Okay, I always figured I'd send my kids to public school. Still more or less planning on that. I had a good experience there, and I think there was a lot of value for me in learning to be a Christian in a non-Christian world, and a lot of character growth in having classes that weren't tailored to my particular needs, where I needed to work on ways to fill the empty minutes. In fact, I spent a large part of my high school class-time writing stories instead of taking notes (and still getting A's on the tests, thanks), and I don't know that I would have fallen in love with writing the way I did without all that boring class-time that I had to fill somehow. In my life, public school was a blessing.
But . . . I'm thinking about homeschooling. It just kills me that I'm thinking about it. I'm not the teacher-type and I want my kids to learn to exercise their faith in the real world.
In fact, the reason I'm thinking about homeschooling feels like a horrible reason. A negative reason. But here it is: in California, if you take your child out of school for any reason other than illness, she's considered truant and you are breaking the law.
Seriously. If my kids' grandpa visited from Nebraska and wanted to take them to see the tidepools, and I took my five year old out of kindergarten for the day, I would be committing an illegal act.
These are not the state's children; these are my children.
Like I said: I enjoyed and profited from public school. I know, I'm a nerd. But I'm beginning to get the impression that my experience of public school is not the experience my children will have if I enroll them. From kindergarten through third grade, I routinely missed the last month or so of the school year. Why? Because my parents spent that time out of the country, and so, of course, did I. School was great, but if family stuff was going on elsewhere (family stuff being missionary furlough, in this case), well, I would be with my family and not at school. It was never as dramatic as that after elementary, but I still always felt like my parents had the freedom to direct our lives, and that we weren't at the mercy of the school's schedule.
And when I went to school there was a bit of teaching to the tests, but not much. It was mostly learning the material. I understand this has changed too. I took Bess to get a peek at the kindergarten rooms she'd be going to here, and the teacher proudly pointed out their art corner. "We have the most wonderful gentleman come in and teach them art every other week."
Every other week? They're five years old and they only do art every other week?
Also, we were already figuring that we'd have to supplement our children's education. The schools here aren't going to teach them Spanish or music or Bible. And if we're going to have to do that, does it make sense to do the rest of it ourselves too?
Still . . . isn't it important to learn how to get along with people who aren't like you, without compromising your own principles? That's a great benefit of public schools. Go out and face it, then come home and hash it out with your parents and figure out how to handle it better. Go out and do better. Come back and debrief. Over and over and over. It makes you strong.
And, selfishly, how can I write and homeschool at the same time?
And how do I homeschool in a small place, without a yard?
And how do I homeschool without scads of money to pay for the extra-curriculars?
So, I have no idea what we're going to do. Besides pray. I'm certainly going to do that, and going to listen hard, because I really don't know what the answer is here. (As opposed to all the times I pray, sure that I do know the answer - ha! See Jen's excellent post on that here.)
But seriously, I can't take my kid camping without being in danger of being referred to the authorities? That's just wrong.
So, all you beautiful homeschooling moms, any advice? Also, any public school moms who've figured a way to live with the stupid truancy laws? I'm all afloat here, and would love some input.
peace of Christ to you,