Flexibility, creativity, and innovation have left our public school buildings. With an increased emphasis on sameness, students who are different stick out like trapezoid shaped pegs in spherical holes. While some schools accommodate children with special needs well, others fail miserably.
When my son was in public school, I asked the teacher what she did for children who went at a slower or faster pace when learning new concepts. “Nothing,” was the reply. “They all have to follow along at the same pace.” I didn’t fault the teacher for that. I’m certain that policy was an edict from above.
Too fast. Too slow. Learning disabilities. Medical conditions. Autism. Different learning styles. This is a short list of things that can prevent children from fitting in well at public school. After a while it becomes survival of the fittest. And when your child doesn’t fit, it’s time to transfer him to another biome. In our case, we decided to home-school. The private schools in our area are either too costly or too religious. In addition, many private schools are less well equipped to deal with “different” kids than public schools are.
What did we gain? Freedom. Absolute galloping through the tundra freedom to design an educational program that fit our kid and restored his love for learning. I’m a conscientious, college-educated, former-teacher who spends countless hours scouring for the right curriculum and programs. It’s not easy, but there are tons of resources available. Online classes. Local co-ops. Museums, zoos, aquariums, and other venues providing special activities for homeschoolers. Enough curriculum choices to choke a dinosaur. And socialization? Local home-school organizations offer music, dance, speech and debate, drama, prom, sports, cheerleading, student council – okay, I’m breathless. You get the point. And if you live in an area where these activities aren’t available, you can band with other local homeschoolers to get things started.
Home-schooling is legal in all fifty states; however, requirements vary from state to state. Cost-free virtual school is offered by many states, but this isn’t true homeschooling. It’s public school piped in through the Internet.
Living in Texas, home-school pretty much becomes a do-it-yourself project. Home-schools are considered to be private schools and are not subject to state curriculum, reporting, or testing. This is both wonderfully freeing and as scary as tightrope walking without a safety net. But again, the resources and support are there.
It’s not a viable choice for everyone, but for a growing number of families it is being accepted as the best way to educate their children. I’m happy to say that my son is home, home on the range.