We have officially jumped off of a conveyor belt. It's complicated. Where do I begin?
With a story, of course.
A few months ago I began having a niggley feeling.
The Niggle had a name, though it hadn't made itself clear to me yet,
but it felt like a sort of homeschooly niggle.
Did it spark when I began to witness friends, the Bushs, as their children thrived and bloomed in their home-centered education? Was it kindled by the way our kid's charter Montessori school seemed to focus more on donations and fundraisers than on the principles of Montessori? It did. It was.
Then when I was in the temple with my friend Robin, as I watched her with her children, I was so moved by her tenderness with them. I was inspired by the connection she had with them.
I thought to myself, "I want to be a mom just like Robin."
And then the niggle went from a glowing ember to a flame;
The idea planted itself like a seed blown from a far off field. I had not even been considering homeschooling. In fact, having tried it for a year when Ethan was in 2nd grade, I had sworn it off entirely. That time around I had isolated myself. I had tried to recreate public school at my kitchen table. I had no supplies, no curriculum, no support. I was winging it, but I was a bird without feathers.
But now the message was boldly displayed in my mind like skywriting on a clear day.
I have spent the past several months learning, researching, preparing and - surprising even to myself - getting excited. Then, last week we learned we had been accepted by the charter that we had applied to. By being a part of the charter, we will receive funding that allows us to join classes (Adam wants to take fencing, the girls? Ballet of course), buy supplies and borrow curriculum and other learning materials from the charter school.
As part of the whole process, we had to sign some contracts, indicating that we were willing to take responsibility - me for "teaching", and the kids for their own learning. I talked to the kids about the Founding Fathers and their need to go a different direction from a system that wasn't working for them. Then we signed our own Declaration of Independence. I even made us a pen with feathers on it. As I have been learning, they are the teachers, and they can only learn when they are excited about the subject they are exposed to. It turns out my job is a simple one.
I provide space, opportunity and resources. Then I immerse myself in the thrill of learning (which is second nature for me) and make sure that I let the kids see my enthusiasm.
The philosophy we are following comes from Thomas Jefferson Leadership Education (read about it here). I would be dubious had I not already been watching it in action with the Bush's and their awesome kids. And the more I have learned, the more my heart sings out that what I am hearing is so true. It is everything I already believed about education. It was the same feeling I had when I discovered attachment parenting. It had made so much sense not to make my babies lose trust in me by making them cry it out, to co-sleep, breastfeed, gently wean, homebirth our next babies, and so much more.
So here we are, stepping off the conveyor belt of public education, where children are dealt with in batches based on their date of manufacture and not their learning styles or talents, into the glorious ocean of all there is to learn, with no boundaries. And not a moment too soon. Just days after I had decided that this was the path we would indeed take, we learned our Montessori charter school had decided to get a new lease on a campus shared with... a school for juvenile sex offenders.
No, I am not kidding.
I appreciate how well God knows me. He knew that I needed to have the opportunity to make this decision before my hand was forced. I had to not resent my choice. I had to have a chance to get excited. And I did - all of the above.
Ready? One, two, three...