citizens able both to identify and contribute to the public good.
We operate under no such privations or directives, and have the freedom and ability to give our kids a true education, to equip them with the tools of learning, and to invite them into lives of goodness and love and virtue–virtue both public and private, because ultimately there is no separating the two. What a delightful opportunity. How could we pass it up?